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#EndorseThis: The Liar Tweets Tonight! Vote Him Away

We're searching everywhere for funny and fresh home-produced content during the lockdown – and singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman offers up "The Liar Tweets Tonight," his razor-sharp satirical version of the folk classic Wimoweh (sometimes known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), accompanied by a grassroots Zoom chorus. You'll want to play this charming video more than once. Please nominate songs, comedy shtick, and satirical skits for #EndorseThis with an email to editors@nationalmemo.com.

Stay safe and well, and meanwhile click!

Charlotte Protests Diminish Early Friday As Family Views Video

By Andy Sullivan and Robert MacMillan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) – Largely peaceful protests dwindled early on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, as police chose not to enforce a curfew prompted by two nights of riots that engulfed the city after a black man was shot to death by a police officer.

A crowd of hundreds gathered, chanted and marched for a third successive night in the state’s largest city, demanding justice for Keith Scott, 43, who was shot dead by a black police officer in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon.

Police fired tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to break up crowds blocking traffic on a highway. National Guard troops backed up a robust police presence in the town center, helping to restrain protesters chanting “Whose streets? Our streets,” as helicopters circled overhead.

The Charlotte Police Department said on Twitter that two officers were treated after they were sprayed with a chemical agent by demonstrators and that no civilians were injured on Thursday.

Despite the brief outbursts, the demonstrations were calmer than those on the previous two nights. Rioters had smashed storefront windows, looted businesses and thrown objects at police, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency and the city’s mayor to enact a curfew.

A protester shot on Wednesday died on Thursday, nine people were injured, and 44 were arrested in riots on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Scott’s death is the latest to stir passions in the United States over the police use of deadly force against black men. Protests have asserted racial bias and excessive force by police and have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

His family viewed videos of the episode on Thursday and asked for them to be made public, stepping up the pressure for their release.

In an interview with Reuters early Friday, Justin Bamberg, one of the lawyers who is representing Scott’s family, said the video shows that the 43-year-old did not make any aggressive moves towards police.

“There’s nothing in that video that shows him acting aggressively, threatening or maybe dangerous,” Bamberg said.

Scott, who suffered head trauma in a bad car accident a year ago, was moving slowly as he got out of the car, he said.

“He’s not an old man, but he’s moving like an old man” in the video, Bamberg said.

Earlier in the day, Bamberg said in a statement that it was “impossible to discern” from the videos what, if anything, Scott was holding in his hands.

Police say Scott was carrying a gun when he approached officers and ignored repeated orders to drop it. His family previously said he was holding a book, not a firearm, and now says it has more questions than answers after viewing two videos recorded by police body cameras.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the video supported the police account of what happened but does not definitively show Scott pointing a gun at officers.

In contrast to the tension in Charlotte, calm reigned in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where police released a video of the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, shot by police last week after his vehicle broke down on a highway. The officer who fired her gun was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the mayors of both cities on Wednesday to offer condolences and assistance. On Thursday, he urged protesters to maintain the peace, while still addressing concerns of racial inequality.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, editing by Larry King)

IMAGE: Protesters walk in the streets downtown during another night of protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake

Watch: ‘National Memo’ Editor Joe Conason Weighs In On Saturday Night’s Dem Debate

National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason sat down with Joy Reid, sitting in for Melissa Harris-Perry, Sunday morning to discuss the final Democratic debate of the year, which aired on ABC Saturday night.

Reid begins the segment by grilling Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) about the DNC data breach that allowed the Sanders camp to get its hands on voter files belonging to the Clinton campaign, and also about the perceptions that the DNC was running the primary race in such a way as to give Clinton an advantage, notions which Schultz said were “ludicrous.”

The much-hyped Sanders-Clinton clash ended before it began Saturday night, with Sanders apologizing to the current Democratic frontrunner and pledging to assist in an independent investigation into the cause of the breach. “The two grown-ups decided to put this to rest last night,” Conason said.

The panel with Conason begins at roughly the 11:00 mark below. Or click here for a higher-quality video stream.

Videos Of Police Shootings Don’t Always Tell The Full Story, Experts Warn

By James Queally and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — The video, shot from the dashboard camera of a police cruiser, shows a black teenager walking down the middle of a Southwest Chicago street. Two police officers approach the 17-year-old from his left, guns drawn.

The teen stumbles and falls as he is hit by gunfire. But, Cook County prosecutors say, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke continues shooting even after Laquan McDonald has crumpled to the asphalt.

Van Dyke fired 16 shots in total, investigators said. McDonald died a short time later.

The recording — a key piece of evidence released Tuesday as a first-degree murder charge was filed against Van Dyke — is the latest in a catalog of videos that has put police use-of-force under intense scrutiny across the U.S. In the past 18 months, surveillance feeds and cellphone recordings have led to protests and criminal charges after officers used force against civilians in New York City, Los Angeles, Cleveland and South Carolina, among other places. Many of the protests have focused on the role of race in police use of force, particularly against black men.

The videos are often visceral in nature, showing what many activists consider to be clear-cut misuse of force by police officers. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she “moved up” her decision to charge Van Dyke after a judge ruled last week that the video should be released to the public.

But, even as demonstrators took to Chicago’s streets Tuesday night to protest the shooting of McDonald by a white police officer, law enforcement experts around the nation warned that recordings like the one that captured the teen’s death can paint an incomplete picture.

“Knowing what happens on video after it happens is totally different than knowing what the cop was thinking and what he will say he was thinking,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former assistant district attorney in New York City. “The video obviously could be damning in terms of a criminal case, but the ultimate question is, is there malice towards the kid? Is it totally unwarranted under any view of the evidence? The video does not speak for itself.”

Recordings of clashes between police and civilians have been especially resonant in Los Angeles in recent months, where video filmed by a bystander of several officers opening fire on a homeless man on skid row earlier this year generated national outrage.

Deciding whether to make official recordings public has also proved a thorny issue for city leaders.

The spread of similar videos has sparked large-scale protests in some cities. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration tried to keep the recording of McDonald’s death from becoming public. In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department generally does not publicly release recordings from cameras mounted in its patrol cars or on officers’ uniforms.

Van Dyke was one of several officers responding to reports that McDonald had been spotted breaking into vehicles and stealing radios on Oct. 20, 2014, according to details of the case released in court Tuesday. The first officers at the scene reported that the teenager was armed with a knife and walking away from the area. Cook County prosecutors said, at one point, McDonald waved the knife as he walked past a squad car.

The teenager did not speak to any of the officers or respond to commands to drop the knife. An autopsy showed McDonald had PCP in his system.

Van Dyke was about 10 feet away from McDonald when he started firing and continued shooting for 13 seconds while the teen lay on the ground, prosecutors said. Van Dyke’s partner told investigators he had to stop the officer from reloading.

Law enforcement experts who reviewed the recording said that, on first glance, the shooting seemed excessive. Ed Obayashi, an Inyo County Sheriff’s deputy who also works as an attorney on use-of-force cases, said the fact that Van Dyke’s partner did not fire his weapon could prove critical at trial.

“The testimony of that officer is going to be very, very compelling about why he did not perceive a deadly threat,” Obayashi said.

Other experts who reviewed the video could not understand how Van Dyke could perceive the teenager as a threat.

“I don’t see a justification for deadly force. He is walking away from the officer,” said Geoff Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina and an expert on police force.

Sid Heal, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s commander and force expert, questioned Van Dyke’s decision to fire and the prosecutor’s move to charge him with murder.

“It’s going to be tough to make a case that he arrived at a scene and decided in only 30 seconds to premeditatedly kill the suspect,” Heal said. “If the defense can make any valid case for self-defense, manslaughter seems more appropriate.”

The video highlights the way surveillance footage can influence prosecutors. Earlier this year, a cellphone recording showed North Charleston, S.C., police Officer Michael Thomas Slager firing several shots into the back of an unarmed black man, 50-year-old Walter Scott, who was running away from the officer.

Murder charges were filed against Slager on April 7, less than an hour after the city’s mayor and police chief received the video, officials said at that time.

While recordings of deadly clashes between police and civilians have gained increased media attention in recent years, the videos are not always enough to gain criminal convictions.

Former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ivory John Webb Jr. became the target of national outrage in 2006 after a video showed him towering over an off-duty Air Force police officer and shooting him several times. Despite indications that the man he shot appeared to be surrendering, Webb was acquitted of attempted voluntary manslaughter at trial.

A recording of a New York City police officer placing Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold during a fatal 2014 clash also sparked nationwide protests, but a grand jury declined to indict the officer on a manslaughter charge.

The law gives police officers wide latitude in using force when they believe that their lives — or the lives of others — are in danger.

O’Donnell said prosecutors will have to prove that Van Dyke did not believe McDonald posed an immediate threat to his life when he opened fire.

“Why would he choose to just coldblooded kill someone? Why would he do that?” O’Donnell asked. “You’re going to have to answer that question.”
___
(Chicago Tribune staff writers Jason Meisner, Jeremy Gordner and Steve Schmadeke contributed to this report.)

Photo: Protestors engage with Chicago Police after the release of the 2014 video of Laquan McDonald being shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, near Michigan Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 24 2015, in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS)