Will Uruguay’s Luis Lacalle Pou Deliver Where Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Has Faltered?

President Luis Lacalle Pou

South America’s libertarian moment was supposed to have arrived in Brazil. A free-market economist trained in Chicago, Paulo Guedes, is the finance minister, and several young members from the country’s freedom movement of think tanks, student organizations, and activist groups hold key government posts, which they are using to roll back decades of bureaucratic growth.

The main obstacle to their efforts is President Jair Bolsonaro, a fan of military rule who—despite a photo-op holding books by Claude-Frédéric Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises—is no libertarian when it comes to civil liberties or economics. Brazilian libertarians’ alliance with Bolsonaro may indeed prove to be a Faustian bargain.

While Brazil may have swung and missed, in Uruguay, Brazil’s small neighbor to the southeast, free-market policies are enjoying a resurgence that springs from the top of President Luis Lacalle Pou’s new administration. Although his election last year received scant attention from the global media, Lacalle Pou’s rise to power ended 15 years of government by the leftist Broad Front (Frente Amplio).

Uruguay’s president from 2010 to 2015 was José “Pepe” Mujica, a former member of the violent Tupamaros guerrilla group who achieved notoriety as a plainspoken populist. A smitten Guardian journalist compared Mujica to Nelson Mandela because he was jailed for 13 years in the 1970s and ’80s, and described him in saintly terms for his apparent embrace of simple living: “The man whom most Uruguayans call El Pepe drives a 25-year-old Volkswagen Beetle, lives in a tiny house on a rural smallholding, and gives away 90% of his salary.”

According to Uruguayan writer Hanna Fischer, Mujica’s veneer of private austerity disguised his reckless handling of public finances. His government oversaw “the largest increase in government spending since democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1985.” In a power grab that was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court, Mujica sought to impose double taxation on large landholdings. Much like his leftist allies in the region, Mujica passed a “media law” that the newspaper El País called a threat to free speech. And, although he legalized marijuana in Uruguay, Mujica made sure to include “a state-enforced oligopoly, production and consumption quotas, price-fixing, [and] coerced registrations,” as one commentator explained.

Lacalle Pou’s personal style and policy preferences are a contrast with that of his older Broad Front predecessors, Mujica and Tabaré Vásquez, a socialist doctor who served as president from 2005–2010 and again from 2015–2020. The son of former National Party President Luis Alberto Lacalle (1990–1995), Lacalle Pou, a 46-year-old lawyer, is a skilled surfer who enjoys hunting wild boars. In 2019, he narrowly beat his Broad Front rival with a platform of decentralization, transparency, and cutting red tape. He even admitted casual drug use in his youth, inhaling included.

Defeating the Latin American hard left in a single election does not guarantee successful reforms. Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, a center-right businessman who was elected in 2015 to repair the damage done by 12 years of socialist mismanagement under Presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The married couple served four and eight years as president, respectively, and their inflationary, debt-fuelled policies made the Augean Stables look like Marie Kondo’s living room. Macri promised to right the ship, but once elected chose a “gradualist” approach that failed to curb Argentina’s deficits, debt, or inflation. As a result, he was booted out of office last year and Cristina Kirchner returned to power as vice president. As expected, Argentina last May defaulted again on $65 billion of debt.

Argentine politics looms large in Uruguay. Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, is only a two-hour ferry ride across the River Plate from Buenos Aires. It would have been tempting for Lacalle Pou to opt for a Macri-style move once the COVID-19 epidemic hit. The new president, however, held his ground.

In a video with nearly 2 million Twitter views at the time of writing (Uruguay has a population of 3.5 million), Lacalle Pou explains that his government faced strong pressure to create new taxes on wealth and businesses, but that he had “emphatically rejected” these suggestions. Entrepreneurs, Lacalle Pou states, “are the ones who will push the country forward. But, in the pandemic, if we punish those who create businesses and jobs, those who produce, innovate, and trade, they will be left by the wayside,” leaving everyone worse off as a result.

Instead of taxing wealth creators, Lacalle Pou decided to place an additional 20 percent tax on any state official—himself included—that earned over $1,900 per month: “We wanted to signal that the state has to make an extra effort, not private individuals. Because, once this is over, the state won’t provide for the population,” he said in the video, “it’s the individual who will rev up the engines and move the country onwards.”

Elevating the individual over the collective is extremely rare in Latin America, where statist, asset-destroying policies such as wealth taxes arise from the left and the right with equal frequency. Nor is Lacalle Pou’s defense of free-market capitalism a coronavirus fluke; even before the pandemic, he planned to make Uruguay far more attractive for foreign investors by easing the restrictions to set up tax residency in the country, a measure he already passed into law.

Under Lacalle Pou, Uruguay has handled the pandemic remarkably well. As The Economist noted, “by June 18th Uruguay had reported 849 confirmed cases and 24 deaths from covid-19, the lowest number as a share of the population of any country in South America.” In fact, it was the only country in the region to execute a successful track-and-trace policy. Bloomberg News reports that this allowed Uruguay to avoid “a lockdown, harsh quarantines, or heavy-handed policing,” despite having the largest percentage of elderly citizens in Latin America. Although schools and restaurants closed their doors, “shops and businesses were allowed to stay open.” This only bolstered Lacalle Pou’s initiative to allow an unshackled private sector to lead the economy out of the crisis.    

Uruguayan libertarians are aware of their good fortune. Journalist Pris Guinovart describes Lacalle Pou as a classical liberal who publicly opposes the Hobbesian worldview of unrestricted state power and believes in limiting the size and scope of government. “He is firmly convinced of the importance, value, and need of more freedom in Uruguay and in the rest of the world,” she adds.

For her part, Fischer, who also refers to the president as a classical liberal, says that Lacalle Pou’s sound policies in office have come as a welcome surprise. His previous career as a congressman, she explains, suggested that he was not well prepared, had few ideas of his own, and seemed to have advanced in politics by riding his father’s coattails.

Rather like Henry V, however, Lacalle Pou has shown “the mettle of his pasture” since assuming office. “We now know that he does have his own ideas and that he is an ardent lover of liberty,” Fischer adds, “as he has proven with the way he handled the pandemic, without a mandatory lockdown and appealing to individual responsibility even against the general opinion of his closest advisers, who demanded the opposite.”

Although it is still early in his term, Lacalle Pou has already proven to be a far better model to follow than Bolsonaro.

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More Money Does Buy More Happiness, Says Study

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“Does money buy happiness?,” asked economist Richard Easterlin in his famous 1973 essay in The Public Interest. His conclusion was that once a certain level of economic development had been achieved, greater wealth and income did not lead to greater overall happiness. At an aggregate level, more money does not buy more happiness, he claimed. However subsequent research found that people dwelling in higher-income countries are happier than those living in poorer places. Nevertheless, Easterlin continues to doggedly defend his position.

There is also the claim, supposedly based on work by Princeton economist and Nobelist Angus Deaton and his colleagues that happiness, does not increase once an individual’s income reaches about $75,000 per year. Actually, what the study found is that more money does not affect the immediate level of joys, stress, and sadness, but does correlate strongly with measures of overall life satisfaction.

A new study using happiness survey data encompassing the responses of 44,000 adult Americans between 1972 and 2016 from the General Social Survey (GSS) finds that more money does in fact correlate with more happiness.

Over the decades, the GSS has asked respondents to measure on a three-point scale: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”

To cut to the chase, after researchers parse the data by income deciles, they find:

Twenty-one percent of those in the lowest decile described themselves as “very happy” compared with 45% of those in the top decile; thus, those at the top of the income scale were more than twice as likely to be very happy than those at the bottom. Even with deciles, there was not a tapering of happiness at the top: Adults in the top decile of household income ($108,410 and up) were significantly happier than those in the ninth decile ($77,233 to 108,150). Those in the 10th (top) decile were 5% more likely to be “very happy” were than those in the ninth decile. Thus, among U.S. adults over age 30, money, education, and prestige are associated with more happiness, with no tapering off at higher levels of income as found in some previous studies.

The old adage is still true: If you think that money can’t buy happiness, that means you just don’t know where to shop.

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Let’s Have Fewer Public Statues

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If you think America’s statue battles are at a fever pitch, then consider the battles that Europeans have waged over statues following the demise of the totalitarian Soviet regime.

During the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, a group of students destroyed Budapest’s monument to Joseph Stalin. Soviet forces quashed the revolution, but eventually the post-communist government erected a statue to Imre Nagy, who was a hero of the uprising. That wasn’t the end of the story. In 2017, Hungary’s president replaced the statue with one more in line with his pro-Russian sympathies.

Controversies over symbols never end. Sadly, the United States now finds itself in the midst of a statue-toppling, flag-revising frenzy. Because history is, as they say, written by the winners, the latest scuffles center on whose version of history will prevail. I’m not impressed by any marble likeness and have no interest in culture wars, but many Americans seem intent on fighting over these chiseled shrines.

In San Francisco, a large group of protesters recently destroyed the statues of Ulysses S. Grant, Junipero Serra, and Francis Scott Key that had previously sat uneventfully in Golden Gate Park. In Portland, Ore., protesters toppled a statue of George Washington and painted it with the words, “genocidal colonist.”

This is the latest handiwork from America’s newest iconoclasts, many of whom view the American experiment as rotten to its core. If they focused their attention instead on, say, opposing the nation’s drug war or other current injustices, the world might become a better place. But that takes hard work and is less fun than destroying things.

There are many reasons to chip away at Grant’s legacy, given his role in the Indian wars and his administration’s myriad corruption scandals, but he led the armies that smashed the slave-defending Confederacy. Grant declared martial law to destroy the Ku Klux Klan. That makes his statue an odd target for activists who are dedicated to ridding the nation of racism. Well, at least more people are paying attention to history.

Key owned slaves, and was mocked by abolitionists for hypocrisy after he wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Isn’t it more interesting to wrestle with that inconsistency than banish the national anthem’s lyricist from the public square? Washington was the flawed founder of an imperfect nation—one that has done more to promote freedom and equality than any other nation.

Serra, canonized by Pope Francis in 2015, created California’s mission system. The attacks on his image have less to do with his personal behavior and more to do with what that system represented. “Father Serra represents the invasion of California and the taking of native lands,” a UC Riverside professor told this newspaper. The statue was a touchstone for that debate, which will be less likely to take place after we sanitize our parks and historical sites.

The Confederate statue issue is more understandable. Governments should remove these relics from public places. Southerners mostly installed them during the Jim Crow era and in the midst of the Civil Rights movement to make a retrograde political point. It took 130 years, but Mississippi officials finally seem poised to remove a slave-holding movement’s emblem from the flag of a state where 38 percent of its residents’ ancestors were slaves.

There’s a marked difference, however, between removing the statue of a Confederate general and demolishing the images of key historical figures simply because of troubling things they’ve done or because their century-old attitudes don’t conform to our current sensibilities.

Every noteworthy human being has done something controversial or awful. One prominent left-wing activist has even called for the removal of statues of Jesus because their Eurocentric depiction is a form of “white supremacy.” That would apparently leave no one worthy of such acclaim, which actually might be a welcome development.

People have an unfathomable need to venerate statues and fly flags, so it probably won’t be long before the broken marble corpses of Grant, Serra, and Washington will be replaced with gleaming new ones honoring other tainted humans—and their legacies will be questioned (or demolished) decades from now. The debate is getting tiresome.

Two professors recently called for renaming Orange County’s “John Wayne” airport because of offensive comments the actor made. Supervisors named the airport after him in 1979 because he epitomized a certain traditional-values Republicanism that seems almost quaint in the modern OC. I agree with just calling it Orange County Airport simply to make it easier for travelers to know where they’re heading, but couldn’t care less about the fate of Wayne’s terminal statue.

Frankly, I prefer fewer statues, flags, and debates about overpriced public artwork. How many people even looked closely at these edifices before the recent controversy? Those smitten by John Wayne, Robert E. Lee, or even Joseph Stalin should commission statues on their own property. The rest of us have more important issues to debate.

This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

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Arizona Gyms Reject Governor Doug Ducey’s Shutdown Order

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Arizona’s gym owners want big brother off their lats.

Some of the state’s fitness centers have announced that they will remain open in defiance of an order Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued on Monday mandating they close, along with bars, movie theaters, and water parks. That order has come amidst a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state.

“We were asked to close in five hours,” Tom Hatten, CEO of the Mountainside Fitness chain, said at a press conference, according to the Washington Examiner. Hatten has since filed a lawsuit against Ducey over his closure order, which his complaint calls “arbitrary and irrational.”

On Tuesday, police charged a Mountainside manager at one of their Scottsdale locations with a misdemeanor for keeping that gym open. Hatten has said he’d pay any fines his employees received.

Other gyms are turning up the resistance as well.

Lifetime Fitness gyms closed in response to the governor’s order. But on Tuesday the gym chain’s CEO Jeff Zwiefel said that they’d be reopening the next day, according to AZ Central.

Fit Body Bootcamp, which describes itself as a “boutique personal training studio” has also said it will stay open.

“When I think of a gym, I think of a place you walk into and you’ve got the bench presses, and the squat machines, and the curl, and all that stuff, and rows of bikes and rows of equipment,” said the franchise owner of one Phoenix-area Fit Body Bootcamp to Arizona’s Family. “That’s just not what we are.”

Arizona’s Family reports that at least two other gyms are open in the Phoenix area in spite of Ducey’s order.

The unwillingness of large segments of the fitness industry to close down again illustrates just how tired Americans are of seemingly endless lockdowns that have kept them inside and endangered their businesses. Many of these gym owners complained to the media that they’re adopting the same cleaning and social distancing protocols as businesses that are allowed to remain open.

It’s a sign that state officials are going to be increasingly hardpressed to force people back into their homes, regardless of the public health merits.

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Review: The Outpost

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The Outpost is a ripping combat film that demonstrates one more time how soldiers confronting death in some godforsaken outback can be fatally hobbled by the micro-management of top brass who are in turn taking orders from bumbling politicians half a world away. Why do some things never change?

Based on a true-life book by CNN journalist Jake Tapper, the movie is set at a remote U.S. Army outpost in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan in 2009, the eighth year of the Afghan war. The base has no particular strategic value and is in fact situated in a valley ringed by three mountains (a violation of a fundamental law of combat: “Aren’t we supposed to be on top of the mountain to win this thing?” one soldier asks). The mountains are crawling with Taliban fighters, whose sudden bursts of gunfire crackle through the hours of every day. It’s a rocky and inhospitable land, populated by villagers that American officers are naively eager to aid, but whom none of the grunts trust. When a group of new soldiers arrives by helicopter, the commanding officer (Orlando Bloom in a nicely modulated performance) greets them with, “welcome to the dark side of the moon, gentlemen.” (Welcome to Bulgaria, actually, where the movie was in fact shot.)

The director, Rod Lurie, is a West Point graduate who served four years as a U.S. Army officer. He conveys the profane male camaraderie of outpost life and the headlong chaos of combat with a close-up familiarity uncommon in these sorts of films. He is aided immeasurably by cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore, whose long tracking shots through dark rooms and then right out again into blazing sunlight to twirl with the actors through gunfire and explosions, is a rare achievement in war-movie camerawork.

The cast includes a number of showbiz offspring: Scott Eastwood, Milo Gibson, James Jagger, Will Attenborough. They’re all fine, but it’s Eastwood who gravitates quickly to the center of the movie. As we know by now, while he may lack only a dead cigarillo stuck in his mug to fully recall the scowling sang-froid of his father Clint, he has his own reserves of charisma. As commanding officers come and go at the outpost, Eastwood’s character—Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha—convincingly evolves into a leader himself. In one portentous scene, in which Romesha has led some of his men out on a daytime patrol into the mountains and stands with them looking down at the outpost as the Taliban might do, he says, “Every time they take a potshot at us, they’re figuring us out.” Then he points out the damage that enemy fighters could easily inflict in an attack, taking out the Americans’ armored vehicles, ammo depot, the base generators—and finally the Americans themselves, who’d be left exposed and helpless.

The Taliban actually are planning a major assault, an inevitability that further agitates the already jumpy Staff Sergeant Ty Carter (Caleb Landry Jones in yet another fascinating performance). The good news for Carter and the outpost’s other 53 soldiers is that there’s a squad of combat helicopters that’s ready to fly to the rescue when the Taliban—some 400 of them—launch their assault. The bad news is that those choppers are two hours away. Can the Americans hold out? That, of course, is what makes this a story worth retelling—somehow they do; and in the end they prevail.

Lurie devotes the second half of the movie to giving this ferocious battle its due, with breathtaking stretches of wonderfully well-choreographed action – some of it unflinchingly bloody—and an accumulation of telling detail: a body bag being zipped up over a dead man’s face; the nonstop sound inside an armored Humvee of bullets slapping the vehicle’s outer skin; and the drained faces of men watching their comrades going down, or already dead on the ground.

The movie is an instant classic, and it’s a shame it can’t be shown on a big theatrical screen at the moment. But it can still reach out and excite you from a smaller one. And also make you wonder why, after 19 years, we are still in Afghanistan.

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Action Park

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Action Park was the Somalia of theme parks, a New Jersey thunderdome for people who preferred risk to rules. It was founded in the mid-1970s by Gene Mulvihill, an eccentric businessman who dreamed of a participatory place that offered more than just the illusion of danger.

“My father seized upon the idea that we were all tired of being coddled, of society dictating our behaviors and lecturing us on our vices,” Gene’s son and onetime employee Andy Mulvihill writes in Action Park, an extremely entertaining memoir co-authored by the journalist Jake Rossen. So the park erected attractions that ceded high levels of control to the patrons. “Guests riding down an asbestos chute on a plastic cart,” for example, “could choose whether to adopt a leisurely pace or tear down at thirty miles per hour and risk hitting a sharp turn that would eject them into the woods.”

Those riders just might be drunk too. Action Park sold a lot of beer, eventually building its own brewery.

The park survived into the ’90s. Mulvihill’s book covers virtually everything you’d want to know about it, including the inevitable legal and regulatory battles. Injuries were common, but somehow they became part of the draw. “The risk did not keep people away,” the proprietor’s son concludes. “The risk is what drew them to us.”

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“University of Massachusetts Nursing Dean Fired After Saying ‘Everyone’s Life Matters'”

Prof. Jonathan Turley (GW) reports:

We have been discussing the growing fear of professors and students over the loss of free speech on campuses for years, but recently those concerns have been greatly magnified with the investigation or termination of professors for expressing opposing views about police abuse, Black Lives Matter movement or aspects of the protests following the killing of George Floyd.  There is a sense of a new orthodoxy that does not allow for dissenting voices as campaigns are launched to fire faculty who are denounced as insensitive or even racist for such criticism.

The most recent controversy involves the recently installed University of Massachusetts-Lowell Dean of Nursing Leslie Neal-Boylan. Dr. Neal-Boylan had only been in her position for a few months when she was fired.  The reason, according to many reports, is that she sent an email on June 2 to the Solomont School of Nursing on the recent anti-racism demonstrations across the country that include the words “everyone’s life matters.” …

I contacted the University to confirm (1) whether Dr. Neil-Boylan was fired for her statement about “everyone’s life matters” and (2) whether she was given an opportunity to hear the complaints against her and to contest the allegations.

The university responded with this statement:

“Leslie Neal-Boylan’s employment at UMass Lowell ended on June 19, after she was informed she would no longer serve as dean of the Solomont School of Nursing. She had been in that role for 10 months. Although a tenured full faculty member, she declined to join the nursing faculty. As with all such employment decisions, it was made in the best interests of the university and its students. Although we are not able to discuss specifics of a personnel matter, it would be incorrect to assume any statement by Dr. Neal-Boylan was the cause of that decision.”

This suggests that there were other reasons for the termination but, if the letter posted from Dr. Neal-Boylan is accurate, she was not aware of what those reasons might be.  If she is unaware of those allegations, this would be a rather Orwellian position where the university protects her privacy by refusing to confirm the basis for her termination even to herself.  I was hoping that the University would at least say that she was given those reasons and an opportunity to defend herself.  Instead, the university did not deny the allegation that Dr. Neal-Boylan was denied the opportunity to respond and contest any allegations….

If her firing was unrelated to the statement [“everyone’s life matters”], the University could have so stated without any violation of privacy. Such a clarification would have put to rest concerns over free speech.  Instead, there is lingering confusion ….

Prof. Turley also points to a story at Campus Reform (Addison Smith) that adds more:

One document provided to Campus Reform was allegedly written by Neal-Boylan and sent to Provost Julie Nash. The letter, dated June 19, begins, “As you know, I was fired from my position as dean in the Solomont School of Nursing…” The author claims that an exit interview was requested, but not granted.

“It is important to point out that no one ever gave me an opportunity to share my views of how the college and school were interacting nor explain myself regarding the BLM email. My meeting with you, [Dean] Shortie [McKinney], and Lauren Turner was clearly not intended to give me an opportunity to defend my actions. I was condemned without trial,” the letter obtained by Campus Reform reads.

McKinney did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform.

Another document provided to Campus Reform, dated June 16, is addressed to UML Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney and Provost Joseph Hartman. That letter states, in part,  “It seems clear that College Dean McKinney used my email regarding Black Lives Matter (BLM) as rationale to fire me. This is attributable to one phrase in my initial email that otherwise was very clearly a message to NOT discriminate against anyone…It is clear that Dean McKinney used this as an excuse because my performance as dean has otherwise been without fault and has, in fact, strengthened the SSON. You might be interested to know that I have NEVER (in a 40 year career) been accused of racism.”

The same letter went on to list 13 “accomplishments” from the “past 10 months.”

Campus Reform spoke with one faculty member who asked to remain anonymous. The source said the faculty was “totally dismayed” and “completely floored” by Neal-Boylan’s termination. It was allegedly determined that her firing was not due to performance, the source said.

“The Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Shortie Mckinney, had a meeting the day after [the incident], a town meeting… People wanted to know why [she was fired], and what was confirmed is it wasn’t a performance issue,” the source told Campus Reform.

The employee said that the faculty discovered the backlash against Neal-Boylan on Twitter and “put two-and-two together,” determining the reason behind her firing, adding that it was not performance-based.

“After some investigation, we found the [tweets], and some of the comments that were posted, and put two-and-two together,” the source said. “She [Neal-Boylan] was a wonderful woman…. When she came on board, it was like a ray of sunshine.”

There may be more facts that might shed a different light on the matter; but if the facts as reported by Prof. Turley (whose work I’ve found reliable) and Campus Reform are generally representative, the University’s actions strike me as quite improper. As I’ve mentioned before, the First Amendment and academic freedom rules aren’t quite the same for administrators as for faculty. (Compare Jeffries v. Harleston (2d Cir. 1995) with Levin v. Harleston (2d Cir. 1992).) Administrators are politicians of a sort, and questions about how various constituencies perceive them are more legitimately considered than for faculty.

Nonetheless, if Dean Neal-Boylan was fired simply for expressing the view that “everyone’s life matters”—which in context is reasonably seen as an argument that the Black Lives Matter movement focuses too much on the perils faced by blacks from the police, and that the better goal is to try to prevent police abuse more broadly (or violence more broadly)—that’s a very narrow-minded position for the university to take. And this position is also sure to send a chilling message to people other than Deans, such as faculty members (especially untenured ones) and students.

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Why Haven’t We Seen the Body Cam Footage of Duncan Lemp’s Killing?

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It’s been nearly four months since Montgomery County police killed 21-year-old Duncan Lemp during a nighttime raid on his house in Potomac, Maryland, but the Montgomery County Police Department has still not released body camera footage from the incident, despite calls from civil liberties groups and Lemp’s family.

Lawyers for Lemp’s family claim he was shot while he was lying in bed during a March 12 no-knock raid by a Montgomery County Police Department SWAT team, who threw flashbangs into his room and fired on him through his bedroom window.

The MCPD says it received a tip that Lemp was in illegal possession of firearms, which he was allegedly barred from owning due to a juvenile offense. The MCPD claims Lemp was in “possession of a rifle” when he was shot. Additionally, the department says Lemp had designed a booby trap on his bedroom door to detonate a shotgun shell in the direction of anyone entering his room.

There’s one way to possibly clear up these two conflicting narratives: release the body camera footage from the fatal raid. But the MCPD has steadfastly refused to do so.

Reason sent two public records requests, one via third-party service Muckrock and another by mail requesting the body camera footage, to the MCPD. It never received a response to either, despite Maryland law requiring the department to acknowledge those requests within 10 days. The American Conservative reported that the MCPD rejected similar requests from the Firearms Policy Coalition, a 2nd Amendment group.

“Montgomery County has refused to confirm that body camera video even exists and the chief has refused our requests for the family to meet with him,” Rene Sandler, an attorney representing Lemp’s family, says. “That is where things stand for the time being.”

A Montgomery county prosecutor also threatened Lemp’s family with jail time and fines if they violated Maryland’s stay-at-home order to protest his killing.

The MCPD and county can spring into action when it feels like it, however. For example, MCPD released body camera footage of the fatal May 7 police shooting of another man, Finan Berhe, a mere 24 hours after it occurred.

A friend of Lemp told ABC News that Lemp was a libertarian. Lemp’s social media accounts show an interest in cryptocurrency and guns. ABC News also reported that Lemp posted on militia forums, although Lemp’s attorneys say he wasn’t a member of any militias.

Since his death, his name has been frequently invoked by “boogaloo boys,” a loose, heavily armed, and very online anti-government movement. (“Boogaloo” refers to a second civil war or armed conflict between citizens and the government. It’s also used by some white supremacists to refer to the race war that they believe is just around the corner, although USA Today reports that the libertarian wing of the boogaloo movement rejects this association.)

Boogaloo groups are under intense scrutiny after several violent acts by men associated with it. Federal prosecutors recently charged two boogaloo supporters, Steven Carrillo and Robert Justus, in the May 29 killing of a security guard at a federal courthouse in Oakland, California. Facebook announced on Tuesday that it was removing hundreds of boogaloo pages.

The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office is currently investigating Lemp’s killing. Montgomery County and Howard County, which are adjacent to each other, have a reciprocal agreement where prosecutors for one county investigate fatal police shootings in the other.

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