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Karine Jean-Pierre protects Kamala Harris like a Wakanda warrior

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The moment was unexpected and shocking. Animal rights activist Aidan Cook leapt onstage, rushed up to Sen. Kamala Harris, grabbed the microphone from her hand as Harris was addressing MoveOn.org’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco on Saturday.

Harris remained calm—but Karine Jean-Pierre, MoveOn’s out lesbian chief public affairs officer, quickly sprang into action, placing herself between the protester and Harris.

MSNBC host Joy Reid and her guests on Sunday’s AM Joy gushed over Jean-Pierre’s “instinctive” action, comparing her to the fierce Wakanda women warriors in the hit movie “Black Panther.”

They also noted that it took security what seemed like a long time to assist the women onstage in protecting Harris, a presidential candidate, suggesting that perhaps the Secret Service should re-think their position of not protecting candidates until they become the nominee or when there is a credible threat, as happened with then-Sen. Barack Obama. California, after all, is where Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after he won the California primary in 1968. Reid’s guests suggested that Jean-Pierre should be hired to provide security guidance.

Jean-Pierre appears as a frequent guest on NBC and MSNBC as a political analyst, having served as a deputy campaign manager for Obama, among other political jobs.

Though the scene at the forum could have become chaotic, Harris calmly walked away as her husband, Douglas Emhoff, and a few men finally grabbed Cook and took him off the stage. The candidate returned shortly thereafter to chants of “Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!”

“It’s all good,” Harris said, before resuming her talk about pay equity for women. “No worries.”

Tweet via Zahra Billo

Presumably the question of whether Harris is “tough enough” to stand up to Donald Trump has been laid to rest.

Trump, remember, was shocked, frightened and immediately surrounded by Secret Service men who rushed to the stage and surrounded the candidate after a protester attempted to reach the stage during a campaign stop in Ohio in 2016. 

Harris’ husband tweeted reassurances after the event.

 

 

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Los Angeles County

Cases jeopardized by racist & homophobic comments by Torrance police

They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying

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Photo Credit: City of Torrance, California, Police Department

TORRANCE, Ca. – Years of text messages that contained extremely offensive descriptions of Black and Jewish people or members of the LGBTQ+ community by more than a dozen Torrance police officers resulted in the dismissal of criminal cases The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

According to the Times, while no officers face criminal charges in direct relation to the text messages, the racist exchanges have led to the dismissal of at least 85 criminal cases involving the officers implicated in the scandal.

Los Angeles Times Crimes & Court reporter James Queally wrote in a tweet; “For years, more than a dozen Torrance cops exchanged racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic texts and images. Today, I can identify most of the officers and reveal some of their hateful conversations.”

According to Queally’s reporting, in the span of one week in November, the Los Angeles County public defender’s office received approximately 300 letters from prosecutors disclosing potential misconduct by officers implicated in the scandal, according to a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office.

The broad scope of the racist text conversations, which prosecutors said went on for years, has created a crisis for the Torrance Police Department and could jeopardize hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests, the Times reported.

The officers’ comments spared no color or creed: They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting, according to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times.

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Asia

Hong Kong activist dismisses calls for Gay Games boycott

WTA suspended China tournaments after tennis player disappeared

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Hong Kong Marriage Equality Co-founder Gigi Chao (Photo courtesy of OutRight Action International)

HONG KONG — An LGBTQ activist in Hong Kong on Tuesday dismissed calls to boycott the 2023 Gay Games over China’s human rights record.

“In Hong Kong, the team behind Gay Games has really worked tirelessly to bring it to Hong Kong and it will be a very good opportunity to showcase diversity and people working together and the human spirit at its best,” Gigi Chao told the Los Angeles Blade during a telephone interview from Hong Kong. “So, if it all gets rather political and if you twist the sentiments of what they want China to be, it will just really not work.”

Chao is the co-founder of Hong Kong Marriage Equality, a group that seeks to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the former British colony. Chao also founded the Faith in Love Foundation, a group that seeks to increase awareness of LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong.  

Chao is a member of the OutRight Action International board of directors. Chao is slated to speak in the group’s annual summit that will take place virtually this week.

“All eyes are peeled on the events of next year: The Beijing Olympics, the relationship between Beijing and the U.S. as relationships either improve or sour over the course of the next 12 months and also trade and the global economic situation … it’s not a rosy picture by all means,” Chao told the Blade. “Everybody is bracing for the worst in terms of how the world recovers from COVID, but LGBTIQ rights continue.”

Chao said Dennis Philipse, a Hong Kong resident who co-chairs Gay Games Hong Kong, and his colleagues “want the Gay Games to be a celebration of the human spirit in terms of sport.”

“In Hong Kong, there’s certainly no shortage of people engaged in sport and enjoying sports,” said Chao.

Gay Games Hong Kong in September announced the postponement of the quadrennial event until 2023 because of the pandemic. The Federation of Gay Games, which oversees the Gay Games, awarded the games to Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hong Kong was a British colony until China regained control of it in 1997.

Upwards of 2 million people took part in pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong in 2019.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which, according to human rights activists, makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is closely aligned with the Chinese government, supports the statute.

The Women’s Tennis Association last week announced the suspension of tournaments in Hong Kong and throughout China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are slated to take place in Beijing in February.

“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement after the Women’s Tennis Association announced it had suspended all of its tournaments in China. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”

Chao acknowledged Gay Games organizers are “facing a lot of opposition from all directions.” Chao also noted Hong Kong’s government is “not actually positively promoting it.”

“If we can get really high-profile athletes to participate, I think that’s going to be a huge call for everybody to participate,” said Chao.

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Iowa

Iowa State Appeal Board settles lawsuits by anti-LGBTQ religious groups

The Christian groups claimed the university had violated their constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion

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The University of Iowa during Homecoming (Photo Credit: The University of Iowa)

DES MOINES – The Iowa State Appeal Board, made up of Iowa state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, Auditor Rob Sand and Department of Management Director Kraig Paulsen, approved disbursing nearly $2 million in state funds to settle two Federal lawsuits brought against the University of Iowa in 2017 after a religious group denied an openly gay student a leadership role. 

According to the Associated Press in a U.S. News article Monday, lawyers for the student group Business Leaders in Christ were awarded $1.37 million in fees and costs for litigating their case. A second student group, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, won their federal court case and will be paid $20,000 in damages and about $513,000 in attorney fees.

The groups claimed the university had violated their constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.

The monetary amounts were negotiated between the university and the plaintiffs in both cases and approved by a federal judge. Monday’s approval by the State Appeal Board authorizes the state to make the payments the AP reported.

In March of this past Spring, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Business Leaders in Christ after the University of Iowa had ordered group was dismantled in 2017 after claiming the student group violated its Human Rights Policy.

As reported by The Daily Iowan, Marcus Miller, a UI sophomore at the time, filed a discrimination complaint against the Business Leaders in Christ after the group  revoked a leadership position from Miller upon finding out his sexual orientation.

A new law that requires state universities and community colleges to adopt policies that prohibit them from denying benefits to a student organization based on the viewpoint of the group was implemented in 2019.

“In addition, a public institution of higher education shall not deny any benefit or privilege to a student organization based on the student organization’s requirement that the leaders of the student organization agree to and support the student organization’s beliefs, as those beliefs are interpreted and applied by the organization, and to further the student organization’s mission,” the law reads.

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