“Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” said hammer thrower Gwen Berry.
Drawing global praise for taking symbolic stands against injustice and violence, a Gold Medalist hammer thrower as well as a member of the Gold Medal-winning men’s U.S. Fencing Team—as other politically-engaged athletes have done in the past—staged individual protests during ceremonies at the Pan Am Games over recent days to call attention to their country’s racism, mistreatment of immigrants, and ongoing gun violence epidemic.
“We must call for change,” tweeted 26-year-old Race Imboden on social media as he shared images of his protest which took place Friday at the internatioal games in Lima, Peru.
We must call for change.
This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, pic.twitter.com/deCOKaHQI9
— Race Imboden (@Race_Imboden) August 10, 2019
“A president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of the nation’s woes, Imboden explainedin a subsequent tweet. “I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”
Imboden wasn’t alone in protest at the games as his protest on Friday was followed Saturday by hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who raised her fist in protest on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played following her Gold Medal win:
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) August 11, 2019
Second podium protest has now taken place at #Lima2019. American hammer throw gold medallist Gwen Berry raises her fist on the podium, in a similar action to the “Black Power” salute carried out by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City 1968 #Olympic Games. #PanAmGames https://t.co/VMpDzu0Fd3
— Nancy Gillen (@Nancy_Gillen) August 11, 2019
As USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour points out:
The life of an Olympic athlete is one of endless sacrifice.
For hammer thrower Gwen Berry and fencer Race Imboden, their principles won’t be among them.
Berry and Imboden are almost sure to be disciplined for their protests on the medals stand at the Pan American Games. Berry raised her fist during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning gold Saturday, one day after Imboden took a knee during the men’s team foil medals ceremony.
“Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” Berry told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday night.
“It’s too important to not say something,” Berry added. “Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”
While the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee said Saturday it was “disappointed” Imboden had broken a pledge the U.S. team athletes take concerning political demonstrations—warning that “consequences may result”—many people who shared his and Berry’s concerns about the current political situation in the U.S. thanked them for their high-profile demonstrations.
Gwen Berry is a national treasure. https://t.co/QlkjeM2vi1
— profloumoore (@loumoore12) August 11, 2019
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 11, 2019
— Kerri Evelyn Harris (@KerriHarrisDE) August 11, 2019
Fencers hold fast.
It’s what we do.
Good job, young man.
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) August 10, 2019
“Berry raised her fist during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning gold Saturday, one day after Imboden took a knee during the men’s team foil medals ceremony” pic.twitter.com/wtNPjoAtF2
— Grild Cheez (@grild_cheez) August 11, 2019
Despite the predictable backlash from right-wingers who accused both Imboden and Berry of being insufficiently patriotic, Armour argues such sentiments clearly miss the point.
“We praise athletes from foreign countries for their courage when they protest against their broken and corrupt governments,” she wrote. “Is the America of 2019 so much different?
How Facebook makes money when people are slaughtered
The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.The social advertising surge began just one day after the Aug. 3 El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending. The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads.Between Aug. 4 and Aug. 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on Aug. 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown. Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated. “The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb said.
Is a strange Twitter glitch censoring the left?
The Working Families Party, a New York-based progressive political party, has a reputation befitting its name as a left-populist political organization. So when the organization endorsed the center-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — who was once a hardcore Republican and has emphasized her capitalist credentials — over the explicitly democratic socialist candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders (I-Vt.) supporters were understandably disappointed. After all, the party overwhelmingly endorsed Sanders in the previous presidential election. What had changed?
Amnesty International says Hong Kong police using excessive force
Amnesty International on Friday accused Hong Kong police of using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters, in some cases amounting to torture, allegations that were rejected by a commanding officer.
In a report based on interviews with nearly two dozen activists, most of whom were hospitalised after their arrests, the global rights watchdog said that officers routinely went beyond the level of force allowed by local law and international standards.
"In an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong's security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests," said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.