What To Know Today
Capitol Police: Threats against members of Congress have skyrocketed this year. Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton testified in front of a House panel that the department had been hamstrung by inadequate intelligence ahead of the January 6 insurrection. He also said the agency was deficient in monitoring threats against lawmakers, which have recently “exploded.” An internal agency assessment found that the number of reported threats has more than doubled so far this year compared to 2020. “Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase,” the agency noted in a release about the findings. Related: A Queens man arrested in January for stockpiling ammunition and making threats including killing then-Senator-elect Raphael Warnock is in plea discussions with federal prosecutors, per NBC reporter Scott MacFarlane.
Militia-linked Cleveland man found guilty in plot targeting law enforcement. The Justice Department announced that a federal jury had found Christian Ferguson, who was arrested in May 2020, guilty of two counts of attempted kidnapping. “Mr. Ferguson devised a plan, and took steps to see it through, that involved placing a fake distress call to lure responding officers to the scene so that he could violently attack them, steal their department-issued weapons and equipment, and incite various militias to similarly attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and its institutions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. Federal prosecutors allege that Ferguson had discussed purchasing “high-powered firearms” and had plans for killing multiple federal agents. He also wanted to assemble a militia group, according to a March 2020 FBI affidavit.
Mass shootings are up so far in 2021. After a spate of shootings over the weekend, there have been 196 mass shootings — defined as four or more deaths or injuries — in 2021. In comparison, between January 1 and May 9, 2020, there had been 105. By the end of last year, there were 610 mass shootings in total, the most since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking the data in 2014. As we’ve reported, these incidents have disproportionately occurred in majority-Black neighborhoods — a reality that media coverage often has not captured.
Biden’s marks on gun policy continue to trail overall favorability rankings, but there are signs of improvement. Forty-eight percent of respondents to a new University of Chicago/AP survey said they approve of the way the president has handled gun policy, compared to 49 percent who disapprove. The poll, conducted in late April and early May, shows his approval rating on guns rising by three percentage points, from 45 percent a month before. Overall, the president’s approval rating ticked up slightly to 63 percent. But of the topics measured in the latest poll, only Biden’s immigration policy ranked lower than guns. The findings come after two surveys in April by The Washington Post/ABC and Pew found slight declines in Americans’ support for gun restrictions since 2018.
The Trace won an award! We’ve been named the best nonprofit news source by New York University’s first annual American Journalism Online Awards, which were launched to “celebrate the new ways journalists are connecting with the public, and shine a light on excellence in reporting, writing and news production across genres.” We’re especially proud to be honored alongside our past partner The 19th, which received an honorable mention in the same category. You can see all the winners listed here.
$500 million — the cost of Chicago Police Department settlements over civil rights lawsuits because of officer misconduct since 2009. The numbers were revealed in city emails related to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s behind-the-scenes push to defend qualified immunity, which shields police from being sued for their actions on the job. [The South Side Weekly]