Outside the School #4: Alabama mall shooting, Apple in the Supreme Court, and more


Alabama mall shooting

On Thanksgiving night, a shooting broke out in a Hoover, Alabama mall. Just moments after the terror commenced, a Hoover cop shot Emantic Bradford Jr, killing him instantly.

However, Bradford was not, in fact, the perpetrator of the shooting.

Hoover police have since scrambled to form some semblance of an explanation or justification. First they claimed that Bradford was the one who first opened fire, shooting two people. Then, as evidence and witnesses came in- including witness Ashlyn McMillan who called Bradford a hero for directing her to get down as he prepared to protect those around him with his legal firearm- they changed their story, saying that Bradford perhaps didn’t pull the trigger but did have a gun. And as truth emerged from the depths of tragedy and injustice, Hoover police adjusted their story once more, saying he wasn’t actually threatening anyone with his firearm. The Bradford family’s attorney has corroborated this story, stating that he had a legal permit to carry.

As the situation grew dirtier, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency took over the case. The ALEA has been refusing to release information on the investigation; however, after days of protests, city officials requested the ALEA release at least some “limited information.” The ALEA is to do so by noon on Monday.

What we do know is that an arrest has been made. Erron Martez Dequan Brown was taken into custody on Thursday and is allegedly the true culprit of the prior week’s horrific events. As of now, he is facing one count of attempted murder for shooting an 18-year-old bystander. He and the 12-year-old hit by a stray bullet are now recovering; the only murder on that Thanksgiving night was done so at the hands of a police officer.

Bradford’s unjust murder has, of course, sparked debate of race and gun control across the country. His is tragically not a unique story. Another black man attempting to quell a shooting with his legal gun was shot dead by police in Chicago just this month. Another black man in Portland attempted to break up a bar fight; his legal gun fell to the ground, and a cop fatally shot him. The exhausting flurry of abysmal calamity continues.

The racial debate continues as well, and the idea of carrying guns harming even the good guy adds another layer to the gun control debate.

Apple and its Supreme Court case

This week, the Supreme Court has begun hearing arguments in the case of Apple v. Pepper.

Since 2011, Robert Pepper and three others have been pursuing a class action lawsuit against Apple for the App Store. The argument is that because Apple forces its consumers to use the App Store- from which Apple takes a 30% commission- app developers have increased their prices, essentially leaving the commission cost for customers. In short, Apple killed competition with their monopoly App Stores, resulting in customers having to pay more than they would in a competitive market.

However, over the years, disputes in the lower courts have arisen over whether or not Pepper and his group have the right to sue Apple. Thus, the Supreme Court is to decide on that matter.

Apple’s principal argument relies on a 1977 Illinois case, Brick Co. v. Illinois. In that case, it was concluded that only the direct purchasers had the right to pursue an antitrust case. Apple’s argument is that app developers are the direct purchasers in this case because they’re the ones setting the prices after the commision is already agreed on.

The liberal justices- and even three conservatives, at times-  initially questioned Apple’s logic; Justice Elena Kagen even suggested that the Illinois case doesn’t even apply. Justice Samuel Alito questioned the Illinois case as a whole, citing the fact that 31 states filed an amicus brief asking for it to be overturned.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court will continue to hear arguments and is set to come to a decision in late June.

Google and censorship in China

Back in 2010, Google agreed not to support China in their internet censorship policies. But this past August, Google’s preparations to break this promise surfaced; it appeared that Google was working on a secretive project known as Google Dragonfly to adjust their search engine to China’s censorship and surveillance policies.

Reports say that the final product of Dragonfly will be able to block specific words and phrases and will even link users’ search histories to their phone numbers.

Thus, this past week, Amnesty International announced their protest of this and began a petition, protesting outside various Google Headquarters around the world. Earlier in the year, 1400 Google employees signed a non-public petition against Dragonfly, and more recently and publicly on Thursday, they published a statement denouncing the program, which has already received over 400 signatures from employees.

The employees and protesters are all deeply concerned about the dangerous international precedent Google could be setting. If Dragonfly is to go through, not only will Google be conceding to China’s repressive regime, but they will be opening the door to other similar countries.

Others argue that it is China’s government that is enforcing censorship, regardless of Google’s presence or not and that Google would be more efficient and slightly less censored than the search engine that is widely used in China now.

Nonetheless, as the debate continues, Google is reportedly still set to launch Dragonfly between January and April of 2019. If they are to be swayed by the opposition by then is yet to be seen.