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In this week's newsletter: Investigating the consequences of running from police, catching up with a veteran lobbying for medical marijuana, chatting with our new photography fellow and more.

A deadly chase

For years, “unprovoked flight” from police was considered a sign of guilt. Following a 2000 Supreme Court decision, officers had the right to chase – and stop – a suspect if he or she ran. But last year, a court in Massachusetts ruled that fleeing wasn’t inherently an admission of wrongdoing; after all, someone “might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled,” the court observed.

For this week’s episode, we teamed up with WYPR to investigate why running from police has become a fraught – and sometimes deadly – practice for some Baltimore residents. The episode tells the story of two people whose split-second decisions yielded enormous consequences later on.
  • Greg Butler, a former basketball star, made national headlines following the 2015 police custody death of Freddie Gray. In the midst of a protest, Butler cut a fire hose, stole a pack of cigarettes and fled from the authorities. When he was apprehended, his case ballooned into a larger fight over race, class and public trust in law enforcement.
  • Butler lived through his ordeal. But Jay Cook, another Baltimore resident, wasn’t so lucky. After fleeing police on foot in August 2007, he ended up dead under a freeway overpass. Questions still remain about the details of his death – and the extent to which police may have had a hand in it.

One veteran, 9,828 pill, still in pain. Send pot?

Joshua Lee, a veteran of Afghanistan, wanted to make a statement about the Veterans Affairs’ controversial reliance on opioids. So, after switching his pain treatment to medical marijuana, he decided to tell his story in an unconventional way.

Lee went to his local candy store and bought all of the Smarties that were in stock. He took a photo of himself holding 9,828 candies in a vacuum-sealed bag, then posted it on Facebook with a stark message: His yearly intake of nearly 10,000 pills was killing him.

The post went viral.

“Medical marijuana can reduce these pointless, tragic deaths,” Lee wrote. “Come save lives with us.”

Cracking down on religious day cares

Last month, lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives resoundingly voted 88-9 to increase oversight of unlicensed religious day cares, a big step for a state with the most sweeping religious exemption in the country.

“This is a major accomplishment,” said Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee. She said she sponsored the Child Care Safety Act, HB 277, to “clean up some corruption” in unlicensed religious day cares.

The state’s religious day cares have for years been plagued by abuse and neglect, Reveal reporter Amy Julia Harris discovered.

Meet our photography fellow

We’re honored to welcome aboard Sarah Blesener, a winner of this year’s inaugural Catchlight Fellowship for photojournalism. Blesener, who took an unconventional route to photography, has captured a variety of subjects with stunning precision: female soldiers in Ukraine, Trump voters in middle America, teenagers in the South Bronx and more.

See Sarah’s work.

Over the next year at Reveal, she’ll explore the rise of nationalism among America’s youth. We caught up with Blesener this week to learn a bit about her history and approach.

Read the full Q&A here.


Dispatches and impact from the world of investigative reporting.
  • Thousands of students have endured – and committed – sexual assault. And educators were warned about it. So what went wrong? The Associated Press
  • Glacial melting is boosting sea level rise to alarming levels, according to a new report. Scientific American
  • The Hate Report: As the number of anti-Jewish incidents surges, Trump has sought to demonstrate that he "finally gets it." Reveal
  • Trump's new budget calls a slew of grants "unproven." They're intended to prevent child labor. Reveal
  • A bill to protect California’s marijuana workers is zooming through the state’s Assembly. Reveal
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