During a peaceful march on Tuesday evening in New York City, an unmarked Kia minivan pulled up alongside protesters before random men in NYPD T-shirts, khaki shorts, and sneakers jumped out to grab 18-year-old Nikki Stone, dragging her into the van.
The protestors went mad, charging the white van, trying to rescue the girl. One bystander yelling, “What the f— is wrong with you pigs?”
Video of the incident went viral, racking up over a million views.
nypd is out here KIDNAPPING protesters off of the street pic.twitter.com/LCCBj0Ipp8
— Natalie (@Naddleez) July 28, 2020
AOC went off. The New York congresswoman tweeted, “Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill. There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.”
She’s right: Unmarked cars, clandestine arrests, nameless officers—oh, my! 2020 has taken a hard left (or right), and it’s all very sketchy.
Who Had Clandestine Cops On Their 2020 Dystopia Bingo Card?
Clandestine state law dogs and federal tactical teams have been targeting protesters in major cities, seizing people and using force without identification or markings. Portland has taken center stage, as videos of shadow officers striking, grabbing, and gassing citizens have gained national attention.
These covert acts by law enforcement raise a host of issues that impact your constitutional rights—primarily the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions says you have the right not to be searched or seized by law enforcement unless they have probable cause to believe you committed a crime. This requires more than a hunch or suspicion. Probable cause is about having articulable facts.
Basically, the Fourth Amendment means five-O needs concrete info to justify ransacking your stuff or hauling you away in handcuffs. Boundaries aren’t just the cornerstone of mature relationships, but also a functioning democracy. (Quote me on that.)
This has been the law for centuries. But even though the agents know the law, they may not always abide by it. Law enforcement is usually backed by the powers that be, so they rarely suffer any consequences for violating your rights.
In his spirited testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General William P. Barr (the nation’s top cop) agreed that your Fourth Amendment rights must be protected—but he also made clear that he’s not backing down from sending agents into cities to aggressively police protesters.
You may be seeing more law enforcement soon. In fact, since sending agents into Kansas City and Portland in early July, the Trump Administration announced last week that it was dispatching officers into other major cities, claiming that federal troops are necessary to combat “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”
Sounds scary, right? Fortunately, criminologists confirm that we shouldn’t be sounding the alarm, as crime isn’t a big issue.
Across the board, crime rates are lower than they were last year. This recent spike in crime is a product of governors lifting the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders—basically inviting people to return to their typical shenanigans, which unfortunately includes crime.
Don’t let the fear-mongering get you. Even though crime isn’t something you should necessarily be concerned about right now, it is imperative to protect your constitutional rights by continuing to protest.
“A lot of people got scared off of joining the march after cops grabbed protestors, but that’s exactly when people should gear up and join in,” says a 30-year-old writer who attended Tuesday’s march in Manhattan. The avid social justice warrior, who prefers to remain unnamed, noted, “You have to operate from a cautious optimism: prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”
Stone likely hoped for the best upon being seized Tuesday by the unmarked officers. After spending the night in police custody, Stone was told that the NYPD arrested her for allegedly destroying surveillance equipment. We’ll have to see how those charges play out in court.
In the meantime, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio indicates that he doesn’t want what happened in Portland to happen in his city, adding, “I think it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest” of Ms. Stone.
Whether or not you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, know your rights and continue to unapologetically exercise them. No one needs the final stretch of 2020 to end with dystopia.
Images: Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Naddleez/Twitter
UPDATE: It didn’t take long to debunk the police unions’ theory that their officers were deliberately poisoned at a Shake Shack, but upon further inspection, it looks like they weren’t even accidentally poisoned. The New York Post did some digging into the actual circumstances of that fateful night at Shake Shack, and the initial reports definitely don’t add up.
According to “police sources,” the Post says that the officers’ “order wasn’t done in person,” and was already packaged and waiting when they arrived to pick it up. That means that the employees at the restaurant didn’t even know cops placed the order, and there’s no chance they could’ve added something to the drinks. Interesting. But upon getting the shakes, the officers decided something “didn’t taste or smell right,” so they threw them away, told the Shake Shack staff, and were given vouchers for free food.
So everything was completely fine, until the officers told their sergeant, who flipped the f*ck out. He sent the officers to the hospital, despite the fact that they reportedly had no symptoms, and called the Emergency Service Unit to set up a crime scene at the Shake Shack. Here’s a photo of the crime scene being set up, taken nearly two hours after the officers first got their shakes:
This story on how the NYPD leadership just invented the antifa-Shack Shack terror milkshake story out of thin air is a legit scandal that should result in firings, and also comes with a hilarious photo of the forensics team securing the crime scene https://t.co/OkxeTldbHz pic.twitter.com/mhoqFYbGLS
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) June 22, 2020
And while this whole crime scene nonsense was going on, the police unions were busy spreading paranoia with emergency warnings blasted out to their thousands of members. One such email from a police lieutenant declared that six officers “started throwing up after drinking beverages” from the Shake Shack, which is 100% untrue. In the wake of the new information, two members of the NYC City Council have called for a probe into the “inflammatory behavior” exhibited by the police unions.
Original Article: As we get further int0 2020, all of these plot twists are really just starting to get ridiculous. In a year full of unpredictable developments, we’ve seen the worst pandemic in a century, murder hornets, murder mosquitoes, and now… police officers drinking bleach at Shake Shack? That last part literally sounds fake, but let me back up for a minute and explain.
Let’s just say police departments have been under a lot of scrutiny in recent weeks, with activists calling for an end to traditional policing in response to countless instances of police brutality, especially against Black people. So a lot of people aren’t exactly fans of cops right now, but on Monday things appeared to escalate in New York City. On Monday night, the Detectives’ Endowment Association, the union for NYPD Detectives, tweeted an “URGENT SAFETY MESSAGE” warning that three officers were “intentionally poisoned” by employees at a Shake Shack in New York’s Financial District.
The warning was sent out to multiple police unions, with the clear message that officers’ lives were at risk. In a statement to members posted to social media, Patrick Lynch, the President of PBA (the largest police union in New York City) wrote that while eating at Shake Shack, the officers “discovered that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages.” He stated that the officers were currently being treated at a hospital, and urged members of the union to “carefully inspect any prepared food item,” and to “remain vigilant for the duration of the meal period.”
Lynch closed the statement by declaring that “when New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level.”
Okay, perhaps a bit dramatic, but I think most of us can agree that however problematic the police may be, poisoning officers isn’t the correct course of action. Remember, the call is to defund the police, not poison the police. Shortly after the incident was reported, Shake Shack tweeted that they were “horrified” by the reports, and were cooperating with the police on their investigation into what happened.
But fast forward 12 hours, and the whole debacle ended up being a false alarm. On Tuesday morning, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison shared a major update in the case, confirming on Twitter that there was “no criminality” by the Shake Shack employees.
After a thorough investigation by the NYPD’s Manhattan South investigators, it has been determined that there was no criminality by shake shack’s employees.
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) June 16, 2020
Any “thorough investigation” that can be conducted in one night probably can’t be all that complicated, and it turned out this situation had a pretty logical (and innocent) explanation. According to CNN, the NYPD investigation suggested that “a cleaning solution used to clean the milkshake machines wasn’t fully cleared and may have gotten into the officers’ drinks.” Meaning, it was an accident and not an intentional poisoning.
In this era of dangerous ~fake news~, it’s more than a little concerning that a DETECTIVE’S UNION isn’t verifying its claims before blasting them out on Twitter. While this doesn’t exactly make me want to go running to Shake Shack any time soon, this is far less serious than the police unions initially made it out to be. But despite the poisoning not actually happening, the Detective’s union still cautioned that members should “stay vigilant.”
And based on a video that went viral on Wednesday, it seems like cops still believe being poisoned is a very real threat. In the video, a police officer named Stacey gets emotional as she tells a story of her breakfast at McDonald’s being late. Yes, really. She says that she ordered coffee and a McMuffin, but when the sandwich was delayed, she decided to leave without it. She doesn’t mention the Shake Shack incident directly, but she says that she’s currently “too nervous to take a meal from McDonald’s, because I can’t see it being made.”
Stacey who has been a cop for 15 yrs went to @McDonalds She paid for it in advance and this is how she gets treated for being a cop😢😡 Come on America. We are better than this. pic.twitter.com/IcudsNfVLY
— 🌷🇺🇸Ann🇺🇸🌷🐇 (@tkag2020_ann) June 17, 2020
Is Stacey the new Karen? Perhaps. I’ll call her Officer Karen. She begs people watching the video to “give us a break”, saying that she’s “never had such anxiety” about ordering food. Guess she missed the memo about Shake Shack? Maybe these officers have spent their weekend watching The Help as their anti-racism education since they think people are trying to put sh*t in their food.
Images: BrandonKleinVideo / Shutterstock.com; tomgara, NYCPDDEA, NYCPBA, NYPDDetectives, tkag2020_ann / Twitter
Right now, a lot of celebrities are using their platforms to speak out about systemic racism, offer resources for how white people can continue to learn and help, and highlight peaceful protests. And many influencers are opening dialogues about race, highlighting Black-owned businesses to support, and sharing information about government officials to contact to demand change. But as with just about anything, other influencers and wannabe influencers alike are co-opting these powerful protests against police brutality and using them for likes. And this is why we can’t have nice things. Here are a few stories of clout-chasing gone wrong.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) May 31, 2020
Everyone’s least favorite YouTuber and the word “jackass” personified, Jake Paul, was captured on video at a mall in Scottsdale as it was being looted last weekend. While videos didn’t show the walking Twitter apology himself participating in the looting, he was in the crowd (and on camera) with other people who were doing it, and he didn’t exactly try to stop them. He has now been charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors. Paul said on Twitter that he was not participating in the looting; he was simply documenting it: “To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism,” he wrote, adding that he and his group were “not engaging.” He and his fellow Wrong Brother, Logan Paul, did post a video to their YouTube page and podcast urging white people to “acknowledge and weaponize” their privilege, and calling people who don’t believe white privilege exists “delusional”, though, so maybe we don’t have to throw the whole man away.
.@factswithfiona stopped someone boarding up a store in Santa Monica so she could hold the drill for a picture, then drove away. The video is now all over influencer tea accts. She’s since gone private but said nothing pic.twitter.com/K23qssYl0x
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) June 2, 2020
In Santa Monica, a white woman got exposed for posing with a drill in front of a boarded up storefront, doing a quick photo op to make it look as if she was helping, and then promptly leaving the scene, probably to go to brunch or something. According to CBSLA, the woman, who was later identified as Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin, was a commentary writer at the conservative publication Washington Examiner before getting dismissed after the video went viral. (A Heavy article later referred to her as an intern. Burn.) Fiona posed with the power drill quickly while a man took her photo, before driving away in her black Mercedes, gabbing about her boyfriend being a good Instagram boyfriend. Lmfao. It’s so bad I almost want to think it’s performance art, for my own sanity. She ended up deleting her accounts, which is the correct response.
The Girl Who Took A Pic In Front Of A Smashed T-Mobile
I knew this would happen eventually pic.twitter.com/V3bB92iaPB
— influencersinthewild (@influencersitw) June 1, 2020
On @influencersinthewild, a young woman who has not been identified was captured on video posing in front of a smashed T-mobile, with her back to the camera, as a man took her picture. I’ve got to wonder what the caption on this post was going to be—I have a feeling it probably would have been about how “I support the right to peacefully protest but I just cannot stand by and watch innocent small businesses get destroyed”. What is even the use of taking or having a picture like this?? Do your 500 closest family and friends really need to see it? Why do you need to be in the picture at all?? Instagram boyfriends, please step up and refuse to let your girlfriends participate in this buffoonery.
Two Girls Who Pregamed and Went
Going to a protest right now is not like going to Coachella, or even the Women’s March—it requires strategic physical and mental preparation because there are risks of violence involved. What it definitely does not require is you putting on your cutest outfit, pregaming, and then heading out to take a few pictures with a homemade sign. And yet, that’s exactly what Instagram user @serafina.0 and her friend @tamella_kay did: they had a whole chat debating if they should go or not, decided to get drunk and then show up, but perhaps worst of all? They posted a screenshot of their convo to their Insta Stories (Close Friends, at least—smh, it be ya own close friends), probably thinking this convo made them sound quirky and cute.
Deadass fuck all these internet bitches forreal. pic.twitter.com/TYGncVS8P2
— leyahli (@goodgalbadrep) May 31, 2020
Well, it didn’t. @tamella_kay ended up deleting her account, and @serafina.0 went private.
It might sound like I’m just trying to drag influencers for the fun of it, but the truth is, attending a Black Lives Matter protest isn’t just like, a fun event to go to for clout or to say you went. Although the majority of protests have been peaceful, there is still a chance you could get hurt, given that police have acted violently towards protestors, firing rubber bullets, teargassing, and even driving police vehicles through crowds. Especially if you are attending as a white ally, you need to be prepared that you may be needed to use your body as a physical shield for Black protestors.
There are a lot of tips and resources for people attending protests out there, so I’ll just state a few that these influencers egregiously ignored. Number one, don’t pregame! You are going to need to have all your wits about you, and alcohol just makes you dumb and slow. Not to mention, it can make some people belligerent, which is extra dangerous if you’re going to be in a heated atmosphere in the presence of agitated police officers. Don’t wear contact lenses, wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in, and do not post videos or photos of protestors’ faces without their explicit permission. Maybe the one thing all these influencers got right is that you shouldn’t go alone and should go with a buddy or in a group if possible, but that’s about it. The bottom line is, it’s great to want to get involved, and do that if you feel comfortable and willing, but don’t do it for your Instagram aesthetic.
Stay safe if you are protesting, and if not, there are plenty of other ways you can help. You can donate to organizations or donate supplies to organizers, sign petitions, literally annoy the sh*t out of your local representatives, and more.
Influencers In The Wild (@influencersinthewild on Instagram and @influencersitw on Twitter) is doing a much more comprehensive job of covering people who are treating the Black Lives Matter protests like it’s Coachella 2020, so follow those accounts if you want more of influencers gone wrong.
Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com; jakepaul, taylorlorenz, influencersitw, goodgalbadrep / Twitter
Another day, another drama desperately in need of Chris Harrison’s commentary. Not because Chris Harrison provides particularly insightful wisdom. He’s just managed to make me feel okay about a lot of things that would otherwise inspire long-term trauma. Today, it’s the news that former Bachelor Chris Soules is getting off on an aggravated misdemeanor after literally taking someone’s life back in 2017. To quote TMZ, Soules “copped incredibly sweet plea” on Tuesday. He’s now pleading guilty to “one count of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.” Right, because getting rear-ended into a ditch by a drunk driver sounds like “personal injury” to me.
Pretty much Soules’ attitude towards this whole thing:
In case you don’t know the story,
my last sentence provides a pretty thorough summary I’ll dig in. In April 2017, Soules was driving through Iowa, rear-ended a man’s tractor and knocked it into a ditch. According to Soules’ attorney, he then proceeded to call 911 and administer CPR, staying on the scene until EMTs arrived. His attorneys have less to say about this part, but Soules then got back in his car and hauled ass out of there before the cops showed up. The tractor driver died, and cops tracked Soules back to his house. They found empty and “partially consumed” alcoholic beverages in Soules’ car, and arrested him.
Soules was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, which is a felony. While other members of our community might have shut the f*ck up and been thankful they weren’t hit with a murder charge, Soules felt that any repercussions for his actions were way harsh and could not stand. So he briefly had his lawyers try to argue that the law itself—the one ruling that the surviving driver in a hit-and-run should return to the scene—was unconstitutional. In a ruling that should be considered common sense but currently feels like a tsunami level wave of relief, this argument did not stand.
Cut to today, and Soules has been offered a plea deal. In exchange for pleading guilty to the non-felony charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, Soules could face up to two years in jail. He’ll receive his sentence in January. And I’m not one to argue that anyone should spend the rest of their life in jail, but I just have to say one more time that this is a really, really light punishment for literally killing someone. While drunk driving, no less! And then fleeing the scene after! Meanwhile, Ice-T is out here getting arrested for unauthorized use of the E-ZPass lane. It’s almost like…the police treat people differently based on their race??? Nah…
I’m sure it won’t be the worst news of this week, or even today. But that’s no reason we can’t let it depress us! Let’s hope at least that this is the worst Bachelor Nation news we hear until Colton’s season starts airing and Arie and Lauren give birth. At that point, I’ll just resign myself to rage-weeping through the next 12 or so Mondays.
Images: Giphy (2)
I will complain about almost anything hate to complain, but this “genocide celebration” three-day weekend has really thrown me off. Specifically, I’ve been convinced it’s Friday since Tuesday, and my mood has greatly suffered for it. On the bright side, the rest of America seems to be feeling cranky too. One Florida woman, for example, tried to take an emotional support squirrel on a plane this Tuesday. While this kind of story doesn’t exactly renew my faith in humanity, it definitely makes me feel better about acting like a crazy b*tch all week. There’s crazy, and then there’s emotional support squirrel-on-a-plane crazy. Here’s how the real-life drama of Snakes on a Plane a squirrel on a plane played out.
The woman (unnamed, but pictured here) was flying out of Florida, which makes perfect sense. Case closed, bring in the dancing lobsters. JK. She notified Frontier Airlines that she’d be bringing an emotional support animal when she booked her ticket. But of course, she failed to mention the species. Somehow, the presence of a squirrel in her purse didn’t become an issue until the plane was fully boarded. I have a TON of questions for Orlando TSA, because I can’t seem to get an extra half-ounce of makeup remover through security, let alone a f*cking SQUIRREL.
Unsurprisingly, passengers objected to the presence of a squirrel in their midst. I can’t speak to Florida squirrels, but the ones in NYC are bushy-tailed disease monsters, so I’m fully on the passengers’ side here. Frontier Airlines—who clarified that their emotional support policy covers cats or dogs, but not rodents—asked her to exit the plane. When she refused, police came and all passengers evacuated the plane, leading to this spectacular video.
— Brandon Nixon (@bnix4) October 10, 2018
Ultimately, this whole debacle delayed the flight by two hours, which would have been enough for me to murder that squirrel in front of her throw a small fit. According to one extreme pushover fellow passenger, “for the most part, people found it funny.” I mean, they’re right that it’s f*cking hilarious, but very big of them to see that in the moment.
I just feel like if you are able to wrangle an actual squirrel without getting rabies and THEN teach it how to provide emotional support, the airline should just let you take it on the plane.
— sarafcarter (@sarafcarter) October 11, 2018
In the past few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of “weird support animals kicked off planes” stories, including one ostrich and one pig. In comparison, an emotional support squirrel seems pretty tame. But it got me thinking that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of emotional support animals. So, without further ado, here’s a list of support animals I hope to see kicked off planes in years to come (y’know, assuming we still have a planet):
Support Pet Rock
Support Chia Pet
Support Bratz Doll
The point here? Uh, people are f*cking nuts and it’s really funny. Also, if you’re going to delay someone’s flight, at least have the decency to make it a good story.
Images: Bram Naus / Unsplash; bnix4, sarafcarter / Twitter