In This Episode
- The city of Monterey Park, California is reeling after a gunman opened fire inside a dance studio Saturday night, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others. Though authorities have not determined a motive, the mass shooting happened on Lunar New Year’s Eve in one of the largest Asian American communities in the U.S.
- Sunday marked 50 years since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision – and nearly seven months since the current Supreme Court overturned it. Morgan Hopkins, the president of All Above All, joins us to discuss the state of abortion access across the country, and the policies we need to protect it.
- And in headlines: six people were arrested in Atlanta during protests over a controversial police training facility, Ron Klain plans to step down as President Biden’s chief of staff, and officials in Peru closed off access to Machu Picchu amid growing political unrest.
- LAist: Another Mass Shooting Is Distressing. Here Are Some Mental Health Resources For The AAPI Community And All Of Us– https://tinyurl.com/4zem9cuw
- All* Above All: Take Action – https://allaboveall.org/take-action/
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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Monday, January 23rd. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day, the only Daily News podcast with a Wikipedia page that is 100% factually accurate.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, that’s because we mostly don’t actually have one.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, that’s a small detail, look if George Santos can claim he was on Hannah Montana on the Internet. Anything is fair game. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show six people were arrested in Atlanta during protests over a controversial police training facility and the police shooting of an activist. Plus, President Biden’s chief of staff is expected to step down.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, on Saturday night, a man shot and killed ten people and injured ten others at a ballroom dance hall in Los Angeles County. The shooting happened on Lunar New Year’s Eve in the city of Monterey Park, home to one of the largest Asian-American communities in the United States. The Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a large venue, is a popular place to socialize, and a former dance instructor who worked there told The New York Times that more than 90% of the clientele was Asian-American and many were elderly.
Juanita Tolliver: This entire story is just tragic and heartbreaking, and the timing’s not lost on me. But what do we know about the motive behind this shooting? Was it a hate crime?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, we don’t know much yet, but at this point, there’s not yet evidence to conclude that it was a hate crime. According to some reports, the shooting was domestic violence related, but that has not yet been confirmed by authorities, nor have further details been provided. The shooter was allegedly a 72 year old Asian-American man. However, as we went to record at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, authorities have confirmed that the alleged shooter died Sunday afternoon of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a van parked in the city of Torrance, about 20 miles away. They also said the shooter tried to carry out another attack just 20 minutes after the first one in nearby Alhambra at another dance hall. He was immediately disarmed by people inside and fled.
Juanita Tolliver: Goodness. I had no idea that there was a potential for even further tragedy in this entire thing. But at this point, what do we know about the victims of the attack?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, Juanita, honestly, as of record time, the answer is almost nothing. All we know at this point is that the deceased victims include five females and five males. And we expect more news in the coming days.
Juanita Tolliver: Josie, as we said earlier, this happened on Lunar New Year’s Eve in one of the largest Asian-American communities in the U.S.. Can you talk about how the community is responding and the impact this is having on them in real time?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s hard to explain just how much this is impacting residents. And again, if you’re familiar with Monterey Park, which I am actually, because my husband grew up right around there, you know, that it really is this very important cultural space for Asian-Americans in Southern California. Right. Many immigrants, especially from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, they’ve ended up in this city of about 60,000, which is less than ten miles from downtown L.A.. Right. So this is having a really major impact. And for it to happen on Lunar New Year’s Eve is really even more devastating. The city canceled the second day of the Lunar New Year festival on Sunday, which thousands had attended the day before. The mayor of Alhambra, Rene Perez, tweeted, quote, “I am in a state of shock, heartbreak, and devastation. To have this tragedy occur on Lunar New Year’s weekend makes this especially painful. This is a time when residents should be celebrating with family, friends, and loved ones not fearing gun violence.”
Juanita Tolliver: I think heartbreaking and devastated is honestly the way to sum this up. And I think there’s something to be said about the need to not live our lives in fear of gun violence because this is fully preventable. Josie, we’ve talked about that like it could have been prevented. And it’s frustrating that our country has done very little to prevent it in recent years so.
Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely.
Juanita Tolliver: But let’s shift gears to another story we’re following. Yesterday marked 50 years since the Roe v Wade decision was rendered. And while many of us wish that it was still the law of the land, what’s clear is that abortion rights advocates never let up in the fight to protect our rights. Since Roe was overturned, abortion rights advocates advanced ballot initiatives to protect access to abortion in state constitutions in Michigan, Vermont, Kansas, and California. Legal challenges have been filed and argued against heinous abortion bans across the nation with some positive outcomes. In South Carolina, for example, where the ban was overturned. And just yesterday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a presidential memorandum to support expanded access to abortion medications no matter where people live. Additionally, while anti-abortion protesters gathered at the Capitol this weekend, the Women’s March hosted abortion rights rallies across the country, and organizers were intentional in their focus on the impact that states will have on the future of abortion access, as the primary march was held in Wisconsin, where a critical state Supreme Court election could decide the fate of abortion access. To dig into this ongoing fight for our rights, I spoke with Morgan Hopkins, the president of All Above All, a reproductive rights group that works with policymakers nationwide to make abortion more accessible. I started by asking Morgan about how her work has changed in the six months since the right wing justices on the Supreme Court rejected decades and decades of precedent and overturned Roe. Take a listen.
Morgan Hopkins: It has been a long, you know, six or seven months. I think it’s been a long couple of years, honestly, for many of us doing this work, in particular, the folks who are as we say on the front lines, especially abortion funds and abortion clinics. Our closest partners are strapped beyond belief, and like the capacity of many of our partners has had to change because they are helping people access abortion care. They’re helping people travel across the country to get to a clinic. And so we’ve had to rethink how do we best support our partners and where there’s opportunity for proactive policy.
Juanita Tolliver: And speaking of policy, I want to talk through a couple of trends. Right? We’ve seen the bans. We’ve seen the restrictions as currently at least a dozen states have criminalized abortion and many more have banned the procedure at certain points in pregnancy. So what are the state policy trends that you’re most worried about right now, and how are you working with your partners to combat them? And these are particularly sinister laws that we know are meant to cause harm.
Morgan Hopkins: Yes. So as you said, we have 21 states where abortion is either banned or unavailable, and we are expecting potentially three more as state legislatures gavel um into session in the next couple of months. So we will be looking potentially at half the country where people are having to leave their state to access abortion care. You know, we’ve seen attacks on the ability to travel, right? We’ve seen some states try to restrict the ability to leave the state. We have seen attacks on medication, abortion even before Dobbs, we saw states banning the use of telehealth for medication abortion during the pandemic.
Juanita Tolliver: When it was critical.
Morgan Hopkins: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: When people needed that most.
Morgan Hopkins: Exactly. And it was the only type of health care that was restricted in that way for telehealth. So that’s another thing that is really important to remember. Many of these restrictions existed before the overturning of Roe. But yeah, we’ll be watching for more attacks on medication abortion. I know some of the legislators in Texas are thinking about how they can ban the use of the Internet for medication abortion. Like trying to censor it the way that other sensitive websites might be censored. Right. For medication abortion because they are realizing that people use the Internet to access care. And some in many ways, there’s a lot of creativity in their attempts to restrict abortion care.
Juanita Tolliver: And with the legislative session starting to kick off. Um. Your organization recently released an action plan that outlines steps for lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels to take to make abortion more accessible. And when it comes to the federal level, can you talk through those steps and how they account for the fact that we have a Republican controlled House that made it its first order of business to pass three pretty disgusting anti-abortion bills?
Morgan Hopkins: So the Action Plan for Abortion Justice, we see it as a framework for proactive policies. So, you know, of course, we know the realities in Congress, but we still see it as important to say this is what a full approach to abortion care would look like. It’s not just about restoring Roe versus Wade, but we knew for decades that that was never enough and that many communities never saw the promise of Roe versus Wade. And so if we–
Juanita Tolliver: Can we just talk about that for second?
Morgan Hopkins: Yes please.
Juanita Tolliver: Because I love that All Above All, explicitly focuses on the barriers that vulnerable communities and marginalized people face when just trying to access basic abortion care. Can you talk about how the Dobbs decision disproportionately harmed people of color, migrants, people living with disabilities and other marginalized communities who’ve been facing these barriers all along?
Morgan Hopkins: Yes, we started our work working to end the Hyde Amendment, which we often say is the original abortion ban. It was only three years after the Roe decision that the Hyde Amendment was first introduced as a way to restrict abortion access because they could no longer outlaw it. It targeted people working to make ends meet, low income folks who get their insurance through Medicaid, who, because of systemic racism and capitalism, are more likely to be folks of color. And so we saw from the jump that was who was being targeted and most impacted. We’re seeing now the way that criminalization, of course, already disproportionately impacts Black and Brown folks, young people. And so, of course, if you now are criminalizing pregnant people and people seeking abortion care, it will disproportionately impact those communities still.
Juanita Tolliver: Now, I do want to look on the bright side, right? Like I’m a glass half full type girl. There have been a couple of wins as of late when it comes to protecting abortion and access to abortion. And they’ve largely come from the state level. We know in the midterms we saw California, Michigan, and Vermont pass propositions um that would add protections to abortion, to their state constitutions. We saw Kansas reject a measure that would have excluded abortion from its constitution. Are there any other examples of similar state policies that you hope to see more of in the future?
Morgan Hopkins: Yes. We saw when you put this to voters, they overwhelmingly rejected any attempt to restrict abortion access.
Juanita Tolliver: And that’s across demographics, political ideology.
Morgan Hopkins: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: All of it.
Morgan Hopkins: Yes. And that, you know, is what we have long known, that when you talk to people directly, the majority of people support legal abortion, support abortion being affordable. And that’s because they understand this is about my ability to control my life. And similarly, we’ve seen cities really step up in the past seven months. I think it’s 24 cities have created municipal funding or have put some money or shown support towards abortion access. And so that’s a place where if you’re in a quote unquote “red state”, those cities can often be the places where you can have that type of bold action in support of abortion.
Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Morgan Hopkins, the president of All Above All. And we’ll link to more ways that you can get involved in the show notes. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Six people were arrested in Atlanta Saturday night during protests over the construction of the controversial police training facility known as Cop City. Demonstrators also demanded justice for 26 year old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, who was fatally shot by state troopers last week in the wooded area where the 85 acre compound is expected to be built. Opponents of the training center say it would raise the forest and lead to a more militarized police force in Atlanta. To that end, activists like Teran have sought to stop construction by occupying the area. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said officers were trying to clear the site when Teran allegedly opened fire on them with a handgun. Though state troopers have provided no body cam footage to support that allegation, and though we don’t yet know what happened, we do know Teran was a vocal advocate of nonviolence. They told one reporter, we win through nonviolence. That’s really the only way we can win. We don’t want more people to die. We don’t want Atlanta to turn into a war zone. The demonstrators arrested over the weekend now face felony charges, including domestic terrorism, for allegedly breaking windows and setting fire to at least one police cruiser.
Juanita Tolliver: That doesn’t seem to match, but okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, my thought as well.
Juanita Tolliver: A changing of the guard is in the works at the White House as Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff for the past two years, plans to step down. Klain is expected to leave the job sometime after the upcoming State of the Union on February 7th. While it’s not unusual for members of the president’s inner circle to come and go. Klain has managed to last longer than any other chief of staff under a Democratic president during their first term. Meanwhile, President Biden wasted no time to tap a replacement. Biden’s former COVID response coordinator, Jeff Zients, is expected to fill the role. The shakeup comes after another tough weekend for the administration. The FBI found six more classified documents during an hours long search of the president’s Delaware home on Friday. Some of those documents dated all the way back to Biden’s time in the Senate, too.
Josie Duffy Rice: I think all the former president should go home and clean their houses. [laughter] Because this is bananas. Officials in Peru closed off the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu over the weekend as political unrest continues to intensify across the country. Hundreds of tourists who were stranded at the site were evacuated on Saturday. Meanwhile, police also raided one of the country’s top public universities in the capital of Lima and detained more than 200 people. For the past six weeks, demonstrators have called for new elections and for President Dina Boluarte to step down after former President Pedro Castillo tried to dissolve Peru’s Congress. Since then, at least 60 people have died in clashes with police.
Juanita Tolliver: The Sundance Film Festival was host to some off screen drama over accessibility on Friday. Three jurors walked out of the premiere for the bodybuilding drama Magazine Dreams after a closed captioning device for deaf and hearing impaired audience members failed to work. Marlee Matlin, one of the judges who left the premiere, is the first deaf person to win an oscar. The device was eventually fixed, but the jury reportedly voiced concerns before the screening that all films at Sundance should be captioned, just as they are at other major festivals. The CEO of the Sundance Institute released a statement saying, quote, “Our accessibility efforts are admittedly always evolving and feedback helps drive it forward for the community as a whole.”
Josie Duffy Rice: You’ve heard of the Super Bowl and the World Cup, but have you ever heard of the Eddie? One of the world’s most prestigious surf competitions kicked off yesterday on Oahu’s North Shore for the first time in seven years. The contest is named after Eddie Aikau, a heroic native Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard. Tens of thousands of spectators watched the one day event with the world’s most talented surfers crushing massive 45 foot waves. Hawaii News now reported that one enormous rogue wave swept on to shore and hit a family with a baby, but thankfully no one was injured.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Josie Duffy Rice: And for the first time in the Eddie’s 39 year history, female surfers competed alongside men. Six out of the 40 surfers who took part in the competition are women. That’s really exciting.
Juanita Tolliver: I’ve never heard of this, but–
Josie Duffy Rice: Me neither.
Juanita Tolliver: –it sounds really cool. Okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know.
Juanita Tolliver: But I’m genuinely concerned about safety.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know.
Juanita Tolliver: 45 foot waves.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s so high.
Juanita Tolliver: Like that’s four and a half stories. Like what?
Josie Duffy Rice: But honestly, now that I know that no one was injured and everything turned out okay, I’m going to go back and watch the competition as if it’s in real time.
Juanita Tolliver: Right? I like that. [laughing]
Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s all for today.
Juanita Tolliver: If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, get barreled on a double overhead wave and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just George Santos Wikipedia edits history like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
[spoken together] And clean out your garage, President Biden.
Juanita Tolliver: I don’t think it makes any sense that we’re still finding documents Josie. I’m I’m just I’m expressing that [laughing] like it makes no sense.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s very confusing. And like is the president me? That’s sort of the level of organization we seem to be working with.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl, girl. [laughing]
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t love it. I really don’t love it. [laugh] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.