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ROME — In May 2021 Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old Nigerian living in Italy, was hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle, an accident that forced him to use a crutch to move around.

On Friday, an Italian man used the crutch to knock Mr. Ogorchukwu to the ground on a major shopping street in Civitanova Marche, a seaside town on the Adriatic Coast, before beating him to death, as a video of the assault shows and police officials confirmed. Moments earlier, Mr. Ogorchukwu, a street vendor, had unsuccessfully pitched his wares to the assailant and his girlfriend.

The brutal, senseless murder — which was videotaped by witnesses and shared thousands of times on social media — has shocked Italians, stirred political bickering ahead of national elections in September and spawned fresh debate over racism in Italy, even though, for now, investigators do not believe that the crime was racially motivated.

“Let’s condemn the fact itself and the behavior of people who stood by and watched a disabled person get killed with a crutch and filmed it,” instead of intervening, “it is shameful,” said Patrick Guobadia, the vice secretary of an association representing Nigerians in Italy.

“This indifference is frightening,” he said.

Editorials in major Italian newspapers wrote of the “dusk of civilization.” Politicians across the political spectrum denounced the crime, though concerns emerged that the murder could be used as a political sparring point in the upcoming election in which the right-wing coalition has already singled out immigration as an issue.

Rocco Pennacchio, the archbishop of nearby Fermo, said in an interview Sunday in the Catholic newspaper l’Avvenire that he hoped that all the political parties would refrain from stirring such tensions for “a handful of votes.”

Mr. Ogorchukwu was killed around 2 p.m. on Friday, shortly after he had approached the suspect, Filippo Ferlazzo, whose identity was confirmed by his lawyer, and his girlfriend to sell trinkets and beg for some change. After being rebuffed, Mr. Ogorchukwu walked away, followed almost immediately by the suspect, who assaulted him. Onlookers filmed the aggression, which lasted less than four minutes, but no one intervened.

Charity Oriachi, the wife of Mr. Ogorchukwu, at his memorial on Saturday.
Charity Oriachi, the wife of Mr. Ogorchukwu, at his memorial on Saturday.Credit...Chiara Gabrielli/Associated Press
Mr. Ogorchukwu had moved to Italy about a decade ago, to join his wife, Charity Oriachi. They lived in the inland town of San Severino Marche, about an hour’s drive from the coast. Eight years ago, their son was born, said Francesco Mantella, a lawyer who has helped the family and is representing Ms. Oriachi. “Now that she’s alone, with a son, you can imagine how hard it will be,” he added.

Mr. Ferlazzo, a 32-year-old factory worker, is being held on charges of homicide and robbery because he took Mr. Ogorchukwu’s cellphone after the episode. Matteo Luconi, the chief police investigator in Macerata overseeing the case, said in a telephone interview that an autopsy later this week would establish the cause of death. Nothing has emerged from investigations to suggest “elements of racial hatred,” he added. A statement issued by the police said the “motive for the murder” appeared to be traceable to “petty reasons.”

In addition to its violence and the bystanders, the killing touched a nerve because the Marches region, where Civitanova is, has been the scene of heinous crimes against migrants. In February 2018, an Italian right-wing sympathizer shot and wounded six African immigrants in Macerata, some 19 miles inland from Civitanova Marche, marking the city as a bastion of intolerance. Two years earlier, a Nigerian man was killed in the city of Fermo, just south of Civitanova, after he tried to defend his wife from racist slurs.

Italians have been leaving bouquets of flowers, potted plants and scribbled notes at the scene of the deadly beating. “Stop racism,” read one note.

In an email, Mr. Ferlazzo’s lawyer, Roberta Bizzarri, said her client, his girlfriend and his mother all “felt pain” because of what had transpired, adding that Mr. Ferlazzo had “overt psychiatric disorders, a recognized borderline diagnosis.” She also said that “this very sad story” was “not a case of racism.”

Fabrizio Ciarapica, the mayor of Civitanova Marche, met with Mr. Ogorchukwu’s widow on Saturday, and on Sunday, the municipal administration approved a motion to assist the family. Funds have been set aside to help pay for the funeral, and a bank account was opened for donations. “The community is always ready to extend a hand to those in need,” Mr. Ciarapica said in a statement sent on Sunday.

The mayor also pledged to “protect the image and values of Civitanova, which has always been a civilized, welcoming, generous, peaceful and supportive city and which is dismayed and grieved by an affair foreign to its character and soul.”

Mr. Guobadia, of the Nigerian association, said that an impromptu protest had been held Saturday by Nigerians living in the area but that a bigger demonstration was in the works for next weekend. “What happened could be called an act of underlying racism, or indifference, I can’t say,” he said. “But in any case, it is shameful.”

Speaking to the Italian Sky News channel, Ms. Oriachi was distraught. “The pain is too much for me, I need justice,” she said. “I need justice.”

A Nigerian Street Vendor Is Beaten to Death in Italy as Witnesses Stand By

INDIANAPOLIS – The victims of a mass shooting were identified Monday, a day after a gunman opened fire inside an Indiana shopping mall before being fatally shot by an armed bystander.

The shooter, identified as Jonathan Douglas Sapirman, 20, of Greenwood, Indiana, killed three people and injured two in the food court at the Greenwood Park Mall on Sunday before closing time, police said.

Emergency responders wait outside after a shooting Sunday, July 17, 2022 at Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, 14 miles south of Indianapolis.

Emergency responders wait outside after a shooting Sunday, July 17, 2022 at Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, 14 miles south of Indianapolis.
He was killed by Elisjsha Dicken, 22, of Seymour, Indiana, a mall patron who was legally carrying a gun, according to authorities.

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"The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began," Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison said.

Authorities received the first emergency calls at 6:05 p.m. from the mall in Greenwood, a city with a population of 60,000 14 miles south of Indianapolis.

Here’s what we know about the Greenwood Park Mall shooting:

Gunman kills 3 in Indiana mall before being fatally shot by armed bystander: What we know

Outrage has spread after a viral video showed a costumed performer at Sesame Place visibly dismiss two 6-year-old Black girls on Saturday. Now, the family is calling on the theme park to fire the employee.

In the video, posted to Instagram by Jodi Brown, "Sesame Street" character Rosita is shown high-fiving a white child and woman – but then gesturing “no” and walking away from Brown's daughter and niece, who had their arms stretched out for a hug and high-five during the parade at Sesame Place in Langhorne, outside Philadelphia.

"THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us! Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I'm crazy," Brown wrote in her post Saturday. “I will never step foot in @sesameplace ever again."

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In a news conference Wednesday near Sesame Workshop, the New York nonprofit behind “Sesame Street," the family's legal team called for the immediate firing of the employee who dismissed the two girls.

This week: Sesame Place park apologies after Rosita character appeared to dismiss two Black girls  

"Today is a day of accountability," the family's lawyer, Houston-based trial attorney B’Ivory LaMarr, said to reporters. "What has taken place at Sesame Place this past Saturday, and the months and years prior, is utterly disgusting and unacceptable."

LaMarr's law office confirmed to USA TODAY early Thursday that LaMarr had communicated with the counsel for Sesame Place but that no lawsuit had been filed yet. Updates were expected in the coming days.

"All options are on the table," LaMarr said Wednesday. "The last thing we want to do is file a lawsuit. ... This is not about money, but they do need to take responsibility and make sure these girls get the adequate care that they deserve.”

View this post on Instagram

For now, the family's attorney said Wednesday, the family is calling on Sesame Place to fire the employee, take care of the health and mental health expenses for the two girls after the incident, and issue a "genuine and authentic" apology – not a "watered-down" explanation.

In an initial statement shared on social media Sunday, Sesame Place said that the park and its employees stand for “inclusivity and equality in all forms" and that the "costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests."

Sesame Place added: "The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding."

In California: What Sesame Place San Diego aims to do differently with autistic guests in mind  

Still, many expressed outrage online, and some called for a boycott of the amusement park. On Monday, the park issued a second statement, apologizing again and promising that it was “taking action to do better." That action would include inclusivity training for employees, the park said.

“We reject any notion that the performer’s actions this past Saturday was anything short of intentional. I know our Black girls are magic, but I didn’t know that they were invisible. We are tired of your excuses, we are tired of justifications," LaMarr said Wednesday in response to Sesame Place's statements. "We will not tolerate racism in this country. ... We most definitely will not tolerate it in our theme parks directed at our children."

Brown and activist Tamika Mallory, co-founder of social justice organization Until Freedom, who also joined Wednesday's news conference, strongly criticized Sesame Street's apologies for not taking further responsibility.

“I feel like the apologies were not genuine,” Brown, who was at the news conference with her niece Nylah, added on Wednesday. “Me, my niece and my daughter have all suffered ... discriminatory behavior which we should not have to endure in these days and times.”

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Mallory said Sesame Place's statements showed "gaslighting and complete disrespect." She also called on SeaWorld, who owns and operates the Sesame Place theme park, to speak up and take action.

USA TODAY reached out to SeaWorld for additional comments on Thursday. 

In addition to what the Brown family experienced on Saturday, LaMarr said, his office – as well as Mallory's office and the office of civil rights lawyer Ben Crump – has since received numerous reports from families who say they have experienced similar, racist incidents at the theme park over the years from various costumed characters.

"We’ve come to learn that what took place Saturday is not an anomaly, but what we’ve seen is business as usual – to deny, to defend and to delay accountability," LaMarr said.

In a statement sent to USA TODAY Thursday evening, Sesame Place wrote that, "We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Brown family for what they experienced. To be very clear, what the two young girls experienced, what the family experienced, is unacceptable. It happened in our park, with our team, and we own that. It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and to be better for all families."

Sesame Place also said that it had been in contact with the Brown family through LaMarr, and had offered to meet in person. Sesame Place maintained that the park was "taking action and are reviewing our practices to identify necessary changes" – including the mandatory training for all employees. The statement did not address the family's call for the Rosita performer's firing.

Contributing: The Associated Press

The day in pictures

1 of 44 Photos in Gallery©DANIEL LEAL, AFP via Getty Images

July 20, 2022: Burqa-clad woman carry logs of wood near the Qale'H-Ye-Balahissar fortress in Kabul.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Family calls for Sesame Place to fire Rosita performer, accuses theme park of racism

Family calls for Sesame Place to fire Rosita performer, accuses theme park of racism

COVID Case Numbers And Hospitalizations Continue to Increase

U.S. COVID cases and hospitalizations are rising again to the highest seen this summer so far, as the BA.5 omicron subvariant becomes dominant. BA.5 is understood to be the most transmissible variant seen so far and to have an ability to break through vaccination and cause reinfection. BA.5 accounted for more than 53% of global cases sequenced in the week through July 10, according to the World Health Organization, and the U.S. had the highest number of new cases, including in President Joe Biden. The daily average for new U.S. cases stood at 128,513 on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker, up 19% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations rose to 42,449, up 18% in two weeks. The daily average for deaths is up 34% to 437. Globally, the confirmed case tally rose above 567.9 million on Friday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins, while the death toll is above 6.38 million with the U.S. leading the world with 90.2 million cases and 1,026,294 deaths.

Coronavirus tally: U.S.COVID cases and hospitalizations are climbing as BA.5 takes hold

During the course of its landmark summer of hearings, the House select committee investigating the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol has sought to show that Donald Trump was at the center of a multi-layer conspiracy to seize a second term in office, accusing him of having “summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack”.

Then, for 187 minutes on 6 January, the president let the firestorm he ignited burn, the panel argued in a gripping capstone presentation on Thursday.

In its final midsummer hearing, one of its most dramatic of the series of eight, the panel argued that Trump betrayed his oath of office and was derelict in his duty when he refused to condemn the violence as rioters carrying poles, bear spray and the banners of his campaign, led a bloody assault on the US Capitol.

Related: House panel says Trump ‘chose not to act’ during attack on US Capitol

The primetime session recounted in harrowing, minute-by-minute detail the siege of the Capitol, while simultaneously laying out the actions Trump did – but mostly deliberately did not – take during those excruciating hours when “lives and our democracy hung in the balance,” as Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a Democrat of Virginia and a member of the committee, described it on Thursday.

Amid the chaos at the Capitol, Trump was idle in the White House, watching it all unfold on a television tuned to Fox News. Even 24 hours later, Trump refused to say the election was over.

Trump’s abdication of leadership on 6 January was a “stain on our history”, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a committee member, said Thursday.

But were his actions illegal? It’s a question at the heart of the committee’s yearlong inquiry.

Over the course of the public hearings, the panel has sought to lay out the case that Trump orchestrated a multilayered plot to seize another term in office despite being told repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that his myth of a stolen election was baseless.

Culling from hundreds of thousands of documents and hundreds of interviews, the committee showed that Trump, having been turned back by the courts at every level, became increasingly desperate in his bid to overturn the results of an election his own attorney general deemed free and fair.

The panel has sought to offer a full public accounting of the events of 6 January for the American people and for the historical record.

Its work, however, is not done.

The vice-chair, Liz Cheney, a Republican of Wyoming, said that the committee will spend August “pursuing and merging information”, which continues to come in, before reconvening for more hearings in September.

While the committee originally set a September deadline for releasing a final report on their investigation, lawmakers now say it will only release a preliminary report by then, and a full report by the end of the year. The committee must release a full report before it disbands, which it is set to do with the start of a new Congress in early January.

The committee’s report is already getting treatment similar to other major investigations such as Watergate and 9/11. Multiple publishers, including Hachette and MacMillan, have books coming out in September related to the committee’s findings.

But already, the committee has presented evidence that lawmakers and aides have suggested could be used as a foundation for bringing a criminal case against the former president. Among the possible charges that have been discussed are conspiracy to defraud the American people and obstructing an official proceeding of Congress. The committee has also raised the prospect of witness tampering, announcing at its last hearing that Trump had attempted to contact a witness cooperating with its investigation.

“The facts are clear and unambiguous,” Thompson said on Thursday.

The Justice Department is pursuing a separate investigation into the breach of the Capitol.

A federal judge has said Trump “more likely than not” committed federal crimes in his efforts to delay or disrupt the congressional count of electoral college votes on January 6.

But legal experts are divided over whether the evidence shown during the hearings is enough to charge Trump. No former president has ever been prosecuted by the justice department. And in this era of polarization, there are risks that both charging Trump – or declining to do so – could further undermine Americans faith in their system of justice.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, under immense pressure by Democrats to act, has not said whether he is considering a case against Trump.

“No person is above the law in this country,” he said Wednesday. “I can’t say it any more clearly than that.”

Trump has dismissed the panel’s inquiry as politically motivated and a witch hunt.

Perhaps the panel’s most urgent work is to show Americans that the “forces Donald Trump ignited that day have not gone away”, Kinzinger said. “The militant, intolerant ideologies. The militias. The alienation and the disaffection. The weird fantasies and disinformation. They’re all still out there, ready to go.”

Millions of voters still believe the conspiracy that Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election. It has galvanized a new wave of Republican candidates, who openly embrace the lie that the 2020 election was illegitimate. Many are now their party’s nominee for critical positions such as governor and secretary of state.

Trump was impeached for actions on 6 January, but the Senate acquitted and never attempted to bar him from holding future public office. Cheney suggested Thursday that if what was known now about Trump’s role in the tangled, brazen plot to keep him in office, the Senate may have voted differently. But the opportunity for political accountability is not presently available – Trump is out of office, for now.

That is why many, including members of the committee, believe Trump must face consequences for his actions.

“If there’s no accountability for January 6, for every part of this scheme, I fear we will not overcome the ongoing threat to our democracy,” Thompson warned. “There must be stiff consequences for those responsible.”

• This article was amended on 22 July 2022. Liz Cheney is a Republican member for Wyoming, not Wisconsin as an earlier version said.

House panel showed Trump conspired to seize the election – but was it illegal?

Less than two weeks before the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the specter of racial hatred and violence once again reared its ugly head when a teenage gunman – entranced by a white supremacist ideology known as replacement theory – systematically murdered 10 people at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. Then, just last week, in Akron, Ohio, another tragedy: a young, unarmed black man died in a hail of bullets, fired by police after a routine traffic stop. The shooting, which involved eight police officers, has sparked protests and a state-of-emergency declaration by the mayor of Akron, who instituted a city-wide curfew.

Floyd’s murder, the racist massacre in Buffalo, and this latest police killing in Akron are reminders that we are living through one of the most turbulent periods in American history since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Yet, for all the protests and calls for racial equity, the demands to stop white supremacists, and the promises from lawmakers to advance justice and equality, much more work is needed to extinguish the flames of racism that have engulfed our nation since its birth.

Instead of public denunciations of racial hatred and promises of change, Black Americans need concrete actions today that show that their lives matter and that measurable commitments toward their safety and well-being are finally being acted on.

From Minneapolis and Buffalo to Atlanta and Ferguson, many Black communities are not discernibly better off, despite the outpourings of support after violent tragedies. There are many reasons for this disconnect, ranging from political dysfunction to shifting cultural zeitgeist, and often a lack of communication and trust between those who have resources to help, and those who need it. This is why my firm Vista Equity Partners joined with PayPal and Boston Consulting Group last year to form the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI), a consortium of local organizations in communities of color in the South, where almost  60 percent of all Black Americans live, that aims to make it easier for corporations and philanthropists to deploy resources quickly, effectively, and transparently, to drive growth and opportunity for all Americans.

As MLK Jr reminded us, in order to dismantle racial hatred and injustices like we saw in Buffalo, we must also dismantle economic, educational, technological, and other injustices that have been heaped on the Black community. Famed musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron said, “Color is not the issue in America, class is.”

Removing Burdens

In just over a year since its launch, SCI has already made significant progress in helping channel the $100 billion in racial equity commitments companies and philanthropic organizations made following the death of George Floyd. We’ve partnered with Education SuperHighway to pilot Bridge to Broadband and assess the block-level broadband needs and solutions in Birmingham, Charlotte, and NOLA that impact 3 million households. A $500 million economic opportunity fund was started to support Black and underrepresented minority businesses through Community Financial Development Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), minority-led VC funds, and supplier diversity efforts. And the SCI is working hand in hand with local community organizations to help them better access the $10 billion in federal funding available.

While these are just a few examples of what this collaborative effort has been able to accomplish in a single year, far more progress is required. It will take a much greater effort on the part of all of society to quiet deeply entrenched acrimony and violence that led to the brutality we witnessed in Minneapolis, Buffalo, and Akron. Business leaders have enormous power to drive this change.

The Bottom Line

For example, the Student Freedom Initiative – a nonprofit centered around removing the burdens of student loan debt at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – needs funding help to ensure that tomorrow’s Black leaders pick up the mantle and continue the fight for equality. Corporations can also pledge to commit to supplier diversity by increasing MBE spending or helping to fund low-cost, high-speed internet to communities of color and expand healthcare coverage. In Texas – the country’s second most populous state – alone there are more than nine million people who lack a reliable high-speed connection and more than 21 percent of Black residents in Houston lack even the most basic form of health insurance coverage.

Fulfilling all these goals will not stop a white supremacist from wantonly killing innocent people or prevent a police officer from choking or shooting a man to death. But by working together with urgency, corporations can help level the field for African Americans economically, educationally, and otherwise. Doing so will benefit our entire country. It may seem like a daunting task, but – to quote Gil Scott-Heron again – “nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, everyone must play a part.”

OP-ED: Racist Massacre In New York Reminds Us Much More Is Needed On Racial Equity

At least 21 people were killed in a spate of shootings at bars across South Africa over the weekend, authorities said.

The deadliest incident occurred late Saturday night in Johannesburg's Soweto township in Gauteng province. A group of unknown men armed with rifles and pistols entered a local tavern in the Nomzamo informal settlement in the Orlando East area of Soweto and "started shooting randomly at the patrons who were sitting inside," according to the South African Police Service.

MORE: Mystery remains over deaths of 21 teenagers at South African nightclub
Twenty-three people were shot, of whom 12 were declared dead at the scene while the other 11 were rushed to a nearby hospital. Three more later died at the hospital, bringing the death toll from the incident to 16, according to police.

"One more victim was confirmed dead today at the hospital," a police spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. "The team of investigators working together with Crime Intelligence are on the ground to establish the motive and eventually arrest the perpetrators involved in this shooting."

A South African Police Service crime scene investigator talks on his phone at the scene of a mass shooting in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022.

South African Minister of Police Bheki Cele told reporters Monday that a manhunt has been launched for five suspects in connection with the Soweto shooting. Investigators have traced the suspects to Nongoma township in the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province, he said.

Another four people were killed earlier Saturday night in a separate shooting in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal province, about 45 miles northwest of Durban. Two gunmen opened fire on patrons in a tavern in the Sweetwaters area of Pietermaritzburg before fleeing in a small vehicle, according to police.

MORE: Mass funeral held for 21 teenagers who mysteriously died at South African nightclub
Twelve people were shot, of whom two were declared dead at the scene while two more died after being taken to a nearby hospital, police said.

"The team will be working around the clock to track down and bring to book those responsible for this shooting," the South African Police Service's commissioner for KwaZulu-Natal province, Lt. Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanaz, said in a statement Sunday.

People gather at the scene of an overnight bar shooting in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022.

People gather at the scene of an overnight bar shooting in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022.
Two other people were shot and killed late Friday night when a pair of gunmen opened fire on patrons at a tavern in Katlehong township in Gauteng province, about 15 miles southeast of Johannesburg, according to police.

While the motives behind the shootings were not immediately known, the ongoing investigations will likely point to "old-fashioned crime," according to Dr. Gerard Labuschagne, president of the African Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, a South African nonprofit that aims to educate professionals and the public about threat assessment and management.

"Whether it be a battle between the tavern owner and somebody else, or some of the patrons that might have been part of one group of people that the shooters didn't like -- it’s probably the more likely option that's going to come out instead of one of these American style mass shootings," Labuschagne told ABC News in a recent interview.

A relative of one of the victims of a bar shooting cries as south African Police Service officers refuse to let her cross the police barrier and enter the crime scene in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022.

A relative of one of the victims of a bar shooting cries as south African Police Service officers refuse to let her cross the police barrier and enter the crime scene in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022.
Labuschagne, who previously served as the head of the South African Police Service's specialized Investigative Psychology Section for 14 years, noted that the gun laws in South Africa are extremely tight and the biggest challenge is policing.

"It's not the Firearms Control Act that has any influence on whether or not we have gun violence or not, it's more active policing. That is the key to reducing gun violence in South Africa," he said. "We've got very strict laws already that I think are very good and, compared to other parts of the world, are quite comprehensive."

The bar shootings came two weeks after 21 teenagers were found dead at a popular tavern in Scenery Park, a suburb on the edge of the coastal city of East London in Eastern Cape province. The causes of those deaths remain under investigation, but the victims were not shot nor crushed in a stampede, according to police.

At least 21 killed in spate of bar shootings, police say

Tuesday’s public hearing investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection examined efforts to gather a mob on the mall prior to the deadly siege of the US Capitol – efforts that included a massive disinformation campaign that told Donald Trump’s followers that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from them.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who helped lead the seventh hearing, snapped into focus the dangers of the January 6 attack by referencing the violence of the 19th century.

“In 1837, a racist mob in Alton, Illinois, broke into the offices of an abolitionist newspaper and killed its editor, Elijah Lovejoy,” Raskin said.

He then described Abraham Lincoln’s reaction to the murder. Lincoln was a member of the Illinois state legislature at the time.

“If racist mobs are encouraged by politicians to rampage and terrorize, Lincoln said, they’ll violate the rights of other citizens and quickly destroy the bonds of social trust necessary for democracy to work,” Raskin said. “Mobs and demagogues will put us on a path to political tyranny.”

Even one-and-half years after the breach, some GOP leaders continue to spread the lie that the 2020 contest was stolen. Consider Michigan Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Kelley, who just days before the seventh hearing mischaracterized the riot, which he was involved in, as a “First Amendment activity.”

“We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election,” Kelley said during a Republican candidates debate last Wednesday. “The 2020 election in the state of Michigan was fraudulent, and it was stolen from President Trump.”

The testimony of a former Oath Keeper also was illuminating.

Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, told the committee on Tuesday that the group is a dangerous militia fueled by violence.

“I spent a few years with the Oath Keepers, and I can tell you that they may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are,” he said.

Leaders of the Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged actions on January 6.

“I think we saw a glimpse of what the vision of the Oath Keepers is on January 6,” Van Tatenhove said. “It doesn’t necessarily include the rule of law. It includes violence. It includes trying to get their way through lies, through deceit, through intimidation and through the perpetration of violence.”

When asked why he broke away from the group, Van Tatenhove said that at one point, Oath Keepers started claiming that the Holocaust never happened.

“That was it for me. I just could not abide,” he said.

The ongoing attempt to distort the assault on multiracial democracy – to sand the jagged edges so that what remains is a gleaming tale about patriots – has reminded some scholars of the leviathan disinformation campaign that began during the Reconstruction era. Southern apologists sought to spin the Confederacy’s war to preserve human bondage as a principled defense of states’ rights.

To better understand the echoes between this history and our present day, I spoke with Sarah Churchwell, the Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She’s also the author of the new book, “The Wrath to Come: ‘Gone with the Wind’ and the Lies America Tells,” a creative and powerful blend of cultural analysis and history.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

In your new book, you look at how the US’ histories of mythmaking can help explain contemporary politics, including some Republican leaders’ responses to the January 6 hearings. In particular, you examine Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel, “Gone with the Wind.” How can this decades-old story help us understand what’s going on today?

“Gone With the Wind” offers us a relatively compact and contained history of the Civil War and Reconstruction – except backwards and wrong. If you unpack it, it gives us a way into the real history and also gives us the story of the mythologies that built up around that history.

Most important to me, what it adds to our understanding are the emotions that drove that mythmaking and the collective psychology of US society that made “Gone with the Wind” this incredibly popular version of it. So, it gives us the investment in the rewriting of history and an understanding for why that happened, how it happened and what kinds of emotions it reveals about White America and its myths about itself.

What I argue in the book is that “Gone with the Wind” captures the invention of the myth of White victimhood in the US. It imprints it. I trace the emergence of that story about White victimhood and that reversal that said that the real victims of the Civil War and Reconstruction were not Black Americans but in fact White Americans.

I trace that story and the reestablishment of White innocence, because that’s the driving emotion behind the Lost Cause, behind the writing and the rewriting of slavery and Reconstruction and Jim Crow that everything the US does is innocent and righteous, and therefore nobody was wrong in this version of the Civil War, and certainly no White people were.

That emotion also is clearly driving some responses to January 6, for example. We’re getting denialism, a refusal to admit that you could be in the wrong and a willingness to rewrite history to make sure that you don’t ever have to confront the possibility that you could be in the wrong.

What history can teach us about some GOP leaders' January 6 denialism
© Provided by CNN
What history can teach us about some GOP leaders' January 6 denialism
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film adaptation of "Gone with the Wind" - Everett Collection
What does “Gone with the Wind” tell us about the connection between mythmaking and misdirection?

Mythmaking is a kind of misdirection. Mythmaking is misinformation. And it’s disinformation, because it’s deliberately deceitful, which is to point at something else and to say, “No, that’s the reality.” It serves the double purpose of convincing you of a lie but also distracting your attention from the truth.

In terms of how we see some of the same mechanisms play out during the hearings, it’s partly this desire for unity at all costs, without thinking about the victims as individuals or groups. There’s also the fact that this desire for unity at all costs does seem in the US always to be racially inflected. There’s no way to get around that. We keep fracturing over questions of racial justice and equality and White supremacism and then pretending that that’s not what we’re fracturing over.

So, the reconciliation is always superficial and fake because we won’t admit what the real problem is, or at least only some of us will say, “We think that this is the problem.”

Scholars increasingly warn about the potential for fresh political violence in the US. What would civil war here look like today?

I think that there’s a strong case to be made that civil war in the US looks like what we’re looking at. It’s an undeclared war. We had an insurrection at the Capitol, and we’ve also learned that the (then-)President wanted to lead an armed militia. He wanted to ride at the front of his army to overtake the Capitol.

We’ve also got armed militias roaming the streets. We have skirmishes that are White supremacist. When there were skirmishes in Bloody Kansas (in the 1850s), those were the early battles that became the Civil War, the battles that lit the spark. And of course, Fort Sumter said officially that it was war. But we don’t really declare wars anymore. It’s actually very, very rare. We just go to war.

And this is being fought in the way that a 21st century war is fought – with disinformation in a disorganized rather than an organized manner, because we don’t have armies mustering on battlefields. We live in a world where wars are not admitted to be wars. But we’re looking at armed militias. We saw it in what I think of as the summer of Trumpism, in uprisings after George Floyd’s murder. We saw it in Trump’s response. We saw it in the militarized police in the streets of Portland. We saw it in all the militarized police violence against Black Americans, and that’s obviously ongoing.

We’re regularly seeing carnage and saying that we’re not in a state of war.

Maybe we’re not. Maybe it’s the preamble to war, and it’s Bloody Kansas. But we’re certainly seeing battles, and militarized ones.

It’s worth pointing out that at the end of “Gone with the Wind,” Scarlett O’Hara is still living in a world of, as you put it, “resistance and delusion, not reunion and forgiveness.” There are those famous closing lines: “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him (Rhett Butler) back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” What lesson does this insistence on fantasy have for our times?

Well, there is a fantasy, but there’s also a reality that we can recognize in her ending. It’s the most famously sad ending in a romance that I can think of, except maybe apart from “Romeo Juliet.” It’s an iconically sad ending. And yet, you could also argue that there’s a happy ending there, because Scarlett gets what she wants most, which is Tara (the O’Haras’ cotton plantation). She gets to reclaim Tara. And that’s why “I’ll go home to Tara” is such an important line. That’s the real last line. The loss of Rhett, that symbolic division, is less important to the story and to the protagonist than her retention of power. That’s the happy ending. That’s the saving grace, as far as she’s concerned.

What is the lesson? It tells us that the emotional resonance of this story is that retaining power through property is more important than trying to reunify over division, that we’ll take the division if we can reclaim the power and the property.

What history can teach us about some GOP leaders' January 6 denialism

The Philadelphia teenager who turned himself in for the beating death of a 73-year-old man caught on camera will be charged as an adult.

Richard Jones, 14, has been charged with the murder of James Lambert, as well as criminal conspiracy, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department confirmed to the Daily News Wednesday.

Surveillance footage captures four boys and three girls taunting Lambert just before 3 a.m. on June 24. Lambert was hit several times with a traffic cone and died a day later from blunt force trauma, according to police.

The video shows the group, all believed to be in their early- to mid-teens, running after Lambert down the street while one holds the traffic cone, then throws it at Lambert, who falls to the ground. A girl then picks up the cone and throws it again at Lambert, still on the pavement. As he tries running away, the girl again throws the cone at him.

Jones and his 10-year-old brother turned themselves in Monday, but the younger boy has since been released.

The teen is being held on a $750,000 bail at a juvenile detention center.

14-year-old Philadelphia boy to be charged as adult for allegedly beating man to death with traffic cone

hree people have been arrested on more than 100 charges each, accused of distributing pamphlets bearing hate symbols at a synagogue, a Black church and other locations in Hornell, New York, police said.

3 arrested on 115 charges each after hate symbols left at N.Y. church, synagogue
Aubrey Dragonetti, 31, Dylan Henry, 30, and Ryan Mulhollen, 27, were each charged with 115 counts of aggravated harassment, the Hornell Police Department said in a news release Monday.

Hornell is a small city in southern New York, which has a population of 8,300, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

On July 9 and 10, police investigated pamphlets and stickers containing swastikas and racial slurs left at the houses of worship and public and private properties throughout the city, officials said.

A leaflet bearing the words “Aryan National Army" was found at Rehoboth Deliverance Ministries, which has a predominantly Black congregation. The same kind of literature was found at the front of Temple Beth-El Synagogue, The Evening Tribune, the newspaper in Hornell, reported.

Aryan Nations “is one of the country’s best-known enclaves of anti-Semitism and white nationalism,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. 

A warrant, in conjunction with New York State Police, was conducted in the 130 block of River Street, police said, leading to the trio's arrest.

“During the search evidence was located which depicted the crimes of Aggravated Harassment 1st, a Class E Felony,” the police department said in the release.

The charge, under New York law, is defined as “with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person," due to "such person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion." The charge description also includes depictions of swastikas and nooses as symbols of intimidation.

NBC News has reached out to the police department for further comment on the arrests.

The suspects appeared in Steuben County centralized arraignment court Monday, The Evening Tribune reported. Lawyer information for the three was not immediately available.

Dragonetti and Mulhollen were jailed in Steuben County Jail and later released. Henry remains in custody, jail records show. 

Hornell Mayor John J. Buckley said he was “absolutely shocked and appalled by the actions and behavior of these three individuals.” 

“The City of Hornell is a very close knit, welcoming and accepting community and there is absolutely no room for this type of hate or any other here," he said. "These are three misguided individuals who have hate in their hearts. This is something that is not reflective of Hornell."

3 arrested on 115 charges each after hate symbols left at N.Y. church, synagogue

Officers are sharing racist content online, with some wearing the ‘thin blue line’ avatar, associated with white nationalism among US police

Police forces in the UK and across Europe are suffering from a growing “culture of extremism”, according to a report that warns of an increase in officers sharing racist and far-right content online. The report, by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), says UK policing has a growing extremist problem, and highlights issues across Europe. In France, 81% of gendarmes declared they would vote for far-right politician Marine Le Pen.

In France, Belgium, Germany and Hungary former high-ranking police officers have become extreme-right mayoral and parliamentary candidates.

In the UK, a series of recent cases involving the Metropolitan police have further damaged the reputation of a force long accused of being “institutionally racist”. They include officers sharing images on WhatsApp of two murdered black sisters. Another group of officers, at a central London station, were found to have joked about rape, killing black children and beating their wives.

The Met was last month placed on special measures after scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer, the strip-searching of innocent black children, and stop-and-search controversies including that of the British Olympic sprinter Bianca Williams.

Liz Fekete, director of IRR, said: “Our conclusion that the dehumanising mindset and overall sense of impunity and entitlement displayed in police WhatsApp groups is a symptom, not a cause, of authoritarian trends in policing, will no doubt make for uncomfortable reading.”

Fekete added: “Racism has become entrenched in policing as the rank and file are resituating themselves as society’s victims and organising on an ever more extremist agenda.”

The report also warns that the “thin blue line” avatar and hashtag are still seen on the Twitter feeds of police officers, including a safer neighbourhood team in London, and they have been observed on the uniforms of officers in Manchester. In the US, the thin blue line avatar and “blue lives matter” movement are associated with white nationalism, with serving and retired officers implicated in the Capitol Hill siege.

Fekete warned that the thin blue line had become a “besieged and misunderstood minority group” with a proliferation of victim narratives that represent rank-and-file officers as the aggrieved party in debates on police racism and use of force.

The report also warns of a link between racist attitudes and operational practice, particularly in relation to predictive policing and racial profiling. Last December, concerns were raised about the Met’s Operation Pima in which 61% of individuals identified within intelligence reports as the “most prolific or violent offenders” in London were black.

Ilyas Nagdee, from Amnesty International, said the research was important particularly as discussions about “alternative approaches to public safety” gained ground.

Mark Rowley was last week unveiled as the Met’s new commissioner, a figure whose previous position as its head of counter-terrorism means he is well versed in the challenges posed by extremism, both within and outside the force.

Growing ‘culture of extremism’ among UK and European police forces, report warns

In the early 1960’s African American leader Malcolm X expressed that the Black community must treat their grievances against the government in the context of human rights instead of civil rights. Such would take the case outside of United States jurisdiction in which the Black community would not have to rely on the mercy of the same system that seems to sanction racist practices such as police brutality. Civil rights suggest that the community seek a redress via acts such as petitioning, protesting, and voting within the current system while wishing the act has a positive effect. Human rights allow the complainants to exercise humanitarian intervention and assert rights that will stop the abuses with their own hands.

The number one human right used by oppressed people all over the world, including America’s founding fathers, is the right of self-determination. By asserting their right of self-determination, African Americans can assume independent political control over their communities and execute whatever policies they deem necessary to bring justice. Those policies can include such things as monetary reparations, free housing and conviction pardons to disbanding the police and creating an alternative. “Most Black people do not know that we have the option of asserting our right of self-determination so they have been giving ‘uninformed consent’ to the very system that is abusing us” says human rights policy officer Ramzu Yunus.

According to a report entitled “We the Peoples? The Strange Demise of Self-Determination“ published by Princeton and Tel Aviv University scholar Uriel Abulof, the government has used unlimited resources and various strategies to make sure African Americans do not discuss the right of self-determination or even know that it is an option. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which acknowledged the right of self-determination in Article 1, was ratified by the United States government in 1992. Thereafter African American law scholars and professionals immediately convened a conference called The Conference on African-Americans and The Right to Self-Determination held at Hamline University School of Law. Within the proceedings the suggestion was made for a “shift from a domestic civil rights model to an international human rights model” and that by focusing on the right of self-determination, those concerned “can now begin to contribute positively and meaningfully to African-American freedom..” In other words, the African American community should not expect any positive change if the actions to achieve such are not centered around the right of self-determination.

Georgia State University College of Law Professor Natsu Taylor Saito, who also advises that African Americans assert their right of self-determination to end racial injustice, writes “Are we moving toward genuine liberation, rather than simply asking for superficial adjustments to the status quo? In other words, will we take our right to self-determination seriously, and act on it?” Acting on the right of self-determination can be as simple as formulating a governing council then holding a vote within the African American community which asks if members want independent political control that comes with various new policies such as monetary reparations, free housing and an alternative police force if any at all. If they vote yes then the representatives can simply start governing with a new police or security force. There is a right of self-determination conference call hosted by Human Rights Policy Officers in which people can learn more. It is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8pm EST and can be attended by clicking or pasting the following link in your browser: https://justiceconference.live/Detroit. You can also reach Human Rights Policy Officers via telephone at: 888-999-6530.

Using Human Rights, The Black Community Can Disband Police