Tag Archive for: hate crime



Los Angeles: Gunman found dead after killing 10 at Chinese New Year celebration. What we know about the case so far.

DOJ finds 6 more classified documents at Biden home.

Canada: $2.9 billion settlement with First Nations over boarding school harm




Los Angeles: At least 10 dead after mass shooting at Chinese Lunar New Year celebration

On Saturday night, a group in the predominately Asian city of Monterey Park, near Los Angeles, had gathered at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio to celebrate Lunar New Year. A gunman entered and opened fire, sending the celebrants running. At least 10 people so far have died following the shooting, five men and five women, in their 50s and 60s or above. Ten others remain in the hospital. The FBI and ATF are assisting local authorities in the investigation. 

Police released these images of the suspect captured on surveillance.

After the Monterrey Park shooting, the gunman got in a white cargo van and drove to another dance hall in nearby Alhambra. There patrons managed to disarm the gunman and he again fled in the van. The gun was not an assault rifle but a pistol with an extended magazine, which is banned in California.

Midday on Sunday, about 12 hours after the shooting, police cornered the van in a shopping center parking lot in Torrance, CA, about 20 miles away from the Star Ballroom. As officers approached, they heard a single gunshot from inside the van. Police then called for tactical teams. When they made contact with the driver, he was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities have confirmed that the driver was the shooter. Police aren’t looking for any other suspects. 

Gunman identified; motive remains unclear

This event is now the most deadly mass shooting in the US since the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, last year.

Before the suspect was found, police released a surveillance image of the man they believed to be the shooter. Initial reports suggested it was an Asian male between 30 and 50 years old. He was in fact 72 years old, and his name was Huu Can Tran.

At present, there’s no clear motive for the shooting. Police say it is too early to determine whether or not it was a hate crime. California and Los Angeles in particular have been plagued by numerous anti-Asian hate crimes in the last two years. Tran being Asian himself  wouldn’t necessarily preclude it from being a hate crime. Monterrey Park was the first city in the mainland US to have a majority population of Asian ancestry. The area is home to people claiming ancestry from China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan.

Tran’s friend, ex-wife say he frequented the Star Ballroom

Tran’s ex-wife provided CNN with a copy of their marriage certificate which indicates that Tran was an immigrant from China. The ex-wife told CNN that she first met Tran at the Star Ballroom, where he was a regular patron, about two decades ago. Tran saw her dancing and offered her free lessons. They were married not long after, but the marriage didn’t last long. The ex-wife says she filed for divorce in 2005. She said Tran wasn’t violent towards her, but was quick to anger. He would berate her if she missed a step while dancing, saying it made him look bad.

A long-time friend of Tran’s said Tran was a frequent presence at the Star Ballroom from the early 2000s to the 2010s. It’s unclear whether or not he had continued visiting in recent years. The friend said that Tran accused other dance instructors at the hall saying “evil things about him” and that Tran was “hostile to a lot of people there.”

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DOJ finds 6 more documents at Biden home

News broke over the weekend that the Justice Department had conducted another search of President Biden’s private home in Wilmington, DE. The search yielded six more previously undiscovered documents within the home. President and First Lady Biden were not present in the home when the search took place. Biden has been cooperating with the DOJ since before the midterms. This search was arranged with his cooperation and consent.

Authorities haven’t said where in the home these documents were found. Previously, documents had been found in the home’s garage.

This is now the second weekend in a row that discoveries have been announced at the home. We don’t yet have an exact total of classified documents from Biden’s Wilmington home and his private office at a think tank in D.C. Before this weekend’s discovery, the total was only given as “roughly 20” which means we now stand at “roughly 26”.

There’s also been no official confirmation of what level of classification the documents have. At the time of the first finds in D.C., an anonymous source reported that some from that cache were TS/SCI documents. These documents are never meant to be removed from secure areas, known as SCIFs.

So far, authorities have said most of the documents date from the Obama administration, but others reportedly go back to Biden’s time as a US Senator. Biden represented Delaware in the Senate from 1973 to 2009, when he became Obama’s Vice President.

Any “high ground” left?

Republicans have roundly criticized Biden and the DOJ for a lack of transparency with regard to the investigation. The first cache of documents was found days before the midterms but did not become public knowledge until after the first of the year. Since then, there has been a gradual drip-drip of new discoveries. Twice now, these finds were conveniently announced over the weekend. This is a common tactic used when one wants to minimize press coverage. 

Even Democratic Sen. Dick Durban says there’s no question that Biden has lost the “high ground” when it comes to former Pres. Trump’s mishandling of documents. However, there are still some key differences between the Biden and Trump cases.

Trump had over 100 classified documents when his home was raided. Of course, there’s no way of knowing how many documents will be found in Biden’s various homes and offices when all is said and done.

At this point, the main difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden appears to be fully cooperating fully with the Justice Department. By contrast, Trump obstructed the efforts of the National Archives to retrieve the documents in his possession, even convincing his own lawyers to perjure themselves so Trump could keep “his” classified documents.

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Canada: $2.9 billion settlement with First Nations over boarding schools

From the 19th century up to the 1970s, the Canadian government funded 130 compulsory boarding schools for indigenous Native children throughout the country. Native children were taken from their families and sent to these schools to force their cultural, religious and linguistic assimilation.

Over the years these schools operated, some 150,000 Native children were sent to these schools. While there, they were forbidden to speak their Native languages and were beaten if they did. They suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The children were housed in poor conditions that made them vulnerable to disease and the cold. By the most conservative estimate, 3,200 children died while in the care of these schools.

Recent discoveries of unmarked graves of children at these now abandoned schools have reignited discussions over the harm done to generations of Native children by these schools. In 2012, 325 First Nations people, survivors of the schools, brought a class action lawsuit against the government of Canada. The survivors were demanding acknowledgement and compensation for the loss of language and cultural identity that resulted from their time in the schools. 

The Canadian government has now agreed to pay $2.9 billion to settle this case and to “address the collective harm caused by Canada’s past”.

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Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors. California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging. Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded.




Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime for burning cross to frighten Black neighbors

Axel Cox, 24, of Gulfport, MS, has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges after a Dec. 2020 incident in which he set up a wooden cross on his front lawn, doused it with motor oil, and set it alight. According to the Justice Department, Cox admitted that he burned the cross to frighten his Black neighbors. He further admitted that he did it because of their race and because they were living next door to him. Court documents also show that Cox made “threatening and racially derogatory remarks” towards his neighbors.

Cox’s lawyer has entered a guilty plea in which Cox admits to violations of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act and prohibits discrimination against a person’s housing rights based on their race, religion, nationality, sex or family status.

Cox faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

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California Gov. targets Big Oil’s price gouging

As gas prices have risen and fallen over the past year, California residents have been paying consistently high prices, averaging over $6 per gallon. Despite various market and supply issues, major oil companies have been making record profits. California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, rumored to have Presidential aspirations, is looking to find a way to penalize oil companies for price gouging and return some of that money to the state’s drivers.

Newsom hasn’t yet formally released this plan. However, it is likely to be similar to the windfall tax that prominent Democrats, including President Biden, have been calling for at the national level. As in Congress, the proposal would face an uphill battle in the California Legislature. The oil lobby is one of the top campaign donors for politicians in both bodies. California’s legislature is also seating an unusually high number of new members this term, many of whom received hefty campaign donations from Big Oil.

The Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group, is also already fighting back. The group blames California’s regulations and tax system for its higher-than-average gas prices and called on lawmakers to do away with these regulations.

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Iran protests: Confusion after official implies morality police have disbanded

Over the weekend, Iran’s attorney general made a spontaneous remark that has raised questions about the status of the country’s morality police. Among other things, the morality police enforce the country’s strict dress codes for women. The death of a young woman in their custody for improperly wearing her headscarf has sparked two months of growing protests. Iran’s security forces have led brutal and deadly crackdowns killing hundreds of protesters, many of them children. However, the morality police themselves have been far less visible since the protests began.

At a news conference, a reporter asked Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri why the morality police had seemingly gone dormant. Montazeri responded that the morality police were not part of his justice department, but rather the interior ministry and that the agency had been “shut down by those who created it”. This created an assumption by many that the infamous agency had been fully disbanded. However, the government has issued no official decree to that effect.

Even if it’s true that Iran’s current iteration of the morality police is no longer active, the regime still has many other agencies to enforce its decrees. The justice department continues to arrest and sentence protesters. In time, a different mechanism for imposing strict Islamic dress and other morality issues may emerge. 

In any case, the protesters have made clear that, whether or not the morality police go away or the government enacts reforms to relax enforcement, their goal is total regime change.

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Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges. White House working to avert railroad strike. China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies





Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges

Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old gunmen who carried out a mass shooting in May at a Topps supermarket in Buffalo, NY, has pleaded guilty to all state charges against him. There 15 total charges, including murder, attempted murder, and domestic terrorism motivated by hate. The last charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Gendron still faces dozens of federal charges, some of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.

Gendron killed 10 Black people at the supermarket and has admitted that he was motivated by racism. In fact, several days before the incident, Gendron drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, NY, to a majority-Black neighborhood in Buffalo to identify a location where he would be likely to kill as many Black people as possible. During the pandemic, Gendron became indoctrinated online into a white supremacist ideology known as “white replacement”.

In light of many deadly mass shootings this year, including several just in the past two weeks, President Biden is once again calling on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban during the December lame-duck session. However, to pass such a measure, Senate Democrats would need to find 10 Republicans to vote with them, which is unlikely. 

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White House working to avert railroad strike ahead of holidays

President Biden said last week that his administration is working with railroad companies and unions to avoid a possible railroad strike. Federal officials helped to broker an agreement in September which at least delayed strike talks until after the midterms. Since then, three of the 12 major railroad workers unions have voted to reject terms of that deal.

The unions could call a strike as soon as Dec. 9. If they do, the US freight rail system will grind to a halt, stopping deliveries of food, gas and other vital goods. Congress has the power to force an end to the strike by imposing the terms of the contract proposed in September. Biden is hoping to broker a more favorable deal that the unions will accept to avoid a strike.

Although the proposal came with a hefty wage hike over the next 5 years, workers have pointed out the raises barely keep up with inflation. Also, the deal included no paid sick days and did not address workers’ grievances over unpredictable work schedules. Click here for a 3-minute video where railroad workers explain their reasons for rejecting the deal.

Record profits despite supply chain problems

Workers are especially angry with the stinginess of the proposed contracts since the industry has reported record profits during the pandemic. The companies have increased their profits in part by laying off workers, increasing the burden on those that remain. Instead of reinvesting in the company or hiring more workers, the companies have used those profits for stock buybacks to increase pay packages of their executives.

In February, billionaire Warren Buffett, owner of Berkshire Hathaway (parent company of major railroad company BNSF), told shareholders that BNSF had earned record profits in 2021. Buffett, noted for his philanthropy, also recently donated $750 million dollars to charities run by his family. 

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China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies

Cities all over China erupted in massive antigovernment protests over the weekend due to China’s Zero COVID policy. Premier Xi Jinping’s pandemic policy has caused huge cities of millions of people to go into strict lockdowns when even a few COVID cases are detected. People are forbidden from leaving their homes for days or even weeks. The lockdowns can come with no warning, leaving residents no time to gather adequate food and medicine. Lockdowns in major cities have also had a major economic impact.

Despite the draconian lockdowns, COVID numbers are still rising. Today, China broke its record for daily cases with 40,347 new cases. Rather than rethinking the policy, the government has responded with lockdowns in more cities with even more restrictive measures.

The protests were sparked by an incident in the western province of Xinjiang last week. Ten people died in an apartment fire because the entrances were locked to keep residents from going outside. The demonstrations have been growing and spreading across the country. Police have been out in force engaging in violent clashes with peaceful protesters. Demonstrators are now openly calling for Xi to resign. 

Chinese media has not acknowledged the protests and censors have been eliminating any mention of them on Chinese social media sites like WeChat and Weibo. Nevertheless, the ranks of the protesters are growing with each passing day.

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Costly train strike looming ahead of holidays. Shooter at CO gay club charged with hate crime, dodged red flag law. Turkey, Iran carry out airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan.


National train strike looms again ahead of holidays

Back in September, marathon negotiations between industry groups, labor unions and members of the Biden administration narrowly averted a major nationwide railroad strike. The parties hammered out a deal that would give train workers a 24% raise. However, the deal did nothing to address issues with working conditions and sick days, which were a major sticking point for the unions.

Leaders and members of the 12 major unions expressed dissatisfaction with the deal at the time, but agreed to put the contracts to a vote. As of now, seven unions have ratified the agreement; three have rejected it and are back at the bargaining table; and two unions have yet to vote. 

Now fears are rising that we could see a strike as soon as Dec. 4. If even one of the 12 unions decides to strike, all the others will join them. Back in September when a strike was first on the horizon, industry groups estimated a strike would cost the US economy about $2 billion per day. With the holidays approaching, the loss could be even better. Not to mention the fact that about 30% of freight in the US travels by rail. A rail strike could mean even greater supply chain problems and even empty shelves. Amtrak and some commuter rail lines would also grind to a halt.

In the event of a strike, Congress has the power to force the unions back to work. Workers know this would mean accepting a less favorable deal than the one that’s on the table now. But after over 5 years of negotiation and two years of crews working short-staffed with punishing schedules while companies made record profits, there is a lot of built up anger and frustration on the part of the workers

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Shooter at CO gay club charged with hate crime, dodged red flag law

Saturday night, a 22-year-old gunman entered Club Q, a LGBT club in Colorado Springs, CO., and started shooting. Anderson Lee Aldrich killed 5 people and injured 25 before two civilians heroically tackled and disarmed him. Police and first responders were on the scene within about 5 minutes of the first 911 call.

Aldrich was not known to the patrons or owners at Club Q. His attack coincided with Trans Memorial Day, when the LGBT community memorializes trans people who have died by violence in the last year. It seems Aldrich picked a day when he knew there would be a good crowd in attendance. He carried both and AR-style long gun and a handgun and brought several extra magazines. It’s not clear how many people were in the club that night, but Aldrich obviously hoped for a high body count.

Today Aldrich was charged with a hate crime. FBI agents have been working alongside local law enforcement processing the scene.

Back in June 2021, Aldrich allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb. Police responded and evacuated nearby neighbors while the bomb squad searched his home for explosives. None were found. Local media reports that prosecutors did not pursue formal charges and the records were sealed. Nevertheless, Aldrich’s guns could have been confiscated under Colorado’s red flag laws. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to obtain a warrant to remove weapons from the home of a subject who is considered a threat to himself or others. It’s not clear at present why this didn’t happen. Even if a judge had ordered Aldrich’s weapons confiscated, subjects often get them back within a couple of weeks.

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Turkey, Iran carry out airstrikes in Iraqi Kurdistan

Turkey is hitting neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan (in the north of the country) with air strikes in retaliation for a recent bombing in Istanbul. The Turkish government blames militant Kurdish liberation forces, known as the PKK, for the bombing. Air strikes have also taken place in Kurdish areas of Syria in what the Turks are calling Operation Claw-Sword. Turkey has been waging war on its own Kurdish population for decades and has committed numerous war crimes against them over the years. Militants have now largely retreated to areas of Syria and Iraq. Turkey has taken advantage of political turmoil in its neighboring countries, believing they can carry out attacks on foreign soil with impunity.

Iraqi Kurdistan has also been hit multiple times by Iranian missiles in recent weeks. Iran’s government blames the Kurdish minority for stirring and perpetuating widespread antigovernment protests across the country. Mahsa Amini (also known as Zhina Amini), the 22-year-old student whose death in police custody sparked the protests, was Kurdish.

The Kurds are a distinct ethnic group with their own language. They’ve been fighting to create their own state as they frequently face brutal oppression in the countries they inhabit. The diaspora spreads across areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Caucasus region. During the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Kurdish force called the Peshmerga fought alongside US troops. The Kurds then established a semi-autonomous region in the north of the country and enjoyed a period of relative peace. Now that the political situation in Iraq has become increasingly unstable, Iraqi Kurdistan has been vulnerable to attacks from all sides. 

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