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Twitter could contain clues for interrupting cycles of community violence. Police departments already surveil social media posts for evidence of crimes or signs of escalating conflicts. In a new paper, three academics lay out a framework for using the platforms to direct trauma therapy and outreach services to young people mourning the loss of a family member or close friend to a shooting or other violent crime. To conduct their study, the researchers used field work on Chicago’s South Side to shape an algorithm that sifts tweets expressing shared grief by underserved, gang-involved youth who are difficult to reach by traditional institutions. “We want to push these methods in ways that are more equitable, less about putting people in prison and more about wrapping our arms around them,” said sociologist Forrest Stuart, one of the authors.
Mourning through artifacts: A new exhibit memorializes victims of the El Paso mass shooting. One year ago today, a 22-year-old gunman targeting Hispanics killed 23 people and injured 22 others at a Walmart. The El Paso Museum of History is marking the anniversary with “Resilience: Remembering August 3,” an exhibit that combines new artwork with hundreds of items left behind at the impromptu memorials made by people paying their respects during the days after the massacre. “It’s a bit macabre, I understand, but it’s really important because it’s one of those things where you hold these pieces of material culture for posterity so we don’t forget,” the curator said. Related: The incoming El Paso district attorney — the city’s first woman to hold the position — believes it is likely still two to three years before the trial of shooting suspect begins.
Report finds some Latino Americans turning to guns for protection. Nearly 70 percent of Latino voters think firearm laws should be stricter, according to Pew data. But CNN found evidence of growing interest among Latinos in owning guns for self-defense in the wake of the El Paso attack and a broader surge in anti-immigrant hate crimes. For the feature, the cable network interviewed a new gun owner in Southern California, a left-learning gun group that says about 10 percent of its members are now Latino, and an El Paso firearms instructor who says demand for his concealed carry classes surged following the mass shooting.
House earmarks another $55 million for federal gun violence research in 2021. That’s $30 million more than the sum Congress approved last year in its first appropriation for gun violence research in two decades. As part of the $1.3 trillion spending package passed by the House late last week, Democratic appropriators have also pledged $10.5 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives and millions for school security, including $1 million for an independent study to review the mental health effects of lockdown drills. The Republican-led Senate has barely begun its appropriations process, so a final budget is likely still months away.
Armed “boogaloo” adherents show up at Texas protests. Earlier this week, The Informant’s Nick Martin unearthed a new website promoting the loose anti-government movement that links pro gun views to a belief in a looming second civil war. The site included calls for the “justifiable use of force” against law enforcement officials and urged followers to show up armed for a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin this weekend. It appears a small group did just that. Saturday’s demonstrations were tense but largely peaceful.
Meanwhile, the motorist who fatally shot an armed Austin protester is claiming self defense. The lawyer for the man, identified as an active-duty sergeant in the Army who worked on the side as a ride-share driver, said his client shot and killed demonstrator Garrett Foster last weekend to “protect his own life” after Foster allegedly raised his assault-style rifle at him. At least one witness told the Statesmen that Foster had kept his rifle pointed to the ground in the moments before the fatal confrontation. No charges have been filed against the shooter and police are still investigating.
Fewer than 1 percent of the participants in a life-coaching program offered through Oakland, California’s version of the Ceasefire model for violence prevention were rearrested for shootings in 2018. [Mother Jones]