For many citizens living in parts of Eastern Ukraine occupied by Pro-Russia rebels, reality has become a tenuous amalgamation of rumors, propaganda, and dreams.
For a few years, a young radical group of Israeli settlers in the West Bank have committed random acts of violence and vandalization against Palestinians and their property to make them pay the price for affronting their way of life. They call themselves “Pricetaggers,” and they’ve largely avoided prosecution by Israeli authorities.
VICE News gets rare access to the young members of the Price Tag movement—at the homecoming of Moriah Goldberg, 20, who just finished a three-month sentence for throwing stones at Palestinians. She and her family remain proud of the act, even as the current conflict in Gaza was sparked after an all-too-familiar round of retributive violence.
Eric Garner and the Plague of Police Brutality Against Black Men
If you haven’t heard about Eric Garner yet, let me fill you in. He was a 43-year-old father of six who lived in Staten Island, and he died in the street on Thursday after as many as four New York police officers choked him and slammed his head on the ground. The NYPD told the Associated Press that they stopped Garner because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, something he’d been arrested for before. However, witnesses who spoke with local news website Staten Island Live have basically said that’s bullshit. Ramsey Orta, who was on the scene and shot a now infamous video that is making the rounds, can be heard in the clip saying that all Garner had done to get bothered by the police was break up a fight.
In the video, Garner denies any wrongdoing and asks why he’s being hassled. “Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” he says in an exasperated tone that most men of color across this country can relate to. Garner, who was 400 pounds and has been described by people who knew him as a “gentle giant,” suffered from chronic asthma and police claim his death was the result of a heart attack suffered during the arrest.
Police say that Garner made a “fighting stance” and resisted arrest. Which, based on the video clip, is complete nonsense, considering we can see him pleading to the officers, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” before going completely silent as several officers pile on him.
The video of Garner’s death is disgusting, but I can’t say I was shocked or even outraged the first time I watched it. At this point, as someone who’s read and written about some of these stories time and time again—and who’s had firsthand experiences with the way cops treat black males—this kind of reprehensible shit is not surprising at all. After so many cases like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, you start to feel desensitized by the seemingly insurmountable injustice that plagues communities of color.
Bare-Knuckle Boxing in the UK
Once regarded as something that happens exclusively in Guy Ritchie films and on Gypsy sites, bare-knuckle boxing is fast becoming a thriving scene in the UK—the ultimate British bloodsport.
When Clive Martin embeds with the bare-knuckle boxing elite, what he discovers is not dissimilar to Fight Club: IT technicians, builders, lifestyle coaches, and even a lawyer, all throwing their unprotected fists into one another’s faces. It’s a subculture of honor, pride, and violence.
As the UK prepares to play host to the first US-vs.-UK bare-knuckle title fight in 150 years—the biggest event the scene has known since it went underground in the 19th century—Clive tries to find out whether violence is a cause or effect for these angry young men.
The Guardian Angel of Guatemala City
By day, Dr. Jorge Chiu is a cardiothoracic surgeon. By night, he volunteers as a paramedic to help the violence-ridden streets of Guatemala City. There’s no telling what he’ll be dealing with on any given night. One moment Dr. Chiu will be dealing with a house fire—the next he’ll be treating gunshot wounds.
In this episode of Profiles by VICE, we traveled to Guatemala City to learn the gritty truth about Dr. Chiu’s alter ego as a Guatemalan guardian angel.
The Dark Side of the Rainbow Gathering
Heber City, Utah, is usually a quiet town. Nestled in a tranquil valley of the Wasatch Mountain Range, somewhere in between Salt Lake City and Provo, the little bedroom community has some of the lowest unemployment and crime rates in the state. More than 60 percent of the city is Mormon. So it came as a particular surprise when city officials learned that they would be playing host to this year’s gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a loosely organized troupe of nudists, hippies, and itinerants that meets every summer for a month-long love-in.
Started in the late 1960s as an outgrowth of the anti-war and hippy movements, the Rainbow Family of Living Light describes itself as “the largest best coordinated nonpolitical nondenominational nonorganization of like-minded individuals on the planet.” The flagship Rainbow Family Gatherings, which have occurred every July since 1972 in a different US national forest, are like longer, more authentically weird versions of Burning Man, bringing together upwards of 10,000 “Rainbows” from a cross section of fringe culture: bikers, Jesus freaks, computer programmers, naked yogis, and gutter punks looking to escape “Babylon,” the Rainbow shorthand for the various evils of modern life. The gatherings are free and open to anyone. No one is in charge, and nobody can tell anyone else what to do.
“If you asked 20,000 Rainbows why they go to the gathering, you would probably get 20,000 different answers,” said Rob Savoye, a “Rainbow” who has attended gatherings since 1980 and runs the unofficial Rainbow website WelcomeHome.org. “I know rednecks, Orthodox religious people who go to the gatherings, so it’s really hard to put a label on it.
“People are tolerant, accepting of different stuff,” Savoye added. “A lot of us have had rough family lives, and the Rainbow has sort of filled that void for us.”
But as officials in Utah learned this week, recent gatherings have also had a more sinister side, attracting a seedier crowd that uses all the anachronistic peace-loving as cover for drug abuse, theft, and violent crime. On Monday, Heber City police arrested a woman known by the Rainbows as “Hitler,” who is accused of stabbing a man at the gathering’s encampment. Authorities are also investigating the death of a 39-year-old New Hampshire woman who was found lying outside at the camp last week. Over the weekend, law enforcement agents said they were called in to respond to a drug overdose at the camp, and to reports that a group of “Rainbows” crashed a wedding on their way to the gathering. “They just went into the reception and started taking the food,” Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis told the Salt Lake Tribune. “They weren’t trying to blend in.”
Schindler’s Witch: How Sorcery Saved Lives During the Rwandan Genocide
Twenty years after the Rwandan genocide, the country is still coming to terms with what took place during that period of extreme violence. Perpetrators are still being brought to justice, and heroic stories are still emerging.
One such story belongs to Zula Karuhimbi, a woman some Rwandans claim saved more than 100 people through “sorcery.”
After we learned that she lived in the southern Ruhango District, we drove from Kigali to find her. On the way, we stopped at a roadside restaurant, where we told the waiter we were searching for the “witch” who had saved lives during the genocide. “The witch who was honored by the government?” a customer asked. “I know where she lives. I’ll take you to her.”
He brought us to Musamo Village, where we abandoned our car and ploughed by foot through waist-high shrubbery. Turning into an enclosure, we found Karuhimbi asleep on a straw mat outside a tiny house. She was hugging a small child, who, we later discovered, was an orphaned boy she had recently adopted.
She looked wizened and frail as she slept, but she jumped to attention when we told her we had come to hear her story. “Yes,” she confirmed, “I’m the Zula who hid Tutsis.” Pointing to the ground, she said, “I put them here in the compound and covered them with dry leaves of beans and baskets.” As many as 100 Tutsis, 50 Tutsis, two Twas, and three white men had taken refuge in and around her tiny two-room house during the three-month genocide in 1994.
“I hid so many people that I don’t know some of their names. I hid little babies I found on the backs of their dead mothers, and I brought them here.”
When the militia encircled her enclosure, Karuhimbi covered her hands in herbs that would cause skin irritation, according to The New Times. She touched the killers—who became fearful because they believed she was cursing them—and then retreated inside her house. She grabbed whatever she could find and shook it, claiming that it was the sound of the spirits becoming angry. “I hid those people seriously. I’d prepare some magic, and when the killers came, I’d tell them I would kill them. I told them no Tutsis had come to my house—that no one comes in my house—while all the time they were all inside.”
Karuhimbi grew up in a family of traditional healers. Her identity card indicates that she was born in 1925, making her five or six when the Belgian administration deposted Rwandan King Yuhi Musinga, who had been in power for 35 years, partly because of his refusal to be baptized as a Roman Catholic. During this period, Karuhimbi said, her mother would regularly hide people, and she was responsible for delivering their food. “Whenever I spoke out, I’d be beaten by my mother, who eventually brought a fiery leaf of a plant and slid it over my lips and told me, ‘If you say anything I will kill you.’”
The most popular Slendervlogs have viewer counts well into six figures, many of them likely to be old children or young adults, and we don’t see hundreds of kids taking to the woods with kitchen knives… or at least not outside of the fevered imaginations of Daily Mail hacks. Whatever happened to these two children to make them into killers was almost entirely unique to their particular circumstances.
Nothing on these sites told them to kill a child; they decided that for themselves, and the truth is we have absolutely no idea why.
Offline Activism Is the Tricky Part for #YesAllWomen
As with every mass shooting in the last decade, Elliot Rodger sparked a clash of ideologies. This being a misogyny-fueled massacre, instead of the usual gun debate, it provoked a nationwide Twitter war between anti-patriarchy feminists and a bunch of apologist white guys, with most tweets focusing on the fact that while not all men denigrate women, all women are denigrated by men, and culminating in the latest clicktivist hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a strong hashtag, and it has staying power, but does it have the potential to inspire people offline?
When a branch of the American Revolutionary Communist Party concerned with banning pornography for the benefit of women, called StopPatriarchy.com, organized a series of #YesAllWomen rallies in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco, it meant another attempt at turning global social media awareness into community activism, in the hopes that the effort is broadcast somewhere, anywhere. Best case - recursively on social media; worst case - word of mouth. This cyclical advocacy happens fair often with little effect, #BringackOurGirls and #Kony2012 come to mind. Ralph Nader was right, “the Internet doesn’t do a very good job of motivating action.”