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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Trump took shelter in White House bunker as protests raged

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a White House bunker on Friday night as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the executive mansion, some of them throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades.

Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies like terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorized to publicly discuss private matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also on condition of anonymity.

READ MORE: George Floyd’s brother says Trump wouldn’t let him speak during phone call

U.S. President Doanld Trump speaks after the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo by Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House, where the chants from protesters in Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds.

Friday’s protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer. The demonstrations in Washington turned violent and appeared to catch officers by surprise. They sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

“The White House does not comment on security protocols and decisions,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. The Secret Service said it does not discuss the means and methods of its protective operations. The president’s move to the bunker was first reported by The New York Times.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service hold a perimeter near the White House as demonstrators gather to protest the killing of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The president and his family have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds, according to the Republican. It was not immediately clear if first lady Melania Trump and the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barron, joined the president in the bunker. Secret Service protocol would have called for all those under the agency’s protection to be in the underground shelter.

Trump has told advisers he worries about his safety, while both privately and publicly praising the work of the Secret Service.

Trump traveled to Florida on Saturday to view the first manned space launch from the U.S. in nearly a decade. He returned to a White House under virtual siege, with protesters — some violent — gathered just a few hundred yards away through much of the night.

READ MORE: Trump threatens DC protesters with ‘vicious dogs’ and ‘ominous weapons’ should they cross a line

Demonstrators returned Sunday afternoon, facing off against police at Lafayette Park into the evening.

Trump continued his effort to project strength, using a series of inflammatory tweets and delivering partisan attacks during a time of national crisis.

As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump’s advisers discussed the prospect of an Oval Office address in an attempt to ease tensions. The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president’s own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity.

Trump did not appear in public on Sunday. Instead, a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the plans ahead of time said Trump was expected in the coming days to draw distinctions between the legitimate anger of peaceful protesters and the unacceptable actions of violent agitators.

On Sunday, Trump retweeted a message from a conservative commentator encouraging authorities to respond with greater force.

READ MORE: Trump on George Floyd’s death: ‘I feel very, very badly’

“This isn’t going to stop until the good guys are willing to use overwhelming force against the bad guys,” Buck Sexton wrote in a message amplified by the president.

In recent days security at the White House has been reinforced by the National Guard and additional personnel from the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.

On Sunday, the Justice Department deployed members of the U.S. Marshals Service and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration to supplement National Guard troops outside the White House, according to a senior Justice Department official. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

___

Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

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Jay-Z speaks on George Floyd, calls on prosecution to ‘fullest extent of the law’

Rapper Jay-Z spoke out on the police killing of George Floyd Sunday night, endorsing the Minnesota governor’s announcement earlier that day that the state’s attorney general would take the lead on any charges brought against the officers involved.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the “Hard Knock Life” rapper said he had a “human conversation” with Gov. Tim Walz as a “dad and a Black man in pain.” He applauded Walz’s move to appoint Attorney General Keith Ellison, the first African American and the first Muslim American elected to statewide office in Minnesota, to prosecute the murder case. He will work alongside Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman who brought the charges against fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Jay-Z makes an announcement of the launch of Dream Chasers record label in joint venture with Roc Nation, at the Roc Nation headquarters on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Chauvin was the officer seen pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes until his death in a widespread video. Freeman on Friday charged Chauvin with murder in the 3rd degree and manslaughter.

READ MORE: Beyonce promotes George Floyd petition, says justice is ‘far from being achieved’

“Yes, I am human, a father and a Black man in pain and I am not the only one,” said Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter. “Now I, along with an entire country in pain, call upon AG Ellison to do the right thing and prosecute all those responsible for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent of the law.”

The statement was publicized through REFORM Alliance, the criminal justice reform advocacy group Jay-Z founded with Meek Mill more than a year ago. The statement did not mention racism, police brutality, or the nationwide protests that followed the 46-year-old man’s homicide.

Ellison, who is in his first term, was added to the prosecution team after activists, a number of Minneapolis City Council members and a civil rights group called on his selection to strengthen the quest for justice, according to The Associated Press. The state’s top lawyer helped put together a working group with the goal to reduce police violence.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) speaks during a news conference in front of the Capitol February 1, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A Detroit native, Ellison previously completed six terms representing Minnesota in the U.S. House and was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

READ MORE: Minneapolis police chief declares other officers ‘complicit’ in George Floyd death

Jay-Z said he is determined to fight for justice against his “would-be oppressors” and urged that every politician, prosecutor and officer across the country “have the courage to do what is right.”

“Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, sisters and mothers in pain and look at yourselves,” he said.

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Vanessa Bryant shares timely photo of Kobe Bryant in ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirt

Vanessa Bryant took to social media to share a powerful message about the murder of George Floyd and the resulting demonstrations going on across the world.

The widow of beloved NBA great, Kobe Bryant, shared a photo of her late husband wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “I Can’t Breathe.”

READ MORE: Vanessa Bryant saved last letter from Kobe to read on her birthday

“My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again. #ICANTBREATHE (repost/photo credit unknown) plz tag ๐Ÿ“ท Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short. Let’s share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people,” Bryant posted.

“Drive out hate. Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER.” 

READ MORE: Vanessa Bryant sues LA County Sheriff’s Department over unauthorized photos of Kobe Bryant’s crash site

She followed it up with another post that encourages people to start important conversations to dismantle racism within themselves and in their own homes.

Kobe Bryant remains an influential icon even after his death and it’s likely that Vanessa’s reminder to his fans that his loyalties lied with the fight for justice for all people is a powerful one in these turbulent times.

On Sunday, Michael Jordan shared his thoughts on the issues facing our country. “I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said in a statement. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.”

He didn’t stop there.

“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others,” he said.

“We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.”

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Minnesota governor announces AG Ellison as lead on George Floyd case

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the appointment of Attorney General Keith Ellison as the lead on the prosecution of former officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.

In a press conference Sunday, he gave a statement in the hopes that his constituency will see evidence of transparency and fairness. He knew that many in the Black community did not trust the process or those involved.

Rep. Keith Ellison thegrio.com
n this Dec. 2, 2016 file photo, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., listens during a forum on the future of the Democratic Party, in Denver. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, filed papers Tuesday, June 5, 2018, to run for Minnesota attorney general. Ellison, also the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, filed just hours ahead of a deadline. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

READ MORE: Minnesota AG Keith Ellison expects more charges after Chauvin arrest in George Floyd death

Walz, a Democrat said, “They don’t believe justice can be served and their frustrations are that they believe that time and time again the system works perfectly well as it was designed to deny those rights and to deny justice to communities of color.”

“We have to make that process work for people.”

During the week, several rallies were held in the Minneapolis expressing their distrust. While civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney Ben Crump, and Tameka Mallory have come to the city to support the local voices like Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins, it was the thousands of protesters in the street that best spoke to the communities lack of trust.

The governor contends that conversations with these leaders, celebrity and local influencers & activists alike, have helped him arrive at the decision of appointing AG Ellison on the case immediately.

Ellison’s reputation regarding his work as a civil rights leader is well respected. Moreover, many believe that he will push for the fairest trial possible.

READ MORE: Minnesota protester calls out looters on CNN: ‘Something’s wrong with you’

On Memorial Day, Floyd died while being arrested by the Minneapolis police, led by Chauvin and three other officers. After a week of civil unrest and the boisterous outcry of disbelief, pain, and exhaustion, activists waterfalled over the city. They demanded that the officers be arrested. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The family has gone on record asking for the other officers to be arrested and charged, and that Chauvin’s charge be bumped up to first-degree murder.

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Minneapolis police chief declares other officers ‘complicit’ in George Floyd death

Derek Chauvin was arrested for George Floyd’s death but the other officers involved are “complicit” as well according to the Minneapolis police chief.

There was a memorial held for Floyd Sunday at the place where he was killed at 38th and Chicago earlier in the week and Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo attended. Arradondo shared that he’d grown up a block from the tragedy and wanted to offer his condolences.

Flowers, signs and balloons are left near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died while in custody of the Minneapolis police, on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

READ MORE: Michael Jordan issues statement about George Floyd: ‘I am plain angry’

“I came to pay my respects to Mr. Floyd and I came to just offer prayer for his loved ones, his family and our community that’s hurting,” the chief said told CNN’s Sara Sidner.

He added the need to be one with those gathered during this time of unrest.

“I wanted to be in a space of how do we heal and how do we move from this and so , it’s going to take time …and everyone here is trying to do the best that they can to offer what they’re feeling and those are all valid but I just needed to be here in this space today and offer my respects.”

Moving forward, he wanted the community to know that law enforcement was not an institution that would mean them harm. He did not want any doubt left in their minds.

“At the end of the day, our community members need to know that the men and women that put this badge on, that they are doing so in service to them and they should not have to doubt the integrity and if they’re going to be treated in a professional and compassionate way.”

He stated that Floyd’s death was not a representation of that.

“There are absolute truths in life. We need air to breathe. The killing of Mr. Floyd was an absolute truth and so I did not need days or weeks or months, or processes or bureaucracies to tell me what occurred out here last Monday. It was wrong,” he said.

READ MORE: Philando Castile’s mother speaks out on George Floyd: ‘Why no one is being held accountable?’

 

He shared his disgust at seeing Floyd on the ground with Chauvin’s knee on his neck for more than seven minutes. He said there was a visceral reaction and reached out to Black leaders and repeated once more his decision of firing the officers involved for their conduct.

“In my mind, this was a violation of humanity. This was a violation of the oath that the majority of the men and women that put this uniform on, this goes absolutely against it. This is contrary to what we believe in … Again what occurred to me, it was an absolute truth it was wrong. Period,” the chief said.

Arradondo expressed his sympathy to the Floyd family who was watching the interview live. He wished that they were not enduring this loss and wished he had the ability to turn back time.

“I would say to the Floyd family that I am absolutely devastatingly sorry for their loss. If I could do anything to bring Mr. Floyd back, I would do that. I would move heaven and Earth to do that. So I’m very sorry,” he said.

Arradondo also told Sidner three other officers involved in Floyd’s death were “complicit” because they did not stop Chauvin from placing his knee on Floyd’s neck or try to intervene. They just looked on as the unarmed, 46-year old pleaded for his life as Chauvin applied pressure. Arradondo cited their inaction as one of the primary reasons why he fired them so quickly.

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who has been in Minneapolis for the last week, has declared that he is not leaving town until all four officers involved are charged. Thus far, only Chauvin was arrested for third-degree murder. Merritt took Arradondo’s comments as potential evidence.

“I was hoping the police chief would put on his hat and go arrest the officers that helped murder #GeorgeFloyd but I appreciate he gave statements that they are all complicit which can be used at trial,” he tweeted.

 

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Trailer drives through peaceful protesters on Minneapolis interstate

MINNEAPOLIS — Officials in Minnesota say no protesters appear to have been hit after a semitrailer drove into a crowd demonstrating on a freeway near downtown Minneapolis.

The Minnesota State Patrol says in a tweet that the action appeared deliberate. The patrol says the driver was injured and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

READ MORE: I was on the ground for Minneapolis protests. Here’s what I saw.

It wasn’t clear how the driver was hurt. TV footage showed protesters swarming the truck, and then law enforcement quickly moving in.

Other TV footage showed the tanker truck moving rapidly onto the bridge and protesters appearing to part ahead of it.

The protesters were demonstrating against the death of George Floyd.

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Atlanta cops who assaulted Spelman and Morehouse students fired, put on desk duty

The Atlanta cops who tased and pulled Spelman and Morehouse students out of their car on live television have been fired and others put on desk duty.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Sunday that the video of the officers using “excessive force” against Messiah Young, 22, and Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, kept her up all night. The altercation took place after a 9 p.m. curfew was instituted by the mayor in response to the ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd and police brutality. Police stopped and surrounded the car the students were in at approximately 9:13 pm Saturday evening.

Keisha Lance Bottoms theGrio.com
Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

READ MORE: Atlanta cop draws praise from protesters: ‘They have a right to be pissed off’

In footage that was captured live by CBS 46, the car windows were broken and officers began an aggressive posture toward the HBCU students. They were assaulted, arrested, and taken into custody at the Fulton County Jail. He was charged with eluding/flee police and driving without a license.

A GoFundMe was set up for their bail money by Samaiya Butler. It has thus far raised almost $100K and the funds will be going to Young’s family. The Georgia NAACP and the JUSTGeorgia Coalition also immediately organized to help. They used the  #WeAreDoneDying to call attention to the fact that this state of emergency was jeopardizing more lives.

“This uprising has been a result of the inabilities of elected officials to ensure proper judgment necessary to arrest, indict, and convict officers who repeatedly murder innocent, unarmed Black bodies,” they stated in a press release Sunday.

“As if the global pandemic was not enough harm on the Black and Brown community, we now have to endure the pain and hurt from the grim displays of modern lynching going viral every week,” the release continued.

Lance Bottoms responded to the outrage by announcing during a Sunday news conference that two of the officers involved in the incident had been fired. One had a tenure of 20 years on the force and the other 16. Three others who were involved have been taken off street duty pending review.

The officers have not yet been identified.

READ MORE: NYPD officer condemns Derek Chauvin: ‘He is my enemy’

“After a review of that footage, Chief Shields and I made the determination that two of the officers involved in the incident last night will be terminated immediately. The other three officers right now are on desk duty pending further determination of what, if any appropriate action, disciplinary actions should be taken against them,” the mayor said.

“The release of that bodycam footage and the corresponding police report should be available to the media immediately.”

The students have since been released from police custody. All charges were dropped against her but they may be pending against him according to the Georgia NAACP. It was also confirmed that they did not suffer any injuries.

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A Taylor Swift, 'Killing Eve' Mystery Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup

Last week, social media did some sleuthing to figure out who recorded a haunting cover of the singer's “Look What You Made Me Do” for the BBC America show.

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Burkina Faso gunmen 'kill 20 at cattle market' in Kompienga

The gunmen arrived on motorbikes, shooting into the crowded market, reports say.

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Covid-19 Is History’s Biggest Translation Challenge

Services like Google Translate only support 100 languages, give or take. What about the thousands of other languages—spoken by people just as vulnerable to this crisis?

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How to Take Your Work Offline in Case of an Emergency

Internet outages, blackouts, and other accidents can make working from home more complicated. Here's how to protect yourself.

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Want to Fix Urban Sprawl? Ditch the Cul-de-Sac

Streets arranged in grids, with few dead-ends, encourage walking and transit. But in developing countries, growing cities are taking the opposite route.

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Utah man yelling ‘All Lives Matter’ aims bow and arrow at protestors

A White man declaring “All Lives Matter” during demonstrations in Utah on Saturday was detained by police after he aimed a bow and arrow at protesters.

Video footage of the shocking Salt Lake City incident shows Brandon McCormick standing in the street beside his vehicle as he begins to prepare his bow and arrow to apparently use it on a protester.

READ MORE: Don Lemon calls out Hollywood stars by name during protest coverage

Just as he begins to shoot his hunting bow, protesters dashed toward him and attacked him in a chaotic scene. It was not clear, however, if he successfully fired an arrow.

Another angle shows protesters hiding behind vehicles to protect themselves. After McCormick was stopped and attacked, demonstrators then smashed the windows of his vehicle and attempted to flip it over.

Police eventually took McCormick into custody. He also reportedly had a large knife in his possession.

After he was pummeled by protesters, a bloodied McCormick later spoke to local media. “First I got beat up when I yelled, ‘All Lives Matter,’ then I pulled out weapons, then I got beat up some more, then cops grabbed me and my car got totaled,” he said.

READ MORE: Minnesota residents clean up after George Floyd protests

McCormick alleged that two Black men beat him “through my open window” before he got out and retrieved his bow and arrow. He also claimed his car was set on fire. None of his accounts have been verified.

Twitter users responding to the dramatic video seized on McCormick proclaiming “All Lives Matter,” which is largely seen as a term to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

“He said “All Lives Matter” and then proceeded to try to take a life. How on brand,” one person tweeted.

Another Twitter user said, “This had a real Game of Thrones vibe… he belong to the streets now… dummie.”

Others instead jokingly nicknamed McCormick “Hawkeye,” which is the name of a Marvel superhero character who similarly sports a bow and arrow.

“Hawkeye stay useless,” one Twitter user wrote.

But there was at least one person who asked the question we were all wondering: “Who is riding around with a bow and arrow?”

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NYPD car plows into protesters, mayor says they should have ‘gotten out of the way’

The NYPD is facing intense backlash after video that has since gone viral showing a car plowing into a crowd of people protesting the death of George Floyd. Mayor Bill de Blasio added insult to possible injury by declaring that protestors should’ve “gotten out of the way.”

The incident took place Saturday just after 8 p.m. in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn which is three blocks away from the Barclays Center. In videos posted to social media, there is a parked SUV as protesters are gathered on one side of the barricade. Protesters surrounded the car and threw items such as debris and water bottles at the cruiser. Another car soon pulled up and the driver of the first car proceeded to ram the car through the shrieking crowd.

READ MORE: NYPD officer shoves protester, 20, to the ground who then has seizure

Bodies were flown about but there has not yet been any word if there have been any injuries. Condemnation was swift.

“NYPD officers just drove an SUV into a crowd of human beings. They could’ve killed them, &we don’t know how many they injured,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings.”

READ MORE: George Floyd protesters reach breaking point in clash with police across the US

AOC further urged that running SUVs into civilians shouldn’t be normalized but de Blasio faulted the protestors about the possible homicide to NY1 when he called in live to the station.

“If those protesters had just gotten out of the way, and not created an attempt to surround that vehicle we would not be talking about this situation,” he said.

He also wanted an end to the protests.

“Anyone who is a peaceful protester, it’s time to go home. The point has been made.”

 

 

 

He also held a news conference Saturday evening around 11 p.m. in which he further blamed some protestors that were “simply out there to cause violence and hatred towards our police officers.”

The mayor said “agitators” escalated the situation. He insisted that the police cars shouldn’t have been surrounded and would not blame the cops for running down citizens expressing their right to protest.

“They didn’t start that situation. It started with people converging on a vehicle and the officers had to get out of that situation. I want to see us get these violent protesters off our streets. Everyday New Yorkers do not do this to police officers,” he said.

“This is not what protests are like in New York City. I am not going to blame officers who were put in an impossible situation. I wish the officers had a different approach, but the protesters did the wrong thing.”

De Blasio did himself no favors if social media were the jury. There were calls for his resignation as he made arresting protestors and not holding the police accountable a priority.

Protests over Floyd’s Memorial day death at the hands of a Minneapolis officer who placed his knee on his neck has created national, civil unrest. There have been more than 300 arrests since the protests began three days ago. Protestors have been pepper-sprayed and assaulted while police cars have been vandalized and set on fire.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Psalm of Derrick: How a DJ saves souls through a digital Pentecost

Sunday, May 31st marks approximately the one thousand and eighty-seventh anniversary of the birth of the Christian church. That was the occasion when the followers of Jesus from Galilee gathered in one place to celebrate the Jewish harvest festival Shavuot and history changed forever.

They should have been studying scriptures for the holiday, but they weren’t … They were devastated … They were lost … They were mourning. They had no language to articulate this feeling of being trapped by the unknown.

READ MORE: Inspired by D-Nice: 10 uplifting, soul albums to get through quarantine

They would have also been distressed and traumatized, but during this Pentecost there came a comforter to unify them —while they were shut up in a house. See shut up in the house, they thought they couldn’t do ministry.

Most people isolate ministry to the church, a house, a movement, a person.

That is why research bodies like Pew Research Forum and Lily Endowment are predicting the collapse of organized religion in the next fifty years. However, those who know God understand that ministry happens in community — and during this COVID-19 reality and this unprecedented combustion of civil unrest directly related to the oppression of Black and brown people, no one has created community more than DJ D-Nice and his Club Quarantine Instagram sets.

 

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Spreading love worldwide. Let it breathe.

A post shared by D-Nice (@dnice) on

The Boogie Down Production DJ has done for the church in a way, what those disciples did almost two millennia ago: he created a much-needed space for the Spirit of Comfort to come through using music as his sermons and his turntables as his pulpit.

The Psalm of Derrick Jones is a hymnal of Hip-Hop, Soul, Disco, and R&B broken down in two playlists: Club Quarantine (proper) and CQ After Dark.

Club Quarantine theGrio.com
Club Quarantine Logo

Congregants include everyone from your auntie Ivy to Oprah Winfrey, high school math teacher to the presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Rappers, athletes, actors, politicians, judges, street sweepers, gang members, essential workers, community activists, ex-cons, lawyers darken his Instagram-based church to find solace from the madness if the world.

And while it feels like sanctuary, is it really church? Is it really sacred? Can music be as spiritually fulfilling as physically going to church … and [ahem] Black churching, a ritual denied because of national social distancing rules?

Theologians, preachers, and faithful believers believe that it is.

Rev. Kris Watkins, the Senior Minister & Pastor of the West Center Congregational Church, UCC in Bronxville, NY and a member of the Club Quarantine fellowship directly connects D-Nice’s set to that of the Christian Pentecost as she notes, that “the power of creativity and music to heal, but mostly the power of community.”

As she reflects on the holy day, Rev. Watkins shares that “they were all together in one place when they received the Holy Spirit.”

“What D-Nice is doing is creating a global community,” she continues by referencing Acts 2 from the New Testament, “No longer are we Jew and Gentile, but now one under the power of the Holy Spirit.” Indeed, Club Quarantine brings all kinds of people together, reminiscent of the account of that night from the bible.

Acts 2: 2-4 (The Voice, modified for tense)
“A sound roars from the sky without warning, the roar of a violent wind, and the whole house where they gathered reverberated with the sound. Then a flame appeared, dividing into smaller flames and spreading from one person to the next. All the people present are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in languages they’ve never spoken, as the Spirit empowers them.”

On Friday, March 21st, that was exactly what happened, when possibly a million people, for the first time in Instagram’s history, gathered to hear the popular DJ spin songs of upliftment for the crowd. The evangelism started with his celebrity diรกkoni and devoted-average-joe disciples tagging others to join the jam.

Once inside his church, people heard the sound roaring over the digital atmosphere, and felt the vibration of Chaka Khan, Steve Arlington, Melba Moore, and Stevie Wonder — Hip-Hop musings of Tribe Called Quest and Bad Boy Records — The Clark Sisters and Kirk Franklin. They became baptized in the sacred catalog of Prince. He used music metaphorically as his invitational prayer for The Comforter to enter into his people’s hearts.

Like the flames popped out for the apostles, fire emojis set ablaze the comment section of the Originals member’s Live.

Watkin’s unique homiletic could not let those powerful images just rest without recognition:

“Despite language barriers, fire tongues allowed people to understand each other in the scriptures. Similarly, people of different points of entry to the music understood one notion of peace and joy through fire emojis and praised hands.”

Without religious or ecclesiastical intention their offerings of affirmation and the feeling of the music served as a bridge for all barriers and in time of such division it was just so powerful to experience.

The Reverend Dr. Charles E. Goodman, Jr., Senior Pastor of the 135-year-old Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augustus, GA, explains how D-Nice’s vocation as a record-spinner is comparable to those who scribed the most popular segment of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, The Psalms.

“The Psalms are simply the Hebrew Hymnbook. Many of the lyricists, notably King David, would draft songs to be sung during varying moments of the life of this nation of chosen people. They were not just written to express moments of victory or love, but they were also highlighting moments of despair and lament.”

Most people know Psalms because outside of “Jesus wept,” those are the first ones (23, 91, 110 and 122) many folk had to learn in Sunday school. But as Dr. Goodman stated, the Psalms were more than just things to say to remind you of the promises of God. They remind you that you are not alone. D-Nice’s set also reminds you of that truth.

“I, like the whole nation, have had to navigate the uncertainty of a new normal, especially with a space I hold dear, the church. To clarify, my longing for the church is not some building of brick or mortar, but I define the church the way Jesus did, a group or gathering of called out people. I am grateful that my first exposure to ‘gathering’ during this global pandemic was at a virtual club, being led and orchestrated by the turntable psalmist, DJ D-Nice.”

“Much like a traditional church service, D-Nice takes the position of the ‘worship leader’ creating an atmosphere of worship for us ‘congregants’ who are filing in to be seated online. Just like a down-home church service, we are ‘passing the peace’ as we recognize and engage with others as they take their place in the ‘sanctuary.’”

And Club Quarantine does have regular congregants.

 

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The early church members, who ultimately serve as church mothers, trustees, deacons, gatekeepers, are a myriad of popular personalities: Chris and Vanessa Spencer, Gabrielle Union, Quincy Jones, Donnie Wahlberg, Ava Duvernay, Spice Adams, Halle Berry, Syreta Oglesby, Deon Cole, Myorr Janha, Akinah Rahman, Nickey Martin, Robi Reed, Will Packer, Rob Morgan, Diddy Combs, Russell Simmons and the late Andrรฉ Harrell (now in the spirit realm). They all greet you with the CQ “let it breathe” emoji at the door.

That culturally matters for a few reasons.

Yes, they are influencers and celebrities, but the velvet rope once dividing people when we were able to go outside is stripped. Like the equality that the Jesus movement represented, once you click on the pulsating orb that signals like church bells that service is starting, you all are family and it is all good. People need to feel good.

But the ministry of Jesus was not just about feeling good. The hopelessness that people felt during the first Pentecost didn’t feel good. It was a direct reaction to the oppressive imperialism of Rome. For Black people … America is Rome.

The disease of COVID-19 has forced people into quarantine and self-isolation is a direct response (physically and spiritually) to the national arrogance of our Caesar, President Donald Trump. Also, the need for a breather from the traumatic murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the thousands of Black and brown people dying from the coronavirus is just what it is … a word that we are using way too much … essential.

So is D-Nice just a feel-good opiate of the people or are there levels of prophetic activation? It is both.

It is a politic communicated in one of the most digestible ways ever; comfort.

This is especially true for people who like Peter, James, John, and all of the Marys who were at the foot of the cross unsure about their future. They needed a “Jesus,” whether accepted as the Son of God or Holy Prophet, to help them make sense of the senseless.

Hip-Hop journalist Gregory Johnson was raised in the Seven Day Adventist church, just like rappers Q-Tip, the late Phife Dawg and Busta Rhymes, and understands that this feels like the end times for people. In many ways it is. 2020 has created an energy of unrest and hysteria. Johnson notes that traditional churches either can reel in those feelings or can fan the flames making people more afraid.

The DJ, who doesn’t claim (at least publicly) to be a prophet, a teacher, a preacher, or even a member of a particular church, somehow ministers to him without fire and brimstone that is aggravated by everything going on in the world.

He checks for D-Nice, and the Psalms he spins, but Johnson as a spiritualist does so even without a traditional Christology present. He just tunes in when he needs to release and in that space he actually sees God.

“As a Floridian, I’m particularly anxious.” He confesses. “Like millions of Americans, I am nervous about the degree to which it is safe to engage others and my life has been reduced to strict and rigid social distancing measures.”

“Given how much we still do not know about the extraordinary COVID-19 transmission and death rate in the US, how much measures like distancing and mask-wearing even help, there’s a very strong dystopian, almost apocalyptic feel to the rising waves of anger, panic, and confrontation.”

So it seems that D-Nice the person, not just the music that he spins, has helped this father and freelancer find peace.

“Like few others in Hip-Hop, D-Nice is an avatar for the Zulu Nation’s old school mantra of love, peace and unity, and an example of how a loving spirit and a radically large imagination can overcome what my grandfather would call the challenges of the ‘worldly world.’

Unlike ever before, Hip-Hop does not an emcee or a personality to break out with a message that our experiences (not just voices) matter. With the world falling apart around us, over 30 cities erupting with unprecedented clamor, it needs its own hymn to summons a comforter.

And while The Psalm of Derrick Jones is not really canon … by playing Kathy Sledge’s “Thinking of You,” who would deny that it damn sure should be.

 

“The Psalms give voice to our pain, joy, doubt, and frustrations.” Rev. Shaun Lee, Pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Brooklyn notes. “They help us navigate the journeys we encounter in life through the gift of music and authenticity. D-Nice, like the psalmist, has used music to collectively draw us into a therapeutic space.”

And that is what Dr. Goodman contends makes D-Nice the perfect worship leader for the nightly service. People of Faith need an overseer who has the personality for them to have that kind of therapeutic release.

“This place of gathering becomes like the spirituals and the blues—a place where lament and longing, love, and liberation meet. DJ D-Nice becomes our psalmist who declares that Black is beautiful, that Black deserves space to be free, that Black joy in the midst of struggle a spiritual virtue. As we deal with the tragic experience of being black in an anti-Black world, our psalmist leads us to see the good news that though the world forsakes you, this space becomes the public expression of a theological truth that Black lives matter to God.”

READ MORE: DJ D-Nice reacts to his viral ‘Home School’ party on Instagram Live

Black Lives Matter activist, author, Lutheran pastor, and church planter, Rev. Lenny Duncan from Philadelphia but serving in the whitest of white spaces, Vancouver, Washington believes that his deejaying is actually part of the revival work that makes the Lily and Pew studies have suggested is absent in the church.

“D-Nice is accomplishing with Club Quarantine what the church failed to do in this crisis.” Duncan unpacks, “He is bringing people together in a moment of crisis to remember that we have collectively survived centuries of turmoil and strife: together. He has curated a space that is inviting people into the realm of God free of worry and anxiety.”

“While most churches are screaming about their right to gather, D-Nice gathers our souls together.”

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The post A Psalm of Derrick: How a DJ saves souls through a digital Pentecost appeared first on TheGrio.



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