The arrest of a teenager on charges of killing two people amid clashes in Kenosha, Wis., over the police shooting of a Black man has stoked the nation’s culture wars.
Unrest in Kenosha
The trouble in Kenosha, Wis., this week started Sunday, when police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back as the 29-year-old Black man tried to enter an SUV where his three children sat. Nights of unrest followed — and on the third, two people were killed and one was injured amid gunfire. On Wednesday, authorities arrested a 17-year-old white youth who has often praised police — and now stands charged with homicide in what officials described as a vigilante act.
The protests against the police shooting that left Blake paralyzed have played out not only on the streets but also in sports and politics. What started with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to take the court for Game 5 of their NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic quickly led to the league’s two other scheduled games being halted; by the end of Wednesday, the Lakers and Clippers had both decided as teams that they did not want to play any more games, though whether their decision will stand is unclear.
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In baseball, the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants players decided not to play, and the game was one of three major league games postponed out of protest. Other leagues such as the WNBA and Major League Soccer did not play games either.
And the arrest of 17-year-old self-styled citizen patrol Kyle Rittenhouse on charges of killing two people has fed the nation’s culture wars yet again and presented an incendiary challenge to President Trump’s reelection campaign. Details have emerged that Rittenhouse posted to social media in support of the pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement. He spoke to reporters before the shooting about being a self-styled citizen patrol who came to Kenosha to protect businesses from vandalism. And he appears in photos at a Trump rally this year in Des Moines, Iowa.
‘Law and Order’
Law and order was already a planned theme of Wednesday night’s Republican National Convention. The upheaval in Wisconsin made the debate over what, exactly, that means all the more urgent and immediate.
With most of the convention speeches pre-recorded, there was no mention of the unrest stemming from Kenosha, even after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had condemned the police shooting of Blake and the violence that followed. One speaker after another invoked riots, chaos and mayhem in the nation’s cities, and hailed Trump as a friend to police. It was left to Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke last, to weigh in.
“President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest,” he said, accepting his formal nomination to a second term at historic Ft. McHenry in Baltimore. But, he went on, “the violence must stop whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.”
Unlike all but one other speaker, Pence acknowledged the looming threat from Hurricane Laura and urged residents along the Gulf Coast to stay safe as the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. this year was poised to crash into the the upper Texas coast and western Louisiana within hours. Up to 20 million people were potentially in its path.
Police Reform Is Stalling Out
Three months after the police killing of George Floyd ignited national outrage and filled California streets with protesters, the state Legislature is in the final hours of a session that is poised to deliver a much more modest law enforcement reform agenda than many expected.
More than a dozen bills regarding police accountability and oversight were introduced in the weeks after Floyd’s death in May. Now, legislators are lukewarm on passing some of those reforms. Backers blame several factors, from external sources — a shortened session due to the coronavirus and the urgency of focusing on wildfires — to fierce opposition from law enforcement unions, which have long been major power players in Sacramento.
Some of the measures that failed to advance include a proposed law to require fellow officers to intervene if they witnessed excessive force, a plan to streamline oversight boards of sheriff’s departments and an attempt to further constrict how police use deadly force. The showing underscores the challenges of sweeping police reform even in a liberal state like California, where polls show wide support for some of the measures.
New Guidelines? No Thanks, California Says
New guidance on coronavirus testing and travel issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are drawing strong pushback from officials in California.
The CDC is no longer recommending a 14-day quarantine for travelers, which has been as a key tool in mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus — especially among people who may be asymptomatic. And it is also no longer advising those without symptoms to be tested, even if they have been in contact with an infected person. (Interestingly, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN he was undergoing surgery when the White House task force met to discuss the updated guidelines.)
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he disagrees with the CDC’s new guidance and insisted that it will not affect California. He also said that the state had signed a contract with an East Coast medical diagnostics company to more than double the number of coronavirus tests that can be processed in California, eventually expanding capacity to roughly a quarter of a million tests a day.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first rapid coronavirus test that doesn’t need any special computer equipment to get results. The 15-minute test from Abbott Laboratories will sell for $5.
More Top Coronavirus Headlines
— A month after Newsom promised an aggressive program to test nursing home inspectors for the virus, at least 60% still have not been tested, state health officials acknowledged.
— As doctors at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center begin enrolling 500 volunteers to test a COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, they will try to ensure that most, if not all, of them are members of underserved racial and ethnic groups. They know it won’t be easy, but it’s an “obligation.”
— The University of California’s first two campuses to reopen this fall, Berkeley and Merced, began classes Wednesday amid multiple crises: fear of COVID-19 spikes among students, shuttered classrooms that have forced online learning, and battered university budgets.
— The California Senate abruptly halted the start of its floor session after an unnamed person in the upper house tested positive for COVID-19, complicating a hectic final week of legislative business at the state Capitol.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
In the summer of 1983, The Times published a series on Southern California’s Latino community. It was produced by a team of Latino editors, reporters and photographers.
The series explored the multitudes contained within the Latino community, which accounted for about 4 million people at the time. The stories and photography focused on their success, struggle, art, politics, family, religion, culture, education, agriculture and history.
It would go on to win the Pulitzer prize for public service. But the stories never made into digital form — until now. Here’s the full project, along with reflections of those who worked on it and its move to online form.
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— The California Assembly is considering a bill that would require local governments to permit duplexes and effectively eliminate the single-family zoning that dominates in most suburban residential neighborhoods. The measure is aimed at easing the state-wide housing shortage.
— With more than 1 million acres burning in California, state lawmakers are pushing a last-minute proposal that would extend an existing fee on electricity bills to fund $500 million for immediate wildfire response and another $2.5 billion over time for climate resiliency and fire mitigation projects.
— After facing months of alleged “unrelenting and brutal” harassment from Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the chief executive of Los Angeles County, Sachi Hamai, will receive $1.5 million and full-time private security after she retires Monday to address concerns for her personal safety, according to a settlement agreement and a recent letter sent to the county’s Board of Supervisors.
— Alarmed by the city’s child-care crisis, the Los Angeles Board of Education has called for an emergency plan to help parents navigate the challenge of working while supervising their children who are learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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— San Jose, along with Chicago and two other cities, are suing the federal government to stop the proliferation of “ghost guns” — easy-to-assemble guns that require no serial numbers or background checks.
— Winter is ending in the Southern Hemisphere and country after country had a surprise: Their steps against COVID-19 also apparently blocked the flu. But there’s no guarantee the Northern Hemisphere will avoid twin epidemics as its own flu season looms while the coronavirus still rages.
— Police in Belarus dispersed protesters who gathered on the capital’s central square, detaining dozens in an effort to end weeks of demonstrations challenging the reelection of the country’s authoritarian ruler.
— The white supremacist who slaughtered 51 worshipers at two New Zealand mosques was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— TikTok teens are obsessed with “Criminal Minds,” sharing one viral video after another. They may be changing TV fandom forever.
— Five years after “Emotion,” singer Carly Rae Jepsen has learned to love pop music … and L.A.
— For musician St. Vincent, life under COVID-19 has meant recording a soul-baring podcast and binging on Stalin.
— As protests raged earlier this summer, Los Angeles joined dozens of other cities in painting a temporary “All Black Lives Matter” mural. Now the city is making it permanent on Hollywood Boulevard.
— Salesforce.com Inc. plans to cut about 1,000 jobs, people familiar with the situation said, a move by the software giant to streamline its business even as it reports record quarterly revenue and forecasts further gains.
— The U.S. Treasury Department still has yet to tell companies how to handle Trump’s order delaying the due date for employee payroll taxes, leaving major employers like Walmart in the lurch.
— UCLA has filed a lawsuit against Under Armour that seeks more than $200 million in damages, alleging the apparel company defrauded the school by embellishing its financial standing before luring the Bruins into a record $280-million contract that it breached by failing to make scheduled payments or deliver its product as promised.
— USC has paused workouts in football and men’s water polo after eight athletes tested positive for COVID-19.
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— Trump is playing a dangerous game embracing QAnon, “which in any reasonable country in any sane era would be dismissed or denounced by rational politicians of all stripes,” writes columnist Nicholas Goldberg.
— Action on police misconduct may have stalled in Washington, but California doesn’t have to wait. The editorial board writes that the state can act now to keep bad officers from moving among in-state police departments.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— The first athlete to bring Black Lives Matter to a national anthem protest wasn’t Colin Kaepernick. It was college basketball player Ariyana Smith, who spoke with the Edge of Sports podcast recently about activism in the arena. (The Nation)
—You can’t make heroin without the right chemicals, and U.S. companies are supplying the legal market for them in Mexico, letting cartels produce narcotics on a massive scale. The chemicals are so easy to access that a reporter bought a $324 jug online with enough to produce 90,000 hits of high-grade “China white.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
ONLY IN L.A.
A lone woman appeared one day last week at the stately San Marino home of John M. Barger, a small but sure sign that the growing furor over the U.S. Postal Service had arrived on his doorstep. Barger, a financier and Republican political donor, is one of six members of the service’s Board of Governors. The woman wanted to know if the Postal Service would deliver mail-in ballots this fall. Barger chatted with the woman over a lemonade. She listened politely and moved along. But on Saturday, demonstrators returned in force, about 70 of them milling about the normally staid neighborhood where Barger lives. Their chant: “No postage, no peace!” chanted the outsiders. They didn’t leave so readily.
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