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Missouri parole board played ‘word games’ for their own amusement while deciding inmates’ fates: report

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An investigation into the practices of the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole states that board members allegedly played private “word games” for their own amusement when deciding the fate of prisoners.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Don Ruzicka, a member of the seven-member board, along with another unnamed government employee were accused of picking words they hoped to get inmates to repeat and then keeping score during parole hearings,

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The allegations, contained in a Department of Corrections inspector general report completed on Nov. 1, 2016 — and uncovered by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center in St. Louis — shows a history of toying with the inmates.

According to the report, the board members would select off-beat words such as “platypus” or “hound dog,” and would try an lead inmates into saying the word during their hearings.

After stating the predetermined word while interviewing an offender, the board member would be awarded a point. An additional two points were given if they managed to get the inmate to repeat the word.

According to the report, the word “hootenanny” was once selected for use in a hearing leading to the following exchange:

Ruzicka referenced the song “Peggy Sue.” He asked the offender if she was named after the song. The department employee laughed and said he was just trying to lighten the mood.

“Or you could just have a hootenanny,” Ruzicka countered.

“Yes, we could have a hootenanny,” the employee said, whispering that points would be counted.

Asked when she first used heroin, the offender said it was at a rave.

“I thought they might have called it a hootenanny,” said the employee.

“A what?” the offender responded.

“A hootenanny,” the department employee said. “A party.”

Ruzicka and the employee laughed again.

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According to Amy Breihan, a lawyer with the MacArthur Justice Center, such behavior may have tainted thousands of cases.

“Who knows how many hearings were affected by this conduct?” she asserted. “Even in hearings where literal games were not played, one has to question how seriously parole staff are taking their duties.”

“These activities, so far as we are aware, have never come to light in the public’s eye,” said Mae Quinn, director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. “They simply were not taking their duties seriously and their role as appointed officials and public servants seriously.”

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The seven-member Missouri parole board is responsible for determining whether a person confined in the Department of Corrections will be paroled or given a conditional release, as well as overseeing supervision of thousands of people on probation and parole.

The human rights group has called upon Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to reform the committee and fire Ruzicka, a former Republican state representative who is paid an annual salary of over $85,000 plus benefits.

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‘They want their civil war’: Far-right ‘boogaloo’ militants have embedded themselves in the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis

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Young, white men dressed in Hawaiian-style print shirts and body armor, and carrying high-powered rifles have been a notable feature at state capitols, lending an edgy and even sometimes insurrectionary tone to gatherings of conservatives angered by restrictions on businesses and church gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as many states are reopening their economies — and taking the wind out of the conservative protests — the boogaloo movement found a new galvanizing cause: the protests in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd.

A new iteration of the militia movement, boogaloo was born out of internet forums for gun enthusiasts that repurposed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as a code for a second civil war, and then modified it into phrases like “big luau” to create an insular community for those in on the joke, with Hawaiian-style shirts functioning as an in-real-life identifier. Boogaloo gained currency as an internet meme over the summer of 2019, when it was adopted by white supremacists in the accelerationist tendency. In January, the movement made the leap from the internet to the streets when a group boogaloo-ers showed up at the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va.

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WATCH: Man holds black DoorDash driver at gunpoint for delivering food to an Arizona apartment complex

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A man in Mesa, Arizona, is facing assault and weapons charges after he allegedly held a delivery driver at gunpoint this Sunday, 12News reports.

Police say Valentino Tejeda pulled a gun on 24-year-old Dimitri Mills in the parking lot of Tejeda's apartment complex, and when Mills and his girlfriend tried to explain they were making a food delivery to a neighbor, Tejeda still insisted that Mills, who is black, was somehow a threat.

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Trump became enthralled with presidency while watching balloons drop on 1988 GOP convention stage

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Donald Trump became enthralled with the presidency while watching balloons drop for George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

The celebrity real estate developer had been taken to New Orleans by his longtime pal Roger Stone, a Republican political operative hoping to spark an interest in Trump to run for the presidency, reported Politico.

“I got the definite impression that Roger Stone was preparing Donald Trump to run for president,” said Michael Caputo, a Stone associate who worked for Trump's 2016 campaign. “I didn’t know when it would be — but it was very clear to me that he wasn’t there for the cocktails.”

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