At Pride celebrations, protesters chant ‘No Justice, No Pride’

(CNN)At Pride celebrations across the United States on Sunday, a protest movement that aims to draw attention to the struggles of marginalized people within the LGBTQ community made itself heard.

Activists carrying signs declaring “No Justice No Pride” and “Black Lives Matter” appeared in New York, Minneapolis and Seattle, among other major cities. In some they were welcomed and invited to speak; in others, the activists interrupted parades and clashed with police, leading to an unconfirmed number of arrests.
The protests disrupted pride events earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC. Their causes varied — police shootings, violence against transgender women of color, mass deportations, corporate sponsorship of Pride — but organizer Angela Peoples said members of the grassroots movement were united by concerns of the “whitewashing” of the LGBTQ community.
    “There’s a broad concern among LGBTQ folks, especially people of color, that this movement that claims victory around marriage equality has very much left behind those of us who still experience marginalization,” Peoples said.
    Law enforcement’s participation in Pride parades embodies the disconnect, she said, pointing to the arrests of protesters last weekend in Columbus. So does the involvement of corporate sponsors that benefit from mass incarceration and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, she said.
    “This is a true grassroots movement where people are aligning under the notion that there’s no equality and pride for some of us without reparations for all of us,” she said.
    In Minneapolis, protesters waving “Black Lives Matter signs” marched behind a large banner that read “Justice for Philando” in honor of Philando Castile, who was shot to death in a traffic stop. A jury acquitted the officer who killed him earlier this month.
    Protesters blocked the parade route and delayed its start by more than an hour as they called for police to be excludedfrom Pride events.
    Activists in Seattle halted the parade by blocking the road in honor of Charleena Lyle, a 30-year-old woman whom police said they shot and killed because she refused commands to drop a knife.
    In New York, police said 12 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They were detained outside the historic Stonewall Inn as they carried signs that read “No Cops, No Banks.”
    NYC Pride organizers said they have a policy against restricting groups from participating. They said they decided to “authorize” the arrests so the march could proceed after the activists had demonstrated for 10 minutes.
    “There were some 40,000 marchers behind them who needed to have their message (heard) as well,” NYC Pride spokesperson James Fallarino said. “We believe strongly that it’s a free speech event. That has worked on both ends of the spectrum. We have always held the line that any group interested in our march can participate.”
    Fallarino said it was impossible to run an event of Pride’s size without police presence. Parade organizers recognize that police violence is a “major issue” in the United States, he said. They’re trying to address it through a “good working relationship” with the NYPD.
    “As you probably know, this march started after a police raid at Stonewall Inn. We’ve come a long way since then.”
    Indeed, Pride originated 48 years ago in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall riots, a series of uprisings by women of color from the LGBTQ community over the Inn’s raid.
    The significance of Pride’s origins makes it the ideal staging ground for today’s protests within the LGBTQ community, Peoples said. But they will continue after Pride ends.
    “If you truly honor the history of Pride as well as the crisis we’re in, then you will recognize the need for disruption to bring attention to issues of marginalized people,” she said. “This is not a one-off movement.”

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    Massive Early Voting In Georgia Runoff Heightens Expectations In Campaign’s Final Days

    More than 140,000 people have already cast ballots ahead of Tuesdays hotly contested U.S.House special election runoff in Georgia, indicating high interest in the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel that both parties see as an important bellwether.

    Early voting ended Friday, and the ballots already cast more than double the comparable figure in Aprils first-round election, and amount to almost three quarters of the 192,000 people who voted in that 18-candidate race.

    With spending on advertising by both sides nearing a total of $40 million, the race already ranks as the most expensive House contest in U.S. history.

    Ossoff and Handel, as the top finishers in the first round, are vying for a seat in suburban Atlanta vacated by Republican Tom Price, who is now President Donald Trumps secretary of health and human services. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also once represented the district.

    The high early vote total indicates that the final numbers on Tuesday will likely far surpass those of the April election.Election officials in Georgia hailed the unprecedented and phenomenal turnout, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It remained unclear, though, which candidate would benefit from a higher turnout.

    Ossoff led by slightly more than 2 percentage points in the HuffPost Pollster average of recent surveys of the race.

    Price won re-election November, garnering almost 62 percent of the roughly 311,000 votes cast.

    Christopher Aluka Berry / Reuters
    Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff debate earlier this month at a television studio in Atlanta.

    Democrats in particular see the race to replace Price as a test of anti-Trump activism and strategy ahead of next years midterm elections. While they have made some impressive showings, they have yet to notch a victory in several highly anticipated congressional special elections this yearin traditionally GOP territory.

    In Aprils election, Ossoff won about 48 percent of the vote, falling just short of clearing the 50 percent mark he needed to avoid a runoff. Handel, one of 11 Republicans competing in the first round, got about 20 percent.

    Over the weekend, Ossoff and Handel both campaigned with high-profile political figuresin hopes of generating more enthusiasm. Price, as well as former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue who now serves as Trumps agriculture secretary joined Handel at a Saturday campaign stop. Ossoff got a boost Saturday from civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

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    So Trumps too scared to come to the UK. Who says protest doesnt work? | Hugh Muir

    If he cant bomb it or tweet against it, the US presidents cupboard of responses seems bare. We may be denied a spectacle, then, but saved a distraction

    How might President Trump react to a world leader who, afraid for his image, perhaps afraid for himself, refused to fulfil a promise to visit a loyal ally. He might fire off a tweet: RAN from critics. A gift for crooked MSM. TOTAL pathetic loser!

    But he wont, because the loser is him. He got to hold hands with Theresa May when she visited Washington, but alas, that may be the high point of his cuddle-fest with her, and with us because Trump, it now appears, is not keen on making his proposed state visit to Britain any time soon.

    He has apparently, in a recent telephone call to the prime minister, declared that he does not want to come if there are to be large-scale protests. The visit, we are told, is on hold.

    Some may be surprised by this. From the violence and menace that became features of his ugly campaign, it was easy to assume that he liked a bit of edge at his public appearances. But on those occasions, he knew he would always have the support of far-right thugs and hangers-on who could drown out dissent and, if need be, throw a few punches at protesters, passers-by, anyone who would dare to question him. That intimidation, unprecedented in recent history, would have been more difficult to replicate here; he could hardly bring his street fighters with him. There are only so many seats on Air Force One.

    Maybe he didnt fancy the trip without Theresa there to hold his hand; to keep him strong and stable, as it were. Even he might blanch all the way from Tango orange to the whitest white at the idea of skipping through the Downing Street rose garden hand in hand with Phil the spreadsheet Hammond or Boris Johnson.

    So we may be denied a spectacle then but will hopefully be saved from the distraction of Trumps bandwagon when we may be fixating on at least one more general election, and we should certainly be focusing on the history-defining implications of Brexit.

    Saved too for now at least the embarrassment of those who offered Trump the invitation in the first place, those who saw our new place in the world as lying at the feet of a reprobate.

    And what do we learn from this? Once again we see what it is to deal with someone who has such high office and such thin skin. Just the notion of turbulence that might be seen around the world seems to be enough to scare him off. If he cant bomb it or tweet against it, the cupboard of responses seems bare.

    But, for the more important message, look to ourselves. It is easy to question the efficacy of protest. Millions marched against the war in Iraq, but couldnt stop it. Millions more marched against Brexit and cuts in the NHS. There is rarely such a direct link to be drawn between public action and response from those with power, but each public protest speaks to the strength and tenor of opinion. Every one sets out a position and raises the stakes. Here the stakes became too high for a brittle, image-conscious president in Washington. What do we want? Not Trump. When do we want him? Never.

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    ‘Alt-right’ Portland rally sees skirmishes with counter-protesters

    Far-right and anti-fascist groups face off with each other and law enforcement, a little over a week after two men died in a racially charged stabbing

    A much-anticipated alt-right rally in Portland, Oregon has ended in police using stun grenades and tear gas against the most militant segment of a counter-protest.

    At 3.30pm, police began pushing antifascist or antifa activists out of Chapman Square, just across from the rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza, in downtown Portland. Officers discharged grenades and gas as missiles were thrown. Portland police said on Twitter that they had closed the park due to criminal behavior including the use of bricks, mortar and other projectiles.

    As the antifascists were pushed out, alt-right activists interrupted their schedule of speakers to rush to the edge of Schrunk Plaza and taunt them. Police said they had confiscated makeshift weapons and shields from protesters in Chapman Square, and said that at around 2pm protesters there launched marbles and other projectiles towards Schrunk Plaza.

    Hours before, as the opposing activists gathered, tensions in the city were high, a little over a week after two men were killed and one wounded in a stabbing on city transportation.

    Jeremy Christian, 35, was charged in the attack, in which Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were killed after they intervened to help two young women who were the target of racial abuse. Christian was found to have expressed far-right views and to have attended a similar free speech rally in the city in April.

    Pro-Trump demonstrators in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Portland mayor Ted Wheeler sought to block Sundays event, while on Saturday the leader of the Oath Keepers militia organisation told the Guardian members of his group were on their way to the city, to support and if necessary defend the rightwing protesters.

    In the event, the alt-right rally was surrounded on three sides by separate counter-protests. Antifa activists occupied Chapman Square, to the south of the plaza. Portland United Against Hate, organized by 70 community and political groups, occupied the forecourt and sidewalk outside City Hall to the west. To the east, a protest organized by labor groups occupied the street outside a federal building.

    At the City Hall rally, Seemab Hussein of the Oregon Council on Islamic Relations, a rally sponsor, said he wasnt surprised to see an alt-right gathering in the city.

    Its part of Portland, he said, its part of Oregon, its part of society. He added that he didnt take seriously disavowals of the racist politics of older far-right movements.

    These guys are mostly not interested in free speech, theyre interested in fighting us, said an antifa activist. Photograph: Jason Wilson for the Guardian

    I dont think they actually moved away from that, he said. Its the same ball of yarn the hate, the prejudice, the violence. It just finds a new victim. If its not Muslims, its immigrants. He was heartened, he said, to see so many Portlanders show up to oppose the rally.

    All told, there were some 3,000 counter-protesters and only a few hundred at the free speech rally, where Kyle Based Stickman Chapman, who became a movement hero after physically attacking antifascists in Berkeley, California addressed the crowd. So did Joey Gibson, the organizer of the event. On the fringes, Pat Based Spartan Washington, a so-called alt-right celebrity, held an impromptu press conference.

    I believe in freedom of speech, he said. Our speakers have a right to say what they want, and not be exposed to this shit across the street. I am definitely willing to use violence to make sure my family is safe and my patriot family is safe. But do I want it? Not necessarily. Until antifa learns not to use violence God, I hate them. I look over there and I just want to smash.

    Pat Washington, an alt-right supporter, in Portland. Photograph: Jason Wilson/the Guardian

    Members of the Oath Keepers and another patriot militia group, the Three Percenters, were present, identifiable by their insignia. Also present were members of the Proud Boys, associated with Vice founder Gavin McInnes and identifiable by their uniform Fred Perry T-shirts, and members of Warriors for Freedom, a group led by Gibson.

    Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes gave a late afternoon speech, referring to growing links between established rightwing groups and internet subcultures.

    We just went to Boston not too long ago, Rhodes said, and it was run by 4chan kids who put the rally on. They were standing there with pale skin, cos they dont go outside too much, but they had homemade shields in their hands and they were there. Its my job as a paratrooper veteran to teach those kids everything I know.

    Tusitala Tiny Toese, a member of Warriors for Freedom, told the Guardian he was present to stand for free speech.

    If you look all around America, he said, theyre trying to take away free speech silently. He also said that the group had ejected Jeremy Christian from the 29 April Portland rally. We heard what he was doing, he said, we heard he was doing [Nazi] salutes, and we said we dont like that, so we told him, you gotta leave.

    Earlier in the day, as protesters gathered, two members of the Rose City Antifa group, wearing masks, spoke to the Guardian. Weve got hopes for what we want to happen and were preparing for the worst, one said, adding that their goals were being here, being a visible opposition.

    These guys are mostly not interested in free speech, theyre interested in fighting us, the activist said. If they come over here, were going to respond in self-defense, but our plan is not to take that path. Our main goal is the defense of the community, and to reveal their actions for what they are: fascist street violence.

    An activist makes a far-right hand signal. Photograph: Jason Wilson for the Guardian

    At one point Brian Fife, an alt-right protester, walked up to Chapman Square in an attempt to speak. He was surrounded and drowned out with air horns. Earlier, on the grass at Schrunk Plaza, Fife, who said he ran a small business in Salem, Oregon, said Jeremy Christian did everything right up until the point he started killing people.

    I do not support killing people, he said, I dont think anyone does. But calling out the changing elements of our culture, I think thats something I wish more of us would do.

    As police and DHS officers dressed in riot gear kept the groups apart, the rally passed without full-blooded confrontation between protesters. Police also announced that any movement between Chapman Square and Schrunk Plaza would be considered a criminal act. The plaza was cordoned off with yellow tape and police SUVs partially blocked traffic. Before the decision to clear Chapman Square, a small number of arrests were made.

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    Paris mayor demands black feminist festival that ‘prohibits’ white people be banned

    Anne Hidalgo says organisers of the Nyansapo Festival in the capital could be prosecuted because most of the event space would for black women only

    Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has called for a black feminist festival in the French capital to be banned, saying it was prohibited to white people.

    The first edition of the Nyansapo Festival, due to run from July 28 to 30 at a cultural centre in Paris, bills itself as an event rooted in black feminism, activism, and on (a) European scale.

    Four-fifths of the festival area will be set aside as a non-mixed space for black women, according to its website in French.

    Another space will be a non-mixed area for black people regardless of gender. Another space would be open to all.

    The English version of the site does not use the word non-mixed, but reserved.

    Hidalgo said on Twitter that she firmly condemned the organisation of this event, prohibited to white people.

    I am asking for this festival to be banned, Hidalgo said, adding she also reserved the right to prosecute the organisers for discrimination.

    Police prefect Michel Delpuech said in a statement that police had not been advised about the event by Sunday evening.

    But, Delpuech added, the police would ensure the rigorous compliance of the laws, values, and principles of the republic.

    French anti-racist and anti-semitism organisations strongly condemned the festival.

    SOS Racisme described the event as a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race.

    The International League against Racism and Antisemitism said Rosa Parks would be turning in her grave, a reference to the American civil rights icon.

    Wallerand de Saint-Just, the regional head of Marine Le Pens National Front party, had challenged Hidalgo on Friday to explain how the city was putting on an event promoting a concept that is blatantly racist and anti-republican.

    The cultural centre La Generale, where the event was to be hosted, and the collective Mwasi, which organised the event, said Sunday they were the target of a disinformation campaign and of fake news orchestrated by the foulest far right.

    We are saddened to see certain antiracist associations letting themselves be manipulaed like this, according to a statement posted on the Generale website.

    A decolonisation summer camp in the northeastern French city of Reims elicited similar outrage last year, as it billed itself as a training seminar on antiracism reserved for victims of institutional racism or racialised minorities excluding by default white people.

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    Taiwan’s same-sex marriage ruling could cement its place as Asia’s liberal beacon

    Landmark court case this week is likely to determine the success or failure of draft laws currently before parliament

    Chi Chia-wei will find out on Wednesday if his decades long fight to make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage has been a success.

    Chi, 59, a pioneering Taiwanese gay rights activist, is the celebrated face behind one of the most controversial legal cases the island democracy has seen in recent years, where 14 judges must rule if the civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

    The constitutional courts landmark ruling will not only determine the success or failure of draft new parliamentary laws to introduce marriage equality, but could cement Taiwans reputation as a beacon of liberalism in a region where the LGBT community faces increasing persecution.

    Chi, an equal rights campaigner since he first came out as a gay teenager in 1975, remains pragmatic about making civil rights history. If it doesnt work out this time, Ill keep on fighting for the people, and for human rights, he said in an interview with The Guardian.

    But he is determined that one day, the fight will be won.

    Somebody has to do it. I dont want to see any more people commit suicide because they dont have marriage equality, he said.

    Last October the suspected suicide of French professor, Jacques Picoux, who was unable to marry his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao, became a rallying call for Chi and other LGBT activists.

    His struggle is also personal. Chis lawsuit, launched two years ago and supported by the municipal government in the capital, Taipei, is the latest of several attempts to get legal recognition for his 30 year relationship with his partner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

    In 1986, when the nation was still under martial law, Chi was imprisoned for five months after submitting his first petition asking for gay marriage to be recognised.

    As a flag bearer for equality, he hopes to inspire other LGBT activists fighting a crackdown across Asia.

    On the eve of Taiwans court ruling, two gay men face a public caning in Indonesia. In South Korea, the military has been accused of carrying out a witch-hunt against gay recruits. In Bangladesh, 27 men were arrested last week on suspicion of being gay, a criminal offence.

    Back in Taiwan, the political stakes of Wednesdays decision are also high.

    When President Tsai Ing-wens ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) passed the first draft of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in December, it prompted a fierce conservative backlash.

    The issue has split Taiwanese society and vocal protests from a coalition of religious and right-wing family groups have caused many legislators to have second thoughts.

    The fate of the legislation, soon to face a second reading, now lies in the hands of the court, believes Yu Mei-nu, the DPP parliamentarian who drafted it.

    If the court ruled clearly in support of same-sex marriage and President Tsai offered her unequivocal support, it would embolden wavering legislators to vote in favour of the new laws, she argued.

    If the grand justices make a decision that is not very clear, and it depends on a legislative yuan [parliament] vote, then it will be difficult. I think most legislators will abstain, she said.

    We want her (Tsai) to be braver. If she can come out and say yes I support it then it will be passed.

    Ahead of her election last year, Tsai voiced her support for marriage equality in a Facebook video. In the face of love, everyone is equal, she said.

    But as she marked the first anniversary of her inauguration this weekend with low public approval ratings, Tsai faced criticism from all sides over her handling of gay marriage.

    Its a little bit depressing for us. Before the election, she was really pro-gay rights. But now she has kind of disappeared, said student Vic Chiang, 23, at a Taipei rally last week on the International Day Against Homophobia.

    Meanwhile, Robin Chen, a spokesman for the Coalition For Happiness of Our Next Generation, which links support for gay marriage with increased HIV infections, criticised the government for rushing the laws through.

    The majority of the population does not know whats happening, he said. We need to discuss things on different levels because family is the foundation of society.

    His fears were shared by Father Otfried Chan, secretary-general of the Chinese Regional Bishops Conference, who believes the court will likely back gay marriage. There is no debate, he said. Its a one-sided game.

    Nerves are frayed ahead of the ruling, with both sides intending to demonstrate outside the court.

    But for

    Chi, the choice is simple.

    To legalise marriage would mean that Taiwans civil code and constitution will say that gay people are people, he said. If the law can be changed, Taiwans gay community will have human rights.

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    Tim Pigott-Smith obituary

    Stage and screen actor best known for his role in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown

    The only unexpected thing about the wonderful actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died aged 70, was that he never played Iago or, indeed, Richard III. Having marked out a special line in sadistic villainy as Ronald Merrick in his career-defining, Bafta award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Granada TVs adaptation for ITV of Paul Scotts Raj Quartet novels, he built a portfolio of characters both good and bad who were invariably presented with layers of technical accomplishment and emotional complexity.

    Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III at the Almeida theatre in 2014. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

    He emerged as a genuine leading actor in Shakespeare, contemporary plays by Michael Frayn in Frayns Benefactors (1984) he was a malicious, Iago-like journalist undermining a neighbouring college chums ambitions as an architect and Stephen Poliakoff, American classics by Eugene ONeill and Edward Albee, and as a go-to screen embodiment of high-ranking police officers and politicians, usually served with a twist of lemon and a side order of menace and sarcasm.

    He played a highly respectable King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, but that performance was eclipsed, three years later, by his subtle, affecting and principled turn in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III (soon to be seen in a television version) at the Almeida, in the West End and on Broadway, for which he received nominations in both the Olivier and Tony awards. The play, written in Shakespearean iambics, was set in a futuristic limbo, before the coronation, when Charles refuses to grant his royal assent to a Labour prime ministers press regulation bill.

    The interregnum cliffhanger quality to the show was ideal for Pigott-Smiths ability to simultaneously project the spine and the jelly of a character, and he brilliantly suggested an accurate portrait of the future king without cheapening his portrayal of him. Although not primarily a physical actor, like Laurence Olivier, he was aware of his attributes, once saying that the camera does something to my eyes, particularly on my left side in profile, something to do with the eye being quite low and being able to see some white underneath the pupil. It was this physical accident, not necessarily any skill, he modestly maintained, which gave him a menacing look on film and television, as if I am thinking more than one thing.

    Born in Rugby, Tim was the only child of Harry Pigott-Smith, a journalist, and his wife Margaret (nee Goodman), a keen amateur actor, and was educated at Wyggeston boys school in Leicester and when his father was appointed to the editorship of the Herald in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962 King Edward VI grammar school, where Shakespeare was a pupil. Attending the Royal Shakespeare theatre, he was transfixed by John Barton and Peter Halls Wars of the Roses production, and the actors: Peggy Ashcroft, with whom he would one day appear in The Jewel in the Crown, Ian Holm and David Warner. He took a parttime job in the RSCs paint shop.

    At Bristol University he gained a degree in English, French and drama (1967), and at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school he graduated from the training course (1969) alongside Jeremy Irons and Christopher Biggins as acting stage managers in the Bristol Old Vic company. He joined the Prospect touring company as Balthazar in Much Ado with John Neville and Sylvia Syms and then as the Player King and, later, Laertes to Ian McKellens febrile Hamlet. Back with the RSC he played Posthumus in Bartons fine 1974 production of Cymbeline and Dr Watson in William Gillettes Sherlock Holmes, opposite John Woods definitive detective, at the Aldwych and on Broadway. He further established himself in repertory at Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham.

    Tim Pigott-Smith as the avuncular businessman Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles Enron at the Minerva theatre, Chichester, in 2009. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

    He was busy in television from 1970, appearing in two Doctor Who sagas, The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976), as well as in the first of the BBCs adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskells North and South (1975, as Frederick Hale; in the second, in 2004, he played Hales father, Richard). His first films were Jack Golds Aces High (1976), adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriffs Journeys End, and Tony Richardsons Joseph Andrews (1977). His first Shakespeare leads were in the BBCs Shakespeare series Angelo in Measure for Measure and Hotspur in Henry IV Part One (both 1979).

    A long association with Hall began at the National Theatre in 1987, when he played a coruscating half-hour interrogation scene with Maggie Smith in Halls production of Coming in to Land by Poliakoff; he was a Dostoeyvskyan immigration officer, Smith a desperate, and despairing, Polish immigrant. In Halls farewell season of Shakespeares late romances in 1988, he led the company alongside Michael Bryant and Eileen Atkins, playing a clenched and possessed Leontes in The Winters Tale; an Italianate, jesting Iachimo in Cymbeline; and a gloriously drunken Trinculo in The Tempest (he played Prospero for Adrian Noble at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in 2012).

    The Falstaff on television when he played Hotspur was Anthony Quayle, and he succeeded this great actor, whom he much admired as director of the touring Compass Theatre in 1989, playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Salieri in Peter Shaffers Amadeus. When the Arts Council cut funding to Compass, he extended his rogues gallery with a sulphurous Rochester in Fay Weldons adaptation of Jane Eyre, on tour and at the Playhouse, in a phantasmagorical production by Helena Kaut-Howson, with Alexandra Mathie as Jane (1993); and, back at the NT, as a magnificent, treacherous Leicester in Howard Davies remarkable revival of Schillers Mary Stuart (1996) with Isabelle Huppert as a sensual Mary and Anna Massey a bitterly prim Elizabeth.

    In that same National season, he teamed with Simon Callow (as Face) and Josie Lawrence (as Doll Common) in a co-production by Bill Alexander for the Birmingham Rep of Ben Jonsons trickstering, two-faced masterpiece The Alchemist; he was a comically pious Subtle in sackcloth and sandals. He pulled himself together as a wryly observant Larry Slade in one of the landmark productions of the past 20 years: ONeills The Iceman Cometh at the Almeida in 1998, transferring to the Old Vic, and to Broadway, with Kevin Spacey as the salesman Hickey revisiting the last chance saloon where Pigott-Smith propped up the bar with Rupert Graves, Mark Strong and Clarke Peters in Davies great production.

    He and Davies combined again, with Helen Mirren and Eve Best, in a monumental NT revival (designed by Bob Crowley) of ONeills epic Mourning Becomes Electra in 2003. Pigott-Smith recycled his ersatz Agamemnon role of the returning civil war hero, Ezra Mannon, as the real Agamemnon, fiercely sarcastic while measuring a dollop of decency against weasel expediency, in Euripides Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004. In complete contrast, his controlled but hilarious Bishop of Lax in Douglas Hodges 2006 revival of Philip Kings See How They Run at the Duchess suggested he had done far too little outright comedy in his career.

    Tim Pigott-Smith as King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

    Television roles after The Jewel in the Crown included the titular chief constable, John Stafford, in The Chief (1990-93) and the much sleazier chief inspector Frank Vickers in The Vice (2001-03). On film, he showed up in The Remains of the Day (1993); Paul Greengrasss Bloody Sunday (2002), a harrowing documentary reconstruction of the protest and massacre in Derry in 1972; as Pegasus, head of MI7, in Rowan Atkinsons Johnny English (2003) and the foreign secretary in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

    In the last decade of his life he achieved an amazing roster of stage performances, including a superb Henry Higgins, directed by Hall, in Pygmalion (2008); the avuncular, golf-loving entrepreneur Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles extraordinary Enron (2009), a play that proved there was no business like big business; the placatory Tobias, opposite Penelope Wilton, in Albees A Delicate Balance at the Almeida in 2011; and the humiliated George, opposite his Hecuba, Clare Higgins, in Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Bath.

    At the start of this year he was appointed OBE. His last television appearance came as Mr Sniggs, the junior dean of Scone College, in Evelyn Waughs Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall. He had been due to open as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in Northampton prior to a long tour.

    Pigott-Smith was a keen sportsman, loved the countryside and wrote four short books, three of them for children.

    In 1972 he married the actor Pamela Miles. She survives him, along with their son, Tom, a violinist, and two grandchildren, Imogen and Gabriel.

    Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, actor, born 13 May 1946; died 7 April 2017

    • This article was amended on 10 April 2017. Tim Pigott-Smiths early performance as Balthazar in Much Ado About Nothing was with the Prospect touring company rather than with the Bristol Old Vic.

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    Texas governor signs bill targeting sanctuary cities

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Sunday prohibiting the state’s cities and counties from enacting so-called “sanctuary” laws that prevent local law enforcement officers from inquiring about the immigration status of anyone they detain.

    Abbott took the unusual step of signing the bill on Facebook with no advanced public notice. He said Texas residents expect lawmakers to “keep us safe” and said similar laws have already been tested in federal court, where opponents have already been hinting the bill will be immediately challenged.

    “Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Abbott said. 


    The timing of the signing caught Democratic lawmakers flatfooted. Democratic state Rep. Cesar Blanco said it looked like Abbott “wanted to get ahead” of any protests surrounding the bill signing. Abbott spokesman John Wittman said they chose to sign the bill on a Facebook livestream because that’s “where most people are getting their news nowadays.”

    Protests over the bill have been intense for months and about 20 people were charged with criminal trespassing last week after staging a daylong sit-in at a state building where some of Abbott’s staff works. One Democratic state representative embarked on a three-day hunger strike in protest.

    Teri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said “we will fight this assault in the court” and the ballot box. Abbott said key provisions of the bill had already been tested at the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down several components of Arizona’s law but allowed the provision permitting police to ask about immigration status.

    Republicans say the bill is needed to ensure local jails honor requests from federal officials to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.


    The bill allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation. It also requires local officials to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation.

    One of the bill’s most controversial provisions allows for criminal charges against city or county officials who intentionally refuse to comply with federal authorities’ attempt to deport people in the country illegally who already have been jailed on offenses unrelated to immigration. Elected officials could face up to a year in jail and lose their posts if convicted of official misconduct.

    Opponents blasted the Texas bill as a version of Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, SB 1070, which launched protests, lawsuits and national controversy in 2010. The Arizona law went to the U.S. Supreme court, which voided much of the measure but allowed the provision permitting police to ask about immigration status.

    But the Texas and Arizona bills are not identical. Whereas the Arizona law required police to try to determine the immigration status of people during routine stops, the Texas bill doesn’t instruct officers to ask. But it does allow Texas police to inquire whether a person is in the country legally, even if they’re not under arrest.

    Every major police chief in Texas opposed the bill. Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said millions in the nation’s second most populous state will now be subjected to racial profiling and suggested that worried Hispanic residents will now be less willing to cooperate with police investigations.

    “Given the size of the state, this may well be the most costly gubernatorial signature in all of United States history,” Saenz said.

    Some Democrats said the timing of the signing particularly stung after three recent federal court rulings that found intentional discrimination in Republican-passed voting laws.

    “They did not connect the history of our culture or how closely that it is tied to Mexico,” Democratic state. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez said. “It’s just extremely personal. There is a lot of disconnect. They don’t really see this as affecting people.”

    Texas doesn’t currently have any cities which have formally declared themselves sanctuaries for immigrants.

    But Sally Hernandez, the sheriff of Travis County, which includes liberal Austin, enraged conservatives by refusing to honor federal detainer requests if the suspects weren’t arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder. Hernandez softened her policy after Abbott cut funding to the county, saying decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. She has said she will conform to the state’s ban if it becomes law.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    Controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke faces protests Monday

    (CNN)Thousands are expected to take to the streets of Wisconsin on Monday to demand that the governor remove controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a tough-talking firebrand who wants to use his deputies and correction officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

    Among other concerns, organizers of the march in Milwaukee are critical of Clarke’s desire to join the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which essentially deputizes local law enforcement agencies to operate as federal immigration agents.
    The Department of Homeland Security wants to expand the government’s ability to empower state and local law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers.
      “Sheriff Clarke, right off the bat, really waved the flag to say we’re going to bring it to Milwaukee County,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, the immigrant rights group organizing the statewide march, said Sunday of the 287(g) program.
      “It basically legalizes racial profiling because you can be stopped and questioned and put in detention based on how you look,” she said.
      Neumann-Ortiz called Milwaukee the “national epicenter” of the fight against 287(g) because of the level of resistance to Clarke’s plan to bring the program to the community, and because of his notoriety nationwide. A February march in opposition to Clarke’s push to join the federal program drew thousands.
      Clarke, a surrogate for President Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, is being considered for the position of assistant secretary of the DHS’ Office of Partnership and Engagement, Politico reported.
      Organizers of the Wisconsin “Day without Latinxs, Immigrants and Refugees” are also critical of Clarke’s management of the Milwaukee County Jail, where local prosecutors say inmate Terrill Thomas, 38, didn’t have access to water for a week and died of dehydration in his cell in April 2016. Three other people, including a newborn baby, have died in the Milwaukee County Jail since last April. The deaths are under investigation.
      “Part of what we believe needs to be exposed his disgusting record of human rights abuses,” Neumann-Ortiz said.
      Clarke’s spokesman could not be reached on Sunday nor could a spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker.
      The Wisconsin march coincides with a nationwide Day without Immigrants that falls on May Day, which recognizes the contributions of workers. Activistsare demanding economic and racial justice and rights for workers and immigrants. Marches are planned in other cities.
      In Wisconsin, more than 140 mostly Latino-owned business are expected to close, including about 100 in Milwaukee alone, organizers said.
      Jorge Huerta, 36, a Mexican-American owns Solos Automotive, one of the Milwaukee businesses that plans to close. He said he wants to support the Hispanic community, and he hopes to be an example to other immigrants.
      “I was illegal when I came here. I’m a business owner,” said Huerta, who became a citizen through marriage in 2001. “America is just a great country ….There is nothing that can hold us back as long as we do the right thing and speak the language and educate yourself.”
      Buses are scheduled to leave from 12 cities throughout the state and converge on Milwaukee. The march will end at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
      Organizers say “tens of thousands” are expected to strike and withdraw their children from schools.
      Neumann-Ortiz said the organizers are also advocating for restoring driver’s license to undocumented immigrants who don’t have social security cards. Currently, the federal REAL ID Act forces states and territories to demand more proof and identity before issuing state IDs, including driver’s licenses.

      Who is Sheriff David Clarke?

      Clarke, who is African-American, is known for his unapologetic, blunt commentary, particularly on the subject of crime. He made news during the presidential campaign for his opposition to Black Lives Matter activists, whom he said would join forces with ISIS.
      In a heated interview last summer with CNN’s Don Lemon, Clarke said he had predicted the police shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others.
      “I’ve been watching this for two years. I’ve predicted this,” Clarke said. “This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer.”
      He called the Black Lives Matter Movement “purveyors of hate,” and blamed it for inspiring violent crimes against law enforcement.
      When pressed, the sheriff didn’t offer any specifics to support his claims.

        Don Lemon, sheriff spar over police shootings


      Clarke was elected in November 2002 to his first four-year term and is currently serving his fourth term, according the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office.
      He is up for re-election in 2018.
      In a letter to Thomas D. Homan, acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Clarke expressed his desire to be part of the 287(g) program.
      According to a recent DHS memo, eight new additions to the 287(g) program were approved to move forward last month, and up to 68 more agencies may follow based on interest.
      The 287(g) program has seen its share of controversy.
      In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a class action lawsuit against then-Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio over the immigration raids his department conducted under the 287(g) agreement. The suit alleged that Arpaio abused his power.
      The Justice Department later found that Arpaio’s deputies has “engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of law enforcement and jail activities that discriminated against Latinos,” according to a December 2011 letter of finding by the department.
      Arpaio was later found to be in criminal contempt after he and three members of his office continued to detain people they believed to be in thecountry illegally after a federal judge ordered them to stop.
      Arpaio, who founded Tent City, the infamous outdoor jail in Arizona where inmates wore pink underwear and shuffled around in chain gangs, was voted out of office in 2016. Last month, officials said the jail would close.

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      Nina Simone and me: An artist and activist revisited

      (CNN)I was surfing online when I stumbled upon a mural in Baltimore painted by artist Ernest Shaw. It’s a three-headed portrait of civil rights icons: James Baldwin, Malcolm X and, of course, Nina Simone.

      Even within the boundaries of my computer screen, the painting on the side of a building at 401 Lafayette Street was powerful.
      Curious that the artist had chosen Simone as part of the trifecta, I dialed Shaw, a 41-year-old teacher at the Maryland Academy of Technology & Health Sciences. He’s taught kids at Baltimore city schools for 14 years and is keen to mentor inner-city youth in some artistic way.
        “I understand why you chose Malcolm and Baldwin. But why Nina?” I asked Shaw.
        The answer was immediate.
        “I have the utmost respect for her because she stood up for her beliefs. She sacrificed her career for her activism,” Shaw said.
        And that kind of activism could not be more relevant today, he said, given all that has transpired since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in the summer of 2014.
        Shaw and I spoke about Simone as artist and activist.
        He told me he’d been raised by parents who were adamant about exposing him to the history and culture of black America. Simone was part of the learning process.
        “Malcolm X touched me in my 20s; Baldwin in my 30s. Now in my 40s, as I am watching my daughter grow into womanhood, it’s Nina Simone,” he told me. Her biography, he said, “could be a case study for what a lot of black women deal with. And she chose to deal it with it head on.”

        New recognition for singer-activist

        Yet few in America know Simone’s story. In my own circle of friends and colleagues, mention of the singer’s name often gets this reaction: “Nina who?”
        I’m hopeful that will change. Simone, it seems, may finally be getting her due.
        A new documentary by filmmaker Liz Garbus, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” opened in theaters in 2015 and is streaming on Netflix. And though the film has its flaws, it serves as a good introduction to Simone. Sony Music has released “Nina Revisited,” an accompanying all-star tribute album featuring 16 songs. And a Hollywood biopic, albeit troubled, hit theaters in April 2016.
        There is no better time perhaps to enter the stark, stalwart and sensual world of Simone. In the aftermath of nationwide police brutality protests and tragedies like the 2015 slaughter of black lives in a Charleston church, Simone’s music is as relevant as it was when she first turned her music into a vehicle for activism.
        She became known as the voice of the civil rights movement with songs like “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and “Mississippi Goddam,” a visceral response to the 1963 killings of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, and four girls in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
        For that, Simone paid a price. Garbus’ documentary shows how Simone never gained the kind of celebrity that she deserved. Radio stations refused to play her music; venues were hesitant to book her. They feared she would speak her mind on stage and mince no words in lashing out against injustice and discrimination.
        Had it not been for her outspokenness, her principles, she might have gained the fame of an Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross.
        But as it were, Nina Simone never relished a string of Number 1 hits. But, she changed lives. Like mine. She made me think about race in America in a way I never had before.

        Simone brought me awareness

        I watched the documentary for a fourth time the week it debuted and thought back to a solitary and anguished drive home I made many decades ago from Florida’s death row. The condemned man told me that he found solace in Marvin Gaye’s 1971 anthem “Inner City Blues.”
        But several years before, Simone had recorded a piece that was equally powerful. It was that song that made me, still a teenager, ponder the structure of the lives of people around me in small-town Florida.
        Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash/ Just who do you think I am? /You raise my taxes, freeze my wages /And send my son to Vietnam
        I listened to the song again as Florida prepared for that man’s execution. He had just recounted to me a life of growing up poor and black in the American South.
        You give me second class houses /And second class schools /Do you think that all colored folks /Are just second class fools?
        Live oaks shimmied by unnoticed as I lost myself in Simone’s voice. I was a young reporter wrestling with the execution of a man — whether guilty or not — who I believed had not received a fair trial.
        Mr. Backlash /I’m gonna leave you /With the backlash blues
        Simone wrote “Backlash Blues” with the writer Langston Hughes and it stopped me cold the first time I heard it in the late 1970s. Until then, I had been an immigrant girl from India, influenced heavily by the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
        Tagore, India’s only Nobel Prize-winning writer, was brilliant in his artistry. His poetry made me think, too. About freedom and speaking out against wrongs.
        My mother sang his songs and schooled me in their meaning. I admired the way Tagore shunned Western clothes and spoke of how the British betrayed their own Western ideals with colonialism.
        Tagore taught me to stand tall in my short Indian frame.
        But it was Simone who awakened me to my brownness in white America.
        When I try to find a job / To earn a little cash
        All you got to offer / Is your mean old white backlash
        I arrived in north Florida with my family in the mid-1970s. It was a world of black and white, and back then the two rarely met in harmony. In college, a classmate who was a music major introduced me to Nina Simone.
        “She wanted to be the first black classical pianist,” my friend told me.
        She just wanted to glide her fingers over the keys and play Bach. Instead, she gained fame as a singer of jazz standards, blues and fiery protest songs.
        He made me a cassette and that was it. I listened in the car. I listened late at night on my bed.
        But the world is big / Big and bright and round / And it’s full of folks like me / Who are black, yellow, beige and brown
        Mr. Backlash/ I’m gonna leave you /With the backlash blues

        An incredible influence

        I became addicted to Simone’s deep, baritone, almost androgynous sound. I became fascinated with her history, her music, the tough choices she made in her life to stand up against Jim Crow. I even fell in love with the way she looked — the African dresses and jewelry she carried off with more grace than any haute couture model. After Nina, I shed my Levis for long Indian skirts and dangling brass earrings.
        Simone’s music defined me as a journalist — some of the very first people I interviewed were Angela Davis and Maya Angelou.
        If Simone was able to touch an Indian teenager like myself, I can only imagine her influence on African-Americans. The enormous sphere of that influence has resurfaced as academics, artists and cultural critics have weighed in after the release of Liz Garbus’ film.
        Syreeta McFadden, managing editor of the online literary magazine Union Station, wrote:
        “Civil Rights-era music is often associated with a particular soundscape, which is popularly understood as gospel mixed with the pop sensibilities of Motown. This understanding erases Simone’s vital contribution, the full depth of her contribution to secular music consciousness, her role in orienting black and white audiences alike to the liberation struggles of the civil-rights movement.”
        And Salamishah Tillet, an assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, who is writing a book on Simone, said in a NPR story:
        “Like so many of my generation, I found (Simone) through hip-hop loops and samples. … Simone’s mix of headiness and haunt, lyrical boldness and political bombast makes her the hero of our hip-hop generation. We look to her as our muse; we listen to her because we want to know what freedom sounds like.”
        I thought about Simone’s reach as I spoke with Shaw in Baltimore. As an artist, he drew inspiration from Simone’s convictions, expressed succinctly in one of several interviews included in the documentary.
        “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times,” Simone said.
        It’s a line that John Legend and Common quoted in their 2015 Oscar acceptance speech when they won for their song from “Selma.”
        “How can you be an artist and not document the times?” Shaw asked.

        ‘The struggle is ongoing’

        Simone died in 2003. I wonder what she would have to say about the “movement” today. She’d like the idea that a tribute album came out on the day the Confederate flag went down in South Carolina. She’d probably like the idea that so many young black people are again taking to the streets to protest injustice. (In 1978, she sang: “Oh, Baltimore. Ain’t it hard just to live.”)
        Filmmaker Garbus told Salon that Simone’s voice is one that is very needed today.
        “We were in our edit room when the events of Ferguson were unfolding,” Garbus said. “It reminds you that the struggle is ongoing and that her music and her words are as necessary and as relevant as they were then. It doesn’t shape the film, but it is certainly a ripe moment for the film to be coming out.”
        To me, Nina Simone remains an embodiment of freedom.
        “I tell you what freedom is to me: no fear,” Simone said in an interview.
        That line is a guiding light.
        As troubled as Simone’s life may have been, she has been a source of strength. It’s why I listen to her songs when I am up and when I am down. When I need a dose of inspiration and when I just need to smile.
        For that, I am ever grateful, Miss Simone.

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