The growing threat of political violence

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Dianne Tramutola-lLawson

Sep 26, 2023, 8:56:53 AMSep 26

From: "The Marshall Project" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2023 5:27 AM
Subject: The growing threat of political violence
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Edited by Andrew Cohen   Opening Statement
Edited by Andrew Cohen

Pick of the News

Former President Trump threatens an army general. Over the weekend, Donald Trump threatened Army Gen. Mark Milley, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a potential government witness against him. USA Today Related Analysis: Trump floated the idea of executing Milley. Media organizations yawned. Why? The Atlantic As the criminal cases against him proceed, Trump and his supporters have ramped up threats of violence toward federal officials and their families. Judges, prosecutors and FBI agents have been targeted; many have sought extra protection. The New York Times

“Prosecutors get it wrong sometimes.” Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat, vowed on Monday to stay in office and fight the federal corruption and bribery charges made public against him last week. The Washington Post He predicted he would be exonerated. The New York Times More: Menendez’s explanation for the discovery of about $500,000 in cash hidden in clothes and closets around his home: “For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.”

A Hollywood extra is also an accused Capitol rioter. Paul Belosic was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List this month for his alleged role in the Capitol riot. The feds used the help of online sleuths to identify him from among those who attacked the police on Jan. 6. NBC News Special Counsel Jack Smith has added another former war crimes prosecutor to his Justice Department team overseeing the prosecution of former President Donald Trump. Politico More: A second guilty plea from Charles McGonigal, the former head of the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York. In Washington, D.C. last week, he confessed to hiding money illegally obtained from a foreign national. His first plea deal was in New York. CNN

“There’s two justice systems, all right. And if I was a White man, I’d have been out of here a long time ago.” Bonnie Erwin, an 81-year-old Black man, has been imprisoned for 39 years after a conviction by an all-White jury in Dallas, Texas. Partially paralyzed from a stroke, he relies on others to push his wheelchair. He would be a prime candidate for compassionate release under the Trump-era First Step Act, except he was sentenced three years too early to qualify for it. The New York Times TMP Context: How the Bureau of Prisons denied compassionate release at the height of COVID. The Marshall Project

Wall Street investors helped make the AR-15 the deadliest weapon in America. The rapid-firing assault rifle, designed for soldiers and mass killings, has come to be a staple of U.S. gun ownership over the past two decades. The 9/11 terror attacks, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, generated interest in the weapon used by so many mass shooters now. Private equity firms were happy to oblige. The Wall Street Journal More: In their new book, “American Gun,” Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson chronicle the deadly consequences of putting AR-15s in the hands of civilians. The New York Times


State and federal law enforcement agents in South Carolina rescued 120 dogs and broke up a sprawling dog fighting ring last week. So far, there have been no federal arrests made. The State Related: A story as important as this merits more news coverage. Animals 24-7

The U.S. Supreme Court meets today for its “long conference,” at which the justices sift through petitions received over the summer to decide which cases they’ll hear. Among the candidates is an appeal request from lawyers for Robert Roberson, a man on death row in Texas, following a conviction based on the largely-discredited “shaken baby syndrome.” The Guardian TMP Context: Requesting relief from a flawed medical theory. The Marshall Project

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s broad new interpretation of the Second Amendment, a federal trial judge in California again overturned the state’s ban on high-capacity gun magazines. State officials promised an immediate appeal. Los Angeles Times

An Ohio father called the police when he discovered that his 11-year-old daughter had been manipulated into sending nude photos to a stranger. When police showed up, an officer wanted to arrest the victim instead. The episode was caught on body camera video. Officials say it’s not uncommon for cops to arrest young victims. The Associated Press

“We were supposed to have him home in our arms and not in an urn.” The violence in Alabama’s prisons is unremitting and unlikely to get better anytime soon. For the family of one incarcerated father who died behind bars, there is grief, anger, frustration and concerns about the fate of other prisoners. Alabama Appleseed TMP Context: The deadly consequences of solitary with a roommate. The Marshall Project


Conservatives on criminal justice reform. There’s always been an inherent tension between Republicans who want to lock up more people and Republicans who want to save money by reducing the number of people behind bars. The New York Times

Saying the quiet part aloud. Republican presidential candidates, and their supporters in office, are not hiding their plans to dismantle the federal government. You’d hardly know it from mainstream media coverage. The Atlantic More: Republican officials are undermining efforts to identify political disinformation and misinformation that undermines the quality of medical information online. The Washington Post

More than just the appearance of impropriety. The U.S. Supreme Court sinks lower with news of another judicial ethics scandal involving Justice Clarence Thomas. Slate

Just because you aren’t sitting in prison or jail doesn’t mean you aren’t being punished under court supervision. “Because non-prison punishments are often justified as decarceral in spirit, the illegality of how they strip away basic rights has often been overlooked.” Inquest

“Good change” is at hand in Los Angeles. The city is moving away from a “cash bail” system that left too many people who committed nonviolent offenses languishing behind bars before their trials. The new system won’t be perfect, but it will be better. Los Angeles Times


Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows secretly burned so many documents in his fireplace during the final days of the Trump presidency that his wife complained about how expensive it was to dry-clean the smell of “bonfire” from his suits, claims Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House staffer who is now a witness against the president and his allies. The New York Times

Caught in Mexico after 32 years on the lam. A Louisiana man, Greg Lawson, was convicted of attempted murder in 1991. He fled the courthouse before the verdict was announced, left the country and allegedly used a dead man’s name for his identity. He was captured in Mexico last week with the help of Mexican police. The New York TImes

“Many children suffered in silence.” Health and Human Services agents failed to properly vet adult sponsors chosen to house migrant children, who were then found working illegally in slaughterhouses, a federal whistleblowers group announced last week. NBC News

You can’t be a prosecutor while you work for the judges in your courthouse. Clinton Young spent 20 years on death row in Texas, in a case where a prosecutor, Ralph Petty, moonlighted for the trial and appellate judges handling the case. Young is now suing Petty and other prosecutors in Midland County. Texas Observer/The Garrison Project

Why were federal immigration agents involved in the local response to racial justice protests? Newly-revealed documents detail the work of Customs and Border Protection agents during the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The Intercept

Andrew Cohen is an editor-at-large at the Marshall Project. He covered law and criminal justice for 21 years as a legal analyst and commentator for CBS News and 60 Minutes. He also is a former fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former contributing editor at The Atlantic.

Opening Statement curates timely articles on criminal justice and immigration; these links are not endorsements of specific articles or points of view.

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