WATCH PAUL RYAN’S GUN REFORM PLAN HYPOCRISY

Paul Ryan criticizes Obama’s gun reform plan—even though he basically said the same thing in 2013

Speaker Ryan Criticizes Obama's Gun Reform Plans

Paul Ryan criticizes Obama’s gun reform plan—even though he basically said the same thing in 2013

Posted by NowThis Election on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Texas Gun Owners Worry That Open Carry Is Backfiring

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On a forum moderated by an NRA board member, concealed carriers claim that a new law is leaving them unwelcome at more private businesses.

As January 1 approached, the day Texas’s new open carry law took effect, it seemed gun rights advocates were poised to savor a big victory. The legislation, coupled with a measure allowing guns on college campuses, was the result of a hard fought and widely publicized battle in the state capitol that culminated with Texas becoming the 15th state to allow the open carry of handguns with proper licensing.

But within just 11 days, the attitudes on display on a popular message board suggest that some Lone Star State open carriers worry that the push to expand their rights may have done more harm than good.

In a post on TexasCHLForum.com, a popular gun rights website moderated by National Rifle Association board member Charles L. Cotton, one user reported that the new law has triggered private business owners to not only exercise their right to bar open carry on their premises, but prohibit concealed handguns as well. Any private business in Texas that wishes to bar firearms must display a strictly regulated sign — dubbed “30.07” for openly carried guns, and “30.06” for concealed firearms. Amid the controversy over open carry, this gun owner was noticing more of both varieties.

“Got an email from work telling us that not only are 30.07 signs going up over the weekend on our office building but 30.06 as well. What makes this even more frustrating is I have yet to see a single open carry,” wrote a user with the handle LTUME1978, before predicting in a subsequent comment that, at least in Houston, “Once the signs are up, they are not ever going to come down.”

That original post generated more than 100 replies, and numerous theories. Some Texas CHL users speculated that the increase in notices barring concealed weapons may be due to a revision to the existing 30.06 sign that was ushered in by the new open carry legislation. Older 30.06 signage was rendered obsolete by the change — and signage is something that Texas gun rights advocates actively police.

“Just as easy to have both 30.06 and 30.07 signs made at the same time,” a user named Distinguished Rick replied. “We have lost more than we gained,” he added. “I have had my CHL 20 years this year and I hardly ran into any legal signs back then. This has woken up the anti-crowd in a big way. So now the genie is out of the bottle and I don’t see a way to put it back.”

A user with the handle bmwrdr echoed his concerns: “Before the OC [open carry] movement started everything went smooth, now we see more and more 30.06 signs erected.”

Another user, posting as flowrie, theorized that the backlash generated by the open carry movement, which was itself driven by the gun rights group Open Carry Texas (OCT), was so spectacular that it may as well have been an opposition plot. “OCT has hurt much more than helped. I insist on carrying when taking my young son and wife to the movies, but that is now becoming more difficult. I do not really oppose OC, but the way they went about it was unwise and just down right ignorant. I too wonder if some of them are anti-2A [Second Amendment]. If I were anti-2A, that’s how I would do it.”

In response to a poster who accused naysayers of having “no appreciation for this restored freedom,” a poster known as android offered this scathing rebuke:

“We were free to carry concealed at far more places before than now. You have the exact same ability to be safe carrying concealed as openly. Except that now you can’t do either in many places. So you’re not safer at all. Open carry is not a right. It’s a dress code and comfort issue. You were already freely bearing arms before 1 Jan. You’ve given up safety for comfort and lost and freedom [sic] for all of us.”

“The immature, selfish actions and the loud, belligerent mouths of a few have hurt many,” Oldgringo concluded. “It’s true, all that glitters is not gold.”

Others had a more measured responses. “I would LOVE to OC everywhere I go,” Lynyrd wrote. “The fact is, it makes some people uncomfortable. Time may change that, but it will take years.” He cautioned his fellow gun owners to remember that “most all of the places we go outside our homes is still PRIVATE PROPERTY.” (Business owners can verbally notify open-carrying customers that they are not welcome in their establishments, regardless of whether a sign is posted or not.)

Weighing in again, the original poster, LTUME1978, felt that for Texas’s concealed carriers, the damage had been done. “The lid is off this can of worms and it will never go back,” LTUME1978 wrote in a followup. “I hope the right to walk around looking like Wyatt Earp is worth it to the open carry folks because a lot of us are loosing our right to concealed carry and it may cost some of us our lives for your privilege to play cowboy.”

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The Next Front in Texas’ Open Carry Debate: Signage

Gun rights activists have adopted a rigorous campaign to police the state’s strict regulations over signs barring guns in private establishments.

At this point, nobody needs to be told about the strong and historic gun culture of Texas. Year after year, it laps the field in total (and even per-capita) requests to purchase handguns, shotguns, and rifles, and its 8,500 licensed dealers are the most in the nation. The state was recently ranked the fifteenth-best for gun owners by Guns & Ammo, thanks in no small part to its lax concealed carry provisions. But new legislation scheduled to take effect next year will extend to gun owners a new privilege. While open carry of shotguns and rifles has always been legal in Texas, beginning in 2016, Texans will be allowed to openly carry their handguns in public, either in hip or shoulder holsters.

The law, signed at a shooting range this spring by Governor Greg Abbott, actually represents only a slight expansion of existing gun rights. It will be enacted, in fact, 20 years to the day after the state first repealed its 125-year ban on concealed firearms. That change in statute, one of the first undertaken by the legislature under then-Governor George W. Bush, impelled authorities to issue concealed handgun licenses (CHLs) to any applicant who met specific criteria of age, mental health, and legal status.  Though state residents are now able to stride around town Wyatt Earp-style, they’ve been allowed for two decades to carry hidden guns, a la John Dillinger.

While the existing concealed carry law opened some new liberties for owners wishing to bring their guns into the public sphere, it also provided some assurances to those who wanted to bar them from their private enterprises. Since the mid-’90s, Texas businesses have been permitted to post notices designating their property free from concealed weapons. Those warnings are ironically (or incredibly) dubbed “30.06 signs” after their corresponding language in Texas penal code.

With the implementation of the open carry law, business (like Chipotle and Whataburger) will be able to simply place “30.07” signs in their windows. The new signs are similar to their 30.06 predecessors, but apply to openly-carried weapons instead of concealed ones. And they are already causing some of the same headaches as the existing system of signage, which rankles property owners and gun owners alike.

That’s because the signs are subject to bizarrely strict stipulations on their appearance. While Texas took deliberate steps to streamline the issuance of open-carry licenses — such as automatically converting CHLs to open-carry permits and waiving the need for additional training — it has taken a fastidious position on the font size and color of 30.06 signs. Business owners can’t simply mount a slashed-pistol “gunbusters” emblem behind the counter and expect visitors to comply. (According to the Denton County Sports Association, the 30.06 signage was designed with this in mind, after CHL holders feared not noticing home-brew signage and the resulting criminal charges.) The signs must exhibit a uniform, thirty-eight-word message, both in English and Spanish. The text of that message must stand an inch high, and has to be presented in contrasting colors. Moreover, one notice can’t simultaneously prohibit open and concealed weapons. Proprietors, many of whom have lost business by posting one sign, must display both 30.06 and 30.07 versions.

These rules may not seem particularly onerous, but Texas gun rights activists have adopted a novel and rigorous campaign of signage enforcement. The website Texas3006.com maintains an index to name and shame hundreds of establishments across the state that hang nonconforming placards. Intermittently cranky in tone, its users tirelessly decry large chains like Chuck E. Cheese’s and recommend nearby alternatives to offending credit unions and bowling alleys. A San Antonio movie theater is chided succinctly: “letters are not 1inch in height. Visit the Silverado in Helotes instead.” Bringing font size up to code is no guarantee of reprieve — the website encourages boycotts of businesses with copacetic 30.06 signs, too.

The legacy of Texas’s open-carry initiative won’t be defined by such aesthetic skirmishing, of course. Five years after Bush overturned the state’s concealed weapon ban, observers were tallying the hundreds of felons and psychologically disturbed people who had inadvertently been granted licenses, not the video rental clerks reluctantly enforcing a storewide anti-gun policy. But the roadblocks that the state’s legislators and citizens have thrown up in front of private businesses trying to set their own safety standards — especially when compared to the ease with which enthusiasts can acquire and display their guns — is a sign all its own.

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President Obama in tears and with a heavy heart calls for ‘sense of urgency’ to fight gun violence

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President Barack Obama grew emotional Tuesday as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence.

He was introduced by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Obama circled back to that shooting in the final moments of his speech.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, pausing to wipe away tears.

He added: “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” referring to his hometown where he began his political career.

The White House is seeking to expand background checks for buyers. The measure clarifies that individuals “in the business of selling firearms” register as licensed gun dealers, effectively narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records.

Former Congresswoman and gun control advocate Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured in a 2011 mass shooting, was also in attendance at Tuesday’s event and was greeted with a standing ovation from the White House audience.

Obama hammered congressional Republicans for opposing measures like expanded background checks as he called on Americans to punish them at the polls. He defended his actions to strengthen background checks for purchasing guns, answering critics who say the measure would not make it harder for criminals to obtain firearms.

“Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying,” Obama said. “I reject that thinking.”

“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence,” he added.

The President blasted the gun lobby, particularly the National Rifle Association, and insisted that his actions are “not a plot to take away everybody’s guns.”

He compared his push for gun control to steps the United States and businesses have taken to limit traffic fatalities, require fingerprints to unlock iPads and keep children from opening bottles of aspirin.

“I believe in the Second Amendment, there written on paper, that guarantees the right to bear arms,” Obama said. “No matter how many times people try to twist my words around, I taught constitutional law. I know a little bit about this. But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Obama said Congress, which blocked a tougher gun bill in 2013, still needs to impose new gun control measures. He noted that many of the actions he’s calling for can only be imposed through legislative action.

“Congress still needs to act,” Obama said. “The folks in this room will not rest until Congress does. Because once Congress gets on board with common-sense gun safety measures, we can reduce gun violence a whole lot.”

“But we also can’t wait,” Obama added. “Until we have the Congress that’s in line with the majority of Americans, there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives.”

In addition to expanding and bolstering the background check system to cover sales that take place online and at gun shows, Obama said the administration will provide more funding for mental health treatment, FBI staff and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives agents.

On Capitol Hill, the reaction from Republicans was just as Obama had predicted.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said Obama’s actions “will no doubt be challenged in the courts” and “can be overturned by a Republican President.”

“From day one, the President has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding,” Ryan said in a statement. “He knows full well that the law already says that people who make their living selling firearms must be licensed, regardless of venue. Still, rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, he goes after the most law-abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, vowed in New Hampshire on Tuesday that she will “take on that fight” and continue Obama’s gun control push if she’s elected.

On Twitter, in a tweet signed “-H” to indicate it was written by Clinton, rather than her staff, the former secretary of state thanked Obama “for taking a crucial step forward on gun violence. Our next President has to build on that progress—not rip it away.”

And her campaign highlighted Republican candidates’ criticism of Obama’s comments on its website, warning that a GOP president would undo Obama’s actions.

Many polls have found broad support for expanded background checks — the most recent being a Quinnipiac University poll in December. In that survey, 89% overall support it, 84% in gun-owning households, 87% of Republicans, 86% of independent, 95% of Democrats.

In a December CNN/ORC poll, 48% of Americans said they were in favor of stricter gun control laws, 51% were opposed.

Support for stricter laws has been less than half since 2013. There’s a sharp partisan divide on the question, with 74% of Democrats in favor of stricter laws, while just 23% of Republicans feel the same way.

Among those who live in a gun-owning household, 29% favor stricter laws, that rises to 65% among those who live in households where no one owns a gun.

Just 35% approve of Obama’s handling of gun policy, including 56% of Democrats and 55% of liberals. That’s well below his approval rating among Democrats/liberals for other top issue.

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Andrew Hawkins Player Emotionally Explains Why He Won’t Apologize To Police After His ‘Call For Justice

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins won’t apologize for wearing a T-shirt calling for justice for two unarmed African Americans killed by police officers in Ohio in 2014. And he delivered an impassioned explanation of why he shouldn’t have to.

“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have,” Hawkins said on Monday, getting emotional as he addressed reporters for several minutes without notes. “Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country special. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.”

Hawkins, 28, took the field for the Browns’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in Cleveland wearing a shirt emblazoned with the message “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back. Rice, 12, was fatally shot by Cleveland police in November while carrying a pellet gun. Crawford, 22, was shot and killed by police in August while holding an air rifle in a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio. Hawkins’ awareness-raising gesture came with professional and college athletes across the country making similar statements related to the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Cleveland Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer criticized Hawkins in a statement released on Sunday.

justice“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Follmer said. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

The Browns refused to apologize, issuing a statement that both backed Hawkins and expressed support for police.

“We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city,” the Browns said in a statement, via Cleveland.com. “We also respect our players’ rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”

In his own comments on Monday, Hawkins also made clear that he was not taking a stand against all police officers.

“To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way,” Hawkins said. “And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends who are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.”

In perhaps the most poignant moment of his monologue, Hawkins revealed the very personal reason that he choose to take a stand with his T-shirt even though he was aware that he would likely face backlash.

“As you well know, and it’s well documented, I have a 2-year-old little boy,” Hawkins said. “The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality. So, like I said, I made the conscious decision to wear the T-shirt. I felt my heart was in the right place. I’m at peace with it.”

Hawkins’ poignant commentary did not sway Follmer.

“It’s not a call for justice, they were justified,” Follmer said during an interview on MSNBC Monday evening after Hawkins’ remarks. “Cleveland police officers work with the Cleveland Browns hand-in-hand, and when he disrespects two of our police officers, he disrespects everybody else.”

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Tamir Rice was killed by white America’s irrational fear of black boys

Tamir Rice was only 12-years-old but officers allegedly thought he was a grown man. Photograph: Aaron Josefczyk/REUTERS

Tamir Rice was only 12-years-old but officers allegedly thought he was a grown man. Photograph: Aaron Josefczyk/REUTERS

 

Since it’s original sin of slavery, America has been obsessed with the fear of black men. Rather than atone for its own sins when it worried about what would happen when slavery ended, white supremacy projected its fears onto black America. It was this irrational, dangerous fear that led to the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Consider the results of a recent study, which found that merely hearing that someone had a “black-sounding” name made subjects assume a person was bigger than they actually were, revealing through science again how black men are unfairly presumed to be threats. An officer who arrived on the scene after 12-year-old Tamir had been shot thought “the male looked to be 19 or 20-years-old”.

In American fiction from To Kill A Mockingbird to Birth of a Nation, this fear permeates why black males regularly faced lynching. And this fear has birthed a fiction that it was “reasonable” (again and again and again and again) for Cleveland police officer Tim Loehmann to shoot Tamir dead in less than two seconds (as the child “gave me no choice”).

Across the past six decades, indeed over centuries of US history, little has happened to dissuade white people of such fears. The acquittal of the officers who performed this latest racialized killing upholds its validity in the American moral code.

It doesn’t matter that the officer who shot Tamir, Loehmann, had a “dismal” shooting record at his prior job, and that the Cleveland police department never checked this out before hiring him.

It doesn’t matter that Cleveland had previously paid out $100,000 for an excessive force complaint against Loehmann’s partner on the scene, Frank Garmback.

It doesn’t matter that the dispatcher, Beth Mandl, failed to tell the cops arriving that the person who’d called in Tamir’s toy gun thought it was “probably fake” – nor that she reportedly was “fired from her first police dispatcher job in September 2008, the same month she was arrested and charged with bringing a gun to a bar”.

It doesn’t matter that Tamir was playing with a toy version of a legal object. The prosecutor’s statement says that “Tamir’s replica firearm was functionally identical to a real firearm”, and that “the evidence does not show that his decision to shoot was unreasonable, or that it was feasible to give more commands than he did”. This should matter, because (as the NRA proudly notes) Ohio is an open carry state where guns can be toted around out in the open – so there was no crime in progress to possibly report.

Yet, because of these irrational fears, the prosecutor seems to think the officer was justified because he “was facing a suspect pulling an object from his waist that Loehmann thought was a real gun”, so nothing else matters.

In our American imagination, the feared objects which might come out of the waistband of unarmed black male children like Mike Brown or Tamir Rice so frightened armed white men, they’re allowed to kill them.

Nevermind that the Cleveland Police Department was under investigation for the “unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force, including shootings” by the Department of Justice when Tamir was killed, and that its “officers too often use unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution”.

While darker-skinned men are routinely killed out of a fear that they may have legal or toy guns, and while they’re beaten and killed out of fear they could be killers or rapists, white Americans remain free to terrorize their fellow citizens and even law enforcement with impunity.

Armed white militiamen roamed Ferguson without police intervention this year. Ellen Rothenberg, a white woman in North Carolina who pointed a BB gun at a police officer and told them to shoot her, survived. Dylan Roof, a white man who shot up a church full of black people, got taken to Burger King after he was caught. Robert Dear, a white man accused of shooting and killing three people (including a police officer) at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado was taken in alive. And so on.

But an unarmed black male burdened with the incorrect assumption that he’s armed with a legal weapon in your pants? Not only can it kill you, no one will be punished.

With this lack of indictment in his death, the only person who will pay any material price for Tamir’s death is the dead child himself. Like Mike Brown last fall and Sandra Bland last week, little Tamir joins the pantheon of dead black souls whose deaths go without accountability.

If white Americans need black villains to feel superior in their decline as 2015 closes – and as the leading demagogue Republican candidate for president can confirm, they do – then innocent victims like Tamir will continue to be killed, and those who do so will be rewarded with acquittal, fame or even promotion. It’s the American way.

 

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27 Americans were shot and killed on Christmas day

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In a grim reminder that violence in America never takes a holiday, 27 people were killed and 63 injured in shooting incidents on Christmas Day this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This tally does not include people who shot themselves in suicide.

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.

The dead included the parents of a young child who were shot during a robbery in Columbus, Ohio; a Texas grandfather, whose 73-year-old wife says she shot him for “continuous marital issues and infidelities;” a young couple killed in their vehicle in the early morning hours near Augusta, Maine; and the owner of a barbershop in Alabama who was known as “a strong voice against crime” in the community, according to local news reports.

[Read more: Guns are now killing as many people as cars in the U.S.]

At least two of the Christmas Day shootings qualified as mass shooting incidents with four or more people shot. In one, a two-year old girl and three teenagers were injured in a shooting in a high-crime neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla. Later that night in Mobile, Ala., four teenagers were shot by two gunmen outside a movie theater.

So far this year, we’ve averaged roughly 36 gun fatalities and 73 gun injuries each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the Christmas Day tally represents something of a temporary de-escalation in the violence, but not a huge one.

This year has brought renewed attention to the problem of mass shooting incidents in America. But the spate of Christmas Day violence is a reminder that many more people are killed and injured in a relentless daily drumbeat of gun crime that barely makes the headlines.

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AGAIN: Two killed after Chicago police called to domestic disturbance

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A male college student and a mother of five were shot Saturday morning

In a city already troubled by allegations of police misuse of force, a Chicago police officer shot and killed a male college student and a mother of five, both black, on Saturday morning following a report of a domestic disturbance.

The police department of the nation’s third-largest city is under a federal civil rights investigation for its use of deadly force and officer discipline. A recently released video of the shooting death of a black teenager by a white officer in 2014 has led to multiple protests, with activists calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.

The latest shooting happened early on Saturday on the city’s west side.

“Upon arrival, officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon, fatally wounding two individuals,” police said in a statement.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office identified the dead as Bettie Jones, 55, and Quintonio Legrier, 19. The Chicago Tribune rendered the name as ‘LeGrier’ but officials could not immediately confirm that spelling.

Family members of Jones said that Legrier, a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, was home for Christmas and visiting his father, landlord of the two-story wooden frame building where the shooting occurred.

Family members said police were called after Legrier threatened his father with a metal baseball bat. Jones, who lived in the first-floor apartment, was shot through the door, according to her cousin, Evelyn Glover.

There was a single bullet hole in the wooden door. Blood stained the walls and carpet of the tidy apartment, which was decorated for Christmas. Relatives, including children of Bettie Jones, who was a grandmother of 10, were at the building crying and embracing each other.

“This is a wrongful death. How are you just going to fire through the door?” asked Glover, who added that Jones was recovering from ovarian cancer.

Melvin Jones, Jones’ older brother, said his sister was a hard-working single mother who had recently started a new job.

Janet Cooksey, Legrier’s mother, told local news channel CLTV her son had recently been suffering from mental illness.

“You call for help and you lose someone,” she said. “That has to stop.”

The Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews police conduct, is investigating the shooting. Emanuel recently replaced the authority’s chief official in response to complaints about the agency’s effectiveness.

Use of force by police has sparked national debate after high-profile killings of black men by mainly white officers in several U.S. cities.

A prayer vigil for the shootings is planned for Sunday afternoon.

 

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President Barack Obama praises Zaevion William Dobson as ‘a hero at 15’

herorBarack Obama described Zaevion William Dobson, a high school football player who was killed as he shielded three girls from gunfire, as a “hero” in a message posted on the president’s official Twitter account.

The shooting that killed Dobson, 15, began Thursday night in Knoxville, Tennessee. Police said men drove to Dobson’s neighborhood in retaliation for an earlier shooting and “randomly fired multiple times.”

Obama took to Twitter on Saturday to praise Dobson and weigh in on the shootings, which police investigators believe to be gang-related.

Rob Black, Dobson’s football coach at Fulton High School in northern Knoxville, called Dobson a “fine, fine young man.” Knoxville Police chief David Rausch said Friday that investigators have not found a reason that Dobson would be targeted.

“Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday,” Rausch said.

Dobson was a sophomore at Fulton High School, which brought in counselors to speak to students taking makeup tests Friday morning.

“He was really one of our success stories,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

 

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Heroic high school football player killed shielding teenage girls from gunmen

 

When the shooting began Thursday night in Knoxville, Tenn., Zaevion Dobson faced a split-second choice: run away and save himself or use his body as a shield to protect those around him.

Nobody would’ve have blamed the 15-year-old Fulton High School football player for doing the former. But Dobson, survivors would later recall, sacrificed himself, jumping on top of three teenage girls who were sitting on a porch with a few other friends when two men approached and began shooting randomly into the group, according to the Associated Press.

“If it wasn’t for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot,” Kiara Rucker told CBS affiliate WVLT.

Dobson was killed by a bullet that struck him in the head, police said. He was the only person among the group who was hit.

“You’re my hero, I’ll never forget you,” Faith Gordon, who credited Dobson with saving her life, wrote on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday,” Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, who earlier struggled to hold back tears discussing the teenager’s sacrifice at a news conference, told the AP.

Zach Dobson, the victim’s brother, told NBC-affiliate WBIR-TV that the shooting took those on the scene by surprise. By the time the group of young people realized that Dobson had been shot in the moments of confusion that followed, it was too late.

“He was laying there, and I just pick him up and put him in my arms,” his brother said. “He was dead. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky, but he saved two lives.”

“I pulled on him and said ‘You can get up now’ but he didn’t get up,” Gordon told WVLT. “So I just went upstairs, and by the time I came back to make sure everything was real, (I saw) he was shot in the head.”

A day later, Dobson, who described himself as “shocked,” was still trying to understand what motivated the shooters.

“Why would you shoot at random bystanders,” he told WBIR-TV.  “For nothing. We were just sitting there chilling.”

Investigators are wondering the same thing. They believe the shooting was part of a series of gang-related shootings that began Thursday night when a 46-year-old woman was shot inside her apartment several miles away. The victim, Lisa Perry, is expected to survive, according to the AP.

In a an act of retribution gone awry, police say Perry’s son — 23-year-old Brandon Perry — joined several other men, drove to Dobson’s neighborhood and went on a shooting spree. Police don’t believe there was a motive for shooting Dobson.

Perry was eventually shot as well, after crashing his car into an apartment, the AP reported. He died Friday.

Police arrested two other men who fled the scene of the crash but released one of them.

The detained suspect — identified by authorities as 20-year-old Christopher D. Bassett — is charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violating probation, according to WBIR-TV. He is being held without bond, the station reported.

“These cowardly and senseless acts of violence must stop,” Rausch told the AP. “We should be preparing to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but now we have two men who are dead.”

At Fulton High in northern Knoxville, Dobson’s death led to an outpouring of grief among classmates of the sophomore. Online, he was celebrated for his final act of heroism. On Friday, counselors were at the high school to speak with grieving students, and a moment of silence was held in the gym, according to the AP.

“He was really one of our success stories,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero told the AP. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.”

Rob Black, the coach of the Fulton football team, described his player as a “fine, fine young man.”

“Only a sophomore, but a very contagious young man who was very liked by his peers and his teachers,” Black told the AP. “Going to be a tough time as we leave from here and go meet with our football players.”

Friends and family — as well as countless strangers who were drawn to Dobson’s story — turned to social media to celebrate Dobson’s life.

Dobson described his relative as an “awesome kid” and “awesome brother.”

“Just know that I miss him,” Dobson said. “I miss my brother.”

 

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