SUNLAND PARK, N.M., April 24 (Reuters) ― The leader of an armed group that spent the past two months detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing condemnation from civil liberties advocates, has been hospitalized after he was attacked in jail, his attorney said.
Larry Hopkins, 69, was in a hospital with broken ribs after being attacked on Tuesday at the Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces in southern New Mexico, attorney Kelly O’Connell said.
A spokeswoman for the Dona Ana County center did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The attack occurred the same day Hopkins’ United Constitutional Patriots (UCP) group abandoned its border camp near Sunland Park, New Mexico, where they had spent two months detaining thousands of illegal migrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week accused Hopkins’ group of being a fascist, white nationalist militia illegally detaining and kidnapping Central American families seeking asylum.
O’Connell said he had spoken with Hopkins by phone.
“This guy is very high-profile. So, if he gets put into jail and is immediately attacked after his first hearing just a few days after being put in there, can Dona Ana County correctional protect high-profile defendants?” O’Connell asked.
O’Connell said he did not know why Hopkins had been targeted. But a spokesman for his UCP paramilitary group said he believed it was because of his activity at the border.
“They put him in a pod cell with a group of people and they had just got done watching the article about the ACLU writing about him being racist, and as a result of that he was attacked,” UCP spokesman Jim Benvie said in a video posted online.
New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said the UCP’s activities had to stop, and the FBI arrested Hopkins the next day on gun charges based on a 2017 search of his home.
Benvie said the UCP was moving to another campsite in a couple of days and would continue to support the U.S. Border Patrol as it faced an “invasion” of migrants, most of whom it said are fraudulently seeking asylum.
“We do have a private property location on the border that we have secured,” said Benvie. “We will not be going anywhere, we will be on an area where we can continue to do what we’ve done.”
The Border Patrol has said it does not support private citizens acting as law enforcement.
(Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)
NFL Champion Sends Message To Fellow Asian American Football Star Taylor Rapp
Asian American NFL prospect Taylor Rapp received a message from two-time Super Bowl champion Hines Ward, who’s also of Asian descent.
Ward, who dealt with his share of racism during his time in the NFL, had some uplifting words for Rapp, who’s awaiting Thursday’s draft, captured in a promo video.
“I know you’ve heard it before: ’Asians can’t play football,’” Ward says in the video. “I still remember the first time I heard it. But I learned something too. those words can be a gift. You can feed off that energy. Turn that hate into wins.”
He concludes: “So Asians can’t play football, huh? I’d say we’re pretty darn good.”
Asians make up less than 2 percent of the players in the NFL. While Ward was an extremely successful player in the league, becoming Super Bowl MVP back in 2003, he found himself the target of bigotry throughout his career. Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Ward spoke out against the deluge of racist remarks and jokes made toward Japan and reflected on his own experiences as an Asian.
“I’ve been dealing with this my whole life. I still remember being called the Jackie Chan of football,” he told ESPN.
Regardless, Ward has emerged a champion for Asian Americans. In 2010, the former NFL player was sworn into the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a group appointed by the president to help improve and increase access to opportunities for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Rapp himself has been transparent about the struggles he’s faced as an Asian American football player with NFL ambitions. He revealed to NFL.com that growing up as one of the rare Asian faces on the field, he was often taunted. He subsequently wrestled with his own identity.
“They make fun of how you look ― your eyes, the widened, slanted eyes. There were a few instances where I was called the Ch-word. It was offensive to me. It made me embarrassed of who I was,” he said. “That’s why I never embraced it growing up. I was different than everyone else, and I didn’t want to be.”
Since then, Rapp has grown to be proud of his heritage, displaying several conspicuous Chinese tattoos. And with guidance from fellow players who could relate to Rapp’s struggle, as well as the encouragement of Asians on social media who look up to the player, Rapp is now looking to be a role model for others.
“To me, it’s about gaining a platform that will help inspire a generation of Chinese and Asian American kids,” he told NFL.com. “I don’t want to be just an answer to a trivia question; I want to inspire and have a real impact.”
Labour reveals plan to put £1.3bn a year back into local bus services
Labour would spend £1.3bn a year to reverse recent cuts to local bus services as a means of boosting communities and helping the environment, the party has announced.
The scheme, which Labour said would improve services on 3,000 bus routes around the country, would be funded using revenue raised from vehicle excise duty (VED).
Jeremy Corbyn has raised the issue of poor local bus services at prime minister’s questions, arguing that cuts since 2010 have left many older and vulnerable people isolated, especially in poorer areas, and that such policies lead to greater car use.
The party has already pledged to regulate bus services by putting local services into public ownership and offering free bus travel to under-25s.
The policy was due to be formally announced by the Labour leader and the shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, on Thursday in Nottingham, where the Labour council runs the bus fleet.
Under a plan drawn up under the David Cameron government, from the 2020-21 financial year VED revenue will be hypothecated, meaning it is pre-allocated for certain spending rather than, as is true for most tax, added to the general pot.
The Conservative plan was to spend the hypothecated money on road building, but Labour says it would instead set up a sustainable transport fund, part of which would fund bus services.
The £1.3bn sum a year would reverse what Labour says has been a £645m annual real-terms cut to bus funding since 2010, and invest the same amount on top. Citing government figures, Labour said bus coverage in Britain was at a 30-year low, while outside London the number of passenger journeys had fallen by 10% since 2010.
Corbyn said: “Bus services have been devastated by nine years of austerity. Thousands of routes have been axed, fares have soared and passenger numbers are in freefall. Local services are a lifeline for many, particularly the elderly and those in rural areas. Cuts have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres and for air pollution and the environment.
“Bus networks are essential for towns and cities and for tackling rural poverty and isolation, which is why Labour is committed to creating thriving bus networks under public ownership.”
The Conservative MP Marcus Jones, the party’s vice-chair for local government, said Labour’s plans for the VED money would mean “they would have to clobber motorists with tax hikes and slash funding for road repairs to pay for it”.
He said: “Along with their plans to put politicians in Westminster in charge of running local bus services, their pledge to slash funding for roads and their calls to increase fuel duty, this just proves they are not on the side of hardworking families who rely on their vehicles.”
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Sheriff’s Deputy On Leave After Anti-LGBTQ, Pro-Trump Comment On Gay Teen’s Death
An Alabama sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave after leaving a homophobic comment on a local media outlet’s report about the death of a gay teen.
Nigel Shelby of Huntsville, Alabama died by suicide on April 18. The 15-year-old had come out to his mother as gay two years ago and had suffered depression after being subjected to anti-LGBTQ bullying at Huntsville High School, according to The Washington Post.
“He was outgoing, he was always full of joy, full of light, he was always singing, always dancing. He wanted to be a performer,” Nigel’s mother, Camika Shelby, told local news outlet WAFF-TV.
Though she acknowledged that her son had expressed his struggles with self-esteem, she said he gave no indication he was planning to take his own life.
“I’m still shocked that my baby’s not here anymore,” she added.
News of Nigel’s death prompted an outpouring of condolences from a number of LGBTQ rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a 2020 presidential hopeful, also offered sympathy to the family on Twitter.
My heart breaks for Nigel and his family. We have to build a world where LGBTQ kids feel loved and affirmed in their identities. We honor Nigel by fighting for such a world every day. https://www.out.com/news/2019/4/22/15-year-old-nigel-shelby-dies-suicide-after-anti-gay-bullying …
6:16 AM – Apr 24, 2019
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15-Year-Old Nigel Shelby Dies by Suicide After Anti-Gay Bullying
“These bullies have to be held accountable and until our state legislation shows that they have to do that, they are able to run amuck and do what they want,”
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As did Justin Bieber, who urged fans to “stop the hatred please” in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
But the local officer, identified by NBC as Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves, had a different ― and much uglier ― perspective. Commenting on a WZDX-TV Facebook post about Nigel’s death, Graves said he was “seriously offended” by the LGBTQ rights movement.
“Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement,” he added in the comment, which appears to have since been deleted.
By Tuesday, the Madison County sheriff’s office posted a note on Facebook saying that the “involved employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome” of an internal investigation.
In the same post, Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner expressed his condolences to Nigel’s family and friends, noting, “Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
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