Friday, November 27, 2015

Anne Frank and her family were also denied entry as refugees to the U.S.

© The Washington Post

Many have noted the historical parallels between the current debate over Syrians seeking refuge in the United States and the plight of European Jews fleeing German-occupied territories on the eve of World War II.

Among the many who tried — and failed — to escape Nazi persecution: Otto Frank and his family, which included wife, Edith, and his daughters, Margot and Anne. And while the story of the family's desperate attempts ending in futility may seem remarkable today, it's emblematic of what a number of other Jews fleeing German-occupied territories experienced, American University history professor Richard Breitman wrote in 2007 upon the discovery of documents chronicling the Franks' struggle to get U.S. visas.

"Otto Frank’s efforts to get his family to the United States ran afoul of restrictive American immigration policies designed to protect national security and guard against an influx of foreigners during time of war," Breitman wrote.

The historian told NPR in 2007 that the documents suggest "Anne Frank could be a 77-year-old woman living in Boston today — a writer."

Instead, she died at the age of 15 at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

[What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II]

Otto Frank tried relatively late to obtain visas to the United States, a convoluted and ultimately doomed process laid bare in the nearly 80 pages of documents unearthed by the the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Even Frank's high-level connections within American business and political circles weren't enough to secure safe passage for his family.

"The story seems to unfold in slow motion as the painstaking exchange of letters journey across continents and from state to state, their information often outdated by the time they arrive," the New York Times wrote after reviewing the YIVO documents. "Each page adds a layer of sorrow as the tortuous process for gaining entry to the United States — involving sponsors, large sums of money, affidavits and proof of how their entry would benefit America — is laid out. The moment the Franks and their American supporters overcame one administrative or logistical obstacle, another arose."

Trying to get out
By 1941, the Frank family had already relocated from Germany to the Netherlands where, just a few years earlier, Otto Frank applied for visas to the United States — applications that were eventually destroyed, Frank wrote in a letter to his old college friend in the United States, Nathan Straus Jr.
"I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see U.S.A. is the only country we could go to," Frank wrote on April 30, 1941. "Perhaps you remember that we have two girls. It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance."

Frank asked his friend to potentially put up $5,000 to cover a deposit for the visas. "You are the only person I know that I can ask," Frank writes.

Straus was a connected man — the son of a Macy's co-owner, the head of the U.S. Housing Authority and, according to the Times, a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt's. The YIVO documents show that Straus and his wife, Helen, became involved in the saga, appealing to the State Department and the Migration Department at the National Refugee Service.

Edith Frank's brothers stepped in to help; they had already come to the United States and were willing to supply affidavits of support. Otto Frank was worried that his wife's brothers, "as ordinary workmen around Boston," wouldn't have sufficient money to convince American immigration officials that they could support the Franks. Eventually, the brothers' employer submitted affidavits in support of the family.

Otto Frank may have been successful had he tried to leave sooner, but, as New York University professor of Holocaust studies David Engel wrote, "understanding the situation of Jews in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, like understanding any aspect of the Holocaust, requires suspension of hindsight."

Prior to April 1941, Otto Frank's work was going well; his family was comfortable and some of the most restrictive moves made against Jews in the Netherlands hadn't yet been enacted. "Hence he preferred what seemed to him like the nuisances that encumbered an otherwise comfortable life under Nazi occupation in the Netherlands to the insecurity of life as a double refugee in a new country, even if a new country could be found," Engel wrote.

It appears that a Nazi sympathizer's attempt to blackmail Otto Frank triggered his efforts anew to secure visas for his family.

Shifting rules and attitudes

But as the Frank family filed paperwork, immigration rules were changing — and attitudes in the United States toward immigrants from Europe were becoming increasingly suspicious, Breitman wrote. The American government was making it harder for foreigners to get into the country — and the Nazis were making it difficult to leave.

By early 1939, more than 300,000 names were on the waiting list to receive an immigration visa to the United States, Breitman wrote. American consulates changed their protocol and weren't granting visas unless transportation to the United States had been booked. By June 1941, most U.S. consulates in German-occupied territories had shuttered or were closing — meaning Otto Frank would have to have gone to Spain or Portugal, legally, to apply at consulates there. In July 1941, a new division within the U.S. State Department took over visa pre-screening, meaning those in the United States would need to fill out new affidavits on behalf of potential immigrants.

Also, new U.S. immigration regulations meant the Franks couldn't get visas if they had any remaining close relatives in Germany, a restriction meant to counter the belief at the time that German authorities would use remaining relatives to pressure refugees into spying in the United States. By this time, Breitman wrote, American anxieties over foreigners from German-invaded countries had increased, particularly the belief in a "Fifth Column" — disloyal elements in European territories that made German takeover easier.

"It is a fact that some of the Germans and Italians who left their countries in recent years because of persecution by their governments have, nevertheless, become in our country strong defendants of their native governments and the practices of their present governments," American Ambassador to Cuba George S. Messersmith wrote in May 1940. "Among the so-called refugees in our country is a fair number who can be depended upon to act as agents of their government and who will violate in any way the hospitality which they are enjoying among us."

The Frank family fate
Such restrictions meant the "entire Frank family would have to get U.S. visas simultaneously, or none could qualify," Breitman wrote. "By the time Nathan Straus accumulated some of this information, Otto Frank had already concluded that the prospect of getting into the U.S. directly was dim. So he turned to Cuba as a possible refuge."
While some European Jews managed to get into Cuba, where they awaited American visas, the United States tightened its visa procedures — and by July 1941, the American ambassador told Cuba that refugees on tourist visas may not be eligible for American visas. That triggered Cuban anxiety that European refugees could be stuck on the island nation, and officials signaled the need to tighten Cuban immigration policies, Breitman wrote.

Both Straus and one of Edith Frank's brothers had explored Cuba as an option for the family, the documents show.

“The only way to get to a neutral country are visas of others States such as Cuba … and many of my acquaintances got visas for Cuba," Frank wrote to Straus on Sept. 8, 1941.

Despite the considerable hardships and expense — it usually cost about $2,500 per person to obtain a visa — Otto Frank managed to get a Cuban visa for himself on Dec. 1, 1941. Ten days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, and Frank's visa was canceled.

The Frank family went into hiding in 1942, a day after Margot Frank received a Nazi order to go east to a labor camp and a month after Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday.

They were eventually discovered and sent to concentration camps, where Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, died of typhus and their mother died of starvation.

On Jan. 31, 1946, the YIVO documents show, the National Refugee Service responded to an inquiry from Edith Frank's brother as to the whereabouts of his family: Otto Frank was alive in Amsterdam, five years after he began his desperate attempt to get his family to the United States.

"It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality," Anne Frank wrote in 1944 in her diary, which helped personalize the tragedies experienced by millions of Jews. "It's a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."

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WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex


In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

Jeddah consulate officials described an underground Halloween party, thrown last year by a member of the royal family, which broke all the country's Islamic taboos. Liquor and prostitutes were present in abundance, according to leaked dispatches, behind the heavily-guarded villa gates.

The party was thrown by a wealthy prince from the large Al-Thunayan family. The diplomats said his identity should be kept secret. A US energy drinks company also put up some of the finance.

"Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party's well-stocked bar. The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally-made moonshine," the cable said. "It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact 'working girls', not uncommon for such parties."

Bush aided and abetted massive Saudi rip-off of Americans
The dispatch from the US partygoers, signed off by the consul in Jeddah, Martin Quinn, added: "Though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles."

The underground party scene is "thriving and throbbing" in Saudi Arabia thanks to the protection of Saudi royalty, the dispatch said. But it is only available behind closed doors and for the very rich.

More than 150 Saudi men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, were at the party. The patronage of royalty meant the feared religious police kept a distance. Admission was controlled through a strict guest list. "The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables and everyone in costume."

The dispatch said the bar featured a top shelf of well-known brands of liquor, the original contents reportedly replaced with sadiqi. On the black market, they reported, a bottle of Smirnoff vodka can cost 1,500 riyals (£250) compared with 100 riyals (£16) for the locally-made vodka.

In a venture into Saudi sociology, the diplomats explained why they thought their host was so attached to Nigerian bodyguards, some of whom were working on the door. "Most of the prince's security forces were young Nigerian men. It is common practice for Saudi princes to grow up with hired bodyguards from Nigeria or other African nations who are of similar age and who remain with the prince well into adulthood. The lifetime spent together creates an intense bond of loyalty"

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders meets with controversial Saudi Arabian prince. The informal meeting with Nayef al-Shaalaan who was sentenced to ten years following a conviction on drugs charges took part in Saudi Arabia.

The cable claimed it was easy for would-be partygoers to find a patron out of more than 10,000 princes in the kingdom. Some are "royal highnesses" with direct descent from King Abdul Aziz, while others are "highnesses" from less direct branches.

One young Saudi told the diplomat that big parties were a recent trend. Even a few years ago, he said, the only weekend activity was "dating" among small groups who met inside the homes of the rich. Some of the more opulent houses in Jeddah feature basement bars, discos and clubs. One high-society Saudi said:
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani on Wednesday for trafficking heroin hidden in his stomach into the kingdom, the interior ministry said, the latest in dozens of executions this year.

"The increased conservatism of our society over these past years has only moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes."

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said trials "are by all accounts grossly unfair" and defendants are often not allowed a lawyer.
He said confessions were obtained under torture.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia´s strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Mohammed Sadiq Hanif was arrested during his attempt to smuggle "a large amount" of heroin, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.
Last month, Saudi authorities beheaded four Pakistanis convicted of smuggling heroin into the kingdom.
The government "is keen on combating narcotics due to their great harm to individuals and the society," the interior ministry said.


A number of the ruling al-Saud monarchy in Saudi Arabia together with some celebrities are squandering huge sums of money on drugs and debauchery, according to a senior cleric.

In a televised interview, Ali al-Maliki said that these individuals - all enjoying immunity from prosecution - excessively indulge in sensual pleasures, crazy partying and wild night parties often consuming a lot of alcohol.

He added that he has heard about the ongoing promiscuity in the country from several youths, who used to attend the parities but are remorseful of their past deeds.

Maliki also pointed to the massive flow of narcotics into Saudi Arabia, noting that members of the governing regime are involved in smuggling and trade of illicit drugs.
A top Saudi opposition figure has called on religious authorities and al-Saud-affiliated media outlets to reveal how certain members of the ruling Saudi regime kidnap and sexually abuse girls in the country. Head of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA), Sa'ad al-Faqih, referred to the case of a Saudi girl who was abducted and sexually abused by Fahd bin Khalid al-Saud as among thousands of cases committed by al-Saud dynasty.

“Certain members of the ruling regime enjoy some type of immunity which lets them sexually abuse women, said al-Faqih.
Al-Faqih called for an uprising against tyranny and cruelty exercised by corrupt members of the country’s royal family and demanded that a serious measure be taken through international criminal courts to put an end to their heinous acts.

EDITORS NOTE: Does this remind you of anyone? How about America's politicians attacking Craigslist and Backpage for prostitution and then get busted with prostitutes? How about the 'War on Drugs', how many politicians having sex orgies on your dime. Or the DEA's sex parties funded by drug cartels. What a bunch of hypocrites you keep electing. Politicians hate your freedoms more than the so called terrorist. You need to wake up to who your real enemy is before it's too, oops, too late, you lose again.

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Saudi Arabia: Liquor, Cocaine, and Prostitutes

By Matthew Murphy VICE
Afghan hash imported into Saudi Arabia. Photos courtesy of the interviewee

“Abdullah” sounds nervous over the phone. He nearly didn't want to talk to me in the first place, even though I'm not using his real name in this article. His paranoia stems from the fact that a close friend was recently arrested for possessing some of the hash Abdullah had sold him, and now he believes the authorities are "out to get" him, too. Which is why he's recently shut down his Facebook, deactivated his email account and gone into hiding from the mutawa—the country's religious police.

I've been an expat in Saudi Arabia for almost 15 years, so I'm well accustomed to how frustrating its hardline Islamic restrictions can be for secular people trying to live their lives. However, this doesn't compare to the dangers of doing what Abudllah does and illegally importing or selling drugs or booze, crimes for which perpertrators can be thrown in jail, lashed, or even publicly executed. Increasingly, the mutawa are the ones responsible for finding and catching those deemed guilty of these crimes against Sharia.

Regardless of the law and the heavy penalties for breaking it, liquor and many other illicit substances are available in Saudi Arabia—it's just a question of knowing where to look. A rare study on the topic, published by the World Health Organization in 1998, found that 24 percent of patients at a hospital in Riyadh had abused alcohol. More recently, WikiLeaks exposed the royal family's wild parties, which include liquor, cocaine, and prostitutes.

Despite its official status as one of the Middle East's "dry" countries, Saudi Arabians have a reputation for being some of the biggest lovers of black-label whiskey and hashish in the region. I wanted to find out how true this was, and how easy it is to access illegal substances if you don't happen to be second in line to the country's throne, so I called up Abdullah—who is heavily involved in both the alcohol-and-drugs trade within the kingdom. 

“Most of our shit originates in Afghanistan,” he informs me. “It’s a long chain of selling that starts with nomads in Afghani fields. They grow it, then it gets hidden between crates away from the mutawa and goes from seller to seller like a spider web—and then some goes on to Karantina.”

Karantina—or the "hot spot," as it’s known locally—is an area close to downtown Jeddah where the majority of the illicit trading happens. It's there you can find drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, guns, or anything else you'd expect to find in a warlord's lair or at any black market worth its weight in bad vibes. Even the mutawa don’t go there for fear of getting killed.

“No one goes there without a gun. Like, seriously, man, it’s so dangerous,” Abdullah tells me. “If you went there by yourself, you’d probably get raped or killed. Unless you know people, you’re fucked.”

A stash of alcohol, cash, and pills that would get Abdullah into a lot of trouble were he to be found with it.

As for alcohol, he was almost certain that foreigners use the consulates to sneak liquor into the country. “It all starts with the embassies and ambassadors," he says. “Diplomats' baggage, man—the mutawa can’t check it." (By law, the police can't rummage through baggage headed toward embassies.) “The government knows about it, but they can’t just raid the embassies or they’d get fucked over by those countries," he continues, alluding to the importance of Saudi’s ties with the likes of the US and the UK, whose embassies he claims are "loaded" with alcohol.

The likes of Abdullah apparently buy this booze in bulk from embassy officials—20 bottles a month at around 400 riyals (about $100) each. Dealers can sell these to thirsty locals for at least quadruple the price; the cost of a bottle of vodka can range from around 1,000 to 3,000 riyals ($265 to $800), depending on the size of the bottle and quality of the product. 

Due to his current predicament, Abdullah has stopped selling booze for the moment. The threat from the religious police has grown exponentially in Saudi since the Arab Spring, he tells me. Fearful of protests breaking out within their own country, the royal family apparently channelled funds to the mutawa to recruit new members in a huge covert operation to keep the country in order.

And their tactic seems to have worked, as the few protests that did take place in Saudi petered out into nothing, helping it avoid the turmoil that hit other countries in the region. However, Abdullah tells me that while it may have helped prevent the death and destruction seen in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the mutawas' dominance has had other consequences. 

“Even Saudis fear for themselves here now," he explains. "Yes, OK, it's a given that you expect us all to keep to our religion, but the mutawa just want us all to shut up and stay at home. No parties, no cruising with friends, nothing.” This only serves to fuel black-market demand. In many cases, people turn to taking drugs in the relative safety of their own homes as an alternative to being hounded for having a little fun in public. 

I put that theory to Abdullah and he agrees. “The more religious they grow up, the harder they rebel,” he assures me, referring to the kids in discreet revolt against the mutawa and the country's laws. “And now it’s more strict, I have more Saudi customers than ever.” 

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Forget Anonymous — the Mafia Is Ready to Take on ISIS

By Jon Levine

In the fight against the Islamic State, the American government is being offered help from an unlikely source: the Mafia.

"These people are like walking machines. ISIS brainwashes them through the Internet," Giovanni Gambino told Mic of the terrorist threat. "You need to beat the fuck out of them to the point where they stop coming back to life." 

Gambino, a prolific author of mob history and a scion of the family that saw the rise of the likes of John Gotti and Paul Castellano, said the nature of the mob made it fundamentally better equipped than traditional law enforcement to handle a threat like ISIS.

"Back in the day, probably the safest place ever was an old Sicilian neighborhood like Bensonhurst or Knickerbocker Ave.," said Gambino of two Brooklyn neighborhoods. "We got our kids going to those schools. We got families in those neighborhoods."

In a Nov. 19 press release, Gambino said that ISIS has so far been unable to infiltrate or launch any successful attacks in Sicily because of the protection offered by the local Mafia. (To date, the extremist group is not believed to have launched any attacks in Italy, but the country has been identified as a future target, most recently in the   video released Thursday.) "The feds are glad somebody is out there breaking a few legs," Gambino said. "They cant do it. They need evidence." 

Gambino, whose father, Francesco "Ciccio" Gambino, died in prison while serving a 30-year drug crimes sentence, said that the Mafia, like any organization, had its good and bad attributes and it was unfair to just single out a few rotten apples. "If you see a group of friends from Italy, they come to America, they open up stores together, maybe 15, 20 of them, if two people do something wrong of those 20, the feds will move in and brand them with the Mafia name," he said.

But history shows that the Mafia's offer is not as unusual as it seems. Despite its status outside the law, organized crime has a long history of working with the federal government. During World War II, mob icon Charlie "Lucky" Luciano provided intelligence and support networks from his prison cell for the war effort and played an integral role in Operation Husky, the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Another future kingpin, Vito Genovese, even worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Italy. In 1960, the CIA worked with the Chicago mob in a failed attempt to kill Cuba's Communist dictator, Fidel Castro. 

Gambino was cool to the idea of any mob-fed partnership in fighting ISIS, but said that ultimately everyone was on the same side on this one.
"We all are united to fight for the good of the world," he said.

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Lawmakers Push to Reduce DEA Marijuana Eradication Funds


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is in hot water on Capitol Hill on a number of fronts.

Late last week, for example, a bipartisan group of lawmakers called on President Obama to fire Chuck Rosenberg, the agency’s acting administrator, after he called medical marijuana a “joke.”

And now a group of 12 House members is pushing to take money away from DEA’s efforts to eradicate marijuana plants and devote the savings to programs aimed at preventing child abuse and violence against women.

“The Cannabis Eradication Program’s sole mission is to eradicate marijuana plants and arrest growers. However, historical data indicates that the vast majority of plants seized under this program are wild plants descendant from industrial hemp,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), wrote in a letter to House Republican and Democratic leaders. “There is no justification for spending this kind of money on an antiquated program never shown to be effective.”

The letter urges Congressional leadership to include the substance of an amendment that Lieu sponsored, which passed the House on a voice vote in June, in the final Fiscal Year 2016 spending package that appropriators from both chambers are now negotiating. The Lieu proposal was one of a series of amendments adopted by the House that, in total, cut $23 million from DEA’s budget and shifted the funds to things like solving the rape kit testing backlog, helping child abuse victims and paying for police body cameras.

Including Lieu’s $9 million shift from DEA would be an “important and needed step forward to cut waste from our federal budget and focus our limited resources on programs [that]have proven to be effective at preventing violence, assisting children who have victimized, and promoting public health,” the lawmakers wrote.

Besides Lieu, other members signing the letter are Reps. Jared Polis (CO), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Steve Cohen (TN), Eric Swalwell (CA), Mark Pocan (WI), Mike Honda (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL(, Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Beto O’Rourke (TX) and Sam Farr (CA). All are Democrats.

Current funding for the federal government runs out on December 11, and leaders from both chambers of Congress are working to finalize a spending package that can earn enough votes to pass before that date.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Police: Homeless man jailed for stiffing cabbie on $325 fare

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — A homeless man has been jailed in Pennsylvania on charges that he stiffed a cabbie out of a $325 fare for driving him nearly 140 miles from Harrisburg to Altoona.

The Altoona Mirror ( reports 28-year-old Scott LeComte faces a preliminary hearing Dec. 2 on theft charges.

Altoona police say the cab driver called LeComte's mother, who allegedly said she'd pay the fare when he arrived. She denies that, however, saying only that she spoke to the driver but didn't promise to pay him. The woman told police her son is homeless.

In any event, the driver agreed to take LeComte from Harrisburg to his parents' house in Altoona. But police say LeComte jumped from the cab and ran away when they arrived Sept. 4.

Police filed the charges on Monday. Online court records don't list an attorney for LeComte.

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Homeless photographer captures New York

Jonathan Weber spent years living on the streets of New York City. Now, he is documenting what that life was like using photography. He's one of 14 participants in a program called "Through the Eyes of the Homeless," which pairs professional photographers with homeless residents of New York.

Their photography is currently on exhibit at the Prince George Ballroom in New York City.

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L.A. homeless man arrested with two machine guns

By Max Lewontin

A homeless man who had five firearms, including two working World War II-era machine guns, was arrested over the weekend and arraigned on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department said Wednesday.
Deputies on foot patrol at a homeless encampment near the Harbor City neighborhood discovered 57-year-old Richard Cunningham with the machine guns and three pistols, Sheriff’s Detective Dennis Elmore told the Associated Press.

Mr. Cunningham, who the authorities said had been previously convicted of a felony, also had high-capacity magazines for the machine guns inside a tent at the homeless encampment He faces a series of charges for possessing the guns and the ammunition, though details of his previous conviction were not disclosed.
The case comes in the wake of several incidents where police have recovered guns or been involved in shooting incidents with homeless people.
In one case, a homeless man  allegedly living illegally in the US found a gun that reportedly belonged to a federal agent on a San Francisco pier, and then shot a young woman walking on the pier with her father, killing her.
The case proved controversial because the man, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, was a Mexican immigrant who had reportedly been deported from the US five times, including for felony drug charges, raising a debate about San Francisco’s so-called sanctuary law, which limits cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement, The Christian Science Monitor reported in July.
The case briefly gained attention from several presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, who is known for his tough stances on immigration, including characterizing Mexican immigrants as being “rapists” and bringing crime to the US.
But in another case, a homeless man was praised after finding a duffel bag full of weapons stolen from a Massachusetts Army reserve center in a Bronx park and returning them to police in New York.
In Los Angeles, there has also been debate about policing of areas with large homeless populations after a shooting of one man by police in March. In that case, police  shot and killed a homeless man who grabbed for an officer’s gun in March. It was initially unclear how the situation had unfolded, but videos from the shooting, at an encampment in L.A.’s skid row, appeared to show the man reaching toward the officer’s waistband, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Police Chief Charlie Beck described the situation as a “brief, brutal fight,” where officers initially attempted to use a Taser to subdue the man, but after he continued to resist and grabbed for an officer’s gun, three officers opened fire on the man, killing him.
The confrontation had reportedly begun after the man had flipped another homeless man’s tent onto the curb with the occupant still inside, leading witnesses to call the police to report a robbery.
The man, who went by the nickname “Africa” often helped staff at the nearby Union Rescue Mission clean up, but had once lashed out violently at a passerby, Andy Bales, the mission’s president told the Los Angeles Times.
“The people on the street are in an untenable position and that puts the officers in an untenable position when it comes to policing,” Mr. Bales said.
Such cases have spurred a debate over whether people who have lost their homes also have legal protections that govern carrying weapons under the Second Amendment.

It appeared that there was no legal right barring homeless people from carrying weapons, although – as with the case of Richard Cunningham in LA — previous convictions may prevent one from owning or carrying a weapon. It was unclear if Cunningham had a lawyer, the AP reported.
“I don't believe just because someone comes on hard times and loses their home, that they should lose their right to protect themselves,” wrote one user on a forum dedicated to concealed carry laws.
“I've never (so far) heard of any law that says a homeless person has no [Second Amendment] right or right to protect their self,” the person added.       

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