Targets of hate
Police requested FBI assistance this week in responding to a plague of violence targeting black transgender women, after a third trans woman since October was found murdered. A passerby last week discovered the body of Chynal Lindsey, 26, floating in the White Rock Lake reservoir, and police said her body showed “obvious signs of homicidal violence.” Last month, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was shot dead, weeks after she suffered a concussion and broken wrist after being brutally beaten in an apartment parking lot. Cellphone video of the attack posted to Facebook showed a group of men punching and stomping on Booker while shouting anti-gay slurs. In April, a 26-year-old Dallas trans woman was stabbed several times and left for dead but survived. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the murders of Lindsey and Booker, which remain unsolved, stemmed from “an epidemic of violence and hate.”
Los Fresnos, Texas
Immigration authorities left a group of 37 migrant children between 5 and 12 years old in parked vans “in the blistering Texas sun” last July as they waited to be reunited with their parents, NBC News reported this week. Most of the children spent at least 23 hours in the vehicles amid a scene one immigration official called “hurried disarray.” After being driven to meet their parents at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, children entered the facility only to be taken back into the vans because ICE wasn’t prepared for them. Despite two warnings that the children would be arriving, ICE officers worked their regular schedules, clocking out as the parking lot turned into an impromptu shelter. The children were given blankets and food, and not until waiting two nights—39 hours—did the last child leave a van to be reunited with family.
New York City
A road out of detention
Newly unearthed memos presented in federal court this week suggest a GOP operative inspired the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller believed that asking about citizenship “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” according to files found on hard drives at Hofeller’s home after he died last August. Those files indicate he urged the Trump administration to add the citizenship question, then wrote key portions of its rationale for doing so. With the Supreme Court set to rule later this month on whether the question should be allowed, plaintiffs claim the new evidence directly refutes the Justice Department’s argument that it added the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The department responded: “There is no smoking gun here; only smoke and mirrors.”
Charged with cowardice
Former sheriff’s deputy and school resource officer Scot Peterson was charged this week with 11 criminal counts for failing to act during a 2018 shooting that killed 17 students, teachers, and staff. Peterson, 56, the only armed person at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a 19-year-old former student opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle, did “absolutely nothing to mitigate” the carnage, prosecutors said. There was little time to save 11 people murdered on the school’s ground floor, but authorities say killings on the third floor were preventable. Instead, a 15-month investigation found Peterson retreated from the gunfire and hid for 48 minutes. Sgt. Brian Miller, who hid behind his car upon arriving at the school, was also fired but not charged. Third-floor geography teacher Scott Beigel “would be alive today,” said his mother, Linda Schulman, had Peterson not been “standing outside like a coward.”
The White House instructed former officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to defy congressional subpoenas this week, citing executive privilege. The White House said that Hicks, who served as Trump’s campaign press secretary and first communications director, and Donaldson, the former deputy White House counsel, “do not have the legal right to disclose the White House records to third parties.” That incensed House Democrats, who seek documents related to Russian election interference, hush payments made by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and other matters. Despite the White House’s demand, Hicks did provide the House with documents related to the 2016 campaign. The Justice Department succeeded in persuading the judge in the case of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, to reverse an order that would have made public transcripts of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Virginia Beach, Va.
Deadliest shooting of 2019
Twelve people were killed at a municipal building last week and four others were seriously injured, in the country’s deadliest shooting of the year. DeWayne Craddock, 40, a Department of Public Utilities engineer, submitted his two weeks’ notice hours before entering the building and opening fire, armed with two legally purchased .45-caliber handguns, at least one of which had a silencer and extended capacity magazine. The gunman, a former Army National Guardsman, appeared to target supervisors in his department. Officials said he had no disciplinary history, though The New York Times reports he had gotten into a fight on city grounds and faced disciplinary action. Four police officers engaged in an extended gunfight with Craddock before fatally shooting him. Gov. Ralph Northam called a special legislative session, where he will propose a gun-reform package including universal background checks and a ban on silencers. ■