Tag Archives: Michigan

Michigan governor calls Trump adviser’s call to ‘rise up’ against COVID restrictions ‘incredibly reckless’

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she has the authority to issue a second stay-at-home order to curb the spiking coronavirus if necessary and called a comment by an adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump urging people to “rise up” against Michigan’s latest restrictions “incredibly reckless.”

The Democratic governor spoke with Capitol reporters a day after announcing limits amid a surge of COVID-19 cases that has led to increased hospitalizations and deaths. Other Midwest states are facing similar second waves as the weather cools, and she has urged the public to “double down” with precautions to avoid a shelter-in-place order like what was instituted in the spring.

Whitmer responded to a tweet sent Sunday night by Scott Atlas, a science adviser to Trump, who urged people to “rise up” after the governor’s announcement. Trump himself has urged supporters to push Whitmer to reopen the state following virus restrictions, though many rules had been lifted previously. 

“It’s just incredibly reckless considering everything that has happened, everything that is going on,” Whitmer said. “We really all need to be focused on the public health crisis that is ravaging our country and that poses a very real threat to every one of us.”

Atlas later tweeted that he “NEVER” would endorse or incite violence. Fourteen men have been charged in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap the governor.


Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s coronavirus disease adviser, said he would never endorse or incite violence. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

‘Targeted approach’

Under the restrictions that start Wednesday, Michigan high schools and colleges must halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining and entertainment businesses such as casinos, movie theatres and bowling alleys must close for three weeks. Gathering sizes also will be tightened.

Whitmer called it a “targeted approach” informed by epidemiologists and public health experts. She renewed her call for the Republican-led legislature to codify a mask requirement in law in part to send a unified message to the public, calling it “the best weapon we have against our common enemy.” The proposed legislation is opposed by Republican legislative leaders.

She noted that lawmakers enacted laws keeping intact unemployment benefits and addressing other matters after the state Supreme Court’s October ruling striking down a law she repeatedly used to respond to the pandemic, but said her administration can continue largely combating the pandemic unilaterally under a health law.

“This is precisely the power that one of the justices pointed to in terms of actions we can and should be taking throughout this pandemic,” the governor said.

Michigan’s seven-day average of daily new cases has more than doubled from 3,113 to 6,684 over two weeks. It is up nearly five-fold from 30 days ago. The number of patients currently hospitalized, about 3,000, has risen six-fold in under two months.


Armed protesters shelter from heavy rain during a protest against Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home orders at the Capitol building in Lansing, Mich., on May 14. (Seth Herald/Reuters)

Urging federal agreement on aid

Asked if the state can do anything to assist closed businesses and their soon-to-be laid-off employees, Whitmer again urged Trump and Congress to enact a relief law. She said she and the governors in a loose “compact” of other Midwest states — Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kentucky — will have a joint media event Tuesday.

Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan and a Republican former lieutenant governor, also called on Congress and the president to act.

“I think we have to expect that this will mean catastrophic failure for many of them (small businesses),” he said of the state order. “They’re just in no condition to weather these types of conditions, given the fact that some of them were required to be closed for five or six months earlier this year.”

In Detroit, an early virus hot spot where infection rates are lower than in the suburbs, Mayor Mike Duggan said businesses “are being shut down because of irresponsible behaviour in the surrounding communities.”

Whitmer said Republican legislators have been included in calls in which health experts model cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Without aggressive steps now, she warned, Michigan could see 20,000 more deaths by February. The state has reported nearly 8,400 confirmed or probable deaths tied to COVID-19 and about 275,000 cases.

“The restrictions are absolutely necessary right now. The pandemic is out of control. Nurses are at their breaking point, so any help the public can give us would be great,” said Jamie Brown, a critical care nurse from Kalamazoo and president of the Michigan Nurses Association.

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5 men in Michigan governor kidnapping plot to face hearings

Five men accused in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will appear in federal court Tuesday for a hearing on whether they should be detained before trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Berens will oversee the bail and detention proceeding in Grand Rapids for Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta — all Michigan residents. A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware.

The FBI made arrests last week after using confidential sources, undercover agents and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Some defendants had conducted coordinated surveillance of the Democratic governor’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September, according to a criminal complaint.

The men were trying to retaliate against Whitmer due to her “uncontrolled power” amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said. They said four of the men had planned to meet last week to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear.

Whitmer, who was considered as Joe Biden’s running mate and is nearly halfway through a four-year term, has been widely praised for her response to the virus outbreak but also sharply criticized by Republican lawmakers and people in conservative areas of the state. The Capitol has been the site of many rallies, including ones with gun-toting protesters calling for her ouster.

Whitmer put major restrictions on personal movement and the economy, although many of those limits have been lifted since spring.

Fox, who was described as one of the leaders, was living in the basement of a vacuum shop in Grand Rapids. The owner said Fox was opposed to wearing a mask during the pandemic and kept firearms and ammunition at the store.

The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.

Seven others linked to a paramilitary group called the Wolverine Watchmen were charged in state court for allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and providing material support for terrorist acts by seeking a “civil war.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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Biden strengthens lead in Democratic race with projected wins in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi primaries

Joe Biden was projected to take Tuesday night’s biggest primary prize — Michigan — along with decisive wins in Missouri and Mississippi, dealing an early blow to rival Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on a night when six states were up for grabs.

Celebrating his early victories, he told supporters near his Philadelphia campaign headquarters, it was “another good night” and “a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honour to the White House.”

In a subdued tone, Biden reached out to supporters of struggling rival Bernie Sanders, thanking the Vermont senator and his following “for their tireless energy and their passion” and their common goal: to “beat Donald Trump.”

Back in 2016, Sanders scored an upset that lent much-needed credibility to his 2016 primary challenge of Hillary Clinton — and where U.S. President Donald Trump’s victory four years was so narrow that Democrats are desperate to show they have the strength to flip it back.

But Biden made a final push there in recent days, rallying autoworkers and touting a fresh round of high-profile endorsements.


From left, U.S. Democrat presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and former vice-president Joe Biden. (Chip Somodevilla, Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Despite the early losses, Sanders could get a boost from North Dakota, Idaho or Washington state, where votes were still being counted. But his campaign announced Sanders would not speak publicly Tuesday night. 

Adding to the tension of incoming results was fears about the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Both Sanders and Biden hastily cancelled events they’d scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland, and the Democratic National Committee announced that an upcoming debate in Arizona on Sunday would be held without a live audience “at the request of both campaigns and out of an abundance of caution.”

Tuesday marked the first time voters weighed in on the Democratic contest since it effectively narrowed to a two-person race between Sanders and Biden. It was a test of whether Sanders can broaden his appeal among African Americans after earlier setbacks in the South. Biden, meanwhile, sought to show that he can keep momentum going after his surprise Super Tuesday turnaround.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard remains in the race, but has only two delegates so far. She has not qualified for the Sunday debate. 

Biden now frequently ticks off the names of six former presidential rivals who have endorsed him just in the past week, saying he is “the candidate that they think can win.” The former vice-president has campaigned in recent days with two of them, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and appeared with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. All three have have been mentioned as possible vice presidential picks.

Following Biden’s strong showing Tuesday night, former candidate Andrew Yang also added his name to the Biden endorsement list. 

Battleground Michigan

With 125 delegates at stake, Michigan got most of the attention Tuesday. Trump won the state by only about 10,000 votes during the general election in 2016, and Democrats are eager to take it back.

A win for Biden might show his party he can do it again against Trump in November. 


Jill Biden, centre, wife of Joe Biden, elbow bumps young supporters on Tuesday, in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith/The Associated Press)

Although he has rejected notions he could drop out of the race if Tuesday goes badly, Sanders was visiting polling stations in Detroit on Tuesday, scrounging for late-breaking supporters. He’s said he’s now battling the “Democratic establishment” and scoffed at suggestions that so much of the party’s elite supporting his opponent means Biden is more electable.

“In a general election, which candidate can generate the enthusiasm and the excitement and the voter turnout we need?” Sanders asked. “If you want to defeat Trump, which all Democrats do and the majority of independents do and some Republicans do, we are that campaign.”

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‘A microcosm of the country’: How impeachment hearings are playing out in parts of swing state of Michigan

Marilyn Rotko is a swing dancer in a swing state.

“Back and forth. It swings. It does. It swings from Republican to Democrat,” she says about her adopted home state.

The former New Yorker has lived in Michigan for most of the past decade. She has been registered as a Democrat since she could register to vote.

Rotko says one of her frequent dance partners is much more conservative. They don’t talk about politics.

It’s a refrain heard often these days in what some refer to as the “purple state,” called that because of the red (Republican) and blue (Democrat) mix of voters.

Politics and the impeachment hearings can be touchy subjects in a place where the margins for a win in 2016 were razor thin. Donald Trump took Michigan by just 10,704 votes.

Sterling Heights, Mich., is the fourth-largest city in Michigan, with a population of about 133,000. It is something of a bellwether, a predictor of what side will take power. 

The city voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and for Trump in 2016.


The last seven presidents, Democrat and Republican, all won the vote in Sterling Heights, the fourth-largest city in Michigan. (CBC)

Resident Michael Taylor was one of those Trump voters, and says it’s a move he now regrets.

“For me, it was really his character and fitness for office. I should have known before he got elected. But he, you know — I just, I just reached my breaking point,” he says, referring to his frustration with President Trump.

Taylor is also the mayor, and since he went public with the revelation that he no longer supports Donald Trump, he says hears from constituents who aren’t happy he is speaking out against the president.

“I think he’s beyond the pale, so I made that decision. But I I feel like I’m kind of alone on an island.”

He calls his city “a microcosm of the country at large.”

“Sterling Heights is really, to me, Ground Zero for what’s going to happen,” Taylor says about the coming election, adding that his constituents care more about jobs and the economy than the controversies around the president. 

“We’ve got four automotive plants and we’ve got a lot of manufacturing. And manufacturing is as strong as it’s ever been. We’ve got a lot of jobs and we’ve got a lot of vibrancy here.”


Michael Taylor, mayor of Sterling Heights, Mich., with one of his constituents at a local restaurant. (CBC)

When he has meet-the-mayor events, he says the continued support for the president is overwhelming.

Even though he doesn’t think the impeachment proceedings are playing out very well for President Trump, he also doesn’t think this will sway voters.

“The folks in this restaurant, they’re going to go to their job,” Taylor says, sitting in a back booth in a family-owned diner in his constituency. “And as long as they get that steady paycheque, and as long as they’ve got that job security, and as long as they feel like the economy is working for them, they’re not paying attention to the Twitter account and they’re not paying attention to all this madness.”

Swaying the vote

David Dulio, a political science professor at nearby Oakland University, agrees. He says Michigan is a state that is largely decided by independent or undecided voters. Those who support the president are likely to continue to support him, Dulio says, while dyed-in-the-wool Democrats aren’t going to switch sides.

Those who haven’t picked sides might be swayed by a number of things, but like Mayor Taylor, Dulio doesn’t think impeachment proceedings will have a significant impact in the state.

Both Dulio and Taylor say one of the key things that could affect Michigan’s vote, but which can’t be factored in yet, is who the Democrats end up nominating for the presidential run.

“I think what really matters to them is how candidates address issues that they care about,” says Dulio.


David Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University, says whether Michigan swings Democrat or Republican has largely been determined by people who aren’t staunch Democrat or Republican voters. (CBC)

He calls those the “kitchen table” issues. They include things like the economy, the manufacturing sector and health care costs.

“Those kitchen table issues can vary from household to household. But I think it really is how are candidates planning to address the issues that those particular individuals care about?”

Dulio and Taylor say a candidate who is too left-leaning won’t play well in a state like Michigan.

Impeachment fallout

For now, voters in the state say the political divisions are unlikely to be any further split by the outcome of the impeachment hearing, whatever it turns out to be.

Meanwhile, Republican voter Nancy Landa says she avoids conversations about politics, even with her own family.

“My dad even becomes, like, so hostile — even the mention of politics,” she says.

With things so polarized, Landa added that she tries to stay out of the fray of the latest scandals, even if they are as high-profile as an impeachment hearing.

“I try to stay a little bit of an arm’s-distance-length from it, just because there’s so much bickering over details right now,” she says, adding that most people are pretty set in what they already think, regardless of what the outcome of this hearing will be. 

“I mean, if you’re a Republican, you kind of feel that there’s no value to it,” she says. “And if you’re a Democrat, you are 100 per cent thinking he’s guilty.”

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What happens when a Democratic congresswoman talks impeachment at a coffee shop in divided Michigan

In a sense, it was the perfect place for a group of Americans to take on the big question now facing their country: What to do about President Donald Trump?

On Wednesday, several dozen voters packed into the Grand Traverse Pie Company coffee shop in East Lansing, Mich., in a federal district that elected a Democrat in the last midterms but prior to that had been staunchly Republican for a generation.

In presidential contests, Michigan has voted equally for nominees from both parties since the 1940s, and most recently for Trump in 2016. The state was seen as a key to Trump winning the White House.

But for most of the people gathered in the restaurant, the answer on whether to impeach the president was clear: Get rid of him. Now.


Mike Mihalus says it’s past time to pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump. (Marie Claudet/CBC)

“I’m convinced the guy’s guilty as hell,” said Mike Mihalus, who, like the rest, had come to listen to the district’s newly elected Democratic congresswoman, Elissa Slotkin.

She had organized the event so she could meet with voters and hear their views on Trump while Congress is on a two-week break.

“He should have been impeached a year ago,” Mihalus, coffee in hand, told CBC News before the event.

“Let me put it this way, we need to do some investigation, because we need to get this stuff set in stone, so that everybody can see it and hopefully believe it.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, a group of placard-carrying Trump supporters was gathered outside with a much different message for their representative.

“He won. Get over it,” read one of the placards.


Pro-Trump supporters gather outside Slotkin’s meeting in the coffee shop. (Marie Claudet/CBC)

When Slotkin arrived, the crowd inside cheered. She may be a rookie on Capitol Hill, but many see her as a rising star.

She and a small group of other first-term congresswomen have labelled themselves “the badasses” of Capitol Hill, because before entering politics each had served in either the military or the CIA.

Slotkin had opposed impeachment until last week, when evidence emerged suggesting Trump had withheld U.S. military aid to Ukraine as leverage in trying to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Trump’s rival, 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Slotkin, along with six other Democrats, including some of the so-called badasses, then co-authored an essay published in the Washington Post saying the time had come to move forward on impeachment. 

That essay is said to have been a key factor in the decision by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

“Involving foreigners in our elections in any way, I feel … has no place in our politics,” Slotkin told the crowd in the coffee shop. “It was beyond the pale.”


U.S. President Donald Trump has called the Democrats’ attempt to impeach him yet another ‘witch hunt.’ (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Slotkin knows full well her district has a strong mix of both pro- and anti-Trump voters, and she’s acknowledged that taking a stand in favour of something as potentially divisive as impeachment brings with it personal political risk.

But she says she’s convinced an inquiry is the right thing for the country.

“All I can tell you is this,” she said, “I did not make this decision based on politics. I made this decision because it was the right thing to do in my heart.

“What I would ask everyone, whether you agree or disagree with the decision [for an inquiry], is that we treat it with the seriousness that it deserves.”

She said it’s a “deeply troubling time” for the government. 

“No one wants to be doing this.”

Slotkin, a former CIA officer who did three tours of duty in Iraq, later told CBC News that Trump’s behaviour demands action.

“This can’t be the new normal,” she said.

Impeachment is the political process of removing from office certain elected or public officials accused of wrongdoing. The process is more difficult than you might think. 2:01

‘Wounds are going to be deep’

It’s a view echoed by most of those who turned out to see her at the restaurant, but it was clear they also worry an impeachment inquiry risks deepening an already bitter divide in this country.

“If nothing else, we should all be able to agree that it’s time to apply the law,” said Tara Lenzotti, who brought three friends with her to hear from Slotkin.

“When we come out of this, it’s going to show who was on the right side of history.”

But, she underlined, “I think the wounds are going to be deep.”


Tara Lenzotti says pursuing impeachment is necessary but will deepen divisions in the country. (Marie Claudet/CBC )

Mike Mihalus had a more sobering concern, about the possibility some of Trump’s more radical supporters could become violent.

Trump himself posted a quote on Twitter from a pastor suggesting that removing him from office would lead to a “Civil War-like fracture” in the country.

“It’s not going to be civil war,” said Mihalus, “but there’s going to be some bad things going on.”

‘He’s doing what we want him to do’

As Slotkin addressed the crowd inside, the group of about 20 Trump supporters stood outside watching, one of them holding a pink placard against the window reading, “Women For Trump.”

“We sent him [to the White House]. We knew who he was when we sent him there,” said Trump supporter Linda Lee Tarver, who disapproves of Slotkin’s stance on impeachment. “This is Trump country … and people need to respect that.”


Trump supporter Linda Lee Tarver says the president is doing what he was sent to the White House to do. (Marie Claudet/CBC)

Tarver said she likes Trump because she, too, wants a wall along the border with Mexico. She also appreciates his support for the military and believes he is helping the economy.

“We didn’t send a choirboy [to the White House],” she said. “I sent a president who is a businessman, to handle my business.

“And he’s doing what we want him to do.”

Cut short

Slotkin’s event inside came to an early end. The crowd supporting her had grown significantly larger than Slotkin and the restaurant had expected.

“The fire marshal is on his way,” she said, apologizing for cutting things short and asking people to leave.

“Thank you for being engaged citizens.”


The crowd in the coffee shop ended up being bigger than organizers had expected. (Marie Claudet/CBC )

As Slotkin left for another event across town, there was a reminder waiting outside that the country is far from reaching consensus on any of this.

Stepping out of the restaurant, Slotkin had to then wind her way through those Trump supporters who were chanting and waving their placards.

One of those placards had a particularly blunt message: “Impeach Slotkin!”


This placard was waiting for Slotkin outside. (Marie Claudet/CBC)

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Michigan warns about mosquito-borne virus after 3 deaths

Public health officials are urging people to guard against mosquito bites after more cases of a rare mosquito-borne virus, including two additional deaths in southwestern Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an update Tuesday on Eastern equine encephalitis, saying there were deaths in Cass and Van Buren counties. Those follow an earlier death in Kalamazoo County.

There also have been human cases in Barry and Berrien counties, and animal cases in St. Joseph, Genesee and Lapeer counties. In all, Michigan has had seven confirmed human cases and nine horse deaths.

The department is encouraging officials in affected counties to consider postponing, rescheduling or cancelling outdoor activities occurring at or after dusk, particularly activities that involve children, until there’s a hard frost. 

The virus is rare but dangerous, and symptoms include fever, chills and muscle and joint pain. It can cause inflammation and swelling in the brain. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 per cent of people infected with the virus die. 

At least 20 cases have been reported in five states. 

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‘We’re getting the results’: Michigan project seeks justice for LGBTQ victims of hate

This story is a companion piece to The Village, the latest season of CBC’s true crime podcast Uncover, with host Justin Ling. The podcast explores the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur and unsolved homicides in Toronto’s LGBTQ community.


Last February, prosecutor Jaimie Powell-Horowitz stood in a small Detroit courtroom and admonished the defence lawyer over his treatment of her witness.

It was the preliminary hearing of Albert Weathers, a Michigan pastor accused of murdering a transgender female sex worker named Kelly Stough. Powell-Horowitz suggested attorney David Cripps had crossed a line by asking Kyra Butts, a trans woman and friend of the victim, to list all of the names she goes by.

“That is extremely insensitive and inappropriate,” Powell-Horowitz told the court. “Mr. Cripps is using this as an intimidation tactic. He knows that this witness goes by Kyra. At this point, he’s seeking to embarrass and humiliate her.”

Cripps denied the accusation, but the exchange illustrated Powell-Horowitz’s heightened awareness of any line of questioning she thinks could be construed as disrespectful to her witness and the transgender community.

Having that awareness is part of her role as a special prosecutor with the Fair Michigan Justice Project, which helps investigate and prosecute cases involving lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, especially when they could be hate-motivated crimes.

This mandate has resonance in Canada, particularly in Toronto, after the conviction of Bruce McArthur, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to the murders of eight men, seven of whom had ties to the city’s LGBTQ community.

The disappearances of gay men in Toronto in recent years had sparked anger in the community. Some felt that police had not taken concerns about their safety seriously enough — the same issue the Fair Michigan Justice Project is trying to address.


Jaimie Powell-Horowitz, who was appointed as the special prosecutor for the project, stressed that the goal is not just getting guilty verdicts. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

Supporters of the project say it makes it possible for LGBTQ witnesses to feel comfortable enough to testify.

“Without Fair Michigan, you would not have seen Kyra on [the] stand,” said Liliana Angel Reyes, director of the Detroit-based Ruth Ellis Center, which provides accommodation and support services for at-risk LGBTQ youth.

The Village, Extra – Trans women of colour in Detroit are confronting an epidemic of violence with the support of The Justice Project, a task force that investigates and prosecutes serious crimes against LGBTQ people. After aspiring designer and dancer Kelly Stough is murdered in Detroit, they take on her case. 47:54

Powell-Horowitz told CBC the mission of the project is not just to get guilty verdicts.

“It’s making sure that the people who are dealing with the criminal justice system are treated with respect, and feel like they are listened to.”

Launched in 2016

The Fair Michigan Justice Project was launched in 2016 by Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general and the first openly gay politician in the state. In a 2018 interview with NBC News, she said she formed the group after she became aware of “the exponential rise in hate crimes … especially against the LGBT community.”

Nessel said “many” of these incidents “were not being solved, not being charged, and certainly, there were no convictions.”

The Fair Michigan team also includes special investigator Vicki Yost and Julisa Abad, a trans woman of colour and former sex worker who serves as a victims’ advocate and the project’s liaison with the LGBTQ community.

The group claims to have a 100 per cent conviction rate so far and hopes to also win the Weathers case.


Albert Weathers is accused of shooting 36-year-old Kelly Stough during an altercation in the city’s Palmer Park neighbourhood on Dec. 7, 2018. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

Weathers is accused of shooting Stough, 36, during an altercation in the city’s Palmer Park neighbourhood on Dec. 7, 2018. In an interview with police, Weathers claimed Stough was trying to rob him and that he acted in self-defence. He also told them his gun went off accidentally. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office said evidence about the role of Stough’s gender identity in her death will be presented in court. 

Michigan’s constitution does not have explicit protections that cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Although perpetrators who commit violence against the LGBTQ community cannot be charged with a hate crime per se, Fair Michigan treats the cases as such.

“Because that’s what they are,” said Powell-Horowitz.

Crimes that Fair Michigan has prosecuted include one in which a man assaulted a victim with a firearm while filming it, stating that he hated gay black men; and a woman who discovered her teenage daughter was seeing another girl and subsequently beat her while using anti-gay slurs.

Of the two dozen cases Fair Michigan has prosecuted, half of them involve victims who are transgender women.

According to a 2017 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, of the 28 reported hate violence homicides across the U.S. (not including the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando),  68 per cent were of transgender and gender nonconforming people and 61 per cent were transgender women of colour.


A view of the Corktown neighbourhood in Detroit. Members of the city’s LGBTQ community say their concerns had been ignored by law enforcement until activists such as those with the justice project started engaging with police and prosecutors. (Evan Aagaard/CBC)

‘I show up, and they talk to me’

Reyes said that for years, law enforcement in Michigan ignored crimes against the LGBTQ community, which made community members reluctant to come forward.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 60 per cent of respondents living in Michigan who interacted with law enforcement officers who thought or knew they were transgender said they experienced some form of mistreatment. Fifty-five per cent of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable asking police for help if they needed it.

Abad said when Fair Michigan started out, LGBTQ community members were reluctant to reach out to Powell-Horowitz, a white non-trans woman. 

“They felt [she] wouldn’t understand their struggle and probably wouldn’t have their best interest at heart,” Abad said. 

It took a lot of convincing, but community members came around.

“Now, I show up, and they talk to me,” Powell-Horowitz said. “They know we’re going to take it seriously, that we’re getting the results.”

One of the problems Powell-Horowitz uncovered while going through cold cases and old police files was that officers were often misgendering victims. Something as simple as not being addressed by the proper pronoun can dissuade witnesses and victims from co-operating with law enforcement.

Wanting to be taken seriously

In Toronto, advocates have long been flagging cases involving LGBTQ victims that didn’t get the attention they deserved.

In the summer of 2017, Alloura Wells, a 27-year-old homeless transgender woman, disappeared. Her body was found a month later, but her remains were not identified until months after.

LGBTQ advocate Nicki Ward accused Toronto police of ignoring Wells’s case.


Nicki Ward is an LGBTQ advocate in Toronto who has been a vocal critic of how the city’s police have treated her community. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

Police were also accused of not acting swiftly enough to investigate the disappearances of men in the city’s Gay Village neighbourhood.

In January 2018, after months of speculation, police arrested Bruce McArthur and laid the first two of what would eventually be eight first-degree murder charges.

Ward welcomed this development but remained dismayed at how the cases had been handled.

“There is no virtue in saying, ‘Yes, we were right, there was a serial killer’ … There’s no joy in that expression,” Ward told CBC’s Toronto radio programMetro Morning shortly after McArthur’s arrest.

In March 2018, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders released a statement promising an independent review that would “consider not only our investigative processes but take a hard look at systemic issues of bias of any kind.”

The statement also said the force had developed a “robust community outreach plan” involving its LGBTQ liaison officer and deputy police chief and finalized plans for a dedicated missing persons unit.

In September 2018, Toronto Police launched an independent civilian review into missing person investigations.

Hate crimes rising

Ward, who was not familiar with the Fair Michigan initiative, said it seemed like a good idea but pointed to some serious systemic constraints.

For example, she said, no matter how good a prosecutor like Powell-Horowitz is, significant change in Michigan will only come when it “becomes unlawful to treat some humans differently from other humans merely because of their birth differences.”

Canada’s Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of people protected from discrimination. According to Statistics Canada, crimes targeting people on the basis of sexual orientation accounted for 10 per cent of all police-reported hate crimes in 2017. The numbers rose from 176 incidents in 2016 to 204 in 2017.

Jean Turner, co-chair of Serving With Pride, an Ontario-based organization providing support for LGBTQ police officers, said that by and large, officers aim to be respectful.

“They want to do the right thing. But I think that sometimes, they just don’t know what that is,” she said.

Turner said one major issue is that attacks on LGBTQ people are underreported. A project like Fair Michigan in Canada could help remedy that.


Corp. Dani Woods, the LGBTQ liaison for the Detroit police department, works with Fair Michigan. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

In 2017, Detroit Police Chief James Craig helped raise the LGBTQ rainbow flag to kick off Pride month. The Detroit News reported that in a speech, he said that while the flag-raising was “a small gesture, it says a lot for our community: Detroit has got your back.”

Craig, who became police chief in 2013, appointed Dani Woods as the department’s first LGBTQ liaison officer. Woods, who is gay, said that since the start of Fair Michigan, there has been a significant change in how her community views law enforcement.

Woods said that in the past, “you’re kind of rolling the dice, because you don’t know if the police are going to do you justice.”

But Fair Michigan “gives the community hope.”

Learn more about the Fair Michigan Justice Project in this CBC documentary:

The Justice Project 10:58

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DARPA, University of Michigan Team Up to Build ‘Unhackable’ Chip

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DARPA has announced a $ 3.6 million grant to a University of Michigan team with the goal of building an “unhackable” processor. Software-based security has proven incapable of meeting this goal, and while hardware models like Intel’s IME or ARM’s TrustZone have had better luck overall, these systems can be affected by major bugs themselves and don’t protect the entire contents of the microprocessor.

Todd Austin, leader of the Morpheus project at UM, likens his team’s design to a giant Rubik’s Cube. His architecture focuses on moving data stored within the chip to various randomized locations while also constantly re-encrypting stored passwords. Even if a hacker managed to find a memory block with a password in it that was vulnerable to decryption, the data won’t be there by the time the password-cracker finishes its work. Even modern GPUs, which are staggeringly good at password decryption, require time to work.

“We are making the computer an unsolvable puzzle,” Austin said. “It’s like if you’re solving a Rubik’s Cube and every time you blink, I rearrange it. What’s incredibly exciting about the project is that it will fix tomorrow’s vulnerabilities. I’ve never known any security system that could be future proof.”

DRAM-Hammer

Rowhammer targets either the single purple row to flip the yellow bits or can target both yellow rows to flip the purple bits.

What the Michigan team is describing would be an incredibly useful set of capabilities — if it can be made to work. We’ve seen exploits before, like Rowhammer, that function precisely by targeting a given area of memory and hammering adjacent rows with repeated accesses in an attempt to flip bits within the target row (hence the name). Zero-day exploits are a common and potentially devastating problem. And frankly, it’s simply downright tiresome to be forever chasing down security bulletins and updating various applications. A chip that could juggle its memory addresses and keep data safely encrypted could be useful in a wide range of security applications.

What’s less clear is how easily the technology could be integrated into modern processors or what impact these rapid-fire data shifts would have on functionality. The DARPA SSITH project (System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware) specifically states that “The strategic challenge for participants in the SSITH program will be to develop new integrated circuit (IC) architectures that lack the current software-accessible points of illicit entry, yet retain the computational functions and high-performance the ICs were designed to deliver.”

DARPA’s goal is to fund initial development on a processor design capable of preventing one or more of seven security flaws: Permission and privilege escalations, buffer errors, resource management, information leakage, numeric errors, crypto errors, and code injection. These seven types of attacks supposedly comprise a whopping 40 percent of all attack types; cutting even one or two of them out could significantly reduce security issues in the military and consumer world.

(Image credit: DARPA)

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