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A fist raised and a knee taken: US gold medalists Gwen Berry and Race Imboden protest trump racism and gun violence Epidemic at Pan Am Games

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“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.

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“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.

“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:

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As USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour points out:

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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.

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“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.

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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?

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.

His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.

Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:

Winners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice,  and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.

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Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst

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Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.

"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."

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Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.

WATCH: Protesters interrupt the #DemDebate as the debate nears end. pic.twitter.com/TKCn6eIEsN

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020

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