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The Spill: Douglass Toppled

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Frederick Douglass Statue Torn Down

Another casualty fell victim to the movement to get rid of historical statues from the American culture. Activists for Black Lives Matter have been damaging and destroying sculptures depicting the Confederacy, claiming the monuments represent racism and slavery. However, not all the damaged memorials have anything to do with the Confederacy; memorials have been vandalized about the Armenian genocide and the anti-slavery President Abraham Lincoln.
Most recently, a statue depicting Frederick Douglass, a former slave and anti-slavery activist, was toppled – but who were the culprits?
Located in Maplewood Park in New York, unknown vandals removed the dedication to Douglass. It was at this spot, 168 years ago, that the black abolitionist gave his famous speech on July 5 – his legacy was torn down on that same date this year.
Douglass’ statue stood at Kelsey’s Landing. This is the spot where he, Harriet Tubman, and others helped escaping slaves along the Underground Railroad. In 1852, the former slave gave the speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” in which he talked about Independence Day being a mockery to slaves, who were in no way free. “Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us,” he said. “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
Douglass escaped slavery from Maryland in 1838 and made his way to New York. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted which denied slaves freedom if they escaped, even to a free state. It also declared that slaves could not testify for themselves or even have a trial by jury. Douglass’ fifth of July speech was made two years after the Act was passed and is considered one of the most important American speeches made before the Civil War.

Kanye West for President?

The next presidential election is coming up in November, and most people expect the competitors to be President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Could people have another option, though?
Rapper Kanye West announced that he is going to run for president.
West’s platform includes ending police brutality and returning “fear and love of God” in education. “The schools, the infrastructure, was made for us to not truly be all we can be, but to be just good enough to work for the corporations that designed the school systems,” he said. “We’re tearing that up … we’re not going to tear up the Constitution; what we will do is amend.”
When it comes to COVID-19 and the possibility of required vaccinations, West is in opposition.
West will have a hard road ahead of him if he chooses to run in the 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump is already the Republican nominee and Joe Biden is expected to represent the Democratic Party. West will have to run as an Independent or with another party. In some states, it is too late for him to be put onto the ballot, although the hip-hop star argued that his entry should still be allowed due to the Coronavirus restrictions. With only four months to go before election day, and several states’ ballot entries already closed, it will be a challenge.

Hong Kong Loses Freedom

Did Hong Kong just lose some of its democracy? Chinese President Xi Jinping recently signed a national security law that imposes restrictions on people who are deemed a security threat. It appears to be aimed at punishing protesters or anyone pushing for freedom. Last year, Hong Kong saw months of protests as people sought to keep the area’s special independence against the Chinese government. China has been slowly gaining more power over this semi-autonomous region. The newest law by the president took up more power for mainland China.
The new rule allows a life sentence for those found guilty of “separatism,” “subversion,” terrorism,” or “collusion with foreign forces.” Acts of vandalism such as those seen during the recent protests would fall under “terrorism.” Those who tattle on others will get leniency toward their own crimes. A new court will be developed to “covertly surveil persons reasonably suspected of crimes against national security.”
It is important to realize Hong Kong’s background. It used to be a colony of the British Empire. It was handed back to China in 1997, but the area was supposed to be unchanged for 50 years. China agreed to this, but has steadily been encroaching on and trying to rule over Hong Kong. Citizens are rebelling, trying to keep Hong Kong’s democratic culture. Now, with President Xi’s newest grab for power and control, the fight will be much more difficult.

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