Woman’s Video Of Police Aiming Guns At Kneeling Man Goes Viral

A woman in the Los Angeles area is being praised for filming police as they confronted a black man with their guns drawn while he knelt with his hands above his head.

In the video, filmed Friday in the city of Hawthorne, at least four officers can be seen pointing their guns at the man, who is kneeling on the sidewalk, facing away from the officers with his hands up.

More Hawthorne Police Department officers arrive as the woman, Sky Holsey, begs the officers to put their guns away. The man can be heard saying he is unarmed.

Holsey said the incident occurred at a busy intersection in Hawthorne, in Los Angeles County. William Ewell, 24, ended up being arrested that Friday morning, police records show.

Holsey’s video went viral over the weekend, leaving many people outraged over the number of police officers with their guns drawn. Some people credit Holsey with preventing the officers from using deadly force against Ewell. 

Holsey told HuffPost in an email that she was getting gas before work when the confrontation occurred. She said Ewell, whom she doesn’t know personally, “instantly” surrendered to the officers by kneeling with his hands up, noting that “he seemed in shock.”

Holsey said she began filming because she believed that the police were using excessive force. 

“Is all that really necessary,” Holsey can be heard telling the officers in the video. “Is all the guns drawn on him necessary?”

He was arrested in connection with an argument with a gas station employee over a prior purchase, according to a news release posted by police on Monday. Police arrested Ewell on suspicion of robbery. He was released Monday with a citation, according to an arrest record.

Asked whether the actions of the officers were justified, Holsey told HuffPost: “Absolutely not.”

“Everybody seems to ‘fit the description,’” she said. “Plus, I thought it was too excessive for that many police and the guns drawn like that.”

As Holsey filmed the confrontation Friday, she warned Ewell to stay still “because they will shoot you” while she asked the officers to put their guns down and just arrest the man.

Holsey began crying as the officers kept their guns aimed at Ewell, as seen on her video. She later told the officers that her boyfriend, Leroy Browning, was killed by police in 2015.

After more than two minutes of filming, the police apprehended Ewell. One officer approached Holsey and told her that they were responding to a robbery and that the man “loosely matches the description” of the suspect.

“We’re not saying he’s a suspect, but we’ve got to figure out what’s going on,” the officer told her, a moment that was also captured on her video. “It says a weapon was involved. That’s the only reason he gets held at gunpoint.”

In a series of tweets, Rebecca Kavanagh, an attorney and media relations director of The Appeal, a criminal reform news blog, said that Holsey was “remarkable” for filming the incident, which she described as a “massive over-use of force.”

On Monday, Kavanagh said that police often justify arrests by claiming that the person “matched the description.”

“This is absolutely the number one pretext police use to stop and search Black and Brown people,” she tweeted.

Kavanagh described those searches as “harassment” on Sunday. 

In a news release on Sunday, the Hawthorne Police Department said that an employee of a gas station flagged police on the street and pointed to a “male subject” across the street, accusing him of assaulting an employee.

At the same time, police say, someone called 911 to report a robbery with “possibly weapons involved.” 

Police accused Ewell of arguing with a female cashier over a “prior purchase” and “forcibly” grabbing “store items from the display.” Police also claimed that Ewell assaulted an employee with a trashcan. 

Kavanagh on Tuesday warned people against taking the police news release at face value.

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2nd Person Arrested in Dominican Republic in David Ortiz Shooting

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2016, file photo, Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz waves from the field at Fenway Park after Game 3 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians in Boston. Ortiz returned to Boston for medical care after being shot in a bar Sunday, June 9, 2019, in his native Dominican Republic. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

A second person has reportedly been arrested as part of the investigation into the David Ortiz shooting.

The Associated Press (h/t Washington Post) cited Julieta Tejeda, who is a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic’s national prosecutor’s office, and reported the news Tuesday. The AP pointed out “there is no public indication the man is the suspected shooter.”

Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, said the former Boston Red Sox slugger is “stable, awake and resting comfortably” in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after he was flown there Monday.

An earlier update from the AP on Tuesday revealed police in the Dominican Republic said the gunman who shot Ortiz on Sunday has not been arrested. However, “the driver of the motorcycle carrying the gunman was captured and beaten by a crowd of people at the bar.”

Anyi Lizardo, Amir Vera and Eliott C. McLaughlin of CNN cited national police spokesperson Felix Duran Mejia, who said “the bullet went through his stomach” after Ortiz was shot in the back.

The CNN report noted the crowd attacked and handed the motorcycle driver to the police after the motorcycle fell to the ground while the suspect attempted to drive away. However, the second suspect who was on the motorcycle ran away from the scene.

Ortiz’s media assistant, Leo Lopez, said the three-time World Series champion had his gall bladder and part of his intestines removed in surgery after he was shot.

The Red Sox sent a plane to the Dominican Republic and flew him to Boston after it was determined he was stable enough to fly.

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Democrats Push Bill To Allow Victims To Hold Gun Industry Accountable In Court

Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday to end special legal protections for the gun industry and allow victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. The bill is meant to ensure that gun manufacturers, sellers and trade groups are not immune to civil liability in cases of alleged negligence.

“The gun industry should not enjoy special privileges and protections, especially while our nation is plagued by an epidemic of mass shootings and everyday gun violence, ” Schiff said in a Tuesday statement. “This bill would pierce the gun industry’s liability shield by putting an end to the special protections the gun industry receives when they shirk their fundamental responsibility to act with reasonable care for the public safety. Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court.”

The bill would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which Congress passed in 2005. PLCAA provides immunity for licensed firearm manufacturers, distributors, dealers and trade groups from most civil lawsuits in state and federal court when a firearm is used unlawfully. Supporters of PLCAA have said the immunity ensures that the gun industry is protected from “frivolous” lawsuits, though co-sponsors of Tuesday’s bill said numerous gun violence victims’ cases throughout the country have been dismissed on the basis of PLCAA.

“Under state and federal law, we require and expect every other industry ― whether car makers or drug companies ― to act with reasonable care for public safety. But in 2005, after furious lobbying by the [National Rifle Association], Congress passed PLCAA to create a special carve-out for the gun industry,” Schiff said in a news conference, surrounded by members of gun violence prevention groups, including Moms Demand Action, March for Our Lives and Giffords. “Responsible actors in the gun industry don’t need this limitation on liability, and the irresponsible ones don’t deserve it.”

In addition to repealing PLCAA, the bill would allow those filing civil lawsuits in state and federal courts to subpoena and introduce relevant gun trace data maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Currently, a provision in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill blocks the discovery and introduction into evidence of the ATF’s gun trace data as part of civil proceedings, but co-sponsors of Tuesday’s bill said such data can help establish a pattern of negligent behavior by the firearm’s manufacturer or dealer.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation plans to oppose the legislation, the firearms trade organization’s senior official, Lawrence Keane, told NPR. Keane called the bill “fundamentally unfair.”

Schiff initially introduced the measure to repeal PLCAA in 2013. The bill has been reintroduced without success at least two other times, though Democrats are hopeful since recent polling shows 90% of Americans support universal background checks. But even if the bill passes in the House, it will have a tough time in the Republican-controlled Senate, which does not appear eager to pass gun control legislation.

“The gun lobby convinced politicians that an entire industry deserved to operate without fear of ever being held responsible in a courtroom,” said former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who leads a gun violence prevention organization under her name after an assassination attempt in 2011. “Today, we stand up and fight again to restore the fundamentally American principle that no industry, including the gun industry, is above the law.”

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The Difference Between Celebrating Pride, And Just Selling It

By Ernest Owens

Every June, I’m reminded that I don’t have enough money to celebrate Pride the way many people do: by, well, spending money. From Memorial Day weekend until July 4, my social media feeds are filled with gay men traveling from city to city, partying it up without a care in the world. Most of those men don’t look like me, and sometimes, feeling left out can leave me bitter. Then, I remember the reason for this celebration: Joy can be an act of resistance — especially for a community that’s often been terrorized for simply existing.

And while my friends and I have opted out of extravagant trips, including a Pride-themed cruise (yes, really), what we agreed upon was this: We do deserve our own designated spaces to dance, love, and be ourselves without surveillance. This is what Pride month is supposed to be — a time for queer people to be as visible and outspoken as we choose, without fear or retribution. That is what every day should be.

But that’s not what Pride month has become. Instead, it has devolved into a capitalistic display of commercial marketing and overhyped branding, and many people have rightly called out the groups who co-opt the rainbow while doing little to uplift the LGBTQ+ community — and especially those who aren’t gay, white men — the other eleven months of the year. And while some community groups promote free events for the most marginalized, these charitable acts are easily dwarfed in comparison to the massive marketing campaigns that do more to sell than to include us.

Today, we have marriage equality, a gay presidential candidate, and more media representation than ever. Congress just recently pushed to pass the Equality Act that would extend civil rights and protections to all LGBTQ+ Americans. But the majority of this progress has continued to benefit the least diverse populations within our community: those who are white, cisgender, gay, and male. Black and brown LGBTQ+ people still aren’t receiving any economic benefits from their culture’s contributions to, and influence on the mainstream.

Pick any crisis report on LGBTQ+ people, and Black and brown members of the community are often hit the hardest in regards to poverty, healthcare, education, and unemployment. Even within our own LGBTQ+ community, Black and brown people continue to be underrepresented in LGBTQ+ leadership, media, and visibility. Couple that with the reports that the wage gap also penalizes LGBTQ+ people in addition to people — and especially women — of color, and it’s easy to understand the hypocrisy permeating the commercialization and commodification of Pride.

But it’s also easy for those outside, and even within our community to falter, given how LGBTQ+ history is rarely taught in schools, and much of the true legacy of why we celebrate June has often been erased and sanitized. Where is the diversity and rebellion that has gotten us the freedoms we now have today? Where are the Black and brown transgender women who paved the way? Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were integral to the June 28, 1969, riot at Stonewall Inn that marked the beggining of a deliberate stand against state-sanctioned violence. The two fierce Black and brown rebels had enough, and made their voices and actions heard against the continuous police brutality and harassment that targeted the historic gay bar. Stonewall was a vengeful revolution that inspired countless cities across America to fight back in the name of LGBTQ+ equality. These LGBTQ+ freedom fighters fought for equity, access, and inclusion — not free markets to grossly sell to their community.

Hollow campaigns that only speak to our purchasing power are myopic in scope and harmful in the long run, and Pride month is still one that lacks understanding and purpose in the public eye. At a time when LGBTQ+ liberties are under attack, this financial capital and corporate muscle should be shifted toward advancing policy and dismantling institutions that continue to infringe upon our rights rather than posturing with limited-edition packaging or merchandise while speaking broadly about how “love is love.” Organizations that cater to us during June should re-prioritize what Pride means: It’s a party and it’s a protest.

There are a few notable community groups who are fighting back against this growing trend of a corporate Pride takeover. In New York, the Queer Liberation March movement has been actively centering diverse voices to combat police injustice, transphobia, and classism. In Philadelphia, a QTPOC Take Pride Back movement focused on racial equity and anti-capitalism ways to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Across the world, activists have disavowed police presence at Pride, and more and more organizations are being held accountable to commit the proceeds from their merch towards activist groups. It’s efforts like these that can actually help to make our visibility more inclusive and reflective of the spirit of Stonewall.

Corporate sponsors need to do more than just use this month to sell to us, and instead make equitable contributions to the stability of our queer-led spaces and the policy that sustains us. I don’t know what the best alternative would look like — and I’m well aware of the fact that promising money away from a company’s bottom line is less a corporate business model than a socialist best-case-scenario — but I do know that the current model of only caring about LGBTQ+ visibility for 30 out of 365 days is unsustainable. Hire us instead, whether it’s behind the scenes or in front of the camera: We’re still here, queer, and have bills to pay come Christimas or Valentine’s day or some random Tuesday in September. We still have money to spend then, too; imagine how radical a pro-LGBTQ+ campaign would be at a time when other corporate sponsors have seemingly abandoned it and us, just because of what the calendar says.

Until then, my Black queer money, time, and energy will no longer fuel a commercial enterprise that exploits the legacy and activism of my ancestors for profit.

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Energy vs alliances: Abe’s Middle Eastern tightrope walk

Tokyo, Japan – A crisis in the Middle East, leading to a visit to Iran in an attempt to mediate between two powerful adversaries, and help secure a nation’s future energy needs.

This is the mission that 64-year-old Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has chosen for himself as he travels to Iran this week. But it also describes what was happening in 1983, when Abe’s father, Japan’s then Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, travelled to Tehran to try and broker peace between Iran and neighbouring Iraq when those two countries were locked in an existential war. Shinzo Abe, then 28, accompanied his father as a secretary on that trip.

Today, Iran is not under attack from a neighbour, but is engaged in a dispute with the United States that’s crippling its economy. After pulling out of an international nuclear deal last year, US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran that, amongst a long list of other actions, prevent it from exporting oil to some of its biggest customers.

One of those customers was Japan, until the sanctions took full effect in May. The loss of Iranian crude oil could hurt Japan’s economy.

But any attempt to circumvent the sanctions, which Iran has described as “illegal“, risks angering Japan’s biggest international ally: the US.

This is the tightrope that Abe will have to walk during the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to Iran in four decades. Abe’s trip from June 12 to 14 is scheduled to include meetings with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

‘A clean slate’

Abe will have to strike a delicate balance between Japan’s geopolitical priorities and economic needs.

“Japan has a clean slate when it gets to mediating between Iran and the US,” said Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group in Washington, DC.

Not only does Abe have a personal history with Iran, but he also has Trump’s trust, analysts say. The two leaders share a love of golf and at least outwardly have a warm friendship, despite Trump’s efforts to reduce its large trade deficit with Japan.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

US President Donald Trump trusts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, analysts say [May 26: Kyodo/Reuters]

“Nevertheless, overcoming political sensitivities in Tehran and Washington to facilitate direct dialogue between the parties is no mean feat,” Vaez told Al Jazeera.

Japan has long cooperated with Iran. Tokyo maintained its ties with Tehran through the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, despite US disapproval.

At the heart of that relationship is oil.

“Japan imports almost all its oil and, historically, Iran has been an important and stable supplier,” said Sachi Sakanashi, a senior research fellow at Japan’s JIME Center of The Institute of Energy Economics. “Although it is not clear what PM Abe can accomplish in his Iran trip yet, making a visit itself is already a valuable step in the current situation,” Sakanashi told Al Jazeera.

Data from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry show that a little more than four percent of Japan’s total oil imports came from Iran last year. That was dwarfed by imports from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which together accounted for nearly two-thirds of Japan’s oil purchases. Qatar and Kuwait each provided about eight percent of total imports.

All told, Japan imported more than 88 percent of its oil from the Middle East. That means stability in the region is key for Japan, and arguably more important than the actual amount of oil it buys from Iran.

Less stable

But the region is looking rather less stable than it did even a few months ago. In addition to the renewed sanctions against Iran, the US announced last month a plan to move an additional 1,500 troops to the region. That was in response to attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE last month, which the US blamed on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The high level of tension in the region is against Japan’s national interest and it will be the first step in the long process of mediation,” said Sakanashi. “Although everyone is aware that it will be extremely difficult to mediate between the US and Iran, we still believe it is worth a try.”

Iran US Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group

The US has ordered an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf [File:AFP]

If Abe’s mediation effort fails, Japan will have to find an alternative source of energy to cover the loss of Iranian oil, Sakanashi said.

The US’s hardline policy against Iran has received support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have increased their crude oil production to cushion the impact of sanctions on crude oil prices, said Mari Nukii, a research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA).

The sanctions force US allies like Japan to stop purchasing Iranian oil. The US allowed a six-month waiver on the sanctions for eight regions, including Japan, but those waivers expired on April 22. Since May 2, the US has been applying severe penalties to any company or individual country that breaches the sanctions.

Japan isn’t the only party that’s hurting under the sanctions. After the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany struck the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities in return for sanctions relief, a wave of European companies invested heavily in Iran. Now those investments are under threat.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran and announced a new payment system aimed at circumventing US sanctions that block Iran from using existing international funds transfer mechanisms.

Keeping the oil flowing

It’s not clear whether Japan will also seek ways to get around the sanctions. But it does have a history of ensuring that oil keeps flowing from the Middle East.

“There is a famous episode in 1953, when Iran was under a British blockade for nationalising Iranian oil. Japan began to directly import oil from Iran, ignoring the British blockade, which marked the beginning of Japan’s direct import from oil producing countries,” said Sakanashi.

“Japan had relied in the past on ‘oil majors’ for its supplies, which was very expensive. The import of Iranian oil was welcomed in Japan, in the context of regaining confidence in the post-World War II reconstruction period.”

But not everyone is as concerned by the possibility of the loss of Iranian oil, or as worried about the issue of regional stability.

Noriaki Sakai, general manager of the finance department of Idemitsu Kosan Co., does not think it will be a big problem. Idemitsu Kosan is the second-largest petroleum refiner in Japan after Nippon Oil. It owns and operates oil platforms and refineries.

“We don’t have any problem with securing alternatives since Iranian oil accounted for less than 10 percent of our total supply,” Sakai said at a news conference last month. “We have not picked any particular countries to buy alternative supplies for Iranian oil from, but we have a wide range of sources and we are selecting where and when to buy alternative crude depending on prices and seasonal demand.”

He added that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are among the top list of oil producers that have extra output capacity.

“In fact, Japanese refiners are tapping more oil from the Middle East after the US ended all waivers from sanctions on Iran,” he said.

There is another possible reason for Japan’s willingness to offer itself up as an intermediary in the US-Iran confrontation, and that involves North Korea’s nuclear weapons development programme.

The JIIA’s Nukii suggests that by acting as an intermediary and demonstrating its commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, Japan will be signaling its opposition to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. It would also help to build momentum towards a conference next year to review the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, says Nukii.

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The Best Trade Assets of the 2019 NBA Offseason

Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Lonzo Ball, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

Now that he’s worked his way through two injury-plagued seasons, we’re starting to get a feeling for what Ball will become.

He’s got terrific defensive potential, aided by his 6’6″, 190-pound frame. Passing will continue to be a positive, as he’s big and strong enough to zip assists all over the court.

That shot, though. After he made just 38 percent of his field-goal attempts in his first 99 career games, Ball may never be a dominant scoring threat. Think of him as a taller, supercharged Ricky Rubio. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s perhaps not what most envisioned when he entered the draft as the No. 2 overall pick in 2017.

                      

2020 Memphis Grizzlies First-Round Pick, via Boston Celtics

The Celtics have three first-round picks in the 2019 draft, but their most valuable selection won’t come until at least 2020.

The pick owed to them by Memphis is only protected for the top six selections next summer and becomes completely unprotected in 2021. With the Grizzlies heading into a rebuild, this will almost certainly be a top-10 pick in the next two years, if not first overall.

If Memphis does indeed trade franchise staple Mike Conley, this could be one of the NBA’s worst teams, thus aiding the draft placement.

                     

Jaylen Brown, SG, Boston Celtics

While Brown didn’t have the breakout year for which the Celtics were hoping, he still showed off a developing offensive game mixed with a good defensive motor.

Teams looking to trade for Brown should be happy to know he was far more productive when not sharing the court with Kyrie Irving, who, despite his phenomenal talent, can sometimes hijack his team’s offense. The 22-year-old Brown averaged 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per 100 possessions when Irving was off the floor, compared to 21.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists when playing next to him.

While he’s only on his rookie contract for one more season, Brown doesn’t appear headed for a max deal and could sign a reasonable, team-friendly extension.

                    

2019 No. 4 overall pick, Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers lucked out when they jumped from a projected 11th overall pick all the way up to No. 4 in the draft lottery.

While the top of the draft seems destined to feature Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, the fourth pick is wide open.

If the top three go as expected, players such as Texas Tech swingman Jarrett Culver, Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland and Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter will all be available. While a perceived steep drop separates No. 3 from No. 4 in this class, the Lakers’ pick should still be a valuable trade piece this summer.

                       

Kyle Kuzma, PF, Los Angeles Lakers

At times looking like the Lakers’ best prospect, Kuzma put up 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game during his age-23 season. He’s a natural and gifted scorer whose offensive production continued to take a step forward even while sharing a ball with LeBron James.

He doesn’t carry the upside of others on this list and has work to do defensively, but Kuzma should still be a starting power forward in the NBA for years to come.

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Jada Pinkett Smith To Receive Trailblazer Award At The 2019 MTV TV & Movie Awards

We know, we know — at this point, it seems like every day there’s more news about the rapidly approaching MTV Movie & TV Awards. But seriously, there’s less than one week until it all goes down, and there are still some things you absolutely need to know before the star-studded event airs on TV. The latest? Jada Pinkett Smith will be the recipient of this year’s Trailblazer Award, which “recognizes game-changing creators with fresh and fearless voices in entertainment.”

“Jada has been a powerhouse since the beginning of her career and has achieved multi-hyphenate status throughout,” said Amy Doyle, General Manager, MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo. “She is the epitome of someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo and we are thrilled to present her with this year’s Trailblazer Award.”

From launching her own successful — and deeply candid — web talk show (Red Table Talk) alongside her daughter, Willow Smith, and mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, to being a vocal advocate for human rights and social justice issues, Pinkett Smith has been blazing trails in Hollywood for years.

The actor and producer, who became a prominent figure in the industry in the ’90s, rose to superstardom with a standout performance in The Nutty Professor. Ever since, she hasn’t slowed down. In 2017, for example, she starred in the comedy flick Girls Trip, which was the highest-grossing comedy movie of the year as well as the first film produced, directed, written, and starring Black actors to gross more than $100 million at the box office.

By now, you’re likely just as convinced as we are that Pinkett Smith is fully deserving of this honor, but it gets even better: The actress will be presented the award by none other than her Girls Trip co-star Tiffany Haddish, which is sure to make for an epic girl power moment during the big night.

Well, are you counting down the minutes until showtime yet? Us too! The MTV Movie & TV Awards will air on Monday, June 17 at 9:00 PM ET/PT, so pick your spot on the couch, gather your favorite snacks, and prepare to celebrate the best TV shows and movies of the year.

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