Billionaires have had a pretty good pandemic. There are more of them than there were a year ago, even as the crisis has exacerbated inequality. But scrutiny has followed these ballooning fortunes. Policymakers are debating new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Even their philanthropy has come under increasing criticism as an exercise of power as much as generosity.
One arena in which the billionaires can still win plaudits as civic-minded saviors is buying the metropolitan daily newspaper.
The local business leader might not have seemed like such a salvation a quarter century ago, before Craigslist, Google and Facebook began divvying up newspapers’ fat ad revenues. Generally, the neighborhood billionaires are considered worth a careful look by the paper’s investigative unit. But a lot of papers don’t even have an investigative unit anymore, and the priority is survival.
This media landscape nudged newspaper ownership from the vanity column toward the philanthropy side of the ledger. Paying for a few more reporters and to fix the coffee machine can earn you acclaim for a lot less effort than, say, spending two decades building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
$680 million bid by Hansjörg Wyss, a little-known Swiss billionaire, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a Maryland hotel magnate, for Tribune Publishing and its roster of storied broadsheets and tabloids like The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.
Should Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum succeed in snatching Tribune away from Alden Global Capital, whose bid for the company had already won the backing of Tribune’s board, the purchase will represent the latest example of a more than decade-long quest by some of America’s ultrawealthy to prop up a crumbling pillar of democracy.
If there was a signal year in this development, it came in 2013. That is when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and the Red Sox’ owner, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe.
“I invested in The Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and The Globe should play a vital role in determining that future,” Mr. Henry wrote at the time.
led a revival of the paper to its former glory. And after a somewhat rockier start, experts said that Mr. Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, have gone a long way toward restoring that paper as well.
Norman Pearlstine, who served as executive editor for two years after Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase and still serves as a senior adviser. “I don’t think that’s open to debate or dispute.”
From Utah to Minnesota and from Long Island to the Berkshires, local grandees have decided that a newspaper is an essential part of the civic fabric. Their track records as owners are somewhat mixed, but mixed in this case is better than the alternative.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a report last year showing that in the previous 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers disappeared, leaving behind what they called “news deserts.” The 2020 report was an update of a similar one from 2018, but just in those two years another 300 newspapers died, taking 6,000 journalism jobs with them.
“I don’t think anybody in the news business even has rose colored glasses anymore,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit journalism advocacy group. “They took them off a few years ago, and they don’t know where they are.”
“The advantage of a local owner who cares about the community is that they in theory can give you runway and also say, ‘Operate at break-even on a cash-flow basis and you’re good,’” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
won a prestigious Polk Award for its coverage of the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath.
“The communities that have papers owned by very wealthy people in general have fared much better because they stayed the course with large newsrooms,” said Ken Doctor, on hiatus as a media industry analyst to work as C.E.O. and founder of Lookout Local, which is trying to revive the local news business in smaller markets, starting in Santa Cruz, Calif. Hedge funds, by contrast, have expected as much as 20 percent of revenue a year from their properties, which can often be achieved only by stripping papers of reporters and editors for short-term gain.
Alden has made deep cuts at many of its MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Alden argues that it is rescuing papers that might otherwise have gone out of business in the past two decades.
And a billionaire buyer is far from a panacea for the industry’s ills. “It’s not just, go find yourself a rich guy. It’s the right rich person. There are lots of people with lots of money. A lot of them shouldn’t run newspaper companies,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the former editor of The Chicago Tribune. “Sam Zell is Exhibit A. So be careful who you ask.”
beaten a retreat from the industry. And there have even been reports that Dr. Soon-Shiong has explored a sale of The Los Angeles Times (which he has denied).
“The great fear of every billionaire is that by owning a newspaper they will become a millionaire,” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
Elizabeth Green, co-founder and chief executive at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with 30 reporters in eight cities around the country, said that rescuing a dozen metro dailies that are “obviously shells of their former selves” was never going to be enough to turn around the local news business.
“Even these attempts are still preserving institutions that were always flawed and not leaning into the new information economy and how we all consume and learn and pay for things,” said Ms. Green, who also co-founded the American Journalism Project, which is working to create a network of nonprofit outlets.
Ms. Green is not alone in her belief that the future of American journalism lies in new forms of journalism, often as nonprofits. The American Journalism Project received funding from the Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which also bought The Atlantic. Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built one of the country’s largest savings and loans, gave money to start ProPublica.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth of relatively small nonprofits that are now part of what I would call the philanthropic journalistic complex,” said Mr. Doctor. “The question really isn’t corporate structure, nonprofit or profit, the question is money and time.”
operating as a nonprofit.
After the cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, he set up a hybrid structure. The paper is run as a for-profit, public benefit corporation, but it belongs to a nonprofit called the Lenfest Institute. The complex structure is meant to maintain editorial independence and maximum flexibility to run as a business while also encouraging philanthropic support.
Of the $7 million that Lenfest gave to supplement The Inquirer’s revenue from subscribers and advertisers in 2020, only $2 million of it came from the institute, while the remaining $5 million came from a broad array of national, local, institutional and independent donors, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and chief executive of Lenfest.
“I think philosophically, we’ve long accepted that we have no museums or opera houses without philanthropic support,” said Ms. Lipinski. “I think journalism deserves the same consideration.”
Mr. Bainum has said he plans to establish a nonprofit group that would buy The Sun and two other Tribune-owned Maryland newspapers if he and Mr. Wyss succeed in their bid.
“These buyers range across the political spectrum, and on the surface have little in common except their wealth,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Each seems to feel that American democracy is sailing through choppy waters, and they’ve decided to buy a newspaper instead of a yacht.”
Unions representing employees at two prominent podcasting companies owned by Spotify, the audiostreaming giant, announced Wednesday that they had ratified their first labor contracts.
The larger of the two unions, with 65 employees, is at The Ringer, a sports and pop culture website with a podcasting network. The second union, at the podcast production company Gimlet Media, has just under 50 employees. The two groups were among the first in the podcasting industry to unionize, and both are represented by the Writers Guild of America, East.
Lowell Peterson, the guild’s executive director, said the contracts showed that the companies’ writers, producers and editors “bring enormous value to the major platforms for whom they create content.”
The contracts establish minimum base pay of $57,000 for union members at The Ringer and $73,000 at Gimlet Media, annual pay increases of at least 2 percent, and a minimum of 11 weeks of severance pay.
complained about a lack of Black writers and editors after the company’s founder, Bill Simmons, hosted a podcast in which a colleague ham-handedly discussed the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and praised Mr. Simmons’s commitment to diversity.
At Gimlet, the company recently canceled the final two episodes of a four-part series on racial inequity at the food magazine Bon Appétit after staffers complained that Gimlet itself suffered from similar problems.
Employees at both companies unionized in 2019, and the contract negotiations were at times contentious. Management refused to give ground on a top union priority — rights to work that writers and podcasters create, which the companies will retain — but the unions nonetheless ratified the contracts unanimously, according to the writers guild.
“We began this process with the aim of improving working conditions and compensation at the company, especially for our lowest-paid members,” the Ringer Union said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have achieved that goal with this contract.”
Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On March 11, Delta Air Lines dedicated a building at its Atlanta headquarters to Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former mayor. At the ceremony, Mr. Young spoke of the restrictive voting rights bill that Republicans were rushing through the Georgia state legislature. Then, after the speeches, Mr. Young’s daughter, Andrea, a prominent activist herself, cornered Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian.
“I told him how important it was to oppose this law,” she said.
For Mr. Bastian, it was an early warning that the issue of voting rights might soon ensnare Delta in another national dispute. Over the past five years, corporations have taken political stands like never before, often in response to the extreme policies of former President Donald J. Trump.
After Mr. Trump’s equivocating response to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, Ken Frazier, the Black chief executive of Merck, resigned from a presidential advisory group, prompting dozens of other top executives to distance themselves from the president. Last year, after the killing of George Floyd, hundreds of companies expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
But for corporations, the dispute over voting rights is different. An issue that both political parties see as a priority is not easily addressed with statements of solidarity and donations. Taking a stand on voting rights legislation thrusts companies into partisan politics and pits them against Republicans who have proven willing to raise taxes and enact onerous regulations on companies that cross them politically.
Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta in protest, and more than 100 other companies spoke out in defense of voting rights.
The groundswell of support suggests that the Black executives’ clarion call will have an impact in the months ahead, as Republican lawmakers in more than 40 states advance restrictive voting laws. But already, the backlash has been swift, with Mr. Trump calling for boycotts of companies opposing such laws, and Georgia lawmakers voting for new taxes on Delta.
eliminate a tax break for Delta, costing the company $50 million.
Yet as 2021 began and Mr. Bastian focused on his company’s recovery from the pandemic, an even more partisan issue loomed.
In February, civil rights activists began reaching out to Delta, flagging what they saw as problematic provisions in early drafts of the bill, including a ban on Sunday voting, and asking the company to use its clout and lobbying muscle to sway the debate.
Delta’s government affairs team shared some of those concerns, but decided to work behind the scenes, rather than go public. It was a calculated choice intended to avoid upsetting Republican lawmakers.
In early March, Delta lobbyists pushed David Ralston, the Republican head of the Georgia house, and aides to Gov. Brian Kemp to remove some far-reaching provisions in the bill.
followed the same script, refraining from criticizing the bill.
That passive approach infuriated activists. In mid-March, protesters staged a “die in” at Coca-Cola’s museum. Bishop Reginald Jackson, an influential Atlanta pastor, took to the streets with a bullhorn and called for a boycott of Coca-Cola. Days later, activists massed at the Delta terminal at the Atlanta airport and called on Mr. Bastian to use his clout to “kill the bill.” Still, Mr. Bastian declined to say anything publicly.
Two weeks to the day after Delta dedicated its building to Mr. Young, the law was passed. Some of the most restrictive provisions had been removed, but the law limits ballot access and makes it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.
The fight in Georgia appeared to be over. Days after the law was passed though, a group of powerful Black executives frustrated by the results sprang into action. Soon, Atlanta companies were drawn back into the fight, and the controversy had spread to other corporations around the country.
spoke with the media. “There is no middle ground here,” Mr. Chenault told The Times. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”
“This was unprecedented,” Mr. Lewis said. “The African-American business community has never coalesced around a nonbusiness issue and issued a call to action to the broader corporate community.”
Mr. Bastian had been unable to sleep on Tuesday night after his call with Mr. Chenault, according to two people familiar with the matter. He had also been receiving a stream of emails about the law from Black Delta employees, who make up 21 percent of the company’s work force. Eventually, Mr. Bastian came to the conclusion that it was deeply problematic, the two people said.
accused Mr. Bastian of spreading “the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.” And Republicans in the Georgia house voted to strip Delta of a tax break, just as they did three years ago. “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand,” said Mr. Ralston, the house speaker.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida posted a video in which he called Delta and Coca-Cola “woke corporate hypocrites” and Mr. Trump joined the calls for a boycott of companies speaking out against the voting laws.
Companies that had taken a more cautious approach weren’t targeted the same way. UPS and Home Depot, big Atlanta employers, also faced early calls to oppose the Georgia law, but instead made unspecific commitments to voting rights.
declared their opposition to proposed voting legislation in that state. And on Friday, more than 170 companies signed a statement calling on elected officials around the country to refrain from enacting legislation that makes it harder for people to vote.
It was messy, but to many activists, it was progress. “Companies don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Stacey Abrams, who has worked for years to get out the Black vote in Georgia. “It’s going to take a national response by corporations to stop what happened in Georgia from happening in other states.”
LONDON — British cities echoed last year with the cries of Black Lives Matter protesters, demanding a racial reckoning in Britain similar to that convulsing the United States in the wake of multiple killings of Black Americans by the police.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded by releasing a government-commissioned report on the state of racial discrimination in Britain that concluded that the country “should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries.” The backlash was swift and scathing.
Critics accused the Conservative government of whitewashing racial injustice by arguing that discrimination is more a result of socio-economic disparities than skin color. By discouraging use of the term institutional racism, they said, the report sought to turn back the clock on how Britons talk about race.
While the document, compiled by a 10-member Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, acknowledged the enduring nature of racism — “graffiti on someone’s business, violence in the street or prejudice in the labor market” — it came to an upbeat conclusion about the progress of British society as a whole.
“level up” prosperity between wealthy London and the white, working-class strongholds in the Midlands and the north. While the commission is independent, and all but one of its members are ethnic minorities, critics said they were chosen because their views generally align with that agenda.
“The argument is that the real victims of racism are the white working class,” said Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University. “The reason they have asked these Black and brown people to do this report is to legitimize their position.”
pulling down the statue of a notorious 17th-century slave trader, Edward Colston, in Bristol. Critics faulted its advocacy of a “new story” about the slave trade, one that focused less on the suffering it caused and more on how “culturally African people transformed themselves into a remodeled African/Britain.”
Macpherson Report, which grew out of an inquiry into the racially motivated killing of a Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993. That document found evidence of institutional racism in the botched investigation of the crime, a provocative new concept that transformed the debate over racism in Britain.
With hate crimes being reported to the police at a greater rate, the new report argues that the term institutional racism should no longer be used so liberally and without evidence to support it — a subtle point that critics say is nonetheless damaging.
“Reverting to the idea that we’re going to focus on racism only as overt hostility and hatred takes us back to the more simplistic ways we talked about racism,” said Matthew Ryder, a lawyer who worked on racial issues as a deputy mayor of London. “It undoes the progress we’ve made in the last 20 years in this country.”
Even before its release, critics complained that the report’s conclusions were handed to selected journalists before publication as part of a media strategy shaped more by politics than a desire to expand the discourse over race.
Afzal Khan, a Labour lawmaker, said the document was “based on a Conservative ideology that seeks to place the blame on individuals rather than addressing its root cause” and was a “blatant and transparent attempt to kick start a culture war.” The report came out against programs, like unconscious bias training for employees, which are often targeted by critics on the right.
There was also criticism from David Lammy, another Labour lawmaker and the author of a 2017 study on how the criminal justice system treated minorities. Mr. Johnson’s approach to the Black Lives Matter movement had “let an entire generation of young white and Black British people down, Mr. Lammy said on LBC, a talk-radio station on which he recently debated patiently with a caller who argued that his Afro-Caribbean heritage meant he could not be considered English.
“This report could have been a turning point and a moment to come together,” Mr. Lammy said. “Instead, it has chosen to divide us once more and keep us debating the existence of racism rather than doing anything about it.”
The cashier who served George Floyd in a Minneapolis store immediately before his arrest and death last May told a court on Wednesday of the “disbelief and guilt” he felt for allowing Floyd to pay with a suspected fake $20 bill when he later saw the police kneeling on him.
Testimony on the third day of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial continued on Wednesday in an atmosphere of tense emotions and harrowing evidence about Floyd’s death.
The cashier, Christopher Martin, 19, said Floyd appeared to be high on drugs but was not threatening and was “very approachable, talkative”.
Martin said he noticed Floyd because “he was a big man” and that they had a long conversation about sport.
He did tell the court in Minneapolis, however, that he noticedthe 46-year-old Black man’s speech was laboured.
“It would appear that he was high,” he said.
Martin worked at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis, where Floyd is alleged to have tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, which led to his detention by Chauvin, who was later fired from his job and arrested.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second – and third – degree murder, and manslaughter, after he pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on 25 May 2020, the Memorial Day holiday.
He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.
Floyd’s official autopsy showed that he had opioids and methamphetamine in his system when he died.
Chauvin’s defence contends that the officer’s use of force was reasonable because Floyd was under the influence of drugs at the time of his detention. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, has also told the trial that the drugs contributed to Floyd’s death.
The prosecution acknowledges the use of drugs but has said that it neither justified Chauvin continuing to press his knee into Floyd’s neck as the prone man repeatedly said he cannot breathe nor was a cause of his death.
The trial was shown video of Floyd in the shop. He can be seen wandering around for several minutes, appearing to stagger at times, before making his way to the tobacco counter where Martin was serving. Floyd buys cigarettes and pays with a $20 bill.
Martin said that he was immediately suspicious of the note because it had an unusual pigment but accepted it anyway even though he knew it would be deducted from his pay.
“I thought George didn’t really know it was a fake bill so I was doing him a favour,” he said.
But Martin had a change of heart and showed the note to a manager who said to go after Floyd and bring him back in to the store.
Throughout the video, Floyd does not appear threatening. Although there is no audio, at times he appears to be joking with other customers.
“He seemed very friendly, approachable, talkative,” said Martin. “But he did seem high.”
The trial was then shown footage of Martin and a co-worker approaching Floyd as he sits in his vehicle and telling him he needed to come back to the store and speak to the manager about counterfeit money.
When Floyd twice refuses, the police are called. Martin went back to work but returned outside after noticing a crowd gathering on the street.
“I saw people yelling and screaming. I saw Derek [Chauvin] with his knee on Floyd’s neck,” he said. “George was motionless. Chauvin seemed like he was in a resting state, meaning he was resting his knee on his neck.”
Later in the footage, Martin is seen watching events with his hands on his head. The prosecutor asked what he was thinking.
“Disbelief and guilt,” he said. “If I would have just not taken the [counterfeit] bill, this could have been avoided.”
Martin said that not long afterwards he quit his job at Cup Foods because he “did not feel safe”.
Earlier, the defence continued its cross examination of Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter who was prevented by the police from offering medical assistance to Floyd as he was dying, after coming across the scene while she was off duty and seeing Chauvin and two other police officers pinning Floyd to the street.
Hansen acknowledged that she did not show identification proving the she was a firefighter with medical training as she pleaded with Chauvin and other police officers to let her treat Floyd because she thought his life was in danger.
Earlier, Nelson put it to Hansen that she “got louder and more frustrated and upset” as Chauvin continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck.
The firefighter responded that she did not become angry until Floyd was already dead “and there was no point in trying to reason with them any more because they had just killed somebody”.
When the defence pressed Hansen to agree that other people in the crowd were “upset or angry”, Hansen shot back: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s quite upsetting”.
The prosecution is building a picture of a group of police officers, led by Chauvin, who were indifferent to Floyd’s suffering and the danger he was in over an agonizing period of time and that his restraint was not a result of split-second decision-making.
A succession of prosecution witnesses has told the court that the alarm and anger of bystanders was not a threat to the police but a demand for action to help Floyd as he begged for his life and called out for his dead mother with waning pleas.
The jury were shown several videos recorded by people at the scene in which members of the public can be heard loudly remonstrating with Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck. But the video did not show any threats made to the safety of officers.
Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death are scheduled to be tried together later this year on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
The news about the state of the pandemic in the U.S. has been largely positive in the past few months. The vaccines are highly effective, and millions of people are receiving doses each day. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have fallen sharply from their January peaks.
But infections are rising again. The U.S. has averaged 65,000 new cases a day over the past week — a 19 percent increase from two weeks ago. That puts the country close to last summer’s peak, though still far below January levels.
aren’t surprised. “For literally a month and a half, we’ve all been predicting that the second half of March is when B.1.1.7 would become the dominant variant in the United States,” says Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health. “And sure enough, here we are.”
The increase is not distributed equally. “New York and New Jersey have been bad and are not getting better, and Michigan’s cases are rising at an explosive rate,” Mitch Smith, a Times reporter covering the pandemic, said.
Hospitalizations are also rising rapidly in Michigan, with Jackson, Detroit and Flint among the metro areas experiencing the highest rates of new cases in the country.
The outlook is more encouraging in much of the West and South, though cases have started to tick up in Florida, where officials in Miami Beach instituted a curfew this month to prevent crowds of spring breakers from gathering.
while warning that “reckless behavior” could lead to more infections.
The solution, Jha believes, is honesty. “There’s been this debate throughout the whole pandemic: Should we be more optimistic or should we be more pessimistic? My personal strategy has been to just be honest with people,” he says. “Be honest with people and give it to them straight. I think most people can handle it.”
In other virus news:
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the second day of Derek Chauvin’s trial, six people who were at the scene last year as Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck testified. The teenager who recorded the video at the center of the case said she sometimes lay awake at night, “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.” (Here are the takeaways from Day 2.)
Two Capitol Police officers are suing Donald Trump, claiming he is responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered during the Jan 6. riot.
These photos show the conditions in an overcrowded border facility in Donna, Texas, that is housing more than 4,000 migrants.
A January airstrike by the French Army targeting militants killed 19 civilians in Mali, a U.N. report found. The attack intensified calls for about 5,000 French troops stationed there to leave.
G. Gordon Liddy, who concocted the bungled burglary that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon, died. He was 90.
The N.F.L. will add a 17th regular-season game, the first expansion of the league’s schedule since 1978.
The Final Four is set for the N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments, after No. 1 seeds in each bracket — Gonzaga for the men and Stanford and South Carolina for the women — won last night.
Under the Sea: “There’s no bottom, no walls, just this space that goes to infinity. And one thing you realize is there are a lot of sea monsters there, but they’re tiny.”
Lives Lived: Alvin Sykes converted to Buddhism in his 20s and led a monk’s life in the name of social justice. Though he was not a lawyer, he devoted himself to prying open long-dormant murder cases from the civil rights era, including that of Emmett Till. Sykes died at 64.
That outrage is by design, as The Times’s music critic Jon Caramanica writes. “What ‘Montero’ has caused — or rather, what Lil Nas X has engineered — is a good old-fashioned moral panic,” he writes. “The song, the video, the shoes — they are bait.”
Lil Nas X found major fame in 2019 with his viral hit “Old Town Road.” But what has kept him relevant is the skill set he developed before that, as an ardent Nicki Minaj fan on social media. That experience made him a master at steering online conversations, a talent that translates well to pop stardom.
“He is a grade-A internet manipulator and, provided all the tools and resources typically reserved for long-established pop superstars, he is perfectly suited to dominate the moment,” Caramanica writes. “‘Montero’ may or may not top the Billboard Hot 100 next week, but it will be unrivaled in conversations started.” — Sanam Yar
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P.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election 53 years ago today, the last time a U.S. president has done so. The Times covered the news with a front-page banner headline.
The woman who recorded the shocking video of Derek Floyd’s death that prompted mass protests for racial justice around the world has told the Derek Chauvin murder trial of her feelings of guilt at being unable to intervene to save his life.
Darnella Frazier, who at times sobbed as she gave evidence on the second day of Chauvin’s trial in Minneapolis, said that she still loses sleep over the killing of the 46 year-old Black man.
“I ended up apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more,” she said.
But, Frazier added, it is not about what she should have done.
“It’s what he should have done,” she said in apparent reference to the Chauvin.
Frazier was 17 when she recorded the video as a bystander.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second- and third-degree murder, and manslaughter, over the death of Floyd last May. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge
Frazier’s more than nine-minute video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he lies prone on the ground outraged millions of people in the US and beyond in part because the now former Minneapolis police officer ignored increasingly desperate pleas from Floyd as he repeatedly said he could not breathe.
Prosecutors have presented Frazier’s video as compelling evidence of Chauvin’s guilt.
“You can believe your eyes, that it was homicide, it was murder,” one of the prosecutors, Jerry Blackwell, told the court in his opening statement on Monday.
Frazier, who is now 18, said she began recording the incident because Floyd looked “terrified and scared, begging for his life”.
She was so horrified by coming across the scene that she told her younger cousin to go into a food store so she would not have to see it, the court heard.
The prosecution used Frazier to reinforce the case they are building that Chauvin maliciously kept his knee on Floyd’s neck even when it was clear the detained man was not resisting arrest and was increasingly in danger.
Frazier said that despite the appeals from the crowd, Chauvin did not ease up as he pinned Floyd down.
“He had like, this cold look,” she said. “It seemed as if he didn’t care.”
At another point, Frazier said Chauvin reacted to appeals from the crowd by increasing the pressure on Floyd.
“If anything he was kneeling harder, like he was shoving his knee into his neck,” she said.
The prosecution’s questioning of witnesses through the second day sought to established that police officers did nothing to help Floyd despite his growing distress and struggle to breathe.
Prosecutors also sought to head off defence claims that Chauvin’s actions were influenced by threats to his and other officers safety from an increasingly alarmed crowd of bystanders.
Frazier denied defence claims that the police were threatened by the growing crowd. She said they wanted to intervene to help Floyd, who was in distress.
“Anytime anyone tried to get close, they [the police] were defensive,” she said.
Frazier said she felt threatened by the police officers, including Chauvin, who put their hands on the containers of mace spray that officers carry.
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter with emergency medical training who was off duty and passing by, testified that the police would not let her give medical attention to Floyd.
“He wasn’t moving and he was cuffed. Three grown men putting their weight on was too much,” she said. “It didn’t take me long to realise that he had an altered state of consciousness.”
Hansen said her training told her that he needed immediate help.
“What I needed to know was whether he had a pulse anymore,” she told the court.
Hansen said she identified herself as a firefighter with medical training to one of the officers, Tou Thao, who was not restraining Floyd but was keeping onlookers at bay and in effect standing guard for Chauvin.
She said Thao responded that if she really was a firefighter she should know better than to get involved.
“I tried to be reasonable and then I tried to be assertive,” she said. “I pled and was desperate.”
Hansen said she felt helpless because there was a man being killed in front of her and she was denied the opportunity to help him.
Earlier in the day, another witness to Floyd’s death said that he called the emergency services during the incident because “I believed I witnessed a murder”.
Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter, said he pleaded with Chauvin to stop what he termed a dangerous “blood choke” on Floyd.
“You could see that he was going through tremendous pain,” said Williams. “You could see his eyes go back in his head … You could see he was trying to gasp for air.”
Williams told the closely watched trial he was prevented from intervening to help Floyd by Thao who pushed him in the chest and back on to the curb.
Williams said he raised his voice in anger but did not otherwise intervene “for fear of myself and fear of people around me” from the officers.
As Floyd was taken away by ambulance, Williams called the 911 emergency number to report what he believed to be a crime – essentially calling the police on the police.
He can be heard repeatedly saying “murderers bro” on the call, audio of which was played in court.
On cross examination, defence lawyer Eric Nelson put it to Williams that he was increasingly angry and threatening as he taunted Chauvin by calling him “a bum” at least 13 times, “a bitch” and telling him that “within next two years you will shoot yourself”.
Williams denied he was letting his anger get the better of him.
Thao – and two other officers who were next to Chauvin and helping restrain Floyd – are scheduled to be tried together later this year on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Companies were quick to speak out during the racial justice protests last year, putting out statements of solidarity and posting black squares on Instagram. But after Georgia Republicans passed broad voting restrictions, Atlanta’s corporate giants have been much more muted — and activists are now talking boycotts, The Times’s David Gelles writes.
Among the targets:
Delta, which has publicly defended gay rights and said it stood with Black people after the police killings of George Floyd and others. But on the voting legislation, the airline has only issued a statement about a need for broader voter participation. It told employees that it had “engaged extensively” with lawmakers in creating the legislation, and that the measure had “improved considerably” during the process, though it noted that “concerns remain.”
Coca-Cola, which pledged last summer to “invest our resources to advance social justice causes.” When it came to the recent bill, Coke said that it was aligned with local chambers of commerce, which also spoke mainly of increasing voter participation and avoided sharp criticism. (Late yesterday, Coke said it was “disappointed” in the new law, but added, “We don’t see this as the final chapter.”)
“It’s not as though corporations are unwilling to speak powerfully about social justice issues,” Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense, told David. Companies spoke out forcefully against bills on gender and bathroom access, even threatening to pull out of states like Indiana and, yes, Georgia.
What changed? Companies may be shying away from political fights, after spending four years speaking out against the Trump administration. And the Georgia laws were spearheaded by mainstream Republicans, making executives less eager to cross lawmakers they may need on other issues.
Ms. Ifill raised a provocative third potential reason. “Why is it that corporations that could speak so powerfully and unequivocally in opposition to discrimination against the L.G.B.T.Q. community and immigrants are not speaking as clearly about the disenfranchisement of Black people?” she said. “This is a race issue.”
For activists, the next step is calling for boycotts on companies with big Georgia presences, including Coke, Delta, Home Depot and UPS. If “Coca-Cola wants Black and brown people to drink their product, then they must speak up when our rights, our lives and our very democracy as we know it is under attack,” Bishop Reginald Jackson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The Suez Canal is clear. Now what? The 224,000-ton Ever Given was freed from the vital shipping passage days after being stuck, hindering global trade. After the celebrations will come two big questions: What happened, and how can the disruptions be sorted out?
prevented 90 percent of Covid-19 infections by two weeks after the second shot. But President Biden and the head of the C.D.C., Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urged Americans to maintain virus safety measures in the face of “impending doom” from a potential fourth wave of cases.
The White House pushes for tax increases to pay for its infrastructure and jobs plan. As it rolls out its multitrillion-dollar spending initiative, the Biden administration is likely to call for about $3 trillion in new taxes, The Washington Post reports.
President Tayyip Reccip Erdogan of Turkey fired another top central bank official. The removal of Murat Cetinkaya, a deputy governor, was announced with no explanation. It came 10 days after Mr. Erdogan fired the bank’s chief, setting off a sell-off in Turkey’s currency.
The Supreme Court wonders what to do in an investor fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. Justices noted that both sides agree that general statements about professional integrity could be the basis for a lawsuit, and that their positions had moved closer over the course of litigation.
huge stock sales tied to Archegos Capital Management, one thing has become clear: Cooperation is not the finance industry’s strong suit.
Archegos’ main lenders met on Thursday to discuss an orderly wind-down of the firm’s trades, according to The Wall Street Journal. The idea was to limit the damage from several banks dumping huge blocks of stock in ViacomCBS and other companies, potentially tanking prices and hurting their own balance sheets.
You can guess what happened next. Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley sold small amounts of stock after that meeting. But Goldman Sachs opened the floodgates the next day, quickly followed by Morgan Stanley. By market close, the two had sold nearly $20 billion worth of Archegos assets.
That left Goldman and Morgan Stanley with relatively little damage to their businesses, while banks that didn’t move as quickly — notably Credit Suisse and Nomura — warned investors that they could suffer huge hits. As one banker involved told the FT, “The reality is in a fire sale, if you’re not first out the door you’re going to get burned.”
What a SPAC believer thinks of SPAC mania
Kevin Hartz, the founder of Eventbrite, believes in the value of SPACs: In February, his first SPAC (named “One”) acquired the industrial 3-D printing company Markforged in a $2.1 billion deal. His second blank-check fund — named “Two,” of course — raised $200 million yesterday. Still, he told DealBook that he believes some SPACs pose risks to retail investors.
Below are edited excerpts from their conversation.
On why S.E.C. scrutiny is needed:
Because people are getting hurt. “For some millennial family to invest in a SPAC, or invest in a SPAC merger, and then see that crater is why we need the S.E.C. to be more involved here,” he said.
What could happen next:
Mr. Hartz pointed to the dot-com bubble as a warning: “We still kind of point to 1999, 2000 as an indicator of what SPACs will need to go through, unfortunately, and that is kind of extreme euphoria, followed by the reality of most losing money for investors.”
corporations and governments has grown in recent years. Yet when it comes to the Supreme Court, some are resisting efforts to allow more sunlight into the institution, as demonstrated in the debate over a bipartisan bill that aims to televise the court’s proceedings.
No Supreme Court hearing has ever been filmed, though Congress has been trying to get cameras in federal courts since 1937. Most state courts allow cameras, and some federal circuit courts permit video with limits. But Chief Justice John Roberts and the five other veterans on the bench have said they fear that the presence of cameras would transform oral arguments into showy performances. (The court’s three most recent appointees have said they would consider it.)
Seeing arguments in “monumental cases” shouldn’t be a privilege of the few, said Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who is sponsoring the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act. Adding cameras “opens our democracy and gives millions of Americans a window into the room where decisions are made that have lasting effects for generations,” he told DealBook.
Then again, the court has adapted during the pandemic, allowing live audio feeds of arguments. Justices may clamp down on the public’s access to the court when the pandemic lifts, but the tech precedent may make that more difficult.
replace President Andrew Jackson on the bill. “The primary reason currency is redesigned is for security against counterfeiting,” Lydia Washington, a representative for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, told DealBook. “The redesign timeline is driven by security feature development.”
The Obama administration said it would unveil a design “concept” by 2020, to coincide with the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Extensive redesign work was reportedly done, but in 2019 President Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the project would be delayed until at least 2026. (Insiders said they had always doubted that the 2020 deadline could be met).
It turns out that the complex design and testing process for currency can’t be hurried. “No final images have been selected,” Ms. Washington said. (The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment).
THE SPEED READ
Recent trades in the private markets reportedly valued ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, at more than $250 billion. (Bloomberg)
The food service Deliveroo lowered the high end of valuation expectations for its forthcoming I.P.O., to £7.85 billion ($10.8 billion). (Reuters)
Politics and policy
Best of the rest
Goldman Sachs said its interns would work out of its offices this summer. (Bloomberg)
If the minimum wage had grown at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses since 1985, workers would be paid $44 an hour today. (Insider)
Take a peek at the potential offices of the future: hot desks, Zoom rooms and more. (NYT)
We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to email@example.com.
After almost a week of dredging, drigging and tugging — and with some help from the moon — salvage teams yesterday freed the giant container ship that had been stuck in the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
As a result, traffic has resumed for the hundreds of ships waiting on both ends of the canal. And while estimates have varied wildly, the delay is also expensive. “The disruption has caused the canal authorities in Egypt losses of $95 million in revenue,” The Times’s Peter Goodman told me.
And even though the ship is free, the disruption isn’t over.
“It’s not just like flipping a switch,” Vivian Yee, the Times’s Cairo bureau chief, told me. Now that the ship is out of the way, the backlog will take at least a few days, maybe even weeks, to resolve.
High winds from a sandstorm caused the ship, the Ever Given, to turn sideways in the canal and get stuck, its operators said. But shipping experts have suggested that while the wind probably had a role in the crisis, human error might have, too.
few extra inches of tidal flow and gave workers the boost they needed to set the ship free.
Not a normal ship
It’s rare that a maritime disruption makes international news. But this was not your average mishap. For one, the Suez Canal isn’t like other waterways. “It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil,” Peter writes.
And the Ever Given is one of the world’s biggest container ships. “From a distance, it’s hard to comprehend how big it is,” Vivian told us. “From land, all the containers on top look like Legos — and then you realize each one of those Legos is 20 or 40 feet long.”
a backlog of goods sitting in factories, waiting to be put in boxes, Vivian says.
It took 10 years of hard labor — during which tens of thousands of Egyptian workers died — to build the canal in the 19th century.
For more: This is how giant container ships are built.
THE LATEST NEWS
The prosecution argued that Chauvin acted with excessive force, and played a video that showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. “You can believe your eyes that it’s homicide,” a prosecutor told the jury.
The defense argued that Floyd’s death was caused by underlying medical conditions and a drug overdose, and urged jurors to consider evidence beyond the video.
This two-minute video shows key moments from the first day of the trial.
Other Big Stories
After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, does the U.S. need a domestic terrorism law?
Yes: Making domestic terrorism a federal crime would help law enforcement punish violent extremists, says Elizabeth Neumann, a former Trump administration official. It would also deter future violence, Mary McCord and Jason Blazakis write in Lawfare.
No: “The problem is not lack of laws. It is a lack of will” to pursue extremists using existing law, the A.C.L.U.’s Hina Shamsi argues. And some progressives fear that the government could exploit the law to limit Americans’ rights or target minority communities, Vox’s Nicole Narea explains.
Makeover: The beauty industry has entered a phase of total pop-culture domination. Celebrities, social media stars and lifestyle influencers are changing the way the sell works.
Lives Lived: A fierce advocate for New York’s disabled, Edith Prentiss fought to make the city she loved more navigable for everyone. She died at 69.
suffered more during the pandemic than most other U.S. restaurants.
Their business began declining sooner — in January of last year, when news broke that a new virus was circulating in Wuhan, China. The restaurants have also had to cope with a rise in anti-Asian racism — “vandalized, robbed, attacked online in racist Yelp reviews,” as The Washington Post reported. Xi’an Famous Foods in New York began closing early after two employees were punched in the face while commuting to and from work.
Grace Young, a decorated author of cookbooks, is worried that traditional Chinatowns, like New York’s and San Francisco’s, will never recover from the pandemic, and she has spent months trying to call attention to the problem. “When you step into those restaurants, you are stepping back in time, and it’s a privilege,” Young said on a recent episode of “The Splendid Table,” a food podcast.
For anyone who wants to help Chinese restaurants, Francis Lam, the host of “The Splendid Table,” offered a suggestion: “If you can, order yourself some Chinese takeout. Get extra. Leftovers are your friend.” In The Times, Bonnie Tsui has more tips for supporting restaurants. — David Leonhardt
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
creamy asparagus pasta to the next level.
What to Watch
See a short opera film starring the drag queen Sasha Velour, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner and lip-syncing legend.
Meanwhile, on TikTok
Young artists are bypassing art schools and student loans, quitting their day jobs and pursuing careers as full-time artists on TikTok. But what happens when viewership plummets and copycats arrive?
MEXICO CITY — The death at the hands of police of a woman who was a refugee from El Salvador has drawn international condemnation and potential embarrassment for Mexico, which on Monday began hosting a United Nations summit focused on gender equality.
The woman, Victoria Esperanza Salazar Arriaza, died on Saturday after being detained by the police in Tulum, a resort town on the Yucatán Peninsula. Videos shared on social media show an officer kneeling on the woman’s back as she cried out. Officers can later be seen dragging her limp body into the back of a police truck.
Authorities in the state of Quintana Roo confirmed on Monday that the cause of death was a fractured spine, and four officers were arrested in connection with the killing.
On Monday afternoon, the mayor of Tulum, Victor Mas Tah, said at a news conference that the city’s chief of police had been removed from his post.
ever-increasing number of Central Americans who are traveling the length of Mexico in a bid to reach the United States.
Mr. López Obrador has come under intense criticism for his inaction on gender violence from local feminist activists, whom he dismisses as being politically motivated. Earlier this month, hundreds of women marched on the president’s residence, the National Palace, attacking with bats and blowtorches a metal barrier erected by officials to protect the building. On Sunday night, family members of women killed in Mexico held an all-night vigil outside the National Palace to demand justice for the dead.
were arrested in the massacre of 19 people, including several Guatemalan migrants, in the northern state of Tamaulipas, the latest in a long line of killings in Mexico involving government forces.
On Sunday night, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador sent out a flurry of tweets condemning the killing of Ms. Esperanza and calling on Mexican authorities to punish the officers involved.
“I am sure that the Mexican government will apply the full weight of the law on those responsible,” Mr. Bukele said. “My condolences to Victoria’s family, especially her two daughters, to whom we will give all possible help.”
Ms. Esperanza’s killing in police custody also drew comparisons to the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, who similarly died under an officer’s knee, sparking nationwide protests in the United States and an international reckoning on race and police brutality.
On Sunday, dozens of people marched through the streets of Tulum demanding justice for Ms. Salazar and an end to violence against women in Mexico, local media reported.