What To Know Today

Chicago police used a gun violence prevention center to monitor protests last summer. In May 2020, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown announced the creation of the Summer Operations Center (SOC), a hub where citywide agencies would coordinate on weekend nights from May to October in an attempt to curb the city’s typical surge in summer shootings. However, as the Southside Weekly uncovered through Freedom o Information Act requests, the center’s mission shifted within days of that announcement, as protesters flooded the streets in response to the murder of George Floyd. Police used the center’s intelligence-gathering tools and briefings to track demonstrators over the course of months, monitoring scrubbed social media pages, surveilling political organizers, and assessing how many people planned to attend demonstrations in the city. It remains unclear whether SOC efforts actually curtailed gun violence, per its original mission; many of the demonstrations discussed in SOC briefings ended with police escalation tactics against protesters. One briefing on August 15 was devoted entirely to protests in the city on the same weekend that 64 people were shot, seven of them fatally.

NEW from THE TRACE: How gun violence affects Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood. The first story in our “Aftershocks” series about surviving gun violence in Chicago examines the predominantly Black community on the city’s South Side. This year alone, police data shows more than 60 people were shot there; in the past decade, more than 1,200 people have been. The community hasn’t seen large spikes in crime compared to other areas, and is often overlooked as a result. But residents know the toll, and the wide range of human and social reactions it creates. A memorial in the neighborhood featuring text imploring passersby to “Save a teen/ Do something” is made of concrete blocks inscribed with the names of young people lost to gun violence. “There are people here who are resilient, people here are still trying, still helping one another,” said Diane Latiker, the Roseland resident who built the memorial. You can read Lakeidra Chavis’ story here. And look tomorrow for the second article in the series.

Federal judge finds Air Force “60 percent responsible” for Texas’ deadliest mass shooting. The decision in U.S District Court found the military branch culpable in the 2017 shooting at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, in which a former airman killed 26 people. The Air Force did not submit the perpetrator’s criminal history into a database that would have blocked him from legally buying guns. After serving a one-year sentence for assaulting his family, the gunman purchased four firearms, three of which he brought to the church. Air Force officials failed six times to report the gunman to the federal government. “Its failure proximately caused the deaths and injuries of Plaintiffs at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church,” U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez wrote. 

Prosecutors say he had violent militia plans and used Bible study as cover. In charges stemming from the January 6 insurrection, prosecutors allege Fi Duong of Northern Virginia began stockpiling explosives and weapons and discussed his plans with others after the Capitol attack during what he called Bible study meetings. “Keep your guns and be ready to use them,” he allegedly told associates in March. Law enforcement found several guns, including an AK-47, and explosive materials at Duong’s home. The details were revealed in a detention hearing this week where Duong was released to home confinement before trial. He faces charges of illegally entering the Capitol, obstructing the vote count, and disorderly conduct. 

Remington was supposed to furnish documents to Sandy Hook families. It included thousands of cartoons instead. The bankrupt gun company faces a lawsuit from nine families for wrongful marketing over the weapon used in the 2012 massacre. The case is a rare one that has proceeded to trial despite the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that shields gunmakers from lawsuits over their weapons being used in a crime. During discovery in its Connecticut Superior Court trial, Remington turned over 18,000 random cartoons and 15,000 irrelevant pictures, including people go-karting and dirt-biking, or images of Santa, family lawyers said. “There is no possible reasonable explanation for this conduct,” their new complaint reads. Related: Texas’ highest civil court recently dismissed four separate lawsuits from victims of the families stemming from the Sutherland Spring shooting because of PLCAA.

Data Point

66 percent — the share of Americans who say there is more crime overall in the United States than there was a year ago, according to new polling. When asked about local crimes, however, only 38 percent said they think there’s more crime currently than around this time last year. [Navigator Research]