“I Said It Wasn’t My Marijuana; I Didn’t Smoke”: Symone Sanders On Her Jail Time

Symone D. Sanders is a senior strategist for Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. During the 2016 election, she was the press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders. In an excerpt from her new book, No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America, the 30-year-old reflects on first meeting Sen. Sanders and a night from college that shaped her activism.

One day in 2015 I got a random call from someone named Jeff Weaver. He introduced himself as Bernie Sanders’s campaign manager. Would I consider coming to work for Bernie Sanders? At this point I got up and shut the door to my office. “Tell me more,” I said.

A few weeks later, my phone rang. “The senator wants to meet with you today… Can you come right now?”

I decided to go to the meeting because: one, you just don’t tell a sitting United States senator no when he wants to talk to you; two, I thought it would be an opportunity to express my thoughts to him; and three, I hadn’t gotten any other job callbacks (HA).

I ran out of a congressional building to my car, grabbed a blazer and shoes out of my trunk, and booked it to Senator Sanders’s office. When I arrived, Bernie came out and said, “Come on in!” We had only said a few words to each other when we led right into the start of a joke that we would go on to make hundreds of times: yep, we have the same last name. “Maybe we’re related,” he said, and I was like, “Well, my dad’s from Mississippi, so I dunno…”

From that oh-so-awkward start, the dialogue went something like this.

Senator: I didn’t know there were so many…

Me: Black people in Nebraska?

Senator: I was gonna say Democrats.

Ha ha, ha ha. More small talk; more getting-to-know-you chatty conversation. We discussed Netroots, his reaction to the protestors, and overall strategy. Then we got into an argument. As the senator promptly let me know, we had “a fundamental disagreement” about economic policy. I suggested there was valid criticism out there about his policy, and he obviously did not agree. He then gave me his spiel about inequality and concentration of wealth and how politics is controlled by Wall Street.

Here’s the thing: I don’t necessarily disagree with the spiel—but he was missing a bigger issue. I started off trying to say something about how racial inequality in this country is not a subset of some other set of issues. But instead of fighting, I decided to backtrack and tell the senator a story that I’ll share with you now.

I was on my way to the library one night in my car while I was in college. My parents lived in Omaha, near the university, and I was driving back from their house—it was around ten p.m. on a weekday. My taillight was out; I got pulled over. The officer ran my license.

“Ma’am, did you know you have a warrant out for your arrest?”

A warrant? That’s just not possible. I’ve never been in trouble with the police before, ever. For what?! It turns out, he told me, I had a, uh, small number of parking tickets, let’s say. At this point it had escalated to a bench warrant—which means I had to come in and deal with it. I asked, “Can I pay the tickets right now?”

Officer was like, “No, ma’am, that’s not how it works—I’m gonna have to take you to jail.” Oh my God. I cannot believe this is happening.

I got out of my car; he handcuffed me. I started crying as I got into the back of the police vehicle. Then I realized I couldn’t wipe my nose because my hands were cuffed, so the tears stopped. There was another officer in the car too. I told them I was a student at Creighton. The other officer was like, “Oh, my wife went to Creighton”—I was thinking they’d let me go. No dice.

At this point in my story, I told the senator: I dunno if you’ve ever been to jail, but when you go, only one car is allowed in the parking stall at a time, because they don’t want folks mingling when you get out. So we were waiting for a few minutes, and then one of the officers came around to open my door, but he told me not to move. I saw him bend down like he was picking something up off the ground. Then he told me I could get out (easier said than done with your hands cuffed) and he took me up to stand at the door to wait to be buzzed in.

Then, as this was happening, one of the officers said, “Oh, we found your weed.”

I wasn’t paying attention, because I didn’t smoke, and so I didn’t think they were speaking to me. So I didn’t respond. “You hear us? We found your weed.” My thoughts were racing, wondering what the hell they could be talking about. I didn’t smoke. I hadn’t been driving around with anyone who did. They couldn’t possibly have found weed in my car, so why would they say such a thing? My mind switched to overdrive, trying to flip through all the possibilities of how I could prove this was impossible. While freaking out on the inside, I kept completely silent.

They took me to holding, where they removed my jewelry. I said I was an intern in the mayor’s office and I worked closely with my city council member. I tried my best to keep my cool, but my voice was trembling. Because I knew I had not done anything, but this is how folks’ lives and futures get derailed—this is how “they” get you. This kind of thing could not only completely throw my life off track at the moment, but also sabotage my future.

What followed was a twenty-minute ordeal where they tried to convince me that I needed to take ownership of the marijuana that wasn’t mine. I increasingly realized they were trying to pin it on me. I said it wasn’t my marijuana; I didn’t smoke. After an extensive back-and-forth, the officers gave up on getting me to capitulate to owning the pot, but not before letting me know that actually the weed they found wasn’t very good.

I promptly retorted they should tell that to the person that sold it to them because it was not my marijuana. At this point, I’d had enough of their mind games, and I felt my confidence start to flood back into my bloodstream. I was innocent, and there was no way I was going to let them say anything to the contrary.

They took my fingerprints, a mug shot, put a bracelet on me with my picture on it. Then I was moved to a holding cell with other women, a cell that was the size of a small closet, and there were twenty or so women in there. It wasn’t a socializing kind of place; people are reeeeal quiet when they’re waiting in jail. Finally, I was told I could make a phone call. I called my dad, told him I was in jail, and I instructed him to please call Ben Gray, my city councilman, and alert Stacy Westbrook (the special assistant to the mayor who had helped me get a job), because the officers tried to get me to take ownership of marijuana that wasn’t mine.

My dad and mom came down to the station immediately. Because I was there on a bench warrant, I was told I could post bail, or I could sit in jail until the next day, i.e., midnight. By the time my parents got there, it was eleven fifteen, so I just waited forty-five minutes. As I was telling Bernie this story, he was flipping out. “What?! How? Where did this happen?!”

I was like, “Omaha, NEBRASKA!!!”

Bernie kept real quiet while I recounted this story, but his facial expressions said it all. So after I finished, I was pretty sure that Bernie and I had reconciled, but I waited for him to speak. Then rest of our conversation went something like this:

Senator: I think I like you.

Me: I think I like you too.

Senator: I think I want you to work here.

Me: I think I want to work here too.

This was my own experience, but it happens all over the country. It’s happening right now. The only difference between Sandra Bland and me is that I had access and opportunity that helped me to get out of that awful situation.

I concluded to the senator, that was why I thought he should talk about race and justice issues being parallel to and intersectional with the issues in the economy. Because while the economic situation needs to change, nothing happens in a vacuum. No one cared what school I went to, that I worked in the mayor’s office, what my parents did when I got arrested. The day the officers pulled me over and attempted to pin marijuana on me, all they saw was a Black girl driving through the north side of town, and that’s all that mattered.

Adapted from No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America © 2020 by Symone D. Sanders. Provided courtesy of Harper.

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New Zealand deputy leader said China asked them not to lockdown

New Zealand deputy leader reveals China pressured the country NOT to go into lockdown – accusing Kiwis of ‘overreacting’ to the deadly coronavirus

  • Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters claims China told NZ not to lockdown
  • He said China ‘thought it was an overreaction’ to lockdown due to COVID-19
  • Mr Peters said it was in order to ‘protect our own people’ from the killer virus
  • On Thursday, New Zealand eased restrictions from level three down to level two 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

China tried to persuade New Zealand not to go into lockdown despite the threat of the deadly coronavirus, the country’s foreign minister Winston Peters has claimed.

He revealed Chinese politicians accused the country of ‘overreacting’ to the impending crisis.

Australia and New Zealand both acted quickly to shut their borders – particularly with China, where the outbreak began – leading to some of the lowest infection rates in the world. 

Mr Peters, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister, said his first call regarding the COVID-19 crisis was with his Chinese counterpart.  

‘Without speaking out of turn, they wanted a discussion as to why we were doing it, because they thought it was an overreaction,’ he told Stuff’s podcast. 

‘They didn’t want us to go into lockdown … and I suppose they wanted a discussion about that.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters (pictured on March 12) revealed that his first call as  foreign minister was speaking to his counterpart in China who asked them not to lockdown 

‘We had a long discussion, but in the end I said, “look, you’ll understand we’ve heard what you’ve got to say; that we’ve got to protect our own people, and as fast as we can”.

‘And it ended up with, ”Well, I hope I see you one day,” sort of thing.’  

New Zealand went into lockdown on March 25 in order to protect its citizens from COVID-19, which had already killed thousands of people around the world. 

People were ordered to maintain social distancing and were only allowed out with one other family member for essential items.  

Following a strict seven week lockdown, the country has slowly lifted some restrictions from level four to level two.

Barbers give haircuts to customers at the French Barber on Thursday in Wellington, New Zealand (pictured) as restrictions ease to level two

A wet market in the Chinese coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan is seen open on May 4 (pictured) despite such markets believed to be the source of the virus

As of Thursday, the country eased further restrictions from level three to level two which will allow retail businesses, cafes, gyms and playgrounds to open.

Friends and family will also be allowed to gather outside of their households as long as safety measures are followed. 

‘As of today we have only 90 New Zealanders recorded with the virus, with only two in hospital,’ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to parliament.

‘None of it has been through luck, but rather through hard work.

‘We are ready to move to level two, to open up the economy, but to do it as safely as possible.’

On May 18, schools and early learning centres will operate as usual with students expecting to return to normal.  

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured, right) with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters (left) in Wellington, New Zealand on Thursday

Police stop vehicles to heading north on state highway one at Warkworth on April 9 in Auckland, New Zealand (pictured)

New Zealand has suffered a total of 21 deaths from COVID-19 and has no reported cases in the last three days. 

Tensions between Australia and China continue to escalate as the government calls for a review from China to understand ‘exactly’ how coronavirus originated.

In the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in Australia the federal government was told that the deadly virus may have been leaked from a Wuhan lab.

The Morrison government was told in February there was a 50 per cent chance it was accidentally released from a bio-containment facility located in the initial Chinese virus epicentre before more became known about it.

The government now believes it’s unlikely the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the virus which has claimed 89 lives in Australia and more than three million worldwide.

Vendors wearing masks sell seafood on Xihua Farmer’s Market in Guangzhou, China on May 4 (pictured)

Locals in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, are seen being tested on May 14 (pictured)

It comes after it was revealed two senior scientists from the lab – Peng Zhou and Shi Zhengli – previously studied bats at the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory as part of research funded by both the Australian and Chinese governments.

‘We want a clear, independent, fearless global review of the origins, the actions, and the global path forward, in relation to this and all future pandemics,’ federal health minister Greg Hunt told the Daily Telegraph.

The work of Mr Zhou and Ms Zhengli is being examined by intelligence agencies from the ‘Five Eyes’ network comprising of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US as part of their investigations into the origins of coronavirus.

This later caused trade tensions as China banned meat exports from four Australian abattoirs as trade tensions between the two nations escalate in the wake of the coronavirus spread.

The Australian government now believes it’s unlikely that China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) was the source of the virus

Shi Zhengli (left) and Peng Zhou (right) jointly wrote a paper in January that said the new coronavirus probably originated from bats, similar to SARS

The meat suppliers – three from Queensland and one from New South Wales – sell around $1 billion worth of meat to China each year, making up around a third of total beef exports to our biggest trading partner.

China also threatened to slap an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, a move which would cripple the industry.

The Kilcoy Pastoral Company, Beef City in Toowoomba, Brisbane’s Dinmore meatworks and the Northern Co-operative Meat Company at Casino, New South Wales have been temporarily blacklisted.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Daily Mail Australia the suspensions were due to ‘highly technical issues’ around labelling and health certification.

‘My expectation is that the technical issues have all been addressed,’ he told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. 

A hairdresser is seen back at work in Auckland, New Zealand, on Thursday after restrictions were lifted (pictured)

A bottle of hand sanitiser is seen at a Wellington restaurant on Thursday (pictured) after restrictions were lifted

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The Russo Brothers Said Their Remake of 'Hercules' Will Be Different Than the Animated Original

Disney is currently working on a live-action Hercules remake, and the Russo Brothers are set to produce the movie. While the remake of Hercules is still in the early stages, Joe and Anthony Russo have already said it will be different than the 1997 animated original.

The original ‘Hercules’ came out during the Disney Renaissance

Disney’s 1997 animated film Hercules was released during the Disney Renaissance. During this period, Disney released several critically and commercially successful animated movies. In addition to Hercules, Disney released The Little MermaidThe Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down UnderAladdinPocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre DameMulan, and Tarzan.

During the Disney Renaissance, movies took on a Broadway musical-type style. A great number of the Disney Renaissance films were critically acclaimed, and Hercules was well-received by critics. The movie currently has a critic score of 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and the critical consensus reads, “Fast-paced and packed with dozens of pop culture references, Hercules might not measure up with the true classics of the Disney pantheon, but it’s still plenty of fun.”

‘Hercules’ won’t be a ‘literal translation’ according to the Russo Brothers

In recent years, Disney has remade several of its past animated classics into live-action films. The 2019 live-action remake of The Lion King stayed true to the animated classic, but fans should not expect the same from the Russo Brothers’ Hercules.

In an interview with Steve Weintraub, Joe and Anthony Russo explained why they took on the project.

“Both us and our kids are Hercules fanatics,” Anthony Russo said. “And we had heard that Disney was interested in revisiting it and we’re in love with the original. And we made a case as to why we felt we would be right to produce that film and here we are.”

Joe Russo and Anthony Russo also explained that their remake of Hercules will not just be a “literal translation” of the beloved animated movie.

“Well, I think you always have to bring something new to the table because from our perspective as storytellers, it’s not compelling for us to do a literal translation,” said Anthony Russo. “We’ve already done that with our Marvel films. We don’t do literal translations of the comics because we feel like if you want that story you can go read that story. We’re going to give you a different story. I think we’ll do something that’s in the vein of the original and inspired by it, but we also bring some new elements to the table.”

Another sign the Russo Brothers’ remake will be different

When asked if the remake of Hercules would be a musical like the original, the Russo Brothers were hesitant to say.

“We can’t say one way or the other,” Anthony Russo said. “Music will certainly be a part of it.”

There is also another sign that the Russo Brothers’ remake of Hercules could take on more of an action story line versus a musical story line. Joe and Anthony Russo hired David Callaham to write the script for Hercules. Callaham’s other upcoming works include Wonder Woman 1984, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the next Spider-Man film.

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Hannah Brown Said She's Ready to 'Test the Waters' With Dating — But It Won't Be With Anyone From Bachelor Nation

Hannah Brown is ready to start dating again. While fans may ship Brown and Tyler Cameron together, she let fans know that even though she’s single she doesn’t see herself dating anyone from The Bachelor franchise.

Hannah Brown is ready to start dating again

On May 5, Brown held an Instagram Live and discussed how she feels ready to “test the waters” with dating.

“I am single, I am,” she told fans during the Instagram Live. “I feel like right now in quarantine’s not the best time to try to date, but I feel like I am in a place where I’m ready to do that—to test the waters a little bit.”

While the former Bachelorette is ready to start dating again, it doesn’t seem like Brown is wanting to date anyone from Bachelor Nation.

She said, “I can date other people that are not on The Bachelor. Y’all are driving me crazy!”

View this post on Instagram

Wildflower. Wild Woman.

A post shared by Hannah Brown (@hannahbrown) on

Fans really want her to date Tyler Cameron

After stay-at-home orders began for the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Brown flew to Florida to quarantine with Cameron and his friends. When Cameron was spotted picking up Brown at the Palm Beach International Airport, fans of The Bachelorette speculated if the two were dating.

Speculation continued for the coming weeks as Cameron and Brown began posting TikTok videos with their friends under the name “The Quarantine Crew.” Some of the videos seemed to poke fun at the pair’s past relationship on The Bachelorette, keeping fans guessing about their current relationship status.

“I’m supposed to believe that Hannah Brown and Tyler C are not falling in love again in quarantine #TheBachelor#BachelorNation,” tweeted one fan.

View this post on Instagram

Jupiter’s better than Greece anyways……

A post shared by The Quarantine Crew (@thequarantinecrew) on

“Not to be dramatic or anything but knowing that Hannah brown and Tyler Cameron are hanging out during quarantine is the only thing holding my emotional stability together,” another fan tweeted.

Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron have said they are not dating

Even after Brown left Florida, fans continued speculating on if Brown and Cameron were dating. However, the two have consistently told fans they are just friends.

In a video posted on a Bachelor Nation fan account’s Instagram story, Cameron disclosed where he stands with Brown.

“We’re friends..it’s been nice to be able to communicate and be friends again. We are able to talk, and you know, we’re just starting off as friends and that’s what it is right now,” Cameron said. “And we’re not in a place where we should be worried about dating or anything like that right now…but yeah, that’s my homie she’s my friend…But it’s good to be back on good terms. She’s a great person and I’m grateful to be able to call her a friend.”

In April 2020, Cameron appeared in a Zoom call with fans of The Bachelorette. On the call, he was asked about his relationship with Brown. A fan recorded his answer and posted the video to TikTok.

When asked about Brown, Cameron said “The tea is we are friends. She’s a good friend.”

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Miley Cyrus Once Said Liam Hemsworth Has 'a Little Bit of an Anger Problem'

The ups and downs of the Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth relationship have been well-documented. But occasionally, old clips and interviews surface, revealing that the problems between the “Slide Away” singer and the Hunger Games actor were there all along. Here’s a look back at a 2012 incident in which Cyrus hinted at Hemsworth’s “anger problem.”

Miley Cyrus hosted ‘Punk’d’ in 2012

Let’s set the scene for a second. It’s 2012, and Cyrus was thriving, hot off the release of her third album, Can’t Be Tamed. The Hannah Montana era was in her rearview mirror, and she was focused on her relationship with Hemsworth and a few then-pending film releases. She hosted Saturday Night Live, and was shifting away from her Disney days and into her new, less-wholesome image.

What better way to mark the transition than to appear on a popular show like Punk’d? At this time, the show was in its second iteration, having been revived at MTV by none other than Justin Bieber. Cyrus was a victim of the host’s practical jokes in March 2012, but got her chance to be the ringleader with a May 2012 episode.

She pulled a prank on then-boyfriend Liam Hemsworth

This was the prank: A couple, played by two of the show’s writers, get into the back of Cyrus’ car while Hemsworth was getting money from an ATM. She runs out and tells him what’s happened, and when they get back, the couple has locked the doors.

Hemsworth starts banging on the door, yelling, “Get out of the f*cking car!” The police show up (not real cops, of course) to detain the couple, but they lie and say that they know Cyrus and Hemsworth. The cops tell him he could be charged with a felony, and he continues to get angrier.

When Cyrus reveals it was a prank, he laughs, saying, “That’s so f*cked up.” After kissing her, Hemsworth says, “You were really good, babe.” In the episode, Cyrus also pranks Kelly Osbourne and Khloé Kardashian.

Cyrus told the producers about his ‘anger problem’

Before setting the prank in motion, Cyrus met with the writing team to learn what they had in mind. She explained to them why she wanted to mess with her significant other, saying, “He’s kinda always a prankster, so I’m happy to get him.”

When they posed that he might laugh as a reaction, Cyrus quickly said, “He won’t,” adding “especially when the cop [comes in].” “He does have a little bit of an anger problem, you know. I don’t know how [he’ll] feel about a naked dude in the car,” she said.

Does Hemsworth have anger issues?

View this post on Instagram

“This is my good mood mug”. Kyle. Arkansas.

A post shared by Liam Hemsworth (@liamhemsworth) on

Though everything worked out with the prank, Hemsworth definitely lost his cool there for a bit. And this definitely isn’t the first time his temper has been a point of interest for the tabloids.

Back in 2009, the Daily News ran a story about his “violent past,” referencing a “brawl” he and his brother, Chris Hemsworth, were allegedly involved in. Then, in a 2015 video posted by the Daily Mail, he appears unhappy when he thinks he’s being called by his brother’s name (as it turns out, the journalist, named Chris, was introducing himself).

Could this have played a part in his split from Cyrus? Around the time their 2019 separation was announced, People Magazine published an article on the subject. A source called Hemsworth “moody,” saying, “She’s been supportive of him when things get dark, but it’s tough…He can also lash out at her, and he hates the attention their ups and downs bring.” Perhaps the 2012 comment was a preview of what came later.

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Why Joe Exotic Said He'd Shoot Justin Theroux's Cousin in the Head

Carol Baskin isn’t the only person he said he’d put a bullet in.

"Tiger King" certainly made him a worldwide star — but it wasn’t Joe Exotic’s first documentary appearance.

A clip from a 2011 series hosted by Louis Theroux has resurfaced online, in which the zoo owner jokes about shooting Justin Theroux’s cousin in the head in a mercy killing should he get attacked by one of his lions.

Theroux, a celebrated journalist and documentary filmmaker, interviewed Joseph Maldonado-Passage for his show "Louis Theroux: America’s Most Dangerous Pets", in which he toured the now infamous G.W. Zoo.

"If he was to get you, he would not kill you and eat you right away," Joe tells Louis in the clip. "He’s going to torment you. If you were to get in there and I was out here trying to get you out, he would be on top of you covering you up because you’re his. I would just shoot you, it would be more humane."

"You would shoot me in the head?" Theroux asks.

"Yeah," Joe replies in a burst of laughter. "Because I’m not going to get you back. So why make you suffer?"

"If I ever got attacked by a lion like that, shoot me please. That would go on for hours. Unless you shot the lion…"

Interestingly, as many of the federal charges against him relate to animal cruelty for shooting five of his tigers, Joe shoots both himself and Theroux before the lion in his hypothetical.

After the explosion in popularity of the insane Netflix doc, Theroux penned an opinion piece for The Times, as he reminisced about his time in the court of the Tiger King.

In it he said that while the zoo itself wasn’t necessarily something to be admired, "it was hard to dislike the man himself."

"Joe struck me as likeable and friendly. I warmed to him, and his ridiculousness was endearing rather than annoying."

He said that while filming his own documentary, a tornado came and left — "but an atmosphere of incipient catastrophe never quite let up the whole time I was with Joe."

"He seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis, constantly on the verge of financial ruin, handling low-level bites and maulings, and being hounded by ‘animal rights people’, as he put it," he wrote.

While Theroux said he greatly enjoyed the latest documentary, he admitted a "sense of envy and missed opportunity that I wasn’t involved in what has turned out to be a global smash."

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Man shot by NYPD said he had coronavirus, tried to attempt suicide by cop

The man shot by NYPD cops in the Bronx after threatening the officers with a knife early Wednesday morning told police he has coronavirus and was attempting to commit suicide by cop, authorities and sources said.

Ricardo Cardona, who was shot near the corner of Zerega and Westchester avenues in Westchester Square at about 4 a.m., said he tested positive for the virus yesterday, sources said.

Cardona feared he was going to die because he was overweight and diabetic, according to sources.

He allegedly called 911 to report a person with a weapon and had poured ketchup on his knife to make it appear bloody before cops arrived.

Two officers shot him four times in the legs, police sources said.

He was taken to NYC Health and Hospitals/Jacobi in stable condition. Neither of the cops was injured.

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