Two instructors at a corrections officers’ academy were fired last week after a photo surfaced of a trainee class giving a Nazi salute. The 34 people photographed in uniform were suspended without pay. The blurred trainees appeared below the text “Hail Byrd!”—echoing “Heil Hitler!” and referencing one of their instructors at Glenville State College. Republican Gov. Jim Justice called the photo “intolerable” and ordered all involved to be fired. Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy said the cadets had been trained in identifying white-supremacist groups. “I cannot stress enough how this betrays the high standards and professionalism of the men and women of corrections,” he said. In recent months, West Virginia corrections officers have been accused of sexually assaulting female inmates and covering up wrongful deaths.
Top cop versus NRA
After an officer was fatally shot responding to a domestic violence call, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo blasted Republican lawmakers this week for failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act because it restricts gun rights for abusive boyfriends. “I don’t want to see their little smug faces,” Acevedo said, referencing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. “I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off” the National Rifle Association. Christopher Brewster, 32, was shot after a woman reported being assaulted by her boyfriend, Arturo Solis, 25, who is now charged with murder. His ownership of a pistol was illegal in Texas because of a prior conviction. The NRA argues that Congress defines domestic violence too broadly. “You’re either here for women and children,” Acevedo said, “or you’re here for the NRA.”
Be our guest
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov contradicted President Trump after an Oval Office meeting this week, denying that Trump warned Russia not to interfere in U.S. elections. “We haven’t even actually discussed elections,” Lavrov said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged the Russian minister’s recollection and said he also brought up election interference in a separate meeting. Lavrov’s White House visit came the same day the House announced the articles of impeachment against Trump, which center on the president’s withholding of security aid for Ukraine’s fight with Russia. Trump last welcomed Lavrov in 2017, a day after firing FBI director James Comey. Lavrov said Russia has asked the U.S. for any evidence of election interference. Asked why he doesn’t just “read the Mueller report,” Lavrov replied, “We read it. There is no proof of any collusion.”
Jewish groups expressed outrage over President Trump’s speech to pro-Israel conservatives last week, in which he said Jews will become “my biggest supporters” to protect their wealth from his 2020 rivals. He called Jews in businesses like real estate “brutal killers” and “not nice people” who had no choice but to back him over a Democrat like Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Trump said most Jews cheered his moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, while his critics “don’t love Israel enough.” The remarks drew laughs and chants of “four more years,” but several organizations called Trump’s stereotypes and demands that Jews demonstrate loyalty to Israel anti-Semitic. Days later, Trump signed an executive order allowing the federal government to withhold funds from colleges fostering anti-Semitism. The order says calling Israel a “racist endeavor” is evidence of anti-Semitic intent, a claim some believe could suppress legitimate protests.
Investigators believe a man and woman were targeting Jews this week when they attacked a kosher market with long rifles after killing a detective. The pair died in an hours-long firefight with police that made the city resemble a war zone. The suspects, David Anderson and Francine Graham, reportedly posted rants online about Jews and police and left behind a “rambling” manifesto before driving a U-Haul van to the Jewish market and opening fire, killing four people, including two members of the city’s growing Hassidic community. Anderson and Graham are also prime suspects in another Jersey City killing. The attack came after Jersey City Detective Joe Seals approached their van at a nearby cemetery and was shot in the head. Two officers were injured in the shoot-out. Investigators later found a live pipe bomb inside the van. Sources said Anderson was a onetime follower of the anti-Semitic Black Hebrew Israelite movement.
Coral Gables, Fla.
At least 18 law enforcement officers fired shots in a crowded intersection last week, killing two robbery suspects in a chaotic shoot-out that also killed a bystander and a UPS driver whose truck had been hijacked. Frank Ordonez, 27, was filling in for a colleague on an unfamiliar delivery route when he was abducted by two men fleeing a jewelry store they’d attempted to rob after posing as postal workers. The suspects, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Hill, both 41, exchanged fire with the store owner, and a ricocheting bullet hit one female employee in the forehead. They fled in Ordonez’s truck before getting trapped in rush-hour traffic. Officers swarmed the truck and used cars stuck in the standstill for cover. The gun battle also killed a 70-year-old man on his way home from work.
W. Va. Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Newscom, AP, Newscom ■