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Indiana Republican says US attorney 'declined' to prosecute threat against his daughters and wife

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Indiana Republican says US attorney 'declined' to prosecute threat against his daughters and wife

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is questioning why a federal prosecutor declined to bring charges against a man who threatened his family while the Justice Department has prosecuted similar threats against Democrats – but the DOJ is denying a double standard.

Aaron Thompson, 33, of Fort Wayne, pleaded guilty in October to felony and misdemeanor charges after he left menacing voicemails with Banks’ office. Allen County prosecutors pursued the case and Thompson was sentenced to two years probation, but a letter Banks sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanded to know why the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana did not file federal charges.

“I’m thankful for Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander and Deputy Prosecutor Adam Mildred for taking these threats seriously and for enforcing the law impartially,” Banks told Fox News Digital. “I want an answer from AG Garland explaining why he ignored threats against my family but prosecuted similar threats against Democrats. It appears to be just another example of the Biden administration’s political weaponization of our justice system.”

Reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson pointed to over a dozen prosecutions of individuals who threatened Republican members of Congress, including threats to Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., and Clay Higgins, R-La.

The DOJ “investigates threats to public officials regardless of their party affiliation, and we have prosecuted multiple cases of threats made to both Republican and Democratic” congressional lawmakers, the DOJ spokesperson said, adding that Garland “has told Congress that he views threats to public officials as threats to our democracy and the department will continue to treat them as such.” 

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In interviews with U.S. Capitol Police, Thompson admitted to making at least eight calls to Banks’ D.C. office. He said he was intoxicated at the time and that he disagreed with the Republican lawmaker’s political positions.

INDIANA MAN CHARGED WITH FELONY AFTER THREATENING TO KILL GOP REP. JIM BANKS, HIS DAUGHTERS

Rep. Jim Banks sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking why a man who made threats against his family was not charged by federal prosecutors. ( Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In one such call, Thompson said he owns a gun and gave Banks a choice between his or his daughter’s lives. Banks has three young daughters.

“Here’s the choice. Your daughters grow up without their dad, or you grow old without your daughters,” Thompson said, according to an affidavit for probable cause. “… [B]oom, boom you pick…”

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READ: REP JIM BANKS LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND. APP USERS: CLICK HERE 

In the letter, which was sent in December but not publicized until this week, Banks said FBI agents visited Thompson’s home in Fort Wayne to investigate the threats. 

“Thompson, who previously posted on social media encouraging his followers to ‘Vote Democrat,’ admitted he had threatened me and my family with violence because he disagreed with my political beliefs,” Banks wrote. 

TEXAS MAN CONVICTED OF THREATENING TO KILL REP MAXINE WATERS GETS NEARLY 3 YEARS IN PRISON

Aaron Thompson

Aaron Thompson, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, called Rep. Banks’ office at least eight times in April 2023 and left threatening messages. (Allen County Sheriff’s Department)

“When Capitol Police referred the criminal case against Aaron Thompson to the U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Indiana, they declined to prosecute despite clear evidence that Thompson violated federal law.” 

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Court records show Thompson pleaded guilty to a state felony charge of intimidation and a misdemeanor charge of harassment. Intimidation is a Level 6 felony in Indiana, while harassment is a Class B misdemeanor. 

Banks, who is running for an open Senate seat in Indiana, quoted public statements Garland has made reaffirming DOJ’s commitment to prosecuting violent threats made against public servants and questioned why federal charges weren’t brought against Thompson when similar threats made against Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell of California and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi were prosecuted. 

Most recently, a Texas man received a nearly three-year jail sentence after his criminal conviction for leaving threatening and racist voicemails for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. 

JOHNSON FLOATS DEFUNDING SPECIAL COUNSEL’S OFFICE AMID JACK SMITH’S TRUMP PROBE

Merrick Garland testifies

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 4, 2024, on Capitol Hill. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Last week, Garland penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that decried political violence and condemned any suggestion that his department has politicized its work.

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“Disagreements about politics are good for our democracy. They are normal,” Garland wrote. 

“But using conspiracy theories, falsehoods, violence and threats of violence to affect political outcomes is not normal. The short-term political benefits of those tactics will never make up for the long-term cost to our country.” 

Mike Ferrara, a partner at New York firm Kaplan Hecker & FInk LLP and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, told Fox News Digital it can sometimes be difficult for prosecutors to bring charges for menacing statements. 

“The federal threat statutes can be tricky to charge because they require prosecutors to prove very specific things about what the perpetrator intended. It’s not enough to prove that someone hearing the words would’ve perceived them as a threat. Instead, federal prosecutors have to prove, for example, that the perpetrator made the threat to impede the performance of the official’s duties, or intended his words as a threat, or knew that the person to whom the words were directed would take them as a threat. These proof problems are especially complicated in a case like this one where the perpetrator’s defense is that he made the statements because he was drunk,” Ferrara said. 

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“States, of course, have an entirely different set of statues they can choose from to prosecute threats, which might not have those proof issues and might be a better fit for the perpetrator’s conduct. I’m not familiar with Indiana’s statutes, but if the state brought a criminal prosecution against the perpetrator using state laws, then it would be pretty unremarkable – and I think a good exercise of prosecutorial discretion – for the federal government to defer to the state prosecutors.”

Fox News Digital’s Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.

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Politics

‘Coup’ and ‘Cover-Up’: How the G.O.P. Is Reacting to the Harris Candidacy

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‘Coup’ and ‘Cover-Up’: How the G.O.P. Is Reacting to the Harris Candidacy

‘Unfit to serve’

‘Best interest’

‘Proof of life’

‘Far Left Democrats’

‘Resign’

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‘Less competent’

‘Coup’

‘Largest political cover-up’

‘25th Amendment’

‘Rigging’

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‘Where is Joe Biden?’

‘Border Czar’

‘Gaslighting and lying to each of us’

‘Wood chipper to democracy’

‘Who is running the show?’

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‘All the best’

While elected Democrats have been quick to rally around Vice President Kamala Harris after President Biden’s announcement that he would leave the 2024 presidential race, a vast majority of prominent Republicans have treated the development with suspicion or scorn.

A New York Times analysis of statements by Republican senators, representatives and governors found that their reactions to Ms. Harris’s presumptive candidacy and Mr. Biden’s withdrawal clustered around several themes, including the opinions that Mr. Biden must resign or that the events of the past few days amounted to election subversion or a bloodless coup. Recent polling suggests nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe Mr. Biden’s decision to step aside was the right one.

Several officials also suggested that Mr. Biden — who had been in Delaware recovering from Covid-19 but returned to the White House on Tuesday — had gone missing. A greater number made statements attacking Ms. Harris’s record, while a small handful posted positive or supportive comments. Emphasis in these quotations was added by The Times to highlight common themes in the statements.

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65 called Mr. Biden’s withdrawal a coup or said it amounted to election interference.

‘This is a coup of a puppet regime.’

‘While President Trump took a bullet for our democracy, the progressive democrats are taking a wood chipper to democracy by shredding the will of 14 million primary voters.’

‘Now the Democrats are rigging their *own* elections.’

These statements have tended to argue that Mr. Biden’s decision to end his candidacy was not his own, was not democratic or both. Many have mocked Democrats for positioning themselves as “defenders of democracy” in contrast to Republicans, following attempts by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

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Some of this language began to bubble up among Republicans even before Mr. Biden announced that he would drop out. During the Republican National Convention last week, Chris LaCivita, a top adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, described the pressure on Mr. Biden to withdraw as an “attempted coup.”

97 said that Mr. Biden must resign or be ousted, or that he is unfit for office.

‘Today I’m demanding the Biden Harris cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment. If Biden isn’t capable of being a candidate, he’s not capable of being President.’

‘If Joe Biden is unable to serve another term, then he must resign right now. If he’s unfit to campaign, he should not have the nuclear codes — it’s that simple.’

‘If Joe Biden is unfit to run for re-election then he’s unfit to serve the remainder of his term.’

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Statements along these lines have primarily argued that if Mr. Biden is not able to run for a second term, then he is unfit to continue to serve now. Many said should step down from the presidency. Some have gone further, suggesting that the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Mr. Biden from office.

76 speculated about a high-level conspiracy in the White House about the condition of Mr. Biden’s health.

‘Kamala Harris was complicit in a massive coverup to hide and deny the fact that Joe Biden was not capable of discharging the duties of the office.’

‘The American people should fire every single politician that has been gaslighting and lying to each of us about Biden’s capability to lead our Nation. Kamala Harris is as culpable as Biden’s senior staff and family in this scheme to subvert democracy.’

‘Democrats have been complicit in the largest political cover-up in history.’

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These comments have, without providing evidence, accused Ms. Harris and other top Democrats of a cover-up to hide the state of Mr. Biden’s physical and mental fitness.

18 asked, ‘Where’s Biden?’ or implied that the president had gone missing.

‘Where is Joe Biden? Who is running the show?

‘Americans are asking: Where is Joe Biden?

‘For the third time today, I’m asking Joe Biden to provide the American people with proof of life.’

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Mr. Biden was self-isolating with Covid-19 at his family’s Delaware beach house when he made the announcement that he would step aside from the 2024 presidential race. These comments drew attention to his lack of recent public appearances, in some cases even calling for a demonstration that Mr. Biden was still alive. Mr. Biden returned to Washington Tuesday afternoon and is set to give a televised address this evening.

143 made other statements, mostly attacking Ms. Harris’s record.

‘ “Border Czar” Harris has NOT done her job to secure the border.’

‘Kamala Harris leads the Far Left Democrats’ pro-crime, anti-victim agenda.’

‘Cackling Kamala is widely considered less competent than dementia-impaired Joe Biden.’

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Dozens of Republican officials made more typically political statements, including criticizing Ms. Harris as a candidate. One common line of attack, positing that Ms. Harris failed as a “border czar,” is misleading. (Some Republican candidates have already begun to run ads like this one, drawing attention to some of the more liberal positions Ms. Harris has taken in the past, particularly during her failed 2020 presidential primary campaign.)

And 9 made positive or supportive comments about Mr. Biden’s decision.

‘Fran and I wish President Biden and the First Lady all the best as he serves out the remainder of his term and in the years ahead.’

‘I understand and respect President Biden’s decision not to seek reelection. While we have political differences, I appreciate his lifelong service to our nation, which he dearly loves.’

‘I respect President Biden’s decision to act in the best interest of the country by stepping aside in the 2024 presidential election.’

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A few Republican officials wrote kindly about their relationships with Mr. Biden or sent him well wishes.

In the table below, see which Republican elected officials made which types of statements, as of Tuesday night.

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Anti-Israel agitators descend on DC ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's address to Congress

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Anti-Israel agitators descend on DC ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's address to Congress

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Anti-Israel demonstrators descended on Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress. 

One demonstrator, whose face was covered, was spotted by Fox News carrying what appeared to be the flag of the terrorist group Hamas. 

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Fox News estimates that a few hundred protesters had gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street, outside the Gallery of Art. They have a stage set up in front of the Capitol building and are currently chanting.

The protest organizers include Answer Coalition and Code Pink. There have been numerous speakers from various organizations, including one from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

HARRIS BOYCOTTS NETANYAHU, SNUBS ISRAELI LEADER’S WARTIME ADDRESS TO GIVE SORORITY SPEECH

One anti-Israel demonstrator in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday was spotted carrying the Hamas flag.  (Fox News/ Griff Jenkins)

Fox News crews witnessed numerous signs with Netanyahu’s face, labeling him a “Wanted War Criminal.” 

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Even inside Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., held up a sign that said “war criminal” while listening to Netanyahu’s speech. 

Rashida Tlaib holding up a sign that says war criminal

Rep. Rashiada Tlaib, D-Mich., holds up a sign that says war criminal during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.  (CSPAN)

Other slogans from protesters on signs included, “Stop the Genocide,” “Stop arming Israel,” and “End all US Aid.” 

Protesters holding up signs

Washington, D.C> protesters holding up anti-Israel signs.  (Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

The crowds have chanted “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea…,” an antisemitic phrase that calls for the elimination of the state of Israel. 

Anti-Israel protests in DC

Anti-Israel protesters have gathered in Washington, D.C., ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress.  (Fox News)

The speakers later concluded and the crowd of attendees started walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Netanyahu protesters holding up an effigy

(Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

Protesters clashing with police

U.S. Capitol Police officers clash with anti-Israel demonstrators, on the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters//Umit Bektas))

Protesters waving flags

Anti-Israel protesters march near the US Capitol as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on July 24, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by ANDREW THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images) (Andrew Thomas/AFP via Getty Images))

Police formed a blockade on the corner of Constitution and Louisiana Avenue, and demonstrators released red and green powder into the air. 

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Police remove DC Anti-Israel protesters blocking traffic

DC Metropolitan Police clear demonstrators from blocking traffic, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington, ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit at the U.S. Capitol.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Some protesters yelled at the police line, “You’re a b—-.” Fox News witnessed pepper spray being used at one point. 

U.S. Capitol Police said six people were arrested after disrupting the joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday afternoon.

Police using pepper spray on protesters

Police use pepper spray as anti-Israel demonstrators as they gather on the day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. (REUTERS/Nathan Howard) (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

“All of them were immediately removed from the Gallery and arrested,” Capitol Police said in a post on X. “Disrupting the Congress and demonstrating in the Congressional Buildings is against the law.”

Capitol Police originally said five people had been arrested, but later updated it, saying, “Our officers just reported that the final number of arrests in the House Galleries was a total of six people for D.C. Code §10-503.16(b)(2), Unlawful Conduct.”

Line of anti-Israel demonstrators in DC street

Demonstrators blocking traffic on Independence Ave., near the National Mall ahead of a scheduled visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the US Capitol, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Earlier, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers were seen clearing anti-Israel protesters who were blocking traffic in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. 

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Police pepper spraying protesters

U.S. Capitol Police officers use pepper spray on anti-Israel demonstrators, on the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas) (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Police have taken people into custody near the U.S. Capitol, the Associated Press reported. 

DC officers confront anti-Israel protesters blocking street

DC police begin to clear demonstrators from blocking traffic on Independence Ave., near the National Mall, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A handful of people were led away by officers, while others chanted for them to be released.

Protesters washing pepper spray out of eyes

An anti-Israel protester has his eyes washed after police used pepper spray during anti-Israel demonstrations as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

More than 1,000 people gathered Wednesday morning on Pennsylvania Avenue within sight of the Capitol building, the AP reported. 

Anna Paulina Luna, Rashida Tlaib

At one point Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., was seen speaking with Tlaib. (Getty Images)

A large group of protesters marched toward the Capitol after blocking a nearby intersection and calling for a “student intifada.” 

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Protesters burning effigy of Netanyahu and an American flag

Anti-Israel demonstrators burn a U.S. flag and an effigy depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the day of Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

“Shut it down!” they repeatedly chanted.

Protesters burning American flag

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators burn a U.S. flag, on the day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

Pro-Palestinian-demonstrators burning effigy of Netanyahu

Anti-Israel demonstrators burn an effigy depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the day of Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (REUTERS/Nathan Howard)

“Bibi, Bibi, We’re not done! The intifada has just begun!” demonstrators shouted, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Just after 3 p.m., the U.S. Park Police said on social media that a “crowd in Columbus Circle is engaged in criminal activity and confronting law enforcement on scene. USPP is attempting to deescalate and contact the event organizer for help.”

Around 15 minutes later, the Park Police advised that the Columbus Circle protest permit had been revoked, adding “Please leave the area at this time.”

Park Police said just after 4 p.m. that a crowd remained at Columbus Circle, again advising on social media for protesters to disperse. 

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Fox News’ Meghan Tome and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Opinion: The Olympics promise to be socially responsible. How's that working out?

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Opinion: The Olympics promise to be socially responsible. How's that working out?

Olympic host cities make promises that are all but impossible to keep, and in recent years, the organizers’ wishful thinking about housing and neighborhood redevelopment has been one of the cruelest Olympic disappointments. As the 2024 Paris Games approach, we are seeing it all over again — displacement, gentrification and the unhoused “voluntarily” lured elsewhere with assurances of help that never materializes. What will it mean for Los Angeles, when the Games arrive in 2028?

In 2017, when Paris and Los Angeles were the last cities standing as potential Olympic sites — Boston, Budapest, Hamburg and Rome all withdrew — the organizers promised to stage Games that sidestepped the vexing social problems that emerged in Seoul, Rio, Tokyo and London.

Paris bidders vowed to rejuvenate the city’s banlieues, replenishing the housing stock by building an Olympic Village for the athletes in Seine-Saint-Denis, one of Paris’ poorest districts, and converting large swaths of it into so-called social housing. In Los Angeles, then-Mayor Eric Garcetti stated on late-night television, “I’m confident by the time the Olympics come, we can end homelessness on the streets of L.A.”

How has it worked in Paris?

In the lead up to the Games, French security officials are executing a “relocation plan” for the city’s migrants, refugees and unhoused people, expelling them from their encampments and squats — and from fragile connections to jobs and community — and escorting them onto buses that take them to 10 cities around France where temporary shelters and services have supposedly been organized. A government official told the New York Times the number was about 5,000. Human rights groups expect many more of the estimated 100,000 Parisians without steady housing to be exported as far from Olympic venues as possible.

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Officially, the relocations are meant to lessen pressure on the asylum application process and to help migrants more efficiently apply for refugee status. But of course, this is all about optics. Most of those banished from Paris won’t qualify for permanent housing in their new locations, and as for asylum status, one lawyer in France calls the busing program “an antechamber to deportation.”

A recent report by a Parisian group whose name translates as the Other Side of the Medal documented a nearly 39% surge in encampment evictions in the City of Light in the year leading up to the Games, which open Friday. The researchers found that more than 12,500 people were displaced from Paris in 2023-24 alone. They have dubbed it “nettoyage social,” or social cleansing.

The French government has denied a connection between the Olympics and intensified displacement. But an email from a government official, first reported by the French newspaper L’Equipe, stated that the objective of the mass clearances was to “identify people on the street in sites near Olympic venues” and remove them before the Games commence. French National Assembly member Aurélie Trouvé told us that the program “is definitely connected to the Games and the need to offer a ‘clean,’ idealized image, even though it means that thousands of people are pushed afar.”

Trouvé’s district, Seine-Saint-Denis, north of the city center, is the Paris département most affected by the Games. It’s home to a new Aquatic Center and the Olympic Village — block after block of apartments and commercial space constructed on what was industrial land. But it remains to be seen whether it will help the 1.6 million residents of Seine-Saint-Denis, one-third of whom live below the poverty line, or simply push them aside. About 40% of the district lives in social housing; only a quarter of the Olympic Village units are earmarked for that population after the Games.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the organizers of LA28 have steered clear of direct Games-associated urban renewal — no new venues will be built under LA28’s auspices and UCLA’s dorms and campus will become the Olympic Village.

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And of course, Garcetti’s confidence about a homelessness cure is long forgotten. After Mayor Karen Bass checked out Paris’ preparations earlier this year, she told a reporter she was merely “hopeful” the Olympics would “be a catalyst to L.A. finally addressing homelessness in a way that is long-term, that eventually ends street homelessness.” She did offer this “major commitment”: The unhoused wouldn’t be moved to the hinterlands during the Games.

In December, a year into Bass’s Inside Safe program to address homelessness, just under 2,000 people had been helped off the streets and into hotel rooms. And in June, the city’s Homeless Services Authority announced that the latest point-in-time count found more than 75,000 unhoused residents in L.A. County, down a few ticks for the first time since 2018.

LA28 touts the legacy it will leave for the city and county but in a striking about-face from Garcetti’s optimism, Casey Wasserman, the chairman of the Los Angeles organizing committee, has relinquished all responsibility for helping to reduce homelessness. He told LAist’s Larry Mantle in 2021, “We’re not responsible for solving homelessness. We’re responsible for delivering the Olympic Games as a private enterprise in 2028.”

Wasserman is only being honest. The Olympics can’t solve gentrification, the affordable housing crisis or the needs of the unhoused. That’s not what the Games are created to do. Promises made otherwise should be seen as public relations. That hosting the Olympics may even make matters worse is one reason so many cities were happy to leave the job to Paris and L.A. for 2024 and 2028.

In a few weeks, the hoopla and the tally of gold, silver and bronze medals at the Summer Games will give way to a much more consequential reckoning: Paris’ winners and losers. It seems likely its most vulnerable residents won’t have fared well. Los Angeles should take heed.

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Jules Boykoff, a former professional soccer player, is a political science professor at Pacific University in Oregon. He has written six books on the Olympics. Dave Zirin is the sports editor of the Nation and the author of 11 books on the politics of sport.

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