What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Criminal justice advocates criticize Biden appointee over federal gun prosecutions. Washington, D.C., residents with existing felony convictions who are arrested for illegally possessing firearms will continue to be tried in federal court, acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, who assumed office on March 3, said in a court filing late last month. Some local officials — including Mayor Muriel Bowser — backed the Trump-era policy at its launch in 2019, saying it would help curb the illegal guns that fueled a spike in homicides that disproportionately affected Black residents. Other local leaders, including members of the City Council and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, opposed it. Over time, more people, including Bowser, distanced themselves from the policy, with advocates saying it unfairly subverts local authority, has targeted predominantly Black neighborhoods, and means harsher sentencing and more pretrial detentions than defendants would face in local court. Chip Brownlee has more here.
ICYMI: St. Louis has never shared police shooting investigation results with its civilian oversight board. The St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board was founded in 2015 as a check on police power in the wake of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. But despite more than 50 police shootings in the city over the last five years, the Police Department hasn’t provided the board materials to review a single case. Tomorrow’s mayoral election has the potential to change that, with both candidates promising big criminal justice reforms. You can read Champe Barton’s story here, a partnership with the Riverfront Times, St. Louis’ alt-weekly.
Chicago agency reverses course, will release video of police killing of 13-year-old. Police fatally shot Adam Toledo on March 29 in circumstances that remain unclear. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the independent body that handles police investigations, initially said it would withhold footage of the incident that was captured on body-worn cameras because of the age of the victim, but rapidly changed course alongside growing public calls for transparency. The timing remains unclear, but the footage will be released to the family first, officials said. “I just want to know what really happened to my baby,” said Elizabeth Toledo at a press conference last week, questioning how her son was shot dead in an incident police described in an initial report as an “armed confrontation.” She was informed of her son’s death two days after the shooting.
High-stakes NRA bankruptcy hearings begin today. The New York attorney general, some National Rifle Association vendors, and a few NRA directors have all questioned the legitimacy of the gun group’s January move to file Chapter 11, which, as my colleague Will Van Sant reported, occurred without the informed consent of the board (retroactive approval was given late last month). Six scheduled hearings starting today will touch on requests by the New York AG and Ackerman McQueen — the NRA’s erstwhile PR firm — to dismiss the bankruptcy or appoint a trustee in the case, as well as a motion by a group of dissident board members to appoint an independent examiner. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and board member Phillip Journey, the board member leading the call for an examiner, are among those set to testify.
Ahead of hearing, Texas AG filed a motion supporting the NRA’s bankruptcy, relocation plan. Ken Paxton filed the amicus brief late on Friday opposing James’s motion to dismiss the NRA’s case or appoint a Chapter 11 trustee. “This Court can, and should, permit the NRA to relocate to a state that respects its right to exist,” the brief reads. “Texas is amply equipped to oversee the NRA’s compliance with nonprofit and consumer protection laws.” The filing came days after a coalition of 16 other Republican attorneys general filed their own brief supporting the gun group. Paxton, who himself is under indictment, publicly supported an NRA move to Texas shortly after James filed her dissolution suit against in August. “The NRA has been instrumental in defending our Second Amendment rights and we would welcome them with open arms to relocate in Texas!” he tweeted at the time.
Event reminder: Rethinking how journalism covers guns and mass shootings. Tomorrow, April 6, from 1-3 p.m. EST, the Columbia Journalism Review is holding a virtual summit to reconsider how the American media covers guns and gun deaths. The Trace will join the event alongside journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and more. You can sign up here.
7 — the number of people shot at a party in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday, three of them fatally. According to Gun Violence Archive, it was one of four mass shootings (defined as four or more shot) since a widely covered incident in Orange, California, last Wednesday left four people dead. [Wilmington StarNews]