Associated Press report that the mother and sisters of a Black teen who was killed by a suburban Milwaukee police officer have been arrested by police who were cracking down on protesters out after a curfew following a decision not to charge the officer.
Alvin Cole’s mother, Tracy Cole, and his sisters, Taleavia and Tristiana Cole, were arrested about 8:30pm Thursday along with several others in a church parking lot in Wauwatosa, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing multiple witnesses.
Cole family attorney Kimberley Motley tweeted that Tracy Cole was arrested “for peacefully protesting” and “ended up in the hospital.”
Motley later tweeted that Tracy and Tristiana Cole were released from the hospital. Details on why they were at the hospital weren’t immediately known.
A Facebook livestream that captured only audio of Tracy Cole was made by a third daughter, the newspaper reported. On a recording of it, Tracy Cole could be heard screaming in pain as she was being arrested, saying police injured her arm, hit her in the head and used a stun gun on her.
Wauwatosa police tweeted Thursday night that “several” people were arrested, and said one woman requested medical attention and was taken to a hospital.
The city was under a 7pm curfew during a second night of protests after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decided not to charge Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah, who is also Black, with the shooting death of Cole, 17, in February outside Mayfair Mall.
According to investigators’ reports, Cole had a gun and fired it. Chisholm said it appeared he shot himself in the arm. Officers said Cole refused commands to drop the weapon, prompting Mensah to fire.
Motley, the Cole family attorney, has said she plans to file a federal lawsuit against Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah.
The death of Alvin Cole was the third fatal shooting by Mensah in the last five years. Mensah shot and killed Antonio Gonzales in 2015 after police said Gonzales refused to drop a sword. A year later Mensah shot Jay Anderson Jr. In that case, Mensah found Anderson in a car parked in a park after hours.
Mensah said he saw a gun on the passenger seat and thought Anderson was reaching for it, so he shot him. Mensah wasn’t charged in either shooting.
The Hill have what they are labelling an exclusive this morning with more details about how the Director of National Intelligence briefed lawmakers of foreign influence threats to Congress last month. Olivia Beavers writes:
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe led intelligence officials in separately briefing the House and Senate Intelligence panels behind closed doors on the threats, informing lawmakers that the burgeoning foreign influence threat is being perpetrated by the usual suspects: China, Russia and Iran, though he indicated that Beijing was the primary aggressor.
Ratcliffe gave ballpark estimates of how many lawmakers have been targeted, suggesting it is from the dozens to roughly 50. But in the briefings, he declined to identify which members of Congress were the targets and he did not indicate if one party was being more heavily targeted than the other.
But there is a debate in the intelligence sphere over what Ratcliffe considers interference, including distinguishing election interference from foreign government lobbying, foreign government pressure or foreign government influence.
Some sources said Ratcliffe appeared to be categorizing efforts by countries such as China to lobby members of Congress to support a certain agenda — something viewed as a fairly common practice by foreign nations — as an effort to interfere.
Also for your diary, we’ve got a live online discussion of the US election coming up on Tuesday 20 October at 2pm ET, featuring a panel of our leading journalists.
It will feature senior political reporter Daniel Strauss; political correspondent Lauren Gambino; columnist Richard Wolffe; and be chaired by Guardian columnist and podcast presenter Jonathan Freedland.
There are more details and the ability to book your tickets here: Guardian Newsroom: The US presidential election
Here’s something to note for your diary this evening…
You may recall that earlier this week the voter registration system crashed in Florida, leading to Gov. Ron DeSantis temporarily extending the voter registration deadline. There was a legal case to try and extend it further, but that’s not going to happen.
Associated Press report that a federal judge has denied a motion to extend voter registration despite the computer meltdown. In a 29-page ruling this morning, US District Court Judge Mark E. Walker noted the historical problems the state seems to have with elections.
“Notwithstanding the fact that cinemas across the country remain closed, somehow, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. Just shy of a month from election day, with the earliest mail-in ballots beginning to be counted, Florida has done it again,” Walker wrote.
Data filed by the state indicates that 50,000 people registered during the extended time period. Based on previous trends, the judge noted, perhaps more than 20,000 additional people might have also registered to vote, if they had been able to access the system. Nevertheless, there will be no further opportunity.
As well as Michigan, the result from Wisconsin will play a significant role in putting together the required number of electoral college votes for either Trump or Biden to make it into the White House. Giovanni Russonello has had a look at the latest polling there for the New York Times Poll Watch. He writes:
Marquette has released a Wisconsin poll each month since June, and in every one Biden has held a single-digit lead among likely voters that was within the margin of error. This reflects the steadiness of a race in which Wisconsinites largely know where they stand: Roughly four in five voters have consistently expressed a strong opinion of Trump’s leadership, whether positive or negative, according to Marquette’s data.
But if there are any small signs of momentum, it appears to be breaking Biden’s way. His 48 percent approval rating in the poll released this week was his best in a Marquette survey all year, capping a 14-point rise since February. Trump, meanwhile, was seen positively by 42 percent of Wisconsin voters, leaving his net favorability rating more than 10 points in the red, where it has languished since June.
Concern about the pandemic has ticked upward recently. More than six in 10 Wisconsin voters in the Marquette poll described themselves as at least fairly worried — up from 21 percent last month. Fully 50 percent of Wisconsin voters said they did not expect the virus to be under control for at least another year, running counter to Trump’s insistence that it is already being handled effectively.
You can keep an eye on all the latest polling data from the key swing states with our US election polls tracker.
While on the topic of tariffs, Rajesh Kumar Singh has been reporting for Reuters on how the Trump administrations broken promises and tariff-raising policy on steel has impacted the job market negatively in the crucial battleground state of Michigan.
Four years after Trump promised a new dawn for the struggling US steel industry, Great Lakes Works – once among the state’s largest steel plants – has shut down steelmaking operations and put 1,250 workers out of a job. A year before plant owner United States Steel Corp called off a plan to invest $600 million in upgrades.
Trump’s strategy had centered on shielding US steel mills from foreign competition with a 25% tariff imposed in March 2018. He also promised to boost steel demand through major investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
But higher steel prices resulting from the tariffs dented demand from the Michigan-based US auto industry and other steel consumers. And the Trump administration has never followed through on an infrastructure plan.
Nationally, the steel industry has been shedding jobs for the past year – since before the wider economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – and now employs 1,900 fewer workers than it did when Trump took office, according to US Labor Department data
While the tariffs failed to boost overall steel employment, economists say they created higher costs for major steel consumers – killing jobs at companies including Detroit-based automakers General Motors and Ford. Nationally, steel and aluminum tariffs resulted in at least 75,000 job losses in metal-using industries by the end of last year, according to an analysis by Lydia Cox, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard University, and Kadee Russ, an economics professor at the University of California, Davis.
In all, they estimated, the trade war had caused a net loss of 175,000 US manufacturing jobs by mid-2019.
Democrats say they aim to recapture the votes of blue-collar workers they lost to Trump four years ago – one key factor in his victory over Hillary Clinton. Trump won Michigan by less than one percent of the statewide vote total.
Singh questions though whether such statistics will change swing-state voters’ minds. He spoke to Bill Wischman, a financial manager at a Ford manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Michigan, who says Trump has done more to protect US manufacturing than any of his predecessors.
“He has given a whole-hearted effort,” said 51 year old Wischman, who voted for Trump in 2016.
A bit of economics news, as Reuters are snapping that the US is imposing new tariffs on $1.96 billion worth of aluminum sheet products from 18 countries after determining that the goods were being dumped
In an interview on Fox Business Network, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said that the move came after the department made a preliminary determination about the dumping, but that the tariffs were being immediately imposed on countries such as Bahrain, Brazil, Germany and India, among others.
The news that a right-wing militia group was involved in a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has only increased worries about how these groups, encouraged by the president, may act in the run-up to the election.
In last week’s TV debate, Donald Trump gave this call to action: “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I’m urging them to do it.”
For those who monitor the activities of far-right militia groups and white-supremacist paramilitaries, Trump’s remarks were as welcome as jet fuel being used to quell a wildfire.
“The militias will absolutely seize on [Trump’s comments],” said Steven Gardiner, who tracks militias at the progressive thinktank Political Research Associates. “The possibility of armed factions with military-style rifles showing up at polling places is very troubling.”
Devin Burghart, the director of the anti-bigotry organization the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, had a similar sinking sensation when he heard Trump’s words. “My first thought was ‘Here we go’. This is the stuff of our worst nightmares.”
The US president’s clarion call to his supporters to intervene at polling places on election day comes at a perilous moment. As the country is battered by the combined winds of the pandemic and Trump’s personal battle against the virus, the Black Lives Matter reckoning over racial injustice, and the pending turbulent election, the US is not only more virulently divided than at any time in decades, it is also more heavily armed.
FBI background checks – a direct indicator of gun sales – almost doubled year-on-year this summer, a reflection of the jitters that abound. As America arms itself, deadly weaponry is increasingly finding its way on to the streets, borne by self-styled private militias and culminating in violent clashes that have caused bloodshed in several US cities.
Donald Trump may be the highest profile coronavirus patient in the US, but the same cannot be said of his wife Melania, who has been rather more conspicuous by her absence.
The first lady hasn’t been seen in public since her positive Covid diagnosis. On Friday 2 October she tweeted that she had ‘mild symptoms’, and then three days laters confirmed that she was ‘feeling good’ and would continue to rest at home.
Since then, aside from expressing regret that she could no longer attend a roundtable with former foster children at Colorado Christian University, there have been no further direct updates from the first lady on her health. On Wednesday her chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said that the Melania Trump “continues to feel well”.
The most recent comment has come from the president. On Thursday morning in a telephone interview with Fox Business, asked by host Maria Bartiromo “How are you feeling? How is the first lady feeling?”, Melania’s husband replied “She’s feeling good, I’m feeling good, really good. We’re ready to go.”
Melania Trump has though, continued to campaign for causes during her illness. Although it isn’t clear when it was filmed, a week ago she posted a video to Instagram in support of National Substance Use Prevention Month. She has been active again on social media in the last twenty-four hours in support of the cause.
Axios have what they are calling a scoop this morning, that attorney general William Barr has told Republicans that the Durham report into the Russian investigation will not be released before the election. Alayna Treene writes:
Attorney General Bill Barr has begun telling top Republicans that the Justice Department’s sweeping review into the origins of the Russia investigation will not be released before the election, a senior White House official and a congressional aide briefed on the conversations tell Axios.
Republicans had long hoped the report, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, would be a bombshell containing revelations about what they allege were serious abuses by the Obama administration and intelligence community probing for connections between President Trump and Russia.
“This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn’t happen before the election,” a GOP congressional aide told Axios.
Trump has been repeatedly tweeting about the investigation over the last couple of days, at one point demanding “Where are all of the arrests?”