Charlottesville erupts

Tensions brewing for some time in the US have erupted in Charlottesville.

CNN:  Virginia governor to white nationalists: ‘Go home … shame on you’

One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

A 32-year-old woman was killed while walking across the street, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said. Police were still in the process of notifying her family.

Two Virginia State Patrol troopers were killed in a helicopter crash while “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville,” the agency said in a news release. The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, died in the crash.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had a pointed message for the right-wing groups that flocked to Charlottesville on Saturday: “Go home. … You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”

In addition to the one death and 19 injuries in the car-ramming incident, the city said there were at least 15 other injuries associated with the scheduled rally.

Federal authorities said a civil rights investigation into the deadly crash was opened hours after it happened.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle is leading the investigation and has the full support of the Deparment of Justice.

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” Sessions said in a statement. “Justice will prevail.”

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time,” said a statement from the Richmond, Virginia FBI field office.

“I am heartbroken that a life has been lost here. I urge all people of good will — go home,” Mayor Mike Signer wrote on Twitter.

Virginia’s governor had earlier declared an emergency, and police worked to disperse hundreds of protesters in the college town after clashes broke out ahead of the rally’s scheduled noon ET start.

Fistfights and screaming matches erupted Saturday, barely 12 hours after a scuffle Friday night at the nearby University of Virginia between torch-bearing demonstrators and counterprotesters.

It was just a matter of time before things got ugly in the US.

Trump won’t visit UK if there’s protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he won’t come to the UK on a state visit “until the British public supports him coming”, according to a Guardian report but apparently claimed as ‘false’ by the White House..

This probably ensures protests against him visiting.

It’s not a good time for him to visit the UK anyway, there’s enough turmoil there as it is without him stirring things up more.

The Guardian:  Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

That’s an open invitation for protests and threats of protests if Trump says they will keep him out of the UK.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His remarks came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayor’s message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khan’s office pointed out Trump’s error later but the president responded by accusing London’s mayor of making a “pathetic excuse”. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trump’s invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Guardian’s report was “false” but added that the White House “won’t say when Trump plans to go to the UK”.

Now is not a good time anyway. May and the UK have enough of their own problems to deal with.

Whether the claim that Trump said he won’t visit if there are protests is true or not it probably guarantees protests if any visit is scheduled.

Trump is not popular in the US, with RCP average disapproval currently 16% more than approval. He is probably less popular in the UK.

UK’s YouGov ratings for Trump:

  • Volume: 3rd Public Figure of 2307 tracked
  • Positivity -74:  2,165th Public Figure of 2255 tracked

“Huge crowd” – Spirit of America

There have been rallies in support of Donald Trump held across the US, with reports of groups of hundreds turning out in support of their president. There have also been clashes between protesters with some arrests.

Breitbart focussed on the biggest crowd: Huge Crowd at Nashville Spirit of America Rally in Support of President Trump

NASHVILLE, Tennessee–A huge crowd turned out at Legislative Plaza on Saturday to attend the Spirit of America rally in support of President Trump’s policies.

Rally organizer Mark Skoda told Breitbart News that the crowd size was estimated at 2,000, a number that was also  reported and tweeted out by a number of people who were in attendance.

Several dozen Spirit of America rallies were held across the country on Saturday. Nashville appears to have held the largest rally.

However crowd sizes can be difficult to estimate and are often exaggerated, especially by their organisers.

A different report on the same rally suggests a modest turnout – 2 arrests reported from Trump rally in Nashville

Two arrests were reported for a Spirit of America rally to support President Donald Trump Saturday at Legislative Plaza that was attended by more than 1,000, and met with some counter-protesters.

tennesseetrumprally

CBSN looks across the country more in Trump supporters, opponents clash in rallies across the country

From Colorado’s state Capitol to Trump Tower in New York and the Washington Monument, groups of hundreds of people rallied for President Trump on Saturday, waving “Deplorables for Trump” signs and even carrying a life-size cutout of the president.

The March 4 Trump demonstrations were held around the country, and supporters clashed with generally smaller groups of counter protesters.

Hundreds gathered in rallies on both ends of Pennsylvania to show support for Mr. Trump.

Supporters waved signs and flags and listened to speeches during Saturday’s “Spirit of America” rally in Bensalem’s Neshaminy State Park in eastern Pennsylvania’s Bucks County.

Outside the State Capitol in Denver, hundreds gathered, listening to speakers including former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo on the West Steps facing the mountains. Many in the crowd held American flags or wore red, white and blue and held signs with messages like “Veterans before Refugees.”

Chelsea Thomas, an accountant from Thornton, Colorado, brought her family to the rally – and a life-size cardboard cutout of Mr. Trump. She said the family has taken it with them on camping trips, boat rides and a country music festival.

“Let’s support our President and stop the hate!” organizers wrote in the Facebook group for the event, CBS affiliate WBNS-TV reports. “Please join us in this effort to unite the citizens of this great country. Bring your signs and flags to support our President and his administration!”

But the hate is unabated.

In Berkeley, California,  Mr. Trump’s supporters fought counter-protesters during a march in support of the president.

Berkeley police said they  made 10 arrests including five for battery, four for assault with a deadly weapon (including one with possession of a dagger) and one for resisting arrest.

Near Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach Post reported that people on both sides exchanged profanity. Mr. Trump’s motorcade briefly stopped so he could wave at supporters.

Supporters of Mr. Trump, many clad in red, white and blue, sported signs such as “Christians for Trump” and “This is My Women’s March” outside the State Capitol in Columbus, Ohio. The group began loudly chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A” when a band of anti-Trump protesters arrived around noon Saturday.

The anti-Trump group shouted, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” and waved such signs as, “Not Fit to Serve – No Mandate.”

 

Such is the spirit of today’s America.

 

More police killed in US

Another police shooting in the US, this time in Baton Rouge, Louisana. It has been reported that 3 officers were shot dead and at least another 3 injured.

This follows tensions and unrest in Baton Rouge since police shot and killed Alton Sterling while holding him on the ground outside a convenience store on July 5.  Since then there have been protests and allegations of police beatings.

RT: Baton Rouge shooting: 3 police dead & 3 injured, 1 shooter dead, 2 may be at large – sheriff

Three police officers are confirmed dead and three injured in a shooting on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway in the state capital of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One suspect was killed and two may be at large, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said.
 
Three officers out of five transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital have died from their injuries. Two others remain in hospital, with one being in fair condition and the other in a critical state, according to WAFB.

WAFB said that the shootout began in the early hours of Sunday morning on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway in Baton Rouge, less than one mile from police headquarters.

Baton Rouge police responded to a call reporting a “suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle,” a CNN source said, adding that the person opened fire as soon as the police squad arrived.

NBC News: Baton Rouge Police Ambush Follows Alton Sterling Shooting, Unrest

July 5: Graphic cellphone video appeared to show Alton Sterling, 37, being tackled and shot by two police officers outside of a Baton Rouge convenience store.

July 6: As protests erupted in Baton Rouge over the shooting of Sterling, another black man was shot and killed in Minnesota during a traffic stop.

July 7: Protests over the shootings of the two black men erupted — not only in Louisiana and Minnesota, but all over the country. At a protest in Dallas, which had been largely peaceful, a sniper opened fire on police officers, killing five.

July 8-10: As the nation mourned the Dallas officers killed, protests over Sterling and Castile’s deaths continued all over the country. More than 100 were arrested in Baton Rouge and about the same amount of people were arrested in St. Paul.

July 12: East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux III said the “show of force” used during the protests in the city was due in part to “very real and viable threats” against Baton Rouge law enforcement officers.

Three men and a 13-year-old were arrested, he said, in connection with stealing firearms from a pawn shop in a plot to kill police. One of two suspects connected with the plan, Antonio Thomas, was arrested on the roof of the pawn shop with a handgun and a BB rifle and he “stated that he and three other suspects stole the firearms and were going to get bullets to shoot police,” according to a statement from the Baton Rouge Police Department.

July 16: Another suspect, a 12-year-old, was arrested in connection with the plot to kill Baton Rouge police officers. The two guns missing from the pawn shop are not recovered with the juvenile suspect

July 17: Three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three others injured in an apparent ambush shooting near police headquarters.

There have been allegations of a police beating at Baton Rouge protests over the killing of Alton Sterling.

The Advocate: Protester claims he was beaten by Baton Rouge police during Alton Sterling demonstration

A 24-year-old man said Thursday Baton Rouge police stomped and punched him, breaking bones in his face when they arrested him during a demonstration over the weekend near police headquarters.

Javier Dunn of Baton Rouge said at a brief press conference that officers in riot gear charged across Goodwood Boulevard and grabbed him from where he was leaning on a car on the far side of the road around 8:30 p.m. Saturday and dragged him into the street where two Baton Rouge policemen struck him with their feet and fists.

“I was held by two officers on my back, one officer stomping my face into the pavement and another officer kneeling down to throw three punches to my face, to my eye,” Dunn said.

A witness, Tracy Fountain, filmed part of the beating, which she said does not capture the worst of the blows. She said Dunn had not been in the road and did not resist officers before he was grabbed and dragged into the street.

A photo provided by state Rep. Ted James, who said he’s known Dunn for the past 15 years, shows Dunn without cuts or bruises to his face as he helped carry a large banner earlier Saturday, reading “Stop murder by police.”

5787f2c673770-image

A bit of irony in the name ‘Baton Rouge’ although batons weren’t used in this beating.

The latest police shooting is likely to increase tensions, not just in Baton Rouge.

Key not backing away from public protest

Some are making a lot of booing and objects being thrown at John Key and claim it’s a sign of massive public displeasure at Key and the government.

It’s impossible to gauge how the general voting public see events over the last two weeks, beginning with the large turnout for the TPPA protest in Auckland, followed closely by the Waitangi debacle and Key’s appearance at the Auckland nines, and then with the Big Gay Out baying at Key in the weekend.

A Herald headline claims TPP protests put damper on long Key honeymoonbut is it?

Key says he expects protests to continue but it won’t put him off public appearances.

Yesterday, Mr Key said he expected to encounter protesters against the Trans-Pacific Partnership for the rest of the year.

But he would not be changing his public appearances to minimise the encounters.

“… I’m not going to back away from it or engaging with other New Zealanders because you get a small group of very noisy protesters.”

It could be that the protests are helping dent Key’s popularity, although the opposite may also happen in reaction against over the top actions of a few.

The Herald compares preferred Prime Minister polls between Key and Helen Clark but they are crucially looking at different times in their terms.

  • Helen Clark after 6 years – ‘nearly 60%’
  • Clark prior to losing in 2008 – 41.6%
  • Key after seven years (December 2015) – 65.2%

That was before this month’s protests and attacks. The next poll on both party support and leader support will give us a bit of an idea about whether the protests are effective or counter-productive.

But if Key keeps appearing in public and fronting up in spite of protests it could be an indication that his own polling isn’t causing him any concern.

Labour, protest, trade

Labour mostly kept a distance from the TPPA protests in Auckland yesterday. They have also tried to keep a distance between anti-TPPA and anti-trade. But not everyone in Labour is on the same page.

Andrew Little and Labour dabbled with the TPPA signing and protests but from a distance. They tried to portray their anti-TPPA stance as a principled stand on sovereignty in the same league as New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance:

On this day in 1985 the then Labour Government stood up for the rights of New Zealanders. It refused entry to the USS Buchanan after the US Government would neither confirm nor deny the warship had nuclear capability. Fast forward 31 years and today the Labour Opposition is again standing up for New Zealand sovereignty which the TPPA undermines.

LabourTPPAAgainst

I’m not sure they are onto a winner with this approach, it’s just one of many mixed and muddled messages on the TPPA and is unlikely to get much traction with the TPPA protest movement, nor those who see trade agreements as a necessity.

Little also put out a media release: TPP signing highlights divisions in NZ

The stage-managed signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at a casino in Auckland today highlights the divisions National’s handling of the deal has caused in New Zealand, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“The Government’s whole management of the agreement has been botched, from the total secrecy to ramming it down people’s throats.

“This has caused a deep divide, and inviting international leaders to sign it just two days before Waitangi – our national day – has added salt to that wound.

“Labour is a pro-free trade party but the TPP goes further than other agreements in undermining our democracy. We shouldn’t need a permission slip from foreign corporations to pass our own laws. That’s why Labour cannot support the agreement in its current form.

“Other countries such as Australia and Malaysia are able to ban foreigners from buying their homes. New Zealand cannot under this deal. That’s just not right.

“Open and transparent debate is crucial to a healthy democracy but the TPP process and John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed has damaged that.

“Today’s protests are a public sign of the deep discomfort many New Zealanders feel about what is happening in this country. The Government must now seek ways to heal that wound,” Andrew Little says.

This is odd from Little, in particular “John Key’s handling of the deal after it was signed”. The TPPA was only signed yesterday, about the same time this statement seems to have been posted, so dissing Key’s post-signing handling is unjustified.

Litle also did a live chat about the TPPA on Stuff.

If Labour opposes the TPPA why wasn’t the Labour Party more involved with the anti-TPPA protest today?

We’re opposed to the TPPA in its current form because compromises to New Zealand’s sovereignty are not justified by the meagre economic gains. A number of Labour people are involved in today’s protests, including MPs who’ve spoken at rallies around the country.

But Labour involvement with the protest was low profile, especially with Labour’s front bench MPs.

Grant Robertson was at the Wellington protest but wasn’t prominent in Stuff’s: Protesters in Wellington join calls against TPPA signing

Opposition politicians and union members were among those in attendance, with several sharing their concerns about the deal.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the TPPA was not a normal trade agreement and required New Zealand to sacrifice too much.

“This is an agreement [where] New Zealand is having to give away the right to make laws and policies in our interests, and that is wrong and we cannot accept that.”

Robertson said the issue was “far from over”, and Kiwis opposed to the deal needed to continue their protests.

“This is not over: as New Zealanders, we have to stand together [and] stand up for our rights to make laws in our own interests.”

Standard Labour talking points on the TPPA. Nothing from Robertson about it on his Facebook page.

Jacinda Ardern seems to have kept her distance from the Auckland protest, and obviously Phil Goff and David Shearer would not be seen supporting the protest.

Meka Whaitiri was there, interesting for Labour’s Associate Primary Industries Spokesperson to be against a trade agreement that will benefit primary industries.

Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark doesn’t seem to have associated with any protests.

Phil Twyford was at the Auckland protest as this photo with Whaitiri on his Facebook page shows.

TPPATwyfordWhaitiri

Note the US branded jacket with a Labour logo
– with a ‘Corporate Traitor’ sign in the background (hat tip Iceberg)

As Spokesperson for Auckland Issues and Associate Spokesperson for Transport (Auckland and Ports) Twyford could be out of step with Auckland business and export interests there.

Sue Moroney showed her and Labour’s presence via Facebook:

TPPAMoroney

Duncan Garner spotted David Cunliffe:

Cunliffe also posted on his Facebook page with some loyal party lines:

Today, I joined thousands of Kiwis in protest against provisions in the TPPA that would undermine our sovereignty. Great to see people from all walks of life engaged and expressing their views peacefully and thoughtfully.

The New Zealand Labour Party has always stood for free trade and always will – just not at the expense of our sovereignty.

TPPACunliffe

Miriam Bookman Hi David,

I am very disappointed in seeing Labour supporters marching alongside an anti semitic banner, and that you think it appropriate to re-post this image. This is not the Labour I wish to support.

It may be hard to choose your neighbours in a protest march but choice of publicity photos can be an issue.

‪#‎TPPANoWay‬ March down Queen Street Auckland .

Taranaki would presumably cover New Plymouth where Andrew Little has stood twice for Parliament (unsuccessfully, he’s a List MP).

Taranaki-King Country Labour flew a flag for their party:

TPPATaranakiTrade1

The sign in the background appears to be welcoming, but it’s the opposite, as Taranaki-King Country Labour show in another shot.

TPPATaranakiTrade2

That may not be a problem, the Trade Ministers of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, USA or Vietnam may never need to deal with Taranaki-King Country Labour.

 

Police v activists, chilling versus no problem

Two Dunedin anti-TPPA activists have responded differently to police discussing with them their plans for campaigning against the TPPA.

This follows news that police have had additional anti-riot training and growing talk online about riots and violent protest.

Police are in a common position for them of damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Some have claimed their approach of activists amounts to anti-free speech intimidation, but it isn’t uncommon for the police to try to pre-empt possible trouble by talking to people.

Nationally most attention was given to Dunedin activist Scout Barbour-Evans. NZ Herald reports:

Visits to activists ‘worrying’ trend

A national police campaign to door-knock TPP activists is part of a larger trend of “chilling” opposition to the Government and the right to protest, a civil liberties lawyer says.

Police have been visiting “known activists” opposed to New Zealand’s involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement ahead of protests planned in several cities tomorrow.

Lawyer Michael Bott said the tactic appeared to be part of “an increasing trend on the part of the police”.

“They seem to be doing it proactively on behalf of the Government and its projects.

Or proactively in reaction to threats. of targeting political events.

“It’s worrying that New Zealand citizens who are concerned about the agreement suddenly find themselves the target of police.

“It has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to protest.”

Not necessarily. There has been no claim they are trying to stop expression of protest. It depends on how it’s done by the police. And how it’s played by activists.

Scout Barbour-Evans, a Dunedin activist who goes by the gender-neutral pronoun “they”, said an officer knocked on their door about 10am yesterday.

The officer wanted to know what the plans were for the anti-TPP protest in Dunedin, Scout said.

Scout compared the situation to the Springbok tour, saying the increased surveillance felt akin to 1981, particularly following the presence of armed police at Prime Minister John Key’s State of the Nation speech on Wednesday.

By the look of Barbour-Evans they won’t have been born in 1981 so she can’t have felt what that was like. A number of people (it seems like it could be a planned strategy) have been trying to liken TPPA protests with the Springbok tour.

The ODT headlined Police visiting activists labelled ‘a disgrace’.

Police calling and doorknocking activists about their plans to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is “an absolute disgrace”, Dunedin city councillor Aaron Hawkins says.

“If the police are going door to door intimidating known TPP opponents, in case they might be thinking of expressing their disagreement publicly, then that’s an absolute disgrace,” Cr Hawkins said.

“The TPP has never been primarily about trade, it’s about protecting the interests of big business from the meddlesome interference of democracy.”

Hawkins is closely associated with the Green party. Green leader Metiria Turei calls it Implicit police threat appalling:

“It carries with it an implicit threat and New Zealanders have the right to speak out and have their voices heard. Being an activist isn’t a crime, being an activist is being passionate about something and last time I checked that wasn’t illegal.”

So no actual threat, just one that the Greens view as ‘implicit’.

But less prominently the ODT also reports:

TPP Action Dunedin organiser Jen Olsen said she had spoken to police this week about what was planned for this weekend.

“We’ve got not problem about the police and are happy to tell them what we’re doing, because we have no plans to do anything illegal.”

So no claim there that the police intimidated or tried to stop expression or protest.

If there are violent protests or riots as some activists have promoted over the next week the police are likely to be condemned for doing too much, and condemned for not doing enough.