Category Archives: crime news

Drunk Driving and Bad Science

“The enforcement of drunk-driving laws” has left “lives ruined and wrecked,” states American Institute for Economic Research’s Jeffrey Tucker.

And now comes news that “the science behind the breathalyzer is bogus,” leading to tens of thousands of cases “being thrown out around the country.”

A New York Times investigation, he notes, found: “The company that makes the machines for the police stations won’t share its technology or submit to a serious scientific review of its technology” while “tests of the tests” show them to be wildly inaccurate.

He sums up: “As it turns out, the only scientific way to determine blood-alcohol content is with blood tests. There are too many variables to make the breath alone reliable,” so we need to “seriously rethink the entire machinery of drunk-driving enforcement.”

Antifa-linked defendant gets 6 years in brutal baton attack in Portland

ANTIFA Beating

A 24-year-old man who authorities say was among masked Antifa supporters attacking conservatives at a June demonstration in Portland, Ore., was sentenced Friday to nearly six years in prison in connection with a brutal baton assault.

Gage Halupowski pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after authorities accused him of using a weapon against a conservative demonstrator who suffered blows to the head that the victim claims left him with a concussion and cuts that required 25 staples to close.

Andy Ngo@MrAndyNgo

Breaking: Antifa militant Gage Halupowski sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for striking a man on head from behind w/a baton during riot. He was masked at the time & assaulted an officer while trying to escape. His lawyer says sentence is too severe. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2019/11/baton-attack-during-june-protests-in-downtown-portland-lands-man-in-jail-for-nearly-6-years.html …

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View image on Twitter
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21.3K9:10 PM – Nov 1, 2019

After the assault, police saw Halupowski collapse his metal baton and conceal it in his pants, FOX 12 Oregon reported.

The attack outside a Portland hotel on June 29 was “completely unexplainable, completely avoidable and didn’t need to happen,” Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Marrero said, according to OregonLive.com.

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

Gage Halupowski, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with a baton attack in June, authorities say. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Authorities say Halupowski attacked Adam Kelly as Kelly was attempting to help another man who’d been assaulted, the news outlet reported.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Portland Tribune@ThePortlandTrib

CONTENT WARNING: Police have declared a civil disturbance after a violent brawl broke out between left- and right-wing protesters today. Video by Sergio Olmos/Underscore. Full story: https://bit.ly/321Hxbu 2525:55 PM – Jun 29, 2019

Halupowski’s defense attorney, Edward Kroll, called his client’s prison term “one of the harshest sentences I’ve seen for someone with no criminal background and young age,” but acknowledged that having the attack caught on video left Halupowski with few legal options other than accepting a plea deal.

Marrero disagreed, calling the sentence appropriate for Halupowski’s crimes, according to OregonLive.com.

Charges dropped under Halupowski’s plea agreement included unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault of a public safety officer and interfering with a peace officer, the outlet reported.

The attack against Kelly occurred the same day that a group of assailants attacked conservative writer Andy Ngo, dousing him with liquids and pelting him with objects, with those attacks also caught on video.

Ngo claims he was later hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage and says no suspects have yet been charged in connection with the assaults against him.

Violent clashes between Antifa supporters and members of conservative groups have been a vexing problem for the city of Portland, whose mayor, Ted Wheeler, has faced harsh criticism for the city’s response to such events. President Trump and some Republicans in Congress have called for Antifa to be declared a domestic terror organization.

By Dom Calicchio

West Coast Crime Plague

A “shoplifting boom” is plaguing West Coast retailers, Christopher Rufo warns at City Journal: “Since 2010, thefts increased by 22 percent in Portland, 50 percent in San Francisco and 61 percent in Los Angeles.”

Driving it is “an explosion in addiction rates for heroin, fentanyl and meth” — since getting cash for drugs is “the most common single motivation for crime” across America.

And the problem “has only accelerated because of decriminalization,” as “many criminals now believe, justifiably, that they can steal with impunity.” Fearing lawsuits, many stores no longer try to stop even blatant shoplifters.

San Francisco “now leads the nation in overall property crime,” while the problem is driving retailers to close their downtown Seattle shops. Yet the leaders of progressive cities still “refuse to consider how mass decriminalization fuels a breakdown in public order.”

Why we keep falling for hate-crime hoaxes? Children are lying…

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.

When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.

As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.

Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.

The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects. 

It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.

Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.

In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.

Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.

Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.

It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.

Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo

PARENT ALERT: ‘Predators’ like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy ‘underbelly’ of the Modeling world

PARENT ALERT: ‘Predators’ like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy ‘underbelly’ of the Modeling world

Jean Luc Brunel ran a Miami-based modeling agency launched in part with a $1 million investment from Jeffrey Epstein. In exchange for the contribution, Brunel is alleged to have funneled young models to the now-deceased pedophile.

Brunel vanished after Epstein’s suicide, before being spotted in South America in September, according to the French outlet Le Parisien. French authorities are investigating him for rape, sexual assault and his ties to Epstein, but Brunel has denied that any misconduct arose from his relationship with the perverted financier, who hung himself in a prison cell weeks after his July 6 arrest on child sex trafficking charges.

But men like Brunel and Epstein are nothing new in the world of high fashion.

“There are solid people in the industry,” supermodel Kathy Ireland told Fox News. “There are also a lot of predators.”

The majority of female models enter the fashion industry between the ages of 13 and 16. Their age and the often unfamiliar surroundings in which they find themselves make them especially vulnerable to sexual predators like Epstein.

“Before entering the modeling world, my universe was as far as I could ride my skateboard in Santa Barbara,” said Ireland, who started working at age 16. “When I came to the city [New York], I was very naïve. I thought that all adults would be good, honest, respectable people like my mom and dad.”

She was wrong.

Ireland recalled her narrow escape from a harrowing early job. The owner of the agency she worked for scheduled her with a photographer who was said to be a good friend of the agent. Ireland quickly learned that the photographer had seedy intentions when she got in a car with him and headed to a hotel.

“This photographer had set this up so that there was one hotel room and it’s only one bed in the hotel room and I was expected to stay with him,” Ireland said.

“We were on a freeway. I was contemplating, ‘What do I do? Do I jump out of a car on the freeway?’”

Situations like this were commonplace, and according to Ireland, agents were often complicit.

“What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys,” she said. “They’re not playboys. They’re predators.”

“It’s illegal to have sex with a child, with a minor, and that’s not consensual. There’s nothing consensual about that.”

Ireland has previously discussed an incident when she punched a photographer for getting physical with her after she refused to take off her clothes.

Kathy Ireland: "People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.” (Sipa via AP Images)

Kathy Ireland: “People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.” (Sipa via AP Images)

“I said, ‘No’ and he said, ‘You model swimsuits.’ People prey on someone’s desire to succeed and that is heartbreaking. The underbelly of the modeling industry needs to be exposed.”

“So often young girls come to me, they see the glossy retouched images and they see the covers and they want to model. It looks so fun and beautiful and glamorous and easy and they don’t see everything that goes into it.”

What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys. They’re not playboys. They’re predators.— Kathy Ireland

The life of a model can include 18-hour days without breaks, months without payment for work, living in crowded “model apartments,” and going into debt. Models coming from other countries can become beholden to their agents for necessities like visas, housing, and food.

In addition to this poor treatment, young models are often unchaperoned leaving them vulnerable to predators like Epstein. Funneling in young women from overseas can be as easy as filling out a temporary visa.

To help combat this, Model Alliance, a policy and advocacy group founded by former model Sara Ziff, pushed the passing of the Child Model Act in New York in 2013. The law affords child models the same basic rights and protections as child performers like actors, singers and dancers. Prior to the law’s passage, models under 18 years old were not protected under New York’s labor law.

Ziff, who began modeling at age 14, was surprised.

“New York is the center of the American fashion industry and the fashion industry relies very heavily on underage girls,” Ziff said.

“One of the problems that we’ve seen for many years in the industry has been agencies representing 14, 15, 16-year-old girls who are thrust into a very adult environment and are walking at New York Fashion Week and appearing in magazines and advertising campaigns and presented as adults.”

Ziff had a similar experience to Ireland when, at 14 years old, she was told to take her clothes off by a photographer.

“Being put on the spot to pose nude or semi-nude was pretty common. No advance notice or consent, and a lot of difficulty getting paid,” she said. “Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid. When I eventually left after enduring quite a lot of abuse, that agency withheld my earnings — they refused to pay me.”

Under New York State’s Child Model Act, a child model under 16 years old must be accompanied at work by a “responsible person designated by the parent or guardian.” A parent or guardian must also set up a trust account for the child and “an employer must assure that at least 15 percent of the child model’s earnings are put into that trust account.”

Even though I was represented by one of the top agencies, I routinely waited months to be paid.— Sara Ziff, former model

These safeguards may protect young models from some of the industry’s pitfalls, but predators still lurk.

Anita Teekah, the senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon, counts the lack of financial transparency among many things that leave underage models vulnerable.

“Models are told they are dispensable. They are very much inhibited from airing grievances for fear of retaliation. If you’re underage, this compounds all of this,” Teekah said.

Anita Teekah, senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon. Source: Safe Horizon/Dana Rosenwasser

Anita Teekah, senior director of the anti-trafficking program at Safe Horizon. Source: Safe Horizon/Dana Rosenwasser

“There’s so much harmful behavior that has been deeply normalized. Once something becomes normalized, it’s hard to fight it. It doesn’t mean it’s right or legal, but because it’s normalized it’s harder to fight.”

This is the slippery slope into trafficking, according to Teekah. Young women are often unaware of their rights, which leaves them defenseless.

“This is going to sounds pessimistic, but it’s human nature to try to exploit people,” Teekah said. “It’s easier to get away with these things when you have people who are vulnerable and won’t speak out.”

Though more protections are in place for models, there is still work to be done, a fact highlighted by the Epstein scandal.

Ziff recalls meeting Epstein as a young model. She came away from the encounter unscathed but credits that to her circumstances.

Kathy Ireland during an interview with "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on June 23, 1999. (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Kathy Ireland during an interview with “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno on June 23, 1999. (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

“He might have recognized that I was not as vulnerable perhaps and was coming from a slightly different background from some of these other girls who he allegedly abused,” she said. “I am all too familiar with the overlap between trafficking and modeling and unfortunately it’s a very real problem that’s taken the Jeffrey Epstein case for people to even, it seems, acknowledge or be concerned about it.”

“But it’s not surprising to people who work in the industry,” Ziff continued. “Jean Luc Brunel’s behavior was well-known. I heard from other agents over the years about him so none of this is anything that’s new and unfortunately nothing yet has been done really to address it. It’s still going on.”

Chloe Olsen and Kathy Ireland attend The Daily Front Row's 7th annual Fashion Media Awards on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Daily Front Row, Inc.)

Chloe Olsen and Kathy Ireland attend The Daily Front Row’s 7th annual Fashion Media Awards on September 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Daily Front Row, Inc.)

Fox News reached out to Brunel’s former attorney Joe Titone who recently communicated with his client by phone. Titone had no comment regarding the pending allegations and says he does not know Brunel’s whereabouts.

Ireland had no direct contact with Epstein, but calls him a “familiar character,” and understands how young girls could become prey to those like him.

“I can see how young girls are susceptible. Many of them have never left home before—naïve like I was, trusting,” she said. “The ugliness of it takes different forms and there’s something about seeing a person in an image. We can objectify people and dehumanize them and somehow justify that it’s okay to abuse them, to rape them, to discard them.”

Kathy Ireland's novel Fashion Jungle is set for release January 2020. 

Kathy Ireland’s novel Fashion Jungle is set for release January 2020. 

Ireland, who is working on a novel about the industry called “Fashion Jungle,” acknowledges the good works done in the industry, but remains aware of its dark side.

“I feel very grateful to have survived the industry because it’s rough,” she said. “It is a jungle out there and my hope is that the young people there will survive this jungle and we’ll share their stories.”

By Georeen TannerAngela Bertorelli

Facts About U.S. HATE CRIMES: Not A White Supremacy Issue

It is now a standard trope that whites pose a severe threat to blacks. That may have once been true, but it is no longer so today.

This month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its 2018 survey of criminal victimization. According to the study, there were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations (excluding homicide) between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90%, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10%.

Blacks are also over-represented among perpetrators of hate crimes, by 50%, according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24%. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.

You would never know such facts from the media or from Democratic talking points. This summer, three shockingly violent mob attacks on white victims in downtown Minneapolis were captured by surveillance video.

On Aug. 3, in broad daylight, a dozen black assailants, some as young as 15, tried to take a man’s cellphone, viciously beating and kicking him as he lay on the ground. They jumped on his torso like a trampoline, stripped his shoes and pants off as they riffled through his pockets, smashed a planter pot on his head and rode a bike over his prostrate body.

On Aug. 17, another large group kicked and punched their victim until he was unconscious, stealing his phone, wallet, keys and cash. In July, two men were set upon in similar fashion. Such attacks have risen more than 50% in downtown Minneapolis this year.

The Minneapolis media have paid fleeting attention to these videos; the mainstream national media, ­almost none (CNN blamed the attacks on police understaffing and ignored the evident racial hatred that was the most salient aspect of the attacks). This year’s installments of the usual flash mob rampages on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor have also been ignored.

If the race of perpetrators and victims in any of these incidents were reversed, there would be a universal uproar, with public figures across the board denouncing “white supremacist” violence and calling for a national reckoning regarding white racism. But because the violence doesn’t fit the standard narrative about American race relations, it is kept carefully off stage.

Today’s taboo on acknowledging the behavioral roots of criminal-justice-system involvement, multi-generational poverty and the academic-achievement gap isn’t a civil rights advance. To the contrary, it will ensure that racial disparities persist, where they can be milked by opportunistic politicians and activists seeking to parade their own alleged racial sensitivity and deflect attention away from the cultural changes that must occur for full ­racial parity to be realized.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal, from which this column was adapted.

SHAME- Man and ex wife changed adopted daughter’s age then abandoned her move to Canada

Michael Barnett returned to Lafayette Wednesday to be booked for charges of neglect of a dependent stemming from allegations he and his ex-wife, Kristine Barnett, abandoned their adopted daughter here in July 2013 before moving to Canada.

Kristine Barnett had not turned herself as of Wednesday evening, according to jail records.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the Barnetts’ daughter told a Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s deputy in September 2014 that she came to the U.S. in 2008 as part of an adoption program. She said she had a form of dwarfism known as spondyloepiphyseal. The disorder is known for causing skeletal abnormalities, and on occasion, vision and hearing issues.

The affidavit stated that Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital records show a doctor examined Barnett’s daughter and approximated her to be 8 years old in 2010. 

Prosecutors say that the Barnetts adopted the girl, who was from Ukraine, in 2010. WISH TV reported that Kristine Barnett told its news team that the family was scammed by the adoption, and the girl was actually an adult with mental health disorders. 

The hospital also conducted a skeletal survey in June 2012 and approximated her age as being 11 years old. The probable cause affidavit does not give an exact date for when the survey was conducted.Get the News Alerts newsletter in your inbox.

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The Barnetts legally changed the girl’s age from 11 to 22, according to prosecutors. Michael Barnett told authorities in September 2019 that his wife told their daughter to say she was 22 if anyone asked and to explain that she looked young for her age.

Asked Wednesday how a person’s age can be changed, Michael Barnett’s attorney said they would address that issue in the court process.

A warrant is still outstanding for Barnett’s ex-wife, Kristine Barnett. 

To change a birth record, one has to petition a court, present evidence and persuade a judge to change the records, according to the Indiana State Health Department’s website. 

Those records are not open to public inspection.

Prosecutors say the Barnetts, who lived an hour away in Hamilton County at the time, rented the girl an apartment  and moved her there. Then the Barnetts and their three biological sons moved to Canada, according to the probable cause affidavit and records from the Barnett’s 2014 divorce.

The Barnett family moved to Canada so their eldest son, Jacob — a physics prodigy — could pursue his college education, according to the couple’s divorce records. He was 15 at the time, based on his date of birth in the divorce filing.

In fall 2013, Michael Barnett moved back to Indiana “after an incident impacting the children,” Kristine Barnett stated in a court document. The divorce records do not state what that incident was.

Michael Barnett never returned to live with the family, according to the divorce records.

In February 2014, Michael filed for divorce from Kristine. That same year, their daughter was evicted from her Lafayette apartment, telling authorities four months later that she had not seen her family since they left the country. It is not clear where she was living at that time. 

A former neighbor near remembered that the girl attended classes at Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. 

“She quit coming to class, and we didn’t know what happened to her,” Margaret Axsom said.

The divorce records also indicates that in 2014, Kristine Barnett was in discussions over movie rights to “The Spark,” which is Kristine Barnett’s book about Jacob’s autism diagnosis and subsequent discovery of his intellectual gifts.

On their divorce petition filed Feb. 3, 2014, and on the subsequent decree published in July 2014, Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett stated they did not adopt any minor children during their marriage.

But prosecutors allege the Ukrainian girl was only 12 or 13 when the Barnett family moved to Canada.

A Facebook message from the Journal & Courier sent to a page that appears to be Kristine Barnett’s had not been answered as of Wednesday.

A Facebook group page titled “Learning the Spark” appears to be administered by Kristine Barnett and appears to be based on Kristine Barnett’s book about the Barnett’s son, Jacob, who initially was diagnosed with autism. 

In this Indianapolis Star file photo from April 2013, Jacob Barnett, 14, right, smiles as his mother Kristine Barnett shows her new book, at their Westfield home. The boy genius, who has autism, loves the theoretical study of physics, as well as math, including trigonometry.  His mother, has written the book, "The Spark:  A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius."

In this Indianapolis Star file photo from April 2013, Jacob Barnett, 14, right, smiles as his mother Kristine Barnett shows her new book, at their Westfield home. The boy genius, who has autism, loves the theoretical study of physics, as well as math, including trigonometry. His mother, has written the book, “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.” (Photo: Kelly Wilkinson / The Star)

That page has a post Wednesday from one of the group’s members. In that post, the group member offers a defense and explanation of the allegations against the Barnetts. 

Since Kristine Barnett has not responded to the Journal & Courier’s request for an interview, it cannot verify the assertions made in Wednesday’s post.

Follow Ron Wilkins on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.

Mexico’s ‘Glitter Revolution’ targets violence against women

Women Fight Back In Mexico

Protests called in response to alleged rape of girl by police officers aim for change in a country where 10 women are murdered every day

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez remembers an atmosphere of camaraderie and celebration when thousands of Mexican women took to the streets for the “violet spring” protests of 2016.

Three years later and the demonstrators are back to demand an end to violence against women – but this time the mood has soured.

“What I saw on the streets was rage and desperation,” Aguilar-Gomez, 28, a postgraduate student and feminist activist, said of the recent rallies in Mexico City. “Because things haven’t changed a bit.”Searching for Mexico’s disappeared – a photo essay

Aguilar-Gomez is one of thousands of women who have joined the so-called “revolución diamantina” (glitter revolution) in Mexico’s sprawling capital. The movement earned its name after protesters showered Mexico City’s security chief with pink glitter during their inaugural demonstration on 12 August.

That protest was a reaction to the alleged rape of a teenage girl by four police officers in Azcapotzalco, to the north of Mexico City, in the early hours of 3 August.

The demonstrators, who marched with placards saying, “All Women Against All Violence” and, “If you violate women we will violate your laws”, are also demanding broader changes in a country where an average of 10 women are murdered every day and virtually all such crimes go unpunished.

“It is an unsustainable, femicidal situation,” said Yndira Sandoval, a campaigner whose group, Las Constituyentes, is among those that has joined the movement.

“Every day girls are going missing, women are going missing, women are being violated and raped … and we want a political response that reflects the scale of this national emergency,” added Sandoval, who said she had been the victim of a sexual assault in 2017.

When Mexico’s leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, took office last December promising a new era of social justice, many activists, Sandoval included, hoped positive change was finally on the horizon.

A woman speaks with a police officer near the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City
A woman speaks with a police officer near the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City.Photograph: Luis Cortes/Reuters

In Mexico City, which elected López Obrador’s ally Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female mayor, expectations were particularly high.

“It’s hard to change this mess in less than a year … [But] we were very hopeful that having a woman from that political group would bring policy change to address the violence crisis against women,” said Aguilar-Gomez, who said many glitter revolution protesters had backed the leftist pair in last year’s vote.

Nine months on, much of that hope has evaporated. Women’s rights activists are mistrustful of López Obrador’s alliance with hardline evangelical politicians and have condemned swingeing budget cuts, included funding for women’s shelters being cut.

Sheinbaum, meanwhile, infuriated feminist protesters by branding their first mobilisation – which resulted in the glass entrance to the attorney general’s office being smashed – “a provocation”.

By doing so, Aguilar-Gomez said Mexico City’s government had legitimised a wave of online abuse and threats against feminists.

Sheinbaum’s attack sparked outrage and a second protest, on 16 August, also turned violent and resulted in one of Mexico’s best known landmarks – the iconic Angel of Independence monument – being scrawled with graffiti denouncing violence against women.

Aguilar-Gomez said she was frustrated that, since then, much of the media focus had been on the defaced monument and not the discrimination and attacks against Mexican women.

“It’s unbelievable … They can’t see the pain in the faces of the mothers and sisters of murdered women, and the raped women, and the harassed women who were there at the protest,” she said. “But they are very, very, very empathetic with this lady made of stone.”

On Sunday, Sheinbaum met with representatives of the movement and promised a month of discussions designed to help eradicate gender violence.

Sandoval, 33, said she feared it was an attempt to “contain and co-opt” the movement, rather than bring about real change.

Aguilar-Gomez said she was hopeful for positive change and said the demonstrations would continue if that did not happen.

“I can tell you that they won’t stop. I’m certain they won’t stop. They have had enough.”

by Tom Phillips