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« on: October 06, 2017, 01:45:16 PM »

In 1898, White Supremacists Killed 60+ African Americans in One of Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S.

October 04, 2017 - democracynow.org



This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we turn to Part 2 of our conversation with Bishop William Barber. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the aftermath of the deadly shooting in Las Vegas. Sunday night’s massacre by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock at a country music festival left 59 people dead and 527 others wounded. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was suspending a bill that would make gun silencers widely available. Ryan appeared to leave open the possibility that lawmakers would take the bill up again later in the fall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected calls Tuesday by some Democrats for new gun control laws in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. At the White House on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was not the time to talk about gun control.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re going to Part 2 of our conversation with Bishop William Barber, presented with the Andrew Goodman Foundation Hidden Heroes Award “for courageously defending the moral values of American democracy,” presented with it on Tuesday night, joining us now, though we’ve interviewed him a number of times, for the first time in our studio here in New York.

It’s great to have you with us to continue this conversation, Bishop Barber. Respond to the Las Vegas massacre.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: First of all, deep, deep sadness. I had a member of my staff at Repairers who had someone that was actually in the crowd, and so it touched very personally.

I’m deeply concerned, in several ways, about the conversation. First of all, for those who say we shouldn’t politicize this right now, I agree; It shouldn’t be politicized, it should be a moral issue; and it shouldn’t be now, it should have been long before now. What is this commitment that we have to guns? What is this strange psychosis that when these things happen, we want to blame everything but the guns? What kind of stranglehold does the NRA—what kind of bloodthirst commitment do we have?

And, you know, this culture, American culture, we have to own, has been—had a history of violence. I know you’ve been very careful to say this is the worst lone gunman, but there have been other instances throughout history where you’ve had a massive number of people.

But I’m concerned, deeply, if killing children—remember when that happened?—didn’t change us; if congressmen on both sides of the aisle getting shot didn’t change us; if the best we can do, or certain extremist politicians can do, who claim they are pro-life, can say we might suspend silencers, but we’ll bring it back up.

And as I heard the president’s press person say—I think she was asked would silencers—you know, would there still be silencers? She said something to the effect it wouldn’t have really made a difference. So, you mean if the people couldn’t have heard the shots, and if he had had the ability to let off 500 or 600 rounds unheard, it wouldn’t have made a difference? I mean, what—the only purpose for a silencer is to kill people. It’s not something used in hunting.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, that’s how the police found him.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: That’s how the police found him.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s how people looked up and saw he was shooting—


AMY GOODMAN: —from high—

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Exactly, exactly, exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: —he was shooting from a high story of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah. And I just keep—how much more death do we have to see? How much more of this commitment to violence? Now, as a preacher, I’m reminded of the scripture in the Bible, two of them—one that’s in Ezekiel, which says your politicians have become like wolves whose policies devour the people. The second part of the scripture says, “And your preachers have covered up for the politicians.” Where are all the so-called white evangelicals now? Where are you? You know, where are you when policies about healthcare are passed that are going to destroy people’s lives? Where are you when people aren’t getting a living wage? Where are you now with gun violence? Where are you, Franklin Graham and others? Where are you now? I think Jesus said something like “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.” Where are those voices now? And that’s a great concern in this country.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we had a reporter on just yesterday from The Guardian who had done an investigation of gun ownership in America, and they concluded that 3 percent of gun owners in America own almost 50 percent of all the guns. That’s just a very small group of people—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that basically have these amazing arsenals. And yet they have such influence over how gun legislation is—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —is developed in the country.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: And isn’t it strange when you look back in history, when you had, for instance, the Black Panthers carrying guns, and Ronald Reagan was governor. All of a sudden they wanted gun control. You remember that?

AMY GOODMAN: Right, when the Black Panthers marched on the state Capitol—

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: You remember that? That’s right. That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: —in Sacramento, California.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Now you have people that want to have—be able to carry concealed weapons on legislative floors. They want all these open gun laws. You can buy as many as you want. I think in Nevada the guns could be taken right into a hotel. But at this point, the conversation should be about life versus death. The problem is, we’ve got this deep moral problem. And that is that it’s not just about guns being violent. We are having debates in this country right now over passing violent policies.

Remember—Coretta Scott King said something we ought to remember. She was asked one time, “What do you think about violence, since your husband was assassinated?” And Coretta gave a very profound answer. She said, “Violence is not just the killing of my husband.” She said, “Violence is denying kids education. Violence is denying people healthcare. Violence is denying people wages. Violence is taking people’s culture.” And then she said, “Even an apathetic attitude that doesn’t address these other forms of violence is a form of violence.” We truly have got to decide in this country, and it’s going to have to be a mass movement that helps us decide, whether we’re going to focus on violence or nonviolence, not in terms of protesting guns, but even in terms of the kind of public policy that’s being pushed.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned that we have said this is the largest massacre by a single gunman in history. So talk about history, Bishop Barber.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: History. If you go back to the 1800s, right after slavery, the Reconstruction movement, but then what was called the Deconstruction movement, 1872, the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, was about violence. And a lot of that violence was directed toward whites, trying to get them not to work with African Americans. If you look at the period of time between 1898 to the 1920s, deep violence. Black men were hung at an average of one per day. There were no laws against lynching. You have the Wilmington riots and coup d’état, duly elected black and white people run out of office, black people killed, in 1898. You’ve got the Springfield riots in—

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, stick with Wilmington.


AMY GOODMAN: Also, Juan, you wrote about this in your book News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. It’s an astounding story that most people don’t know about.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Astounding, yeah. November 10, 1898—and by the way, let me just put a hook on this. Most of the so-called Confederate statues were raised, 80 percent of them, from 1898 to 1922. 1898 was the Wilmington riots. 1922 was the year, I think, before Leonidas Dyer from St. Louis entered a bill into Congress to make an anti-lynching bill, that passed in the House. He was a Republican—of that day, not this day. And it failed in the Senate.

Now I’ll go back to 1898. November 10th, after two years of violent propaganda, led by Charles B. Aycock, who became governor of the state of North Carolina, and Josephus Daniels, who was the owner of The News & Observer, they began to say, if we don’t remove these black and white fusionist politicians from office, our white women and white children will be under threat. And they did it to the point that by November 10th there was so much vile in the political atmosphere, listen, so much vile in conversation and language, that the language led to the violence.

AMY GOODMAN: What was so unusual about North Carolina and its politics at the time?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: What was so unusual at that time is by—and from 1878 to around 1872, and then later on, North Carolina had more African Americans in the Legislature than it has today. It was extraordinarily progressive. In the first four years, they rewrote the Constitution. They made public education a right, which is not even a right in the federal Constitution. They passed equal protection under the law before equal protection was passed in the 14th Amendment. They opened up voting—of course, for men, not for women. They were even talking about labor rights. They put in the Constitution that every person had a right to the fruit of their own labor. They said that the first principle of a Christian and a civilized society was beneficent provision to the poor. They put that language in the Constitution. The—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, this was an alliance of African Americans and—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and white Republicans, for the most part.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Right, Republicans of that day.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of that day, right.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Lincoln Republicans. You have to say that, because sometimes—and that’s how we modeled the Moral Monday movement, off of fusion politics, intersectional politics. And it was powerful. And it was happening all over the South. But by 1896, you had Plessy v. Ferguson. 1883, you had the overturning of the 1875 Civil Rights Act. And there was this push to recodify and institute fully white supremacy, white nationalism, into the laws.

And so, Wilmington was a powerful city. It was 50 percent African-American. The wealthiest man in North Carolina was an African American in Wilmington. And it was the closest port to Africa and Europe. And Wilmington would have ended up being Atlanta, that kind of city. And it was targeted. We can shut it down. And so, white supremacists got together. Newspaper, politicians ran a campaign. And on November the 10th, they brought a Gatling gun into Wilmington. They burned down the black newspaper, that was led by the mulatto’s son—he was a white governor, he had a black mama—burned it down. And they went on a killing spree. And it was endorsed by churches. Some preachers stood in their pulpits and said, “If we have to fill the Cape Fear River with the blood of the”—I won’t say the word—”then let it be, so that we can return the government to its right ownership of the white man.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: They not only ran the African-American elected officials out of town, they—as I recall, they installed a former Confederate officer as the new mayor—

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: That’s right. That’s right.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —in the coup that they organized.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: They organized a coup, because the goal was to—they had already begun to take over the Legislature, to some degree, by re-entering Jim Crow—entering Jim Crow laws in voting. But after that riot, they sent telegraphs all over the country—this riot predates the Springfield riots—saying, “This is how you return power.” And by 1902, the last congressperson—black congressperson was from North Carolina. His name was George White. He was put out of the United States Congress, and it took 90 years.

Now, here’s the—here’s one of the curious things about this, Amy. It took 90 years for North Carolina to have another black person in the United States Congress. Voting went to almost zero in the black community. And what people don’t know is that there was so much fear—right?—around what had happened that it just froze. So all of the progress of Reconstruction was turned back, was turned back. And it was tied to this massacre.

AMY GOODMAN: And Josephus Daniels became—

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: He was rewarded secretary of the Navy.

AMY GOODMAN: Woodrow Wilson.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Woodrow Wilson, who also played Birth of a Nation in the Oval Office.

AMY GOODMAN: Which became this recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: That’s right, because it glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and it said—told lies about fusionist white and black politicians. And he played it in the Oval Office. The statue in Charlottesville, that we have recently been talking about, was raised really in celebration to Woodrow Wilson, the white supremacists believing we have a friend in the White House, right?

AMY GOODMAN: He would later become appointed, by FDR, the ambassador to Mexico.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: OK, that’s right. So there’s a lot of this history to go around. Charles B. Aycock becomes governor. They claim that he was the educational governor, but you know what he did? He went to whites and said, “If you don’t want your children to be like these black children, because we’re going to make it so you have to have a certain educational level to vote, you better let me raise taxes on your property.” So he used a race argument to get white Southerners who were racist in North Carolina to allow him to raise taxes off their property to build public schools.

AMY GOODMAN: So go back to the massacre—


AMY GOODMAN: —that day. How many people are believed to have died?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Well, there’s some estimates that say 2 to 3 percent of the city. There’s some that say there were at least 60 African Americans alone that were shot and killed. We don’t know how many people were killed, because they had to run into the swamp or could have been drowned, couldn’t—bodies may have never been found.

And it was not written in history. This is the thing I wanted to get to. This was not put into history books until, in the 1980s, Dr. Tim Tyson and a senator, who later died, a black senator from Wilmington, began to force and push it. Irv Joyner, who works with me, was a part of that team.

So you’re talking about when the discussions were around which counties would be covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, you know, those counties are not covered, those counties in that part of the state of North Carolina. We only have 40 counties that were covered. So the argument is, there really wasn’t that much white supremacy in the other 60 counties. Those counties weren’t covered, because the testimony of what happened in Wilmington and what happened in southeast North Carolina was not a part of the testimony before the Congress when the decision was made about which counties would be covered under preclearance.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: It wasn’t until about a hundred years later that they established a commission—right?—in North Carolina—

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: A hundred years, that’s right.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that uncovered all the facts. And all these newspapers then did public apologies—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —for their role in instigating the violence.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: And we still haven’t talked about the number—the people whose land was stolen and taken, who were thrust into poverty. Again, you’re talking about people who were doing very well, black people in Wilmington. So it is a horrific story. But it ought to remind us of what can happen when you have vile, racist, xenophobic language coming from the highest levels of the government.

AMY GOODMAN: And Josephus Daniels, in the newspaper, because a lot of people couldn’t read—


AMY GOODMAN: —used cartoons?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: He used cartoons, political satire. But the cartoons—one of them has a picture of a black person with a top hat on like Abraham Lincoln, but he has vampire teeth and vampire claws. In one hand, he’s holding a white woman. In the other hand, he’s pushing back white men. And, of course, the image there would be that if we don’t stop these black politicians, your women and your children are at risk, which has always been a tool of racists and white nationalists and white supremacists.

That is why, today, it concerns me that—the way in which too much of the corporate media let Trump and his allies off. That is why I’m deeply concerned today when we have a Charlottesville, and everybody focuses on the death of the young girl. And we should. My god, ugly, mean, a violent death, running through a crowd with a car. But the problem is, when we stop there and we—and people denounce the hate, in that moment, which almost everybody will do—I mean, Trump had a problem doing it, but almost everybody, politician, has political sense enough to say, “I’m against that.” But being against that doesn’t mean you are against the white nationalist sentiments that led to that, you see? And so you can actually be against that kind of hate. We had white politicians that signed off on the apology of Wilmington, but none of them have talked about we need to expand preclearance coverage to all of those counties.

That is why I think media—and I love what Democracy Now! does, but we’ve got to get also the other media to begin to look at the policies of white supremacy. That’s why it bothers me that—it’s not that Trump used racism and code words and overt words, not just coded words, to win the presidency and to stir up certain racial fears. It’s that he did it with such ease and almost with the corporate media, and even his opponents, not knowing how to call him out on it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, because we had on—in relationship to Charlottesville, we had on Wes Bellamy, the young councilman in Charlottesville, who actually originally introduced the legislation to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee—first African American elected to the City Council of Charlottesville. And—

AMY GOODMAN: What’s interesting, Juan, is you met him in Austin well before all of this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Right, well before all this stuff happened, in a conference of progressive local officials. And he told a story that he not only was able to get the vote for the statue, but initially the City Council was rebuffing him, because he was only one African American on the council, and he couldn’t get the votes. So he told them, “OK, you don’t want to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee. Give me a reparations package.” And he insisted on a pool of money to begin to provide scholarships and job training and all of this money for the African-American community of Charlottesville, and the council gladly gave him that, rather than vote on the statue.

AMY GOODMAN: Eight million dollars.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Right, $8 million. And I said to myself, “Wait a second. Everybody’s talking about reparations at the national level. What if this idea of reparations at the local level started being introduced in city councils in areas where there were large African-American majorities?” So Bellamy gets the package, and then, a few months later, he’s able to win over a couple more votes, and then they pass the Robert E. Lee statue. So he got both. And that’s when the Klan started mobilizing and targeting Charlottesville.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah. Well, it says a couple of things. Number one, the fact that he raised the issue of reparations is very important. It also says something about the power of these statues and why people need to understand that they were not raised immediately after the Civil War, but these statues were raised to celebrate the recodification of white supremacy and the resurrection of white supremacy in the law.

But then, I think it also says the reparations that—the scholarships are great, but we also have to have a repeal of the laws that perpetuate the kind of systemic racism and classism. And we need black, whites and brown people committed to understand how racism hurts everybody. For instance, 20—over 20 states, mostly in the South, resisted Obamacare, Medicaid expansion. Now, why did they name it Obamacare? That is to racialize it, right? It’s the Affordable Care Act. So, most of the Southern states resisted, and you could hear in their language of state legislators—”This is going to help these lazy people that are not doing”—when, in fact, most of the people are working. They racialized the Affordable Care Act. But in North Carolina, for instance, 346,000 of the people that would have been helped are white. When I went up to Appalachia in North Carolina, in Mitchell County, and shared with them, “Do you realize a thousand people in this county would have healthcare?”—and this county is 99 percent white, 89 percent Republican—ain’t no black people up here. So, they use racialized arguments to pass policies that hurt everybody. That is something that we’ve got to begin to do. I wish that in the healthcare debate we had talked about lives being lost and we had called it racist and classist.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that President Trump is a white supremacist?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: I do. And I think he’s a white nationalist. And when you look at the policies—now, again, I’m talking about policy. People say, “Well, you don’t know what’s in his heart.” I know what’s in the heart of his policies. And, as I’ve said, it’s not just about the statues. It’s about the statutes. And I don’t think he’s the only one that, in terms, embraces white nationalist, white supremacist ideology.

Now, having said that, what do I mean? White nationalists are against—are for voter suppression. Mr. Politician, Trump, Ryan, McConnell, any of them, Tim Scott, where do you stand on restoring the Voting Rights Act? Since it was 52 years, and we have less voting rights now than we had 52 years ago. And we’ve had 1,562 days of filibuster. White nationalists are against healthcare for everybody. Mr. Politician, where do you stand on healthcare for everybody? White nationalists are against the immigrant community and against immigrant justice. Mr. Politician, I don’t need to know if you’ve got a black friend. Where do you stand on immigrant justice? Mr. Politician, 54 percent of the African-American community make less than a living wage. Sixty-two million Americans make less than a living wage. The majority of people without a living wage are white. The majority of poor people are white. But in per—but within the race, more black people. Where do you stand on addressing poverty? Because, you know, white supremacists and white nationalists don’t believe in living wages for everybody.

If you do that kind of analysis, you either are a white supremacist or white nationalist, or you’re engaged in policies that embolden and encourage white supremacy, which is why I believe Unite the Right chose Charlottesville, because just like that statue was raised to celebrate a white supremacist in the White House, I believe the reason they chose that statue, that was actually commissioned in 1917, the year after Woodrow Wilson played Birth of a Nation, that it was a signal. Richard Spencer said in one of his speeches that it was Trump’s talk about immigrants that basically said Trump is my man.

But it’s not just Trump. And that’s the last thing I want to say. We’ve got to be very careful, because there’s not a penny difference between the policy of Trump, the policies of Ryan, the policies of McConnell. It’s style. You know, Tim Scott, who’s black, from South Carolina, went in to talk to Trump about racism. But Tim Scott is not for restoring the Voting Rights Act. Tim Scott is against—was against the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid.

AMY GOODMAN: Who the White House called Tom Scott.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Right. I mean, excuse me—yeah, right, the White House called him—I don’t know why they did that, but… You know, in his state, that needs—so, we’ve got to have a real conversation about racism and poverty. And if we have it, I think we can connect black and white and brown people in a way that can be transformational. That’s what this Poor People’s Campaign is going to be about.

AMY GOODMAN: So, can we talk about what you did with Moral Mondays, for people around the country who might not have heard of this movement in North Carolina? In the end, there was a Republican sweep in the 2016 election, for example, of governors around the country. You actually succeeded in getting a Democratic governor elected in North Carolina.

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah. The Moral Monday movement, that was built on top of seven years of the Forward Together Moral Movement, that eventually ended up with nearly 200 coalition partners around a—what we call a 14-point agenda with five clear areas—economic sustainability addressing poverty and labor rights; educational equality and public education for every child; healthcare for all; protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and women’s health; addressing the injustices of the criminal justice system that affect black, brown and poor white people; and demanding equal protection under the law; protecting women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights; and voting rights, not only protecting them, but expanding. Those were our goals.

And by doing that, we took the model of 1800s and worked and built fusion politics. We challenged Democrats. People don’t know President Obama would have lost in 2008 if we had only had one day of election. He won because of same-day registration, early voting, which was an outgrowth of the movement. In 2013, extremists came into office, like Trump, and they began, day one, first 50 days, rolling back everything—healthcare, money for public education, going after voting rights. Some people said, “We’ll just wait ’til the next election.” But a group of us said, “No, we don’t wait ’til the next election. We have to challenge this now.” They said, “Well, they have a supermajority. They’re going to vote against us.” OK, they’re going to vote against us. But they can’t vote in the dark. They can’t vote undercover. We have to let people know. We have to show a unified fusion face on these issues.

And lastly, the first time, we had 17 people to go in—black, white, Jew, Muslim, Christian, a woman with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair that they ended up arresting, who was fighting for healthcare. That led to more than a thousand people getting arrested over the next 30 weeks—people of all different races, colors, creeds and party. It put a broad face on the problem. We learned this year, Amy, in a study, that the governor was about at 60 percent at that time. First five weeks, his numbers went down to under—to 40-something. By the seventh or eighth week, he was down to 39 percent, or something like that, and never recovered. The Legislature’s popularity was driven to 19 percent. And because we kept at it—it wasn’t one rally. It wasn’t one tweet. It was constant moral challenge, civil disobedience. We also added a legal challenge to the laws. We added a voter registration challenge. And so, by 2016, in a state that Trump won, and in a state where they took 150 of our early voting sites, we not only won the—we not only saw the governorship—and we never endorsed anybody. We endorsed a change in consciousness. Governor is sent home. For the first time, we have two African Americans on the state Supreme Court. And an African-American candidate won 70-some counties, on a Supreme Court, in the state—in a state in the South. The AG’s Office went to a progressive. And there are many, many other victories. And we’re not through. We’re not through.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Again, as you lead your Poor People’s Campaign, you’re making a major announcement on what date?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: December 4th. Dr. Liz Theoharis and myself and people from all over the country, from 25 states and the District of Columbia—hope I can come back and tell it right here on Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: And why December 4th?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: That was the day that Dr. King announced the Poor People’s Campaign in 1967. And also during that week, he preached a sermon called “The Meaning of Hope.” So we’re taking some of the best from that, but also adding to it the work that Kairos Center has done for over 10 years, work that Repairers—I mean, the moral work that’s gone on for the last 12 years, and we’re combining all of that and reimagining, because the last thing we need—and I say this to all my brothers and sisters of faith and in the movement, tell black, white, brown, Jewish, whoever you are—the last thing we need is another commemoration. We don’t need to commemorate. We need to reimagine and reconsecrate and engage in a sustained movement, not just one rally, one tweet. Those are all important, but now we need a sustained movement where our goal is, first, before we can change the policies, is to change the moral imagination and the moral narrative of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re fond of quoting Nell Painter, the Princeton professor. What did she say?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Nell Painter said that Trump’s election is as American as apple pie. It is the call and response of this American democracy. You have to call for justice. You have a period of it. And then you have a pushback, a response, that’s often vile, violent and vicious and is very regressive. So nobody should say we’ve never seen this before. We’ve seen it before. And we’ve overcome it before.

AMY GOODMAN: Bishop William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, leader of the Moral Mondays movement, author of The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.

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