—Police arrested Scott Michael Greene, a 46-year-old white man, in connection with the fatal shootings on Wednesday of two Des Moines-area officers. He was detained west of Des Moines without incident and charged Thursday.
—The officers—one from Urbandale, Iowa, and the other from Des Moines—were shot 20 minutes apart early Wednesday. Both were in their patrol cars. Police said they were killed in an “ambush-style attack.” They were identified as Anthony “Tony” Beminio and Justin Martin.
The Des Moines Register and other news organizations are reporting that Scott Michael Greene was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Urbandale, Iowa, Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sergeant Anthony Beminio.
“The investigation has produced probable cause to support these charges,” according to a news release quoted by the Register.
Greene, who is being held at the Polk County Jail, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges.
President Obama paid tribute to the two Iowa police officers who were killed early Wednesday, saying they “represented our best, most decent instincts as human beings—to serve our neighbors, to put ourselves in harm’s way for someone else.”
The president praised officers across the country for their service to communities and risking their lives in the line of duty. He said in part:
All across the country, our police officers go to work each day not knowing whether they’ll come home at night. Their families live each day with the same fears. So as Americans, we owe them our respect and gratitude for their efforts to safeguard our families and our communities. And so as we once again mourn American police officers lost in the line of duty, we must also renew the call to match that same sense of service, that same devotion within our own lives and our own communities.
Obama, who has spent a good deal of time in Iowa in the last eight years on the campaign trail, also praised the community with how they handled the tragedy Wednesday, saying residents of Des Moines and Urbandale are “good, big-hearted people who look out for each other and are willing to come together across our differences.”
It is unclear whether the president will visit Des Moines in the wake of the shooting.
The Des Moines officer killed was Sergeant Anthony “Tony” Beminio, Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, said at a news conference. He was “a great guy,” Parizek said. “It’s real hard” to lose him. Deminio had been with the department since 2005, he said. He was promoted last year.
The Urbandale officer was identified as Justin Martin, who joined the department in 2015. Both officers are white, as was the suspected shooter.
Parizek added that authorities did not know whether the videos posted on YouTube are a “relevant piece to our investigation.” He said he couldn’t confirm whether the man in the video was Scott Michael Greene.
Greene flagged down officers, presented his ID, and asked police to call 911, Parizek said. Greene was arrested without incident, he said.
In a statement, the attorney general said “the Department of Justice has offered any and all assistance to our state and local counterparts as they investigate these appalling attacks.”
I know that this is a time of particular tension and mistrust between law enforcement and many communities. I know that while we do not yet know what led the perpetrator to commit these awful crimes, many will be nevertheless be tempted to read a message or motive into this assault. But let me be clear: there is no message in murder. Violence creates nothing; it only destroys. And the path to the more just and peaceful society that we desire for ourselves and for our children is paved not with hatred and malice, but with compassion, and understanding, and the hard work of cooperation. Let those be our watchwords in the days to come.
The suspected shooter was first arrested for a misdemeanor in 2014 that came from an incident where he resisted arrest by two officers trying to pat him down for weapons at an apartment complex in Urbandale, The Des Moines Registerreported. Officers called Greene, who is 46 years old, noncompliant, hostile, and combative in that instance. He would later plead guilty.
Two days after that arrest, officers responded to a call saying Greene had threatened to kill a man in the parking lot of the same complex and he was charged with first-degree harassment. The Register reported Greene was accused of shining a flashlight in the man’s eyes, calling him a racist epithet, and then saying, “I will kill you.” Greene pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, and received a sentence of one year of probation.
A YouTube video posted two weeks ago to an account named “Scott Greene,” and titled “Police Abuse, Civil Rights Violation at Urbandale High School 10/14/16” shows an unpictured man arguing with several officers. The police ask the man to leave the property, saying he was “causing disturbance in the stands.” The video has not been confirmed, but is being investigated by Urbandale police. In another video on the same account, this one posted last week, a man resembling Greene holds a Confederate flag in front of people seated on bleachers. Urbandale High School's football stadium is located near the intersection where one officer was found dead Wednesday, the Register reported. Law-enforcement have not said if the videos were posted by the man arrested for the fatal shootings on Wednesday.
Police arrested Scott Michael Greene in connection with the fatal shootings of the two officers, the Des Moines Registerquoted Sergeant Chad Underwood, a spokesman for the Urbandale Police Department, as saying.
Other news organizations are also reporting the arrest.
The New York Timesquoted Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, as saying Greene was on foot when he was taken into custody in Dallas County, Iowa. He offered no resistance, Parizek said.
Wednesday’s killings in Des Moines comes just months after Micah X. Jones, an Army veteran angry at the police’s treatment of African Americans, killed five police officers on July 7 in Dallas.
Then on July 17, Gavin Long, a self-described black separatist, killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund noted that 14 officers were killed in ambushes in the first six months of 2016. Three officers were killed in that manner in the same period in 2015. The percentage increase: 300 percent.
The Urbandale officer was killed at the intersection of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue at about 1:06 a.m. CT, police said. About 20 minutes later, a Des Moines police officer, responding to the scene where the first officer was shot, was killed near the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Sheridan Avenue.
Both officers were killed in their patrol cars.
“The shootings appear to have been ambush-style attacks,” the Urbandale police said in a statement.
A statement from Des Moines Public Schools said the Urbandale school district has cancelled classes Wednesday because the shootings occurred near Urbandale High School.
Classes in Des Moines are not being cancelled, but the city’s public schools “will be in close contact with the Des Moines Police Department throughout the day, and will take any additional precautions if needed.”
Ben Hammes, a spokesman for for Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, said:
The governor and lt. governor have been alerted to the attacks on law enforcement this morning. Shortly after the shootings, our office was briefed by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on the shootings. DPS is working hand in hand with local law enforcement in the investigation. We will continue monitoring and working with law enforcement in the interest of public safety.
An attack on public safety officers is an attack on the public safety of all Iowans. We call on Iowans to support our law enforcement officials in bringing this suspect to justice. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the police officers who were tragically killed in the line of duty as well as the officers who continue to put themselves in harm’s way.
What happens when a meme becomes a terrorist movement?
On May 29, two federal security officers guarding a courthouse in Oakland, California, were ambushed by machine-gun fire as elsewhere in the city demonstrators marched peacefully to protest the killing of George Floyd. One of the guards, David Patrick Underwood, died as a result of the attack, and the other was wounded. For days, conservative news broadcasters pinned the blame on “antifa,” the loosely affiliated group of anti-fascist anarchists known to attack property and far-right demonstrators at protests. But the alleged culprit, apprehended a week later, turned out to be a 32-year-old Air Force sergeant named Steven Carrillo, the head of a squadron called the Phoenix Ravens, which guards military installations from terrorist attacks.
Imagine if the National Transportation Safety Board investigated America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coping with a pandemic is one of the most complex challenges a society can face. To minimize death and damage, leaders and citizens must orchestrate a huge array of different resources and tools. Scientists must explore the most advanced frontiers of research while citizens attend to the least glamorous tasks of personal hygiene. Physical supplies matter—test kits, protective gear—but so do intangibles, such as “flattening the curve” and public trust in official statements. The response must be global, because the virus can spread anywhere, but an effective response also depends heavily on national policies, plus implementation at the state and community level. Businesses must work with governments, and epidemiologists with economists and educators. Saving lives demands minute-by-minute attention from health-care workers and emergency crews, but it also depends on advance preparation for threats that might not reveal themselves for many years. I have heard military and intelligence officials describe some threats as requiring a “whole of nation” response, rather than being manageable with any one element of “hard” or “soft” power or even a “whole of government” approach. Saving lives during a pandemic is a challenge of this nature and magnitude.
The writer and activist has the painful, powerful words for this political moment. America just needs to heed them.
“There are days—this is one of them—when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How, precisely, are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here. I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don’t think I’m human. And I base this on their conduct, not on what they say. And this means that they have become in themselves moral monsters.”
James Baldwin made this somber observation more than 50 years ago. I included these words in my film I Am Not Your Negro, which explored Baldwin’s searing assessment of American society through the lens of the assassination of three of his friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. It is a film that cruelly shortens time and space between acts of police brutality in Birmingham in 1963 and images of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown; recent images of protests over the death of George Floyd extend that tragic connection to the present-day.
The president’s mindless nationalism has come to this: Americans are not welcome in Europe or Mexico.
There is a lot of learned material written about nationalism—scholarly books and papers, histories of it, theories of it—but most of us understand that nationalism, at its heart, at its very deepest roots, is about a feeling of superiority: We are better than you. Our country is better than your country. Or even—and apologies, but this is the precise language deployed by the president of the United States: Your country is a shithole country. Ours isn’t.
In this sense, nationalism is not patriotism, which is the desire to work on behalf of your fellow citizens, to defend common values, to build something positive. Nationalism is not community spirit either, which seeks to pull people together. Nationalism has nothing to do with democratic values: Authoritarians can be nationalists; indeed, most are. Nationalism has nothing to do with the rule of law, justice, or opportunity. At its core, nationalism is rather a competition, an ugly and negative competition. There’s a reason nationalists build walls, denigrate foreigners, and denounce immigrants: Because our people are better than those people. There’s a reason nationalism has so often become violent in the past. For if we—our nation—are better, then what right do others have to live beside us? Or to occupy land that we covet? Or even, maybe, to live at all?
In France, where I live, the virus is under control. I can hardly believe the news coming out of the United States.
I returned to Paris with my family three months after President Emmanuel Macron had ordered one of the world’s most aggressive national quarantines, and one month after France had begun to ease itself out of it. When we exited the Gare Montparnasse into the late-spring glare, after a season tucked away in a rural village with more cows than people as neighbors, it was jarring to be thrust back into the world as we’d previously known it, to see those café terraces overflowing again with smiling faces.
My first reaction was one of confused frustration as we drove north across the river to our apartment. The city had been culled of its tourists, though it was bustling with inhabitants basking in their reclaimed freedom. Half at most wore masks; the other half evinced indifference. We were in the midst of a crisis, I complained to my wife. Why were so many people unable to maintain even minimal discipline?
The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.
For Vonny LeClerc, day one was March 16.
Hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson instated stringent social-distancing measures to halt the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, LeClerc, a Glasgow-based journalist, arrived home feeling shivery and flushed. Over the next few days, she developed a cough, chest pain, aching joints, and a prickling sensation on her skin. After a week of bed rest, she started improving. But on day 12, every old symptom returned, amplified and with reinforcements: She spiked an intermittent fever, lost her sense of taste and smell, and struggled to breathe.
When I spoke with LeClerc on day 66, she was still experiencing waves of symptoms. “Before this, I was a fit, healthy 32-year-old,” she said. “Now I’ve been reduced to not being able to stand up in the shower without feeling fatigued. I’ve tried going to the supermarket and I’m in bed for days afterwards. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.” Despite her best efforts, LeClerc has not been able to get a test, but “every doctor I’ve spoken to says there’s no shadow of a doubt that this has been COVID,” she said. Today is day 80.
In the beach towns south of Melbourne, everyone, it seems, knows someone who’s been attacked.
About a week after Steven Mikac began taking antibiotics for the strange spot on his leg, the flesh around his ankle started to tighten and swell. The moist orifice of a wound opened up and took the form of a small bullet hole. A plug of tissue had gone missing—dissolved into pus and slime. Walking was excruciating. Working, unbearable. In early October of last year, Mikac showed his ankle to a colleague at the hospital where he works in Melbourne, in the Australian state of Victoria. She suggested that it might be Buruli ulcer—a disease caused by a strain of flesh-eating bacteria.
Though Mikac had seen local television reports about an outbreak of this tropical disease in Victoria, it sounded so freakish, so unlikely, that he hardly considered it a possibility. But like hundreds of Australians before him, he was about to become all too familiar with Buruli, a slow-moving horror show that has proved, in many ways, even more baffling to infectious-disease researchers than the novel coronavirus. After decades of research, scientists still aren’t certain who, or what, is spreading this strange malady around the world.
People complain that going to the shore is a careless act during a pandemic, but the science so far suggests otherwise.
We’ve entered another risky, uncertain phase of America’s pandemic summer. COVID-19 cases are surging across most states, and once again, intensive-care units are filling up. Eighteen states have either paused or rolled back their plans to reopen, and even Republican governors who previously resisted public-health guidelines about masks are now asking people to mask up.
So why on Earth do so many articles about this crisis feature pictures of people frolicking on wide-open beaches? Why is an attorney dressed as the grim reaper bothering beachgoers in Jacksonville, Florida? Why are cities such as Los Angeles shutting down beaches?
The answer, unfortunately, goes a long way to explain why, of all the developed, rich nations, the United States may well be stuck in the worst-case scenario, and for the longest amount of time.
Power comes before freedom, not the other way around.
His impatience had thinned like the length of his letters back home to his wife, Abigail, in Boston. On June 7, 1776, John Adams finally had the opportunity to second the resolution that led to the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress. Though it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the declaration’s editors and defenders behind history’s scenes piloted its approval on July 2, mostly notably Adams.
He pleased his wife, Abigail, impatient, too, as she was about declaring independence that year. But she desired more. “In the new Code of Laws … I desire you would Remember the Ladies,” she wrote to him on March 31, 1776. “If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no … Representation.”
Revolutionary imagery is ubiquitous right now. But real structural change involves more than the toppling of statues, and what happens next is a matter of chance.
Three months ago, a global pandemic and a sudden economic crisis looked grave enough to suggest that something—if not a revolution, then at least the stirrings of a revolutionary era—was under way. Since then, the revolt against the pre-coronavirus status quo has only gained force. Crowds chanting “Black lives matter” and “Enough is enough” have marched all across the country. Statues have been toppled, buildings have been renamed, and pollsters report that public opinion has shifted with almost unprecedented speed. In Ferguson, Missouri, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, protesters carried a guillotine. As a historian of the French Revolution, I can’t help but pay attention to guillotines (adopted in the 1790s as an alternative to the cruel and unusual punishment of death by hanging). If the United States right now is not in the early months of a revolution, Americans are certainly surrounded by the signs of past ones.