Things That Matter

Here’s What Is So Disturbing About Seeing Conservative White Men Pretending To Assault And Choke AOC’s Cutout Picture

Since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began her career as a politician, Republicans have picked her out as a target for their hate and criticism. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t come from a traditional political background. Maybe it’s because she has loudly protested Republican policies and talking points in the past. Or maybe it’s because she’s a young Latina who won’t take any of their abuse.

Either way, AOC has received a lot of ire from conservatives and that doesn’t seem to be letting up.

The hate has continued over the weekend as Mitch McConnell supporters posted a grossly inappropriate image involving a cardboard cut out of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram.

Twitter / @emrazz

In the photo, a group of young white men surround a cardboard cut out of Representative Ocasio-Cortez. One young man is shown embracing and kissing the image of the representative while another mimics holding the Latina by the neck, choking her. The post was originally made on Instagram before it was shared onto Twitter and was captioned with the suggestive, “Break me off a piece of that.”

The pictures were taken at an event called the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a speaker at the event. His social media team even posted their own controversial photo that involved tombstones with the names of McConnell’s political rivals. In his time as Majority Leader, McConnell has worked to oppose bipartisanship, blocking many motions that have come from Democrats in Senate and killing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court so this is nothing new from the Senator.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez was quick to respond to the image Monday night when it began trending on Twitter.


Twitter / @aoc

“Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,” Representative Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Monday night. “Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”

It’s been well documented that Representative Ocasio-Cortez has received threats of violence, death and rape from far-right supporters and those that oppose the Democratic party. A cop in Lousiana recently got fired for threatening the representative on social media. The exposed Facebook group belonging to ICE agents also had Photoshopped pictures of Rep Ocasio-Cortez being sexually abused and harmed. So, this Instagram post is just one of many situations when conservatives have threatened violence — whether seriously or as a depraved joke — against the Latina.

McConnell’s campaign responded to the post via the Washington Post denying any relation to the young men in the picture.

Twitter / @frankthrop

Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager put out the following statement:

“These young men are not campaign staff. They’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country. Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning acts toward life-sized cardboard cutouts of any gender.”

It’s important to note that these young men also attend Covington Catholic School — the same school that produced the teens who disrupted the January 2018 Native American demonstration. During that controversy, McConnell and team also defended the young men and put the blame on the media for calling attention to what they saw as a case of “boys being boys.”

The young men pictured in the Insta pic also had other disturbing props at the Fancy Farm Picnic.

Twitter / @StrangeShadows

The group also came equipped with large cardboard cutouts of Brett Kavanaugh’s face. Kavanaugh was made a Supreme Court Justice when McConnell blocked the nomination of Judge Garland despite there being major accusations of sexual assault and rape against Kavanaugh. These props are truly tasteless but make sense considering their photo with the AOC cut out.

Of course, Twitter was quick to call out the racism, misogyny, and danger that is at play with stunts like these.

Twitter / @saraialejandraa

As this post points out, images of cis white men choking a Latina is inherently racist, no matter if they were playing around or not. It’s also indicative of the misogyny that is laughed off and allowed in the Republican party. This Twitter user also suggested donating to McConnell’s opponent, Amy McGrath, for his 2020 Kentucky seat.

Speaking of McGrath, she also tweeted her condemnation for McConnell and the disturbing images that came out of the Kentucky event.

Twitter / @AmyMcGrathKY

The McConnell opponent tweeted her disbelief and her disapproval of the Senate Majority Leader’s use of death imagery in his political messaging — especially so soon after the tragedy in El Paso. We have witnessed the Republican party coyly encourage violence against progressives and then act innocently about it. It’s time to call these moments out for what they are: threats that could very well turn to brutality and death.

Colombia Is On Alert After Six Candidates Running For Mayor Have Been Murdered In The Past Six Weeks

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Colombia Is On Alert After Six Candidates Running For Mayor Have Been Murdered In The Past Six Weeks

Stern / Instagram

Yesterday saw police in Colombia arrest two people in connection to the death of Orley García, the mayoral candidate for the municipality of Toledo. But the wildest thing is that García isn’t the first mayoral candidate to have been killed this election cycle in Colombia. In fact, he’s actually the sixth

The most heartbreaking death was that of Karina García.

Pinterest / The Guardian

The 32-year-old was running to be the first female mayor in the rural municipality of Toledo when she was attacked. Following a day of campaigning on September 1, García was returning to her hometown of Suarez when the car she was traveling in was shot at, before being set on fire. Six people died from the attack, including García’s mother, three local activists and a candidate for the municipal council, who were also in the car at the time. According to authorities, a grenade was used in the attack. Somehow, though, García’s bodyguard, who was driving the vehicle, survived.

Before she was killed, Karina reported receiving threats and asked for security.

Twitter / @JZulver

A reward of almost $44,000 has been offered for information leading to the capture of the dissidents who were responsible for the murder of Karina García, who is survived by her husband and three year old son. It seems like a case of too little, too late, though, as García had already reported to authorities that she was on the receiving end of death threats. It was only in August that four armed men confronted members of her campaign, ordering them to take down banners and posters supporting her candidacy. García took to social media, calling on authorities to protect her and her fellow candidates against harm. “Please, for God’s sake, don’t act so irresponsibly,” she said in a video posted to Facebook on August 24. “This can bring fatal consequences for me.”

Authorities are blaming the killings on FARC rebels.

Instagram / @stern

And just who are FARC? The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, on the most fundamental level, are a guerilla movement that began in 1964. Motivated by Marxist-Leninist leanings, on paper they’re a peasant force that promotes anti-imperialism. However, what this means in practice is that they kidnap, ransom, drug run and extort their way into opposing Colombian authorities and consolidating power. By the time 2016 rolled around though, the group was running out of steam. This led to a ceasefire accord between FARC and the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos. June 2017 saw FARC hand over its weapons to the United Nations.

Yes, FARC legitimized itself legally but several dissidents disagree with that decision.

Instagram / @leperejulot

Obviously, that’s not the end of the story. Despite the peace deal, and despite the fact that FARC had officially announced its transformation into a legal, political party, there are still plenty of dissidents out there who disagree with the change and still operate under the original FARC doctrine. What’s most likely sparked the recent mayoral candidate killings is FARC’s announcement, on Youtube no less, that it’s resorting to violence due to the Colombian government’s failure to comply with the peace agreements from 2016. Of course, Colombian officials heartily disagreed with this statement, and responded with offensive strikes against FARC.

This has basically turned into tic for tac killing.

Twitter / @Citytv

And the repercussions of the violence and killings are far-reaching. Beyond the devastated friends and family left behind, this also spells trouble for the democratic process in Colombia. Because who’s going to risk running for office, if they’re risking not only their own life, but the lives of their friends, family and coworkers? And who’s going to even consider turning up to vote, when the candidates themselves are being murdered, left, right, and center? It’s hard to conceive of cultural and legislative change in a country where part of what needs to be changed is what’s preventing change in the first place.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this is the exact kind of violence that people are fleeing when they arrive at the US border and make an appeal for asylum.

Instagram / @every_day_donald_trump

It’s a legitimate fear: the operation of gangs and cartels negatively impacts on the safety of the citizenry, as well as influencing the way that the entire country can be governed. However, because US legislation under the Trump administration states that asylum seekers cannot be granted refuge against gang violence, it means that these people have no choice but to go back to their country of origin and continue to risk theirs and their family’s lives. Something’s gotta give – otherwise, we’re going to see a lot more deaths at the hands of these gangs.

At this stage, we can only keep our eyes peeled for more news coming out from Colombia, as the elections are to be held October 27, across almost 1,100 municipalities. Unfortunately, with the murder of the sixth mayoral candidate in Colombia, this marks an even more violent election season than that of 2015, which saw the deaths of five mayoral candidates.

Could This Young Woman Of Color Be The Next AOC? This Progressive Political Group Hopes So

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Could This Young Woman Of Color Be The Next AOC? This Progressive Political Group Hopes So

MeetMcKayla / Instagram

Inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mckayla Wilkes of Maryland has got her sights set on 2020, challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for his seat. In fact, Wilkes has been influenced so much by AOC’s run for Congress in 2018, she’s now secured backing from Brand New Congress – the same progressive group that supported Ocasion-Cortez’s campaign way back when.

That’s swell and all, but why do we care?

Instagram / @meetmckayla

There’s plenty of reasons to care about Wilkes and who she is: she’s a black, working-class, 29 year-old mother-of-two studying political science in Waldorf, Maryland. When you compare her to Steny Hoyer and his background – essentially an old, white man serving his 20th term in office – you can definitely imagine that Wilkes would be more familiar with the everyday struggles that most of us face, than Hoyer. “He’s not for people that are my family, my friends, my coworkers,” Wilkes said in an interview with Buzzfeed. “It shows in the policies that he sponsors and that he endorses, and it shows in the donors that he gets his contributions from.”

Wilkes has been extremely candid and open about her past and her struggles.

Twitter / @MeetMckayla

It’s easy to see that Wilkes is as genuine as it gets, as she’s also been upfront about her past. “I just don’t want any secrets … I want everything to be out there. It’s not like I’m the only person who goes through these things,” she said, having publicly spoke about her time in jail as a teen and young adult. Wilkes has admitted to going through a rough patch, and also spoke about the abortion she had when she was 19: “It’s not like it’s something easy to do,” she told BuzzFeed recently. “It’s not an easy decision to make. But I feel like women should have that right. … My body is not a political playground. There’s no room for [politicians] in the room with me and my doctor.”

Sure, she’s more representative of the population, but what does Wilkes stand for?

Instagram / @meetmckayla

In short, it seems as if Mckayla Wilkes is running on a platform that’s kinda similar to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Things like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, affordable housing, overhauling the criminal justice system and even initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump are all on her to-do list, should she be elected. And yeah: none of these policies are gonna be easy to institute, especially as the Democrat’s current position doesn’t support impeachment. But, whoever said that running for office – and getting things done – would be easy?

She is committed to raising money for her campaign directly from her constituents.

Instagram / @meetmckayla

However, Wilkes is clearly driven by her morals, and isn’t afraid of a challenge. She’s also committed to staying away from PAC money and is seeking funding through other means. It’s meant that, since launching her campaign in June, she’s raised $70,000 from door knocking. To put it in perspective, Hoyer raised just $185 in the first quarter of 2019 from grassroots donations … and over $650,000 from other sources. What this means for Wilkes is that, having fundraised exclusively through donations from the community, her decisions and policies are tied directly to her constituents – and not other interests. More power to her, right?

It sounds like Wilkes is definitely for the people – but what is she up against?

Instagram / @leaderhoyer

Well, there is the obvious: Wilkes is running against an incumbent, and one who’s got plenty of funding and connections to boot. It’s not easy to run against someone who’s in that position. Especially when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) made an announcement earlier this year that if an organization supports candidates challenging an incumbent House Democrat, the party would cut them off from business. It means that even simple things like securing advertisers becomes that much harder for someone in Wilkes’ position.

Wilke’s campaign will be a challenging one to win but she’s got her eyes on the prize.

Instagram / @meetmckayla

Chances are that Wilkes’ campaign will face more challenges than what Ocasio-Cortez saw, too. The population of Maryland’s 5th District is 60 percent white. However, New York’s 14th District, where AOC ran for her seat, is 18 percent white. Political pundits speculate that because 2020 is a presidential election year, it’s highly likely that younger and more diverse voters will show up to have their say – which in turn should help Wilkes.

Mckayla Wilkes is no fool, and she knows that she needs to lean into the fact that she not only represents a more diverse face in the race for Congress, but also a deeper, more tangible connection to the average Joe. “That’s … what sets me apart from Hoyer and also the majority of people in Congress,” Wilkes said to the media, “because I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I’m denying my sister health care or that I’m denying my friend a place to live or that I’m denying my classmate a place to live. So, for me, it’s personal.”