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Armed extremists made some Labor Day weekend protests a powder keg, but the events ended without shots fired. Roughly 50 protesters continuing to rally against the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, found themselves surrounded by hundreds of pro-police demonstrators in combat gear, many of them carrying assault-style rifles. The groups separated peacefully, but racial justice protesters criticized the Louisville Police Department for staying on the sidelines, leaving them “like sitting ducks.” The Black-led NFAC militia also gathered for another march across town. In Salem, Oregon, a Labor Day rally of more than 1,000 Trump supporters included armed members from white supremacist and far-right groups; one right-wing demonstrator was arrested for shoving a counter-protester to the ground.
- “An escalating arms race”: USA Today dives into the background of self-identified antifa supporter Michael Forest Reinoehl, the suspect in the fatal shooting of a right-wing protester in Portland, Oregon, last weekend. (Officers later killed Reinoehl in a raid.) “Today the protests are more widespread and dispersed creating a greater diversity of people showing up over a longer expanse of time… it’s an escalating arms race,” said one expert about the risks of left vs. right violence.
- Zooming out: Ninety-three percent of protests connected to the Black Lives Matter movement between May 24 and August 22 did not involve violence by demonstrators or property destruction, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project and Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative flagged by The Guardian. But the authors raise two variables that could inflame violence: 1) law enforcement has taken “a heavy-handed approach” and used force in over half the events where they were involved; and 2) “militias and other nonstate actors are increasingly engaging with demonstrators directly.”
Protests continued in Washington, D.C., over the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old. Nearly 50 demonstrators gathered outside the police precinct near where officers shot Deon Kay last week in the Southeastern part of the city. Body cam footage shows Kay holding a gun in the moments before he was shot, but his family and protesters have criticized the use of lethal force.
Gun violence contributed to lower trust among Americans over three decades. That’s according to Cary Wu, a professor of sociology at York University in Canada, who writes about his new research in a piece for The Conversation. Using General Social Survey data between 1973 and 1994, Wu found that Americans victimized by firearms are less trusting, regardless of when the incident occurred in their lives. A higher likelihood of gun victimization was also a contributing factor in the relatively lower rates of trust among Black Americans. “My analysis” he wrote, “shows that places with higher percentages of people who were victimized by guns results in them feeling less trustful, and over time trust erodes even further because they’re living in neighborhoods with higher levels of gun violence.”
“It’s nothing but pain”: Jacob Blake Jr. made his first public remarks since being shot. “I just want to say, man, to all the young cats out there, and even the older ones older than me, it’s a lot more life to live out here,” he said from his hospital bed in a video released by his lawyer. “Your life and not only just your life, your legs, something that you need to move around and move forward in life, can be taken from you like this, man,” he added, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
A beloved Brooklyn resident was killed by a man he was trying to help. The New York Times published a deeply affecting profile of 62-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Edward James, who worked at his local congregation. James overcame a battle with addiction in the 1990s and used his experience to help others. “He was a true caretaker, not just of the church but everyone he loved,” his cousin said. James was fatally shot inside the church last Monday by a troubled 39-year-old, whom he had worked hard to mentor, police said.
Since 2015, American police officers have fatally shot nearly 250 women (out of the 5,600 people killed overall). Thirty-six percent were at a home or inside a residence when they were killed by officers, and one-fifth of all victims were Black — the highest rate among any group. [The Washington Post]