What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: How police gained control of America’s roadways. Recent incidents of police escalation and even using deadly force during traffic stops have advocates and lawmakers asking whether there are better ways to keep the roads safe. My colleague Ann Givens interviewed Sarah Seo, a law professor who wrote Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom, which examines the complicated history of traffic enforcement in America, how police power expanded on the roads over time, and the problems that control can cause. Seo notes that police traffic enforcement really started to have a disparate effect on Black drivers during the War on Drugs. “When the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) partnered with state police and local law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking, they institutionalized a practice of racial profiling,” she said. You can read the interview here. Related: In our most recent weekly newsletter, Ann looked at the growing movement to remove officers from traffic enforcement altogether.
A fatal police shooting in North Carolina leads to calls for the release of body camera footage. The unidentified sheriff’s deputy who shot Andrew Brown Jr. early Wednesday morning in Elizabeth City was placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation. A witness told Raleigh’s News and Observer that the officer shot at Brown more than a dozen times as he was driving away. Police have released few details on the circumstances of the shooting, except that it occurred while the officer was serving a search warrant and that the officer’s body-worn camera was on. The community has called on police to release the video footage and other details. The state Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case.
Since January 2020, dozens of Proud Boys demonstrations have turned violent. That’s according to a new profile of the far-right group compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project, which tracks extremist violence. ACLED documented 37 violent demonstrations involving Proud Boys members in at least nine states between January 2020 and April 2021, nearly a quarter of the total events. Numerous members of the group were also implicated and charged over the Capitol insurrection. The role of guns? “While the Proud Boys usually do not carry rifles like militia groups, some chapters have begun to carry firearms and to wear plate carriers to the ‘2nd Amendment’ rallies they attend alongside named militia organizations,” the researchers write.
The NRA-led push to oppose Biden’s gun agenda, ATF nominee. The National Rifle Association announced it would spend $2 million in ads that have already begun targeting Senators Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Patrick Toomey, a Republican, who previously sponsored background check legislation. The NRA is also rallying support against David Chipman, the president’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosievs. The longtime bureau agent who went on to become a gun reform advocate has drawn widespread opposition from gun rights supporters and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
House, Senate Democrats announce bills to repeal law shielding gunmakers. The measures introduced yesterday would overturn the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 federal law that gives the gun industry broad immunity from legal responsibility for harms inflicted by the weapons it produces and sells. When he announced a suite of executive actions on guns earlier this month, President Biden said a repeal of PLCAA was the gun law change he most wanted to see. Absent a change to Senate filibuster rules, the repeal effort is likely doomed in the narrowly divided upper chamber.
Senate passes hate crime bill to curb rising discrimination against Asian Americans. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which Senator Mazie Hirono introduced just days after the Atlanta spa shootings, passed 94-1. Among other things, it will direct the Justice Department to report hate crimes related to the pandemic and expand support for police agencies responding to such incidents. The bill also includes federal funding to conduct broader research about the number of hate crimes in the country every year. The bill now moves to the House.
2,000 — the number of openings New York City will create for this summer’s anti-violence youth jobs program, more than doubling the number from 800. The pledge is part of the mayor’s new anti-violence plan that will also hire more violence interrupters. [New York City Mayor’s Office]