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January 1, Police ‘Woefully Undertrained’ in Use of Force



This Day in History | 1987

President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany during one of his most famous Cold War speeches.

Good morning Middle Americans, 

Amid all this talk of defunding the police, disbanding entire police departments, and autonomous zones, the AP reports that money might not be the issue here. The bigger issue could be the training, more specifically the lack thereof, that’s driving this long term trend of racial injustice that leads to unarmed black people dying at the hands of white police officers. We are going to see a massive shift in the way some communities police themselves. It’s going to be one heck of an experiment. Today we also have stories about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff apologizing for appearing with the president during his walk from the White House to St. John’s Church, saying it was a “mistake”. Two national guardsmen from South Carolina say they had glass baked into their pizza while they were deployed to Washington, D.C.. Finally h/t to Twitter for cleaning out some Chinese trolls from the platform. 

Read all about it. 

-Fraser Dixons

Experts: Police ‘Woefully Undertrained’ in Use of Force

(AP) – Seattle officers hold down a protester, and one repeatedly punches him in the face. In another run-in, officers handcuff a looting suspect on the ground, one pressing a knee into his neck — the same tactic used on George Floyd.

The officers were captured on videos appearing to violate policies on how to use force just days after Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police, setting off nationwide protests.

With calls for police reforms across the U.S., instructors and researchers say officers lack sufficient training on how and when to use force, leaving them unprepared to handle tense situations. Better training can’t fix all the issues facing the nation’s police departments, but experts believe it would have a big impact.

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Defends ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ as ‘Patriotic’

(New York Post) – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Thursday defended the protesters who have declared an “autonomous zone” on the city’s street as “patriotic.”

In her remarks to the press, Durkan also said President Trump’s threat to send in federal resources to crack down on the protesters was “unconstitutional and illegal.”

“Unfortunately, our President wants to tell a story about domestic terrorists who have a radical agenda and are promoting a conspiracy that fits his law and order initiatives,” Durkan said, according to Patch.

“It’s simply not true. Lawfully gathering and expressing first amendment rights, demanding we do better as a society, and providing true equity for communities of color is not terrorism. It’s patriotism.”

She was referring to an area in the city’s Captiol Hill zone, where cops and protesters have repeatedly clashed in front of a police precinct over the last two weeks, following the death of George Floyd.

Joint Chiefs Chairman: ‘It was a Mistake’ to Appear with POTUS in Lafayette Square

(Fox News) – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Thursday expressed regret for accompanying President Trump during a photo-op last week at Lafayette Square amid protests, calling the decision “a mistake” – in the latest sign of friction between the White House and the military over the response to racial unrest

Milley made the remarks during a remote video speech to graduates at National Defense University, advising young officers to “always maintain a keen sense of situational awareness.”“As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched,” he said. “And I am not immune.

“As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week. That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society,” Milley continued. “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

He added: “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

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2 National Guardsmen Found Glass Baked Into Their Pizza While in D.C.

(Post and Courier) – The soldiers were staying at the Marriott Marquis Hotel during their mission to the nation’s capital when they decided to order a pizza from a nearby establishment using Uber Eats, according to a Department of Defense report shared with The Post and Courier.

When they opened the pizza, they found shards of glass baked into the dough and cheese. 

They didn’t eat the pizza and no one was injured, according to the report. No other Guardsmen experienced a similar problem. 

“The command says that the soldiers are OK, and that this was the only incident to their knowledge,” said Capt. Jessica Donnelly, a spokeswoman for the S.C. National Guard. 

She said the soldiers were advised to file a police report about the incident. A spokeswoman for the D.C. Metro Police Department said there was no report on file. 

Department of Defense personnel have seen an increase in threats, according to the report, but it went on to state that there have been no specific threats made by protesters against soldiers. 

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Twitter Deletes 170,000 Accounts Linked to China Influence Campaign

(The Guardian) – Twitter has removed more than 170,000 accounts the social media site says are state-linked influence campaigns from China focusing on Hong Kongprotests, Covid-19 and the US protests in relation to George Floyd.

The company announced on Thursday that 23,750 core accounts – and 150,000 “amplifier” accounts that boosted the content posted by those core accounts – had been removed from the platform after being linked to an influence campaign from the People’s Republic.

Researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that while Twitter is blocked from access in China, the campaign was targeted at Chinese-speaking audiences outside the country “with the intention of influencing perceptions on key issues, including the Hong Kong protests, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and, to a lesser extent, Covid-19 and Taiwan”.

The researchers analysed 348,608 tweets between January 2018 and April 2020 and found most tweets were posted during business hours in Beijing between Monday and Friday, and dropped off on the weekends.

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