We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
The World Reacts to the Killing of Floyd
Last weekend and throughout the week, marches and protests took place across the United States decrying the killing of George Floyd and calling for justice and an end to systemic racism. ("While You Were Out" reported on Floyd's death in last week's edition.) Many also took to social media to express their sorrow, anger, and solidarity, as well as share resources for further understanding the history and current state of racism in the U.S.
While peaceful protests occurred during the daytime, in many cities, rioting and looting broke out at night. Reports varied on who was responsible for the violence emitting from the protests, with some suggesting fringe left-wing and right-wing extremists had come from out of town to disrupt things, while others showing locals partaking in the mayhem.
Public figures and leaders made statements throughout the week. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms harshly admonished those stirring up violence in her city, saying her first role is as a mother, and she feared for her son’s safety. George Floyd’s brother Terrence gave remarks at the site of George’s death stating that violence won’t bring his brother back and calling for more intentional actions to bring about change.
President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden on the evening of Monday, June 3. “All Americans are rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” he said in a statement at the Rose Garden. “My administration is fully committed that for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain.” Trump then stated he will send the U.S. military to keep the peace in cities with violent protests if their states and National Guard are not able to contain them.
In a video that was broadcast on June 3 from the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said in response to the death of George Floyd, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form. At the same time, we have to recognize that violence is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Let us pray for reconciliation and peace.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
Religious Leaders React To President Trump's Visits To Church Sites
Controversy erupted after President Trump paid visits to two Christian sites in Washington, D.C. amid protests over racism and police brutality. On Monday, the president walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church and posed in front of it, holding up a Bible. The historic building had been damaged and set on fire on Sunday evening.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington expressed outrage, saying that no notice was given of the president’s visit and that his message was the opposite of what the church stood for. “I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way,” NPR quoted her.
The following day, the president and the first lady visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in northeast D.C. According to a statement released by the Shrine [link], the visit was planned "as an event for the president to sign an executive order on international religious freedom," though critics argued that it was inappropriate amid the events of the week. The Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory, said in a statement that “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.” The Shrine, while located in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., is owned and managed by the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus.—Margaret Brady
Reports Say COVID-19 School Closures Are Leading to Child Marriages
As coronavirus sweeps through the developing world, aid organizations have discovered that young girls whose schools have closed are being steered toward marriage instead.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, the fear of dying of the virus has made youthful childbearing a bigger priority than pursuing an education. In Malawi, community members are urging girls to give up waiting for schools to reopen and get married.
“It takes time and work to gain acceptance for the value of girls' education in many remote areas, and I fear we will lose much of the ground that has been gained for this current generation of girls,” says Voice of America quoted Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who runs schools in Afghanistan.
Even in the United States, there has been concern about the pandemic’s impact on child brides. Before the pandemic, couples had to appear in person to obtain a marriage license. In some U.S. locations, authorities are now issuing paperwork digitally and even performing marriages via video. The Zoom weddings could make it easier for children to marry, slipping under the state’s radar.
Child marriage is technically legal in 46 states, often requiring some form of parental consent, which is not much protection for abusive parents or those bent on marrying their children off. —MB
Speaker Pelosi Asks Black Caucus to Suggest Police Reforms Following Protests
In the response to civil rights protests and outcries that have swept the nation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has tapped the Congressional Black Caucus to lead the discussion on police reforms. In a Tuesday press conference, Speaker Pelosi urged that “it is time for us to address the concerns that were being expressed by the protesters,” recognizing that this is a “pattern of behavior.”
House Democrats have been reviewing proposals to address systemic issues that have inspired thousands of Americans to take to the streets in protest; representatives on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged the “egregious wrong” of Floyd’s death that sparked this uprising.
While many decisions regarding policing tactics and strategies are determined at a state and local level, Pelosi has asked the Congressional Black Caucus to sort through ideas and identify measures that will be able to pass in the House. A prominent measure under discussion would outlaw the use of chokeholds.
The NAACP has also shared suggested reforms such as bans on knee holds and choke holds, transparent officer misconduct records and disciplinary histories, Citizen’s Review Boards to ensure police department accountability, and assurance in the Use of Force Continuum that provides for at least six levels of clear steps and clear rules on escalation.
House Democrats hope to reach decisions swiftly, possibly calling lawmakers back to Washington to vote earlier than their scheduled return of June 30. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
Apple Notifies Looters: “Local Authorities Will Be Alerted”
In a “gotcha” moment, Apple alerted the thieves who loot iPhones at its retail stores across the country with a clear, ominous message: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.”
One presumed iPhone looter tweeted a picture of the notification he received on the stolen device that also included the addendum, “Please return to Apple Walnut Street.” The store on Walnut Street is based in Philadelphia.
The irony is that several of these iPhone looters posted photos on social media of the stolen phones that displayed this notification, presumably making it easier for local authorities to track them down.
While the Cupertino, California-based tech giant is known for its anti-theft software consumers can download (such as the Find My Phone app) upon purchase, it also has installed software on demo iPhones in its stores that gets deactivated upon purchase. —Melanie Wilcox
YouTube Family Investigated for ‘Rehoming’ Autistic Adopted Son From China
YouTube star Myka Stauffer, along with her husband James, is under fire after news of their child’s “rehoming” spread like wildfire across the globe. Myka, who branded herself an “adoption influencer” and filmed and monetized her son’s adoption process and life with them for three years before giving him away, published a video with her husband last week in which she finally addressed fans’ persistent questions about the sudden disappearance of their four-year-old son, Huxley.
Myka had adopted Huxley from China three years ago after speaking to fans via her YouTube account about desperately wanting to adopt a child with special needs. Already wealthy, she chose to crowdfund the adoption with donations from those supporting her public adoption journey. For three years, Huxley lived as part of their family, along with the four other biological children.
In the recently-released video, Myka, teary-eyed, explains that Huxley’s special needs were more than she could handle. She told fans that Huxley had been “rehomed” with his “new forever family” right before the rest of the family embarked on a luxurious vacation to Bali. Fans immediately went into high alert, wondering about the legality of this strange process and whether or not Huxley was safe with a good family.
As of now, the proper authorities have been alerted and are actively investigating the case. They have disclosed that Huxley is not currently in foster care. Fans suspect that he most likely underwent a private adoption in which the government was not notified and the proper channels circumvented. Though Myka and her husband have refused to comment further on the whereabouts of Huxley, worried fans are pledging to stay on the case until it is confirmed that Huxley has been located and that he is secure with a loving family that intends to keep him permanently as their own. —Mariel Lindsay
Forbes Magazine Exposes Kylie Jenner’s “Web of Lies”
In 2018 Forbes Magazine listed makeup mogul and Kardashian half-sister Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire of the year. The public immediately protested this title, clamoring that Kylie, as heir to the Kardashian dynasty, could not possibly be considered “self-made.” Now, the publication has not only rescinded the claim that she is self-made but also that she is a billionaire at all. Indeed, she has been stripped of her title in a scathing exposé that reveals not only misinformation about Kylie’s worth, but her camp’s desperation to portray her as wealthier than she is.
According to the prestigious business publication, the Kardashian-Jenner family “has spent years fighting for higher spots on our annual wealth and celebrity earnings list.” They claim Kylie Jenner’s publicists began a fierce campaign to “get a Forbes cover for Kylie” after her sister Kim, the original Kardashian, scored one back in 2016. What’s more, the publication elaborates, the power-hungry family went to “unusual lengths… including inviting Forbes into their mansions and CPA’s offices, and even creating tax returns that were likely forged.”
Forbes elaborated by saying that their financial analysts were skeptical of Kylie Jenner’s business numbers at the time that they originally published the piece, only doing so after she provided signed tax returns that they now believe to be forged. The apparent deception came to light only after the star sold 51% ownership of her cosmetics company to another brand for a shocking $600 million. Coty, a long-established beauty company, gained access to Kylie Cosmetics private financial information following this transaction, at which point they realized the numbers touted by Forbes were wildly inflated.
In response, Kylie’s attorney has issued a statement in which he calls Forbes’ investigative claims “unequivocally false.” Kylie and “momager” Kris, meanwhile, are reportedly fearful of the possibility of government involvement and criminal charges. —ML
AMC Theatres Has “Substantial Doubt” It Can Remain in Business
AMC Theatres reports a loss of over $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020, expressing “substantial doubt” on Wednesday of its ability to stay in business.
The world’s largest cinema chain, AMC closed all of its theatres earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent governmental restrictions. AMC states that they will continue to monitor the lightening of certain restrictions, adding, however, that many other challenges persist even if restrictions are lifted, including studio decisions to release new films.
This announcement also comes shortly after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that, for the first time, direct-to-streaming movies will be eligible for Academy Awards without need to run for any length of time in a brick-and-mortar cinema.
The film industry has faced many challenges as a result of the pandemic, with some of the year’s largest films such as Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 being delayed. AMC believes it will have the “cash resources” to reopen and begin operating theatres this summer or later, but shares that their “liquidity needs thereafter will depend, among other things, on the timing of a full resumption of operations, the timing of movie releases and our ability to generate revenues." AMC stock declined 8 percent in Wednesday morning’s trading and has since risen 4 percent. —MSB
Crayola Launches “Colors of the World” Crayon Box with Diverse Skin Tones
On Wednesday, the United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, Crayola announced the “Colors of the World” crayon box for children of different skin tones to “accurately color themselves into the world.”
This palette will include 24 new crayons designed to mirror and represent over 40 skin tones. CEO Rich Wuerthele shared hopes that the wider range of skin tone crayons “will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance.”
Each crayon will be wrapped in a gradient skin tone label and will have realistic names presented in English, Spanish, and French. Some of these new shades include Medium Deep Golden, Light Rose, and Medium Almond.
New crayon packs will be available in a 24- or 32-pack in July, and 32-packs will be sold exclusively at Walmart. —MSB
Good News of the Week
This was a very hard week for many. But there were also many moments of goodness. We looked for the helpers this week and here are some of the stories we found. In this video, a Flint Michigan sheriff shows support and walks with protesters.
Watch of the Week
Terrence Floyd speaks at his brother’s death site.
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