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Looking For Anti-Trump Protests? Here Are Dozens To Choose From.

Fri, 2017-01-13 15:50

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A man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, mocked a reporter with a disability and invited a foreign adversary to hack the U.S. government will be sworn in next Friday as the 45th president of the United States.

And while it’s a fact that President-elect Donald Trump will be the next leader of the free world ― the first one to refuse to release his taxes since 1976, by the way ― you certainly don’t have to like it.

You can voice your concern at one of the hundreds of demonstrations planned across the country and around the world in the days surrounding the inauguration.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with congressional Democrats and health care activists, plans to lead dozens of rallies nationwide in an initiative called Our First Stand: Save Our Health Care. Most of the events are scheduled for this weekend, a few days before the inauguration.

Hundreds of poets are expected to gather on the steps of their local city halls on Sunday, Jan. 15, during the nationwide Poets Protest Against Trump.

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore tweeted last month in support of the #DisruptJ20 Inauguration Day rallies planned around Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The events are led by “a collective of experience activists” who call themselves the DC Welcoming Committee, according to the #DisruptJ20 website, which also lists numerous protests beyond the Beltway.

And, of course, the Women’s March on Washington and its more than 280 sister marches are expected to be the main event on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Nearly 600,000 people ― of all gender identities ― are expected to flood the streets of major cities across the world on Trump’s first full day in office.

For even more events, take a look at the listings below. Be sure to check which events have been issued permits, and know that your participation in non-permitted demonstrations could result in arrest. 

And if those events are a no-go, you can always participate in the national general strike by refusing to work, shop or go to school on Inauguration Day. 

However you plan to resist, stay safe ― and open-minded. Remember to listen to and respect one another. 

Now go forth and protest.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of events. This article will be updated as more information becomes available. Check back for updates.



Friday, Jan. 20

Trump Inauguration Protest

6 a.m. at Carnegie Library Park


Los Angeles

Saturday, Jan. 14


12 p.m. at Los Angeles City Hall

Friday, Jan. 20

United Against Hate

11 a.m. at Olympic and Figueroa

Palo Alto

Friday, Jan. 20


5 p.m. at El Camino Real and Embarcadero Road


Friday, Jan. 20

Not My President

2 p.m. at California State Capitol

San Diego

Friday, Jan. 20

Unite and Resits #J20

10:30 a.m. at San Diego State College and Chicano Park

Protest Trump

12 p.m. at Park Boulevard and President’s Way Lawn

San Francisco

Friday, Jan. 20

Bridge Together Golden Gate

10 a.m. at the Golden Gate Bridge

Fight Racism, Defend Immigrants, San Francisco

5 p.m. at UN Plaza  



Friday, Jan. 20

Make a Change Millennial Festival

1:30 p.m. at Denver Capitol Building



Friday, Jan. 20

Inauguration Day Protest

6 p.m. Bayfront Park Amphitheater


Friday, Jan. 20

Inauguration Day Protest

6 p.m. Lake Eola Park



Friday, Jan. 20

Inauguration Night Bash for Local Abortion Access

8 p.m. at Cine Athena


Saturday, Jan. 21

Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women

1 p.m. at the Center for Civil and Human Rights



Friday, Jan. 20


4 p.m. Waikiki Gateway Park



Sunday, Jan. 15

Earth2Trump Roadshow of Resistance Rally, Chicago

6 p.m. at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center

Friday, Jan. 20

Chicago Trump Tower March

5 p.m. at Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago


New Orleans

Friday, Jan. 20


3 p.m. at Duncan Park in City Hall Plaza



Thursday, Jan. 19

No Fascist USA

2 p.m. at Monument Park



Friday, Jan. 20

Resist Trump: Occupy Inauguration Boston!

6 p.m. at Boston Common’s Parkman Bandstand



Friday, Jan. 20

Strike Against Trump and Poverty Wages

5:30 a.m. at 1530 New Brighton Blvd.

Resist Against Trump’s Agenda

2 p.m. at Lake Street and Nicollet Ave. S


Kansas City

Friday, Jan. 20

Kansas City Trump Inauguration Protest

2 p.m. at Union Station


Las Vegas

Thursday, Jan. 19

Anti-Trump Inauguration Eve March

4 p.m. at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

New York

New York City

Saturday, Jan. 14

Queens United Against Trump Rally

1 p.m. at Jamaica Colosseum Mall

Sunday, Jan. 15

Truth. Resistance. Opposition. March on Trump Tower

11:30 a.m. at 5th Avenue and 59th Street

TrumpCare Makes Us Sick!

12:30 p.m. at Trump International Hotel and Tower NYC

Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression

2 p.m. at the New York Public Library

Monday, Jan. 16

Bay Ridge March Against Hate

1 p.m. at Islamic Society of Bay Ridge

Wednesday, Jan. 18

Obama Farewell & Call To Action

7 p.m. at Theater for the New City

Thursday, Jan. 19

What A Joke: A Stand Up Benefit For The ACLU

8 p.m. at The Stand 

Friday, Jan. 20

Resist Trump: Student Walk Out and Rally

5 p.m. in Foley Square, student walkouts throughout the day

Anti-Inauguration Ball

7 p.m. at DiMenna Center for Classical Music

What A Joke: A Stand Up Benefit For The ACLU

8 p.m. at Annoyance Theater

The Anti-Inauguration

8 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre

The UNaugural Ball

9 p.m. at the Bowery Hotel

Saturday, Jan. 21

What A Joke: A Stand Up Benefit For The ACLU

7:30 p.m. at Rough Trade



Saturday, Jan. 14

Anti-Trump Protest

5 p.m. at Cleveland Public Square



Saturday, Jan. 21

United Front Against the Trump Agenda

10 a.m. at Shemanski Park



Friday, Jan. 20

Resist Trump!

3 p.m. at Thomas Paine Plaza



Friday, Jan. 20

Silent Inauguration

12 p.m. at Centennial Park Band Shell



Friday, Jan. 20

One Resistance, Austin

5 p.m. at Auditorium Shores

Saturday, Jan. 21

Boundless Across Borders

12 p.m. at Armijo Par


Friday, Jan. 20

#J20 Anti-Trump March

3 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park

Saturday, Jan. 21

Women’s Rally and Mega Phone Bank

10 a.m. at CWA Local 6215 



Sunday, Jan. 15

Silent Inauguration

12 p.m. at Hurkamp Park  



Friday, Jan. 20

Resist Trump: Occupy Inauguration

5 p.m. at Westlake Park 

Washington, D.C.

Saturday, Jan. 14

Black Is Back Self-Determination Rally

12 p.m. at Howard University Blackburn Center Events

Sunday, Jan. 15

We Shall Not Be Moved March

9 a.m. at National Sylvan Theater

Thursday, Jan. 19

Non-Violent Protest

2 p.m. at Franklin Square Park (through Sunday, Jan. 22)

Peace Ball With CODEPINK

8 p.m. at National Museum of African American History and Culture

Friday, Jan. 20


12 a.m. at the U.S. Capitol Building


7 a.m. at Freedom Plaza 

March on the Inauguration

10 a.m. Malcolm X Park

Rally for Humanity

10 a.m. at Martin Luther King National Memorial

Saturday, Jan. 21

Petition To End Politics Of Division

10 a.m. at World War II Memorial 



Friday, Jan. 20

March to Kick Off 100 Days of Resistance

5 p.m. at Red Arrow Park

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Here Are The Worst Parts Of DOJ's Damning Chicago Police Investigation

Fri, 2017-01-13 11:20

CHICAGO ― Federal investigators have found the Chicago Police Department routinely violated civil rights of citizens, according to a report issued Friday. Here are some of the most concerning parts of the assessment by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The report includes explicit language. Read more on the report here.

One off-duty officer failed to wait for backup when confronting an individual in a vacant building, and killed the unarmed man. The shooting was found justified. The officer then went on to kill another unarmed man:

In another case, an off-duty CPD officer spotted the silhouette of a man in a vacant building and suspected the man was burglarizing it. The officer called 911, but did not wait for other officers to arrive. Instead, the off-duty officer summoned the man out of the building. According to a civilian witness, the burglary suspect angrily exited the building, yelling, “You’re not a fucking cop.” The suspect then advanced on the officer, who struck and kicked the suspect. According to the officer, the suspect then reached into his waistband and withdrew a shiny object, prompting the officer to fire twice, killing the man. No weapon was recovered. Instead, officers reported finding a silver watch near the man’s body. IPRA found the shooting justified without addressing the officer’s failure to await backup. According to press reports, in November 2016, this same officer shot a man in the back and killed him, claiming the man had pointed a gun at him during a foot pursuit. No gun was recovered.

Less than 2 percent of more than 30,000 misconduct complaints over five years were sustained:

The City received over 30,000 complaints of police misconduct during the five years preceding our investigation, but fewer than 2% were sustained, resulting in no discipline in 98% of these complaints. This is a low sustained rate. In evaluating the City’s accountability structures, we looked beneath these and other disconcerting statistics and attempted to diagnose the cause of the low sustained rates by examining the systems in place, the resources, and leadership involved with the City’s accountability bodies, including CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA), IPRA, and the Chicago Police Board. We reviewed their policies and practices, interviewed many current and former supervisors, investigators, and other members involved, and we reviewed hundreds of force and misconduct investigative files from an accountability standpoint. We discovered numerous entrenched, systemic policies and practices that undermine police accountability, as described below. 

“In some incidents, officers appeared to fire their weapons merely because others had done so.”

For example, in one case, two officers chased a man they saw carrying a gun. During the foot pursuit, one officer told his partner he intended to shoot, and then fired 11 shots at the suspect. The partner then fired five shots of his own. Later recounting the incident to IPRA, the partner did not articulate any threatening actions by the man that prompted him to shoot. He stated that the suspect did not turn his body or raise his weapon. Instead, he explained that the first officer began shooting and so he did as well. IPRA did not pursue the matter further and found the use of deadly force justified.5 On the evidence available to us, the shooting did not meet the constitutional standard because the officer was not responding to a specific, articulable threat.

Officers routinely used Tasers on children, which the DOJ said was unreasonable:

In one incident, officers hit a 16-year-old girl with a baton and then Tasered her after she was asked to leave the school for having a cell phone in violation of school rules. Officers were called in to arrest her for trespassing. Officers claimed the force was justified because she flailed her arms when they tried to arrest her, with no adequate explanation for how such flailing met the criteria for use of a Taser. This was not an isolated incident. We also reviewed incidents in which officers unnecessarily drive-stunned students to break up fights, including one use of a Taser in drive-stun mode against a 14-year-old girl. There was no indication in these files that these students’ conduct warranted use of the Taser instead of a less serious application of force. 

An officer allegedly pointed a gun in the face of teens who were playing basketball on his property: 

We also found instances in which force was used against children in a retaliatory manner. In one incident, an officer’s neighbor called to report that some boys were playing basketball on the officer’s property. The officer, on duty, left his district to respond and found the teenage boys down the street on their bikes. The officer pointed his gun at them, used profanity, and threatened to put their heads through a wall and to blow up their homes. The boys claim that the officer forced them to kneel and lie face-down, handcuffed together, leaving visible injuries on their knees and wrists. Once released, one boy called his mother crying to tell her an officer had pointed a gun at his face; another boy went home and showed his mother his scraped leg and, visibly upset, said “the police did this to me.” The mothers reported the incident to IPRA. The officer, who had not reported the use of force, accepted a finding of “sustained” and received a five-day suspension. The officer was never interviewed and his reasons for not contesting the allegations are not documented in the file. 

An officer reportedly shoved a 15-year-old, and the investigation didn’t wrap up until she turned 18:

In another case, a girl and a boy, both 15 years old, were crossing a street at the light, and one car had already stopped so they could proceed. A uniformed officer in an unmarked car braked hard and changed lanes to avoid the stopped car. The girl claimed the officer got out of the car and yelled profanity (calling her a “fucking idiot” among other things), drawing the attention of a female witness. The girl claimed that when she told the officer that they had the right of way, he pushed her in the back with both hands so hard she fell into a newspaper stand, after which he handcuffed her arms behind her back while she still wore her backpack, hurting her wrists, and did not loosen the cuffs when she complained. The officer called for backup, two officers responded, and the teens were released without charges. The girl reported this incident to IPRA. During the investigation, the officer, who had not reported using any force, claimed the teens were standing in the street obstructing traffic, causing him to slam on his brakes, prompting the teens to laugh at him. He said the teens cursed at him, and he handcuffed the girl for his and her safety because she “was becoming agitated and refused any and all direction.” Despite the existence of four witnesses (the two officers, the boy, and the female witness at the very least), the IPRA investigator obtained a statement only from the accused officer. The investigator did not try to call the female witness until 26 months after the incident (yet wrote that she “did not cooperate with this investigation”). By the time the investigator concluded the investigation in April 2014 and deemed her allegations not sustained, the girl had turned 18.

DOJ found “many” instances in which an officer’s explanation for a use of force was accepted, and then “undercut” by video evidence.

The Laquan McDonald shooting is one such incident; our review found many others. In one incident, for example, officers justified unreasonable force by falsely claiming in their reports that a woman had attacked them. In the video, officers can be seen aggressively grabbing the woman, who was being arrested for a prostitution offense, throwing her to the ground, and surrounding her. After she is handcuffed, one officer tells another to “tase her ten fucking times.” Officers call her an animal, threaten to kill her and her family, and scream, “I’ll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the fuck you came from” while hitting the woman—who was handcuffed and on her knees. Officers can then be seen discovering a recording device and discussing whether they can take it. Supervisors approved this use of force and the officers were not disciplined until after the woman complained to IPRA and produced surveillance video of the event. The City paid the woman $150,000 in settlement of her lawsuit.

Investigator failed to interview civilian witnesses in misconduct investigations:

[I]n one investigation of a complaint of misconduct, an IPRA investigator interviewed an 8-year-old girl who complained that a CPD officer working secondary employment in a school grabbed the girl by her hair, swung her around, and choked her while breaking up a fight in a school hallway.20 IPRA did not interview the identified student witnesses and entered a non-sustained finding based primarily on the accused officer’s written statement.

Investigators engaged in “coordinated, coach-and-conceal efforts” during internal investigations that they had not seen anywhere else. DOJ said it was “not uncommon for officers to change the course of the narrative or walk back statements they had made after their legal representatives whispered a few words.” They pointed to this example:

Internal investigators “directly sought to influence officers’ statements—in the officer’s favor—by asking unnecessary leading questions during investigative interviews.”

Investigators wrongfully closed an investigation into an officer accused of rape:

In one case, the BIA investigator documented that he was not sustaining any violations in the administrative investigation because the elements of two crimes the officer had initially been charged with, criminal sexual abuse and unlawful restraint, were not met. That case involved an allegation that a CPD officer attempted to rape a woman at a party. Numerous witness accounts of what took place before and after the attempted rape were consistent, including that the victim reported the assault to the witnesses. The file also contains evidence of numerous text messages sent by the accused officer following the incident, including one in which the officer joked with his friend, “I thought she was an easy lay.” The officer was later arrested, and the victim identified him in a lineup. Prosecutors originally classified the criminal allegations against the officer as potential felonies, but eventually dropped the case. The administrative investigation in the file mirrors the criminal investigation, indicating that BIA did no additional work in the administrative case other than talking to the victim again. In the investigator’s summary of the administrative investigation, the investigator finds the victim’s allegations unfounded, stating “the criminal charge of criminal sexual abuse was Nolle Prosequi by the Cook County State’s Attorney office because the elements of this offense were not met. In addition, the elements of criminal sexual abuse were not met in the administrative investigation.”    

White complainants were much more likely to have their complaints sustained:

Our analyses show that, overall, complaints filed by white individuals were two-and-a half times more likely to be sustained than complaints filed by black individuals, and nearly two times as likely to be sustained than complaints filed by Latinos: 1% of misconduct complaints filed by black residents, and 1.4% of complaints filed by Latino residents, resulted in at least one allegation being sustained, compared with 2.7% of the complaints filed by whites. A closer analysis revealed that the disparity in sustained rates based on the race or ethnicity of the complainant was even greater at the individual allegation level. Black complainants had 2.4% of their individual allegations sustained; Latinos had 3.2% of their individual allegations sustained; and whites had 8.9% of their individual allegations sustained. In other words, for each allegation contained in a complaint, a white complainant is three-and-a-half-times more likely to have the allegation sustained—and the officer held accountable for his or her misconduct—than a black complainant, and twice as likely to have the allegation sustained than a Latino complainant.

There’s a pervasive “code of silence” at the Chicago Police Department, with one sergeant telling DOJ that “if someone comes forward as a whistleblower in the Department, they are dead on the street.”

This code is apparently strong enough to incite officers to lie even when they have little to lose by telling the truth. In one such instance, an officer opted to lie and risk his career when he accidentally discharged his pepper spray while dining in a restaurant—a violation that otherwise merits minor discipline. Even more telling are the many examples where officers who simply witness misconduct and face no discipline by telling the truth choose instead to risk their careers to lie for another officer. We similarly found instances of supervisors lying to prevent IPRA from even investigating misconduct, such as the case discussed elsewhere in this Report in which a lieutenant provided a video to IPRA but recommended that the case be handled with nondisciplinary intervention rather than investigated, describing the video as only depicting the use of “foul language” and affirmatively denying that it contained any inflammatory language or that the victim made any complaints — both patently false statements as demonstrated by the video. High ranking police officials and rank-and-file members told us that these seemingly irrational decisions occur in part because officers do not believe there is much to lose by lying.

Officers routinely intimidate potential complainants or witnesses. Advocates and police abuse victims told DOJ “that officers who engaged in force against a civilian routinely file baseless police assault and battery charges against the victim and other witnesses to the misconduct.”

In one illustrative case in which a woman alleged that an officer had raped her, she refused to provide BIA the officer’s name, and refused to sign an affidavit, telling the investigator that the officer had told her that he had “bigger power” over her and would “fuck her up” if she went to the hospital or the police. The woman alleged that the officer had also threatened her girlfriend, a possible witness to the rape. Despite providing a detailed account of the alleged rape—on two separate occasions—to the investigator, the investigator did not follow up on the results of the rape kit, did not attempt to interview a known witness, and did not canvass for witnesses at the location where the victim and the officer reportedly met. Nor does the investigator appear to have sought an affidavit override. The BIA investigator instead closed the investigation, “based on the victim’s refusal to cooperate any further.”

The Chicago Police Department academy shows a 35-year-old video on deadly force. 

As just one example, a class we observed on deadly force involved officers viewing a video made roughly 35 years ago, prior to key Supreme Court decisions that altered the standards used to evaluate the reasonableness of use of force. The tactics depicted in the video were clearly out of date with commonly accepted police standards of today. Following the video, the instructor spoke for approximately thirty minutes, but did not give detailed information on justified versus unjustified use of deadly force or the standard of objective reasonableness—all essential topics for deadly force training. The training itself was inconsistent with CPD’s force policies, further undermining its utility in teaching recruits their obligations under Department policy and constitutional law. Several recruits were not paying attention, one appeared to be sleeping, and there was minimal attempt made to engage the students in the lesson. In fact, the instructor arrived to the class ten minutes late and dismissed students twenty minutes early from this critical class on how CPD officers should use deadly force. The impact of this poor training was apparent. At the academy and during ride-alongs, our retained training law enforcement expert asked several PPOs to articulate when use of force would be justified in the field; only one PPO out of six came close to properly articulating the legal standard for use of force.

The training is “fast” and “sloppy” and so bad that one officer said his “co-workers are going to die” because of it:

Many of the Department members we spoke with during ride-alongs, district tours, interviews, and small-group meetings confirmed the inadequacies described above. One officer said that Academy instructors are unable to go “off script” and deviate from the PowerPoint lectures, and that at least one Academy instructor was teaching an outdated procedure that had not been used in years. Speaking about instruction at the Academy more generally, another officer told us that “[CPD’s] training was fast, sloppy, and it’s getting people in trouble.” A training official lamented that “CPD is using litigation to measure training effectiveness,” i.e., the lack of quality training is resulting in civil lawsuits. Another officer put it more starkly, stating simply, “our co-workers are going to die because of no training.”

Because training and the evaluation of its impact on new recruits is so deficient, CPD cannot properly identify which recruits need further training or even dismissal, resulting in new recruits policing Chicago communities who, despite their best intentions, from the outset are ill-equipped and perhaps incapable of policing effectively and constitutionally.

Officers use racist language toward black and Latino residents...

Our investigation found that this pattern or practice of misconduct and systemic deficiencies has indeed resulted in routinely abusive behavior within CPD, especially toward black and Latino residents of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods. Black youth told us that they are routinely called “nigger,” “animal,” or “pieces of shit” by CPD officers. A 19-year-old black male reported that CPD officers called him a “monkey.” Such statements were confirmed by CPD officers. One officer we interviewed told us that he personally has heard coworkers and supervisors refer to black individuals as monkeys, animals, savages, and “pieces of shit.”

... that leaves them feeling “dehumanized...”

Residents reported treatment so demeaning they felt dehumanized. One black resident told us that when it comes to CPD, there is “no treating you as a human being.” Consistent with these reports, our investigation found that there was a recurring portrayal by some CPD officers of the residents of challenged neighborhoods—who are mostly black—as animals or subhuman. One CPD member told us that the officers in his district come to work every day “like it’s a safari.” This theme has a long history in Chicago. A photo from the early 2000s that surfaced years later shows white CPD officers Jerome Finnegan and Timothy McDermott squatting over a black man posed as a dead deer with antlers as the officers hold their rifles. Finnegan was later sentenced to 12 years in prison for being part of a corrupt group in the Department’s Special Operations Section that carried out robberies and home invasions in predominantly black neighborhoods, while McDermott was fired when the photo surfaced. This mindset has desensitized many officers from the humanity of the people of color they serve, setting the stage for the use of excessive force. 62

But hardly any complaints about racist language were sustained:

We reviewed data related to complaints of racially discriminatory language and found repeated instances where credible complaints were not adequately addressed. Our review of CPD’s complaint database showed 980 police misconduct complaints coded as discriminatory verbal abuse on the basis of race or ethnicity from 2011 to March 2016. Thirteen of these complaints—1.3%—were sustained. We found 354 complaints for the use of the word “nigger” or one of its variations. Four, or 1.1%, of these complaints were sustained

And officers posted racist comments on social media about Black Lives Matter, Muslims and Latinos.

Finally, we found that some Chicago police officers expressed discriminatory views and intolerance with regard to race, religion, gender, and national origin in public social media forums, and that CPD takes insufficient steps to prevent or appropriately respond to this animus. While CPD policy prohibits Department members from using social media to convey “any communications that discredit or reflect poorly on the Department, its missions or goals,” this policy is apparently not well-enforced, even against supervisors. For example, one officer posted a status stating, “Hopefully one of these pictures will make the black lives matter activist organization feel a whole lot better!” with two photos attached, including one of two slain black men, in the front seats of a car, bloodied, covered in glass. Several CPD officers posted social media posts contain disparaging remarks about Arabs and Muslims, with posts referring to them as “7th century Islamic goat humpers,” “Ragtop,” and making other anti-Islamic statements. One CPD officer posted a photo of a dead Muslim soldier laying in a pool of his own blood with the caption: “The only good Muslim is a fucking dead one.” Supervisors posted many of the discriminatory posts we found, including one sergeant who posted at least 25 anti-Muslim statements and at least 43 other discriminatory posts, and a lieutenant who posted at least five anti-immigrant and anti-Latino statements. Given these statements, our observations and conversations with officers during the course of our investigation, and other publicly available commentary, such as the comments posted anonymously on popular CPD officer blogs, it appears that more CPD officers have made similarly derogatory statements, often without repercussion.

One black teen said he just wants officers to act like they care:

In response to our question about what changes he would like to see among Chicago police officers, one black teen responded, “act as if you care.” This simple request from a young Chicago resident encapsulates the kind of policing we heard people asking for in the hundreds of conversations we had, and in the scores of community meetings we attended during our investigation. People living in Chicago’s marginalized neighborhoods want policing that demonstrates that CPD has genuine concern about the safety and well-being of all Chicago residents, no matter where they live or what they look like.

Officers allegedly drop teens off in dangerous gang territories if they don’t provide info:

We were told by many community members that one method by which CPD will try to get individuals to provide information about crime or guns is by picking them up and driving them around while asking for information about gangs or guns. When individuals do not talk, officers will drop them off in dangerous areas or gang territories. We reviewed a publicly available video that appears to capture one instance of an officer displaying a youth in police custody to a group of individuals gathered in a rival gang territory. The video shows CPD officers standing around a marked CPD vehicle with the back doors wide open and a young male detained in the rear. Officers permit a crowd of male youths to surround the car and shout at the adolescent. The crowd can be seen flashing hand gestures that look like gang signs and threatening the cowering teenager in the backseat. One of the males in the crowd appears to have freely recorded the interactions all while CPD officers stood beside the open vehicle doors. The video does not show any legitimate law enforcement purpose in allowing the youth to be threatened. Residents told us that this has happened for years, with several individuals recounting their personal experiences. A young black man told us that when he was 12 or 13 years old, he and his friends were picked up by CPD officers, dropped off in rival territory, and told to walk home. Another black teen told us that his brother was picked up in one location, dropped off in another location known for rival gangs, and told: “Better get to running.”

Residents gave DOJ officials “credible” allegations of a “guns for freedom” policy:

We also talked with several individuals who gave credible accounts of being detained by CPD officers for low-level offenses (for example, failure to use a turn signal) or on false pretenses, and then were told that they would not be released until they brought the officers guns. We heard community members refer to this practice as “guns for freedom.” One man told us of an incident that happened within the past few months, in which he was arrested for driving on a suspended license and told by officers that “everything would go away” if he brought the officers two guns. Officers released him on bond and told him he had one week to bring the officers the guns. They warned him that if he did not bring the guns they would put him away “forever.” This person told us of a friend who had a similar experience several years ago. Other individuals with whom we met during community meetings told us similar stories of CPD officers offering to release them from custody if they provided officers with a weapon. A pastor at a Latino church told us that his congregants reported being picked up by CPD officers seeking information regarding guns or drugs, but when they either could not or would not provide such information, the officers removed the congregants’ shoelaces and dropped them off in rival neighborhoods. Another man told us that he saw officers surround his seven-year-old niece seeking information about who sold drugs and which gangs were running in their neighborhood.

A recording from November 2015 appears to capture part of a “guns for freedom” incident on video. The video is part of a case in which an individual alleges that police coerced him into producing weapons to gain his own release and the release of a friend. According to the individual who produced the gun, police first required him to tell them where guns were located, and then demanded that he bring them a gun. The man claims he had to buy the gun he brought to the police. The video recording appears to show the man placing the gun in a trash bin and police officers retrieving the gun later that day. The officers’ incident report does not mention any arrest and instead claims that the man directed them to “the location of multiple firearms being hidden in the 5th and 22nd district.” 

Ryan J. Reilly reported from Washington. Kim Bellware reported from Chicago.


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Chicago Police Routinely Violate Civil Rights, Withering Justice Department Probe Finds

Fri, 2017-01-13 10:06

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CHICAGO ― The Chicago Police Department regularly violates citizens’ civil rights, routinely fails to hold officers accountable for misconduct and poorly trained officers at all levels, according to a sweeping Justice Department probe of the nation’s second-largest police department.

The report examined not just the on-the-street actions of the police department, but its institutional practices like training, accountability and discipline: The city’s police shot at fleeing suspects who posed no immediate threat, failed to accurately document and review when officers used force and relied on training that is decades out of date.  

The findings echo those of an April 2016 report released by Chicago’s then-new Police Accountability Task Force, which emphasized that the police department must face a “painful but necessary reckoning” that includes acknowledging its racist history and its consequent legacy of corruption and mistrust ― particularly between the department and the minority communities it polices.

The DOJ also announced on Friday that it had reached an agreement with the city of Chicago to work on creating a court-enforceable plan to reform the department and address the issues aired in the report.

Read more: These are the most damning parts of the DOJ’s report on CPD.

Justice Department “pattern-or-practice” investigations do not focus on individual incidents, but rather on systemic police misconduct. Federal officials had been scrambling to complete the report before the President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated next week. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who will likely be confirmed at the 84th U.S. attorney general, is skeptical of DOJ’s police investigations, which were used extensively in the Obama administration.

The DOJ report concluded a nearly 14-month investigation that was prompted by the November 2015 release of a dashcam video showing a police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times as he walked away from officers.

The video showing Laquan McDonald’s death, which occurred in 2014, triggered protests of both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked police chief. The police were accused of keeping the video under wraps for more than a year at the behest of City Hall until Emanuel was successfully re-elected.

Emanuel ultimately fired the city’s top cop, Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her re-election bid the following year. Alvarez’s office was accused of favoring the police after waiting more than 13 months to bring murder charges against the white police officer who killed McDonald.

The report comes after a bruising year for the Chicago police and a violent one for the city: More than 750 people were killed last year. Meanwhile, CPD solved fewer than one-third of all murders — less than half the national average.

Allegations of abuse, torture and corruption have dogged the CPD for nearly a century. The department was at the center of high-profile incidents like the violent clashes with anti-Vietnam War protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the 1969 killing of noted Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and the era of torture under former Police Commander Jon Burge.

In more recent years, officers have come under scrutiny for the fatal shootings of unarmed black citizens in Chicago ― including Rekia Boyd, who was shot by an off-duty officer. 

The misconduct and various civil rights violations have cost the city’s taxpayers millions over the decades. Since 2004 alone, Chicago has spent about $662 million on police misconduct, which includes settlements, judgments and legal fees, according to The Associated Press; settlements and other fees from the Burge-era cases alone tallied roughly $100 million.

Kim Bellware reported from Chicago. Ryan J. Reilly reported from Washington.

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More Republicans And Democrats Sign On To Bill To Protect Dreamers From Trump

Thu, 2017-01-12 16:10

WASHINGTON ― With eight days to go before President-elect Donald Trump gets his chance to revoke protections from hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is relaunching their effort to keep those so-called Dreamers safe.

On Thursday, seven Republicans and eight Democrats signed on to a bill in the Senate and House to effectively maintain the work permits and deportation reprieve created by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which Trump has promised to destroy.

The bill, called the Bridge Act, was initially introduced in the Senate in December by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), with three co-sponsors. It was reintroduced in the Senate for the new Congress, and in the House for the first time, with more co-sponsors now but still far from enough to ensure success or even a vote on Republican-controlled Capitol Hill.

But it could be the best chance Dreamers have to keep their work permits and driver’s licenses if Trump follows through on his promise to end DACA, which he and many other Republicans ― including supporters of the Bridge Act ― say went beyond Obama’s presidential authority in the first place.

“In my view, the DACA executive order issued by President Obama was unconstitutional and President-elect Trump would be right to repeal it,” Graham said in a statement on Thursday. “However, I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women ― who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government ― back into the darkness.”

The Bridge Act wouldn’t grant legal status to DACA recipients, but would allow them and others who would qualify for the program to maintain work authorization in a new “provisional protected presence” status that would last for three years from the time the bill was enacted. It would also bar the government from using information collected for DACA for other purposes ― such as deportation ― with some exceptions for national security or non-immigration criminal investigations.

More than 750,000 undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children have applied for and received DACA since its inception in 2012.

The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers. In the Senate, Graham is joined by Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, while Durbin is joined by Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California.

Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) led the bill in the House, joined by Republicans Jeff Denham of California and Florida’s Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, along with three Democrats from California: Lucille Roybal-Allard, Zoe Lofgren and Judy Chu.

Sponsors of the bill in both parties said it should be followed up with broader immigration reform. For one thing, the act would sunset after three years. For another, DACA-eligible Dreamers make up only a portion of the undocumented population.

“These young people are a lifeline for their families and leaders in our communities,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “We are starting with them, but I remain concerned about the millions of other immigrants who have no clear path to legal status and the millions who are locked out of legal immigration because our system is so out-of-date and backlogged.”

Trump has expressed some sympathy for Dreamers, although he and his aides were still saying as recently as December that he plans to dismantle DACA. If he chooses to push for separate legislation, it would be breaking another campaign promise ― he said he would not do anything for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. until the border was secure and high levels of people had been deported.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time magazine of Dreamers last month. “But that’s a very tough situation.”

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Arlington Heights Case Anniversary: Why Business Conservatives Should Rethink The Sessions Nomination

Wed, 2017-01-11 15:42
There are many reasons to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, starting with why he was rejected for a federal judgeship thirty years ago. His record of statements and actions that suggest racial bias, central to that Senate rejection, has continued in his long public career. If confirmed to such a prominent cabinet position, Sessions could, as a result of these indications of racial bias, end up not just defending lawsuits against the federal government, but being a significant subject of suits challenging Trump-initiated policies as violating the Constitution's prohibition of racial discrimination.

Coincidentally, this week marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the Supreme Court's most significant decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which has been the main vehicle for challenging racial discrimination in this country. The Court's decision in Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation ("Arlington Heights") has played such a formative role that it is no stretch to assume that every law student has studied the case as part of a core education in constitutional law since the decision came out on January 11, 1977.

This anniversary comes one day after Senate confirmation hearings on Sessions begin. While the two events may seem wholly unrelated, their coincidence should cause Donald Trump and, perhaps more important, business conservatives who favor some of the incoming president's announced policy reforms, to rethink the controversial nomination of Alabama's junior senator. Arlington Heights demonstrates why Sessions' appointment to a position influencing the formation of key federal policies could contribute to federal court-ordered delays of some of the most anticipated changes proposed by Trump.

At issue in the Arlington Heights case four decades ago was a Chicago suburb's denial of a request to re-zone land to permit construction of a federally-subsidized townhome project for low- and moderate-income tenants. The project would have housed a disproportionately African American population in comparison to the surrounding village, and the developer filed a federal lawsuit challenging the denied re-zoning as racially discriminatory, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In rejecting the challenge, the Supreme Court majority reiterated what the Court had suggested in previous decisions: that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits only intentional racial discrimination. The decision was part of a conservative Court majority's backlash against the view that discriminatory effects -- with or without racial intent -- alone violate the Equal Protection Clause.

In the passages for which the case is studied in law school, the Court majority indicated that determining "whether invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor" in a challenged government decision, such as Arlington Heights' denial of re-zoning, requires "a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available."

The Court in Arlington Heights provided a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider in an Equal Protection challenge, including, for example, historical background and the specific sequence of events leading to the decision, as well as the administrative and legislative history of the decision. The Court also noted that disparate impact -- a disproportionate negative effect -- on a minority group - is an "important starting point" of the intent inquiry, but that such an impact alone would not generally suffice to prove a constitutional violation.

Basically, the Court adopted a flexible test for intent while insisting on demonstration of such racial purpose. Arlington Heights remains valid law, and the Court's flexible test would certainly encompass evidence of demonstrated racial bias by a key legal advisor and shaper of policy like the Attorney General. That is why the nomination - and confirmation should it occur - of someone like Sessions, with his known record, is so curiously self-damaging to the incoming presidential administration.

Of course, there are other troubling appointments - most notably, that of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist despite his significant time leading a media platform for the alt-right - that could strengthen the inevitable court challenges, under Arlington Heights, to major Trump policy initiatives. Still, it makes little sense to compound these extant potential problems by appointing someone with Sessions' record as the federal government's chief lawyer and legal advisor.

Many of the policies that Trump espouses -- and that business conservatives also likely support, perhaps justifying in their view holding their nose about some of Trump's own exclusionary rhetoric -- would have a predictably disproportionate negative impact on minorities. This satisfies the Arlington Heights starting point, rendering those policy changes ready targets for challenge under the Equal Protection Clause. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act and withdrawal of Obama Administration changes in overtime rules are just two examples of such policy proposals.

This should give business conservatives great pause about having Sessions as Attorney General. His presence in the position could contribute to the success of the likely federal-court Equal Protection lawsuits that will seek to block policy changes with a disproportionate impact on minorities, including policies that business conservatives favor.

By and large, business leaders have not come forward to address the nomination of Sessions to be Attorney General. There are many strong reasons to oppose Sessions' confirmation, but one for business conservatives to seriously consider arises from a case whose anniversary arrives just as the senator's confirmation hearings begin.

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Obama Supporters Gather To Look Back On Once-In-A-Lifetime Presidency

Wed, 2017-01-11 00:24

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CHICAGO — Andrea Bercos stood arm in arm with her mother Tuesday night, ready to say goodbye to President Barack Obama the same way they greeted him eight years ago in Chicago’s Grant Park ― tearful, hopeful and wearing blue shirts that read “Change.”

The 38-year-old social worker and her 65-year-old mother, Carol, were among the thousands of people who poured into the McCormick Place convention center Tuesday to mark the end of the Obama era. 

“It’s so amazing and sad, really,” Carol, a retired social worker from Libertyville, Illinois, said through tears. “I never thought I’d see a candidate like him in my lifetime.” 

Carol was inspired by the inclusive message of Obama’s presidency ― something reflected in the ages, identities and races of the supporters Tuesday night ― but less optimistic about what a Donald Trump administration may hold. She said she worries about the support for issues like immigration and marriage equality and laments what she called a “sexual predator mentality that is now the norm.”

Seeing Obama one last time as president is something of a salve.

“I’m excited that I get to see my hero,” Carol said.

Excitement was the dominant emotion throughout the night, along with feelings of bittersweetness. Supporters considered the difference in tone and tact that a Trump presidency will likely have in contrast to Obama’s, but their moods rarely darkened at the thought.

Instead, supporters like Anita President (”That’s my real name!” she said), who was serving as a volunteer usher, said they were encouraged to be optimistic because of the positive tone Obama was setting as he departs. 

“I’m trying to stay hopeful and prayerful that a lot of [Trump’s] talk is just rhetoric,” she said as she steered attendees into lines.

President said she attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago when the Obamas were parishioners, and has followed his career. Tuesday night she proudly wore an Obama T-shirt that she bought when she came to the venue on Saturday to pick up a free ticket to the event. 

“I know it’s a historic thing. I know I’ll never see something like this in my lifetime again,” President said. 

Fatima Mohammad of Bolingbrook, Illinois, was aware of the historic nature of the event and brought her young children. The entire family wore matching T-shirts that read, “The Mohammads came to say goodbye to Obama.”

“I wanted the names of two great men next to each other,” the 33-year-old said, adding, ”I’m very happy we got to experience him as the president.” 

Mohammad said she liked Obama’s message of inclusiveness and respect, and that she finds Trump more distasteful than worrisome.

“We are where we are,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure what he’ll be like. Is he going to treat everyone the same?”

Despite Trump’s often bigoted remarks about Muslims and other groups, Mohammad suggested her outlook was more optimistic because of her faith in the strength of American democracy.

Jerry Hunt, a 25-year-old Marine from suburban University Park, Illinois, said he’s trying to maintain a hopeful outlook. Hunt was just a sophomore in high school when he hopped the train to the city to see Obama’s election night victory in 2008.

“It opened my eyes to a whole new world,” Hunt said. “It influenced me. I wasn’t always into politics, but I was spoiled — having the first African-American president so young.”

He said he’s saving his ticket from Tuesday’s farewell address to give to his children someday.

Hunt, who said he was able to discuss political matters more freely now that he’s finished his military service, said he would take a “wait and see” approach to Trump.

“I think we’re gonna give him the chance Republicans didn’t give Obama and see what he does,” he said.

Supporters who were interviewed largely agreed that health care would be Obama’s biggest legacy from a policy standpoint. They predicted that his legacy would withstand political tinkering by the new Republican-controlled Congress; they were more concerned that the law itself would not. 

Linda K., who volunteered for Obama back in 2007, noted that her grandson who was born with a pre-existing condition was able to get corrective surgery under the Affordable Care Act that he would not have had otherwise.

While she feels undeniably positive toward Obama for passing the law, she said she admires the president’s behavior as much as his actions. 

“He wasn’t just change ― he was change from a less-than-well-prepared president,” Linda said, referring to Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush. 

“Obama was an intelligent, wise and dignified person,” she added. “That’s why I wanted to be here tonight. I wanted to witness history. I wanted to hear what he had to say.” 

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President Barack Obama Bids America A Heartfelt Farewell

Tue, 2017-01-10 23:41

On Tuesday night at Chicago’s McCormick Place, Barack Obama walked out on a stage draped in red and blue and bid his final farewell as president of the United States.

In a speech that was at once candid, emotional and sobering, Obama reflected on what was achieved during his eight years in the Oval Office, and what needs to be done now to protect American democracy and values. 

“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it,” Obama told the audience and the country.

“After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea ― our bold experiment in self-government.”

Below, see the images from Obama’s final national address as president, as he offered his parting words to a country he diligently served.

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A Year Of Loss, Fear, And Hope In A Chicago School

Mon, 2017-01-09 19:08
As a long-time teacher, I usually don't pay much attention to New Year's retrospectives or celebrations. For me, the real new year starts in early September, when I hear the shuffle of teenage feet clambering up freshly polished stairs to my third-floor classroom. My year, my body clock, even my emotional ups and downs have long been synced to the academic calendar.

But this past year -- the January to December one -- was different.

By now that's almost a trite observation. In recent weeks, article after article, post after post, tweet after tweet have rejoiced in the long-awaited demise of 2016. The past twelve months, we've been told in a hundred different ways, have sucked.

Part of me has no quarrel with that assessment. I mourn the loss of childhood music idols as much as anyone (Prince!). But as Chicagoan Lynda Lopez commented on Twitter in regard to the "2016 sucks" meme, "How many of us can lightly make fun of the year and which of us can't? What does a 'sucky year' mean for you and what does it mean for others?" Like Lopez, I have been struck at year's end by the relative distance many of us have from the public losses we say have affected us -- and that's especially true for white Americans like me. We may nod our heads at lamentations about "the worst year ever", but rarely do we feel personally fearful or materially at risk.

Not so for the 7th and 8th graders I teach in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, most of whom are children of Mexican immigrants. The city's two biggest news stories during 2016 -- the bizarre Presidential election and the spiraling levels of gun violence in some of Chicago's most forgotten communities -- were not, for my students, fodder for smarmy comments or punchlines. They were not headlines playing out at a safe distance. Both hit -- literally -- close to home, and the loss and fear that accompanied them were visceral, palpable.

As 2016 began, late-night talk shows and social media were still having plenty of fun with the notion of a Trump presidency. But my students were already worried. The possibility of Trump landing in the White House had never felt like a joke to them, and as months went by, their concerns grew. They listened as he categorically disparaged Mexicans and Muslims, as he threatened to end birthright citizenship, as he demonized black and brown Chicago, as he repeatedly promised to build a wall. To my students, these were neither throwaway stump-speech lines nor laughable proposals. They were direct threats.

"Mr. Michie," a 7th grader wondered aloud in class. "If Donald Trump wins and my mom gets deported, can I come live with you and your family?"

"I don't think that's gonna happen," I said. "If it does, though, we'll figure something out. You're gonna be OK. Don't worry."

But he did worry. Despite the reassurances of teachers, despite all the polls, despite the many prognosticators predicting a Clinton victory, he was fearful, as were many of my students, of what might be. But they were also afraid of what had been, of what already was.

On a Monday evening in early May, I got a text from a former student: "Hey Mr. Michie I don't know if you had heard they just shot Leo the 7th grader." No, I thought. Please, no. Leo was in my homeroom -- a bright, often quiet kid who loved playing basketball in the park, reading realistic fiction, and making his classmates laugh. Earlier that day, we'd stood back to back in the hallway to see who was taller. I still had him by a half inch. "I bet you'll pass me by the end of the year," I'd said.

No, no, no. Let him be OK.

A few minutes later, another text: "Mr. Michie he passed away. They just texted me right now telling me that he didn't pull through."

I had been to the funerals of several former students over the years. But I'd never had a current student killed, never had to face all his friends in class the next morning. I wasn't sure what to say, what to do, how to proceed. I knew information traveled fast in the neighborhood -- it always had, even before Facebook or texting -- so I didn't think I'd be the one to break the news to any of my students. But when one boy ambled in, hair tousled as if he'd woken up ten minutes earlier, I could tell by the way he looked around at the awkward stillness of his classmates that he had no inkling. Telling him was one of the toughest things I've had to do in my 20-plus years as a teacher.

My colleagues and I decided to let all the 7th and 8th graders spend the entire morning out in the hallway. We hugged. We cried. We stood around in clusters, speaking in whispers, still stunned. Later, my homeroom students gathered chairs in a circle and shared. We meditated, as we do every day. And we created a community memorial to Leo in the hallway, with photos, drawings, poems, and remembrances. A smaller version of it still graces our classroom all these months later.

The week after Leo was killed, a class of second graders -- along with their teacher, Erika Gomez, who grew up in Back of the Yards and attended our school as a student -- slowly filed into our classroom in the middle of a social studies lesson. My students watched, confused. "What are they doing?" one student asked aloud. When the last of the children had taken their places in a semi-circle that embraced the older students, three stepped forward.

"We know you are really sad about your friend, Leonardo," a girl said.

"But we want you to know that there is hope. Don't lose hope," another added.

"So we made little presents for you to keep and to know that life goes on."

For the next few minutes, the second graders made their way around the room, handing out cards they'd made for the teens. "I'm sorry for your loss," one chubby-cheeked boy said. Near him, a pair of girls hugged as tears rolled down the 8th grader's cheeks. She wiped them away, smiled, and gave her card-bearer another tight squeeze.

It had been an unimaginably difficult two weeks, and the surprise visit had come at just the right time. At some point, we'd need to continue thinking about the root causes of violence in the neighborhood, about what the city needed to do to support young people in communities like ours, about our own roles in helping to bring about change.

But at that moment, we needed to remember Leo. We needed to hold on to each other. We needed just what those second graders provided.

* * * *

That any school-based learning can happen when kids are experiencing such emotional upheaval, such an avalanche of sadness and fear, is something akin to a miracle. But it does. Young people are resilient -- far more than they should have to be in a truly just world -- and we do our best to move forward. As in many middle school classrooms, my students this year were by turns deeply engaged, flat-out bored, lost in reflection, or writhing in uproarious laughter. They wrote poems and read novels and explored big questions like "What is the meaning of patriotism?" and "What is the role of the media in a democracy?" They learned.

In October, in the midst of a unit on the presidential election, my social studies classes watched Khizr Khan's speech from the Democratic convention. Almost none of them had seen it before, and when Khan pulled a slim booklet out of his jacket pocket and said to the camera, "Donald Trump... let me ask you: Have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy," their roar of applause seemed to shake the walls. One girl turned to me and said, "That right there gave me chills."

The morning of November 9, the electricity generated by the Khan video seemed like a distant memory. Like much of America, many of my students believed that Hillary Clinton would win. Or maybe they just wanted to believe it. Most of them weren't huge Clinton fans (many had favored Bernie Sanders during the primary season), but Trump was frightening. When I asked if anybody wanted to share how they were feeling in the wake of the results, few did. So, I asked each student to give me just one word. Angry, worried, afraid, and disappointed came up often. Later in the period, when we looked at the exit polls broken down by race, it was no surprise who had disappointed them. Trump had won only the white vote, while losing in a landslide among everyone else.

My students are not naïve. I don't think they look to electoral politics as a simple balm for their hurts or struggles. They are keen observers of current events and history, and are quick to detect injustices perpetrated by those in power, whether we're discussing the Dawes Act of 1887 or the recent cover-up of the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago. But they are also, on the whole, not jaded. While they note the hypocrisies, and live out the stark differences between the America of textbook mythology and the America of their back yard, many want to believe that the country's people will, when it really matters, do right by them. In that sense, the presidential election was another crushing loss in a year of crushing losses.

As painful as Leo's death had been, it wasn't the first, or last, to shake our school's community during the past year. Sidewalk altars became a recurring feature of the neighborhood landscape, their wilting flowers and Virgen de Guadalupe prayer candles serving as reminders of the fragility of life for kids who walked past each day. Two of those killed were older brothers of one of our current 8th graders. Five had once been students at our school. The oldest among them was just 22.

So, were they gang members? I can almost see that question bubbling to the surface in the minds of some readers. My short answer is that it doesn't matter. They were young -- most of them still teens -- and now they are gone. Asking if they were gang members seems little more than a pretext for concluding their deaths were justified, or at least undeserving of sympathy. It's the same line of thinking, in reverse, that prompts journalists to alert readers that a murdered teen was an "honor student" -- as if a kid who failed a class or had a "C" average is somehow expendable. Of the young people our school's community lost this year, some were gang-affiliated. Others, like Leo, were not. Either way, the questions we should be asking in the wake of such violence are deeper ones: Why do so many Black and Latino young men feel a sense of hopelessness or despair? What can schools do to better embrace and connect with kids on the margins? Where are the job opportunities and mental health supports for young people in our city's neediest neighborhoods?

Asking good questions is, of course, part of the territory for teachers. But for me, the best, most urgent question of the year was not part of any unit plan or asked by any adult at our school. It was posed by an 8th grader, toward the end of an assembly that addressed the violence in our community, how it was affecting us, and how we might respond. The girl who asked it raised her hand tentatively before saying, "How does hope unfold?"

The philosophical turn of the question, as well as its somewhat unusual construction, seemed to take everyone by surprise. If anyone responded, I don't remember what they said. But the question stuck with me over the course of the year: How does hope unfold? The image it brought to mind, for me at least, was of hope as a process, a series of actions, that build upon one another over time. It resonated with me in ways that similar questions, such as "Where do we find hope?" do not.

For many educators, the answer to that last question -- Where do we find hope? -- is often simple and obvious: The kids. We find hope in our students, the next generation. It's a cliché of sorts, but I've said it myself, many times, and there is truth to be found in the words. Still, the events of this year have pushed me to reconsider that response, to wonder if it is, in some ways, a cop-out for adults, a way to place a weight onto the shoulders of young people who shouldn't have to carry it.

That thought was echoed by one of my 8th-grade students, who closed a poem with these words:

They tell me to have hope, that everything is going to be okay.
But how can I believe them?
How can I convince myself that everything's gon' be alright?
How can you ask me to have hope when bodies are being dropped day after day?...
If there is a way to get hope,
teach me,
teach us.

That, in turn, may be too formidable a load for teachers to bear alone. In times of tragedy, we all flail about, full of uncertainty. The only real way forward, it seems, is to trudge through the losses and pain hand in hand.

And that we continue to do. A colleague down the hall has instituted "peace circles" in her classroom. Our school administration set aside money for therapists to support students' emotional health, and devoted an entire professional development session to teacher wellness. In late November, in response to the election results, a number of students and teachers participated in a "We Belong" unity march and rally, where one of our 8th graders delivered a powerful speech in support of her undocumented brother. And every day, my class begins our meditation by remembering Leo.

Outside the school's walls, the neighborhood is, as always, full of beautiful people and fierce love. Gun violence and gangs do not define it. Kids play soccer at the park. Some go to confirmation classes or play in a marimba ensemble at the local parish. Mothers lead parenting classes. A weekly reflections group draws 15 or so young men, who discuss their struggles and ways to address them ("We don't need more police. We need jobs."). At a recent community meeting, a parent lamented the fact that outsiders often notice only negatives in the neighborhood and fail to see all the good things that are happening.

I'm glad 2016 is over. I know there's no magic in turning the page on a calendar, and a peek at the latest news feed is enough of a reminder that difficult days lie ahead. Still, unlike in past years, I feel a certain healing in welcoming this New Year. I greet it with no resolutions -- only a renewed challenge: Day by day, piece by piece, unfold hope. Together.

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Sanctuary City Movement Highlights Barack Obama’s Complicated Immigration Legacy

Mon, 2017-01-09 17:35

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When Boulder, Colorado’s city council voted unanimously last week to declare Boulder a “sanctuary city,” it wasn’t exactly changing policy ― it was making a point to President-elect Donald Trump. Not only would the city keep refusing to help identify undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities, but it would adopt the increasingly controversial name, too.

Even more audaciously, local leaders shrugged off Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds from cities that fail to cooperate with his proposed immigration crackdown. The city receives about $8 million in federal funding annually, according to the Daily Camera ― about 2 percent of its budget.

“There’s value in codifying our practices, so that they’re very clear to us and they’re very clear for everyone,” Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones, a Democrat, told The Huffington Post. “The important part of all this is to signal to members of our community that we’re all in this together. And to signal to the Trump administration that we’re going to stand up for the civil rights of everyone in our community, and we hope he does as well.” 

But while Boulder became the latest major city to concretize its sanctuary policy in response to Trump, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office first adopted the stance in 2014. That year, a federal court ruled that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests for local police to hold unauthorized immigrants on the agency’s behalf weren’t mandatory, despite the Barack Obama administration’s insistence to the contrary. Thus, the sanctuary city movement gained steam largely as a rebellion against what many liberal jurisdictions viewed as intrusive immigration enforcement efforts under Obama.

Of course, Trump’s election has given the sanctuary cities movement added urgency, casting municipalities as underdogs and prodding pro-reform Democrats to adopt positions more consistent with the views of the immigrant rights advocates they’ve long claimed to represent.

While there’s disagreement over what constitutes a sanctuary city, placing limits on ICE requests to detain unauthorized immigrants is widely considered a baseline requirement. Some 447 jurisdictions met that threshold as of last month, according to a report by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, titled “Searching for Sanctuary.” More than 150 others exceeded it.

Lena Graber, one of the report’s authors, said in an interview with HuffPost that no strong working definition of “sanctuary city” exists, but refusing to honor ICE detainers is likely too broad of one. Many jurisdictions stopped complying with ICE holds because the courts questioned their constitutionality. “A lot of those communities would not call themselves sanctuaries, but they believe in the Fourth Amendment,” she said. 

Still, some 1,830 jurisdictions “generally do whatever ICE asks of them without analyzing whether it is legal or good policy,” the report states.

Some cities, like San Francisco and Chicago, have challenged federal immigration authorities for decades, according to Randy Capps, a researcher at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

But when Obama took office, his administration pressed local authorities to hand over arrested undocumented immigrants whom ICE identified under a new information-sharing program called “Secure Communities.” Designed by the George W. Bush administration and implemented nationally by Obama, the program required local law enforcement officers to share fingerprints of people they arrested with ICE. Contrary to initial expectations, the Obama administration said cooperation was mandatory.

“That’s what caused the backlash ― the S-Comm program,” Capps told HuffPost. “That’s when you started to get much more widespread opposition.”

A lot of those communities would not call themselves sanctuaries, but they believe in the Fourth Amendment.
Lena Graber, Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Critics ― who resented the program so much they called it “S-Comm” to avoid using its self-congratulatory name ― said detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of the feds stretched local resources and made immigrant communities distrustful of the police. One problem they frequently cited was that victims of domestic abuse faced the risk of deportation if they called the cops, because some jurisdictions arrest both parties in violent disputes.

Dozens of cities and counties tried to opt out, only to be told by Obama officials that they had no choice but to comply.

But the 2014 ruling that ICE waivers are voluntary deflated that argument, leading more than 200 jurisdictions, including Boulder, to defect from the program. California passed the Trust Act the year before the federal ruling, becoming a sanctuary state.

Secure Communities was mainly popular with Obama’s rivals in red states, reflecting the contradictory legacy of a president who ramped up immigration enforcement while championing reform. He finally scrapped the program in November 2014.

The election of the most hardline immigration hawk in recent U.S. history has emboldened conservatives who hope to punish jurisdictions that shield immigrants. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) submitted legislation this month that would cut federal funds to sanctuary cities ― a move Trump also promised on the campaign trail. In Texas, home to the country’s second-largest undocumented population, the legislature will consider a bill that would make it illegal to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. 

But Trump’s election has also inspired Democratic-led cities like Boulder to more vociferously ― and less diplomatically ― oppose the drafting of local police for immigration enforcement.

Even the sanctuary city jurisdictions that confronted Obama most forcefully over the last eight years usually framed their logic as a rebellion against federal overreach or the misuse of limited local police resources, rather than as a problem with the president himself. Obama, likewise, struggled to square his image as a champion of reform with his administration’s efforts to expand a program widely reviled within his party that helped him deport record numbers of undocumented immigrants.

While Obama dropped Secure Communities, he never retreated from his efforts to recruit local police to partner with ICE in search of deportable immigrants. His strategy of focusing on deporting people with criminal records depended on it.

When DHS officials announced the 2016 deportation figures last month, they trumpeted the achievement of restoring cooperation with 21 of the 25 jurisdictions that had refused the most ICE detainers since the mass defections prompted by S-Comm. The sanctuary city movement’s growing prominence suggests Trump will struggle to keep those jurisdictions on board.

So many Democratic-led cities have publicly affirmed or expanded their pro-immigrant sanctuary policies over the last two months in response to Trump’s election that it seems the issue is rapidly becoming a consensus position within the party. The movement has spread to universities, which insist that ICE stay off campuses, and has reinforced reformers’ engagement with churches that offer sanctuary to migrants facing deportation.

And cities like Boulder, which once tiptoed around a policy at odds with the president, are codifying their sanctuary city status with resolutions that will still be on the books the next time a Democrat holds the White House.

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House GOP Rushes to Block Federal Funds For Sanctuary Cities

Mon, 2017-01-09 10:26

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House Republicans are moving swiftly to punish so-called sanctuary cities, and have already introduced at least three measures to block federal funds for municipalities or college campuses that limit their cooperation with federal officials on deporting undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) introduced HR 83, known as the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, last week to strip federal funding from such jurisdictions. As mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Barletta gained a national profile for approving ordinances aimed at driving out undocumented immigrants, most of which were found unconstitutional.

“Too many mayors and local governments think that they are above federal law and place their own ideology ahead of the safety of their residents,” he told Hazleton’s Standard-Speaker. “One of the principal duties of the government is to protect its citizens, and the idea of sanctuary cities runs completely counter to that responsibility.”

Supporters of sanctuary cities argue, however, that they improve public safety by making undocumented people more willing to come forward if they witness or are victims of a crime, and say it can be costly or even illegal to hold arrestees longer based on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s requests.

It’s the third time Barletta has introduced a bill to target sanctuary cities ― but this year, the measure has a greater chance of passing, since President-elect Donald Trump vowed to eject millions of undocumented immigrants from the country. HR 83 would prohibit state or local governments that fail to cooperate fully with federal immigration authorities from receiving any federal funding for a minimum of a year. There are approximately 400 such localities ― including states, counties and cities ― according to The New York Times, which cites data from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) introduced a similar measure last month that would deny federal dollars to any entity, including colleges, that refuse to comply with ICE. Harris has publicly attacked at least one Baltimore official for his “risky” stance defending immigrants. 

Another bill by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) would block sanctuary campuses from receiving Title IV funds for financial aid.

During his presidential campaign, Trump threatened to cut funds to cities and states that have vowed to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. After Trump’s win, some U.S. mayors defended their policies.

“We are not going to sacrifice a half million people who live among us, who are part of our community,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We are not going to tear families apart.” The Democrat called Trump’s threat to withhold funds from sanctuary cities “dangerous.”

A spokeswoman for Los Angeles’ Democratic mayor, Eric Garcetti, stated in November that Garcetti hoped “no president” would take “punitive action on cities that are simply protecting the well being of residents.”

Several sanctuary cities are quietly amassing taxpayer-funded war chests to finance court battles against Trump’s push to deport immigrants.

Los Angeles-area officials have unveiled a $10-million defense fund, and Chicago recently approved its own $1.3 million defense fund for undocumented immigrants.

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More Than $50,000 Raised In 1 Day For Teen Tortured On Facebook Live

Fri, 2017-01-06 14:57

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A GoFundMe campaign launched to assist the young man attacked earlier this week in Chicago has raised more than $50,000 in just a day. The campaign has already exceeded both its previous goals of $5,000 and $10,000.

“Razor” Sheldon of San Francisco, California, started the online fundraiser Thursday in response to news that an 18-year-old, whom police described as having “mental health challenges,” was bound, gagged and tortured for up to 48 hours in Chicago.

“Let’s prove to him that there is far more good in this world than the evil he recently endured,” Sheldon wrote on the subreddit r/UpliftingNews, which he founded in May 2012.

A GoFundMe representative authenticated the campaign in an email to The Huffington Post, and says the funds will go directly to the victim’s family.

In a half-hour video broadcast on Facebook Live, the attackers were seen beating the bound and gagged young man, dumping ashes on him, and slashing at the young man’s clothes with a knife. The attackers can be heard saying “fuck white people” and President-elect Donald Trump, although police have said the attack does not seem to have been politically motivated.

The video was later removed by Facebook.

Police said at a press conference that the victim managed to escape and was discovered Tuesday by police wandering the street disoriented and confused. Authorities said the young man was so traumatized by the experience that it took him most of the night to calm down and tell his story.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office charged four suspects ― Jordan Hill, 18, Tesfaye Cooper, 18, and sisters Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24, all of whom are black ― with a hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

CPD Arrested and Charged all four offenders with Hate Crime, as well as other charges.

— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) January 5, 2017

Police also noted that Hill and the victim are acquainted, having attended the same school.

Chicago Area North Detectives Commander Kevin Duffin said hate crime charges are warranted due to the victim’s “diminished mental capacity, the fact that they tied him up, the obvious racial quotes that they post live on Facebook.”

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Chicago Cop Loses Police Powers In Off-Duty Killing Of Unarmed Man

Thu, 2017-01-05 15:23

A Chicago police officer who authorities said shot an unarmed man to death during an off-duty dispute was stripped of his authority this week while the department investigates.  

The 57-year-old veteran officer, who has not been identified, shot the man multiple times Monday morning after a “verbal altercation,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference Monday. Media reports have identified the victim as 38-year-old Jose Nieves.

The officer, who was assigned to the transit detail, will continue to be paid while the investigation proceeds, according to the Chicago Tribune. Stripping his police powers is the “strongest step a department can take” during an open investigation, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the paper.

Johnson said the officer was visiting an acquaintance near the shooting scene and knew Nieves from a previous dispute. 

Nieves’ death was ruled a homicide. The only weapon recovered after the shooting belonged to the officer, Johnson said. 

“I have a lot more questions than I do answers,” Johnson said. “The facts are preliminary at this time.” 

Nieves’ sister, Angelica Nieves, told WGN her brother had repeatedly called 911 about the officer. She claimed the dispute started with the officer harassing her brother’s girlfriend.

“It was not justified. It wasn’t justified. It was not,” Angel Nieves, the victim’s father, told the news station.

Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, which handles misconduct allegations, is conducting a separate investigation.

A vigil will be held for Nieves Saturday. On Twitter, his death has been held up as an example of a broken policing system that leads to excessive violence and disproportionately affects people of color

this country continues to prove in ever more blatant ways how little it values its citizens of color. this is the next step. #JoseNieves

— Tehlor Kay Mejia (@tehlorkay) January 5, 2017

we are dying because police believe we are a criminal stereotype rather than people to be protected and served. #JoseNieves

— Tehlor Kay Mejia (@tehlorkay) January 5, 2017

Chicago police have come under scrutiny in several recent high-profile police shootings.

Johnson took over as police superintendent last year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired his predecessor amid outrage over the city’s handling of the 2014 police killing of Laquan McDonald, 17. An officer shot the teen more than a dozen times as he walked away, but police dashcam footage that contradicted police claims that McDonald lunged at officers with a knife was kept secret for more than a year.

The backlash also led to the creation of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which will replace the Independent Police Review Authority this year as part of the city’s efforts to improve police oversight and accountability.  

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'Miracle Baby' Who Weighed Less Than 1 Pound At Birth Is Now A Thriving Teen

Thu, 2017-01-05 11:24

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Eric and Tammy Koz always wanted to be parents. So when the young couple found out they were pregnant with a little girl in 2003 after a devastating miscarriage, they were beyond thrilled.

“I was ecstatic,” Tammy told “The Oprah Show” in 2004. “I had a very positive outlook on the pregnancy. I think I’m probably the only one that did...”

The reason many were fearful, Tammy explained back then, was due to her having lupus, an autoimmune disease that increased her risk of miscarriage. Yet, this particular pregnancy was going smoothly ― until 19 weeks, when a routine ultrasound revealed that Baby Zoe wasn’t growing at the rate she should have been. Dr. Julie Jensen presented the Koz family with two options.

“We said we could deliver at that point; her survivability was quoted at basically zero percent,” Dr. Jenson said. “The other option was to try to get her to 27 weeks and then deliver her with a survivability probably still under the 5 percent number.”

Eric and Tammy chose the latter, and Tammy was put on bedrest. She reported to the hospital every other day to see if Zoe was still alive. 

“You take a big, deep breath and you prepare yourself that there’s no going to be a heartbeat today,” Tammy said through tears. “Every time, there was a heartbeat.”

At 27 weeks, Tammy delivered Zoe by C-section. The baby weighed 10.8 ounces ― just over half a pound ― and was one of the smallest babies born in the U.S. to survive. Zoe may have been small, but the doctor who delivered her was the first to get a sense of the infant’s feisty personality. “I didn’t know what I would find,” Dr. Jensen said. “When Zoe came out and kicked me, it was just unbelievable.”

Today, Zoe is an active and outgoing teenager attending middle school in Plainfield, Ill. It’s a life her parents had hoped for, but one that they were perhaps too frightened to imagine 13 years ago, as they tell “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”

“Were there negative thoughts that we thought? Yes,” dad Eric says. “I was curious if I was signing a birth certificate and a death certificate. I was worried about those things. A lot of guessing.”

The uncertainty was extremely difficult for Eric and Tammy, but Zoe was a fighter. “I gathered my strength from her, from the experience that she was going through to fight to live,” Tammy says. “When you’re in a situation where you don’t have any other choice but to be strong, you just have to be strong.” 

Zoe spent five months in the NICU before she could go home with her parents. “She was a little over five months old and she weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces,” Tammy recalls. “Which is the birth weight of her little sister.”

Though no one was sure what to expect from Zoe, she continues to amaze both her family and her doctors. “Zoe has blown their mind,” Tammy says. “Every visit she goes to, the doctors just can’t believe how amazing she’s doing.”

Beyond hearing aids, glasses and slightly shorter stature than her peers, Zoe is just another healthy seventh-grader.

“She’s growing, too, and she’s blending right in,” Eric says. “She’s not skipping a beat.”

Another baby who defied the odds:

Baby born with an “incurable disease” is now a 2020 Paralympic hopeful

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Man With Special Needs Allegedly Bound, Gagged And Tortured On Facebook Live

Wed, 2017-01-04 23:30

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A man with special needs was allegedly bound, gagged and tortured in the Chicago area on Tuesday ― and much of the attack was streamed live over Facebook. 

Four suspects, two men and two women, are in custody awaiting charges, the Chicago Police Department said in a news conference.

The suspects and victim are all 18 years old. Neither they, nor the victim, have been identified. 

The disturbing footage, which contains strong language, showed the assailants beating the victim and dumping ashes on him. The attackers also slashed the victim’s clothes with a knife and cut his hair so close that it made his scalp bleed. 

The suspects, who are black, yelled “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people, boy” at the victim, who is white. It is not clear if the victim was a supporter of the president-elect.

At one point, one of the suspects looked into the camera and addressed the people watching via Facebook.

“If any one of y’all got a problem with this, I’m gonna tie y’all bitch ass up too!” he yelled.

The victim had been reported missing from the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake. When police found him in the city on Wednesday, he was disoriented and wearing shorts, despite the freezing temperature.  

It didn’t seem right,” Chicago Police Capt. Steven Sesso said at a Wednesday news conference. 

Officers took the victim to an area hospital, where he is recovering, and later connected him to the disturbing video.

The victim was reportedly an acquaintance of at least one of the suspects. They took him into the city in a stolen van, Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin said. It’s not clear if the victim was kidnapped or willingly went with the suspects.

“We’re still talking to the victim. It’s quite a possibility that it is a kidnapping and that’s certainly one of the charges we’ll be seeking if it turns out to be that,” Duffin said. “But, he’s traumatized by the incident and it’s very tough to communicate with him at this point.” 

Duffin said the victim was with his tormentors for at least 24 hours and as long as 48 hours.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson called the video “sickening.” 

“It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that,” he said.

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Here's Why Everybody Likes The Green Bay Packers For The Super Bowl

Wed, 2017-01-04 13:19

When Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to their fourth Super Bowl (and 13th NFL title championship) in 2011, he did it despite his team being the sixth and lowest seed in the NFC. That year, the Packers had to win three road games just to earn the right to play Pittsburgh in the big game. That’s the beauty of this single-elimination tournament: It doesn’t matter how you got here. It just matters that you’re here. 

Wild Card weekend 2017, which kicks off this Saturday, will feature two of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Steelers boast a seven-game win streak and feature a trio of superstars, including unlikely MVP candidate Antonio Brown. But while Pittsburgh undoubtedly deserves our attention, let’s also take a moment to examine why the boys in green have become such a hot ticket.

It all starts and ends with Aaron Rodgers ― the likely league MVP, and for good reason. His 40 touchdown passes are the most in pro football, and during Green Bay’s last six games ― all wins ― the 33-year-old signal caller has amassed 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, it’d be wrong to simply dismiss the Pack as a one-dimensional, aerial attacking team.

Longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers has found the magic touch once more, and he’s done so after an ominous stretch where his defense flat-out couldn’t get off the field.

The turnaround was heralded by a crucial December thrashing of NFC West champ Seattle, when the Seahawks mustered a measly 10 points and confused Russell Wilson to the tune of a career-worst five interceptions. Then, with the division on the line at Detroit in Week 17, Capers ― despite losing three cornerbacks in the game to injury ― coerced Lions MVP candidate Matthew Stafford into several third down errant throws and a crucial pick.

Maybe the most surprisingly effective element for Green Bay, though, has been the running game, once completely dormant following the season-ending injury to starting back Eddie Lacy, along with a knee injury to backup James Starks.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has preached offensive balance, but for much of the season, he simply couldn’t find a shred of it. During Green Bay’s four-game losing streak ― three of which were at the hands of non-playoff teams ― Rodgers averaged over 43 pass attempts per game and twice led the Packers in rushing, which is never a good sign. In fact, only twice all year have the Packers recorded a 100-yard rusher. 

And yet, great teams adjust. They find ways to achieve success, even when it’s not how they originally conceived it.

The oft-maligned McCarthy, to his credit, has done just that, discovering a legitimate solution in converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery. The second-year pro has become an explosive weapon who possesses surprisingly good vision out of the backfield.

In fact, Pro Football Focus lists the former Stanford standout as the shiftiest running back in the league this season. No. 88 ― and yes, that should probably be changed to a number more befitting of a running back ― galloped for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a recent win over Chicago. Moreover, he has averaged a healthy 5.9 yards per rush, which would rank him first in the NFL if he had the qualified number of carries (100).

“To me, him getting over that hurdle is been what I’ve been the most impressed of because I mean, he’s a football player,” McCarthy told Detroit media ahead of the Lions game. “We’ve always played him in there situationally or schematically as a change up, so you could always see the playmaking ability. But to do the every-day, all-three-downs nuances of the running back position has been very impressive. That’s just a real credit to him.”

This is not to say Montgomery is better than otherwordly talents like Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell. But his stellar play has undeniably provided the Packers with a dynamic threat lined up behind Rodgers. Better still, he has morphed into a terrific complement to the play-making Jordy Nelson (league-leading 14 touchdown catches) and Davante Adams (12 TDs) on the perimeter.

The result has been a far more balanced and effective offense.

During the team’s six-game winning streak, Rodgers has averaged 33 throws per game, 10 less than the 43 he was attempting during the Pack’s quartet of consecutive defeats, when they were seemingly out of the postseason race. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that the Packers won their second Super Bowl and 11th NFL title championship in 2011. In fact, it was their fourth Super Bowl victory and 13th league championship.

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Happy New Year

Mon, 2017-01-02 09:30
2016 was quite a year. A great year.

The most interesting Presidential election year of my lifetime. My first full year as a grandfather. The first time I've ever visited Berlin. The first year during which almost all the books I read were on a Kindle. The first time I've ever walked the Little Big Horn battlefield or been in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming at the peak of the aspens changing colors.

But, let's get to it:

Favorite movie: Hell or High's not even close. Let's hope that the Academy will remember the Best Picture Oscar debacle when they gave it to the completely forgettable The King's Speech (at best a Masterpiece Theater episode) rather than the Coen Bros' remake of True Grit (an American movie classic). But, prepare yourself for the equally forgettable La La Land winning best picture.

Favorite non fiction book: The Apache Wars, the hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the captive boy who started the longest war in American History. Nota bene: when I was ten I wanted to run away from home (home was Camp Fuchinobe, Japan) and become a Chiricahua Apache. If you're even in Arizona, visit Cochise Stronghold...a very moving, spiritual experience.

Favorite novel: The Ipcress File...very current to our times even though it was written fifty years ago. A snapshot of swinging London, exceedingly stylish, a bit snide, and the basis for Michael Caine's first starring role (a darn good movie, too).

Best trip: Berlin, in all of its sadness, liveliness, awful new construction, awful post war construction, with ghosts everywhere. Standing in the actual office where the 20th of July plotters found out that Hitler was still alive made history live in a way I've never experienced before. If you go, take Michael Dempsey's excellent WWII tour.

Favorite artistic/rock and roll/historic/blood pumping/popular culture/talking 'bout my generation experience: The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism in London (in NYC now, and coming to Chicago). The guitars on display are worth the price of admission. The overall feeling: as if you're in the British Museum seeing important building blocks of Western Civilization. And, of course, if you get the chance...turn it up loud.

Most extraordinary museum visit: The WWI Centennial exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. Comprehensive, moving, very personal with artifacts (often donated by the actual participants) from the most famous battlefields accompanied by histories of how they were acquired. The Holocaust section of the same museum, though hard on the soul, reminds that we must never forget.

New restaurant: The Ivy Chelsea, London. Beautiful outside and in, great atmosphere and vibe.

Best hamburger (annual award): Edzo's in Evanston.

Dish of the year: my cousin Ted's incredibly tasty cream style corn. Made, as only an aficionado would, with Silver Queen corn (the sine qua non of corn). I have bugged my local Whole Foods to stock Silver Queen but, alas, to them, corn is me it isn't. Think Old Style/Pacifico. Table wine/Sancerre.

Best meal (this might be the best meal I've had in my life): Chicken fried steak, butter beans, and cream style corn cooked by Ted Jones in his Louisiana farmhouse kitchen. Sweet tea. And, a second helping of cream style corn.

Coolest motel: the Sea Aire, Cocoa Beach...on the beach, funky, 1950s Florida, steps away from surfboard rentals, a great massage spa, and a peeler bar. Several surf schools on the beach if you've never tried. Warm water, friendly waves, and, if you're really lucky, a space launch from the Cape.

Coolest hotel: The Sydney House, Chelsea, London. Low key, tres chic, close to everything. You can take the Tube from Heathrow.

Best quote (from A Tale of Two Cities): Sidney Carton (a young man facing death) discussing life with Mr. Lorrie (well on in years):

"I should like to ask you:--Does your childhood seem far off? Do the days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?"

Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered:

"Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by many remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed in me."

Best feeling of 2016: My granddaughter sitting on my lap reading Where's Spot with me, just as her father did at the same age.

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Where Does Chicago Go After More Than 750 Homicides?

Tue, 2016-12-27 17:50

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CHICAGO ― Spencer Leak, who’s helped prepare Chicago’s dead since he was a boy, is looking back at 2016 with a mix of shock and sadness. 

The city has seen more than 750 homicides this year and approximately five times as many shootings. 

“My dad founded the funeral home in 1933, and I’ve been at my father’s business since I was 12,” the 79-year-old president of Leak & Sons Funeral Home said Tuesday. “I’ve never seen violence like it is now. And I’ve seen a lot.” 

In January, Chicago’s homicide figures were already forecasting a violent year ahead. That has proved tragically accurate. Over the Christmas holiday weekend alone, at least 57 people were shot, a dozen of them fatally. 

“I looked at our city over the holiday, and how beautiful it was with people enjoying the season,” Leak said. “And blocks away, people were destroying each other. This can’t keep going on.” 

As crime dips to historic lows nationwide, Chicago has struggled with a homicide problem that now outpaces New York and Los Angeles combined. The year 2016 has been Chicago’s deadliest since 1997.

And just as a few big cities like Chicago can skew the national average, only a handful of neighborhoods are responsible for Chicago’s rising numbers overall.

Of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, eight have more than 90 homicides per 100,000 people, while at least 11 have less than one, according to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune and The Trace, a news nonprofit. (The official homicide figures from the Chicago Police Department tend to be somewhat lower than the numbers compiled by media organizations and the medical examiner’s office, because of the way the police department adjusts its crime stats as investigations progress.)

City officials have categorized most of the shootings as gang-related, with criminals and bystanders alike among the dead.

“What I’m seeing now is random violence as opposed to targeted violence,” Leak said. “I’m seeing situations where people do mass shootings. That’s something we did not see 20 to 30 years ago.” 

There’s little agreement as to what the biggest contributing factors are.

Community members in the hardest-hit neighborhoods cite the lack of mental health care, economic investment or educational opportunities. The city’s mass shuttering of 50 public schools in 2012 largely affected low-income black and Latino communities. 

Politicians and police have their own list of grievances, including comparatively weak gun laws in the neighboring states of Indiana and Wisconsin that facilitate a flow of illegal guns into the city. They also blame thinning police ranks and relatively short local jail sentences for gun-related charges.

Chicago’s homicide clearance rate ― the share of cases that get solved ― is about 30 percent. That’s less than half the national average, according to the FBI’s 2012 data.

The city last grabbed headlines for its homicide total in 2012, when it passed the grim milestone of 500 for the year. That high-water mark, which hadn’t happened in a nearly a decade, prompted outrage from the community and promises of action from City Hall ― largely in the form of more police.

In 2016, the outrage is familiar, as are the promises.

A new wrinkle, though, involves the idea that anti-police sentiment linked to viral videos of officers killing black people ― the so-called “viral video effect” or “Ferguson effect” ― is somehow contributing to rising murder rates in Chicago and elsewhere.

CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson has repeated this claim throughout the year, despite nationwide polling that suggests the public largely respects police, and despite criminal justice experts debunking the theory. 

“The anti-police rhetoric has emboldened and empowered these gang members to do what they do,” Johnson said at a press conference Monday. “You know when they feel [the] public will speak out for them, and not the police officers, that’s giving them the power to go out and do what they do.”

Johnson, a CPD veteran, assumed the role as Chicago’s top cop earlier this year as the violence was surging.  

His predecessor, former Superintendent Garry McCarthy, was unceremoniously booted amid national outrage following the November 2015 release of a police dashcam video that showed a CPD officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teen walked away.

Johnson was tasked with repairing the broken trust between the police and the communities they patrol. 

As Chicago heads into a new year with more questions than answers over how to stem the tide of shootings, Leak and his South Side funeral home expect to remain busy. 

Leak said he and his team start each day with a prayer, knowing that the hours ahead will likely involve an onslaught of ringing phones and heart-wrenching conversations with families of slain Chicagoans. 

Leak said he is praying for everyone in Chicago and hopes for bold moves in the new year to counter the city’s violence. 

“Let’s do something extraordinary,” he said. “We’ve got to match extraordinary for extraordinary.” 

Moments later, he apologized for having to cut the conversation short.  

“I’ve got to go,” Leak said, before hanging up the phone. “I have another family I need to attend to.”

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In A Crappy Year, These Sports Moments Brought Us Joy

Fri, 2016-12-23 13:40

Dear 2016, kindly slink off into the abyss and never show your face again. 

This year, the U.S. saw its worst mass shooting in history. A zoo gorilla got executed. David Bowie and Prince died. Donald Trump got elected. The list is painfully long.

Yet amid the persistent doom and gloom, we had sports to thank for some truly joyful moments.

Peyton Manning Saddled Up For One More Rodeo And Won A Ring

America’s favorite dad quarterback ended his career by leading the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl win in February. 

All season, the Broncos wrecked their opponents thanks to Manning’s strong leadership and a vicious defense led by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. The Broncos ultimately beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10, giving Manning a pretty nice send-off. 

Kobe Bryant Retired From The NBA, But Not Before Sinking 60 Points

Kobe Bryant knows how to put on a show. In April, for his final NBA game, the legendary player took to the court to do one thing: demolish. The L.A. Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 101-96, a feat that would not have been possible without Kobe scoring 60 points. It’s the most points ever scored by an NBA player in his final game.

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Even former teammate Shaquille O’Neal was stupefied.

Just spoke to Shaq - he said "I challenged him to get 50 and the mother****er got 60"

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 14, 2016

LeBron James Finally Won The City Of Cleveland Its Championship 

In a nail-biting final game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and California’s Golden State Warriors, LeBron James helped lead his team to its first championship in franchise history.

In their seventh game in the championship series, both teams were poised to fight. In fact, the scores were so close throughout the game that it wasn’t until Kyle Irving made a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left that the Cavaliers began to grab a noticeable lead, one that would eventually result in a 93-89 victory. James scored 27 of those points, and gave a strong showing on defense.

After the game, an emotional James dedicated the win to the city of Cleveland. 


— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) June 20, 2016

Golfers At Ryder Cup Got Trolled In The Best Way Possible

We all know that guy: the one who watches professional athletes flub and says, “I could totally do that!”

Sometimes, that guy is right.

During a practice round at the Ryder Cup in September, Rory Mcllroy and Andy Sullivan just couldn’t quite sink a putt. That’s when a fan in the crowd shouted out that he could definitely make the shot. Golfer Justin Rose bet the heckler ― David Johnson from North Dakota ― $100 that he couldn’t. Guess what happened next? 

Heckler at #RyderCup tells Rory/Stenson he could make putt they keep missing. They ask him to try and BOOM. #GoUSA

— Jeff D Lowe (@JeffDLowe) September 29, 2016

“I closed my eyes, swallowed my puke and hit the putt,” Johnson later said. “It happened to go in.” 

Serena Williams Reminded A Reporter Of Her Greatness

What do you call one of the greatest athletes of all time? Just that.

When Serena Williams dismantled her competition in the Wimbledon semifinal in July, reporters were clamoring to talk to her.

“There will be talk about you going down as one of the greatest female athletes of all time,” one reporter said. “What do you think when you hear someone talk like that?”

Without missing a beat, Williams gave the perfect response.

“I prefer the word ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time,’” she said. 

We prefer that too. 

The Cubs Won The World Series

Welp, there’s a sentence we never thought we’d write.

After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs finally got a World Series championship, beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 during Game 7. The curse was officially broken. Even more special were all the emotional grandmas and grandpas who finally got to see the impossible happen. 

my grandpa has been waiting 81 years for this #GoCubbies

— clare (@_claremoser) November 3, 2016

After the game, Chicago citizens seemed fairly pleased, if the below video is any indication. 

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Miami Marlins Honored One Of Their Fallen, And We All Cried

Sometimes moments happen in life that simply couldn’t be more perfect if they were scripted. That was the case during the first game the Miami Marlins played after the death of star pitcher Jose Fernandez.

It was a death that had come suddenly, and tore a hole through the hearts of players and fans alike. Fernandez, just 24 years old, died with two others in a boating accident in September. 

During the Marlins’ following game, second baseman Dee Gordon stepped up to the plate wearing a Fernandez jersey and hit a solo home run during the very first inning. As he rounded the bases, Gordon began to cry. His teammates began to cry. We all began to cry.  


— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 26, 2016

“Unbelievable,” an announcer said after Gordon’s hit. “Just unbelievable ― his eyes wet with emotion as he rounded the bases, his first home run of the season.” 

The Olympics Restored Our Faith In Humanity

While the world around us slowly burned, the Olympics allowed a moment of respite from the chaos.   

Michael Phelps, American merman, broke a more-than-2,000-year record for individual Olympic titles. And there was Simone Biles, the 19-year-old gymnastics superstar who crushed the women’s individual all-around to take home a gold medal. Biles finished out the year by becoming the most decorated American gymnast of all time.

Then there were the moments that truly encapsulated the Olympic spirit. For instance, 2016 saw the very first team of refugee athletes. The 10-person team included athletes from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Ethiopia. 

“These are athletes who have trained their whole lives to compete in the Olympics and they’d like nothing more than to compete under their own flags,” Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a video message. “But unfortunately, instead of being able to do that, they have been displaced from their homes.”

President Barack Obama also cheered on the team.

Tonight, the first-ever #TeamRefugees will also stand before the world and prove that you can succeed no matter where you're from.

— President Obama (@POTUS) August 5, 2016

But perhaps nothing embodied the Olympic spirit more than the selflessness of two runners who collided during Round 1 of the women’s 5,000-meter race. 

After U.S. athlete Abbey D’Agnostino and New Zealand athlete Nikki Hamblin fell to the ground during the race, they encouraged one another to finish together.

“Get up, get up! We have to finish!” D’Agostino told her competitor, according to ESPN. “This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”

Despite an injured knee, D’Agostino was able to finish in last place with the help of Hamblin. The two hugged at the finish line.

If that’s not beautiful enough, both runners were honored with the Fair Play Award, a sportsmanship medal that’s only been given to 17 other Olympic athletes in history.

“Winning this award is overwhelming,” Hamblin said at the ceremony. “I... truly believe that you can be both a competitor and kind and responsive at the same time.”

Maybe everything will be OK after all.

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Lest We Forget, America Suffered Its Deadliest Mass Shooting This Year

Fri, 2016-12-23 11:47

Gun violence permeates the American way of life.

The past two years have been so bloody that it’s possible to lose track of individual events, even the most devastating ones. Shootings that rip open families and communities, that become the before-and-after events around which people forever define their lives, are so common now that they blur together.

It’s easy to forget the past as we try to move forward. But it’s important to remember that 2016 was the year that America suffered its deadliest mass shooting amid a torrent of gun violence all over the country. It’s important to remember how it felt, and to fight to try and ensure nothing similar ever happens again.

On June 12, a gunman swept through Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and injuring dozens more. Omar Mateen committed one of the most violent acts of terror in the country since 2001, and the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Today, we’re still parsing the details, and the LGBTQ community in Orlando is still coping. Donations poured in ― one fund now sits at nearly $8 million ― as the country stood in solidarity with Pulse. But we only got a few days of reflection before the next nightmarish attack.

On July 7, a gunman took aim at police in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter protest, killing five officers and injuring another seven people. It was another record day for gun violence: the deadliest day for cops since Sept. 11, 2001.

Those shootings were a punch in the gut (as were the deaths, days earlier, of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively). There have been 289 mass shooting incidents in 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which compiles data from shootings where four or more people are killed or injured. Since Jan. 1, 2016, there have been at least 16 mass shootings in which four or more people were killed, not including the perpetrator, according to data collected by Everytown for Gun Safety. Running tallies of mass shootings, such as those compiled by Vice and other outlets, are virtually unreadable for their sheer length.

Los Angeles. Burlington and Belfair, Washington. Sinking Spring and Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Roswell, New Mexico. Appling, Georgia. Peebles, Ohio. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Hesston, Kansas. Phoenix. Kalamazoo, Michigan. Chesapeake, Virginia.

Chicago. Always, Chicago.

These are just some of the communities that were left in shambles in 2016. Some of these shootings you may not remember, or maybe didn’t even hear about at the time. The people who lived through them don’t have the option to forget.

What happens next

States are starting to chip away at semiautomatic guns ― which are often involved in the most deadly shootings, and which are, as we’ve reported, a breeze to obtain.

California passed a sweeping gun control measure in November that bans possession of large-capacity magazines and the sale of semiautomatic weapons with quick-release magazine buttons. The measure also makes background checks mandatory for ammo purchases. Of course, gun sales skyrocketed after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill, but semiautomatic rifles will need to be registered with the state after Jan. 1.

In Nevada, voters passed a state background check initiative despite a $6.6 million opposition campaign by the National Rifle Association, according to Everytown. Nevada joined 18 other states in curbing a long-standing loophole allowing people to avoid background checks by purchasing weapons at gun shows and other private events, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

Though Congress has repeatedly failed to get real gun control at the federal level ― despite hundreds of school shootings since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre ― President Barack Obama earned a small win by signing his Mental Health Reform Act this month. The act is meant to provide funding for training teachers, emergency personnel and others to identify symptoms of at-risk individuals and symptoms of mental illness.

It remains unclear how the work toward gun control might be affected by the Trump administration. The president-elect has already flip-flopped on the issue, saying during the debates that the Second Amendment is “under absolute siege” but also calling for people who buy “all sorts of body armor and other things” to be flagged.

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This Year's Extreme Weather Was One For The Books

Thu, 2016-12-22 16:35

The past year was scorching hot, freezing cold, soaking wet and consumed in flames ― and it’s just a sneak peek of what’s to come if we don’t change our course on energy, scientists say.

Some of climate change’s more dire potential effects ― cities submerged by rising sea levels, accelerated mass extinctions, a ruined global economy ― haven’t happened yet, at least not in a way that feels immediate to our daily lives. But more intense and more frequent extreme weather is a consequence we’re experiencing right now. 

Here are some of the biggest climate events the U.S. experienced in 2016:

A massive blizzard battered the East

The year kicked off with a January blizzard that set multiple snowfall records in the East, covering about 434,000 square miles in 26 states.

The event was the all-time biggest snowstorm in at least six locations, The Weather Channel found ― Allentown, Pennsylvania, with 31.9 inches; Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland with 29.2 inches; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with 30.2 inches; New York City’s Central Park with 27.5 inches; New York’s LaGuardia Airport with 27.9 inches; and New York’s JFK Airport with 30.5 inches.

It fell just short of setting records in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

The blizzard, which The Weather Channel gave the unofficial nickname “Jonas,” claimed at least 50 lives and affected more than 100 million people.

The storm’s massive yield may have been the result of climate change driving shifts in the jet stream, which research shows can lead to weather systems slowing down and lingering in one place for longer, allowing them more time to drop snow on a given area.

We experienced the summer of floods

Summer 2016 saw not one, but three “1-in-1,000-year floods,” a meteorological term used to describe floods that have only a 0.1 percent chance of occurring. The deadly incidents in West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana hit in quick succession and accounted for a full one-third of such floods in the U.S. since 2010, according to USA Today’s count.

The wet summer was part of an alarming pattern. According to the National Climate Assessment, the frequency and strength of intense downpours in the U.S. has gone up over the past three to five decades. The trend is particularly notable in the Midwest and Northeast, which since 1991 have experienced 30 percent more rainfall than the 1901-1960 average.  

The higher temperatures across the U.S. and the rest of the world are allowing the atmosphere to hold more moisture, scientists say, giving what might have been routine storms a powerful boost. 

The consequences of this summer’s downpours were staggering. 

Flooding in West Virginia in late June killed at least 24 people and damaged more than 5,000 homes, making it the worst flooding event to hit the state in a century.

“Normally tranquil rivers turned into a violent mash-up of water and whatever else had washed into the streams,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. “In addition to the terrible loss of life, property damage was enormous: bridges and roads washed out, houses destroyed, whole towns inundated.”

Just a month later, another 1-in-1,000-year flood hit Maryland, killing two people. 

“The deaths and damage caused by this weekend’s flash flood in Ellicott City, as well as the damage caused elsewhere, remind us that climate change is about more than polar bears and the rising sea level in the Chesapeake Bay,” Maryland state Sen. James Rosapepe (D) told The Baltimore Sun at the time.

Normally tranquil rivers turned into a violent mash-up of water and whatever else had washed into the streams.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the West Virginia floods

Finally, downpours that pummeled Louisiana in mid-August created the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, aid groups declared. The resulting floods killed 13 people, forced 30,000 citizens to evacuate and damaged at least 60,000 homes.

“I’ve never seen so many traumatizing things in such a short period of time,” Gerald Burkins, one of the Louisianians who lost everything in the flood, told The Huffington Post at the time.

Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas also experienced major flooding events between March and the end of summer. 

Hurricane Matthew set unusual records

In October, Hurricane Matthew shattered records as one of the longest-lasting, strongest hurricanes of its kind and left a massive death toll in its wake.

Before Matthew struck the U.S. and claimed 46 lives in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, it pummeled Haiti, killing more than 1,000 people there

“The nearly unprecedented rapid intensification we saw with this storm is favored by warmer oceans and greater ocean heat content,” Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist and professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, told HuffPost at the time. 

A hurricane of Matthew’s force striking in October demonstrated the power of climate change to turn seasonal disasters into year-round threats. While hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from the beginning of June to the end of November, the statistical peak is Sept. 10, when ocean temperatures are high. But climate change is driving up temperatures during months that aren’t typically warm enough to support strong storms, and hurricane season is beginning to last longer.

Matthew lasted more days in October than any Category 4-5 hurricane on record, meteorologists noted. It was also the longest-lasting Category 4-5 hurricane in the eastern Caribbean.

Hurricane #Matthew has now been a major hurricane longer in October than any other Atlantic hurricane in over 50 years (Flora-1963).

— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) October 5, 2016

The Weather Channel documented a number of other records set by Matthew regarding its unusual location, strength and timing: It was the southernmost Category 5 in the Atlantic Basin, the first Category 4 landfall in Haiti in 52 years and the longest-lasting Category 3+ hurricane to form after Sept. 25 in any year on record. 

Record-breaking heat gave us a glimpse into the future

With 2016 poised to be the hottest year on record, sweltering heat waves throughout the summer gave Americans a taste of what’s to come if temperatures continue to rise. 

“If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, by mid-century what we think of as extreme summer heat today will become a typical summer day,” Mann, the Penn State professor, told HuffPost over the summer. 

The Southwest suffered through unprecedented, triple-digit degrees early in the season. In Arizona on June 19, the heat set records for that calendar day in Yuma at 120 degrees, Phoenix at 118, Tucson at 115 and Flagstaff at 93, NOAA spokeswoman Maureen O’Leary told HuffPost. Tucson’s heat that day tied for the third hottest ever recorded in the city.

If we continue with business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels, by mid-century what we think of as extreme summer heat today will become a typical summer day.
Climate scientist Michael Mann

Later in July, temperatures in the mid-to-high 90s scorched the New York tri-state area, Philadelphia, Boston, D.C. and beyond. 

Philadelphia suffered multiple heat waves throughout the summer, with one in August killing four people. There were 15 90-plus days in the city in August, while a typical August experiences just five, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city set another heat record the following month when temperatures remained above 80 degrees from midnight to midnight for the only September day on record, the local NBC affiliate reported.  

Alaska also saw some of its highest temperatures in 2016. In July, the Arctic Coast community Deadhorse reached an all-time record high of 85 degrees. It was an especially notable record, climatologist Brian Brettschneider tweeted, because of its proximity to the Arctic Ocean. 

The new all-time record of 84°F at Deadhorse is also an AK record for any station within 50 miles of Arctic Ocean.

— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) July 14, 2016

It was warmer in Alaska at that time than it was in New York City, which measured a high of 82 that day, Mashable reported. 

Wildfires raged in California and Tennessee

With ongoing drought and high temperatures drying up California’s forests and priming them for massive blazes, 2016 was another destructive wildfire season for the state.

In the first seven months of 2016, twice as many acres burned in the state than had burned in the same period the year before, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Los Angeles Times. 

The massive Soberanes fire that burned 132,127 acres near Big Sur for three months until October may have been the most expensive fire to fight in U.S. history, costing over $200 million to battle, The Associated Press reported based on data released by the National Interagency Fire Center. 

The Erskine fire in Kern County in June burned more than 46,000 acres, affected nearly 400 structures, claimed two lives and ranks as the 15th most destructive in state history. Two fires from 2015, the Valley fire and the Butte fire, rank more damaging at third and seventh place, respectively. 

More recently, a wildfire in Tennessee last month ranked as the largest fire in the state in 100 years. The massive blaze around Gatlinburg killed 14 people, forced 14,000 to evacuate, affected more than 2,400 structures and caused over $500 million in damages.

With a record hot autumn, a shortage of tropical storms and lots of wind, The Washington Post reported, a destructive conflagration was destined to descend from the Great Smoky Mountains into a nearby town. In the end, though, destiny may have had a helping hand: Police have charged two juveniles with aggravated arson in connection with the blaze.

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