Sporadic protests continued across the United States this week, while Attorney General William P. Barr defended the federal response to unrest in Portland, Ore., and the federal agents there began to withdraw.

Here are some significant developments:

  • An internal DHS document obtained by The Washington Post shows the department has had access to protesters’ electronic messages and that their conversations were written up in an “intelligence report,” despite public statements to the contrary.
  • Nearly 300 people have been shot in Minneapolis since the beginning of the year, the highest number in five years, as the city continues to battle an unprecedented uptick in crime in the nine weeks since George Floyd was killed in police custody.
  • Avowed white supremacist David Duke has been permanently banned from Twitter for repeated violations of the social media platform’s rules on hate speech.
  • Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), the older brother of Vice President Pence, is under fire for allowing the sale of objects with racist depictions of African Americans at an antiques mall he co-owns.
July 31, 2020 at 9:03 PM EDT

Teen charged in arson incident at federal courthouse in Portland, Ore.

An 18-year-old has been charged with “using fire to maliciously damage” the U.S. federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., federal prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutors said Gabriel Agard-Berryhill threw an “incendiary object” on Tuesday, which entered the portico area of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, according to video footage captured on surveillance cameras, prosecutors said. That caused a fire near the entrance, federal officials said in a statement.

A video posted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Oregon shows a man throw an ignited object over a courthouse fence seconds before the sound and flash of an explosion.

Investigators combed images on social media and allegedly found Agard-Berryhill wearing a green vest. He was identified after federal officials found a product review for the vest along with photos they said included Agard-Berryhill wearing it.

“I got this [vest] for my grandson who’s a protestor [sic] downtown, he uses it every night and says its [sic] does the job,” the review said, according to prosecutors.

The Oregonian, citing court documents, reported Agard-Berryhill admitted to throwing the object and was surprised at the force of the explosion.

It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

“No legitimate protest message is advanced by throwing a large explosive device against a government building. Mr. Agard-Berryhill’s actions could have gravely injured law enforcement officers positioned near the courthouse, other protesters standing nearby, or himself,” U.S. Attorney Bill J. Williams said in a statement.

By Alex Horton
July 31, 2020 at 8:12 PM EDT

DHS analyzed protester communications, raising questions about previous statements

A senior Department of Homeland Security official told a Senate committee earlier this month that the department had not collected, exploited or analyzed information from the electronic devices or accounts of protesters in Portland, Ore.

But an internal DHS document obtained by The Washington Post shows the department did have access to protesters’ electronic messages and that their conversations were written up in an “intelligence report” that was disseminated to federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, as well as state and local governments.

In a letter sent Friday, Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Brian Murphy, acting DHS undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, about statements he made to committee staff on July 23 regarding the department’s intelligence activities in Portland.

“You stated that I & A [the intelligence and analysis office] had neither collected nor exploited or analyzed information obtained from the devices or accounts of protesters or detainees. Please confirm,” the senators wrote.

By Shane Harris
July 31, 2020 at 7:32 PM EDT

County that includes metro Chicago symbolically votes to divert police funds

The board of commissioners of Cook County, which includes metropolitan Chicago, passed a symbolic resolution Thursday that calls for diverting funds for police toward social programs.

The proposal, called “Justice for Black Lives,” would send taxpayer funds earmarked for policing and jailing to initiatives for housing, mental health care, legal assistance for renters and other resources, according to the resolution.

The county, the proposal said, “should engage in efforts to redirect funds from policing and incarceration to public services not administered by law enforcement that promote community health and safety equitably across the County, but especially in Black and Brown communities most impacted by violence and incarceration.”

Leaders in Cook County and elsewhere have navigated the defund police movement to varying degrees. The Cook County resolution is nonbinding and does not detail how much money would be funneled out of law enforcement coffers.

The commission does not have oversight of police budgets, the Chicago Tribune reported, and Chicago remains the largest U.S. city to not vow to divert police funds, the paper reported.

“I’m for reducing and redirecting our investment in law enforcement,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle told reporters after the board meeting, the Tribune reported. “Systemic racism continues to plague our communities. We’re overpoliced, and there’s a disproportionate number of Black deaths at the hands of the police.”

By Alex Horton
July 31, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT

Capital B for Black

The Washington Post has been discussing for weeks its approach to capitalizing races, a conversation that has been underway in many news organizations rethinking how they identify the cultures and people of the African diaspora.

Before this week, The Post’s style guide called for the racial identifiers of Black and White to be spelled with lowercase b’s and w’s. While several news organizations in recent months have decided to capitalize the “B,” The Post announced Wednesday that it would capitalize both Black and White.

“With the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, that has brought civil rights and civil rights issues to the forefront,” Jesse Lewis, The Post’s multiplatform editing chief, told “Post Reports” host Martine Powers on Friday.

How to describe Black Americans with roots in Africa has taken shape for decades, Lewis said, moving from “Negro” to “African American” and to “Black” in recent years.

Using uppercase Black, The Post said Wednesday, is a “recognition and acknowledgment not only of the cultural bonds and historical experiences shared by people of African heritage, but also the shared struggles of the descendants of enslaved people, families who immigrated generations ago and more recent immigrants.”

By Alex Horton
July 31, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT

ACLU blasts DHS over ‘intelligence reports’ gathered on reporters covering Portland

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the Department of Homeland Security over the agency’s gathering of “intelligence reports” on reporters who published details of leaked, unclassified documents — as DHS’s acting chief Chad Wolf says the practice has stopped.

“Acting Secretary Wolf’s claims that he’s stopped this specific abuse simply won’t cut it,” Neema Signh Guliani, ACLU’s senior legislative counsel, said in a Friday statement.

“For weeks, DHS agents have been deliberately and brutally attacking journalists covering the Portland protests. And, documents show that DHS intelligence arm appears to be claiming authority it does not have. This administration’s assault on the First Amendment continues to escalate. It must be held accountable.”

Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland, Ore.

The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others.

After The Post published a story online Thursday evening detailing the department’s practices, Wolf ordered the intelligence office to stop collecting information on journalists and announced an investigation into the matter.

Some of the leaked DHS documents the journalists posted and wrote about revealed shortcomings in the department’s understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as techniques that intelligence analysts have used.

By Alex Horton and Shane Harris
July 31, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT

Taylor Swift rebrands merchandise after a Black-owned business accuses her of copying their logo

Taylor Swift has removed the word “The” from certain merchandise to promote her new album, “Folklore,” after Amira Rasool, founder of online retailer The Folklore, accused the pop star of copying her brand’s logo.

The 24-year-old entrepreneur posted an image last week of a cardigan for sale on Swift’s website, alongside an image of her own brand logo. The New York-based retailer sells “high-end and emerging designer brands from Africa and the diaspora, and serves as a cultural hub for contemporary brands, artists and creatives to showcase their personal stories,” according to the company’s website.

“Based on the similarities of the design, I believe the designer of the merch ripped off my company’s logo,” Rasool wrote. “I am sharing my story to bring light to the trend of large companies/celebrities copying the work of small minority-owned business owners. I am not going to let this blatant theft go unchecked.”

Swift responded by saying she would make a contribution to Rasool’s company, as well as the Black Fashion Council. A representative for the singer shared a statement Friday with USA Today saying that “Absolutely no merchandise using ‘the’ before the words ‘folklore album’ has been manufactured or sent out.”

By Abigail Hauslohner
July 31, 2020 at 1:54 PM EDT

Nearly 300 people shot in Minneapolis this year, the highest in five years

Nearly 300 people have been shot in Minneapolis since the beginning of the year, the highest number in five years, as the city continues to battle an unprecedented uptick in crime in the nine weeks since George Floyd was killed in police custody.

Mayor Jacob Frey (D) presented statistics during a Friday meeting of the Minneapolis City Council after a particularly violent two weeks in the city. More than 32 people have been shot and at least five have been killed. Police have also reported dozens of robberies and violent carjackings, many in daylight. A citywide alert was issued Tuesday warning residents to be on guard.

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo cited multiple factors they believe are fueling the city’s especially violent summer, including economic and emotional stress from the coronavirus pandemic and lingering tensions over Floyd’s death in May.

More than 150 Minneapolis police officers have left active duty, citing post-traumatic stress disorder linked to the days of protests after Floyd’s death — a development that Frey said was having an impact on response time and visibility of the police.

Arradondo said police had also seized a record number of illegal guns during recent arrests, including “high-velocity, high-powered guns” that individuals had been selling from the trunks of their cars. This year “has created some dynamics that we have never experienced before in the city, but we’re trying to do our best,” Arradondo said.

The dramatic increase in violent crime comes amid a fierce debate over the future of policing in Minneapolis. The City Council is seeking to place a proposal on the ballot in November asking voters to allow the council to replace the police department with a new public safety department that has not yet been fully defined. The ballot decision is expected next month.

By Holly Bailey
July 31, 2020 at 1:53 PM EDT

New York man sentenced to 10 years in prison for hate crime stabbing of Black woman

A Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 2018 attack on a Black woman in a Brooklyn subway station.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement Thursday that Aleksejs Saveljevs, 34, of Brooklyn attacked the 57-year-old woman “for no other reason than the color of her skin.” Gonzalez said Saveljevs had also received an additional, concurrent sentence of two to four years in prison for a separate assault on an off-duty police officer the day before the subway attack.

In the November 2018 incident, prosecutors say Saveljevs approached the woman after she left the subway and began stabbing her in the back. An eyewitness who intervened to stop the attack said Saveljevs said, “You [expletive] black [expletive].”

“This defendant viciously assaulted a fellow subway rider for no other reason than the color of her skin—one of two unprovoked attacks he waged over the course of two days,” Gonzalez said in the statement Thursday. “Acts of hate are not tolerated in Brooklyn, a place that prides itself on the diversity of its communities. I hope this sentence sends a clear message that racism and intolerance are unwelcomed here.”

By Abigail Hauslohner
July 31, 2020 at 1:16 PM EDT

Rep. Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Pence, criticized for racist items sold at his mall

EDINBURGH, Ind. — U.S. Rep. Greg Pence is coming under criticism for allowing the sale of objects with racist depictions of African Americans at a sprawling antiques mall he co-owns — and the issue has taken on particular significance as the Republican defends his congressional seat in Indiana amid a national reckoning on race.

The Exit 76 Antique Mall in Edinburgh, Ind., has more than 4 million items for sale by the merchants who rent booths from Pence, who is the vice president’s older brother, and his wife — including porcelain dinner sets and vintage clothing, Civil War relics, first-edition classic rock records and thousands of old baseball cards.

But sprinkled throughout the mall’s 72,000 square feet are dozens of objects that trade in Jim Crow-era caricatures and stereotypes, like a coin bank featuring an exaggerated, straw-hatted Black figure biting down on a watermelon or “Mammy” biscuit jars depicting smiling Black enslaved women. Some are hard to find, while others are clearly on display.

By The Associated Press
July 31, 2020 at 12:37 PM EDT

Rep. Karen Bass fought for Blacks and Latinos in South Los Angeles. Now, she’s on Biden’s VP shortlist.

A congresswoman who made her name early in her career as an activist on the streets of South Los Angeles is now on the shortlist to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.

The tough decisions Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), a five-term member of Congress, had to make during the Great Recession, when she was serving as the speaker of the California State Assembly, help explain her quiet rise in the ranks in Congress and the intensifying speculation about her future as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

By Jose Del Real
July 31, 2020 at 12:28 PM EDT

D.C. neighborhood votes to remove plaque honoring white supremacist senator

The Chevy Chase Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted unanimously this week to ask the National Park Service to remove a bronze plaque that honors Francis G. Newlands, an early 20th century U.S. senator from Nevada who was the neighborhood’s founder and a white supremacist.

An inscription on the plaque, set beside a 60-foot sandstone fountain, reads: “His Statesmanship Held True Regard For The Interests Of All Men.”

However, Newlands, who died in 1917, did not hold true regard for the interests of all. The segregationist developer wrote in a 1909 journal article that African Americans were “a race of children” and advocated abolishing their voting rights. Recognizing his racist past, the Chevy Chase Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted this week to begin the process of taking his name off the signature landmark.

In a Zoom meeting Monday, commissioners voted 5-0 to ask the National Park Service, which manages the fountain and the land on which it sits, to remove a bronze plaque bearing Newlands’s name and to create an exhibit nearby that explains the senator’s racism. The commission will also begin discussions on a new name for the fountain.

“There is no place for systemic racism in the Chevy Chase community,” the resolution reads.

Like the removal of Confederate monuments in Richmond and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd, the effort to strip Newlands’s name from the 87-year-old fountain has been years in the making.

By Justin Wm. Moyer
July 31, 2020 at 12:10 PM EDT

Prosecutors: ‘Boogaloo’ member who plotted protest violence also sexually exploited a child

An alleged member of the far-right “boogaloo” movement who was charged last month with plotting violence at a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas has now also been charged with sexual exploitation of children, federal prosecutors said this week.

Stephen Thomas Parshall, also known as “Kiwi,” 35, of Las Vegas, was arrested in late May along with two co-conspirators and charged with possession of a molotov cocktail and conspiracy to cause destruction during local protests.

“When law enforcement officers executed search warrants after the arrest, they located 10 images of child pornography, as well as numerous images of child erotica, on Parshall’s cellular phone,” the U.S. attorney’s office for Nevada said in a statement Wednesday.

According to a criminal complaint, investigators interviewed a child who told them she had been sexually abused by Parshall, starting when she was 10 years old, NBC News reported.

If convicted, Parshall would face a minimum of 15 years in prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The boogaloo is a leaderless movement; its followers, known as “boogaloo boys,” espouse a violent, anti-government ideology and believe that another civil war is inevitable. Federal prosecutors in June charged Steven Carrillo, an active-duty Air Force sergeant allegedly tied to the movement, with murdering a California sheriff and a federal protective officer.

Facebook that month also designated the movement a “dangerous organization” and removed hundreds of affiliated profiles from its platform.

By Abigail Hauslohner
July 31, 2020 at 12:05 PM EDT

Former KKK leader David Duke permanently banned from Twitter

Avowed white supremacist David Duke has been permanently banned from Twitter for repeated violations of the social media platform’s rules on hate speech.

The former Ku Klux Klan leader and onetime Louisiana legislator’s most recent tweets included a link to an interview he conducted with Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. Other posts promised to expose the “systemic racism lie” and the “incitement of violence against white people” by Jewish-owned media, and misinformation about the danger and spread of the coronavirus.

“People who refuse the mask are the real heroes,” he tweeted.

Duke, who endorsed President Trump, was banned from YouTube in June. The company confirmed the move Thursday evening.

By Jacob Bogage and Eugene Scott
July 31, 2020 at 10:45 AM EDT

More than 130 federal agents to stay in Portland area as ‘quick reaction force,’ DHS document says

More than 130 federal agents stationed near the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., will stay put as part of a “quick reaction force” as other federal forces withdraw, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security document reviewed by The Washington Post.

The “quick reaction force,” a military term, will be able to rush in to deal with unrest if the Oregon State Police need help, according to the document.

The DHS document says there are still more than 150 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel in the Portland area, including more than 110 Border Patrol agents, more than 30 members of Special Response Teams, and more than a half-dozen air support specialists. The figures do not include the additional federal personnel of the U.S. Marshals Service, part of the Justice Department, and the Federal Protective Service, another arm of DHS.

The CBP’s quick-reaction force is divided into two separate locations, both within 20 minutes of the courthouse, where protesters have clashed with security officers for two months. Nearly 100 CBP agents are stationed at one of the holding sites, while 35 more are at another site, according to the document.

The Post is not identifying the specific locations. Under the terms of a deal crafted this week with Oregon’s governor, the bulk of the federal agents are to hold back and only be deployed if state police need assistance around the courthouse, the focal point of weeks of protest, vandalism and violence.

The quick-reaction force’s instructions are to respond only to “major” felonies, including attempts to breach courthouse security or block the exits. Oregon State Police have assigned 80 officers to the courthouse protests, and state authorities will have primary responsibility for dealing with any incidents, according to the document.

By Devlin Barrett