Minnesota GOPer says men charged in Jan. 6 Capitol attack are ‘good family’ who need financial support
State Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch, shared the link to an online fundraiser organized by Rosemarie Westbury, whose husband and son, Robert Westbury and Isaac Westbury, were charged earlier this month with several counts of civil disorder and assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon, among other charges. Another family member, Jonah Westbury, was also charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol.
“Here's a local family in Lindstrom who can use some help," Koran wrote. “They attended the Jan 6th Rally and have been accused and charged with a variety of crimes. Some very serious and some which seem to be just to punish opposing views."
He added: “They are a good family!"
Koran did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on his fundraising plea.
A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, also did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Koran's defense of the alleged Lindstrom rioters stands in stark contrast to Minnesota Republicans' frequent law-and-order message, as well as their condemnations of people who destroyed property during the demonstrations and rioting that followed the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
Koran was among Republicans who supported enhanced penalties for people charged with attempted murder of a police officer.
Koran, who ran unsuccessfully earlier this year for chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, has not dispelled false assertions that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Pressed by the Reformer last summer on whether President Joe Biden was duly elected, he said: “He's been inserted as the president."
Rosemarie Westbury wrote that her family “is being targeted by this illigitimate (sic), tyrannical government."
So far, she has raised $200 of her $50,000 goal. “We have an attorney who is willing to stand up for us, but this isn't going to be an inexpensive endeavor."
According to the charging documents, Isaac Westbury and Aaron James, another person charged in the case, used a police shield to “forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate and interfere" with an officer. They are also charged with carrying a dangerous weapon into the U.S. Capitol as they allegedly tried to “impede the orderly conduct of government business and official functions."
Robert Westbury faces misdemeanor charges of illegally and knowingly entering the Capitol and trying to disrupt government business and functions.
To date, eight Minnesotans have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Patrick Coolican for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital object -- a drawing, animation, piece of music, photo, or video -- with a certificate of authenticity created by blockchain technology.
The album was previously owned by Martin Shkreli, a disgraced executive sentenced to prison for fraud, and sold at auction in July as part of a deal to settle his debt to the US government.
The buyer was kept secret until this week, when PleasrDAO, a group of New York NFT collectors, announced it had purchased the only copy of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin".
According to US media reports earlier this week, retweeted by PleasrDAO's Twitter account, the group paid $4 million for the two-disc, 31-track album.
They are known among NFT collectors for having acquired digital works by US whistleblower Edward Snowden and the Russian dissident feminist punk band Pussy Riot.
They now hope to share "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" with the public.
"Although we are bound by the legal agreement underpinning this work of art and may not be able to duplicate and share the music digitally," PleasrDAO said on its website, "we firmly believe there are ways to share this musical masterpiece with the world."
© 2021 AFP
Veteran actor Sherif Moneer, who walked out of a screening at Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival this month, has led a patriotic backlash against the film for "presenting Egypt negatively".
But others have praised director Omar El Zohairy for shedding light on a genuine social problem in a way that is both artistic and constructive.
On late Friday at the closing ceremony of the fifth edition of the El Gouna Film Festival, "Feathers" won the award for best Arab narrative film.''
"For me any artistic work will always generate differing views," a beaming Zohairy told AFP on the red carpet, addressing the issue after claiming the prize.
"The film is more important than any award," the director said. "The film is strong because of its feeling, artistic authenticity... and human values."
"Feathers" tells the story of Om Mario (Mario's mother), a poor woman from the rural south who struggles to make ends meet after her husband is transformed into a chicken.
The absurdist narrative is performed by an amateur cast, mostly from the country's Coptic Christian minority.
It was the first Egyptian feature film to win a major award at the star-studded Cannes Film Festival this year.
The film's opponents, who also include pro-government lawmakers, accuse Zohairy of creating an exaggerated image of squalor that bears no relation to contemporary Egypt.
"The slums that we had and those that are disappearing now are better than the scenes represented in the film," Moneer, the actor, said in a television interview this week.
"The state has made great strides in eliminating slums and moving people to excellent alternative furnished housing... We are in a new republic now."
Loyalist MP Mahmud Badr took to Twitter to condemn the "making of a movie depicting your country as if there was no development."
Samir Sabry, a lawyer with a penchant for suing critics of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, filed a lawsuit against the film's producers for "insulting Egypt and Egyptians".
But the rush of well-to-do Egyptians falling over each other to defend government policy and national pride over a movie about poverty was widely lampooned on social media.
Economic rights researcher Osama Diab said the film's depiction of poverty was by no means exaggerated, based on the government's own figures.
Around one in three of Egypt's 100 million people live below the poverty line.
Ammar ABD RABBO El Gouna Film Festival/AFP
"It has been steadily on the rise in Egypt since the '90s, according to official figures," Diab told AFP.
In the past two years, Covid-19 had further deepened social inequality because of "the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the poor", he said.
"The highest concentration of poverty is among women living in the countryside of Upper Egypt, which is ironically the setting of the film."
Diab said poverty reduction had never been a priority for government economic policy, which had been set in agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Egypt adopted a raft of harsh austerity measures in 2016 to secure a $12 billion loan from the IMF, including a devaluation of the Egyptian pound.
Last month, the IMF hailed the country as one of the few emerging markets that had weathered the pandemic and experienced positive growth.
"The IMF 2016 programme only speaks of mitigation of the shocks caused by economic reforms whereas they don't speak of poverty alleviation. It was never a goal in itself," Diab said.
Film critic Tarek El-Shenawy, who saw the first screening of "Feathers" at the Cannes Film Festival, described the backlash against the film as "vulgar and silly".
"There's no artistic production that can actually tarnish Egypt's reputation," Shenawy told AFP.
He praised the movie as artistically "great", with an "engaging story" and in no way insulting to Egypt.
"If you're actually shedding light on a social problem then you're really wanting to move your country forward not insulting it," he said.
© 2021 AFP
Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Raw Story Investigates and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.
$95 / year — Just $7.91/month
I want to Support More
$14.99 per month