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Published with permission from Alternet.

“We don’t have the same rights as our white counterparts,” 17-year-old Myra Richardson, a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, told AlterNet over the phone. “There are still things holding us back. How can we call America the land of the free?”

Richardson is one of countless young people from Miami to New York to Minneapolis who took to the streets over the weekend to rally under the banner of Black Lives Matter, braving heavily armedpolice deployments and a charged political environment in which they are being demonized by some for exercising their right to protest.

For Richardson the cause is personal, as Alton Sterling was a known member of the community, and the Triple S Food Mart where he was shot to death by police is a popular spot.

“The youth have lived through so many atrocities, but we’re still optimistic, still trying to do work,” said Richardson, who is a member of a community organization called #thewave and said she speaks on behalf of fellow classmates Raheejah Flowers and Jeanette Jackson, both 15. “There have been marches and gatherings all over Baton Rouge. We’ve seen groups from all over the United States come down. We have all these things stacked against us, but there are still people mobilizing and trying.”

Richardson is part of a generation of young people who have grown up seeing images of black and brown youth who look like them shot and killed by police. Police killings of black people in 2015 outnumbered lynchings of African Americans during the worst year of Jim Crow, according to Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli. During that year, 1,146 people were killed by police, the Guardian reports, in what is likely a conservative estimate due to theunderreporting of law enforcement killings. In 2015, young black men werenine times more likely to be killed by police than the general population, and black people overall were killed at twice the rate of their white, Latino and native American counterparts.

The fact that police killings are calculated by media organizations at all is a victory of the sustained protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, despite heightened visibility, the killing continues. According to the Guardian, 571 people have been killed by police so far in 2016. The Washington Post putthis number at 512.

These numbers were made painfully real with the back-to-back police killings of African-Americans Sterling and Philando Castile.

Campaigners say that now is an important time to mobilize. “Guided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against black people,” declared the Movement for Black Lives in a widely circulating pledge. “We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, who fought for their freedom and ours. Like them, we want a world where our lives matter.”

Yet in the aftermath of the Dallas shooting, protesters face an escalated crackdown, despite the fact that there are no proven ties between the gunman and the Black Lives Matter protesters. “Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” the Black Lives Matter network said in a statement released July 8. “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”

Aesha Rasheed, a New Orleans resident and organizer with Southerners On New Ground, traveled to Baton Rouge over the weekend to join the protests. “In this moment, not only have we lost someone to police violence in such a wrong way, but we also are in position where they have made protesting illegal,” said Rasheed, referring to a controversial Louisiana “Blue Lives Matter” bill that will go into effect August 1.

“I was at the protest on the capitol steps and the youth from Baton Rouge were there telling their stories, making their demands about the change they want to see,” said Rasheed. “People are still dying, still being killed, don’t tell us to sit down and not continue to go out into the streets.”

Under the guise of public safety, police departments across the country have used the Dallas shootings to call for increased police militarization and surveillance nationwide. “This will cause complaints about violating people’s constitutional rights to free assembly, but it is the only way to guarantee safety,” Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, toldReuters.

But according to Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground and organizer with Black Lives Matter-ATL, “This is a moment to organize and challenge the conversation about what is public safety and who is defining it. We have to redefine it because it’s not the folks whose neighborhoods are being occupied having a say, instead it’s being defined by more police, more surveillance, more probation, being funneled into the municipal court system. Public safety feels like booby traps to us as black people. We pay a regressive tax with our time and our lives.”

“We want safety, dignity and justice,” Hooks told AlterNet. “For black folks in particular, we have a mandate: to avenge the sufferings of our ancestors, earn the respect of future generations and be transformed in the service of the work. That is what we are in the streets for. We’re going to take as much time as we need.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

“We don’t have the same rights as our white counterparts,” 17-year-old Myra Richardson, a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, told AlterNet over the phone. “There are still things holding us back. How can we call America the land of the free?”

Richardson is one of countless young people from Miami to New York to Minneapolis who took to the streets over the weekend to rally under the banner of Black Lives Matter, braving heavily armedpolice deployments and a charged political environment in which they are being demonized by some for exercising their right to protest.

For Richardson the cause is personal, as Alton Sterling was a known member of the community, and the Triple S Food Mart where he was shot to death by police is a popular spot.

“The youth have lived through so many atrocities, but we’re still optimistic, still trying to do work,” said Richardson, who is a member of a community organization called #thewave and said she speaks on behalf of fellow classmates Raheejah Flowers and Jeanette Jackson, both 15. “There have been marches and gatherings all over Baton Rouge. We’ve seen groups from all over the United States come down. We have all these things stacked against us, but there are still people mobilizing and trying.”

Richardson is part of a generation of young people who have grown up seeing images of black and brown youth who look like them shot and killed by police. Police killings of black people in 2015 outnumbered lynchings of African Americans during the worst year of Jim Crow, according to Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli. During that year, 1,146 people were killed by police, the Guardian reports, in what is likely a conservative estimate due to theunderreporting of law enforcement killings. In 2015, young black men werenine times more likely to be killed by police than the general population, and black people overall were killed at twice the rate of their white, Latino and native American counterparts.

The fact that police killings are calculated by media organizations at all is a victory of the sustained protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, despite heightened visibility, the killing continues. According to the Guardian, 571 people have been killed by police so far in 2016. The Washington Post putthis number at 512.

These numbers were made painfully real with the back-to-back police killings of African-Americans Sterling and Philando Castile.

Campaigners say that now is an important time to mobilize. “Guided by love, we continue to stand together for justice, human dignity and our shared goal of ending all forms of state violence against black people,” declared the Movement for Black Lives in a widely circulating pledge. “We organize, occupy, demonstrate, march and chant for a new future: A future we can be proud of. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, who fought for their freedom and ours. Like them, we want a world where our lives matter.”

Yet in the aftermath of the Dallas shooting, protesters face an escalated crackdown, despite the fact that there are no proven ties between the gunman and the Black Lives Matter protesters. “Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” the Black Lives Matter network said in a statement released July 8. “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”

Aesha Rasheed, a New Orleans resident and organizer with Southerners On New Ground, traveled to Baton Rouge over the weekend to join the protests. “In this moment, not only have we lost someone to police violence in such a wrong way, but we also are in position where they have made protesting illegal,” said Rasheed, referring to a controversial Louisiana “Blue Lives Matter” bill that will go into effect August 1.

“I was at the protest on the capitol steps and the youth from Baton Rouge were there telling their stories, making their demands about the change they want to see,” said Rasheed. “People are still dying, still being killed, don’t tell us to sit down and not continue to go out into the streets.”

Under the guise of public safety, police departments across the country have used the Dallas shootings to call for increased police militarization and surveillance nationwide. “This will cause complaints about violating people’s constitutional rights to free assembly, but it is the only way to guarantee safety,” Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, toldReuters.

But according to Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground and organizer with Black Lives Matter-ATL, “This is a moment to organize and challenge the conversation about what is public safety and who is defining it. We have to redefine it because it’s not the folks whose neighborhoods are being occupied having a say, instead it’s being defined by more police, more surveillance, more probation, being funneled into the municipal court system. Public safety feels like booby traps to us as black people. We pay a regressive tax with our time and our lives.”

“We want safety, dignity and justice,” Hooks told AlterNet. “For black folks in particular, we have a mandate: to avenge the sufferings of our ancestors, earn the respect of future generations and be transformed in the service of the work. That is what we are in the streets for. We’re going to take as much time as we need.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

Photo: Protestor Ieshia Evans is approached by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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