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    Marissa Cooper Finally Breaks Silence on Alton Sterling Shooting Aboard a Yacht

    This morning, actress and dancing star Mischa Barton posted on Instagram a photograph of herself aboard a yacht, holding in one hand a glass of rosé. In the other, she holds a mirror, to the world.

    But first, let’s set the mood:

    Is it playing? Good.

    “I’m truly heart broken to watch videos like the #altonsterling execution,” Barton writes. “This may have been going on forever in the United States but thank god the pigs get caught on camera now.”

    Sure, it’s a little ridiculous to imagine Marissa Cooper saying this in the Madonna-esque British accent she’s picked up doing god knows what in London since the The OC ended, and yet.. she’s not wrong. Good on the white lady on the yacht pouring her pink wine out.

    She continues: “Its unthinkable and an embarrassment to America. The country I was brought up in. Somebody make change. We need gun control and unity. And a real President so think about that when this election is around the corner. The world is a precarious place right now.#stop #reflect and #act appropriately.”

    A take no one asked for, but a take nonetheless.

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    Trump Campaign Just Pulling Meaningless Fundraising Numbers Out of Thin Air at This Point
    Photo: AP

    On Thursday, the Trump campaign announced that it raised $51 million in the last week of May and the month of June—$26 million for the campaign itself and $25 million for the RNC. While there is no reason to doubt, necessarily, the accuracy of these numbers—and they are obviously a vast improvement over the campaign’s abysmal $3.1 million May fundraising efforts—it is important to remember they do not represent anything close to a full accounting of the campaign’s financial health.

    It is no surprise, really, that Trump would be eager to dispel the notion that his campaign is running on fumes: His last finance report was both deeply embarrassing and also further evidence that he might not actually want to be president. But releasing these specific numbers weeks before the Federal Election Commission makes the Trump campaign’s official monthly report public might also be indicative of a deepening panic—that is to say, the campaign wants voters to remember this number, rather than the numbers to come.

    In certain respects, presidential campaigns are run much like businesses: If you spend more than you take in, you’re operating at a loss—if you have a lot of money in the bank, that might be okay; if you don’t, it might not. Contributions to a campaign are a kind of “income,” and disbursements are a kind of “expense.” The Trump campaign is very excited to tell everyone about its $51 million of income, but it hasn’t yet made public the expenses accrued during the same time period.

    (One might think that a businessman like Donald Trump would understand the difference between revenue and income, but it wouldn’t be the first time he has confused the two.)

    The key number that the official FEC filing will disclose is exactly how much money the Trump campaign has “on hand.” Trump started the month of May with $2.4 million cash on hand; raised $3.1 million; spent $6.7 million; and ended the month with $1.2 million—a loss of $1.3 million.

    By contrast, Hillary Clinton started May with $30.1 million cash on hand; raised $19.6 million; spent $14 million; and ended the month with $42.4 million—a gain of $12.3 million. (Clinton raised $68.5 million in June.)

    The question, then, is how much the Trump campaign spent in order to raise $51 million. As the press release itself points out, “The fundraising team has built a top-tier operation in a short period of time.” Surely not an inexpensive proposition! In any event, we’ll find out soon enough: The campaign’s June FEC filings are due July 20—right in the middle of the Republican National Convention.

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    Donald Trump Admits to Maybe Not Actually Wanting to Be President Even if He Wins
    Image: Getty

    We already know that failed former New Jersey Generals owner Donald J. Trump is not going to be the president. But now that Trump’s nomination is all but locked in, he might finally be starting to admit it himself.

    Whether it’s because Trump has actually been running a false flag campaign to secure Hillary Clinton’s presidency or he’s just a Personal Brand dead set on winning and nothing else, let us pray that Trump was being sincere when he said the following. From The New York Times [emphasis added]:

    Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

    I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

    Sure, the line could be a fun little joke meant to drum up press (I know. It’s working. I don’t care.). But knowing what we know about Donald Trump—like how much he loves making money and how much he hates opening himself up to personal scrutiny—all things considered, there’s almost certainly some truth in there.

    And if not, god help us all.

    [h/t The New York Times]

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    It registers less as news and more as routine when another Title IX lawsuit arises against a college or university for failing to meet its obligations to address sexual violence. The same is true when the claims made in these suits bear out. Earlier this year, Florida State announced it would pay $950,000 to Erica Kinsman to settle a lawsuit in which she said the university’s athletic department concealed from the administration her accusation of rape against their star quarterback, eventual Heisman winner and national championship game MVP Jameis Winston. The suit wasn’t a surprise. Neither was the settlement.

    Somewhat less routine was the news that none of the direct costs of the lawsuit would actually be borne by the university. The settlement amount and about $421,000 in legal fees were covered by Florida’s Emergency Management Fund. The remainder of the attorney fees—$1.3 million—were paid for by Seminole Boosters, an FSU-affiliated non-profit that describes its mission as “funding comprehensive excellence in competition and in the classroom.” University president John Thrasher, who oversees a $1.5 billion budget, issued a statement bemoaning the fees his university did not directly pay and emphasizing the institution’s responsibility to handle the lawsuit “in a financially responsible manner.”

    A phrase came to my mind, one muttered to me over the years by lawyers and gadflies, always off the record, when discussing sexual assault allegations against their clients and the eventual financial settlements: “the cost of doing business.”

    Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Education marked the beginning of the current era of highly-publicized university investigations into rape and sexual violence with what’s known as “the Dear Colleague letter.” The 19-page document, citing Title IX—the 1972 law forbidding gender discrimination in federally-funded educational activities—ordered every college that receives federal funding to take action on sexual violence or risk having that money pulled. The letter’s anniversary passed, to little fanfare, on April 4, just as the NCAA men’s basketball championship game wrapped up a tournament that generated its fair share of Title IX storylines: A Yale basketball captain expelled for “sexual misconduct” sat in the basketball stands next to a university leader; a former Duke player “clouded by allegations of sexual assault” played in the tournament for another university, and won praise for taking “a distinctive leadership role.”

    Within months, Baylor would watch lawsuit after lawsuit pile up amid its own half-hearted reckoning with having, by its own admission, downplayed or even covered up sexual assault on campus, especially (though not exclusively) when football players were the ones accused. So far, three Title IX lawsuits involving eight women have been filed against Baylor. In a separate case—that of a woman whose rapist was found guilty by a criminal court but was cleared by Baylor—the university reportedly settled with her before she even filed a lawsuit.

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    McLane Stadium, home of the Baylor Bears, in Waco, Texas. (Getty Images/Tom Pennington)

    Stories like these are by now a cost of being in the NCAA revenue-sport business. Title IX has become a central focus of that business, and of broader discussions and activism around sexual violence, thanks in part to a White House public-relations campaign so easy to join that it includes all Power 5 college athletic conferences as well as SBNation.

    In the most idealistic interpretation, the Dear Colleague letter promised a way to partly correct for the criminal justice system’s failings. Over the last five years, though, it’s become clear that it’s far too easy to just put those failings on the police, or the courts. The more difficult truth is that their failures reflect the ambivalence of many societal institutions—including your university and your favorite sports team—toward rape.

    This isn’t helped by how Title IX has been implemented, with pillars like fairness and promptness set out by the U.S. Department of Education but with no concrete rules as to how a typical investigation and hearing should work. Within these wide latitudes universities created systems that manage to come across as unfair to both the accuser and the accused, giving article after article on Title IX a familiar ending—all involved hate the results.

    Title IX is many things. To understand what it is in this context, though requires first wrestling with a basic question: How did Title IX become one of our principal instruments for dealing with the issue of rape in the first place?

    It feels, in many ways, as if over the past half-decade there has been a shift in the uses to which Title IX is put. There hasn’t. In 1977, five years after the legislation passed, it was used by several female Yale students who filed a suit arguing that the university had violated Title IX by refusing to instate a reporting process to handle sexual harassment complaints made against male faculty members and administrators. This lawsuit, Alexander v. Yale, was dismissed after the women had graduated and Yale created a grievance procedure, but it’s still considered one of the key moments in defining the then-new concept of sexual harassment as a form of sex-based discrimination, rather than something women just have to deal with as part of being women.

    Despite this precedent, Title IX was for many years regarded mainly in the context of sports, a law having to do with parity in athletic spending and access. That public view started to change due to lawsuits, like a 1995 suit concerning a University of Nebraska football player repeatedly accused of sexual assaults.

    Kathy Redmond said she was raped during her freshman year in 1991 by Cornhuskers defensive tackle Christian Peter. Another woman would later tell police that, when she said no to sex, Peter ejaculated on her face. But the stiffest punishment Peter got from the criminal justice system was 18 months probation for sexual assault for grabbing a former Miss Nebraska by the crotch in a bar and telling her she liked it; the stiffest punishment he received from Nebraska was having to sit out a spring game. Years later, then-coach Tom Osborne told the New York Times, “I didn’t want a lot of negative consequences to result.”

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    Nebraska players carry Tom Osborne off the field after the Huskers defeated Miami 24-17 in the 1995 Orange Bowl (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

    Redmond sued in 1995, saying Nebraska had violated Title IX. Her lawsuit was settled two years later, and more followed. They all focused on one aspect of the law, that sexual harassment—including sexual violence—is a form of discrimination, and schools cannot have “deliberate indifference” to it.

    Those that got attention from the press typically involved athletes and the most nightmarish circumstances. The University of Alabama at Birmingham settled in 2003 with the family of a girl who enrolled at age 15 and according to her lawsuit, became a sexual “play thing” for more than two dozen football and basketball players. In 2007, the University of Colorado settled with two women who said they were gang-raped at a party for football recruits. In 2009, Arizona State settled with a woman who said she was raped in her dorm room by a football player.

    In a 2002 feature for ESPN on the Birmingham case, sports psychologist Dr. Mitch Abrams predicted a future of wave of lawsuits, saying, “You could see hundreds, if not thousands, of silent victims come forward.”

    He was off by about a decade.

    There’s no definitive tracker of Title IX lawsuits, but the Office of Civil Rights does release the number of ongoing investigations into possible Title IX violations. As of the most recent list, there are 255 open investigations. When the Center For Public Integrity investigated rape on university campuses in 2010, it reported that a Freedom of Information Act request turned up “at least 24 fully resolved investigations between 1998 and 2008 into allegations that colleges and universities botched sexual assault cases.” No schools were punished, even when OCR “found that colleges had acted indifferently or even retaliated against students who reported that they had been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted on campus.”

    The recent increase isn’t just about victims coming forward. Like many laws, Title IX’s power stems from a new administration coming to Washington and deciding an issue was worth prioritizing. When the 2011 Dear Colleague letter came out, what mattered most was the message it sent: Take campus rape seriously, or there will be significant consequences, including losing federal funds.

    This leads to a natural question: How should a Title IX hearing go? It’s a simple question that’s incredibly difficult to answer. The federal government has laid out pillars for universities to follow: Be fair, equitable, prompt, and include the opportunity for both parties to present witnesses and other evidence. Making sure that each side is at least offered the same as the other is key, said Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at the Victim Rights Law Center. There are a few specifics the Dear Colleague letter gives. The biggest is that universities must use the “preponderance of evidence” standard—a lower bar than the criminal system’s “beyond a reasonable doubt”—as part of their grievance procedures, because that’s the standard adopted in rulings on other types of civil litigation about discrimination. Also, the athletic department isn’t allowed to have a separate grievance procedure. (It’s worth noting that didn’t stop Baylor from doing so for years.)

    And that’s about it. For an illustration of how much room universities had to improvise, consider this, taken directly from the Department of Education’s online guides:

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape

    In other words, the same universities that had been exposed for neglecting to seriously investigate claims of sexual violence were to be massive leeway to decide how, going forward, they would investigate claims of sexual violence.

    Some schools might hire outside investigators; some might have a university employee do it. There might be a one-person panel or a three-person panel or no panel at all, with a decision rendered by the investigator. Maybe the panel includes a law professor or a music professor or two students. Maybe each student is allowed a lawyer; maybe they aren’t. How can anyone involved be unbiased when so many of them are university employees? That’s a good question, one of many. Interrogating any part of the process will turn up a lot more issues than answers.

    I asked attorney Baine Kerr how a typical hearing works because Kerr and John Clune have become the most prominent lawyers working the issue of sexual violence on campus, attaching their names to some of the most high-profile Title IX lawsuits in recent history, including that at Florida State. Kerr’s answer? “That’s a really appropriate question and a major problem.”

    “It’s all over the block,” he said. “The standardization, there’s a crying need for it, and a lot of people are banging their heads against the wall on this.”

    How Title IX cases are resolved is, overall, a mystery. In cases involving public universities, state public-records laws can make very limited amounts of information available; in cases involving private universities, a university can basically tell anyone with pesky questions to go fuck themselves. Yale, to give an example, requires that documents from the proceedings of its sexual-misconduct committee remain confidential.

    Because of this, what we know about how Title IX works is incomplete and heavily inflected by the stories of those who come forward. They tend to not engender much confidence in the system, whether they come from the accusers or the accused.

    • At the University of New Mexico: A former student sued the university and its Board of Regents, alleging the university administrators interfered with a police investigation into her gang rape by two football players and a third student. The former student’s lawsuit has since been dismissed with prejudice, a likely sign of a settlement, and the men involved have now sued the university as well. In its letter to the university following an investigation, the U.S. Justice Department wrote that New Mexico’s Office of Equal Opportunity created a system so traumatizing that “almost all complainants with whom the United States spoke said that they wished they had never gone through the process and would not refer another student who had experienced sexual assault to OEO.” During interviews, one UNM official told the government that a woman who reported an assault was a “young woman who was very lonely, tended to be clingy, and would put herself in situations that led to her being victimized ... she didn’t have much insight into her behaviors.”
    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    Fans of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrate during the second half of the Outback Bowl (Getty Images/Mike Carlson)
    • At the University of Kansas: Two women—both rowers who said they were raped by the same former football player—have sued the university. The football player was expelled, but both women say they suffered retaliation from the rowing coaches after reporting what happened.
    • At UC San Diego: A superior court judge in Los Angeles overturned the suspension of a student at UC San Diego for sexual misconduct because the judge ruled that university’s hearing was unfair. Problems pointed out by Judge Joel Pressman included the man’s limited ability to cross-examine the woman (just nine of 32 questions he submitted were asked), his inability to confront the university investigator, and his lack of access to witness statements. The university has appealed the decision.
    • At the University of Colorado at Boulder: Within the past two years, the university has settled with a woman who said it took the university four weeks to remove a student after he was found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse, and also settled with a man who said he was wrongfully suspended for sexual assault.
    • At James Madison: A federal judge earlier this year found that a James Madison student could go ahead with his lawsuit against the university for way it overturned a decision that he was not responsible for sexual misconduct. One example mentioned by the judge was how the appeals board overturned the decision after getting new evidence but “without any oral presentations or live testimony.” The lawsuit since has been referred to mediation.

    Is the system working anywhere? That’s another good question with no clear answer. The Huffington Post recently applauded Oregon State and its president for being proactive on the issue, including spending nearly $800,000 on more resources for survivors and Title IX administrative positions. But that’s just one university, and even very broad and basic data, like each year how many investigations happen each year at universities and how they’re resolved, isn’t readily available nationally, said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.

    “Suppose there were 5,000 hearings and of those 10 people were found responsible for rape. Just that stat alone would tell you the system isn’t working,” said LoMonte. “Or if it was 5,000 and 4,999 are found responsible—okay, now you know the system is biased the other way. And those are numbers we should know.”

    This is why in Yale’s case, basketball players could stand by their ex-captain while others accused them of supporting a rapist. (Some details finally came out, months later, when Jack Montague sued Yale). It’s why Georgia Tech can expel students for sexual misconduct at a much higher rate than the University of Georgia and have this be taken—depending on the expert quoted—as a sign of either justice or mob justice. In an information vacuum, everyone provides their own narratives, and only the institutions win. And all of these schools, good or bad, are still cashing tuition checks and raising funds from wealthy donors.

    “In the criminal justice system, the reason we know there are abuses and irregularities and horrible cases where the defense attorney took a dress and waved it in front of a jury is because it was open,” LoMonte said. “That’s how we got reform. People saw what happened. We imposed rape shield laws. We changed the criminal justice system to more protective of victims because public trials outraged people. And these disciplinary trials take place in such complete and utter secrecy. You can’t reform what you can’t see.”

    That threat made in the Dear Colleague letter to withdraw federal funding? It hasn’t happened once. When a university is found in violation, they reach an agreement with the federal government about what they will have to change to get in compliance. The last time in recent history that a university actually lost federal funding because of a Title IX violation is never.

    This leads to a natural question: Why aren’t the police handling this in the first place?

    The best perspective on this comes from Kathy Redmond, who has remained an activist on the issue of violence involving athletes since her lawsuit against Nebraska. She says that she always tells women to who are raped to go to the police, and also tells them not to expect much to come of it.

    ‘What bothers me the most is if you have a murderer on campus you aren’t thinking about student judicial,” said Redmond. “No. It’s in the hands of the police and they are going to figure it out. But with rape, because the police are so inept—and they are—now we’ve got student judicial handling this.

    “My assailant never should have had the opportunity to go in front of student judicial, because the judicial system should have handled it. The legal system should have handled it. But we don’t have that.”

    There is perhaps something to the idea that this would change if women simply called the cops after every rape. To stress that as the solution, though, requires ignoring all the legitimate reasons why women don’t report. Fixing those is far more complicated than, say, Caitlin Flanagan’s offhand sentence in the Washington Post about how victims can be persuaded to report more “with the right institutional and emotional support.” Getting the right institutional and emotional support in place in 2016 is no small thing.

    The evidence that law enforcement doesn’t take rape cases seriously has been building for decades. The thousands of untested rape kits across the country. The scandals in Baltimore, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis that all showed officers intentionally downgrading sexual assault charges or just making them go away completely. The roughly 1,000 officers who have lost their badges for sexual misconduct in the past six years. The Los Angeles police officers charged with raping women while on duty. The sheriff in Idaho who said he didn’t see the point in deadlines for testing rape kits because “the majority of our rapes that are called in, are actually consensual sex.” The FBI database built to help capture serial rapists that, ProPublica and the New Orleans Advocate found when looking at the Darren Shaper case, is seldom used. They reported that, of 79,770 rapes reported to police in 2013, only 240 cases were entered into the database—a paltry 0.3 percent.

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    Daniel Holtzclaw, foreground, the former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of raping multiple women he encountered while on patrol (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    Past all of this, consider that reforms in how the cases are handled can lead to a department’s rape statistics going up—making them look worse for doing a better job.

    Even where officers’ intentions are good, rape investigations are difficult. Unlike, say, a bar fight, the crime itself might not have direct witnesses beyond the accuser and the accused. Drugs or alcohol might be involved. Like other trauma, rape takes a toll on a person’s memory, which is why officers are advised to handle interviews with victims in a completely different manner than they would victims of other crimes. The accused will almost surely concede that sex happened but insist it was consensual.

    Justice does not get easier as a case moves on in the system. A district attorney may reject a case because they fear a conviction isn’t assured, and high conviction rates are politically useful when seeking reelection. If the case does go forward, the victim’s character will almost certainly be put on trial. (In college towns, you can add the fear of upsetting—and possible meddling from—the most powerful institution in the city.) And if all this is overcome, a judge might, as in the case of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, decide that imprisonment is too harsh for a man convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault.

    Beyond just law enforcement, there are countless reasons women don’t report. They’re afraid of interacting with the police, or have already read all the horror stories up above and write it off as a waste of time, or have been assaulted before and already lost faith in the system. There’s also the natural human reaction of blaming yourself after a traumatic event, walking it back, and immediately wondering what you could have done differently, which gets compounded by the real fear that nobody will believe you or that you’ll be told you asked for it.

    Viktoria Kristiansson is an attorney advisor with AEquitas, which provides resources for prosecutors in cases involving violence against women, and she said to think about what happens after a car crash: Even if it’s not your fault, you’ll start to blame yourself, wondering why you didn’t take your normal route or didn’t notice that other car coming.

    “Now add that into sexual assault, a crime we already have a lot of issues with,” Kristiansson said. “Imagine on a date, and you really like the person and he asked me to walk with him and nobody was around. Or maybe a girl wore something that night and is afraid everyone is going to say, ‘You wore that pink tank top and it’s really revealing. What did you think he would think?’”

    These fears have been proven true. There is a social price for reporting rape. The involvement of a high-profile athlete can, and often does, compound all of this. Take the example of the teenager who told the police that she was raped by a Tennessee football player in 2013. She later told the Tennesseean that one teammate sent her a Twitter direct message asking “Why are you trying to ruin his life? He’s the star of the team,” and that the player’s girlfriend screamed at her over the phone, accusing her of trying to ruin his life. Or that of Lizzy Seeberg, who reported that she was raped by a Notre Dame football player only to be repeatedly smeared and warned by one friend of a player, “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.” Seeberg killed herself 10 days after her reported assault.

    In a 2014 deposition, a former Florida State administrator in charge of the university’s Victim Advocate Office stressed “a fear of retaliation” as a reason why some women don’t come forward. She estimated that about 40 football players were accused of intimate partner violence or sexual assault during her nine years in the position. Only one was found responsible. As the New York Times summarized, “She said most of the women chose not to pursue the cases ‘based on fear.’”

    The Victim Rights Law Center’s Colby Bruno told Time in 2014, “I’ve seen this in every single case. The victim lose friends or becomes a social pariah. If you report on a really small campus, its really difficult to re-integrate after you report.” Bruno told me recently: “That is still the truth.” According to federal statistics, 80 percent of the time college-age women know their rapists. Off campus, the number is still very high, at 78 percent. The same report says 20 percent of rape victims both in and out of college said they feared reprisal.

    Nowadays, the dirty work of harassing a woman into recanting doesn’t even need to be done by the man or his friends. It’s been outsourced to the Internet. It’s in the comments under articles. It’s in the Baylor football message boards where posters out and demean students who said they were rape, and cycle through the expected defensive tropes: They want money, they want to ruin Baylor football, they deserved it for going out and partying. It’s FSU Twitter.

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    Image from

    When women don’t report rape, it’s not because they don’t want justice. It’s because they believe that justice might not be worth the price they’ll pay for seeking it. The feeling that involving law enforcement is utterly pointless has become so well-known it’s even discussed in literature for cops. (See this, for example, from the for-police website Police One.)

    Ideally, the criminal justice system and Title IX would work along parallel but separate tracks, with the police investigating to determine whether a crime happened and the university doing what it has to do to keep students safe and ensure their rights to an education. (After all, at any given moment the college controls a student’s housing, class schedule, health care, meal plan, and financial aid.) Title IX wasn’t meant to create a structure by which criminal guilt or innocence could be judged, though. It being used that way is a consequence of people losing faith in the system as it exists.

    The same failures of the criminal justice system are appearing in the education system. And yet even saying that plainly occludes a much darker reality, divorced from specific questions about whether police, prosecutors, or university presidents are willing to do or capable of doing their jobs: We’re still figuring out how to adjudicate rape.

    Unlike other crimes, which mainly hinge on what happened—your TV was stolen, a car crashed into another car, someone was killed—rape is defined by a determination of consent, and the legal definition of consent has changed over time, as have the most basic rights afforded to women overall. As one paper notes: “Rape originated as a crime against property, not a crime against a person ... limited to a crime against unmarried virgins.” As recently as the 1960s, there were laws on the books in the United States that said rape required not just a lack of consent but a woman resisting to the utmost—in other words, you weren’t raped if you didn’t try hard enough to stop it. As recently as the 1990s, marital rape was still legal in some states.

    Complicating things further is the historical use of rape as a political weapon. Rape has, within the past century, been used in various countries as deliberate military strategy. It has been allowed to thrive in American prisons, to the point where certain people getting raped as part of their punishment is practically assumed, and joked about. Less than a century ago, the myth of black men preying on white women was a key anchor of the Jim Crow South, as Lisa Lindquist Dorr wrote in her book White Women, Rape, and the Power of Race in Virginia, 1900-1960:

    By the twentieth century, the rape myth was at its height, and it structured most white southerners’ beliefs about the consequences of allowing interaction between white women and black men. The rhetoric about black men’s propensity to rape and the corresponding need for white men to protect white women flourished both in debates about black men’s civil and political rights and in discussions about new freedoms and opportunities for white women. The rape myth thus enforced white women’s subordination to white men and the social, economic, and political power of whites over blacks.

    ... Despite the fact that most lynchings did not grow out of charges of sexual assault, northern critics accepted southerners’ favorite explanation for necessity of mob justice. Historians did so as well, taking white southerners at their word that they were compelled to respond to all charges of rape with, at best, barely contained violence.

    And it’s here, in the Jim Crow South, where you also see the history of selective enforcement. As Ida B. Wells-Barnett pointed out in her historic report from 1893:

    This crime is only so punished when white women accuse black men, which accusation is never proven. The same crime committed by Negroes against Negroes, or by white men against black women is ignored even in the law courts.

    This is why the oft-cited statistic that two to eight percent of rape accusations are false will only take you so far in understanding the politics of false accusation. Yes, there will be false rape accusations, as there are false accusations with many crimes (false auto theft is estimated at 10 percent). The criminal justice system screws up lots of crimes, the most extreme example being the hundreds of people proven by the Innocence Project to have been falsely convicted, including 24 people freed from death row. A database of U.S. exonerations maintained by the University of Michigan counts 1,827 since 1989, with the largest group (735 of them, or about 40 percent) being murder cases. Few people take defendants claiming they were framed for murder seriously, though, and the death penalty goes on in 31 states with few concerns; meanwhile, the false rape accusation remains the pole to which all policy and practice related to sexual violence is oriented.

    The hunt for the perfect false-rape-accusations statistic will continue, but even if achieved, it would only tell you so much. There is no statistic that can explain why those old white southerners figured that saying lynchings were due to rape—and not murder, or robbery, or disrespecting whites—would make them okay, or why for so long that worked, or why some of the worst violence wrought against black communities was justified as revenge for rape, or why those false rape accusations are the stories that remains strongest in the public’s recollection of Jim Crow, right down to Harper Lee making that the plot point in To Kill A Mockingbird, or why any of this so profoundly inflects present-day understandings of sexual violence. As Donna Zuckerberg wrote over at Jezebel about false accusations, “the fact that people are so frightened of them and reflexively disbelieve victims tells us more about our society than it does about the woman or man making the allegation (or about the prevalence of rape in general).”

    Why Title IX Has Failed Everyone On Campus Rape
    Yale University (Image via Shutterstock)

    If tomorrow everyone wakes up and suddenly specialized investigators are handling Title IX cases and producing outcomes that everyone agrees are just and fair, with a level of transparency that gives people faith in the outcomes while also protecting the privacy of victims, things would be better but many victims of rape would still be left out.

    One story that stays with me is that of a young girl—18 and still in high school—who said she was raped by a Tennessee football player on campus, inside the dorm room where football players usually lived. She described saying no but being raped anyway while another player watched. Both players denied it, and ultimately no charges were filed because she said she didn’t want them brought. She later said that one factor was the harassment from another football player as well as from the accused rapist’s girlfriend.

    I remember her in part because the police report also said that she told Knoxville police she had “a history of being sexually assaulted by her father and uncle.” She had been raped before, long before the police or Title IX could do anything about it.

    Because rape is so underreported, it’s incredibly easy to go down a rabbit hole of survey-shopping, essentially picking the study with the results that fit your predetermined conclusions. I’m using U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics (despite its own flaws) because they directly compare rape as experienced by women on- and off-campus. They found that a woman between the ages of 18 to 24 is the person is most likely to be raped, regardless of whether or not she’s enrolled in college. In both groups, under 50 percent reported their assaults to the police. Among non-students—the group more likely to call the police—19 percent said they did not call the cops “because the police would not or could not do anything to help.” At nearly identical rates (26 percent for students, 23 percent for non-students) victims said they felt like what happened was a personal matter. Fewer than 20 percent of both groups got help from a victim services agency.

    Every rape victim wants what campus activists are asking for: a fair investigation, counseling to help with their trauma, a home where they feel safe, people who listen. This is the cruel irony of an essay in the Washington Post that points out how expensive the costs can be for a woman trying to pull together her life after rape on campus. The costs of counseling, finding new housing, and tutoring after missing classes, among other things, can come to resemble a “fine on victimhood.” Those same costs, just with different labels, exist off campus too.

    With the Obama White House choosing to focus on campus rape, I find myself returning to this passage from a 2013 interview in Salon with University of Illinois at Chicago professor Beth Richie. In it she talks about the “everywoman” focus of 1960s feminism and how that affected where resources to help women went. Emphasis added is mine.

    And when power elites started paying attention to it, they took seriously what could happen to women in their social context and started designing services for and passing laws that would protect women in their social context. So it became ultimately paradoxically kind of a narrowing of an understanding of the problem. That white middle-class or wealthy heterosexual married women or women on elite college campuses were at risk of violence against women and the attention, the resources, the analysis, went toward protecting those women at the expense of women who didn’t fall into those more normative categories. So it became hard to understand how a prostitute could be raped, for example. Or how a woman who is a substance abuser could be battered in her household. It became a sense of victimization tied to a sympathetic image of who could be hurt and how terrible it was that those women were hurt, as opposed to the real everywoman that we were trying to argue for.

    Richie isn’t talking about Title IX in this interview, and yet it’s hard to not see the limitations of Title IX at work here, addressing rape among some women but not all. Title IX will not protect the little girl raped by her stepfather, the prostitute raped by a customer, the 24-year-old raped by her work supervisor; Title IX, to the extent that it even works—and it doesn’t, not for sexual assault—is a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Its failure to stop the bleeding is unsurprising.

    That it’s made people care is a start, but expecting Yale, Harvard, and the like to become leaders in this area—especially when there are so few mechanisms for accountability built in—is little different from the calls for Roger Goodell to end domestic violence. Yes, universities have an obligation to provide an education free of discrimination. But that houses of academia were perceived to have any advantage in the field of preventing violence against women is a tribute more to their fantastic marketing than to their actual capabilities.

    For years, activists and victims have been searching for something that’s proven sadly fleeting: a system that isn’t so flawed as to be unworkable. Is it the criminal justice system? It is civil court? Is it a Title IX hearing? Is it restorative justice, a model that de-emphasizes criminal punishment while focusing on repairing the harm done with everyone involved? Perhaps. The truth is that even women who have been raped won’t all agree on what is desirable or possible; every woman processes her trauma differently and rebuilds her life in a different way.

    Campus rape—especially cases involving athletes—is what’s getting the attention, but the basic issue remains the same, no matter the location or age of the victim. On paper, rape is a crime. On paper, rape is grounds for a lawsuit. On paper, it’s a violation of a person’s civil rights in an educational environment. On paper, women are swimming in power. But turning those words on paper into actual empowerment remains an elusive goal. In reality, it’s hard to not feel like rape—no matter the arena—is still dealt with by the same arithmetic as always: just another cost of doing business.

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    Putin Is Literally Breaking The Internet
    Photo: AP

    Earlier today, President Putin ordered the Federal Security Service to produce “encryption keys” capable of decrypting all data on the internet. No one is really sure what this means exactly, but the FSB has two weeks to make them, Meduza reports. That’s just one part of the Russian government’s silly and insanely expensive new plan for internet surveillance, signed into law under the “anti-terrorist” bill today and going into effect on July 20th.

    These regulations aren’t just terrifyingly invasive. They’re technically nonsense, and they’re so costly to try to implement that they could put many internet and phone service providers out of business, force noncomplying foreign companies out of Russia and kick a massive dent into Kremlin’s already crumbling infrastructure budget. There’s a great comprehensive breakdown on Meduza (and another one here), but here are some impractical highlights:

    • Telecom providers and “organizers of information distribution” (basically, any website) must store copies of the content of all information they transmit (including phone calls and text messages) for six months and store the metadata for three years so they can give Kremlin whatever it wants, whenever.
    • To store this data, internet providers would need to build new and massive data centers and buy imported equipment, all without state subsidies, which could put them out of business.
    • To actually operate the data centers, the Russian government would need to upgrade Russia’s janky electrical grid and old data cables.
    • All this could cost between $30 and $77 billion.

    Now to the fun part, the magical all-internet-decrypting keys!

    • Not only do “organizers of information distribution” have to store all transmitted information, they have to turn over “any information necessary to decrypt those messages.”
    • So, “additional coding” has to be added to all electronic messages which will function as instructions for the FSB to “decode” them.
    • For many services and websites, “keys” don’t exist or are fundamentally un-shareable (banks and financial institutions, etc.)
    • Nearly all electronic information is “encoded” in some way.
    • Good fucking luck.

    And if in two weeks the head of KGB’s successor FSB was to miraculously produce all these keys to all of the internet? The end game of the “anti-terrorist” legislation bundle would presumably be to create a central data center (let’s call it “basket”) to store all of the keys (let’s call them “eggs”). And considering that the people who would be in charge of all this very sensitive information seem to know less about how the internet works than I do, that’s probably not a very good idea.

    What does all this have anything to do with “anti-terrorism?” The new legislation is part of an evolving set of “anti-extremism” measures. In theory, the new laws pretend to stop “terrorist acts” and “armed uprisings.” In practice, “anti-extremism” and “anti-hate speech” laws have been used to block opposition websites, bully religious groups and jail a dude who posted an anti-Crimea annexation meme about toothpaste for his twelve online friends.

    The legislation also completely nullifies the Russian Constitution’s “privacy of correspondence” article that requires a court order to violate it. Now look what they did. Snowden is all upset.

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    A White, Male Reporter Goes to a Trump Rally 

    In the last few months, ever since Donald Trump the Republican presidential candidate moved from abstraction to unnerving reality, there has been a spate of pieces about his rallies that follow a particular format: a white male writer, educated and successful, attends a Trump rally where he is shocked to find people who look like him but must be otherworldly creatures. The New Yorker, the New Republic, The Guardian, and other legacy media have published the now-familiar story.

    The piece usually goes something like this: The writer attempts to capture his confusion by decoding these creatures who attend Trump rallies; he generally, ostensibly profoundly, notes something like the existence of “two Americas,” reassuring both reader and himself that he is not of this America. His America might be white, but it is not this kind of white, it does not revel in the baseness of anger, it appreciates multiculturalism and the correct Liberal values. It does this, in part, by depicting the unwashed hordes who attend Trump rallies with the delicacy of a Hieronymus Bosch painting: purposefully ugly caricatures whose bodies betray their lack of taste or correctness or education.

    In these pieces, the enthusiastic Trump supporter is unaware of their gauche physicality, a clear contrast to the white, male writer who is keenly aware of his race, or at least, abstractly, what his race signifies. Take, for example, Stephen Marche’s iteration at The Guardian. In it, Marche is quick to establish that he is not of the hell he is about to enter, quite literally crossing a border to draw out the strained comparison:

    You feel your whiteness properly at the American border. Most of the time being white is an absence of problems. The police don’t bother you so you don’t notice the police not bothering you. You get the job so you don’t notice not getting it. Your children are not confused with criminals. I live in downtown Toronto, in one of the most liberal neighborhoods in one of the most open cities in the world, where multiculturalism is the dominant civic value and the inert virtue of tolerance is the most prominent inheritance of the British empire [...]

    At the border, Marche crosses with ease, his race and gender shield him from the “gruff bellied” border patrol agent who is “like a troll under a bridge in a fairytale,” a clunky foreshadowing of “angry and absurd men” he later finds at a Iowa Trump rally (“I’ve never been to a place as white as Iowa,” Marche later marvels).

    Similarly, at a Trump rally in North Carolina, New Republic writer Jared Yates Sexton finds an “American Horror Story” of “boozy-eyed” foul-mouthed supporters. “On everybody’s lips were strange non-sequiturs of hate,” Sexton writes. At the New Yorker, a crowd in San Jose, California is depicted as snarling and menacing, they welcome Trump’s heated speech by “send[ing] forth a coarse blood roar”; a “blond bombshell” crassly strolls wearing a “low-cut blouse, giving the protesters a leisurely finger, blowing them kisses, patting one of her large breasts.” At a rally in Sacramento, Dave Eggers spends a few paragraphs on a couple “groping in the parking lot.”

    This is usually when the writer insistently signals his own neutrality in the hellish scene of grotesque bodies and racial slurs. Sexton writes that he tries to “empathize” with Trump supporters, burnishing his credibility by reminding the reader that he’s the product of working-class midwestern America. Eggers ridiculously wears a NASCAR hat which he apparently believes to be the uniform of a certain kind of American. He describes attendees as “within the realm of reasonable.” Meanwhile, George Saunders, at the New Yorker, reminds us that he used to be a Republican enthralled by the clearly false notion that, as a white man, he was simply better. Saunders, too, understands that, at their heart, Trump supporters are not inherently bad (well, maybe they are), they’re just beholden to the anger. Anger is always omnipresent in these pieces, always amorphous, because practically everything is a tabula rasa for anger (poverty, race, immigration, the diminishing American dream, etc.). Saunders, by contrast, has risen above the smallness of his adolescence.

    Violence is always part of the action described and yet, despite remarkable reoccurrence of violence—usually women of color, there to protest, are pushed or punched or physically intimidated—in the narrative arc of Trump rally reportage, violence is never the centerpiece.

    In part, because these acts of violence, the reality of anger and hate directed at certain demographics of Americans, is secondary to the actual purposes of these pieces: namely, to capture the conscious awakening and subsequent mournfulness of the white, male writer. As writer Alyssa Harad said, these pieces, “reinforce the boundaries between Reasonable White Man and Slavering Poverty Horde.”

    Indeed, in Trump rally reportage, the important writer positions himself as Virgil to the reader’s Dante, leading us through what’s treated as a foreign subculture, and ultimately to the right opinions. Those opinions, presented as a kind of rational conclusion drawn after delivering the reader from a hellish landscape of monstrous subhumans, are usually drawn from the very privileged position that he had previously acknowledged. At the New Yorker, Saunders writes:

    From the beginning, America has been of two minds about the Other. One mind says, Be suspicious of it, dominate it, deport it, exploit it, enslave it, kill it as needed. The other mind denies that there can be any such thing as the Other, in the face of the claim that all are created equal.

    The first mind has always held violence nearby, to use as needed, and that violence has infused everything we do—our entertainments, our sex, our schools, our ads, our jokes, our view of the earth itself, somehow even our food. It sends our young people abroad in heavy armor, fills public spaces with gunshots, drives people quietly insane in their homes.


    I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail.

    But I imagine it that way now.

    The irony here is that the conclusions—the realization that there are two Americas, as well as the delusion that they’re are inherently separate from one another, complete with ideologies that never overlap—can only be drawn from the privilege that the white male writer previously disavowed (or, at least, acknowledged). Yet he is entirely unable to see it functioning in his ostensibly profound conclusions, the very ones he worked so hard to lead us to.

    Saunders, like Eggers and Marche, is shocked to find that the American political discourse is driven by amorphous anger aimed at, more often than not, people of color. None of this would likely come as a shock to people of color who have been pushed or hit or yelled at. But then the protestors, too, are their own subculture, one which the writer has not yet decoded; not yet had revelations worth spilling thousands of words over.

    Ultimately, it seems that the Trump rally reportage piece has no purpose other than to reaffirm the importance of a certain kind of writer and his observations. It tells us little about the motivation of Trump voters and reduces violence to vignettes in an obviously grotesque sea of inhumanity. Its sole purpose seems to be the belatedly obvious conclusions of the reporter. It is, in short, an affirmation to both the writer and a particular kind of reader that they are good and moral and correct. That they both, by the very nature of taste and comportment and liberal consciousness, have nothing in common with the otherworldly inhabitants of a Trump rally.

    Art by Bobby Finger; Images via AP/Shutterstock.

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    ProPublica and the NYT Magazine have the story of a woman who was jailed and lost her home over a bad drug conviction, and the cheap field tests and pressure to plead guilty that leave others in similar situations. A speck in the woman’s car that tested positive for cocaine was actually something like a crumb of food.

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    Donald Trump Asks Lying Man With Hideous Wife to Celebrate Him in Cleveland
    Photo: AP

    Ted Cruz announced Thursday that he will speak at the Republican National Convention later this month, despite the fact that Donald Trump has called him a liar, insinuated that his father murdered JFK and straight-out called his wife unattractive.

    Who Cruz will join onstage remains unclear. Until Wednesday, the Trump campaign had said it would publish a list of speakers on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted the list would be published Thursday. As of press time, no list had been furnished.

    The news follows a closed-door meeting between Trump and Cruz that reportedly took place on Capitol Hill.

    “Mr. Trump asked Sen. Cruz to speak at the Republican convention, and Sen. Cruz said he would be happy to do so,” a Cruz spokesperson tells The Politico. “There was no discussion of any endorsement.”

    Trump had previously stated that any convention speakers would have to endorse him first—it’s like you can’t rely on a word he says!

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    White America Paved the Roads to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile's Deaths
    Illustration: Jim Cooke

    This week, white America learned the names of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, for the same reason it learned the names of so many black men it would otherwise be content with avoiding, ignoring, or beating down upon: because Sterling and Castile met some police officers, and the police officers treated them without mercy.

    Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five in Baton Rouge, was executed by one officer late Monday night, at point-blank range, as another held him down like an animal. Castile, a 32-year-old employee of the St. Paul, Minn., public school system, was killed two days later as he reached for his license and registration during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. They join the ranks of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, and countless others before them—black men and boys, who, through generations of poverty and structural violence against them and their forebears that stretch back to the founding of this country, are pushed into encounters with a system of law enforcement that views them as something less than human.

    Many of the specifics of Sterling’s final moments remain unclear. We know that the police approached him as he was selling CDs outside of a grocery store. We know that the police were responding to a call about a man threatening bystanders with a gun—a homeless man called 911 after he asked Sterling for money and Sterling showed him the gun in response, a law enforcement source told CNN. A man who knew Sterling told the Advocate he began carrying the weapon after a friend was mugged and he began fearing for his safety. A video published by the Daily Beast Thursday morning shows both of Sterling’s hands, after he was killed, neither of which seems to be holding a gun. If he was carrying one, he likely was carrying it in his pocket.

    Thanks to a devastating video that Castile’s girlfriend streamed to Facebook after his death, the circumstances of his final moments appear less ambiguous. An officer pulled him over for a routine traffic stop and asked him to produce his license and registration. Before doing so, Castile told the officer that he was carrying a handgun, and that he was licensed to carry it. Perhaps he was worried that the officer would see the handgun, mistakenly believe he was reaching for it, and kill him. Despite Castile’s warning, as he went for his wallet, the officer did just that.

    Specifics like these are important, and we will learn more of them eventually, through the machinations of justice on behalf black men that spring to work only after black men have been killed: the federal civil rights investigations, the internal police department probes. But weighed against the immense gravity of the loss of Sterling and Castile, against the son who will struggle to remember how his father’s face looked when he wasn’t composing it for photographs, against the unshakeable feeling black Americans must have that they live and die according to the whims of a system that hates them and fears them, those questions are immaterial. The fact is that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, and it is the United States that buried them.

    People will say that Sterling put himself in danger. People will place utmost importance on the question of what Sterling was doing with the gun that cops reportedly retrieved from his body, and will construct elaborate, twisted knots of logic to argue that Castile was menacing the officer with his. If it turns out that Sterling did threaten someone with his gun, or gestured toward it when the police arrived, people will think of his death as a settled matter. It’s true that it’s difficult to place the entire blame for killing him on an individual officer who may have feared for his own life, his own children’s futures.

    But real justice for victims like Sterling and Castile, and for every other black American, cannot concern itself solely with the faults and responsibilities of individual police officers. Killer cops have been fired, or resigned and taken shelter from the media, and their departments and cities have not become appreciably less violent in their absences.

    The American culture of state-approved violence against black people is as deeply ingrained in our national fabric as rock and roll music or the automobile. America was founded on a system of racial subjugation, and white America has spent centuries buttressing that system. Real justice for the sorry brotherhood into which these two men were forced will require white Americans to reckon with that system of subjugation in a way I’m not sure we’re capable of. Our country was founded on racism; eliminating racism will require us to destroy it and rebuild something that will necessarily be unrecognizable to us. “Many of us, I think, both long to see this happen and are terrified of it, for though this transformation contains hope of liberation, it also imposes a necessity for great change,” James Baldwin wrote in The Fire Next Time, taking stock of this conundrum. “But in order to deal with the untapped and dormant force of the previously subjugated, in order to survive as a human, moving, moral weight in the world, America and all the Western nations will be forced to reexamine themselves and release themselves from many things that are now taken to be sacred.”

    White Americans put Sterling’s and Castile’s ancestors on a slave ship across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing them into a life of ceaseless toil. White Americans bought them and whipped them and sold them, torturing them in ways that would be called appalling today were they applied to a chicken or dog. White Americans promised them freedom in 1863, only to deliver them 100 more years of legally enforced segregation, with lynch mobs pitching in when the letter of the law didn’t enforce their subjugation mightily enough.

    These centuries of hatred and violence were the overture for Sterling’s 37 years in America, the music that sets the stage for the action to follow and contains in its chords the seeds of every later melody and theme. I won’t deign to know anything about those years beyond the facts that have trickled through the media so far: that he sold CDs for a living, that he had children, that he lived in a transitional shelter, that he had a criminal record. “Alton Sterling, regardless of whether you knew him or not, he is not what the mass media is making him out to be,” Quinyetta McMillan, the mother of Sterling’s eldest son, said at a press conference Wednesday, choking back tears, as her son wailed beside her.

    Neither can Castile’s 32 years be evaluated wholly without considering the forced labor and ritualistic public hangings that came before them. In a nation soaked at the roots with his ancestors’ blood, he made a life that will be more difficult than Sterling’s to pigeonhole as wasted and criminal. He worked as a cafeteria supervisor in a local elementary school, where he gave kids fist bumps and snuck them extra graham crackers. He was a licensed gun owner. As he lay dying, his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, pled with officers that he had no criminal record, grasping at straws to put the senselessness of his killing in terms they’d understand.

    I don’t know very much about these men’s lives, but I do know what history shows us about the lives of black men in places like Sterling’s Baton Rouge, described by one local reporter as a city “where there are clear dividing lines separating the affluent white population from sprawling neighborhoods of African-Americans living in poverty.” As a black man in American cities like these, you are far less likely than your white counterparts to have a job, and if you’ve found one, it likely doesn’t pay well. Perhaps you have a kid, or there’s a housing shortage and your rent is getting out of control. You sell a little weed to make ends meet, and eventually get arrested and are branded a felon, torpedoing your housing and employment prospects for the rest of your life. Faced with the loss of your chief income, you start selling more weed. (Sterling himself did time for pot possession with intent to distribute.) Maybe that cycle of imprisonment and poverty repeats a few more times, probably it’s been going on in your family since long before you were born, and it’s going on in every other household on your block and in your neighborhood as well, and you’re surrounded by men who feel just as desperate and hated and hungry and afraid as you do, who are just as determined to get by for their families as you are, and at some point it starts to seem like a rational decision to carry a gun.

    Certainly, many white people are driven to carry firearms as well, whether for reasons of recreation, paranoia, or an abstract sense of liberty; they are rarely punished by instantaneous death without trial for exercising this constitutional right.

    All of the factors described above—the hunger, the poverty, the criminalization—are the legacies of policies and ideas that white America cherishes, that it fought to enact and in some cases is still actively carrying out. Slavery and Jim Crow set black America back economically in ways from which it still has not recovered. The drug war specifically targets black neighborhoods for crimes that are committed freely in white ones, stunting bright young black minds with jail sentences and the horror and lifelong stigmatization that come along with them. In Sterling’s Louisiana, tax cuts that largely benefit wealthy people have created budget crises in both public schools and the public defender system, leaving kids without a meaningful way out of the ghetto, and in some cases, without the legal representation they are constitutionally entitled to if they are ensnared by the crime that breeds there. Castile’s Minnesota is in better shape than Louisiana, but the Twin Cities where he lived are plagued by de facto racial segregation and inequality, driven in part by well-off white residents who resisted the construction of affordable housing in their neighborhoods. Castile’s killer worked in one of the nearly all-white suburbs that ring the more diverse, but deeply segregated cities. Castile worked in a school system that has almost wholly re-segregated over the last 16 years. These are the systems that must be dismantled if we want people like Sterling and Castile to stop dying.

    Maybe the officer who killed Philando Castile really did fear for his life. Maybe Castile’s admission that he was carrying a gun shocked the officer and set his adrenal glands pumping, and when Castile reached for his wallet, the officer really believed a deadly weapon would come out. But it is less likely that the officer would have panicked were Castile a white gun owner, like those who freely walked the streets of Ferguson carrying automatic rifles after Michael Brown, a teenager who carried no weapon, was shot dead. Maybe, considering the documented racial bias in automobile stops in cities across the country and the fact that Castile himself was stopped 31 times in 14 years, he would not have been pulled over in the first place were he a white man.

    Maybe Alton Sterling was a criminal. Maybe he did have a weapon. But if the same mind, the same soul, were born into a body in one of Baton Rouge’s affluent white neighborhoods, or a respectable suburb outside of the city, he almost certainly would not have been carrying it. If Alton Sterling is guilty of holding a gun in his pocket, white America is guilty of putting it there.

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    "Racism Exists": Minnesota Governor Says Philando Castile Would Be Alive If He Were White
    “Mark Dayton expresses his condolences to Diamond Reynolds for the death of her boyfriend, Philando Castile.” Photo: AP

    At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton came to the same conclusion many have after watching the brutal aftermath of last night’s deadly police shooting in his state: If Philando Castile’s skin had been a different color, he’d still be alive.

    “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver, the passenger, were white? I don’t think it would have,” said Dayton. “This kind of racism exists. And it’s coming up now on all of us to vow to do whatever we can to see that it doesn’t happen, that it doesn’t continue to happen.”

    At the same press conference, Dayton announced that he had asked the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, but it was his clear sense of personal outrage that made the governor’s comments notable.

    “I can’t say how shocked I am and deeply, deeply offended that this would happen to somebody in Minnesota,” said Dayton. “No one should be shot in Minnesota for a taillight being out of function. No one should be killed in Minnesota while seated in their car.”

    On Wednesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards similarly announced that the Justice Department was handling the shooting of Alton Sterling, whose death at the hands of police was also captured in a viral video this week, but the governor who signed the state’s so-called “Blue Lives Matter” bill seemed more concerned about civil unrest than police misconduct.

    “I have very serious concerns. The video is disturbing to say the least,” said Edwards. “One thing is for sure, another violent act or destruction of property is not the answer. We already have one family torn apart.”

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    Obama on Sterling and Castile Shootings: "These Are Not Isolated Incidents"
    Photo: AP

    While demonstrators marched across the country to protest the latest slayings of black men by police, President Obama spoke from a NATO summit in Warsaw on Thursday to address the reality of bias in the criminal justice system, the urgency for reform and the common interest all Americans have in demanding change.

    “All of us as Americans should be troubled by the shootings,” said Obama, according to The Hill. “These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

    Obama then offered a series of statistics illustrating how people of color are disproportionately pulled over, searched and killed by police before making the case that reform is in the best interest of law enforcement and citizens alike.

    “If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job, and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder,” said Obama. “So, when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.”

    Obama also called upon those who dismissed protests and outrage over the killings as “political correctness” to ask themselves, “What if this happened to someone in your family? How would you feel?”

    “To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals,” he concluded. “We’ve gotta tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better.”

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    The Officer Who Shot Philando Castile Has Been Identified

    The police officer responsible for fatally shooting Philando Castilo, a black man, in his car on Wednesday outside of Falcon Heights, Minnesota has been identified as Jeronimo Yanez by state officials.

    Yanez was named by a state agency investigating the shooting of Castile, along with his partner Joseph Kauser. Both men have been with the St. Anthony’s police department for roughly four years, and have since been put on administrative leave only a day after the incident took place.

    During their statement, officials summarized the events that lead up to the shooting: that after stopping Castile for a broken tail light, Yanez “discharged his weapon, striking Castile multiple times,” while Castile reached for his driver’s license. Before attempting to do so, he informed Yanez that he had a firearm in the car—a firearm he was licensed to carry.

    The state agency also stated that a gun was found at the scene.

    The identification of Yanez occurred the same day Minnesota governor Mark Dayton proclaimed that Castile would not have been shot if he were white, citing that both racial profiling and racism exist, and that the actions of Yanez and Kauser—notably Yanez in particular—were “beyond the pale.”

    “Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota…for a taillight being out of function,” the governor said. “Nobody should be shot and killed while seated still in their car. I’m heartbroken.”

    Image via Getty.

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    5 Officers Dead, 6 Injured After Shooting at Police Protest in Dallas
    Screencap: KDFW

    According to Dallas Police, at least five officers are dead and six more have been injured after a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas Thursday night. Authorities say two suspects are in custody.

    Videos from the scene record a succession of loud bangs and show at least two individuals lying in the street.

    At a press conference Thursday night, police said that they have confined one suspect to a parking garage and are currently negotiating. WFAA-TV’s Jason Whitely reports that the Homeland Security has arrived on the scene.

    UPDATE 11:55 P.M.: Dallas Police say an 11th officer has been shot while exchanging gunfire with a suspect.

    UPDATE 12:10 A.M.: Dallas Police have released photos of a “person of interest” and are asking for the public to help locate him.

    UPDATE 12:17 A.M.: Police say a fourth officer has died.

    UPDATE 12:25 A.M.: Footage from the moment the shooting began appears to show the Dallas Police’s “person of interest” on the ground and away from the scene of the shots.

    UPDATE 12:36 A.M.: Authorities say they have apprehended a suspect after a shootout and are currently investigating a “suspicious package” found near the scene. Another man whose photo was circulated by Dallas Police as a “person of interest” has reportedly turned himself in.

    UPDATE 1:01 A.M.: According the brother of the Dallas Police’s “person of interest,” both are currently at a police station in Dallas and have nothing to do with the shooting.

    UPDATE 2:10 A.M.: During what authorities said was likely to be their final press conference of the evening, Dallas Police said they have been exchanging gunfire with the suspect in the parking garage for 45 minutes while attempting to negotiate. According to police, the suspect said that “the end is coming,” he will “hurt and kill more” officers and that there are “bombs all over the place.”

    Additionally, authorities said they have two other suspects in custody after stopping them in traffic, one of whom was a woman who was spotted near the parking garage earlier in the evening. However, police said they “do not have a complete comfort level” that they have identified all the suspects.

    When asked about a possible motive, authorities said the suspects in custody were not cooperating.

    UPDATE 3:15 A.M.: Police say a fifth officer has died.

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    Video Appears to Show Dallas Gunman Shooting Officer at Close Range
    Screencap: KDFW

    An unedited, extremely graphic bystander video provided to KDFW and played on air appeared to show a deadly shootout between a suspect in Thursday’s shooting in Dallas and a police officer.

    The video, credited to Randy Biart, shows a figure dressed in civilian attire carrying what appears to be rifle crouching behind pillars and firing shots. A second individual, wearing what looks like a police uniform, enters the screen and several shots are fired as the first person runs toward him.

    After a moment, the second individual lies motionless on the ground and the first one flees.

    According to Dallas Police, they have been exchanging gunfire with a suspect not currently in custody for 45 minutes. While the video has not been verified, it certainly appears to show a portion of that deadly shootout.

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    Police Say Dallas Shooting Was Carried Out by at Least Four Shooters Strategically Positioned on Rooftops 
    Photo: AP

    Authorities say they believe the attack in Dallas that killed five police officers and injured six more was carried out by at least four snipers who positioned themselves in “triangulated locations” on rooftops near the end of a Black Lives Matter parade route Thursday.

    There were about 800 protestors and 100 police officers in the crowd when the shooting began around 8:45 p.m., the New York Times reports. Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown says police believe there were at least four snipers positioned above the end of the parade route, specifically targeting law enforcement officers.

    “Some [officers] were shot in the back,” Brown said at a press conference Thursday night. “We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers.”

    “[They were] working together with rifles, triangulating at elevated positions in different points in the downtown area where the march ended up going,” Brown said. “[They] planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could.”

    One of the officers killed has been identified by the AP as 43-year-old Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson, a seven-year veteran of the force who became the first officer killed in the line of duty since the DART police force was formed in 1989. CNN reports he was a newlywed who married a fellow officer two weeks ago.

    The other four Dallas Police officers who were killed have not yet been identified.

    Brown told reporters at least one civilian was also injured in the shooting. Shetamia Taylor, 37, was reportedly shielding her four sons from the gunfire when she was struck in the calf by a bullet. Her sister tells the AP she underwent surgery for the wound early Friday morning.

    Police officers—aided by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—eventually took three suspects into custody and cornered a fourth suspect inside a parking garage early this morning. That suspect reportedly died after prolonged negotiations that included the exchange of gunfire from what’s been reported as a self-inflicted gunshot, though police have not yet confirmed his death. During the standoff, he allegedly warned police “that the end is coming and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcement, and that there are bombs all over the place in this garage and downtown,” Brown said.

    At one point, federal authorities reportedly stopped commercial air traffic over the city to allow police helicopters to sweep the area.

    Primary and secondary bomb sweeps of the city concluded around 3 a.m. yielding no evidence of explosives, Dallas Police Department major Max Geron said on Twitter early Friday morning.

    At a press conference Thursday night, police initially identified a man photographed on the parade route with a rifle slung across his back as a “suspect,” who was later downgraded to a “person of interest.” His photograph was released by Dallas police and broadcast by most networks before it became clear he was Mark Hughes, the brother of one of the rally organizers, who apparently turned his gun over to a police officer as soon as the attack began.

    The suspects currently in custody reportedly include two people who “were seen with a camouflage bag getting into a black Mercedes” and driving away at a high speed, and a woman, who was arrested near the garage.

    On Thursday, Chief Brown indicated the suspects were not giving police much to go on and said authorities are not confident they have everyone involved in custody.

    “We just are not getting the cooperation we’d like, to know that answer of why, the motivation, who they are,” he said.

    The suspects, Brown said, appeared to have some familiarity with the parade route.

    “How would you know to post up there?” he told the New York Times. “So we’re leaving every motive on the table of how this happened and why this happened... We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that.”

    Speaking from Poland early Friday morning, where he is meeting with NATO officials, President Obama expressed horror over the attack, saying “there is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks, or any violence against law enforcement.”

    “We still don’t know all of the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement,” he said. “We are horrified over these events, and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas.”

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    Dallas Police Have Released the Man They Wrongly Identified as a Suspect
    Photo: AP

    Mark Hughes, the brother of protest organizer Cory Hughes, has been released from police custody after being identified as a suspect in Thursday night’s shootout in Dallas. “I just got out of the interrogation room for about 30 minutes with police officers lyin’, saying they had video of me shooting,” he told CBS DFW, “which is a lie.”

    Police had tweeted a photograph of Hughes marching in the protest and carrying a rifle. He was later downgraded to a person of interest. He turned himself in on Thursday night and was released around 1 o’clock Friday morning.

    Police had told him “that they have witnesses saying I shot a gun, which is a lie,” Hughes said. “I mean, at the end of the day, the system is trying to get me.”

    His brother, Cory Hughes, expressed similar frustration. “You know, I am so overwhelmed with emotion right now,” he said. “I’m trying to be strong right now for my family that I know is watching. But I’m crying on the inside, because we simply came to be a voice for those that don’t have a voice. And we went from being a voice to being a suspects and being villains. And my question is, why?”

    When Dallas authorities identified Mark Hughes as a suspect, video filmed after the shooting began emerged on Twitter that appeared to show Hughes far from the location of the shooting.

    Cory Hughes told the Dallas Morning News that he told his brother to turn his rifle over to police as soon as the shooting started. The rifle, which Mark Hughes was carrying legally, was apparently unloaded.

    “Mark Hughes is not the suspect,” Cory Hughes said. “He was simply exercising his right. He never thought by exercising his right he was gonna be plastered all over the national news as a suspect.”

    “Y’all have my face on national news—are y’all gonna come out and say that this young man had nothing to do with it?” Hughes asked of police, speaking to KTVT after his release. “We’ve been getting death threats.”

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    Suspect Killed in Dallas Attack Told Police He Wanted to Kill White Officers and That He Wasn't Affiliated With Any Groups [Updated]
    Photo: AP

    At a press conference on Friday morning, Dallas police chief David Brown described statements one of Thursday’s attackers made to negotiators before he was killed. Update (11:15 am): CBS News has identified the suspect as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, of Mesquite, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

    According to Chief Brown, the suspect, whose name had not been released at the time of the press conference, said he was racially motivated. “I want to share with you some of the comments from the suspect,” Brown said. “The suspect said he was upset about upset about Black Lives Matter. He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. He said that he was upset at white people. He stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

    “The suspect stated that we will eventually find the IEDs. The suspect stated that he was not affiliated with any groups, and he stated that he did this alone.”

    Other statements the suspect made, Chief Brown said, are being withheld as they are part of the criminal investigation. “We want to keep the suspects guessing,” he said.

    Three other suspected gunmen are currently in custody. Mayor Mike Rawlings made it clear that he and Chief Brown would not release information about those suspects while the investigation is ongoing. “We’re not going to answer any questions about the suspects,” Mayor Rawlings said. “Now is not the right time.”

    It was previously reported that the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound; Chief Brown said those reports were incorrect, and that the suspect was killed after negotiations broke down. Following an exchange of gunfire, Brown said, police deployed a robot carrying a bomb, which they detonated, killing the suspect.

    CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reported on Twitter that a law enforcement official said Johnson had claimed to be a U.S. Army veteran. An Army personnel spokesperson confirmed the claim to Stars and Stripes reporter Alex Horton. According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson had no known criminal history or affiliations with terror groups.

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    Donald Trump Knows Nothing About Alton Sterling or Philando Castile

    This morning, Donald Trump released a statement addressing last night’s shooting of police officers in Dallas, as well as the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Contrary to Trump’s general campaign strategy, the statement attempts to position him as “presidential,” which makes it all the more appropriate that there is one giant screw up.

    The statement contains the following sentence:

    The senseless, tragic death of two motorists in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done.

    Philando Castile, who died in Minnesota, was a “motorist” killed inside his car by a police officer. But Alton Sterling was not. He was a man selling CDs outside a convenience store. Perhaps the Trump campaign was confused by Sterling dying in a parking lot next to a vehicle. These are the sorts of basic details you’re supposed to be in command of as president.

    Alas, there will very likely be more opportunities for Trump to demonstrate baseline respect for the victims of police violence by simply understanding their stories. The full statement is below.

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