NEWS GLEAMS | Updates on Mar-a-Lago Search for Classified Documents; Study of ‘Black-Owned’ Businesses

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷


🖋️Letter From the Editor🖋️

One of this month’s largest national headlines has been the search of Mar-a-Lago by federal investigators in their attempts to retrieve classified documents from former President Donald Trump. We offer a brief update of continued news around the search, including resources for those who want to dive deeper into the timeline, as well as share the latest filing by the Department of Justice, which alleges obstruction of justice charges.

A new University of Washington study analyzes cellphone data and “Black-owned” labels on websites, to find that while they were beneficial for businesses to use in 2020, following the uprisings for racial justice, their long-term benefits may not be as clear.

Sept. 6 is also Cynthia A. Green Day, which celebrates the pillar of the Skyway community.

—Vee Hua 華婷婷, interim managing editor for the South Seattle Emerald

P.S. News Gleams will be taking a break on Monday, Sept. 5, in observance of Labor Day.

✨Gleaming This Week✨


Photo depicting Kevin McCarthy standing next to Donald Trump on a balcony at Mar-a-Lago.
House Minority Leader and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy visits Mar-a-Lago on Jan. 3, 2020. (Photo: Tia Dufour, an official White House photo. This United States Congress image is in the public domain.)

The Search for Classified Documents in Mar-a-Lago

Earlier this month on Aug. 8, federal investigators searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, after an informant notified them that the former president was illegally storing classified documents in his home. The FBI recovered boxes of classified documents in the search, including materials marked “SECRET//SCI” and “TOP SECRET//SCI,” noting high levels of classification.

The search was an uncommon action, and it came following numerous unsuccessful attempts from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to retrieve all presidential records from Trump following his departure from the White House.

CNN and ABC News both offer a thorough timeline of events in 2021 and 2022, detailing specifics of the Mar-a-Lago search and the events leading up to it.


Photo depicting piles of classified and top secret documents on the floor of Mar-a-Lago.
A photograph of classified materials, taken in a room at Mar-a-Lago were taken following the FBI search on Aug. 8. It was included in a 36-page court filing from the Justice Department, which was submitted on Aug. 30. (Photo is attributed to the Department of Justice/U.S. Government. )

On the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a 36-page response with a Florida court, in response to a Trump suit requesting that a federal judge appoint a “special master,” or third party attorney, to review the records which were seized from Mar-a-Lago. The DOJ is urging the federal judge not to allow a special master to be appointed, citing potential obstruction of justice charges.

The filing included a photograph taken at Mar-a-Lago, which included cover sheets which were labeled with “SECRET//SCI” and “TOP SECRET//SCI,” noting high levels of classification.

Bloomberg News reported additional takeaways from the DOJ filing, stretching back to early summer. “In response to a grand jury subpoena, Trump’s lawyer in June handed over ‘a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape’ containing 38 documents that were labeled classified and a letter certifying that all relevant documents had been produced,” they wrote, though that assertion ultimately proved untrue. 

The original filing noted that FBI agents had gone to Mar-a-Lago in June to pick up documents and were allowed to look in a storage room, but “the former President’s counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room.”

“Investigators believed that government records ‘were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,’ including ‘evidence indicating that boxes formerly in the Storage Room were not returned prior to counsel’s review,’” noted Bloomberg. “The Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago resulted in the seizure of another 33 ‘items of evidence, mostly boxes.’ Three classified documents were found in the desks in Trump’s office at the estate. There were 13 boxes or containers that held over 100 unique documents with classification markings.”


Graph depicting weekly visitation patterns of restaurants with a "Black-owned" label versus those without the label in 20 major U.S. cities.
This graph shows the weekly visitation patterns of restaurants with a Black-owned label (red line) versus those without the label (blue lines) in 20 major U.S. cities in 2020. The number of visits is compared to the previous year, with “1” being the same number of visits as in 2019. (Graph: Huang, et al./Annals of the American Association of Geographers)

Businesses Labeled as ‘Black-Owned’ Saw Increased Patronage in 2020; Long-Term Decreases in Some Cities

A new study led by the University of Washington finds that Black-owned businesses saw initial spikes in 2020 following the George Floyd protests and associated racial uprisings, but that the effectiveness of labeling businesses as “Black-owned” may not have long-term benefits.

The study, which was published online in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, used cellphone location data to estimate restaurant visits, as well as “Black-owned” identification labels on sites such as Google, Yelp, and DoorDash. It then compared impacts across 20 cities, including Seattle.

“Overall, the researchers found there were statistically significant differences between Black-owned and ‘ownership-unreported’ restaurants throughout the 20 cities, primarily measured by relative declines in visits …” reported the University of Washington (UW). “Early in the pandemic, visits to Black-owned businesses outpaced those to ownership-unreported businesses, peaking in June and July, but eventually declines led to larger disparities between businesses with and without the label.”.

The study urges that Big Tech play a role in considering the consequences of labels such as “Black-owned,” as the label itself may not necessarily generate sustained positive results.

“Big Tech plays an increasingly influential role in almost every aspect of our everyday life, especially in today’s economic recovery, and the Black-owned labelling campaign appears to be well-intended,” said Bo Zhao, an associate professor of geography at the UW who led the study through his Humanistic GIS Lab. “But what have been the consequences? As allyship to minorities has become a core value of our time, how can Big Tech become a better and more inclusive ally? This research provides a timely case study.”

Zhao hopes that further research will help different outcomes within and among cities, rather than simply the aggregated results of all 20 cities. The full study can be read or heard at Taylor & Francis Online.

Graph depicting weekly visitation patterns of restaurants with a "Black-owned" label versus those without the label in 20 major U.S. cities.
This graph shows weekly normalized visitation patterns in 2020 for Black-owned restaurants (red line) versus ownership-unreported restaurants (blue line) in 20 cities. (Graph: Huang, et al./Annals of the American Association of Geographers)

A watercolor-styled image depicting Cynthia A. Green smiling with text that reads, "Cynthia A. Green Day, September 6, 2022."
(Photo: Sound Publishing with editing by the Emerald team.)

Sept. 6 Is Cynthia A. Green Day in Celebration of the Skyway Leader

Cynthia A. Green has been a pillar in the Skyway community for decades. Her work and dedication to serving her community while working at the Renton Area Youth Services family center led to the center being renamed the Cynthia A. Green Family Center in her honor in 2014. In that same year, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett proclaimed Sept. 6 to be Cynthia A. Green Day across the county.

Read more about Green’s work in an article earlier this year in the Emerald, and stay tuned for an Op-Ed by Green next week.


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