Anger grows over police inaction in Texas shooting. Jif salmonella recall expands to products from other companies containing peanut butter. China: Leaked files reveal police tactics in a Uighur internment camp.
Anger grows over police inaction in Texas shooting
Since Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Uvalde, TX, nationwide anger and scrutiny has grown over police failures at the scene. Videos of the scene outside the school show dozens of heavily armed and armored officers (both locals and from surrounding towns) standing around as despairing parents and onlookers urged them to enter the school. When (unarmed) parents attempted to enter the school themselves in a desperate attempt to save their babies, the on-scene officers responded by blocking their way, and in at least one case, tackling them to the ground.
Forty percent of the city’s general fund, the main component of the city budget, goes towards funding the Uvalde city police department and the separate Uvalde school district police department. At least 19 of those officers were present, and made no attempt to stop the shooter, Salvador Ramos, for over an hour after he barricaded himself in the two classrooms, where he killed most of his victims.
Parents, Uvalde residents, Texans and Americans are wondering how this could have happened. And the answers they’re getting from city and state officials aren’t adding up.
The official story (for now)
Yesterday, Texas police officials reported that Ramos had “encountered” an armed school resource officer, without explaining how Ramos got past the officer. Now, Texas Dept. of Public Safety head Steve McCraw has clarified that in fact, there was no resource officer present. Ramos wandered around the campus unchallenged for 12 minutes before entering through an unlocked door.
Authorities say that four minutes after Ramos entered the school, officers with the Uvalde Police Department and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department entered behind him. Initially, authorities reported that two policemen attempted to engage Ramos and suffered gunshot wounds as a result. Now, the reports variously indicate the officers were “grazed” by gunfire, or merely that they were fired upon. These officers then withdrew and called for backup.
Official reports now indicate that 19 officers waited in the corridor outside the locked classroom door for an hour, waiting for backup. Meanwhile, they attempted to “negotiate” with the active shooter as he continued his rampage. For that hour, the dozens of heavily armed and armored law enforcement officers outside the school “maintained a perimeter” and prevented parents and bystanders from entering. Inside the classroom, children pleaded with the officers for help, and some even called 911.
Finally, around 1 pm, off-duty Border Patrol agents turned up. They asked a school employee to open the locked door and then entered and killed Ramos.
Calls for an investigation
The current official version of events still does not explain key details. For one, it doesn’t explain how police failed to prevent Ramos entering the school in the first place. After shooting his grandmother at around 11 am, he drove her pickup truck in the direction of the school and crashed about a football field’s length away. He then, encumbered with his AR-15 style rifle, hopped over a security fence, and spent 12 minutes looking for an entry point.
The current official account also does not explain why officers “negotiated” with Ramos for an hour rather than attempting to enter the classroom. The gentlest assessment is that this is an “outdated” tactic, not in keeping with current Texas police training or nationwide best practices. Following other mass shootings in recent years, Texas updated its policing policy and training to mandate that officers attempt to engage and kill an active shooter. Dept. of Public Safety head McCraw has at least acknowledged there was “no excuse” for this lapse.
US Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), has called for the FBI to investigate the police response to the shooting. Castro explains that he has no confidence in Texas police authorities to conduct an honest internal investigation, or that those responsible will be held to account.
On another sad note, Joe Garcia, the husband of teacher Irma Garcia who died trying to protect her students, has himself died of a heart attack. According to his nephew, Garcia died of grief. The couple leave behind four children.
Jif salmonella recall expands to products from other companies containing peanut butter
Other snack food companies and grocery store chains that use Jif peanut butter in their products are issuing recalls on dozens of items. Jif peanut butter issued a nationwide recall last week on products made in their Lexington, KY, factory. So far, 16 people in a dozen states suffered salmonella poisoning after consuming Jif products. These items may contain Jif peanut butter but not say so on their packaging. These include products that are distributed nationwide. To see an exhaustive list of the recalled products, click here.
China: Leaked files reveal police tactics in a Uighur internment camp
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, is currently on a fact-finding mission to China’s Xinjiang province, home of much of China’s Muslim Uighur population. In recent years, China has conducted a mass internment campaign against Uighurs, which some say is a “pre-emptive counter-terrorism” campaign. Witnesses, survivors, journalists and investigators have generated reports of forced labor, systemic rape, brutality and brainwashing inside the internment camps.
While in China, Bachelet’s itinerary and activities will be tightly controlled by authorities from Beijing and Xinjiang. These limitations have caused many to criticize Bachelet’s decision to visit Xinjiang. Critics of her visit say it will merely be a propaganda tool for Beijing and produce no valuable intelligence.
Meanwhile, leaked documents from the Xinjiang police authorities are revealing the harsh methods police use to maintain control in the camps. The documents confirm the accounts of many survivors of the camps. The files also contain images of “missing” relatives of Uighurs abroad who are imprisoned in the camps.
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