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Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid nobull shoes donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International kizik shoes Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and oncloud shoes returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.
The government declined to comment on Ingabire’s claims.

Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” on cloud shoes among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum oncloud shoes deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation kizik shoes capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.

2 witnesses who interacted directly with the Proud Boys during the Capitol riot will testify tonight

Nick Quested will testify during the Jan. 6 House select committee hearing about his experience filming members of the Proud Boys during the riot at the Capitol.
Nick Quested will testify during the Jan. 6 House select committee hearing about his experience filming members of the Proud Boys during the riot at the Capitol. (Mike Pont/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

The Jan. 6 House select committee says its hearing tonight will include testimony from two witnesses who interacted directly with the Proud Boys during the riot at the Capitol.

The panel announced earlier this week that it will call documentarian Nick Quested to testify about his experience filming members of the Proud Boys in the week leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021, and Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured after she was part of an altercation involving members of the Proud Boys while defending the US Capitol.

Quested has already been deposed by the committee and Justice Department officials about his experience and has provided the committee and the department with video footage from the filming of his documentary.

He was embedded with the Proud Boys for a significant period of time leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, and is considered a firsthand fact witness because of the amount of time he spent with the group.

Some background: Leaders of the Proud Boys were involved in some of the early clashes that overpowered police lines and breached the Capitol. The group has been a focus of the Justice Department for months, and on Monday the agency charged the head of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, and four other leaders with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 attack.

These are the most aggressive charges brought by the Justice Department against the Proud Boys, and the first allegations by prosecutors that the group tried to forcibly oppose the presidential transfer of power.

Tarrio and his co-defendants previously pleaded not guilty to an earlier slate of charges.

Wives and partner of officers who died after responding to Capitol attack expected to attend tonight’s hearing

Three women — all the wives or long-time partner of the officers who died after responding to the Capitol attack — are expected to attend the first Jan. 6 hearing tonight.

Erin Smith, Sandra Garza and Serena Liebengood will attend the hearing in person, accompanied by Capitol police officers Harry Dunn, Daniel Hodges, and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.

Erin Smith’s attorney confirmed she plans to attend, but does not plan to speak. Smith’s husband Jeffrey Smith was an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department. Officer Smith died nine days after responding to the Capitol attack. Video evidence turned over to the District of Columbia’s Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board showed Officer Smith assaulted by the mob and hit in the head with a metal pole on Jan. 6, 2021. His death by suicide was declared a line of duty death in early March of this year, and his wife Erin is now entitled to full benefits.

Serena Liebengood is still fighting to have her husband’s death ruled in the line of duty. Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood died by suicide in the days after Jan. 6, 2021. Liebengood says her husband assisted with riot control on Jan. 6, 2021 and then worked lengthy shifts in the days that followed.

In a letter to Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton soon after his death in 2021 urging her husband’s death be declared in the line of duty, Liebengood wrote of her husband’s experience: “Although he was severely sleep-deprived, he remained on duty — as he was directed — practically around the clock from January 6th through the 9th. On the evening of the 9th, he took his life at our home.”

Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes one day after he confronted rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a ruling from D.C.’s chief medical examiner.

His longtime partner Sandra Garza wrote an op-ed for CNN last June blasting Republican lawmakers who refused to acknowledge the gravity of the Capitol attack: “As the months passed, my deep sadness turned to outright rage as I watched Republican members of Congress lie on TV and in remarks to reporters and constituents about what happened that day. Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protestors….To know that some members of Congress – along with the former President, Donald Trump, who Brian and I once supported but who can only now be viewed as the mastermind of that horrible attack – are not acknowledging Brian’s heroism that day is unforgivable and un-American.”

Prince Andrew has settled with the woman who accused him of sex abuse. Where does he go from here?

And just like that it’s all over. Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, has reached a deal with Virginia Giuffre to settle her civil sex abuse lawsuit against him.

Giuffre alleges she was trafficked by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and forced to perform sex acts with his friends, including the senior royal. She also said the Duke of York had been aware she was underage in the US at the time.
Giuffre brought the case last August under the Child Victims Act, a state law enacted in New York in 2019 which temporarily extended the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases, giving survivors more time to seek justice.
Andrew, 61, repeatedly rejected the allegations against him. Just weeks ago, his lawyers had demanded a jury trial to clear their client’s name.
But now the looming courtroom showdown is off. On Tuesday, the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed figure.
In a letter to federal Judge Lewis Kaplan, the parties stated that while the full financial terms of the agreement hey dude would not be revealed, “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.”
According to the court document filed by Giuffre’s attorneys, the parties plan to file a stipulation of dismissal of the case within 30 days.
So, with news of the case’s pending conclusion, let’s unpack a few things.
Andrew has claimed to have no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre or of posing for the infamous photo showing the royal with his arm around the teenager.
A photograph appearing to show Prince Andrew with Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre and, in the background, Ghislaine Maxwell.

His lawyers have spent months trying to undermine Giuffre, arguing her claims were motivated by money. They wrote in a blistering court filing in October that: “Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense.”
And while Andrew neither confirmed nor denied Giuffre’s claims in Tuesday’s court filing, he has now agreed to a likely multi-million dollar settlement with a woman who leveled grave accusations of sexual abuse against the senior royal.
UK newspapers twisted the knife on Wednesday with numerous headlines suggesting the deal amounted to anywhere between £10 and 12 million ($13-$16 million). The Daily Mail splashed with “Duke’s final ‘£10 million humiliation,” The Sun red wing boots newspaper ran with “His final disgrace,” while The Daily Telegraph reported “Queen to help pay for £12m settlement.”
Questions over how Andrew will foot the bill remain. There have been suggestions that the Queen may contribute — but that could be damaging for the monarch, were it ever to be confirmed.
To date, the Queen has largely avoided becoming the target of public anger over the saga that has engulfed her son. She remains revered, and ‘the firm’ has gone to great lengths to distance itself from the civil suit.
The Queen and her son chat at the Windsor Horse Show in 2017.

A closer look at the phrasing of the document is also revealing. It states that “Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”
His team is now recognizing her trauma and praising her bravery at coming forward.
“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others,” the document continues.
Royals hope for jubilee reset after tumultuous 12 months
One of the big criticisms of Prince Andrew has been over his lack of empathy for Epstein’s victims. Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, had provided a view of the case from her perspective in January when he told the BBC it was important to his client that the matter “be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims.” Sigrid McCawley, another attorney for Giuffre, said Tuesday that she was “very pleased with the resolution” of the lawsuit.
Then there’s the question of why this has happened now. The settlement comes at a crucial juncture in the case, as it moved into the discovery stage, during which both sides could demand disclosure of documents and the parties involved would have had to sit for depositions.
Andrew was less than a month away from having to give a statement under oath to Giuffre’s lawyers, who were reportedly planning to fly to London to question him in person. If ever there was a moment to strike a deal, this was it.
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein (far right) pictured together at the Ascot horse races.

CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson says it was “a significant development and off ramp” for the duke as with litigation “you always will have revelations that occur.”
“In depositions, for example, where you raise your hand and you swear to tell the truth … in the event that he perjures himself, he opens himself up to some other issues and then obviously it stays in the news,” he continues.
“Not to mention a legal perspective, where after depositions, after discovery, and you go to court and you could lose, and that’s when all types of details may come out that you may not want.”
Jackson thinks the duke was left without any option other than to settle, since hoka shoes for women letting the case drag on “would do him no good nor anyone else related to him any good.”
“I think this was the best option to explore and ultimately to take,” he adds.
However, the end of the lawsuit doesn’t mean we’ll see the ninth-in-line to the British throne returning to public duties anytime soon. For the former naval officer, that ship has well and truly sailed.
His handling of the crisis since Giuffre’s allegations first emerged years ago has left his reputation in tatters.
The court of public opinion designated him persona non grata after that car-crash interview with the BBC in 2019, during which he was coy about his years-long friendship with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. He said he was at a pizza parlor on the night it is alleged that he had sex with Giuffre. He also said he was medically incapable of sweating, countering allegations from Giuffre that he had perspired profusely before they had sex in 2001, when she was 17.
A settlement leaves many of the issues raised in that interview unresolved.
And it’s important to note that the recently convicted Maxwell is now facing life in prison for sex trafficking.
Legal experts say prosecutors could consider continuing their work investigating the crimes of the British socialite and Epstein to determine whether others should be charged — especially if she decides to cooperate.
Prince Andrew has kept a low profile since stepping back from public duties as a senior royal.

These days the prince spends much of his time on the Windsor estate and is often surrounded by photographers when he attempts to leave his home.
Analysis: Queen left with no choice but to cast Prince Andrew adrift. But is it enough?
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told CNN the palace would not be commenting on the latest developments in the case on Tuesday, once again saying it was a matter for the Duke and his legal team.
But the settlement will likely be welcomed within the palace since it means the court case will no longer cast a shadow over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer.
The family has gone to great lengths to distance itself from the scandal surrounding Andrew, with the Queen stripping him of his HRH status as well as his royal patronages and affiliations last month, to make it clear his exile from the royal frontline was permanent.
It’s worth noting that Andrew still has a constitutional role. He remains a Counsellor of State — and along with Charles, William and Harry — could be called on to pick up some of the Queen’s duties if she were temporarily incapacitated due to illness or if she was traveling.
Street art featuring Prince Andrew is seen in the Shoreditch area of London on July 1, 2020.

Andrew’s relinquishment of his public-facing royal role doesn’t change his counsellor status — it would take an act of parliament to revoke that.
How the prince will move on from this remains to be seen.
The carefully-crafted settlement letter states that: “He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”
That suggests he might become some sort of campaigner for sex abuse survivors — but reputation management experts have previously expressed doubt over Andrew’s ability to repair his image. And it is unclear just how welcome any offer of help from him would be to charities or support groups.
While the prospect of an embarrassing public trial is off the table, by settling he has failed to clear his name, and the damage to his reputation has been done.

Celebrities Who Look Totally Different With Their Natural Hair

Meghan Markle

Celebrities tend to be style chameleons by nature, changing their looks to suit their latest roles. This means that, somewhere along the way, the celeb sheds their original look. And it all seems to start with the hair! What don’t stars do to their coifs? Coloring, cutting, straightening, curling — celebrities tweak their hair more than most people change their sheets. So, when their natural hue or texture makes the occasional cameo, it can, frankly, come as quite the shock.

On one hand, it’s almost impossible to imagine that certain sperry shoes stars’ iconic tresses aren’t natural (we’re looking at you, Mandy Moore). But, while the following celebrities could likely rock any kind of locks, there’s something undeniably cool about seeing their authentic hair. It’s like peeking behind the Great and Powerful Oz’s curtain.

Here are a few of Hollywood’s natural hair transformations that’ll surprise you — they very well may inspire you to update your own.

Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore before and after natural hair

Close your eyes and picture Mandy Moore. You’re thinking of Rebecca Pearson from This Is Us, aren’t you? Ever since NBC introduced the hit tear-jerking series, it’s become difficult to separate Moore from her TV mom persona. So difficult, in fact, that it’s rare for us to recollect that the star actually got her start as a teen belting out bubblegum pop in the ’90s.

Although Moore’s mane has been chestnut brown for more than a decade now, her hair’s original hue is closer to her circa 1999 “Candy” music video blonde. In an interview with PopSugar in 2017, Moore said those OG locks make her “shudder a little bit to myself” — her trademark brown “feels the most like me.”

It’s no wonder she never looked back after dying her hair darker for 2002’s A Walk to Remember. She told Entertainment Weekly. “It was transformative because it came at a time in my life when I was only seen from the pop music landscape and through that lens. There was a real significance to coloring my hair.”

Zendaya

Zendaya before and after natural hair

When you step into the spotlight as young as Zendaya did (she was barely a teen when she landed the role of Rocky Blue on Shake It Up), your “look” can become synonymous with who you are. For years, Zendaya straightened her naturally curly hair to align with her public image. “Growing up, I wasn’t very confident in my curls,” she told People StyleWatch (via Mic). “It wasn’t like the hair that girls around me had. And nobody really knew what to do with my hair.”

Fast forward to January 2017, and The Greatest Showman bluetooth headphones star shared insight into her natural hair journey: “When you’ve spent the past however many years growing your damaged hair back, avoiding heat, wearing wigs and trying every natural product in the world and you finally see a little curl pattern comin back,” Zendaya wrote on Instagram, underscoring the sentiment with multiple praise hands emojis. In the time since, she’s rocked it everywhere from award shows to movie premieres, and often doles out advice on caring for natural black hair.

Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan before and after natural hair

Stunning Sanaa Lathan isn’t afraid to try out new styles when it comes to her hair. “I love weaves and wigs and all of that!” she gushed to Hype Hair in 2015. And, in 2017, she readily shaved her head in preparation for her role in the Netflix film Nappily Ever After. But in recent years, Lathan’s love for wearing her hair natural has sparked more buzz than any buzzcut.

“I’ve been wearing my hair natural a lot lately,” Lathan told Hype Hair. “For me, it’s all about changing it up. In terms of my real life, I’ll put it in cornrows and put some conditioner in it and then take it out and it’s really big and wild. I’ve been loving that lately.”

In 2018, Lathan really seemed to embrace her short, tight natural curls — showing off the look while listening to Ella Fitzgerald at home, relaxing with her cousins on Easter, and vacationing in Mexico.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman before and after natural hair

When Nicole Kidman first burst onto the Hollywood scene in the 1990 film Days of Thunder, her cascade of gingery corkscrew ringlets nearly stole the show. As the actress’ star continued to rise, though, that captivating coif of curls gave way to hair that was straight and blonde. It’s a look Kidman has cultivated so well over the course of her career that her natural hair is little more than a distant memory.

However, let it be said that no one regrets the transition more than Kidman. When asked by PopSugar Australia what advice she’d give skechers outlet her 20-year-old self, the actress didn’t have to think long. “I wish I had left my hair alone!” she said, laughing (via Female First). “Because I kept straightening it I would always be told, ‘Your curls are so beautiful’ and I never believed them.”

She reiterated this regret to Australia’s WHO Magazine (via Today), saying, “I wish I had my curls back. I tortured them to death. I always say, ‘Don’t ruin the ringlets!'” Admittedly, it would be killer to see Kidman’s ringlets resurrected.

Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union before and after natural hair

In March 2017, Gabrielle Union launched her own haircare line called Flawless. The concept? To provide quality products that would allow women with textured hair “to have great hair days.” Union opened up to her Instagram followers that year about coming to terms with her own natural hair. “Around 25 years old, I stopped using relaxers and slowly grew my natural hair out,” she revealed. “It’s been a helluva hair journey.”

Chatting with WWD in 2017, Union revealed: “I went through a phase where I would leave my relaxer on so long, thinking the longer I leave this relaxer on, the straighter it’s going to be,” she said. “Cut to lesions, like open wounds in my scalp, trying to chase something that was unrealistic, and eventually probably in my mid- to late-20s I decided to give up my relaxer, and I went natural.” But Union is also adamant that everyone’s individual hair journey is “amazing, valid, worthwhile and beautiful, no matter what.” Well said, Gab. Well said.

Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester before and after natural hair

Here’s an ironic twist for you: Like her Gossip Girl costar Blake Lively, actress Leighton Meester does not share her character’s hair color naturally. However, Meester’s roots are closer to Lively’s character, and vice versa! In fact, it was Meester’s willingness to go dark that won her the iconic part of Blair Waldorf.

“I grew up with blonde hair and it turned ashy light nike outlet blonde around 13, 14, I wanted to recapture it as a teenager,” she told Elle in 2018. Accordingly, Meester had been a blonde through and through when she auditioned for Gossip Girl. That wasn’t going to stop Meester, though. “She came in and she was really funny, and really smart and played vulnerable. But there was one problem: she was blonde,” series co-creator Josh Schwartz told Vanity Fair in 2017. So what did Meester do? She went right to the sink and dyed her hair brown to secure the role which, c’mon, was pretty darn Blair Waldorf-y of her.

DAREDEVILS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES DURING INSANE STUNTS

base jumper

Human beings have been craving adrenaline since the first caveman dared the first lion to “catch me if you can.” That’s not to say that we all crave danger, but it’s so much a part of our DNA that if we don’t chase those thrills ourselves, we enjoy watching other people do it. If we didn’t, YouTube probably wouldn’t exist. But the awful truth about daredevils and their envelope-pushing stunts is that one day, their luck will run out, tragedy will strike, and loved ones will have to pay the price. Here are a few notorious examples of stunts that went horribly wrong.

WING-SUITS ARE DANGEROUS EVEN IF YOU’RE EXPERIENCED
In another tragic base jumping accident, well-known climber Dean Potter and his friend Graham Hunt died in Yosemite National Park when they jumped from Taft Point wearing wing-suits and crashed into a rocky ridgeline that Yosemite’s chief of staff described as “spiny skechers outlet like a stegosaurus.” This accident highlights the sad fact that experience doesn’t necessarily protect you — Potter had made the exact same jump at least 20 times, and Hunt was probably similarly experienced.

Dean Potter was well-known in the extreme sports community and particularly well-known in Yosemite, where climbing is a popular sport. He was the first person to “free climb” (using only hands and feet, although safety ropes can also be used) three-quarters of the way up Half Dome, the granite peak that is roughly 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley.

Potter was also controversial — he’d been kicked out of Yosemite a couple of times for such crimes as sleeping in the meadow and breaking the stems off a head of broccoli in the park store. More telling, he’d lost a couple of sponsorships because of his increasingly risky stunts, such as climbing the Delicate Arch in the Arches National Park, and base jumping, which was just a little too dangerous for the popular brand Clif Bar to stomach.

Other climbers expressed regret at Potter’s death, but the words of fellow climber Doug Robinson may have summed it up best: “We’re very sad … but not very surprised. He was pushing the envelope all his life.”

KYLE LEE STOCKING WENT SWINGING

worlds largest rope swing youtube video
You know how television shows about daredevils always have that standard “don’t try this at home” disclaimer? If only YouTube had the same requirement for their daredevil videos. Although seriously, just because some caption says “don’t try this at home” doesn’t mean people aren’t going to try dangerous things at home.

According to ABC News, in March 2013, Kyle Lee Stocking attempted to duplicate a feat he saw on YouTube. If the stunt had gone as planned, the 22-year-old would have swung beneath the 110-foot Corona arch near Moab, Utah, after jumping off the top. But bluetooth headphones he misjudged the length of the rope he was using, and instead of swinging he struck the ground. The impact killed him.

The tragedy highlighted a growing problem of people trying to imitate stunts they see on YouTube, from swallowing cinnamon (which can give you a collapsed lung) to jumping off moving vehicles.

While YouTube claims to prohibit content that encourages dangerous behavior, the video that inspired the fatal stunt is alive and well as of this writing. And still no “don’t try this at home” warning, either.

LIM BA HAD A HEART ATTACK WHILE LITERALLY COOKING HIMSELF IN A STEAMER

lim ba

The human capacity for dreaming up bizarre stunts is perhaps only surpassed by the public’s desire to watch people do bizarre stunts, which is a pretty lethal combo when you think about it. In October 2017, Malaysian magician Lim Ba attempted a “human steam” stunt, which basically involved him sitting inside a giant wok with some rice and sweet corn. If the stunt went well, Lim would come out unscathed with some ready-to-eat grains, presumably to pass out to onlookers or something.

Lim was a veteran of this particular stunt — he’d been performing it for more than a decade, and his record was 75 minutes, according to the Independent. But he was also approaching 70, was being treated for high blood pressure, and had recently sperry shoes had a heart bypass. So really, he wasn’t in peak physical condition at the time of his death.

Lim started knocking on the inside of the wok about 30 minutes into the performance. When onlookers removed the cover they found him unconscious, and by the time medical personnel arrived he was dead. The cause of death was a heart attack, though police also noted Lim had second-degree burns.

IT WORKED FROM A PLANE, BUT NOT FROM THIS BRIDGE

perrine memorial railroad bridge

In yet another base jumping tragedy, 73-year-old James E. Hickey of Claremont, California, jumped off the Perrine Memorial Bridge (pictured) in Twin Falls, Idaho, and died. First, he set his parachute on fire. According to USA Today, Hickey was attempting to recreate a stunt he’d already successfully performed, only the last time he’d jumped from an airplane instead of from a 500-foot bridge.

If the stunt had gone as planned, Hickey would have set his first parachute on fire, then disconnected it, then deployed a second chute in order to float to safety. But something went wrong, and the second chute opened too late. A video showed a fireball engulfing both chute and jumper. According to the coroner’s report, Hickey died of blunt-force trauma.

Hickey was an experienced base jumper who had completed more than 1,000 jumps over a 10-year period, thus proving once again that experience can’t save you when the base jumping grim reaper finally decides your time is up.

SAILENDRA NATH ROY USED HIS HAIR FOR EVERYTHING

sailendra nath roy

Some people are known for their super-strong arms. Some people are known for their super-strong legs. Sailendra Nath Roy was known for his super-strong hair. According to the BBC, throughout his pseudo-career as a daredevil (he also worked as a driver for the police department) he did a lot of crazy stunts with his hair, including pulling a narrow gauge train with his ponytail, which he claimed to keep strong with mustard oil and incredible feats of hair strength.

Roy held the Guinness record for farthest distance salomon boots on a zipline using hair, so he wasn’t new to the hairy circuit. But the 48-year-old might not have been in the best physical shape, and when something went wrong during his final performance, his heart was unable to withstand the stress.

Spectators said he stopped moving down the zipline after about 300 feet. He struggled for close to 30 minutes, shouting for help, but there were no emergency personnel on hand and no one could understand what he was saying. At the end of the half hour, he became still. When paramedics finally cut him down he’d already died … of a “massive heart attack.”

Officials said Roy didn’t have permission to do the stunt, and if he’d had a professional support team on hand the outcome might have been different. Instead, the stunt he promised his wife would be his last really did end up being his last, but for all the wrong reasons.

Celebrities Who Look Totally Different With Their Natural Hair

Meghan Markle

Celebrities tend to be style chameleons by nature, changing their looks to suit their latest roles. This means that, somewhere along the way, the celeb sheds their original look. And it all seems to start with the hair! What don’t stars do to their coifs? Coloring, cutting, straightening, curling — celebrities tweak their hair more than most people change their sheets. So, when their natural hue or texture makes the occasional cameo, it can, frankly, come as quite the shock.

On one hand, it’s almost impossible to imagine that certain hey dude stars’ iconic tresses aren’t natural (we’re looking at you, Mandy Moore). But, while the following celebrities could likely rock any kind of locks, there’s something undeniably cool about seeing their authentic hair. It’s like peeking behind the Great and Powerful Oz’s curtain.

Here are a few of Hollywood’s natural hair transformations that’ll surprise you — they very well may inspire you to update your own.

Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore before and after natural hair
Close your eyes and picture Mandy Moore. You’re thinking of Rebecca Pearson from This Is Us, aren’t you? Ever since NBC introduced the hit tear-jerking series, it’s become difficult to separate Moore from her TV mom persona. So difficult, in fact, that it’s rare for us to recollect that the star actually got her start as a teen belting out bubblegum pop in the ’90s.

Although Moore’s mane has been chestnut brown for more than hoka shoes a decade now, her hair’s original hue is closer to her circa 1999 “Candy” music video blonde. In an interview with PopSugar in 2017, Moore said those OG locks make her “shudder a little bit to myself” — her trademark brown “feels the most like me.”

It’s no wonder she never looked back after dying her hair darker for 2002’s A Walk to Remember. She told Entertainment Weekly. “It was transformative because it came at a time in my life when I was only seen from the pop music landscape and through that lens. There was a real significance to coloring my hair.”

Zendaya
Zendaya before and after natural hair
When you step into the spotlight as young as Zendaya did (she was barely a teen when she landed the role of Rocky Blue on Shake It Up), your “look” can become synonymous with who you are. For years, Zendaya straightened her naturally curly hair to align with her public image. “Growing up, I wasn’t very confident in my curls,” she told People StyleWatch (via Mic). “It wasn’t like the hair that girls around me had. And nobody really knew what to do with my hair.”

Fast forward to January 2017, and The Greatest Showman star shared insight into her natural hair journey: “When you’ve spent the past however many years growing your damaged hair back, avoiding heat, wearing wigs and trying every natural product in the world and you finally see a little curl pattern comin back,” Zendaya wrote on Instagram, underscoring the sentiment with multiple praise hands emojis. In the time since, she’s rocked it everywhere from award shows to movie premieres, and often doles out advice on caring for natural black hair.

Blake Lively

Blake Lively before and after natural hair

Blake Lively is a bona fide movie star, and the wife of Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds. But to fans of the iconic teen drama Gossip Girl, Lively will always be Serena van der Woodsen. It was during her years on the show that Lively first elicited hair lust in, well, everyone. She had (and still has) the highly sought-after beachy blonde waves that hair dreams are made of.

Hair deity that she is, it wouldn’t be hard to believe she was born hey dude shoes with these enviable locks. In reality, though, little Lively was born with hair considerably darker than her signature blonde shade. She nearly broke the internet during her pregnancies when she stopped dyeing and revealed her real roots. Lively’s colorist, Rona O’Connor of the Lukaro Salon, confirmed to Allure in 2011 that, yes, Lively makes regular visits to maintain her “natural warm blonde” with “ivory highlights.”

That isn’t the only hair revelation Lively has hidden up her sleeve. At one point, it was even super curly — just like her daughter James’!

The 37-Year-Olds Are Afraid of the 23-Year-Olds Who Work for Them

Twenty-somethings rolling their eyes at the habits of their elders is a longstanding trend, but many employers said thereÕs a new boldness in the way Gen Z dictates taste. (Jeff Hinchee/The New York Times)
Twenty-somethings rolling their eyes at the habits of their elders is a longstanding trend, but many employers said thereÕs a new boldness in the way Gen Z dictates taste.

As a millennial with a habit of lurking on TikTok, Jessica Fain understood that skinny jeans and side parts were on the steady march toward extinction. But when Fain, who works as a product manager at a large tech company, heard that some of her favorite emojis might also be confronting retirement — namely that laughing-sobbing face — she decided to seek the counsel of her junior colleagues.

“I heard that using this emoji isn’t cool anymore,” Fain, 34, said she wrote in a water-cooler-type Slack channel.

“Yeah I only use that emoji at work for professionalism,” she recalled a younger employee replying. “H8 2 break it to 2 u Jess.”

Fain is old enough to remember when millennials determined what was in vogue: rompers, rose pink, craft beer, Netflix and chill. Now, she gets the foreboding sense from colleagues that her AARP card awaits. Subtly yet undeniably, hoka shoes as generational shifts tend to go, there’s a new crop of employees determining the norms and styles of the workplace. And they have no qualms about questioning not just emoji use but all the antiquated ways of their slightly older managers, from their views on politics in the office to their very obsession with work.

“I feel very sure that I’m uncool,” said Andy Dunn, 42, who co-founded the upscale apparel brand Bonobos, once the uniform for a subset of millennial men. “I’ve come to accept that.”

It’s a fault line that crisscrosses industries and issues. At a retail business based in New York, managers were distressed to encounter young employees who wanted paid time off when coping with anxiety or period cramps. At a supplement company, a Gen Z worker questioned why she would be expected to clock in for a standard eight-hour day when she might get through her to-do list by the afternoon. At a biotech venture, entry-level staff members delegated tasks to the founder.

And spanning sectors and startups, the youngest members of the workforce have demanded what they see as a long overdue shift away from corporate neutrality toward a more open expression of values, whether through executives displaying their pronouns on Slack or putting out statements in support of the protests for Black Lives Matter.

“These younger generations are cracking the code and they’re like, ‘Hey guys turns out we don’t have to do it like these old people tell us we have to do it,’” said Colin Guinn, 41, co-founder of the robotics company Hangar Technology. “‘We can actually do whatever we want and be just as successful.’ And us old people are like, ‘What is going on?’”

Twenty-somethings rolling their eyes at the habits of their elders is a trend as old as Xerox, Kodak and classic rock, but many employers said there’s a new boldness in the way Gen Z dictates taste. And some members of Gen Z, defined as the 72 million people born between 1997 and 2012, or simply as anyone too young to remember Sept. 11, are quick to affirm this characterization.

Ziad Ahmed, 22, founder and CEO of the Gen Z marketing company JUV Consulting, which has lent its expertise to brands like JanSport, recalled speaking at a conference where a Gen Z woman, an entry-level employee, told him she didn’t feel that her employer’s marketing fully reflected her progressive values.

“What is your advice for our company?” the young woman asked.

“Make you a vice president,” Ahmed told her. “Rather than an intern.”

Gen Z doesn’t hesitate

Starting in the mid-aughts, the movement of millennials from college into the workplace prompted a flurry of advice columns about hiring members of the headstrong generation. “These young people tell you what time their yoga class is,” warned a “60 Minutes” hey dude shoes segment in 2007 called “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming.”

Over time, those millennials became managers, and workplaces were reshaped in their image. There were #ThankGodIt’sMonday signs affixed to WeWork walls. There was the once-heralded rise of the SheEO.

Millennials point out that for a generation of workers who entered the office during and after the 2008 financial crisis, and felt lucky to land any type of work, it’s unsurprising to see a premium placed on “hustling.” Gen Zers, meanwhile, are starting their careers at a new moment of crisis — in the midst of a pandemic that has upended the hours, places and ways we’re able to work. A fall 2021 survey of Gen Z job candidates from recruitment software company RippleMatch found that more than two-thirds wanted jobs that will indefinitely stay remote.

The generational frictions are now particularly apparent in companies run by and catering to a largely millennial demographic.

Gabe Kennedy, 30, founder of the herbal supplement brand Plant People, noticed as he recruited Gen Z employees that some had no interest in the rigid work habits that felt natural to his mostly millennial 10-person team. He and his co-founder were accustomed to spending late nights in the office obsessing over customer feedback and sharing Chinese takeout. His youngest employees preferred to set their own hours.

Kennedy interviewed a Gen Z candidate for a full-time position who asked if she could stop working for the day once she’d accomplished the tasks she’d set out to do. He responded that her role was expected to be a nine-to-five.

“Older generations were much more used to punching the clock,” Kennedy mused. “It was, ‘I climb the ladder and get my pension and gold watch.’ Then for millennials it was, ‘There’s still an office but I can play Ping-Pong and drink nitro coffee.’ For the next generation it’s, ‘Holy cow I can make a living by posting on social media when I want and how I want.’”

Ali Kriegsman, 30, co-founder of the retail technology business Bulletin, wasn’t sure, in the past, how to respond when her Gen Z employees insisted on taking days off for menstrual cramps or mental health: “Hey I woke up and I’m not in a good place mentally,” went the typical text message. “I’m not going to come in today.” Instinctively Kriegsman wanted to applaud their efforts to prioritize well-being — but she also knew their paid time off could undercut business.

“As an entrepreneur, I want to call out of managing my team sometimes because my period is making me super hormonal,” she said. “But I’m in a position where I have to push through.”

Managers, like Kriegsman, understand the instinct Gen Zers have to protect their health, to seek some divide between work and life — but some are baffled by the candid way in which those desires are expressed. They’re unaccustomed, in other words, to the defiance of workplace hierarchy.

Lola Priego, 31, CEO of the lab-testing startup Base, had to laugh when a Gen Z employee sent a Slack message assigning her a task to complete. Priego interpreted this as a welcome signal that her 15-person staff doesn’t find her intimidating, but clarks shoes uk another member of upper-level management was horrified.

Polly Rodriguez, 34, CEO of the sexual wellness business Unbound, said: “When I was entering the workforce I would not have delegated to my boss. Gen Z doesn’t hesitate to do that.”

‘These are political tomatoes’

Has anyone checked in on the kids? They’re talking differently, texting more, wearing the wrong clothes, still texting. Do they ever put down their phones?

Researchers call this the “kids these days” effect — and note it has been happening for millenniums. “It’s a natural thing that people tend to complain about everyone younger than them, going back to the Greek philosophers,” said Cort Rudolph, an organizational psychologist.

Each new generation, christened by marketers and codified by workplace consultants selling tips on how to manage the mysterious youth, can strike the people who came just before them as uniquely self-focused. First came the “me” generation, then the “me, me, me” generation.

Still, many managers feel that ignoring the divide between young and the slightly less young isn’t an option. It shapes hiring. It shapes marketing. And over the past year, it has shaped the way companies respond to a country in tumult.

In June 2020, as Black Lives Matter protests swelled across the country, the Slack channels of corporate America faced their own form of reckoning. For Rodriguez, it started with a Saturday morning phone call.

Rodriguez’s co-founder at Unbound, which sells vibrators, called to say that their social media manager, a younger employee, wanted to know what the company planned to do to support the protests. Rodriguez didn’t usually receive calls on the weekend; she knew that for her employees this signified a state of emergency. But she also wanted time to plan the team’s response. Within days, her company hired a diversity, equity and inclusion firm to offer employee trainings and started a fundraiser for a group supporting sex workers of color.

Rodriguez is one of many managers who recalled her Gen Z employees being the first and most vocal in urging companies to demonstrate their support for the protests after George Floyd’s killing.

Tero Isokauppila, 37, president of a food business, heard from junior staff asking if his company would post a black square in solidarity with the movement on Instagram. Elaine Purcell, 34, co-founder of the maternity care startup Oula, got a Slack message from one of her youngest workers after the shootings at Atlanta-area spas in March asking what the team could do in solidarity with Asian Americans.

To many corporate leaders, this invites a welcome correction after decades when businesses were largely silent on racial inequities both within and outside their offices. But some managers are also struggling to balance the demands of their employees for political engagement with their own sense of what’s appropriate for their brands.

“You talk to older people and they’re like, ‘Dude we sell tomato sauce, we don’t sell politics,’” said Kennedy, co-founder of Plant People, a certified B corporation. “Then you have younger people being like, ‘These are political tomatoes. This is political tomato sauce.’”

Many are aware, too, that a misstep can lead to backlash, or call-outs from staff: “Some young former employees are much more willing to burn bridges,” Rodriguez said. “To me it’s shortsighted. Is it worth the social clout of getting gratification on social media but then trashing someone who could continue to help you professionally?”

Dunn, who left Bonobos and is now founding a social media company, hired a Gen Zer to read a draft of a book he’s writing and notify him of any potentially insensitive or inflammatory language. Within a day, she had left 1,100 comments in the document. Dunn has also begun trying to monitor his gendered language in the office — instead of “guys,” saying “people,” or better yet “y’all.”

“I’m like, ‘Let’s go y’all,’ even though I’m from Illinois,” Dunn said. “I had a wake-up around Juneteenth when someone was like, ‘Hey are we off?’ I was like, ‘Oh, of course we’re off.’ But I hadn’t thought about that.”

For Dunn, it was a reminder of how much he relies on his youngest employees. He’s fluent in millennial, but that doesn’t mean he knows all the sensibilities of Gen Z.

He realized that knowledge matters for his bottom line. Entry-level employees might scold him, but they also know what their peers like. “You want to be close to the culture,” Dunn said.

At many businesses, Gen Z employees are given increasing leeway to drive internal culture, too. Emily Fletcher, 42, who runs Ziva Meditation, noticed that at her company retreat the junior people were the ones who were most comfortable stretching the bounds of what is considered professional conversation.

This became apparent when the staff participated in an exercise she calls the “Suffie Awards”: sitting around a campfire and sharing personal sources of suffering from last year, trying to one-up one another as corny award show music played in the background. It was the Gen Zers, Fletcher said, getting the most vulnerable by speaking about partners cheating on them or the loneliness of a solo quarantine.

“They celebrate human emotion, instead of having an outdated framework of what corporate should be,” Fletcher said.

Her company culture has relaxed even more, she added, since the departure of her oldest employee, who was 48. “Now everyone feels safe to be a little more weird.”

As the millennials have made clear through their own workplace ascent, one generation’s weird can quickly become the new normal.

“I think it’s already happening,” said Ahmed, the Gen Z consultant. “Do I think we already control the power? No. But we’re pushing the envelope.”

And for his part, he confirms that the laughing-sobbing emoji is dead: “It’s an ironic thing, it’s kitschy. I would usually just say LOL.”

Oklahoma executes inmate who dies vomiting and convulsing

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma administered the death penalty Thursday on a man who convulsed and vomited as he was executed for the 1998 slaying of a prison cafeteria worker, ending a six-year execution moratorium brought on by concerns over its execution methods,

John Marion Grant, 60, who was strapped to a gurney inside the execution chamber, began convulsing and vomiting after the first drug, the sedative midazolam, was administered. Several minutes later, two members of the execution team wiped the vomit from his face and neck.

Before the curtain was raised to allow salomon boots witnesses to see into the execution chamber, Grant could be heard yelling, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!” He delivered a stream of profanities before the lethal injection started. He was declared unconscious about 15 minutes after the first of three drugs was administered and declared dead about six minutes after that, at 4:21 p.m.

Someone vomiting while being executed is rare, according to observers.

“I’ve never heard of or seen that,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center. “That is notable and unusual.”

Michael Graczyk, a retired Associated Press reporter who still covers executions for the organization on a freelance basis, has witnessed the death penalty being carried out about 450 times. He said Thursday he could only recall one instance of someone vomiting while being put to death.

The Oklahoma attorney general and governor did not respond to questions about Grant’s reactions to the drugs. In fact, Department of Corrections spokesman Justin Wolf said by email that the execution “was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complication.”

A statement from Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt referenced a section of the Oklahoma Constitution in which voters overwhelmingly enshrined the death penalty.

“Today, the Department of Corrections carried out the law of the State of Oklahoma and delivered justice to Gay Carter’s family,” Stitt said.

Grant was the first person in Oklahoma to be executed since a series of flawed lethal injections in 2014 and 2015. He serving a 130-year prison sentence for several armed robberies when witnesses say he dragged prison cafeteria worker Gay Carter into a mop closet and stabbed her 16 times with a homemade shank. He was sentenced to die in 1999.

“At least now we are starting to get justice for our loved ones,” Carter’s daughter, Pamela Gay Carter, said in a statement. “The death penalty is about protecting any potential future victims. Even after Grant was removed from society, he committed an act of violence that took an innocent life. I pray that justice prevails for all the other victims’ loved ones. My heart and prayers go out to you all.”

Oklahoma moved forward with the lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, lifted stays of execution that were put bluetooth headphones in place on Wednesday for Grant and another death row inmate, Julius Jones, by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The state’s Pardon and Parole Board twice denied Grant’s request for clemency, including a 3-2 vote this month to reject a recommendation that his life be spared.

Oklahoma had one of the nation’s busiest death chambers until problems in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was just hours away from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute an inmate in January 2015.

The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.

While the moratorium was in place, Oklahoma moved ahead with plans to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates, but ultimately scrapped that idea and announced last year that it planned to resume executions using the same three-drug lethal injection protocol that was used during the flawed executions. The three drugs are: midazolam, a sedative, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Oklahoma prison officials recently announced that they had confirmed a source to supply all the drugs needed for Grant’s execution plus six more that are scheduled to take place through March.

“Extensive validations and redundancies have been implemented since the last execution in order to ensure that the process works as intended,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement.

More than two dozen Oklahoma death row inmates are part of a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection protocols, arguing that the three-drug method risks causing unconstitutional pain and suffering. A trial is set for early next year.

Dale Baich, an attorney for some of the death row inmates in that suit, said eyewitness accounts of Grant’s lethal injection show Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol isn’t working as it was designed.

“This is why the U.S. Supreme Court should not have lifted the stay,” Baich said in a statement. “There should be no more executions in Oklahoma until we go (to) trial in February to address the state’s problematic lethal injection protocol.”

Grant and five other death row inmates were dismissed from the lawsuit after none of them selected an alternative method of execution, which a federal judge said was necessary. But a three-member panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the inmates did identify alternative methods of execution, even if they didn’t specifically check a box designating which technique skechers outlet they would use. The panel had granted stays of execution on Wednesday for Grant and Jones, whose lethal injection is set for Nov. 18.

Jones — whose case has drawn national attention since being featured in 2018 on the ABC television documentary series “The Last Defense” — has a clemency hearing set for Tuesday. Jones, 41, has maintained his innocence in the 1999 shooting death of an Oklahoma City-area businessman. The state Pardons and Parole Board in March recommended that Stitt, the governor, commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Stitt has said he will not decide whether to spare Jones’ life until the clemency hearing.

Grant and his attorneys did not deny that he killed Carter.

“John Grant took full responsibility for the murder of Gay Carter, and he spent his years on death row trying to understand and atone for his actions, more than any other client I have worked with,” attorney Sarah Jernigan said Thursday in a statement after the execution.

But Grant’s attorneys argued that key facts about the crime and Grant’s troubled childhood were never presented to the jury. They maintained that Grant developed deep feelings for Carter and was upset when she fired him after he got in a fight with another kitchen worker.

“Jurors never heard that Mr. Grant killed Ms. Gay Carter while in the heat of passion and despair over the abrupt end of the deepest and most important adult relationship of his life,” his attorneys wrote in his clemency application.

Pamela Carter, who also worked at the prison and was there the day her mother was killed, rejected the idea that her mother and Grant had anything more than a professional relationship and urged state officials to move forward with the execution.

“I understand he’s trying to save his life, but you keep victimizing my mother with these stupid allegations,” she told the Pardon and Parole Board this month. “My mother was vivacious. She was friendly. She didn’t meet a stranger. She treated her workers just as you would on a job on the outside. For someone to take advantage of that is just heinous.”