What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Terrorism charges for mass shooters? Experts are divided. The 15-year-old student accused of fatally shooting his classmates at Michigan’s Oxford High School in November is inching toward a trial to determine his guilt on 24 felony charges. One of them — committing an act of terrorism — has rarely been applied in the context of mass shootings. When she announced the charges, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald acknowledged that the terrorism label was unusual but said it captured the gravity of the event and its far-reaching effects on survivors and the broader community. But while supporters have hailed her decision as a blueprint for prosecutors nationwide, some experts fear that treating mass shootings as terrorism will expand America’s vast counterterrorism apparatus into a new domestic realm. Alain Stephens has that story here.
Oath Keepers founder arrested and charged over role in Capitol attack. The FBI on Thursday announced seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes, the far-right group’s founder, along with 10 other Oath Keepers members. Rhodes and Edward Vallejo, who was also arrested, were the only two of the 11 indicted who had not previously been criminally charged over the insurrection. The new indictment alleges that the defendants conspired in a number of ways to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election, including drawing up contingency plans for a “quick reaction force” of Oath Keepers stationed just outside Washington to ferry firearms and other weapons inside the city “in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of power.”
Detroit-area public defenders push to drop nonviolent gun possession charges. 97 percent of people arrested for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in the region since March 2020 were Black, according to data analyzed by the Detroit-based Neighborhood Defender Service. The group said 70 percent of all those arrested in that time — which can carry a five-year felony — legally owned their guns but had improperly stored them under the state’s open carry rules, which only allow carrying in certain places and manners. Overall, the number of such arrests since the pandemic started quadrupled in Detroit, and the group said that 32 out of every 33 concealed-carry-only prosecutions in that period involved Black people. The advocates are asking the Wayne County prosecutor to drop all individual concealed carry charges against people who are not being charged with additional crimes.
Despite calls to end the practice, review finds major media outlets are still describing shootings as “officer-involved.” After the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the venerated Associated Press stylebook announced it would stop using the phrase, arguing that it was overly vague. A HuffPost investigation with The Garrison Project reviews the rise of the term that has long been a go-to euphemism for violent incidents perpetrated by police. The outlets’ analysis of 35 major U.S. papers found that, although the term is used slightly less often now than it was during the 2010s, it’s still used very commonly, and that AP guidance has had only a marginal broader effect.
Los Angeles Police to audit and revise officer use of force training after 2021 spike in police shootings. The LAPD announced the move to assess whether guidelines, which have become more strict in recent years, are being properly communicated to officers. The review comes after a year in which police shot people 37 times, 18 of them fatally, a significant rise over the previous two years.
At least 4 — the number of California cities that have passed ordinances to restrict ghost guns, homemade weapons with no serial numbers that have been increasingly found at crime scenes in the last several years. The city of Vallejo is the latest, joining Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco after a City Council vote this week. [Vallejo Sun]