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Trace Weekend #8411577 10/09/21 02:50 PM
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When the armed militia is Black
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The Trace <newsletters@thetrace.org> Unsubscribe
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For every action, there is a reaction.

That has been particularly true in American politics the last few years, when questions about guns, race, and violence — both by citizens and on behalf of the state — have roiled the nation. In 2020, Americans were forced to confront the harsh realities of the police killings of unarmed Black people, and the racist legacies, unequal systems, and lack of accountability that fuel that violence. Simultaneously, white racists and far-right groups, motivated by the political zeitgeist of the Trump era, became more brazen, publicly urging white Americans to protect themselves against supposed shadow campaigns meant to wipe them out.

It was in this environment that the Not F----king Around Coalition, an armed Black militia, was formed. The group is led by John Fitzgerald Johnson, AKA “Grandmaster Jay,” an enigmatic and divisive figurehead. When he led his group out on the world stage, shortly after the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, last year, they left a large footprint. On a July afternoon in 2020, hundreds of armed Black men and women, all clad in black, marched through downtown Louisville. “It was the biggest public display by an armed militia I have ever seen,” one expert said. Others contended that the organization had quickly become one of the largest active militia movements in the U.S.

But what started as a rapidly organized and motivated group aimed at protesting police brutality is now on the edge of disintegration, in large part due to charges the federal government subsequently levied against Grandmaster Jay for allegedly brandishing a gun at the police.

As part of a federal case on the matter, the group’s leader has been effectively deplatformed, unable to tap into social media and banned from owning a gun. Some experts say he is being targeted by the very system he and his group protest against. Others say the group is a dangerous threat.

The truth may lie somewhere in between. To understand it, we took a look at the case, the world of extremism and armed groups, and the history of how armed Black protests collide with the criminal justice system. We also got rare access to Grandmaster Jay, who granted us a series of interviews over the summer. Whatever happens to NFAC’s leader, he said of the federal government and justice system, “It would be intelligent for them not to ignore me.”

You can read the story, published in partnership with USA TODAY, here. —Alain Stephens, Western correspondent

WHAT TO KNOW THIS WEEK

Homicides were up 30 percent last year, according to provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, echoing final FBI figures released last week. It was the largest year-over-year rise in a century. Black women make up an unequal share of the victims: There were an additional 405 murders of Black women and girls last year, according to a Guardian analysis of FBI data, which works out to at least four deaths per day — a figure that’s likely an undercount.

2020 was a banner year for gun imports — but not ATF inspections. The U.S. brought in a record 6.8 million firearms last year, according to the agency’s annual firearms commerce report, with Turkey, Austria, and Brazil leading the way. Meanwhile, the ATF conducted compliance inspections of only 4.5 percent of the nation’s 130,605 federal firearms licensees, down from 10 percent in 2019 and the lowest annual share since 2004.

About 1.6 million guns were sold in the U.S. last month, down 20 percent from the previous September, according to our analysis of FBI data. It was still the 16th-highest sales month on record.

Active shootings transpired at schools, in hospitals, and on public transportation: On Monday, a nursing assistant killed a co-worker and wounded two police officers at Philadelphia hospital, and a DEA agent died and two officers were injured during a routine sweep of an Amtrak train in Tucson, Arizona. On Wednesday, a student at a high school in Arlington, Texas, wounded two classmates and an adult during a fight with another student; it was the 37th shooting at a school since August. Go deeper: The federal government, states, and many school districts are dedicating funds to mental health in the hopes of curbing campus violence.

Wayne LaPierre was re-elected as CEO of the National Rifle Association at a sparsely attended annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, successfully blocking challenges by critics within the organization and membership. Directors also chose Charles Cotton to succeed Carolyn Meadows as president, swapping one high-ranking LaPierre loyalist for another, our Will Van Sant reported.

Federal prosecutors said they would not charge the Wisconsin police officer who shot Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and setting off protests and unrest in Kenosha last summer.

Capitol rioters came armed on January 6 despite repeated claims otherwise, according to Mother Jones, which studied video footage, court documents, and Congressional testimony.

For the fourth time this year, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the lifetime gun ban for people convicted of nonviolent felonies. The court this week also rejected challenges to gun bans applying to undocumented immigrants and people who are intoxicated.

The governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York agreed to share crime gun data across state lines.

Eight out of the 10 census tracts with the highest gun violence rates in Kansas City were low-income areas lacking access to a grocery store or supermarket for a half-mile or more, according to an analysis by The Kansas City Star. The reporting echoes a similar analysis the paper did of St. Louis earlier this year.
FROM OUR TEAM

Ask The Trace: How high are gun violence rates in the U.S. compared to other countries? For the first installment of our rebooted “Ask the Trace” series, Champe Barton and Daniel Nass (in his final Trace byline as associate data editor) dug into firearm mortality data across 195 countries and territories and found that people in the U.S. are significantly more likely to die by gun: 11.1 out of every 100,000 Americans were killed by firearms in 2019, more than triple the global rate. That number is largely driven by suicides by gun: Roughly 7 out of every 10 gun fatalities are self-inflicted in the U.S. Meanwhile, roughly four in every 100,000 Americans die in gun-related homicides, the 30th highest rate in the world. 🔥Have a burning question?🔥Submit it here and it could provide the basis for a future explainer.
SPOTLIGHT ON SOLUTIONS

“Gun violence and firearm suicide are preventable — but news coverage often obscures that fact.” So begins a report released this week by the Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Hope and Heal Fund that aimed to test how media in the nation’s most-populous state has covered gun violence during the pandemic amid an industry-wide effort to reevaluate crime coverage.

So how have journalists done? According to the analysis of news articles from the beginning of 2020 through July 2021, progress has been made in terms of how reporting contributes to covering solutions and the structural issues underpinning gun violence. But there’s still room for improvement on several fronts. Overall, there are more stories on gun and general violence since the last time BMSG and the Hope and Heal Fund analyzed the issue over a year-long period in 2016 and 2017. As might be expected during a year of racial justice protests after George Floyd’s murder and rising homicides, police and community violence dominated coverage.

On the bright side, the organizations noted, more stories include solutions than they used to: In 11 percent of articles, the opening paragraph discussed some kind of violence prevention, which compares to 3 percent when the group analyzed the issue five years ago. At the same time, they found that gun suicides and the intersection of firearms and domestic violence are still rarely covered in the news. Moreover, coverage about gun violence is often driven by sensational or high-profile events, followed by a falling off of coverage on day-to-day gun violence.

“The quantity of the articles is important to measure, but also the quality,” said Brian Malte, the executive director of the Hope and Heal Fund, during a web presentation of the study. He noted real progress on how journalists cover gun violence, but added that stories that only include law enforcement spokespersons, are solely responding to a crime scene, or include stereotypes of Black and brown people can make it far harder to successfully combat violence.

“We know that community residents, public health practitioners, and others are working to shift the discourse in California toward narratives that elevate prevention, multisector partnerships, and community leadership,” the report reads. “We hope that these updated findings provide valuable information about the news landscape that can support and inform these leaders in their efforts to make every community healthier, safer, and more just.” —Tom Kutsch, newsletter editor
IN MEMORIAM

Kimani Whalum, 20, and his brother Clarence Whalum, 22, were both fatally shot in a home invasion in the Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills, Illinois, on October 5. Their sister and grandparents were present for the shooting. Their mother, Traci Rogers, told a local news station that Clarence “saw the good in everybody,” and always looked out for his loved ones. “My baby Kimani, he was everything,” she added. “Both of them is everything to me.” Police have set up an anonymous tip line to gather information about potential suspects.
MAY WE RECOMMEND

This account from a Washington state dad who went to gun school to protect himself — from militias. Educator and author Samuel Ligon writes in The Inlander that his motivation for arming up mid-pandemic came from an unlikely source: the gun-toting militiamen patrolling Black Lives Matter protests in Spokane and demonstrating at the state Capitol in Olympia — and beyond. “I saw a guy at the Country Store shopping with his wife and toddler with a gun on his hip, a posture I found idiotic, intimidating, and infuriating,” Ligon writes. “He was why I wanted to go to gun school. I hated him for walking around like that.” A native New Yorker, Ligon didn’t grow up with guns and grapples with the sobering reality that to carry means you must be ready to kill. There’s also the risk that a quick-thinking assailant could shoot him with his own gun. After a day at the range, he feels “ready for the end of the world,” but his wife puts her foot down: No guns in the house. “What about the militias?” he argues. She replies: “You want to be like them?”
PULL QUOTE

“All my students instantly recognized the sound and said ‘gunshots,’ turned off the lights, and hid behind desks. It was clear that they were well trained.”

—Dale Topham, a visiting early college history teacher at Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas, where four people were injured in a fight and shooting on Wednesday, to the New Yor


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Re: Trace Weekend [Re: soooo] #8411599 10/09/21 03:15 PM
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Last edited by soooo; 10/09/21 03:16 PM.

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Re: Trace Weekend [Re: soooo] #8411943 10/09/21 08:59 PM
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black folk have VERY DEEP roots in communism in America, its the elephant in the room . I figure this is where their hatred for America comes from . The hatred is definitely not from the hoax called racism ( a profitable scam) .
MLK, rosa parks and others were photoed at a school of communism in the 50s while being prepped to run their hoaxes on the nation. A good portion of the great "leaders" were card carrying commies through out history.


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