Day: August 17, 2019

AP Explains: A look at rallies, recent tension in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — The liberal city of Portland, Oregon, is again expected to be a flashpoint because of a right-wing rally planned Saturday. The out-of-town groups will likely be met by anti-fascist protesters, and the police will be out in force. The city has seen violent protests before.

Here is a look at the planned rallies and the recent tension in Portland.


The rally is being organized by a member of the Proud Boys, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Others expected include members of the American Guard, the Three Percenters and the Daily Stormers.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Guard is a white nationalist group, the Three Percenters an anti-government militia and the Daily Stormers a neo-Nazi group. Local anti-fascist protesters — known as antifa — will also likely be there to oppose the right-wing groups. Antifa members, known for wearing masks and black clothing, have participated in violent clashes before.

Another militia-style organization, the Oath Keepers, said in a statement Thursday that it agrees with the goals of the event but is urging members not to attend because the organizers have not done enough to keep white supremacists and neo-Nazis away.


Authorities have their guard up because previous rallies featuring right-wing groups and antifa have turned violent in Portland.

In 2017, two men were fatally stabbed on a light-rail train when they confronted a man who was shouting racist slurs at two young women, one of whom was wearing a Muslim head covering. Less than 10 days after the slayings, an out-of-state right-wing group called Patriot Prayer organized a pro-President Donald Trump rally in Portland that was met with an angry counterprotest. Police arrested 14 people at the event.

In 2018, a similar right-wing rally erupted in dueling protests. Portland police declared a riot and arrested four people.

At a rally in June, masked antifa members beat up conservative blogger Andy Ngo. Video of the 30-second attack attracted widespread attention and put the focus on Portland even more.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced a congressional resolution calling for anti-fascists to be declared domestic terrorists, and Trump echoed that theme in a tweet last month.

Portland’s City Hall has been evacuated twice because of bomb threats after the June 29 skirmishes.


Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said people who commit violence or espouse hate are not welcome in the city and massive police presence will be on hand. None of Portland’s nearly 1,000 sworn police officers will have the day off, and more than two dozen other agencies, including the Oregon State Police and the FBI, will help local authorities. Some businesses are closing their doors Saturday, and several weekend events have been cancelled.

Authorities have also made a show of arresting a half-dozen people in the past week who are alleged to have committed violence at past rallies, including one on May 1 that ended with a brawl outside a Portland bar. Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson was among those arrested. A former Proud Boys member and four others who associate with far-right groups also were taken into custody.


Randy Blazak, a leading expert on the history of hate groups in Oregon, said many of today’s anti-fascists trace their activist heritage to a group that fought with neo-Nazis in Portland’s streets decades ago, and they feel this is the same struggle in a new era.

White supremacists killed an Ethiopian man in 1988 in Portland. By the 1990s, Portland was being referred to as “Skinhead City” because it was the home base of Volksfront, one of the most active neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. at the time. As recently as 2007, neo-Nazis attempted to gather in Portland for a three-day festival.


The rallies and counterprotests have frustrated many Portland residents, who feel their city has been co-opted by political forces beyond their control.

While Portland is known as a liberal touchstone with a history of protest, many residents don’t agree with violence from either the far-right or the far-left and would like things to return to normal.

Mayor Wheeler held a large rally in support of Portland and its residents earlier this week that drew dozens of civic leaders, politicians, educators, civil rights groups and unions.

More than a half-dozen events are planned Saturday — including a juggling contest, a Buddhist meditation and a dance party with people wearing giant banana costumes — to thwart potential violence and defuse any problems that could arise.

Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press

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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

Hundreds come to honour El Paso victim after public invited

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — When Jordan Ballard read that one of the victims of the El Paso massacre had few relatives and the public was invited to her funeral, the Los Angeles resident bought a plane ticket and flew to Texas to honour a woman she had never met.

She was one of hundreds of strangers who braved 100-degree (38 Celsius) heat to pay their respects to 63-year-old Margie Reckard. Feeling heartbroken and alone after her death, Reckard’s companion of 22 years, Antonio Basco, had welcomed anyone to attend.

“I arrived here this morning,” said Ballard, 38, who lived in New York City during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “His story moved me.”

The service was moved from a funeral home to La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Center to accommodate the crowd. Vocalists and musicians volunteered to help, including a mariachi band. Condolences and orders for flowers poured in.

“He felt like he was going to kind of just be by himself with this whole thing but it’s not so,” Perches Funeral Homes director Harrison Johnson said Thursday of Basco.


Tlaib declines to visit West Bank, citing Israeli conditions

JERUSALEM (AP) — Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, despite being granted an Israeli permit on humanitarian grounds, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions aimed to humiliate her.

Israel barred Tlaib and another Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, from visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank over their support for the international boycott movement following an unprecedented appeal from President Donald Trump to deny them entry.

Israel had said Tlaib could visit relatives in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds. But then the Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit. That appears to have led to her decision to cancel the visit.

“Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart,” she said in a statement. “Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”

Tlaib and Omar had planned to visit Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank next week on a tour organized by a Palestinian group. The two are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and support the Palestinian-led international movement boycotting Israel.


Medical examiner rules Epstein death a suicide by hanging

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s medical examiner ruled Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide Friday, confirming after nearly a week of speculation that the financier faced with sex trafficking charges hanged himself in his jail cell.

Epstein, 66, was found dead at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 10, touching off outrage that such a high-profile prisoner could have gone unwatched at the Manhattan federal lockup where infamous inmates Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff came and went without incident.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement that she made the suicide determination “after careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings.”

Sampson’s announcement came as a Justice Department official told The Associated Press that some prison staffers believed to have relevant information aren’t co-operating with investigators.

Epstein’s lawyers said they were “not satisfied” with Sampson’s conclusions and that they would conduct their own investigation, including seeking to obtain any video of the area around Epstein’s cell from the time leading to his death.


Recession signs worry Trump ahead of 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is warning of an economic crash if he loses reelection, arguing that even voters who personally dislike him should base their ballots on the nation’s strong growth and low unemployment rate.

But privately, Trump is growing increasingly worried the economy won’t look so good come Election Day.

The financial markets signalled the possibility of a U.S. recession this week, sending a jolt of anxiety to investors, companies and consumers. That’s on top of concerns over Trump’s plans to impose punishing tariffs on goods from China and word from the United Kingdom and Germany that their economies are shrinking.

Though a pre-election recession here is far from certain, a downturn would be a devastating blow to the president, who has made a strong economy his central argument for a second term. Trump advisers fear a weakened economy would hurt him with moderate Republican and independent voters who have been willing to give him a pass on some his incendiary policies and rhetoric. And White House economic advisers see few options for reversing course should the economy start to slip.

Trump has taken to blaming others for the recession fears, mostly the Federal Reserve, which he is pushing for further interest rate cuts. Yet much of the markets’ uncertainty stems from his own escalation of a trade war with China, as well as weakened economies in key countries around the world.


‘Easy Rider’ star, 1960s swashbuckler Peter Fonda dies at 79

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor Peter Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counter-culture classic “Easy Rider,” died Friday at his home of complications from lung cancer. He was 79.

“I am very sad,” Jane Fonda said in a statement. “He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”

Born into Hollywood royalty as Henry Fonda’s only son, Peter Fonda carved his own path with his non-conformist tendencies and earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the psychedelic road trip movie “Easy Rider.” He would never win that golden statuette, but he would later be nominated for his leading performance as a Vietnam veteran and widowed beekeeper in “Ulee’s Gold.”

Fonda was born in New York in 1940 to parents whose personas were the very opposite of the rebellious images their kids would cultivate. Father Henry Fonda was already a Hollywood giant, known for playing straight-shooting cowboys and soldiers. Mother Frances Ford Seymour was a Canadian-born U.S. socialite.

He was only 10 years old when his mother died. She had a nervous breakdown after learning of her husband’s affair and was confined to a hospital. In 1950, she killed herself. It would be about five years before Peter Fonda learned the truth behind her death.


Customs and Border Protection outage snarls major airports

DALLAS (AP) — Travelers flying into the United States on Friday ran into long lines at major airports nationwide because of a temporary computer outage that affected the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

Airports warned travellers — both Americans returning home and foreign visitors — of delays, and some travellers tweeted photos and videos of huge lines.

A CBP spokeswoman said the systems were running again by early evening on the East Coast.

The agency didn’t precisely describe the breakdown, but the spokeswoman said there was “no indication of any nefarious activity.” She said officers were able to access security-related databases and maintain security standards while screening people manually.

Rebekah Tromble, an associate professor at George Washington University, tweeted a video clip in which she panned over the arrival hall at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. She estimated there were at least 5,000 people packed into the hall.


AP Interview: Pelosi assails ‘weakness’ of Trump, Netanyahu

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the U.S.-Israel relationship can withstand the “weakness” of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who shook diplomatic norms this week in barring two members of Congress from visiting the country.

Pelosi told The Associated Press that the “weakness of Netanyahu and the weakness of Donald Trump combined” into a policy that’s “a no.”

“We have a deep relationship and long-standing relationship with Israel that can withstand Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu,” Pelosi said. “We cannot let their weaknesses stand in the way of our ongoing relationship.”

She said the U.S. commitment to Israel isn’t dependent on either leader, a sign there may not be lasting fallout from this week’s incident, particularly in terms of foreign aid, which must be approved by Congress.

In an extraordinary move, Netanyahu, with a push from Trump, barred entry for Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota ahead of their planned visit. Tlaib was later granted a humanitarian exception to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, but ultimately decided against the trip .


Court: US can reject asylum along parts of Mexico border

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the U.S. government to forbid Central American immigrants from seeking asylum at the two busiest stretches of the southern border in a partial legal victory for the Trump administration.

The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows President Donald Trump to enforce the policy in New Mexico and Texas, rejecting asylum seekers who cross from Mexico into either state. Under Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar’s July 24 order stopping the policy would apply only in California and Arizona, which are covered by the 9th Circuit.

The two busiest areas for unauthorized border crossings are in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and the region around El Paso, Texas, which includes New Mexico. Nearly 50,000 people in July crossed the U.S. border without permission in those two regions, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The policy would deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there. Most crossing the southern border are Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty, who would largely be ineligible. The policy would also apply to people from Africa, Asia, and South America who come to the southern border to request asylum.

If the policy is implemented, ineligible migrants who cross in New Mexico and Texas could be detained and more quickly deported. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.


US stocks end turbulent week with broad gains

You’re not the only one confused about where the economy is headed. Just look at the stock market, where perplexed investors have been sending stocks on a wild ride in August.

And there could be plenty more where that came from. Two notoriously volatile months for stocks lie just ahead.

Stocks around the world jumped Friday to cap another tumultuous week. Investors have been frantically trying to rejigger their predictions about whether President Donald Trump’s trade war and slowing economies around the world will drag the United States into a recession. In the U.S., the result was a week where the Dow Jones Industrial Average had four days where it rose or fell by more than 300 points — with an 800-point drop thrown into the mix.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 1.4%. The Dow climbed 1.2% and the Nasdaq picked up 1.7%. But each index still finished with a third-straight weekly decline.

Stocks, bonds and other investments heaved up and down throughout the week, with worries hitting a crescendo on Wednesday when a fairly reliable warning signal of recession flipped on in the U.S. Treasury market.


Portland, Oregon, awaits right-wing rally, counter protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — More than two dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are in Portland, Oregon, to help police with a right-wing rally Saturday that’s expected to draw demonstrators from around the U.S.

Self-described anti-fascists have vowed to confront the rally.

Authorities have arrested six members of right-wing groups, including the leader of Patriot Prayer, in the run-up to the event on charges related to past protests.

The rally is organized by Proud Boys, who are designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Associated Press

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Family of Sammy Yatim angry over day parole granted to cop who shot teen

The family of a teen who died after being shot by a former Toronto police officer is shocked that the man has been granted day parole after serving less than a third of his sentence, their lawyer said.

Edwin Upenieks, who represents the relatives of Sammy Yatim, said the teen’s parents were not aware that James Forcillo was due for a hearing before the Parole Board of Canada this week. Had they known, Upenieks said the family would have been there to speak out against the partial release granted on Thursday.

A written decision from the board shows Forcillo was given day parole after expressing remorse and contrition for Yatim’s death, which occurred in 2013 after the officer fired two rounds of shots at the 18-year-old who stood on an empty streetcar.

Sammy Yatim
Sammy Yatim, 18, is seen on a Toronto streetcar in July 2013. (Ontario Superior Court of Justice)

Forcillo was acquitted of second-degree murder but convicted of attempted murder. The parole board decision came 21 months into his six-year prison sentence.

“The reaction is one of shock,” Upenieks said of the family’s response to the decision. “Shock that there was a hearing and shock at the fact that parole was granted.”

The parole board said Forcillo is permitted to live in a halfway house for the next six months before moving to a small, unidentified community. He has also been ordered to undergo psychological counselling and is barred from having any form of contact with the Yatim family.

According to the decision, Forcillo took responsibility for Yatim’s death.

“You believe that you rushed your decision-making contrary to your training. You expressed remorse for your actions that resulted in the death of the victim and the loss felt by his family,” the decision reads. “This acknowledgment of responsibility and expression of remorse was genuine.”

Upenieks challenged those assertions, saying Forcillo repeatedly claimed he was following his training during his various court proceedings.

The parole board also said Forcillo had a “dismissive” attitude upon arriving in custody but had addressed the issue.

“You apologized to staff,” the decision reads. “You explained your behaviour was a protective facade as you were struggling with your offences and incarceration. You sought out employment as an offender caregiver to gain more understanding and patience.”

The board said Forcillo has made plans to attend college upon his release from prison and presents a low risk to reoffend.

Forcillo was one of the first officers to respond to a July 2013 call about a teen exposing himself on the streetcar while brandishing a small knife. By the time police arrived, Yatim was the only person left on the streetcar.

Forcillo fired an initial three shots, which caused Yatim to fall to the floor of the streetcar, then fired a second volley of six more shots. His attempted murder conviction related to that second round of gunfire.

The officer appealed his conviction to Ontario’s top court, which rejected his efforts to seek a new trial and found the second volley of shots to have been “clearly unnecessary and excessive.” The Supreme Court of Canada also declined to hear his case.

Forcillo also ran into legal troubles not directly related to Yatim’s death. The parole board decision said Forcillo breached his bail conditions while his legal proceedings were underway by lying about where he was living at one time.

He was supposed to live with his wife, but he moved in with a new fiancee after his marriage broke down and told court he was still at his original address. He pleaded guilty to perjury and had six months added to his sentence.

Criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown said an inmate can apply for full parole after serving a third of their sentence and may seek day parole six months before that.

But Brown said he was nonetheless taken aback by the parole decision in Forcillo’s case.

“His early release is surprising considering his perjury conviction and the facts underlying that allegation,” Brown said. “Most inmates standing in the shoes of James Forcillo would have been denied release based on that factor alone.”

Upenieks said the recent parole decision raises questions about the ways in which those impacted by crime are kept abreast of developments in their cases.

Rules state that anyone wishing to learn of changes in a convict’s status must send a victim notification request to the parole board or the Correctional Service of Canada. Those that do will be kept in the loop about developments such as parole hearings and release from custody.

Upenieks said a system that puts the onus on victims and their relatives to stay informed of developments is fundamentally flawed.

“They’re grieving, and I don’t think this should be an added responsibility,” he said. “That can’t be the way Canadian society should run.”

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Imagine Canada’s response if the B.C. murder suspects were Muslims

August 16, 2019
Police tape. Image: British Columbia Emergency Photography/Flickr
Why do we tolerate certain actions when it comes to violating the rights of Muslims but hate groups get a free pass no matter how violent the ideologies they espouse?

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Stabbing deaths of mom, 13-year-old boy connected to body found on Highway 410

A 53-year-old mother and her 13-year-old son are dead after a stabbing took place inside a Brampton home in the early hours of Friday.

Police said they were called to a home on Josephine Court, near Williams Parkway and Torbram Road, at around 5:45 a.m. for reports of a stabbing.

Upon arrival at the scene, officers located two victims inside the home, who were both suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Police investigate after a double stabbing at a residential home in Brampton. (CTV News Toronto)

The mother of four was then pronounced dead at the scene, police said, and one of her children, a 13-year-old boy, was transported to hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

A short time later, a body was found on Highway 410 near Williams Parkway and police said the two incidents were connected.

Police later identified the deceased person as the 51-year-old husband and father of the two victims.

“After this initial incident we did have a male suspect that fled the residence in a vehicle,” Const. Danny Marttini told reporters on Friday evening. “This male has been identified as the father and spouse of the victims.”

Marttini said the man took his own life.

The names of those deceased have not been released by investigators.

“This is a family,” Marttini said. “We are dealing with a very tragic incident, the circumstances surrounding it, there are obviously members who are still having to deal with all of this, which is why we have not and are not releasing the names of the individuals involved.”

“We are really looking to respect their wishes so they can process and deal with the aftermath of this.”

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