TIME Race

Vandals Target Confederate Monuments in Half-Dozen States

Confederate Monuments Defaced
Steve Helber—AP This June 25, 2015, file photo shows the words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va.

The graffiti reflects the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America

(ST. LOUIS) — Vandals have targeted monuments dedicated to the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy, painting the slogan “Black lives matter” on memorials in a half-dozen states where the landmarks stand tall in parks and outside government buildings.

The graffiti reflects the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America, more than a week after a white gunman shot and killed nine black congregants at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

Michael Allen, a lecturer in American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, compared the vandalism to the toppling of statues in Russia at the end of the Soviet empire.

“If the monuments are strong statements of past values, defacing them is the easiest and loudest way to rebuke those statements,” Allen said.

Confederate symbols including the rebel battle flag have been the subject of resentment for years. The anger boiled over after last week’s massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The suspect, Dylann Roof, posed in photos with the Confederate flag.

Politicians throughout the South are taking steps to remove the flag from public places. Black activists say the monuments should meet the same fate.

One of the defaced monuments was the Confederate Memorial in St. Louis’ Forest Park, 10 miles from Ferguson. The same graffiti was reported on memorials in Charleston; Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. No arrests have been made.

Racial wounds in the U.S. were torn open last August, when a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed. Officer Darren Wilson was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the shooting raised new awareness about the treatment of blacks.

“Black lives matter” became a rallying call in protests that followed police shootings of black men in other cities, too. With the Charleston shooting refocusing attention on Confederate symbolism, experts said, it isn’t surprising that some people would take out their anger on monuments to those who fought on the side of slavery.

Elizabeth Brondolo, a psychology professor at St. John’s University in New York who studies the effects of race on mental and physical health, said the defacing of memorials reflects a “consensus that there’s been a very serious failure of empathy, a failure to understand what these symbols might mean to people who suffered from slavery and ongoing aggression.”

Defaced monuments at the University of Texas in Austin and in Richmond honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Asheville monument pays homage to Zebulon Vance, a Confederate officer and later a governor and senator. Others, like the St. Louis memorial, are more generic tributes to those who fought for the South.

The future of the 32-foot-tall, 101-year-old statue in St. Louis was already in doubt. In April, Mayor Francis Slay ordered a study of what to do with it and asked for the review to be complete by the end of the summer. Options include altering the wording of the plaque, moving the monument out of Forest Park or removing it entirely.

The University of Texas in Austin is weighing options for its statues of Davis and other Confederate war heroes, with a decision expected by Aug. 1. Three of those statutes were damaged this week.

In Kentucky, both candidates for governor, along with other prominent political leaders, are calling for the Jefferson Davis statue to be removed from its prominent place in the statehouse rotunda and placed in a museum.

Efforts have also begun to seek removal of Confederate monuments in Nashville, Tennessee; Shreveport, Louisiana; Orlando, Florida; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Birmingham, Alabama.

Darrell Maples, commander of the Missouri chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the “citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America.”

He said altering or removing monuments is “divisive and unnecessary.”

Brandi Collins of the civil rights group ColorOfChange.org said the effort isn’t about revising history.

“It’s about saying that if we are truly about equity, about moving forward, we have to respect everybody who lives in and built this country,” she said.

TIME Crime

Missouri National Guard Called Ferguson Protesters ‘Enemy Forces’

Police and Missouri National Guard attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Police and Missouri National Guard attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.

Internal documents bolster claims of military-style approach

The Missouri National Guard referred to protesters in Ferguson last summer as “enemy forces,” according to documents obtained by CNN, bolstering claims the police adopted military tactics to react to protests over the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

In August, the state’s National Guard was called into aid local police agencies who were attempting to control demonstrators protesting the death of Brown, a black unarmed teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

The protests began as a demonstration against police use of force. But the response by law enforcement agencies, which mobilized armored vehicles and utilized tear gas and M4 rifles, spurred a national conversation over the militarization of police and prompted Congress to hold hearings over the flow of military gear to local police agencies.

The documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request appears to support those who claim authorities used a excessively military-style approach in its response.

“It’s disturbing when you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy,” Antonio French, a prominent alderman in St. Louis, told the network.

[CNN]

TIME Television

Watch John Oliver Cast His Ballot for Voting Rights for U.S. Territories

Rock the vote

To help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama, John Oliver focused his Last Week Tonight ire on a topic that does not tend to generate headlines: voting rights for the U.S. island territories — that is, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Marianas Islands.

According to Oliver, there are 4.1 million people living in Puerto Rico and the island territories. Of that population, 98.4% are racial or ethnic minorities, none of whom have the right to vote in U.S. elections. According to Oliver, the more you look into the reasons that the U.S. territories don’t have voting rights, the harder it is to understand why these dated laws have not been changed. Way back in 1901, it was said that the island territories were inhabited by “alien races” that couldn’t “understand Anglo-Saxon principles” and thus were denied the vote. That hasn’t changed, despite the fact that even at the time, American legal thinkers thought that the territories’ lack of voting power should only last for a limited time. Fast forward 114 years and the U.S. citizens living on these territories still can’t vote, which Oliver compares to failing to update your computer operating system for over a millennium.

To bolster his argument that many U.S. citizens don’t understand the relationship between the 50 states and the U.S territories, Oliver showed clip after clip of news sources reporting that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the child of Puerto Ricans who “immigrated” to the United States. As Oliver says, “If Puerto Ricans are immigrants, so is anyone who moves anywhere.” Despite the fact that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens—and has more U.S. citizens than 21 states— they can’t vote for president, have no representation in the U.S. Senate and send only one non-voting delegate to the U.S. House. Oliver compares this status to letting a six-year old “vote” on where to spend the family vacation.

But Puerto Rico is lucky compared to some of the other U.S. territories. American Samoans aren’t even automatically granted U.S. citizenship, which, according to Oliver, renders the “American” part as moot as the phrases “social media expert” or “People’s Choice Award nominee.” Instead, they’re considered U.S. nationals, but not citizens. Over on Guam, 27% of the island is occupied by U.S. Navy and Air Force bases, and a staggering high number of Guam citizens are veterans of the U.S. military, but they still have no voting rights. Despite that, Guam holds a straw poll every presidential election and has higher voter turn-out than any other U.S. state — you know, the ones whose votes actually count.

It’s a valuable civics lesson and an important reminder to ask — if you don’t mind cribbing a line from Oliver — how is this still a thing?

 

TIME Crime

2 Ferguson Officials Resign Following Justice Department Report

Police are deployed to keep peace along Florissant Avenue on Aug. 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Police are deployed to keep peace along Florissant Avenue on Aug. 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

The report highlighted seven racist emails sent by police and court employees

Two city officials in Ferguson, Mo., have resigned after a Justice Department report highlighted racist emails sent by police and court employees, a spokesman for the city said Friday.

The officials, whose names were not immediately made public, had been placed on administrative leave. Jeff Small, a spokesman for the city, confirmed their resignations to NBC News.

The report, released earlier this week, concluded that police in Ferguson had used excessive and dangerous force and had disproportionately targeted blacks.

A white Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in August, touching off weeks of protests…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

A Man Has Been Charged With Kidnapping a Boy as Part of a Sex-Trafficking Hoax

The mugshot of Nathan Firoved taken by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Posted on February 5th
Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Mo. The mugshot of Nathan Firoved taken by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Posted on February 5th

The terrifying ordeal was supposed to teach the child to avoid strangers

Felony kidnapping charges have been laid against a man from Troy, Mo., following an incident on Monday in which a 6-year-old boy was kidnapped at the behest of family members.

The boy’s aunt, 38-year-old Denise Kroutil, asked her 23-year-old co-worker, Nathan Wynn Firoved, to kidnap him in what appears to be an elaborate hoax to teach the child about the dangers of trusting strangers, according to a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Firoved waited for the kid to walk home from school and then lured him into a pickup truck, police say. Once the boy was in the truck, Firoved allegedly told him he would never “see his mommy again” and would be “nailed to the wall of a shed.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, at this point the boy began to cry and the suspect showed him a handgun and threatened to hurt him if he did not stop. When the boy could not stop crying, Firoved bound the boy and covered his face with a jacket.

The suspect then drove to the boy’s house and left him in the basement, where Kroutil allegedly removed the victim’s pants and told him he could be sold into “sex slavery.”

The victim remained in the basement until he was unbound and told to go upstairs where his family lectured him about the danger of going with strangers, say police.

The boy’s family was in cell-phone contact during the entire incident.

When the police investigated the incident, the family told them that they were trying to teach him a lesson and believed they did nothing wrong.

The aunt has also been charged with felony kidnapping, along with the boy’s grandmother Rose Brewer, 58, and his mother Elizabeth Hupp, 25, who both agreed to the plan.

All four suspects remain in jail on a $250,000 bond.

The boy has been placed in protective custody.

TIME Economy

See the State With the Cheapest Gas in the U.S.

Gas prices in Missouri plummeted to $1.58 in January

At first look, the collapse in oil prices over the past year, from $107 per barrel in June to below $50 a barrel today, seems like the proverbial free lunch for American consumers. The decline in prices is the equivalent of a $125 billion tax cut. And it’s effectively a progressive one, since the biggest beneficiaries will be working- and middle-class people who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on gas for their cars and heating fuel for their homes. American households with oil heat could save $767 each this winter. That cash can now be spent on a new car—or a washing machine, an electronic gadget, clothes or a few dinners out.

That should boost spending, and …

Read the full story, which appears in the Feb. 2, 2015 issue of TIME, here.

TIME Travel

You Can Now Buy Art From a Vending Machine

SouveNEAR
SouveNEAR SouveNEAR vending machine

Here's a quick solution if you forgot to pick up a souvenir for your loved one

There’s a new way to experience local flavor at the Kansas City airport. A recently installed vending machine in Terminal B dispenses not food but products made by local artisans.

SouveNEAR, a new company that seeks out and showcases local artists, curates and sells goods as mementos for travelers. Instead of generic mugs and mass produced t-shirts stamped with a city name, visitors can try locally designed products. Stationary, soaps, artwork and jewelry are some of travel-sized gifts, ranging from $2.50 to $40.

Aside from the vending machine in KCI, SouveNEAR goods are also sold at the Nelson-Atkins Museum Store in Kansas City, Missouri, and a few locations in Kansas. Due to a great response from consumers, the company hopes to expand to more locations and other cities by summer of 2015.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Crime

Ferguson Police Spokesperson Suspended for ‘Pile of Trash’ Comment

A Christmas tree is seen near a memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson
Aaron Bernstein—Reuters A Christmas tree is seen near a memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on Dec. 25, 2014

The police department said "disciplinary proceedings" had been initiated over the remark, made to a Washington Post reporter

A spokesman for the Ferguson, Mo., police department has been suspended after he admitted calling a memorial for an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white officer “a pile of trash,” the city said on Saturday.

Officer Timothy Zoll was put on unpaid leave when he told his superiors that the Washington Post had correctly quoted him as referring derogatorily to the stuffed animals and flowers placed where Michael Brown, 18, was killed by Officer Darren Wilson, Reuters reports.

Zoll had been the Ferguson Police Department’s spokesman on the fatal shooting, for which Wilson was not indicted. The case became a flashpoint for national protests and sparked an ongoing debate about race relations on the U.S.

Zoll had at first insisted that the Washington Post misquoted him when it cited him as referring to Brown’s memorial as “trash.” A Post reporter called Boll on Friday to ask about reports that someone had intentionally driven over the memorial, to which Zoll allegedly replied: “I don’t know that a crime has occurred. But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”

The city of Ferguson said in a statement that “negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department” and reiterated the department and city’s commitment to “rebuilding a trusting relationship with he entire community.” The tribute to Brown has since been rebuilt.

[Reuters]

TIME Crime

Missouri Mayor Urges Calm After Officer Fatally Shoots Armed Teen

"We are different from the city of Ferguson"

The mayor of the St. Louis suburb where a teenager was shot and killed Tuesday after authorities claim he pointed a gun at an officer called for calm Wednesday and sought to distance the incident from the police-involved shooting in nearby Ferguson.

Authorities claim that a man pointed a gun at an officer who was at a Mobil gas station in Berkeley during a “routine business check” and, “fearing for his life,” St. Louis County Police said in a statement, “fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him.”

The police department did not immediately confirm the man’s identity, but a woman identified him to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as her 18-year-old son, Antonio Martin. “This doesn’t make any sense for them to kill my son like this,” Toni Martin-Green told the newspaper Wednesday morning. “I am trying to be calm.”

At a news conference later in the morning, Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins spoke out to both urge local residents to await the findings of an investigation and avoid jumping to conclusions about the shooting. “We are different from the city of Ferguson,” Hoskins said, adding that he is confident in Berkeley’s roughly 30-strong police force.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also advocated for calm in the wake of the shooting. “Particularly during this season that so many Americans hold sacred, the NAACP is calling for patience and peace as the circumstances of Mr. Martin’s death are thoroughly investigated,” said Cornell William Brooks, the association’s president and CEO.

Ferguson has been the scene of unrest since August when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, prompting months of protest over police brutality and poor relations between law enforcement officials and communities of color. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the killing, reigniting tensions.

READ NEXT Police Shoot Teenager a Few Miles Away From Ferguson

TIME Crime

See the Aftermath of the Fatal Police Shooting of Antonio Martin

Missouri police say teen pointed a gun at an officer

Authorities in Missouri said a police officer fatally shot a teenager, identified by his mother as 18-year-old Antonio Martin, after he allegedly pointed a gun at the officer Tuesday evening at a gas station about two miles away from Ferguson. At least 100 demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting and clashed with police; Chief Jon Belmar said 4 people were arrested and one officer was hospitalized after a brick struck his face, NBC News reports.

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