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Image: The Supreme Court Building  ,supremecourt.gov
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the pages of Orlando Weekly: Supreme Court decision may push America’s political dysfunction further


A Supreme Court decision issued this week may push America’s political dysfunction to the point of no return. Rucho v. Common Cause looked at extreme gerrymandering in two states, and in a 5–4 decision, the court’s conservative majority threw up its hands and decided, eh, there was nothing they could do about it. So come 2021, when the next round of reapportionment and redistricting takes place, state legislatures have the green light to do their worst. Justice Elena Kagan shredded the majority opinion in her dissent, writing: “The partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.” A reminder to electeds: you represent all of the citizens …
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Image: book cover: How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Lessons from “How Democracies Die” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt


I’m not sure if it’s a bad time, or the perfect time, to be reading a book called “How Democracies Die.” This 2018 book by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt presents case studies of how democratic governments throughout history have fallen into authoritarian regimes, as a warning that the American experiment is more fragile than we think. There’s nothing magical about the United States Constitution. Other countries have copied it, sometimes word for word, and collapsed. In its early days, the U.S. almost did, too. What held us together was a set of informal norms, an unspoken agreement that the parties would share power and the branches of government wouldn’t exploit the Constitution’s ambiguities to their own ends. For a …
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Image: A member of the Rainbow Myriads at ‘Indigenous Futurism,’ Orlando Museum of Art, June 6 2019 – PHOTO BY MATT KELLER LEHMAN FOR ORLANDO WEEKLY
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Orlando’s Black Art Scene


With last week’s Juneteenth celebration in the rearview, it’s time to talk about what goes on with Orlando’s Black artists year-round. In early June a group of young Black artists took over the Orlando Museum of Art’s 1st Thursdays party. “Indigenous Futurism” celebrated the African origins of human existence with a mix of old and new art forms: traditional African drummers played alongside producers with MPC beat machines and a modern-dance invocation of ancient spirits. This group, the Mercury Collective, also hosts a recurring jam session at the Wells’ Built Museum in Parramore. The idea is to connect art, music, and history in one of the few remaining African-American landmarks in Orlando. Elizabeth Thompson is the executive director of Wells’ …
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Image: border zone map, www.aclu.org
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From The Pages of Orlando Weekly: The 100 Mile Border Zone and The Fourth Amendment


On Monday, President Trump tweeted that starting next week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would conduct mass arrests with the hopes of deporting millions of migrants. It’s unclear how ICE could immediately deport “millions” of people. Such an operation would require thousands of agents, however, ICE acting director Mark Morgan has vowed to crack down on immigrants living in the U.S. “illegally,” adding that the agency would also focus on families. This is especially concerning for states like Florida, where the entire state falls into the government’s 100-mile border zone. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from random and arbitrary stops and searches. That does not fully apply at border crossings, though. At ports of entry, authorities do not …
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Image: Photo by Monivette Cordeiro, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Observing the third anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting


This week we observe the third anniversary of the worst day in Orlando’s history. In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, 49 people were shot to death at Pulse. The nightclub posted a terrifying message on its Facebook page, “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running,” as the bullets began to fly. As that merciless Sunday turned to daylight, friends and neighbors rose up to help each other however they could. Blood banks couldn’t handle the influx of donors, who often sat for hours in the sun. Bilingual residents helped translate for the friends and family of the mostly Latinx victims. Like any city, Orlando wants its name to ring out, but not like this. To the …
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Image: NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. | AP Photo/Phil Coale
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From The Pages of Orlando Weekly: Florida lawmakers filed formal complaints seeking an investigation into NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer


Last week two Florida lawmakers filed formal complaints with the state seeking an investigation into National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer. State Rep. Anna Eskamani and state Sen. Perry Thurston say that Hammer broke the law by failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in payment for her services. Under Florida law, lobbyists are required to file compensation reports quarterly. But according to documents found by a watchdog website called the Florida Bulldog,  Hammer has been paid nearly a million dollars by the NRA in the past five years, but Hammer has not filed a compensation report since at least 2007. Hammer is a former NRA president who’s influenced many of the state’s gun laws, including Stand Your Ground. …
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Image: Sheriff Willis McCall and an unidentified man with Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin in the Lake County Jail, 1949: photo via Florida Memory Project, Orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From The Pages of Orlando Weekly: The Orlando Sentinel’s horrific coverage during the Groveland Four trial


In the past century, white-owned newspapers across the South published racist material that stirred up mobs, incited lynchings, and even congratulated those who committed them. In this century, some have expressed regret. This January, five days before they were posthumously pardoned by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Orlando Sentinel ran an apology for its treatment 70 years ago of the Groveland Four, four young black men who were wrongly accused of raping a young white woman in Lake County. Two were murdered, and the other two wrongly imprisoned. An example of the Sentinel’s ongoing inflammatory coverage: a front-page cartoon run just as a grand jury was convening showing four empty electric chairs under the words, “No Compromise!” The paper’s conduct was …
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Photo via Dennisbaxley.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the pages of Orlando Weekly: FL State Sen. Dennis Baxley said he’s “very encouraged” by Alabama’s new law


Last week, two dozen men in Alabama declared that a doctor who ends the pregnancy of a 12-year-old rape victim should spend more time in prison than the rapist who impregnates her. On Wednesday, Gov. Kay Ivey signed their bill into law, proclaiming it a testament to their belief that “every life is precious [and] that every life is a sacred gift from God.” About that sacred gift: Alabama has the worst education system, the second-highest infant mortality rate and the fifth-highest child poverty rate in the country. Half of the state’s counties have no obstetrician. And, of course, the state has refused to expand Medicaid. This wouldn’t be fodder for a commentary on local events, had not Florida state …
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Image: Fringezilla, photo courtesy of Orlando Fringe, orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: 28th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival


There are three things you can count on every May in Orlando: The love bugs are swarming, kittens are BOGO at the shelters, and you can get a damn fine plate of deep-fried cheese curds on the Loch Haven Lawn. That’s right, the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival is back for its 28th year. Hundreds of artists from all over the world are concentrated in one small area of the city for two intense weeks in the longest-running fringe theater festival in the country. Along with all the things patrons have come to cherish over the years, there are some new things to experience this year. Fringers of the Future allows teen performers to present shows at the festival, nurturing …
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