TIME Podcast

The Innocence Project Tells Serial Fans What Might Happen Next

Serial
Serial

Deirdre Enright, the head of the Innocence Project Clinic at University of Virginia Law School, talks about her role in the ongoing investigation — and what might happen next

On the Thursday finale of the Serial podcast, the week-by-week true crime story that has become a broadcasting sensation, we didn’t find out definitively if convicted murderer Adnan Syed did or did not kill his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. But we did learn that the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, will continue to pursue the case in court.

In the episode listeners discovered that Deirdre Enright, the head of the Innocence Project Clinic at University of Virginia Law School which has opened an investigation into Syed’s murder conviction, tracked down another person whom she believes to be a suspect, Ronald Lee Moore, a man who left prison just days before Lee’s murder in 1999.

Baltimore authorities have linked Moore, who killed himself in 2012, with new DNA evidence to another 1999 murder. Given this new potential suspect, Enright said she and her students plan to ask the courts to run DNA tests on physical evidence that was never tested.

In an interview with TIME conducted after the episode aired, Enright said she and her team are pursuing other theories while they wait for the courts to test the 1999 evidence. Serial host Sarah Koenig may have uncovered some leads that they can pursue in court, she says — while amateur sleuths on Reddit have helped them identify another suspect who was not on their radar.

Here’s Enright on other potential suspects, whether Adnan Syed’s first lawyer botched his case, why Jay—the chief witness for the prosecution whose full name has not been identified—might have appeared so scared, and how easily innocent people can be put in jail:

TIME: Tell me about finding Ronald Lee Moore?

Enright: He was the first alternate suspect we were able to develop. And then when the police told us he had committed suicide, we thought all the better because there wouldn’t be privacy concerns about naming him [in filing for new DNA testing]. There are other people whom we have identified [as potential suspects] who are not deceased and so we aren’t naming them. In some ways, he was ideal because he had been released from prison and fit the timeframe for Hae’s murder because he had been out for 10 days when she was murdered.

You were recorded on the podcast saying that there was always sex involved with Moore’s alleged crimes. Was there evidence of that here?

What we know is that Hae had her clothes on, although I know her shirt and bra had been moved up. And her skirt was on but pushed up. As far as I can tell from the lab reports, they definitely did a physical evidence recovery kit where they did anal and vaginal swabs and swabs in her mouth, but they never tested any of that—which is somewhat odd. There were hairs on her body, two of which were microscopically compared to Adnan, and he was excluded and they didn’t belong to her either. Then there was this rope near her body.

If there’s a possibility that Ronald Moore or somebody else did this, then why would Jay say he’d helped Syed dispose of Lee’s body?

I have no idea. But I wonder about whether Jay somehow got involved with people who had some other entire scheme going on and it’s them he’s afraid of. Because even now he appears to be terrified, and Adnan is in jail so how could it be Adnan that he’s afraid of?

In Josh’s account in the last episode there are these people Jay’s worried about while he’s at work. It sounded like what they were trying to suggest is he’s worried about Adnan, but it makes more sense to me that there’s somebody else he’s worried about entirely that’s not Adnan. And he just realizes that [the police are suspicious of] Adnan, and he knows Adnan is this teenager who isn’t going to hurt him.

When Sarah spoke to Jay on the show, one of the comments she reported him saying was, “Well if it’s not Adnan, who was it?” And I thought, “Who says that?” It was such a bizarre comment.

That didn’t strike me as strange at the time, but now that you’re saying it I guess it is weird.

In this one particular capital murder case that I did a lot of re-investigation on, what I learned was that the people who have dealt with law enforcement over a long period of time were really good at figuring out at the beginning of an interview how much [the interviewer] knows. And then they give up information right to that line.

So when Jay said that: “Well then who is it?” I thought, “If anyone knows, it’s Jay.” My suspicion is he’s trying to get her to give up what she knows so he can respond. He’s gaming. And it did seem that he was genuinely concerned about safety. But Adnan is locked up, so who does he have to worry about?

Have you met Adnan Syed?

Yes. Not for very long, but we talked. I took several students a couple weeks ago, and we met him. He’s very much how he sounds.

Did it change your impression of him at all?

No. And he’s a great example for me—this is going to sound terrible and I don’t mean it to be—but I didn’t have to meet Adnan, you know? Of course I always want to meet my clients and know my clients. But oftentimes they know the least of anybody. If you are the wrong guy, all you do is say, “I don’t know. I don’t know,” and speculate. I often tell clients, “Every minute I’m spending with you is a minute I’m not doing something for you.”

You had also mentioned that Syed had not known about the physical evidence until Sarah Koenig told him about it. What was his reaction to hearing about that?

It took him a long time to really sort of wrap his head around that there was physical evidence and that there was lots of it and that he didn’t know about it. I was not there: Sarah told him about the physical evidence. Then I let him have some time to sort of dwell on that because I knew that in the same time that I saw him, I was also going to have to have him [agree to be tested] and so I didn’t want to say, “You have 45 minutes to decide.”

But Sarah told me he was very emotional about hearing it just because he didn’t know. He thought he understood that she was murdered, and that was bad enough. The specter that it might be something entirely different and more was stunning. And then of course he had to deal with the fact that once again this person who he trusted to defend him never even mentioned it.

Do you think defense attorney Christina Gutierrez botched the case?

I remember thinking that having a six-week trial, that would be a long trial where you’ve gotten to do a lot. It does sound to me like Gutierrez did a lot and fought a lot. It also seems very clear to me that she was falling apart. She had cancer and MS, and I don’t think that was known to most people. [Gutierrez died in 2004]

I looked into MS and some of the symptoms, and the stress of getting halfway through the trial and getting a mistrial and starting again? The stress would be really bad for you if you had MS.

My biggest concern, though, is that there was physical evidence, and nobody tested it—not Maryland and not her. If you’ve got a client and he’s maintaining his innocence, you would tell him about this physical evidence, and you would have discussions about testing it. And Adnan knew nothing about the physical evidence.

So what is the timeline of getting back the results of this testing?

[The official I spoke to] seemed to think that if I got this all to him pretty quickly, which I plan to in the next two weeks, that we could be in court and testing within five months. I think I have shortened their time for them because I did already go and talk to the officer and get all the lab reports. I can tell them exactly where all the evidence is.

But remember it’s not one single test, it’s a series of tests. Whether they join or not could determine how quickly we get results. If it’s something being requested by law enforcement and prosecutor’s side of the fence as well as the defense, and that might put us into a category that gets attention more quickly.

Could you just walk me through the alternate ways this will move forward, depending on whether the test results come back with a match or not?

There’s linking it to someone like Ronald Lee Moore, who is a far more likely candidate, in which case that should exculpate Adnan.

And then we might hit on someone who is incarcerated and who has committed other crimes, like Moore—he was linked with DNA to a rape-murder and then to two rapes. And up until then in Maryland, he was sort of this petty burglar. If that happens, then that’s sort of a slam dunk too.

Then we might get a male profile, but not a person that anyone can find or not somebody incarcerated. I still think that would be exculpatory. If there was semen and it was not her boyfriend and it was not Adnan, and we still couldn’t point out a serial killer or a serial rapist, I would still argue—depending on what that physical evidence there was—that that should also exculpate Adnan.

What are the chances that nothing comes back at all?

I think if ever there was an opportunity to generate something this would be it. And touch DNA—if people did use this rope on Hae, unless they had gloves on, it would seem that someone’s DNA should be on that rope.

But if nothing comes up we would have to take a look at Adnan’s case with an eye to everything that got generated through Sarah’s investigation. She uncovered a lot of new information, and we did too, that had not been available to the defense attorney, or the defense attorney failed to make available.

And maybe in the subsequent search we’ll find out that there was other exculpatory information that was withheld from the defense. So it’s still possible even if our DNA evidence yields nothing that we would have what we think is sufficient evidence to file a writ of actual innocence.

Is there anything that Koenig unearthed that would qualify as something like that?

Yes, there were many things not included on her show that we would want to include in a writ of actual innocence… things that were more legal and complicated, such as procedures that didn’t seem right or I know weren’t right. But they were more legal and too complicated to present, I think, as part of a podcast.

In the last episode producer Dana Chivvis argued, “If [Adnan] didn’t do it, then my God that guy is ridiculously unlucky.” What did you think of that given your experience with the Innocence Project?

I think one thing is, a lot of normal things are made to look like bad luck when they are making you into a suspect. This is what happens when you decide to build a case against someone. You look and say, “All these phone calls are so suspicious.” But that’s only if you buy into Jay’s timeline of when it happened and when she went missing because it’s entirely possible that Hae was alive for another week. Something bad happened, but those phone calls may be nothing, right?

Wrongful conviction cases are terrifying because it’s often just people going about their life and then all of the sudden they are a suspect. One by one the things start happening: Someone misidentifies you, you get a bad lawyer by chance, the lawyer doesn’t believe you. People say, “Oh he had such bad luck.” The other way to look at it is often it’s a lot of people in the system using bad practices, not crossing Ts and dotting Is.

So the world is a terrifying place. I think all the time about how you can become that person.

I think a lot of people feel that same way after listening to Serial. Did you expect the podcast to become so popular?

I never thought for a second that this would turn into some global phenomenon. It’s just bizarre.

The popularity of the podcast means a lot of people on Reddit and chatrooms are trying to figure out the case themselves. Does that hurt or help your case?

Right, the self-deputized investigators. I’m sure there are ways in which it is hurting us, but I sort of have to embrace that it’s also helping. They—Redditors and Slate podcast listeners and total strangers—sent us charts that they put together of cellphone tower records, for instance. We had something like it in our own wheelhouse, but the one they put together was fantastic.

And people have sent us even the identity of an alternate suspect who was not on our radar. We had a couple people who were on our radar but not this person. We can’t say that it was this person, but it’s certainly a person we now are going back and looking at the past and his history.

That said, the downside of this is that they change the story as they become the story. They’ve probably scared certain people who might have spoken into not speaking. So it has the “both and” sort of feel to it.

Did your students listen to the podcast?

Oh yeah, because they have more time than me, they listen in real time and reach out to the rest of the team if there’s something that we haven’t heard or seen that we want to look into immediately. I bet you they listen to each episode more than once.

I have to admit that the Adnan Syed team is particularly workaholic. And to be fair to them, they were that way before any of this happened. The kids are in exams right now, and if they’ve finished they can leave. Several of the Syed members have stayed to do more interviews. They just want to do that.

TIME States

Florida Woman Slaps 72-Year-Old Who Denied Her Facebook Request

The alleged assailant has been charged with aggravated battery

Police arrested a Florida woman accused of slapping a 72-year-old woman who declined her friend request on Facebook.

Rachel Anne Hayes, 27, became upset when the 72-year-old said that her Facebook name was inappropriate and would only accept her friend request if she changed her name, according to the Tampa Bay Times. (What name she uses on the social media site has not been released by authorities.)

The two women began to argue over the matter, and Hayes eventually left the elderly woman’s home. But Hayes then returned, and when the two fought again outside her door, Hayes allegedly slapped the woman who turned down her friend request several times.

Police charged Hayes with aggravated battery on an elderly person, a felony.

[Tampa Bay Times]

Read next: Why a Facebook ‘Sympathize’ Button Is a Terrible Idea

TIME animals

Birds Sensed Tornadoes Coming a Day Early, Study Finds

Golden-winged warbler
Golden-winged warbler Getty Images

Ecologists say birds could hear the oncoming storm from over 100 miles away

Five golden-winged warblers left their nests one day before devastating tornadoes in the central U.S. in April, suggesting they could sense the storms coming, according to new tracking data.

These migrant songbirds may be able to sense extreme weather events with low frequency hearing, a new study in the Journal of Current Biology says. The warblers left their nesting area when the storm was still over 100 miles away and weather conditions in the area were normal. Ecologists say they could likely hear an “infrasound” signaling the approach of the storm, which humans cannot hear.

The birds left their nesting area just days after completing their seasonal migration. Geolocators show them flying from the Appalachians 400 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The stormfront consisted of 84 tornadoes that led to 35 fatalities and over $1 billion in property damage.

TIME Law

Illinois Woman Files Trademark Application for ‘I Can’t Breathe’

The woman is not related to Eric Garner

An Illinois woman has filed an application to trademark Eric Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe” for use on hoodies and T-shirts.

Catherine Crump, 57, applied last Saturday for legal registration of the phrase that has become a rallying cry at protests across the country and has even been printed on t-shirts worn by celebrities like LeBron James.

Garner, an unarmed black man, died after being aggressively subdued by police officers in July. Video footage of his death shows Garner saying, “I can’t breathe” as a policeman grips him in an apparent chokehold. The words became a symbol of protests that began when a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who tackled Garner. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has denied the move was a chokehold.

In her trademark application, Crump says she has been using the phrase commercially since August 18, one month after Eric Garner’s death. She told the Smoking Gun that she had not consulted with Eric Garner’s family before filing for the trademark but that she is not seeking to profit use of the phrase.

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TIME Transportation

Uber Stops Its Operations in Portland for at Least Three Months

Uber At $40 Billion Valuation Would Eclipse Twitter And Hertz
The Uber Technologies Inc. logo is displayed on the window of a vehicle after dropping off a passenger at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Under a deal, Portland will legalize ride-sharing by Apr. 9, otherwise Uber can begin operating again

Portlanders won’t be able to call an Uber car for the next three and a half months while the city makes changes to its regulations. The ridesharing app arrived illegally in the Oregon city two weeks ago but has agreed to suspend its services until the city alters its laws.

Under their agreement with the city, if the changes are not in place by April 9, 2015, Uber can begin operating again, according to a post on the company’s site.

“Uber is dedicated to curating and continuing a valuable and constructive relationship with Portland’s lawmakers, working to create a regulatory framework that works for everyone,” the company said in the statement.

Portland filed a lawsuit and cease-and-desist order against Uber when it launched earlier this month. Before the suit had been filed, the city threatened fines of $1,500 against Uber, and up to $2,250 for the driver, each time a fare was picked up. With more than 10,000 rides being delivered in Portland during the weeks it functioned, according to the company, breaking the law was looking like a costly option.

Portland’s Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement that he had created a new task force that would decide on regulations for accessibility, pricing, background checks on drivers, insurance requirements and other concerns.

TIME Crime

Investigators Say Arsonists Responsible for Massive L.A. Fire

The damage was estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars

Federal investigators believe a fire that took down an entire apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles last week was set on purpose.

It took 250 firefighters an hour and a half to put out the blaze at the Da Vinci apartment complex after responding to an initial call at 1:09 a.m. on Dec. 10.

Local authorities will likely launch an arson investigation, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities say they are searching for two unidentified witnesses who were on the scene at the Da Vinci apartment complex, where the fire took 250 firefighters an hour and a half to put out. A surveillance video caught one man walking down the street near the building before the fire began, and the other was seen on news footage trying to get through a construction fence and move toward the building once the fire was burning.

Investigators said they determined that arson was likely given how quickly the complex burned. The fire consumed half the building before the firefighters arrived, despite the fact that the fire station was just a few hundred yards away, and the damage was estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Courts

Lawsuits Claim SXSW Organizers Negligent in Deadly Crash

Barricades stand near the scene of a deadly car accident at the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival on March 13, 2014 in Austin.
Barricades stand near the scene of a deadly car accident at the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival on March 13, 2014 in Austin. Michael Loccisano—Getty Images

4 killed, 20 injured as driver fled police in March

The first wave of lawsuits stemming from a March accident in Austin, Texas, when a driver fleeing police killed four people and injured 20 others, claim that the organizers of a music festival in the city were negligent.

All of the lawsuits, filed by eight victims who include the families of three who died from injuries, name the festival organizers, driver and a local engineering company that conceived South by Southwest’s traffic management plan as responsible parties, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The suits, which seek unspecified damages, allege that organizers should have considered the event might put pedestrians in danger as the city is known for a culture, of sorts, of public celebration.

The driver, Rashad Owens, was fleeing police March 13 when he crashed through a traffic barrier at a high speed and ran over pedestrians. Owens has already been charged with multiple counts of murder and aggravated assault.

[Austin American-Statesman]

TIME feminism

Dear Aaron Sorkin, If You Don’t Think There Are Enough Good Roles for Actresses, Write One Yourself

Aaron Sorkin
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin arrives for the premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2014. Nina Prommer—EPA

Eliana Dockterman is a living, culture and breaking news reporter for TIME in New York City.

Sorkin's writing celebrates the male mind while making women the objects of lust or scorn

Hollywood cheered on Cate Blanchett last year when she critiqued the gender gap in Hollywood and took to task those studio executives “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are a niche experience.” But, apparently, Aaron Sorkin was not among those celebrating Blanchett’s feminist speech.

The latest piece of information unearthed in the Sony hack is an email sent by award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to New York Times writer Maureen Dowd. On March 4, Dowd wrote a column called “Frozen in a Niche?” which built upon Blanchett’s argument that successful female films—like Bridesmaids, Frozen, Gravity or The Hunger Games—are still seen as flukes in the industry. She cited compelling stats: Even though women comprise 52% of moviegoers, only 15% of protagonists and 30% of speaking characters in the top 100 grossing domestic films in 2013 were female.

Blanchett and Dowd are far from the first to notice this trend: Mega-stars like Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster have complained about the problem, as has Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal whom Dowd quotes saying the “whole system is geared for [female filmmakers] to fail.”

But Sorkin disagrees with all these ladies. He wrote to Dowd on March 6:

That was a great and very interesting column today. I’d only take issue with one thing and that’s the idea that something like Bridesmaids is seen as a fluke and that’s why we don’t see more movies like Bridesmaids. There’s an implication that studio heads have a stack of Bridesmaids-quality scripts on their desk that they’re not making and it’s just not true. The scripts aren’t there.

Fair enough. A major part of the gender gap we see onscreen can be attributed to what’s going on behind the screen: Women made up only 6% of directors, 10% of writers, 15% of executive producers, 17% of editors and 3% of cinematographers in the top 250 films in 2013, according to the Center for the study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. With fewer women writing, directing and producing, we see fewer women’s stories on film.

But there are two very simple ways to solve that problem: Executives can seek out, hire and support more women behind the camera, and male writers who already have major influence in Hollywood (say, for instance, Aaron Sorkin) could write credible, interesting, robust roles for women. And yet Sorkin doesn’t.

It’s no secret that Aaron Sorkin often comes under fire for his thin, idiotic or harpy-esque female characters. Let’s take a quick tour of some of his worst hits.

On Sports Night, acting like a woman was a constant insult that Casey would fling at Dan. In one episode, when Dan asks Casey if he remembers that it is the anniversary of their first show together, Casey responds, “I remember not thinking at the time that you were a woman.” Meanwhile, the main female character, producer Dana, serves almost exclusively as a love interest: She runs in circles as her show crumbles around her (through no fault of her charming male stars). The few times she succeeds, it’s treated as a miracle.

In A Few Good Men, Demi Moore plays a character who might as well be male (save for the sexist jabs that Jack Nicholson shoots at her). Famed critic Roger Ebert even wrote in his review that he thought the character had originally been conceived as a man “and got changed into a woman for Broadway and Hollywood box office reasons, without ever quite being rewritten into a woman.” Sorkin also doesn’t have to worry about this “woman problem” in Moneyball, which takes place in an almost entirely male world.

In The Social Network—for which Sorkin won an Oscar—women are either lunatics (see: Eduardo Saverin’s girlfriend who sets his bed on fire) or flat symbols. Mark Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend is emblematic of everything Zuckerberg cannot have but isn’t fully developed as a character herself.

And then there’s The Newsroom. Most of the show’s main plots revolved around the smarter men man-splaining things to supposedly successful but totally hapless women. (Seriously, MacKenzie reported in war zones but can’t use email?) MacKenzie is obsessed with Will. Maggie is a pathetic waif. Sloan, despite being smart, is strangely socially incompetent. None of Sorkin’s male characters have such flaws. Even in the show’s penultimate episode, a male character man-splains to a female rape victim why he’s “obligated” to believe her “sketchy” alleged rapist instead of her. (One of Sorkin’s writers claimed she was kicked out of the writers’ room for protesting this storyline, which Sorkin essentially confirmed while lambasting her for exposing writers’ room conversations.)

From left: Emily Mortimer as MacKenzie McHale and Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in The Newsroom HBO

In short, Sorkin celebrates the male mind while making women the objects of lust or scorn. The few women who do make it into Sorkin’s scripts are usually in need of rescue by the men in their lives. The one exception might be C.J. Craig from The West Wing, a character for which Allison Janney won four Emmys. C.J. got her own story lines and was allowed to succeed and fail as often as her male compatriots. Unlike the women on The Newsroom, she was there to accomplish her own goals, not simply prop up her male boss and be lectured by him when she screwed up. Why Sorkin hasn’t written a C.J. since is still a mystery.

This trend of misogyny since his C.J. days is doubly frustrating considering the rest of Sorkin’s email. “That’s why year in and year out, the guy who wins the Oscar for Best Actor has a much higher bar to clear than the woman who wins Best Actress,” he writes. Sorkin goes on to compare performances of various nominees. He asserts that Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine was “nothing close to the degree of difficulty” of all five Best Actor nominees, and that Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) did not measure up to Daniel Day-Lewis, (Lincoln), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) in the respective years that they won.

“Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep can play with the boys but there just aren’t that many tour-de-force roles out there for women,” he concludes.

It’s nearly impossible to compare the “difficulty” of performances in an objective way: As The Daily Beast points out, was Colin Firth’s performance in The King’s Speech really harder than that of Natalie Portman in Black Swan? Does Blanchett not measure up to some of the other actors nominated last year like Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Christian Bale (American Hustle) or Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)? The answer depends on who you ask.

And if the sexism problem is born from flimsy roles, then why does Sorkin say that only certain actresses, Mirren and Streep, can “play with the boys”? There’s something inherently sexist about Sorkin degrading the talent of other nominees by suggesting only those two women can compete with their male counterparts.

As much as Sorkin’s films can be frustrating, it’s hard to fault the screenwriter for sticking to what he knows. Films like A Few Good Men, Moneyball and The Social Network are lauded because they are interesting, complex depictions of male-dominated worlds. And in between his misogynist comments, Sorkin has indicated that he wants to support female performers and filmmakers. In 2011, Sorkin dedicated his Oscar speech for Best Screenplay (The Social Network) to actresses. “I want to thank all the female nominees tonight for helping demonstrate to my young daughter that elite is not a bad word; it’s an aspirational one,” he concluded. “Honey, look around. Smart girls have more fun, and you’re one of them.”

But this email demonstrates that Sorkin clearly recognizes there’s a sexism problem in Hollywood. And ultimately it’s hard to forgive him for not at least trying to fix it when he is one of very few writers with the power to do so.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME movies

Selma Cast and Crew Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts to New York Premiere

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - December 14, 2014
(L to R) "Selma" actors E. Roger Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Omar Dorsey, John Lavelle, Stephan James, Kent Faulcon, David Oyelowo, Lorraine Toussaint, director Ava DuVernay, Tessa Thompson, Andre Holland, and Colman Domingo wear "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner at the New York Public Library on December 14, 2014 in New York City Ray Tamarra—GC Images

The stars of the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic protested Eric Garner's death

The cast and crew of Selma — a film about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama — wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts before the New York City premiere of their film on Sunday night to protest the death of Eric Garner. Golden Globe-nominated director Ava DuVernay stood on the steps of the New York Public Library in the “Hands up, don’t shoot” pose with cast members including star David Oyelowo.

The red carpet statement came one day after an estimated 25,000 people gathered in New York at the Millions March to protest the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, unarmed black men who were both killed by white police officers this year. In video footage of Garner’s death, he repeats “I can’t breathe” while in a chokehold.

At the premiere, Oyelowo drew comparisons between the Selma march and the current protests. “Thankfully, we’re seeing a lot of the same good sides of protests happening with these protests — i.e., that they are nonviolent, and that we are now seeing black and white and everything in between coming together against injustice,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think that the next step for us to be able to really articulate our demands. What is it we want out of this? In Selma, it was voting rights, and now it’s police reform.”

“The lesson of the movie is strategy,” added Oprah Winfrey, who both starred in and produced the film. “Strategic planning, rigorous discipline, peaceful protest, and knowing what you want.”

MORE: Selma and the Dream Worker

Actor Wendell Pierce attends the ‘Selma’ New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 14, 2014 in New York City Noam Galai

Selma actor Wendell Pierce, best known for his role on The Wire, took his protest a step further. He spent four hours at the Millions March on Saturday before walking the red carpet for the film in his “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. His Wire co-star Michael Kenneth Williams, who is currently promoting The Gambler, also donned the shirt on the red carpet.

Though the Selma actors are the first celebrities to wear the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts on the red carpet, several sports stars including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose have worn the shirts during warmups before NBA games.

MORE: NBA Won’t Fine Players for Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts

TIME Television

4 Enemies of Stephen Colbert Bid Him Farewell

From Jimmy Fallon to Google

Stephen Colbert has accumulated a lot of enemies over the years, both real and fake.

On The Colbert Report nobody was safe—not politicians, not massive companies and not other comedians. As the show winds to a close on Dec. 18, TIME checked in with some of Colbert’s biggest nemeses to see how they felt about the end of the Report and the end of the intensely vain right-wing personality created by comedian Stephen Colbert.

Jimmy Fallon

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

Colbert and Fallon have had a roller coaster relationship. The two declared themselves best friends for six months in 2011, which was naturally followed by six months of being “eternal enemies” before the two comedians faced off at the Emmys for their competing late night shows. In spite of their ups and downs, Fallon tells TIME:

“Stephen Colbert is without a doubt the funniest and most talented person to ever host The Colbert Report. Period.”

Google

In October, Colbert called Google out for listing his height as 5’10” when he was really 5’11″—like Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and, according to Google, Google CEO Larry Page. “Fix it or I will fix you Page,” Colbert said. “And yes, that is a physical threat.”

Google responded accordingly:

When asked to reflect on its tense relationship with Colbert, Google told TIME, “We respect Stephen and his show very much. It’s always hard to know the true measure of a man—and we’ve certainly had our differences—but we can say without an inch of a doubt, he’s reached new heights in comedy.”

Suey Park, who began the #CancelColbert hashtag

In March, Colbert found himself on the receiving end of a negative hasthag campaign. To play off the Redskins’ organization “The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation,” Colbert satirically tweeted, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” This angered the activist, who started the hashtag #CancelColbert, which quickly gained viral steam.

Suey Park, who began the hashtag and explained its importance in a TIME column this spring, tells TIME:

“I never had a desire for the show to be cancelled. I simply saw it as a useful incident to frame a larger conversation on how we cannot flatten/compare how various communities of color have been racialized. False equivocacies [stet] blur the various logics of racism that work in tandem to uphold white heteropatriarchy. By pointing out both the weakness of white liberalism and representation politics, I was hoping we could have a more nuanced conversation on structural racism. It seems the media and liberal America are more concerned with pop culture critiques and the freedom of speech otherwise known as liberal humor than the very subject undergirding the name change debate: genocide.

I feel like people expect me to be angry about the success of a humorous white man as if it is new to me. I wish Stephen well and hope we can move past this ordeal, mainly for selfish reasons. I no longer want to ruminate on how #CancelColbert impacted my health and safety.”

Gene Hobgood, Mayor of Canton, Georgia—i.e. “the crappy Canton”

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In 2008, Colbert started a one-man campaign against towns named Canton—in Texas, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio.

Gene Hobgood, the mayor of Canton, tells TIME:

After Colbert’s comments, referring to our City as “the crappy Canton,” several residents of our City called to complain. My response to most were that he is a “comedian” and his comments were not to be taken too seriously. Our City enjoyed the brief attention and was flattered to be singled out on The Colbert Report. Canton did appreciate his apology.

I have enjoyed almost every episode for many years. The Colbert Report and Mr. Colbert’s unique perspective will be missed. Count me among the crowd who will be following Colbert in his new adventure!

Read next: Here’s What Critics Said About The Colbert Report When It Premiered

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