Democrats say Confederate monuments are now white-supremacist rallying points

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By Steven Mufson, John Wagner and Paige CunninghamAugust 20 at 12:30 PM
The Washington Post

Leading Democrats on Sunday morning talk shows defended moves by local governments to remove monuments of Confederate leaders, saying that the unrest in Charlottesville last week showed that the statues had become rallying points for white supremacists instead of educational tools about the nation’s history.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said President Trump “got this wrong” when he expressed opposition to taking down commemorations to Confederate leaders. People don’t need monuments to learn history, Cardin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“You don’t need a monument offensive to certain parts of our history being glorified in order to appreciate history,” Cardin told host Bill Hemmer.

Cardin said he supports actions this past week in Baltimore and Annapolis to remove statues of Confederate leaders. “I think what Baltimore and Annapolis are doing is appropriate,” Cardin said.

Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary under President Barack Obama, said that the monuments had become “rallying points” for white supremacists.

“I salute people taking down these monuments as a matter of public safety,” Johnson said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) said on the same program that he had changed his mind about the presence of Civil War monuments to Confederate leaders. As mayor of the city that served as the Confederate capital, Stoney, who is black, said that he once thought the monuments could be “tools to teach and enlighten” people but that now he also sees them as “rallying points.”

“This is what happens when we turn history into nostalgia,” said Christy Coleman, head of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond.

Stoney also took issue with Trump’s comparison of statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Though all were slave owners, Stoney said that Washington and Jefferson “did not take up arms against the United States of America.”

“I appreciate the president’s opinion,” Stoney said. “But in Richmond I don’t think that matters. We live here.”

Trump provoked outcry from business leaders, Democrats and Republicans, and military leaders by failing to strongly condemn white supremacists and Nazis marching in Charlottesville. He said that “both sides” were to blame for violence there, which took the life of one woman. Further demonstrations took place Saturday in Boston, where white supremacists were vastly outnumbered.

Former congressman J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) urged congressional leaders to speak out against Trump’s comments if they disagreed with them.

“This is not a time for us to be afraid of being tweeted,” Watts said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This is not a time for us to suppress our convictions.”

 

“If they’re silent, they wear the cap . . . saying we agree with that,” Watts added.

Trump “compromised” his moral authority by insisting multiple times there was hatred and violence on both sides in last weekend’s Charlottesville attacks, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Scott praised Trump’s speech Monday, in which the president condemned the white supremacists that attacked a crowd of counterprotestors — although the South Carolina senator said Trump should have delivered it directly after the attack instead of waiting two days.

But Scott said things then soured Tuesday, when Trump doubled down on his prior remarks that there was violence on both sides.

“His comments on Tuesday started to compromise that moral authority we need the president to have for this nation to be the beacon of light to all mankind,” Scott said.

But Scott didn’t express clear support for removing monuments to Confederate leaders. “I think that’s definitely a local issue,” he said.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) suggested his state could “do better” in Capitol Hill’s Statuary Hall, where each state is allowed to place two statues. Virginia’s two statues are of George Washington and Lee. Kaine suggested the state could replace Lee and choose from a list of candidates, including Pocahontas or Virginia’s first African American governor, Doug Wilder.

“From 2017 looking backward, I think Virginia could probably do better in the two people we chose to stand for us in Statuary Hall,” Kaine said.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump’s response to Charlottesville was inadequate.

“You know, the real challenge, I think, and job for the chief executive, in a country where race has always been such a difficult conversation, is to do everything possible to bring our country together, to help make us a more perfect union,” Schiff said. “And what the president did this week was as if he stood on a line dividing the country and pushed to separate one America from another with all his might. And that is not what this country needs.”

Asked if Trump should apologize for his remarks, as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) has urged, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) demurred, saying “in some ways we’re looking backwards.”

“Where I want to look now is what are we going to do to deal with the fundamental issues we have in the country? The issue of race. The issue of police and community coming together and developing policing methods that can unify,” Kasich said.

Asked why Trump has difficulty condemning white supremacists, Kasich said he was heartened by Trump’s response to the dueling rallies in Boston on Saturday. A rally by white supremacists there was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of people protesting against them.

“My understanding is the president came out and praised people, praised the police, praised the fact that the radicals were really marginalized, and that those who marched against hate, he praised,” Kasich said. “I feel positive about what he had to say about Boston from what I understand in the news reports.”

Kasich downplayed reports that he’s moving closer to mounting a primary challenge to Trump in 2020, saying that he’s “rooting for him to get it together.”

Scott urged Trump to spend time with people who lived through the civil rights era if he wants to be able to speak with moral authority about racial issues.

“We need the president to sit down with folks who have a personal experience if the president wants to have a better understanding and appreciation for what he should do next,” Scott said. “Without that personal connection to the painful past, it will be hard for him to regain that authority, from my perspective.”

NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” turned to one of the people who lived through the civil rights era, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, who said that the past week had been “a week of misunderstandings.”

Young said that “most of the issues that we’re dealing with now are related to poverty, but we still want to put everything in a racial contest,” he said.

“The reason I feel uncomfortable condemning the [Ku Klux] Klan types is they’re almost the poorest of the poor. They’re the forgotten Americans. They have been used, abused and neglected. Instead of giving them affordable health care, they give them black lung jobs.”

He added: “They see progress in the black community and everywhere else and they don’t share it.”

Todd said that no one from the Trump administration would agree to come on the show to talk about Charlottesville.

 

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With rising homicides in big cities, Republican governors intensify police patrols

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                              The Washington Post
By Tim Craig and Emma Ockerman August 6 at 8:09 PM

  • LOUIS — Sgt. Brad Sevier usually patrols an area of Missouri where there is one farm for every 20 residents. Now the Missouri state trooper commutes an hour to patrol the big city.

On orders from Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, Sevier and about two dozen troopers have laid claim to St. Louis highways that slice through some of America’s most dangerous neighborhoods, a move that has sparked concern among residents wary of heavy policing. It’s the first time in decades that state troopers have patrolled the city, Greitens said.

“We are looking for anything,” Sevier said shortly before pulling over a motorist for an expired license plate near downtown. “I don’t see how it can be detrimental having more law enforcement in an area that really needs more policing.”

Greitens dispatched the Missouri Highway Patrol last month amid a surge in shootings and assaults in St. Louis, part of a nationwide trend of rising violence in some large cities. The killings have rattled neighborhoods and embarrassed city officials, who tend to be Democrats. But now governors — who tend to be Republicans — are sending in their troops to fight urban crime, reopening historical tensions.

The governors’ actions mirror President Trump’s vow to send in federal agents to curb crime in Chicago, which he said in June had reached “epic proportions.”

“Today, we declare that the days of ignoring this problem are done,” said Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and competitive boxer, announcing his plan last month to send in state patrolmen to look for criminals in St. Louis. “We are rolling up our sleeves and taking strong action to protect people.”

Lyda Krewson, the new Democratic mayor of St. Louis, has fierce political disagreements with Greitens on many issues, including gun control and the funding of social services. But Krewson also has an intimate perspective of the city’s crime problem: In 1995, she saw her husband fatally shot during an attempted carjacking in front of their home in the city’s West End.

Krewson supports Greitens’s plan.

“There are a lot of guns on these highways. There are a lot of drugs on these highways,” Krewson said. “As long as it’s done in a responsible way — and I don’t have any reason to believe it won’t be — I think it’s a good help.”

But in an era of increasingly polarized views on policing, Missouri’s intervention is unsettling some local residents who question the governor’s strategies and tone. How elected leaders define a “gang,” use the word “criminal” and deputize outside law enforcement agencies are emerging as flash points. The debate threatens to drive another wedge between some officials in heavily Democratic cities and GOP leaders in statehouses and in Washington.

“He was heard saying . . . ‘Let’s go get them,’ ” said state Rep. Michael Butler, a St. Louis Democrat who was referring to an offhand, salutatory remark Greitens made while rallying Missouri troopers. “A lot of folks wonder who ‘them’ is, and what exactly did he mean.”

St. Louis has recorded more than 110 homicides so far this year, which, as of late July, put 2017 on pace to be the city’s deadliest year in more than two decades. The trends have been similar in big cities from Baltimore and Nashville to Tulsa and Little Rock, and in response, governors are reviving a role many had embraced from the 1960s through the early 1990s but pulled back from as homicide rates declined.

Last month, after 25 people were shot in a nightclub not far from the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson organized state troopers and FBI agents to respond to “a looming cloud of violence” in that city.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott pledged in spring to use “all lawful means” to snuff out what he called a serious “gang problem” in Houston, the state’s largest city.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster even used warlike language when announcing his plan for more state resources in Myrtle Beach, where homicides in June threatened the city’s reputation as a family-friendly beach destination.

“There will be a lot more boots on the ground,” McMaster said in deploying state troopers.

The governors are all Republicans, and their actions come as Trump has used tough-on-crime rhetoric in response to law enforcement concerns, most recently telling officers in a speech not to “be too nice” to suspects. Jim Pasco, past executive director and current senior adviser to the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said GOP governors know that crime “has been a good issue” for Trump.

“It resonates with the people who elected him,” said Pasco. “The governors see the reaction he is getting, and it spurs them to action.”

But the implementation of the state response can clash with local policing strategies. Some on the left fear a shift away from Obama-era initiatives such as community policing, fewer mandatory minimum sentences and limits on the militarization of police units.

The tension is particularly pronounced in St. Louis, where the 311,000 residents are still navigating the aftermath of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a close-in suburb.

For now, Greitens’s proposal is fairly limited. For the first time in decades, Missouri state troopers will patrol four major highways in St. Louis, freeing up city police to focus on violent crime that has driven up the homicide rate.

After seven people were fatally shot here over Father’s Day weekend, Greitens decided it was time to act, despite accusations from the community that he is grandstanding to bolster his macho political image.

During his campaign last year, Greitens shocked pundits by airing television commercials showing him firing military-style assault rifles. His ads included him saying he was going to “take back Missouri” and “fire away” for reforms.

Shortly after he was elected, Greitens experienced St. Louis’s crime woes personally when his wife was robbed at gunpoint as she left a restaurant.

“We go out and do what is necessary to save lives,” Greitens, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, said in an interview. “This is tearing cities apart.”

His critics, however, accuse Greitens of using St. Louis as a punching bag by vilifying a city that is about 50 percent African American and has a 25 percent poverty rate.

“You got a governor who is probably looking to his next move, so he has got to play to his base,” said Sarah Wood Martin, a St. Louis alderwoman. “And to them, it looks nice sending in the state troopers to get control of what is made to look like an out-of-control urban area.”

Beside politics, activists say there is real fear that Greitens’s plan could lead to more racial profiling. African Americans in Missouri are already 75 percent more likely to be stopped while driving than white motorists, according to the data compiled by the state attorney general’s office.

“Until and unless we start talking about that, there is a concern we are going to get more of the same,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which is seeking state records clarifying how the enhanced state patrols will be carried out.

While looking for expired license plates, unregistered vehicles or speed violators, Sevier stopped a white woman who was arrested for an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a previous traffic citation.

“Traffic enforcement is a good tool in finding criminals,” said Sevier, who had been assigned to Perry County in Missouri’s southern river delta. “That lady was wanted for expired registration but it just as easily could have been a murder warrant or a robbery warrant.”

During the first 11 days of the state patrols on about 16 miles of interstate highways that had been only lightly patrolled before, troopers issued more than 900 traffic tickets and made 220 arrests, according to Missouri Highway Patrol data.

St. Louis resident Danielle Shanklin panned Greitens’s plan. Her 25-year-old sister, Sigaria, was fatally shot in the head last summer when gunmen opened fire on a car she was in. Shanklin’s 3-year-old son, who was riding in the back seat, was unharmed.

Greitens’s initiative, she said, is nothing more than a way to “give out more tickets for speeding.”

“What they need do is add more funding to do things in the community,” Shanklin said, reflecting a widely held view in St. Louis that Greitens can’t fight crime and cut spending on social programs at the same time.

That community reaction, both here and in other cities targeted by governors, is putting mayors in a bind as they decide whether to embrace the help and, if so, how publicly.

In Arkansas, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola (D) supported Hutchinson’s plan but followed up on the governor’s announcement with his own one-hour news conference to call for more investment in inmate reentry programs, job training and neighborhood redevelopment.

“We know we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Stodola said.

Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Police Chiefs Association, said the true test of the governors’ initiatives will come in a few months.

“The real problem with this is usually the states can’t stay very long,” said Stephens, noting states’ limited budgets as well. “And to be effective at policing locally, you just can’t jump in and then take off two or three months later.”

 

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Putin orders cut of 755 personnel at U.S. missions

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Europe

Putin orders cut of 755 personnel at U.S. missions

By Andrew Roth July 30 at 7:52 PM         The Washington Post

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the U.S. diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere in the country will have to reduce their staffs by 755 people, signaling a significant escalation in the Russian response to American sanctions over the Kremlin’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

The United States and Russia have expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats before — but Sunday’s statement, made by Putin in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel, indicated the single largest forced reduction in embassy staff, comparable only to the closing of the American diplomatic presence in the months following the Communist revolution in 1917.

In the interview, Putin said that the number of American diplomatic and technical personnel will be capped at 455 — equivalent to the number of their Russian counterparts working in the United States. Currently, close to 1,200 employees work at the United States’ embassy and consulates in Russia, according to U.S. and Russian data.

“More than a thousand employees — diplomats and technical employees — have worked and are still working in Russia these days,” Putin told journalist Vladimir Solovyov on a nationally televised news show Sunday evening. “Some 755 of them will have to terminate their activity.”

Putin’s remarks came during a 3½ -day trip by Vice President Pence to Eastern Europe to show U.S. support for countries that have chafed at interference from Moscow — Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro.

“The president has made it very clear that Russia’s destabilizing activities, its support for rogue regimes, its activities in Ukraine are unacceptable,” Pence said, when asked by reporters in Tallinn, Estonia, whether he expects Trump to sign the sanctions. “The president made very clear that very soon he will sign the sanctions from the Congress of the United States to reinforce that.

“As we make our intentions clear, we expect Russian behavior to change.”

On Sunday night, a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The Russian government has demanded the U.S. Mission to Russia limit total Mission staffing to 455 employees by September 1. This is a regrettable and uncalled for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it.”

The Kremlin had said Friday, as the Senate voted to strengthen sanctions on Russia, that some American diplomats would be expelled, but the size of the reduction is dramatic. It covers the main embassy in Moscow, as well as missions in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia has been unable to provide exact numbers on the number of staff it employs in Russia. But according to a 2013 review by the State Department, of 1,200 employees of the American Mission in Moscow, 333 were U.S. nationals and 867 were foreign nationals, many of them probably local Russian support staff, including drivers, electricians, accountants and security guards. That would suggest that the majority of the 755 who must be cut would not be expelled from the country.

“This is a landmark moment,” Andrei Kolesnikov, a journalist for the newspaper Kommersant who regularly travels with Putin and has interviewed him extensively over the past 17 years, told the Post in an interview Friday. “His patience has seriously run out, and everything that he’s been putting off in this conflict, he’s now going to do.”

The Russian government is also seizing two diplomatic properties — a dacha, or country house, in a leafy neighborhood in Moscow and a warehouse — following the decision by the Obama administration in December to take possession of two Russian mansions in the United States.

The move comes as it has become apparent that Russia has abandoned its hopes for better relations with the United States under the Trump administration.

“I think retaliation is long, long overdue,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal,” Ryabkov said. “After the Senate . . . voted so overwhelmingly on a completely weird and unacceptable piece of legislation, it was the last drop.”

Hours later, Putin said during his evening interview that he expected relations between the United States and Russia to worsen and that Russia was likely to come up with other measures to counter American financial sanctions, which were passed by the House and Senate last week and which President Trump has said he will sign.

The reduction in U.S. diplomatic and technical staff is a response to President Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in December in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the mail servers of the Democratic National Committee. The United States also revoked access to two Russian diplomatic compounds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island. American officials said they were used for intelligence collection.

It is not yet clear how the State Department will reduce its staff in Russia. Some of the local staff were hired to help with a significant expansion of the U.S. embassy compound in Moscow.

After the State Department, the next largest agency presence in Moscow in the 2013 review belonged to the Defense Department, which had 26 employees working for the Defense Intelligence Agency (20 of them U.S. nationals) and 10 working for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (of whom nine were U.S. nationals).

The Library of Congress had two U.S. staff and two foreign staff, and NASA had eight U.S. staff and four foreign staff members.

There were 24 Marine security guards.

The move increases the likelihood of new, perhaps asymmetrical reprisals by the United States in coming days.

Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, tweeted Sunday: “If these cuts are real, Russians should expect to wait weeks if not months to get visas to come to US.”

Ashley Parker in Tallinn, Estonia, and Carol Morello and Madhumita Murgia in Washington contributed to this report.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-orders-cut-of-755-personnel-at-us-missions/2017/07/30/8a4b0044-7555-11e7-8c17-533c52b2f014_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_russiaus-3pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c96323ef22a9