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Sept. 22 2016 11:30 PM

Charlotte Imposes Midnight Curfew as Protesters Come Out For Third Night

Update at 2:17 a.m.: Protests continued in Charlotte past the curfew, but they were mostly peaceful and, as expected, police didnt forcibly remove anyone. So far there have been a few isolated reports of arrests but no property damage or injuries.

Original post at 11:30 p.m.: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Charlotte for a third night Thursday. The demonstrators seemed determined to continue pressuring police to release video they say could help resolve disparate accounts of the shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. Protesters chanted “release the tape” and “we want the tape” but remained peaceful a few hours after night fell.

After the protests were underway for about an hour, Mayor Jennifer Roberts ordered a curfew starting at midnight until 6 a.m. The curfew will continue for a few days until officials say the emergency has passed.

But it seems as long as protesters remain peaceful no one would be forcibly removed from the streets. Major Gerald Smith of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told Reuters police would not enforce the curfew if protests remained peaceful. Earlier in the day, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.

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Police in riot gear look on as residents and activists march in the streets amid heavy police and North Carolina National Guard presence to protest the death of Keith Scott September 22, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

"It seems to me tonight is more peaceful than last night," Roberts told CNN.

Nine people were injured and 44 arrested on Wednesday and Thursday morning in Charlotte. One man who was shot during the protests died Thursday in a hospital. Police described the shooting of 26-year-old Justin Carr as “civilian on civilian” and no officers were involved. Yet some have expressed doubt over that official explanation.

Sept. 22 2016 6:08 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: Electoral College, Electoral College, Electoral College!

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

“Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the White House are still near an all-time low in the FiveThirtyEight forecasts, although they’re up a smidge from earlier in the week,” Harry Enten wrote on Thursday. What does that mean exactly? For the numbers men and women at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Clinton is down to between a 58 and 59 percent chance of electoral victory. How can this be when just a little more than a month ago, Silver had Clinton’s odds at near 90 percent? Well it’s largely attributable to her Sept. nosedive in the polls, which FiveThirtyEight doesn’t believe she’s recovered from yet. “[There] isn’t yet clear evidence of a Clinton rebound,” Enten writes. “If the bulk of the polling data begins to show Clinton doing better than she was previously, her odds of winning the election will go up.”

But the FiveThirtyEight analysis was written before the release of a number of good state polls for Clinton on Thursday. While two new polls released on Wednesday have Clinton losing in North Carolina, another released on Thursday has her tied. And the Tar Heel State has in recent years just been electoral college gravy for Democrats’ trying to win the White House. Likewise, two new polls show her losing by 6 points and 7 points in Georgia—a must-win state for Trump in any scenario, but one that would only portend a landslide for Clinton if she were to win it. A new Florida poll, meanwhile, has her trailing by one point, while perhaps the most discouraging news of the day was an Iowa poll that has her down by seven in a four-way race. But Clinton doesn’t need either state to win—Florida is a big prize, but not necessary for her electoral odds. And Iowa offers just six measly electoral votes. Where does she need to win? Colorado and Virginia. And what do those polls say? Despite a nosedive, Roanoke College has Clinton winning by 7 points in the Dominion State in a four-way race and Quinnipiac likewise has her up by 6. Quinnipiac, which also published that scary Iowa poll, has Clinton up by a much tighter 2 points in Colorado. But Rocky Mountain PBS released a poll showing her up by 7 percent in a four-way contest and 9 percent in a two-way race. If she wins those two states, it’s almost certain that she wins the electoral college and the White House. Right now, in fact, Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium has Clinton projected to win 293 electoral votes, well more than the 270 she needs.

Speaking of which, what do the non-Nate Silver numbers people say? As my colleague Josh Voorhees notes, the Princeton Election Consortium still gives Clinton an 80 percent chance of victory. The Upshot gives her a 73 percent chance, meanwhile. Averaging Trump’s odds across the three platforms still gives him less than a 30 percent chance of victory. All in all, that sounds like one horseman to me.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

Sept. 22 2016 5:32 PM

Tulsa Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Terence Crutcher Charged With Manslaughter

The police officer who shot and killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma late last week is being charged with first degree manslaughter, announced Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler on Thursday afternoon.

The officer, Betty Shelby, was caught on video shooting at Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, while he had his arms raised. The Tulsa World quotes the charging documents as saying Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted."

The World says Shelby claimed she was in fear for her life when she fired her gun because Crutcher was not responding to her commands.

Criminal charges for police officers who kill in the line of duty seem to be becoming more common, as prosecutors are coming under increased pressure to hold law enforcement agents accountable in questionable cases. As the Washington Post reported, the decade spanning 2005 to 2014 saw an average of about five officers charged per year in fatal shootings. Last year alone there were 18 officers charged. In 2016 so far, there have been seven.

The fact that Crutcher’s death was caught on video made it more likely that Shelby would face charges. It was also just extremely difficult to imagine a plausible justification for her decision to shoot; even Donald Trump, who has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, publicly condemned it, saying that people who “choke” while on duty should not be police officers.

Sept. 22 2016 5:09 PM

Charter Schools Aren’t All Scams. They’re Just Not a Good Enough Solution.

Two smart writers engaged in a familiar debate about education reform this week on account of a proposition on the ballot in Massachusetts this November that would allow more charter schools to operate in the state. Esquire's Charles Pierce, a Masschusettan, wrote a column critical of the proposal on Monday. New York magazine's Jonathan Chait, a charter-school advocate, responded to Pierce's piece on Tuesday, taking offense to Pierce's suggestion that charter advocates don't "give a rat's ass about educating children in Roxbury or Mattapan," two low-income Boston neighborhoods:

It is strange to accuse people who are giving away their money to the cause of educating poor children of not “giv[ing] a rat’s ass about educating children in Roxbury or Mattapan,” and also to imply that they are going to make money off the donation, without the slightest substantiation for the charge. The people who don’t give a rat’s ass about educating poor children aren’t the ones who are giving their money away on the issue. They also aren’t the ones (like my wife) who spend their working days trying to give a better education to low-income city kids. But they just might be the people who publish strong opinions on education policy while treating what is best for poor kids as a complete afterthought.

The back and forth speaks to the way the charter/education reform issue is often framed, by pundits and advocates, in one of two ways:

1. If the writer is anti-“reform,” he/she defends the ideals of public education and organized labor against a charter movement bent on embezzling every single school dollar into the pockets of crony capitalists.

Or

2. If the writer is pro-reform, he/she defends the interests of poor/nonwhite children (sometimes referring to the charter-school cause as the "civil rights issue of our time") against an anti-reform caucus that perpetrates the systematized graft schemes of inept, lazy teachers and their powerful unions.

This binary does not describe on-the-ground reality. I've never met anyone who worked for an education-reform/charter-school initiative who wasn't motivated by a personal commitment to doing social good—or anyone who worked in a public school who didn't complain that some teachers and administrators whose jobs are protected by unions are apathetic and incompetent. Charter school educators can obviously make hugely meaningful differences in kids' lives, and some public-school employees are obviously wasting the public's money. The best people in both charter- and public-school jobs give many rats’ asses about educating low-income kids.

What Pierce and Chait both miss is that you don’t need to argue at all about whether every charter school is a pawn in a cynical, intentionally fraudulent scheme to understand the most compelling critique of its model of education reform: Namely, that it’s a misallocation of resources on a nationwide political level. Opening individual academies, which are often supported by donors from the financial services/management consulting/venture capital industries, is not a scalable solution to the problems of educating every single American student. Moreover, the good done by individual charter schools can be coopted by unreliable and ethically challenged operators who oversell reform as the one neat trick that can close the achievement gap. And that's a sales job which suppresses the uncomfortable truth that sending undercompensated, undersupported teachers into schools radically segregated by race and class should never be considered an acceptable solution to American racial and economic inequality no matter how well a few of those schools do. Meanwhile, while some charter schools work and some fail, the one class of people the model always seems to reward are the upper-middle-class consultants who get brought in to work on reform projects at salaries much higher than the typical classroom teacher.

This isn't to suggest that consultants or reform-movement donors are, on an individual basis, not well-meaning. It does mean that maybe we need to realign our national system of incentives so that the best job title in the public school system is not “charismatic reform guru” or “data consultant,” but “public school teacher.”

Sept. 22 2016 4:47 PM

What the Heck Polls: A Weekly Guide to the Trump-Clinton Numbers

The polls—so many polls. They will just keep coming between now and Election Day, making it easy to forget the golden rule of polling: Don’t get distracted by a single survey. With that in mind, Slate will be checking in once a week to see what’s changed—and what hasn’t—in the 2016 presidential polls.

Where Do the Polls Stand Today?

The national averages are tight—roughly as tight as they were when we checked last week.

RealClearPolitics:

  • Head-to-head: Clinton +2.1 (Clinton 45.5 percent, Trump 43.4 percent)
  • Four-way race: Clinton + 1.1 (Clinton 41.0, Trump 39.9, Gary Johnson 8.8, Jill Stein 2.9)

Huffington Post:

  • Head-to-head: Clinton +4.1 points (Clinton 45.9 percent, Trump 41.8 percent)
  • Three-way race: Clinton + 2.2 points (Clinton 41.6, Trump 39.4, Johnson 8.6, other 3.6)

Depending on which average you go by, Clinton’s lead has fallen by as much as nine-tenths of a point (HuffPo’s three-way) or grown by as much as three-tenths of a point (in both head-to-head averages) in the past week. With the national averages holding relatively steady—and the latest state surveys all over the map—we also haven’t seen all that much movement in the numbers-centric forecasts. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight now gives Clinton a roughly 59 percent chance of victory in its polls-only forecast, while the New York Times’ Upshot gives Hillary a 73 percent chance of winning this fall. Both are down 2 points from where they were this time last week. One exception: the Princeton Election Consortium, which dropped Hillary’s chances from 89 percent to 80 percent over the past seven days. Hillary’s half-empty set will focus on the 9-point drop; their half-full counterparts will keep their eyes locked on the number that says she still has a four-in-five chance of becoming president.

What’s going on?

We can’t say for certain why we’ve seen a leveling out over the past week. Those who want to see a Clinton rebound can point to the emergence of Trump’s rebranded birtherism and perhaps this past weekend’s bombings in New Jersey and New York. But that appears to be just wishful thinking at the moment. As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten pointed out Thursday, of the 16 state and national polls released in three previous days, only three showed the race moving in Clinton’s direction, while 10 found things trending toward the Trump-ocalypse.

How Should Trump Supporters Feel Today?

Pretty good! With 46 days until Election Day, their man is still hanging around and has a realistic chance to pull off the upset against Clinton. He’ll have to survive the debates—the first of which is Monday—but his team has been working overtime to keep expectations low, and many talking heads have bought what Team Trump is selling.

How Should Clinton Supporters Feel Today?

Nervous. Clinton may or may not be on the rebound but she does appear to have at least temporarily stopped the bleeding after a rough few news cycles that were dominated by her health and her “basket of deplorables” remarks. That’s the good news. The bad? We’re less than 7 weeks away from Election Day and her advantage over Donald freaking Trump is currently less than Barack Obama’s ultimate margin of victory over Mitt Romney four years ago.

Sept. 22 2016 12:17 PM

Charlotte Police Chief: Video Doesn't Show "Definitive" Proof Keith Scott Pointed a Gun at Cops

Part of what's been driving the violent unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, since the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott is that there are conflicting reports about what Scott was doing when he was killed. Members of his family have said he was merely reading a book in his car. But the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has insisted he was armed with a gun, and that he “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers.”

It stands to reason that video footage of the incident—which does exist—would quickly establish the truth, but so far it has not been released to the public.

In a morning press conference dedicated mostly to debriefing Wednesday night's violent protests, Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney said he has seen the footage and that it does not paint as clear a picture as anyone might hope.

What I can tell you that I saw is the video does not give me absolute, definitive, visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I did not see that in the videos that I’ve reviewed. So, what I can tell you though, is that when taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we’ve heard, and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott.

The "version of the truth" police gave on Wednesday morning stated that police approached Scott after seeing him get out of his car with a handgun and then get back in. When Scott got out of his car again, the police say, officers gave "loud and clear verbal commands" for him to drop his weapon, and shot him after he ignored the commands.

On Thursday morning, Putney said there are currently no plans to release the video of the confrontation to the public. “You shouldn’t expect it to be released," Putney said in response to a question from a reporter.

It’s a surprising stance for Putney, a police chief who has thought deeply and with uncommon open-mindedness about why police shootings happen and when they should be considered justifiable. There’s no question he understands that withholding the video creates an information vacuum that encourages many members of the public to assume the worst, and creates the impression that the police are trying to cover something up. He also probably understands that such skepticism of police is reasonably informed by a string of incidents—most notably, the shootings of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago—that have demonstrated the willingness of some police officers to lie about events leading up to use of force decisions.

In the press conference, Putney said he is currently focused on honoring a request from the Scott family to view the video, and appeared adamant about not releasing it publicly any time soon. One can only speculate as to why—which is exactly the problem.

Sept. 22 2016 10:04 AM

Local Trump Ohio Campaign Chair: "I Don’t Think There Was Any Racism Until Obama Got Elected"

 

"If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you. You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have."

Indeed, how could a small boost in university admissions priority not immediately and totally compensate for 350 years of state-sanctioned violent repression and the ongoing, statistically demonstrable discrimination perpetrated by police and judges, landlords and loan officers, employers, and state legislators?

More from Miller (who doesn't appear, incidentally, to be a paid campaign staffer):

Asked about segregation and the civil rights movement, she replied: “I never experienced it. I never saw that as anything.”
Miller added: “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this ... Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

Here's a piece about how in 2008, before he took office and created racism, Obama got disproportionately fewer votes in parts of the country whose residents were particulaly likely to have recently searched Google for jokes involving the word "nigger." And here's a piece by a graduate student who found that the U.S. metropolitan area whose residents searched most often for the terms "nigger" and "niggers" was Youngstown, Ohio—the seat of Mahoning County. And here's the homepage of the realty company in Youngstown, Ohio that Trump county campaign chair Kathy Miller owns. Have fun, Kathy Miller's black clients!

Sept. 21 2016 11:00 PM

Protest Against Police Shooting Turns Violent in Chaotic Second Night in Charlotte

Update, 11 p.m.: There are moments of sporadic calm on the streets of Charlotte, interrupted by outbursts of tear gas and destruction, as the crowd appears to be thinning after hours of protests boiled over into violence and chaos. There have been reports of an injured police officer during the standoff with protesters. There have been multiple reports of looting of local businesses. Police say the man who was initially reported dead, but later confirmed to be alive but critically injured, was not shot by police.

Update, 10:48 p.m.: The city of Charlotte has reversed the statement of the city's chief of police declaring one protester dead.

Update, 10:15 p.m.: There have been instances of looting in Charlotte on Wednesday night, including the Charlotte Hornets team store.

Original Post: A second night of protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, over the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott turned violent Wednesday with police officers using tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of protesters in the city’s entertainment district. One person was shot and taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead, according to the Charlotte police chief.

Following the violent protests on Tuesday night that ended with injuries to protesters, as well as 16 police officers, Wednesday night erupted into a chaotic scene. Protesters blocked traffic as riot police held their ground and fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Protesters also roughed up reporters on the scene.

This post has been updated with new information as it became available.

Sept. 21 2016 8:52 PM

ISIS Suspected of Launching First Chemical Attack Against U.S. Troops in Iraq

The Pentagon believes ISIS launched a chemical attack on U.S. and Iraqi troops at a military base in northern Iraq Tuesday. What’s reported to be a rocket or artillery shell landed several hundred yards from a U.S. base near Mosul. A “tar-like black oily substance” was found on the shell; initial field tests conducted were inconclusive, but one test did register the presence of the chemical agent believed to be mustard. “Mustard agent is a powder that can be placed in the hollow tip of an artillery shell or rocket,” according to ABC News. “Exposure at a place of impact could cause blistering, but the agent dissipates quickly and does not spread over a wide area.”

Here’s more from CNN:

One official said the agent had “low purity” and was “poorly weaponized.” A second official called it “ineffective …” A US defense official said troops had gone out to look at the ordnance after it landed… US troops involved in the incident went through decontamination showers as a precaution. No troops have shown any symptoms of exposure, such as skin blistering.

“Unless you are right next to [the shell], exposure is unlikely,” a U.S. official told Fox News. Even still, the suspected chemical nature of the attack in the vicinity of U.S. forces, if confirmed, would be the first documented case of a chemical attack carried out against U.S. forces in Iraq. It is not, however, the first time chemical weapons have been used by ISIS in the country; there have been 20 previous documented cases of chemical attacks against Kurdish fighters, according to the BBC.

Sept. 21 2016 5:33 PM

Today's Trump Apocalypse Watch: Hey Look a Really Good Poll

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

An NBC/WSJ poll of likely voters just came out a few minutes ago, and the results are good for Hillary:

Her recent national slide seems to have stopped, whether that's because of Trump's foray back into the waters of birtherism-related dishonesty or because her bad pneumonia news cycle is being forgotten or simply because the world is a random and unpredictable place. Clinton also got a good result in New Hampshire:

In summary:

Good! Good news is good.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

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