June 26, 2020

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief, a weekly selection of news stories from journalism outlets operating outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations.

The Headlines

U.S. Politics

Progressive Candidates Surge Again as Trump Drags GOP Down (Truthout)

The Next Politics Is All About Movements—and It’s Winning (The Nation)

Police Reform

Yes, Defund the Cops—and Put Them Under Community Control (Black Agenda Report)

Freedom Rider: Democrats Move Right and Towards Defeat (Black Agenda Report)

My Family Saw a Police Car Hit a Kid on Halloween. Then I Learned How NYPD Impunity Works. (ProPublica)

Racial Justice

The Reckoning Is About More Than Police Violence (Mother Jones)

Let’s Stop Putting the Worst Americans on a Pedestal (The Nation)

COVID-19 and Healthcare

‘Unfathomable Cruelty’: Trump Files Legal Brief Aiming to Kick 20 Million Off Health Insurance in Middle of Pandemic (Common Dreams)

After Attacking Medicare for All as ‘Unrealistic’ During Primary, Biden Says Healthcare a ‘Right for All’ Amid Pandemic (Common Dreams)


As Scientists Struggle with Rollbacks, Stay At Home Orders and Funding Cuts, Citizens Fill the Gap (InsideClimate News)

U.S. Politics
Progressive Candidates and Movements Surge

In 2018, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win over establishment Democrat and Joe Crowley was played as a fluke. The Nation recounts that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the possibility of a progressive shift in the party’s direction.

But Tuesday, AOC defeated her main primary opponent, conservative Democrat Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, 72–19. Wall street titans poured millions of dollars into the campaign of former Republican and Trump International Hotel resident Caruso-Cabrera. But Truthout reports the grassroots movement won.

Other progressives show promising results across the country. Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal from the Bronx, commands a lead over Eliot Engel, and state Rep. Charles Booker trails just behind Marine lieutenant colonel Amy McGrath in the race for Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky seat.

Police Reform
Democrats Move Right, Away from Cop Community Control

Recent New York Times and Pew Research Center polls show majority support for Black Lives Matter protests among white Americans. Most importantly from the Times, 70% of whites under 45 believe George Floyd’s killing was part of a broader pattern of police violence against African Americans, writes Black Agenda Report.

Least usefully from the Times, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 14 points. This number tells us nothing about the kind of change any American demographic desires.

Joe Biden is a “proud architect of the mass Black incarceration regime” who rejects most demands associated with the BLM movement, emphatically including calls to defund the police. But defunding and community control of the police is starting to gain widespread support at local levels, as in Chicago, despite opposition from “white oligarch power.”

Both Biden and Trump reject two-thirds of Americans’ aspirations on criminal justice—just as they reject the two-thirds of Americans who support Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. Both parties present institutional roadblocks to change, and Democrats allowing voter suppression and underestimating Trump are setting up a repeat of the 2016 election.

How NYPD Impunity Works

New York City implemented the Civilian Complaint Review Board 70 years ago in response to mounting complaints of NYPD racist misconduct. In 2018, the board logged 2,919 complaints against NYPD officers for excessive roughness.

The CCRB recently reported various police abuses against Black and Latino boys for committing “age-appropriate activities,” such as playing with friends and carrying a backpack. Other patterns include the NYPD failing to notify parents of arrests and children being held for running from plainclothes officers.

While the CCRB logs about 7,000 complaints per year, the NYPD stifles investigations. It decides when bodycam footage is “relevant,” and takes its time so doing. The board’s investigators have made nearly 1,000 unfulfilled requests for footage, with over 40% having been pending for over three months. Heavy stipulations, including a non-disclosure agreement, limit investigators’ use of the footage.

ProPublica details the NYPD’s aggressive racial profiling and obstructions to justice.

Racial Justice 
The Reckoning Is About More Than Police Violence

The uprisings following George Floyd’s murder have widened from resisting the war on Black lives to rejecting white supremacy more broadly. In the days and weeks following Floyd’s death, protesters, sometimes assisted by the government, tore down statues of slave traders, genocidal leaders, and colonizers.

Mother Jones discusses the intertwined history of Black and Indigenous people under colonial oppression in America, illustrated by the removal of the statue of Theodore Roosevelt at the entrance of the American Museum of Natural History in New York: “The monument depicts Roosevelt towering over a Native American and an African—white supremacy, colonization, empire.”

Let’s Stop Putting the Worst Americans on a Pedestal

As American monuments to slavery, racism, confederacy, and colonialism fall, The Nation recognizes an opportunity to instead memorialize people worth celebrating.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended Christopher Columbus’ presence in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, saying the colonizer and mass murderer represents the Italian American contribution to New York. But with Italians’ myriad historical offerings to science and art, “every park in Manhattan could be renamed after world-famous, beloved Italians with no trouble at all.”

And given the U.S.’s innumerable women and nonwhite heroes, leaders, and artists (not to mention civil war leaders who fought against slavery), “There is no reason to cling to torturers, warlords, conquerors, and exploiters.”

Still, erecting the right monuments won’t stop racial violence without active political and social effort.

COVID-19 and Healthcare
Trump Aims to Slash 20 Million People’s Health Insurance

Late Thursday night, the Trump administration filed a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.

Common Dreams reports the move would strip health insurance from over 20 million people during this pandemic, again allowing insurance companies to deny coverage or charge premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

ACA repeal would transfer billions of dollars in tax cuts annually from low- and moderate-income people to high-income households and corporations.

“The brief comes at a time when millions of Americans are newly uninsured due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused calamitous job losses nationwide and kicked many people off their employer-provided coverage.”

Biden Now Says Healthcare is a ‘Right for All’

As the Trump administration attempts to slash healthcare for working families, Joe Biden appears to have gravitated to the middle on Medicare for All.

On a Thursday campaign stop in Pennsylvania, the presumptive Democratic nominee spoke to the danger of employer-based health insurance, given skyrocketed unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden, who repeatedly derided Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All plan as “unrealistic” for its cost, now sits with former advisers to the Vermont senator on a joint task force.

The talking point gesturing towards Medicare for All’s prohibitive cost grows stale “with study after study showing overall expenditures would be less while providing comprehensive coverage to everyone in the country.”

John Blackman with the tweet of the week:
Climate Crisis 
Citizen Science Fills Gaps

In the past few months, stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic have hindered data collection for many field scientists. Similarly, isolation and furloughs have left science-minded citizens looking for new outlets and ready to fill the need for crowd-sourced data.

As the federal government rolls back environmental protections, community-based water and air monitoring offers people tools to identify issues to advocate for change in the face of environmental racism and relaxed pollution enforcement, says InsideClimate News.

In Other News

1. House votes to make Washington DC a state (The Independent)

2. Twitter’s Least-Bad Option for Dealing With Donald Trump (The Atlantic)

3. How ‘Qualified Immunity’ Protects Cops From Being Held Accountable (HuffPost)

4. Coronavirus: US has ‘serious problem’, says Fauci (BBC)

5. Facebook announces new hate speech and misinformation policies amid advertiser revolt (The Guardian)

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website.

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.