Things That Matter

An Armed Trump Supporter Was Lurking Outside A Migrant Shelter With Knife And Gun But Police Let Him Go

Would it surprise you to hear, mere days after the massacre in directed at Latinos, that an armed Trump supporter was briefly detained in front of a migrant community center in El Paso? On the one hand, it’s shocking to hear that someone would be callous enough to pull a stunt like that. On the other hand, with today’s political climate … how surprising is it, really?

So, what happened?

Instagram / @Mind4Mud

Basically, a 21-year-old man drove his pickup from Houston, in anticipation of the President’s visit to El Paso last Wednesday. The man was parked outside the center when police discovered that he was armed with both a gun and a knife, and detained him. Authorities also found that the man had plastered his vehicle with an almost Rambo-like image of Trump carrying a large weapon, in addition to draping a campaign poster for Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the back window. What. A. Scene.

While this scenario clearly raised a few alarms for the local authorities, while the man was briefly detained, he was eventually let go – along with his weaponry. Apparently his justification for carrying the gun and knife was that ‘he has rights.’ And sure, that’s not incorrect. Under the current Texan state law, both concealed and open carry is legally allowed. That being said, there is a caveat to such laws, in that permit is required for carrying a handgun. So, even though the detainee had committed a shocking, and highly inappropriate, act – it wasn’t illegal. Great

Why are we even entertaining the fact that all is fine, simply because it was legal?

Instagram / @fgy_ung

It’s time to be realistic. This happened only a few days after 22 people were shot to death at an El Paso Walmart. Most of the two dozen or so who were injured are still recovering from the attack. Approaching an event that was apparently designed to commemorate the memory of those who died, and honor those living, while armed with a gun and a knife is, at the least, wholly callous and disrespectful. And at the most … well, it could imply something much more sinister at work, with the intention of targeting a very vulnerable community.

Texas has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country.

Instagram / @nbcnews

The fact that Texas is a state that maintains open and concealed carry laws means that even if the shooter was caught before going on a murdering rampage, there wouldn’t have been much that authorities could have legally done to prevent the shooting. The fact that nothing has been done to reconsider these laws in light of the exponential number of mass shootings – and especially in respect to the El Paso shooting – is even more chilling. Whatever about good guys who can step in with guns, it would make much more sense if the bad guys didn’t have guns to use in the first place.

What about the people of El Paso?

Twitter / @WajahatAli

The other thing to consider is that El Paso is a ripe target for racially-motivated shootings due to its considerable Hispanic population – even with recent increases in security around the area. “The stakes are even higher now,” said Marisa Limon of the Hope Institute in a recent interview. “I don’t want to say that this will never happen again because the conditions are there … it’s open season against Latinos and immigrants.”

Many feel that it’s “open season” against Latinos and immigrants.

Twitter / @raortman

The reality is that, with divisive rhetoric such as ‘go back to where you came from’ coming from the President himself, it is difficult to conceive of ways to stem the tide of online and news media that echoes those same sentiments – and influences people to drive hours to El Paso while armed with a gun. “I want to believe we’ll go back to normal, but I don’t know that we ever will, if you’re Mexican American. We’re all on edge,” said Claudia Olivares, an El Paso local, in an interview this week.

But, it would be too easy to sit back, fold our arms, and say that there’s nothing to be done – or that this toxic environment will inevitably last forever. After all, the beauty of living in a democracy is knowing that an election can change everything. 2020 can’t come soon enough.

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The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Things That Matter

The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Colombia has made incredible progress since the 1990’s when the country was a hotbed for international drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare. Today, modern bustling cities are home to shopping centers, museums, and hordes of international visitors.

However, despite the advancements, the country is still in a delicate peace deal with the main guerrilla oppossition – Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – and there are many other paramilitary groups that still operate across the country, including in the main port city of Buenavista.

The city of Buenavista is seeing an uptick in body parts washing up along its shores.

In mid-January, an arm washed up on the city’s shore. It was quickly assumed, by local media reports, that the arm belonged to one of three local fisherman who had most likely been rounded up, killed, and dismembered. The arm had a tattoo on it, connecting it to one of the missing men, Armando Valencia.

And it wasn’t the first time this has happened. According to residents, body parts washing up on beaches is a tragically familiar occurrence. “There were some reports of body parts washing up at La Bocana [a nearby tourist spot]. A head, a leg, an arm,” said María Miyela Riascos, a social leader from Buenaventura, in a statement to VICE News. “Also, they found a man and a woman dismembered in the rural area of Bajo Calima.”

Violence has been rampant in Buenaventura for decades. The city has some of the highest rates of forced displacement and homicide in the country. But seldom has it been confronted by the levels of brutality experienced in the past year.

Criminal groups have long terrorized the city but things seem to be out of control.

So many different criminal groups have terrorized the slums of Colombia’s main Pacific port that residents rarely bother to learn the name of the latest clan in control. They simply call the warring gangs los malos or the bad guys.

Three people have been killed or disappeared daily, and conflict between organized crime has displaced as many as 6,000 people. Videos on Twitter show people fleeing their homes and young men and women patrolling with assault weapons. #SOSbuenaventura has been trending.

Community leaders see darker interests behind the violence, saying the areas where most crimes occur are the same where plans have been laid for a waterfront project, an airport and seaport terminals. “I see the violence as a means of pressure to get us off this area so they can build their projects,” Armando Valencia told The Guardian.

Criminals use “chop houses” to dismember their victims.

Colombian navy special forces on patrol among stilted waterfront shacks in Buenaventura
Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

The criminals recruit children, extort businesses, force people from their homes and dismember live victims, scattering their remains in the bay or surrounding jungle. Dozens of wooden huts balanced precariously on stilts over the bay have been abandoned by terrorized citizens and taken over by the gangs for use as casas de pique, or chop houses, where they torture and murder their victims.

The chop houses are the most gruesome consequence of a deeply flawed attempt to dismantle rightwing militias, which originally emerged to combat leftwing guerrillas in collusion with state security forces and drug traffickers.

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Capitol Insurrectionist Who Threatened to ‘Assassinate’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Been Arrested, Charged

Things That Matter

Capitol Insurrectionist Who Threatened to ‘Assassinate’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Been Arrested, Charged

Photos via Getty Images/Dallas County Sheriff’s Office

The FBI recently revealed a disturbing bit of news about one of the rioters who participated in the storming of the Capitol on January 6th.

According to an FBI affidavit, the rioter, whose name is Garret Miller, tweeted that he wanted to “assassinate” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Garret Miller responded to a tweet that AOC sent out on January 6th in the wake of the Capitol riots. The tweet was one word: “Impeach.” Miller responded to the tweet: “Assassinate AOC.”

But before he tweeted the death threat at the lawmaker, he defended his actions as well of the actions of his fellow insurrectionists, writing: “We acted in honor and we [were] not armed. We [were] gentle with the police. They murdered a child.”

The “child” he is ostensibly referring to in the above tweet is the 35-year-old San Diego woman, Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol police officer when she was trying to climb through a window.

According to the FBI, Miller meticulously recorded his involvement with the riots on social media.

On his Facebook page, Miller posted a selfie of himself within the Capitol building wearing a Trump hat. Someone commented on the post: “bro you got in?! Nice!” to which Miller responded, “just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol.”

In response to this ironic piece of information, AOC tweeted out: “‘Just wanted to incriminate myself a little’…Well, you did!”

The FBI also alleges that Miller posted another death-threat–this one directed at the Capitol police officer who killed Ashli Babbitt–saying: “We going to get a hold of [the USCP officer] and hug his neck with a nice rope”. He also admitted on Instagram that he had a rope in his bag on the day of the insurrection.

Miller’s brazen public admissions to his treasonous actions stuck out to AOC as worth commenting on.

She wrote on Twitter: “On one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed.”

AOC has previously opened up bout her experience being trapped in the Capitol when rioters breached the building.

In a recent Instagram live video, AOC confessed she “thought she was going to die” when rioters stormed the building. She also said that she didn’t feel comfortable gathering in a “secure extraction point” with other representatives because she didn’t trust her colleagues.

She believed that far-right Republican representatives might “disclose [her] location]” to the insurrectionists or “create opportunities to allow [her] to be hurt, kidnapped.”

“I didn’t even feel safe around other members of Congress, and to be kind of fending for yourself in that way is traumatizing,” she said. It seems like she had good reason to be afraid.

As for Garrett Miller, his lawyer says that he “regrets the acts he took in a misguided effort to show his support for former President Trump.”

Miller will face charges of threats and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His hearing is set for Monday the 25th.

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