The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign News

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • A man who the authorities say drove into a group of Black people at a Southern California hotel, injuring one person, has been accused of a hate crime, prosecutors said on Monday.

The man, Dennis Wyman, 42, of Redondo Beach, struck an off-duty security guard after he yelled “racial insults” at the group last month, the Torrance Police Department said

  • Sgt. Janak Amin, a 21-year veteran with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa has been fired and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after aiming his gun inches from a handcuffed black man’s head and threatening to kill him if the man did not give his name, according to the sheriff.

Employees at the Hillsborough County Jail had accidentally released the victim, “inadvertently” transferring him to a treatment facility for those with substance-abuse or mental-health issues, where he was not supposed to be. He then left the facility.

Once the sheriff’s office realized the mistake, they went looking for him. They found him hiding behind a trailer. When officers confronted the man and put him in a “prone position,” the handcuffed man would not give his name.

So Amin knelt down next to him. He drew his firearm and pointed it inches from the man’s head.

Then, he told the man that if he refused to give his name, he would “splatter his brains all over the concrete.” Other officers on site then intervened.

  • The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $694.6 billion defense spending bill that includes money for the Army to change Confederate base names and that seeks to block President Trump’s use of Pentagon funds for his border wall.
  • U.S. Forces Japan has joined U.S. Forces Korea in banning the display of the Confederate flag, the latest move by the military aimed at preventing racial division in the ranks.

“The Confederate Battle Flag does not represent the values of U.S. Forces assigned to serve in Japan,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said Monday in announcing the ban.

  • The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is calling for the immediate removal of a mural containing a depiction of Ku Klux Klan riders from the Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny.

The mural, located prominently inside the courthouse in Macclenny, was painted 19 years ago with the intention of illustrating significant events in the history of the small, rural county north of Jacksonville.

Three KKK riders in white robes and hoods on horseback are depicted in one section of the mural.

  • President Trump defended a St. Louis couple who went viral after they stood outside their home brandishing weapons as a group of protesters marched past them.

“They were going to be beat up badly if they were lucky, OK, if they were lucky,” Trump asserted in an interview at the White House with the conservative outlet Townhall.

“They were going to be beat up badly, and the house was going to be totally ransacked and probably burned down like they tried to burn down churches,” the president continued.

  • President Trump falsely asserted that “more” white Americans die at the hands of police than Black Americans and criticized a reporter for asking why African Americans are still dying in law enforcement custody.

“So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask,” Trump told CBS News’s Catherine Herridge when asked about the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. “So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people.”

NOTE: A study published by Harvard University researchers in June that analyzed data from 2013 to 2017 found that Black Americans were more than three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police.

Trump Administration News

  • The Trump administration carried out the first federal execution since 2003, following a series of court battles and a Supreme Court order, released shortly after 2 a.m., clearing the way for the lethal injection to take place. 

At a penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN, federal officials executed Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, who was convicted in 1999 of killing a family of three. Lee was pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m. Tuesday.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer,” Lee said when asked if he wanted to make a final statement, according to the pool report. His final words were: “You’re killing an innocent man.”

  • President Trump is expected to finalize a rollback to the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. A move critics say will be particularly harmful to minority communities.

The changes to NEPA, which mandates environmental reviews of major construction projects and pipelines, are being pitched by the Trump administration as a way to cut regulations, expedite energy and infrastructure projects, and give a boost to the economy.

Critics argue that Trump’s erosion of 50-year-old protections will hit minority communities the hardest since polluting industries are disproportionately likely to be located in neighborhoods with large nonwhite populations.

“The Trump administration’s NEPA rollback will further endanger those bearing the greatest burden of legacy environmental injustice and structural racism,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) on a press call.

  • The Trump administration is resisting calls — even from political allies — to withdraw a proposal to make it more difficult to bring discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act.
  • President Trump said he signed legislation and an executive order ending Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a punishment against China for what he called its “oppressive” actions against the people of Hong Kong.
  • President Trump said the immigration executive order his administration was planning would be “merit-based.”

“We’re going to take care of DACA because I’m going to be doing, in the not too distant future, pretty soon, I’m going to be signing a new immigration action – very, very big merit-based immigration action – that based on the DACA decision, I’ll be able to do.”

  • Trump said California’s two largest school districts were making a “terrible mistake” by making students stay home for the upcoming term in the face of the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to reinstate Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas. Over 18,000 people lost their Medicaid coverage in Arkansas in the five months the requirements were in effect before they were blocked by the court.
  • The Defense Department has announced that U.S. troops have withdrawn from five military bases and reduced the size of its forces in Afghanistan to the mid-8,000s as part of the agreement reached with Taliban in February.

Presidential Campaign

  • Roger Stone, who was convicted of charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, said that he plans to start campaigning for President Trump’s reelection now that his prison sentence has been commuted, saying that he is prepared to “do anything necessary to elect my candidate, short of breaking the law.”
  • Biden told reporters that, although he supported the filibuster in the past and still harbors hopes for bipartisan compromise, the level of defiance from Senate Republicans could influence his thought process.
  • Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said that polls showing President Trump trailing in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania do not accurately reflect the state of the race on the ground.

Speaking with reporters on a conference call, Kelly said the polls are not taking into account Trump’s support from those who turned out to vote for the first time ever in 2016.

  • Joe Biden released a plan Tuesday aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth in part by overhauling America’s energy industry, with a proposal to achieve entirely carbon pollution-free power by 2035.

Biden’s plan differs with the Progressive Green New Deal’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2030.

In the plan, Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his energy proposals, a significant acceleration of the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending in his climate plan during the primary.

Senior campaign officials who requested anonymity to discuss strategy said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy.

  • President Trump said he “could go on for days” as he railed against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the “radical left”, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others in a Rose Garden event that, to many, sounded like a campaign rally.

During the nearly hour long presser in 90-degree heat, Trump claimed Biden “never did anything, except make very bad decisions, especially on foreign policy” and declared he was not the underdog and has widespread support in the fall race.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration News

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • Open Society Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by billionaire George Soros, is investing $220 million in efforts to promote racial equality, including grants to Black-led organizations working to expand voting rights and advocate for police reform.
  • Residents in Norman, Oklahoma launched a petition this week to recall the city’s mayor and several members of its city council as they express outrage over its decision to vote to cut the police budget by over $800,000 in the wake of nationwide protests, accusing the city council of having “succumbed to an angry mob.”
  • In 1828, North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Thomas Ruffin wrote that a slave owner must have “uncontrolled authority over the body” of a slave to “render the submission … perfect.” Today Thomas Ruffin’s statue was removed from the NC Court of Appeals.
  • A man was recorded on video throwing red paint onto the Black Lives Matter mural that was recently painted on the street in front of Trump Tower, and which President Trump has sharply criticized as a “symbol of hate.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio later clapped back, tweeting: “To whoever vandalized our mural on 5th Avenue: nice try. [NYC Department of Transportation] has already fixed it. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is more than words, and it can’t be undone.”

Administration News

  • The Trump administration is moving forward with the end of a long-standing ban on the sale of gun silencers, also known as suppressors, to foreign buyers, handing a victory to firearm manufacturers after President Trump’s former deputy assistant and White House lawyer launched a campaign as a lobbyist for a gun silencer trade group.
  • President Donald Trump’s executive clemency to his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone not only commuted the veteran Republican operative’s prison term but it also spared him a fine and two years of supervised release.

“I commute the entirety of the prison sentence imposed upon the said Roger Stone, Jr. to expire immediately,” according to Trump’s order.

“I also commute the entirety of the two-year term of supervised release with all its conditions, and finally, I remit any unpaid balance of the $20,000 fine imposed.”

  • A federal judge in Washington, D.C., again blocked the Trump administration from resuming executions just hours before the first federal death sentence since 2003 was scheduled to be carried out.
  • A private company that President Trump criticized over its efforts to construct a wall near the U.S.-Mexico border received $1.7 billion in federal contracts from the administration after lobbying the president personally on cable news, according to a new report.
  • More than 350 facilities nationwide have taken advantage of a temporary Environmental Protection Agency rule that lets companies forgo monitoring their water pollution during the coronavirus pandemic. The move is causing great concern among environmentalists: “Where facilities don’t monitor their own discharges and emissions, that can present significant environmental problems depending on what wasn’t reported that got into the environment.”
  • President Trump says the federal government may “take over cities” to combat rising crime: “Numbers are going to be coming down even if we have to go and take over cities.”
  • The United States budget deficit grew to a record $864 billion in June as the federal government continued pumping money into the economy to prop up workers and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic
  • The Chinese government announced that it would impose sanctions on three American lawmakers and a diplomat in retaliation for similar moves last week by the Trump administration against four officials in China.

The sanctions targeted Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, all of whom are Republicans. Also named was Trump’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

The Trump administration banned four Chinese officials and a Chinese government agency last Thursday from accessing American banks and other financial institutions. It also restricted them from obtaining visas to the United States.

The sanctions are mostly symbolic on both sides, as neither the Chinese officials nor the Americans are known to have assets in each other’s financial systems.

  • A federal appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration cannot withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities, affirming previous rulings in the state.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Race Relations, and Trump Administration News

Read TIme: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 230,370 in 24 hours.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Sunday that she intends to have American schools open for in-person classes this fall, and insisted that this can be done safely despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos called on schools to reopen despite CDC guidelines that say children meeting in groups can put everyone at risk: “There is going to be the exception to the rule. But the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall.”

The Secretary also reiterated President Trump’s threat to withhold funding from schools that do not reopen.

“American investment in education is a promise to students and their families,” she said. “If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds.” ““There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”

  • The White House is seeking to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as President Donald Trump works to marginalize him and his dire warnings about the shortcomings in the U.S. coronavirus response.

In a remarkable broadside by the Trump administration against one of its own, a White House official told NBC News on Sunday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” To bolster the case, the official provided NBC News with a list of nearly a dozen past comments by Fauci earlier in the pandemic that the official said had ultimately proven erroneous.

  • According to initial data reported by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were zero new COVID-19 deaths on July 11 for the first time since the state’s first death was recorded on March 11.
  • New Jersey announced 16 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 349 additional positive tests.
  • Florida reports 15,300 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day increase for any US state, and 44 new deaths.

Floridians are testing positive every five and a half seconds. 

  • A 30-year-old man who believed the coronavirus was a hoax and attended a “Covid party” died after being infected with the virus, according to a Texas hospital.

The man had attended a gathering with an infected person to test whether the coronavirus was real, said Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, where the man died.

  • Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. Texas health officials reported 8,196 new cases statewide, 80 more deaths and a total 10,410 people hospitalized.
  • Some parts of the Midwest are beginning to look alarmingly like the South and West did just a month ago. Cases have been trending upward in every Midwestern state except Nebraska and South Dakota.
  • Minnesota announced its highest daily case totals since May on Sunday and Saturday.
  • Indiana was among the first states in the Midwest to begin reopening in early May. The state was on track to enter its final phase (Phase 5) of reopening by the Fourth of July but as cases began rising, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would instead enter an interim “Phase 4.5.” Mr. Holcomb’s amended executive order stops short of fully reopening but allows fairs and festivals, youth overnight camps and even conventions of up to 250 people to continue. Face coverings are “strongly recommended” but not required.
  • In Kansas, average daily case counts are at their highest levels and in Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita, cases have more than doubled since June 25. Local officials in Wichita have attempted to slow the spread by issuing a universal mask ordinance and banning gatherings of more than 45 people.
  • Parents and teachers discovered that one version of the reopening drafts for the Canyons School District in Utah included a recommendation that crisis communication employees have a “template letter” ready in case a student or teacher died of the virus.

The reference went viral on social media, but it’s not unusual at all for an organization to have a crisis plan in place in case someone dies. A newer draft of the district’s plans does not have that reference, as the reopening drafts are still in the planning phases.

  • The California Assembly is suspending its session until further notice following five confirmed COVID-19 cases among lawmakers and employees.

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will remain in quarantine with her daughter until a doctor instructs her otherwise, she wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Burke had “mask to mask” exposure to the virus on June 26, she said — the same day that an Assembly employee was last in the Capitol before testing positive. That employee wore a face covering at all times, according to an Assembly Rules Committee email.

Protests/Race Relations

  • The federal government has denied Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’ request for aid to help rebuild and repair Twin Cities structures that were damaged in the unrest following George Floyd’s death.
  • Lewis Hamilton shows his support for the Black Lives Matter movement during his victory in the Styrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton secured his first win of the season in Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix. Before and after the race, Hamilton made a more definitive statement by kneeling ahead of the anthem and raising his fist on the winner’s podium.

  • A man who was seen on video going off on a racist tirade against an Asian American family at a restaurant has resigned from his job as CEO of a tech company in California after drawing viral backlash.

Michael Lofthouse, the now-former CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing firm Solid8, confirmed his resignation to Fox Business.

  • Protesters gathered outside the Allentown, PA police department Saturday night after a  39-second video showed a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man’s neck and head.

The clip, shot outside a hospital in Allentown doesn’t show what prompted the confrontation, but three officers can be seen restraining a man lying face down on the ground and yelling.

One of the officers is seen thrusting his knee and elbow into the man’s head and neck. Earlier this month, the Allentown Police Department released a new excessive force policy. The policy bans neck restraints or chokeholds unless officers are preventing “imminent death or serious bodily injury” to a citizen or themselves.

The Lehigh County district attorney is investigating and in a statement said, “Although significant, the entirety of the interaction is being reviewed,” adding that witnesses were being interviewed and that other videos were being reviewed.

  • The NFL’s Washington franchise announced they are retiring the team’s name and logo. A new name has not yet been announced.

Administration News

  • Following an op-ed by former special counsel Robert Mueller published Saturday in The Washington Post, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he will grant a request by Democrats to have  Mueller testify before the committee about his investigation. 
  • President Trump floated the idea of selling Puerto Rico as the territory struggled in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke told The New York Times.

Duke, who served in the role for four months, told the Times on Friday that she was shocked when the president raised the suggestion of “divesting” or “selling” Puerto Rico.

  • President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he’s fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. “Meadows told me he was doing that,” said one former White House official. “I don’t know if it ever worked.”
  • Donald Trump has criticised a group of his supporters who privately financed and built a wall along the US-Mexico border in South Texas earlier this year because the wall is already deteriorating from erosion.

The privately-funded wall was “only done to make me look bad,” the president tweeted on Sunday – despite the group, “We Build the Wall,” raising $25million in two years to erect it, in a show of support for Trump’s immigration and border security initiatives.

The group first launched its fundraising effort during the government shutdown of December 2018 when Congress would not agree to fund Trump’s wall proposal.

  • Senate Democrats are demanding they be allowed to see any copies of intelligence briefs that were presented to President Trump regarding evidence that Russia was paying the Taliban bounties for attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Presidential Campaign

  • After months of insisting that the Republican National Convention go off as scheduled despite the pandemic, President Donald Trump is slowly coming to accept that the late August event will not be the four-night infomercial for his reelection that he had anticipated.

After a venue change, spiking coronavirus cases and a sharp recession, Trump aides and allies are increasingly questioning whether it’s worth the trouble, and some are advocating that the convention be scrapped altogether. Conventions are meant to lay out a candidate’s vision for the coming four years, not spark months of intrigue over the health and safety of attendees, they have argued.

Aides are pushing Trump to move his acceptance speech outdoors to minimize risk of virus transmission. But Trump has expressed reservations about an outdoor venue, believing it would lack the same atmosphere as a charged arena.

  • The Trump campaign canceled the president’s planned rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire because of concerns that COVID-19 fears and a forecasted thunderstorm would lead to low attendance, people close to the campaign told NBC News. 

In its statement, the Trump campaign announcing the rally was being called off blamed a forecasted thunderstorm in the area and “safety reasons” for the decision. But officials told NBC that it was one of several factors that the campaign feared would lead to low attendance at the event, prompting the cancellation.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • Johns Hopkins University filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Trump administration from stripping international students of their visas and forcing them to leave the U.S. if they are not taking any in-person courses in the fall.
  • Internal documents from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that fully reopening K-12 schools and universities would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus, according to a New York Times report, as President Donald Trump and his administration push for students and teachers to return in-person to classrooms.

The 69-page document obtained by the Times marked “For Internal Use Only” was among materials for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials handle the outbreak, the newspaper reported.

The document was circulated this week, the Times reported, as Trump slammed the CDC guidelines around reopening schools and he, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos increased their pressure on schools to fully reopen by the fall.

  • A long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 — still well below the heights hit in April.

  • Former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are calling on the American people to “wear a mask to save lives” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Carter Center, the Atlanta-based charity founded by the former president and first lady, shared an image of the couple with the caption “Please wear a mask to save lives.” The Carters can be seen wearing white masks featuring the organization’s logo.  

  • President Trump wore a mask during his visit to Walter Reed hospital on Saturday, marking the first time he has done so in front of cameras.
  • “If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates cautioned, calling for a COVID-19 vaccine to first go to countries that have been hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic.
  • A few dozen U.S. Marines have tested positive for coronavirus in Okinawa, Japan, officials announced Saturday.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning that the spikes in coronavirus cases across the South and on the West Coast could lead to the virus finding a foothold in the Northeast once again.

“It is going to come back here. It’s like being on a merry-go-round. It’s totally predictable,” Cuomo said. “And we’re going to go through an increase. I can feel it coming. And it is so unnecessary and so cruel.”

  • North Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas, Hawaii and Alaska recorded single-day highs Saturday.
  • South Carolina announced its highest single-day total for coronavirus cases on Saturday, recording more than 2,200 infections; its previous record was set on July 4 with 1,854 new cases. More than 22 percent of tests in the state came back positive on Friday — the highest positivity rate for the state yet. 
  • Dozens of hospitals in Florida are at their ICU capacity as the state struggles to contain its massive spike of COVID-19 cases.

According to new data released by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, almost 85 percent of the state’s ICU beds are occupied, with just 933 ICU available beds remaining across the state.

WFLA reported that 435 were hospitalized overnight Friday, a new record. At least 52 hospitals in the state have no ICU capacity left at all.

  • Paul Waldron—the commissioner for St. Johns County just south of Jacksonville, Florida—has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in the hospital in critical condition. Last week, Waldron voted against a countywide order requiring all residents to wear face masks as a way to prevent coronavirus infections.
  • Florida will start getting shipments this weekend of an antiviral drug that has shown signs of helping severely ill Covid-19 patients — cargo senior aides scored in part from New York just as Gov. Ron DeSantis was publicly dismissing the state’s help.
  • “Star Wars” Stormtroopers enforced mask-wearing and Mickey Mouse waved from a distance on Saturday as Florida’s Walt Disney World opened to the public for the first time in four months amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state.
  • Cuyahoga, Ohio County Executive Armond Budish announced the establishment of a hotline to report people who are defying state order by not wearing face masks amid the surge in coronavirus cases in the state.  
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Saturday ordered bars to close and most residents to wear a mask outside. The state had an early outbreak that then receded, before a recent spike in cases and hospitalizations.
  • Louisiana has more cases per capita than all states but New York and New Jersey.
  • Texas lawmakers are asking Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to send federal resources to the region. The  bipartisan group has asked HHS to set up a field hospital in the region and provide additional financial resources as the area experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Brazil, the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hotspot after the United States, recorded 1,071 new deaths from the outbreak on Saturday, with a total of 1,839,850 confirmed cases, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has now recorded a total of 71,469 deaths.

Protests/Race Relations

  • Vice President Pence said the decision to remove Confederate statues should be made at the local level and panned protesters who have dismantled the monuments themselves. 

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Pence said he “wouldn’t begrudge any community or any state to determine what people ought to be remembered and memorialized.”

  • One of three former Wilmington Police Officers fired last month after unintentionally recorded conversations became public, revealing racist and violent language, has filed an appeal for reinstatement.

In a letter sent through his attorney to the Wilmington Civil Service Board on July 2, former WPD officer James B. Gilmore argued that his comments are protected by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, claiming they were not racist but instead reflected a religious stance against idolatry.

Administration News

  • More than 140 companies and trade associations including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Marriott, Target, Uber, Lyft, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that represent more than half of American private sector workers wrote to President Trump on Saturday urging him to leave the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. The letter cited public polling that found most Americans favor protecting Dreamers, the young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“As large American employers and employer organizations, we strongly urge you to leave the DACA program in place.”

  • Updating an earlier story, Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen’s, imprisonment wasn’t related to the NY Post photo of him at a restaurant. Probation officers asked him to sign a document that would have barred him from speaking to reporters or publishing a book during the rest of his sentence, his legal adviser said.

Mr. Cohen, believing the agreement violated his First Amendment rights, refused to sign it, the adviser, Lanny Davis, said. Less than two hours later, federal marshals stepped out of an elevator with handcuffs and took Mr. Cohen back into custody.

  • The Trump administration announced a 25 percent tariff on $1.3 billion worth of French handbags, cosmetics and soaps in retaliation for a digital services tax on U.S. internet giants.
  • U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly recommended that President Trump not grant associate Roger Stone clemency over concerns of political blowback.
  • Former special counsel Robert Mueller, the top lawyer who led the Russia investigation, defended his teams’ findings on President Trump’s associate Roger Stone on Saturday after Trump moved to commute his sentence. 

“[Stone] remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mueller wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) sharply condemned President Trump’s commutation for longtime ally and political confidant Roger Stone, labeling it “historic corruption.”

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Romney tweeted Saturday morning.

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump on Saturday expressed confidence that rapper Kanye West — who recently announced that he plans to launch a late bid for the White House — could steal votes from Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in November, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“That shouldn’t be hard,” Trump tweeted, referring to West taking votes away from Biden. “Corrupt Joe has done nothing good for Black people!”

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign News

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations 

  • Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to protests in Salt Lake City that erupted after the authorities said the fatal police shooting of a 22-year-old man in May was justified.

Protesters smashed windows and splashed red paint on the district attorney’s office in Salt Lake City after prosecutors cleared police in the fatal shooting.

The Salt Lake County district attorney, Sim Gill, announced that there would be no criminal charges against the two Salt Lake City Police Department officers who shot the man, Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, on May 23.

  • State troopers folded the Mississippi flag at the Capitol for the last time last week, a turnabout that was powered by a coalition of seemingly unlikely allies, including business-minded conservatives, Baptist ministers and the Black Lives Matter activists.
  • The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was among those who emailed to criticize a Virginia town’s “Black Lives Matter” banner, telling city officials that protesters responding to the death of Black Americans in police custody “hate America.”

“BLM is a bit of a dangerous Trojan Horse and they are catching well-meaning people into dangerous posturing that can invite mob rule and property looting,” Thomas, who is white, reportedly wrote in a signed email that was shared with The Washington Post.

  • Police in St. Petersburg, Fla., said they will start fining protesters who block traffic during demonstrations this week following tense and dangerous standoffs between activists and drivers around the country.

Officers will be enforcing laws already on the books – and the St. Petersburg Police Department said Wednesday it would first begin a public awareness campaign by issuing warnings and handing out flyers.

After a few days, the department will begin issuing fines of $62.50.

  • Twitter suspended over 50 accounts operated by white nationalists Friday amid criticism over its handling of inflammatory posts on its platform.
  • Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst says she supports renaming military bases that are named after Confederate figures even though she’s “been getting heck” from her own party over her stance.
  • Two suspended Buffalo Police officers are now back on the city payroll despite being charged with felony assault.

Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were suspended last month after shoving 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino to the ground, leading to serious injuries for the protester.

Administration News

  • The president of Goya Foods went on Fox News on Friday to defend comments he made a day earlier praising President Trump during a visit to the White House. The company has since become the target of a boycott and considerable backlash.
  • President Trump told reporters Friday that he is “looking at” pardoning Roger Stone, as he continued to build suspense over whether he will intervene on behalf of his former aide and longtime confidant before he is scheduled to report to prison next week.

“Well, I’ll be looking at it,” Trump said. “I think Roger Stone was very unfairly untreated, as were many people.”

  • The House Appropriations Committee voted to block a controversial Trump Administration transparency rule that the Environmental Protection Agency’s own independent board of science advisers criticized. Scientists have decried the 2018 rule, which the administration sought to broaden in March, as an effort to block the EPA from being able to use significant amounts of research in its rulemaking.

“This rule would place new crippling limits on what studies can be utilized when EPA crafts new regulation,” said the amendment’s sponsor, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.).

  • A former top Department of Veterans Affairs official in the Trump administration improperly steered a $5 million contract to personal friends, according to a report released Thursday by the department’s Office of Inspector General. The OIG report found that the actions of Peter Shelby, who was then the VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration at the time, were not only unethical but resulted in the complete waste of government funds.
  • President Trump says he intends to sign an executive order on immigration within the next month that he said will include a “road to citizenship” for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
  • The president Tweeted: “Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education. Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status…and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” 
  • President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. on seven felony crimes on Friday, using the power of his office to help a former campaign adviser days before Mr. Stone was to report to a federal prison to serve a 40-month term.
  • President Trump confirmed for the first time on Friday that the U.S. launched a cyberattack on the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) in 2018.

The cyberattack, first reported by The Washington Post in 2019 but not confirmed publicly by the Trump administration, involved U.S. Cyber Command disrupting internet access for the building in St. Petersburg that houses the IRA on the night of the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, halting efforts to spread disinformation as Americans went to the polls.

Presidential Campaign

  • President Donald Trump on Friday accused former Vice President Joe Biden of plagiarizing his economic policies, a day after the presumptive Democratic nominee unveiled a plan to promote American manufacturing and goods.

But despite some similarities in messaging between Biden’s “Buy American” and Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, the two candidates’ policy plans significantly diverge.

“He plagiarized from me, but he could never pull it off,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about Biden’s plan for the economy. “He likes plagiarizing. It’s a plan that is very radical left. But he said the right things because he’s copying what I’ve done, but the difference is he can’t do it.”

Trump did not specify what parts of Biden’s economic plans were plagiarized.

  • Amid ongoing concerns of small crowds, the Trump campaign canceled a rally planned for Saturday in New Hampshire, citing safety concerns about an incoming tropical storm.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden tore into President Trump as he prepared to visit a coronavirus-stricken Florida on Friday, blaming the president’s response to the pandemic for a sharp rise in cases and virus-related hospitalizations in the country’s largest battleground state.

“With over 232,000 cases in the state and over 4,000 deaths in Florida, it is clear that Trump’s response — ignore, blame others, and distract — has come at the expense of Florida families.”

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations News

Read Time: 2 Minutes

  • 90 percent of Americans surveyed in a new poll agreed that racism and police brutality are problems in the United States.
  • An Indiana woman was arrested in a hit-and-run crash that sent one woman to the hospital and caused minor injuries to a man during a southern Indiana protest over the assault of a Black man by a group of white men.
  • A Pennsylvania police officer who was seen kicking a seated protester on May 30 will not face criminal charges, Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri announced Thursday, the Erie Times-News reported. 

Daneri also said that Hannah Silbaugh, the 21-year-old protester seen in the video of a protest in Erie, will not face charges.

  • Work on another Black Lives Matter mural in New York City started on Thursday — this one situated directly in front of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. President Trump previously slammed plans to paint it.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the new mural will send a message that “Black lives, in fact, do matter.”

  • Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler doubled down on her attacks against the Black Lives Matter Movement after facing blowback for her stated opposition to the WNBA’s plan to let players wear warmups emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name.” Loeffler, a co-owner of the league’s Atlanta Dream, claimed that the movement “seeks to destroy the American principles” and that she had to “draw the line.”
  • The top U.S. general said that the military had to take a “hard look” at symbols of the Confederacy, including the names of bases, and said he had recommended a commission to look at the issue even as President Donald Trump has ruled out renaming military bases that are named for Confederate leaders.
  • “The Confederacy, the American Civil War was fought, and it was an act of rebellion,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, told members of the House Armed Services Committee. “It was an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution, and those officers turned their back on their oath.”
  • Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms went off on GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for issuing an executive order deploying state National Guard troops due to an escalation in violence in the city.

“The irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no,” Bottoms said. “But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard.”

Kemp’s emergency order allows as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to be activated.

  • In the last week alone, 179 NYPD officers have filed for retirement compared to 35 in 2019. Since May 25 — the day that George Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody — 503 NYPD officers have filed for retirement, compared to 287 who filed for retirement during the same period last year.
  • Ahead of its first game since the coronavirus pandemic, a group of nearly 200 Major League Soccer players stood in midfield dressed in black to mark George Floyd’s death with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence.
  • The House Appropriations Committee advanced a spending bill that would prohibit military construction projects on bases named for Confederate officers.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration News

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations 

  • An attorney representing Thomas Lane, one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged for his role in the arrest and death of George Floyd, has filed a motion asking for the case against the Lane to be dismissed for what he called a “lack of probable cause based on the entire record.”
  • Senegal’s Goree Island, which for centuries served as a way station in the Transatlantic slave trade, has changed the name of its Europe Square in response to the death of George Floyd in the United States and the global movement it inspired.

It will now be known as Freedom and Human Dignity Square, the municipal council decided.

  • A police officer in Illinois has reportedly been placed on leave and lost his badge after he told local media about his department’s alleged attempts to conceal footage of the arrest of Eric Lurry, a Black man who died in police custody earlier this year.
  • A detective with the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state was placed on leave after he made comments mocking two protesters hit by a car in Seattle — one of whom died of their injuries.

The detective, Mike Brown, reportedly posted a photo on Facebook of a vehicle hitting a group of people, according to NBC affiliate King-TV in Seattle. The image was captioned “All lives splatter” and “Keep your ass off the road.”

  • The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors statue in Richmond, Virginia, was removed Wednesday morning, adding to the growing list of monuments ordered to come down in the former capital of the Confederacy, according to the city’s mayor.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney on July 1, citing his emergency powers declared in late May, ordered the removal of all city-owned Confederate statues.

  • The University of California Regents have appointed Michael V. Drake as the new head of the school system and become its first Black president. 

The Board of Regents unanimously approved Drake, a physician. He will oversee the renowned system of five medical centers, 10 campuses, three nationally affiliated labs, more than 280,000 students and 220,000 faculty.

  • Black protesters were charged with felonies at a rate quadruple that of white ones during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in New York City, according to a preliminary report from state Attorney General Letitia James’s office.
  • New York City is moving ahead with its plans to have a mural of the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street in front of Trump Tower this week, despite pushback from the president. 
  • A Seattle man, Dawit Kelete, who the authorities said drove into a protest on a closed section of Interstate 5 over the weekend, killing one demonstrator, was charged on Wednesday with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving.

Two of the charges, vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, are felonies, a spokesman 

The Washington State Patrol and the F.B.I. were still investigating the matter, and Mr. Kelete could face additional charges, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

  • Amazon is pulling Washington Redskins merchandise from its website, with sellers given 48 hours to review and remove any products flagged by the company.

Administration News

  • The federal deficit in the first nine months of the fiscal year hit a record $2.7 trillion, nearly double the largest full-year deficit on record, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

In June alone, the deficit hit $863 billion, more than 107 times the $8 billion deficit recorded in June of last year.

The deficit is on track to exceed $3.8 trillion, shattering the $1.4 trillion record set in 2009 as the global financial crisis led to the Great Recession.

  • The Supreme Court upheld a Trump administration regulation allowing employers with religious objections to limit access to free birth control.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, is retiring from the US Army after more than 21 years of military service because he determined that his future in the armed forces “will forever be limited” due to political retaliation by the President and his allies, his lawyer told CNN Wednesday.

Vindman has endured a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” spearheaded by the President following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry last year, according to his attorney, Amb. David Pressman.

  • Facebook removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to President  Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week.

The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state of Florida, had used fake accounts and followers to promote Stone’s books and posts.

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had approved Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman for promotion as part of a crop of new promotions due to be sent to the White House in the coming days, a senior U.S. defense official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Esper had approved the list on Monday with Vindman’s name.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that his department “will work with Congress” in regards to the delivery of U.S. funds earmarked for the World Health Organization, as the Trump administration begins the formal process of withdrawing from the global health body.

The U.S. owes an estimated $203 million as part of its assessed contributions to the WHO for its two-year operating budget. The amount also includes funds that have yet to be paid for the 2019 operating year.

  • The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department are looking into allegations that popular app TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children’s privacy.
  • A federal court has upheld a lower court decision reversing a Trump administration policy that eliminated protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador heaped praise on President Trump on Wednesday as the two leaders celebrated the official start of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the White House.
  • The top U.S. general in the Middle East predicts that a small amount of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

“I believe that going forward, they’re going to want us to be with them,” U.S. Central Command head Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters Tuesday after he met with Iraq’s new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, according to The Associated Press.

“I don’t sense there’s a mood right now for us to depart precipitously. And I’m pretty confident of that.”

  • Initial Jobless Claims fell last week, even as a slew of states hard-hit with COVID-19 reintroduced restrictions.For the week ending July 4, 1.3 million people applied for initial unemployment claims, down from 1.427 million the week before.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration News

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • Lafayette County (Mississippi)  Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to keep its monument to Confederate soldiers.
  • “Enough is enough” was the headline in all capital letters across the front page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, repeating the frustrated words of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at a news conference on Sunday and echoing a sentiment shared in other parts of the country as a number of children have died in recent days in a surge of gun violence.

“The reality is this: These aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta, these are members of the community shooting each other,” Ms. Bottoms said in her news conference.

  • Work crews in Richmond, Virginia took down a monument to Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, the third major statue to be removed  in the former Confederate capitol in less than a week. Richmond is rushing to remove symbols of oppression after protests.
  • The city council in a Mississippi city named after Andrew Jackson votes to move a statue of the former U.S. president from the city’s downtown to a less prominent place. Jackson owned enslaved people and oversaw the forced migration of Native Americans.
  • On Monday, Tucker Carlson criticized Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth for suggesting during a recent CNN interview that the US should consider arguments for removing monuments of George Washington. Carlson said,  “Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public, you’re reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is… These people actually hate America.”  

Duckworth, who lost both of her legs while serving in Iraq when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Iraqi insurgents., replied by challenging Carlson to “walk a mile” in her legs. 

  • A car in Bloomington, Indiana on Tuesday struck demonstrators protesting an alleged attempted lynching captured on video earlier in the week, and the driver has yet to be identified.

Witnesses told NBC affiliate WTHR a passenger in the car had stepped out and thrown a scooter that had been left in the road, prompting the woman to attempt to intervene by putting her hands on the hood of the car, at which point the car accelerated.

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is coming under criticism from the WNBA Players Association after writing a letter saying that the league should not go forward with a plan to put the names of Black victims of police violence on player jerseys.

“The truth is, we need less—not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote,” Loeffler wrote to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “And now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports.”

Loeffler has co-owned the Atlanta Dream, one of the WNBA’s franchises, since 2011.

  • The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced that Nichole Anderson, 42, and David Nelson, 53, both residents of Martinez, California, would be charged with three misdemeanor counts,  including a hate crime. The pair were caught on camera vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural on July 4. Anderson covered up a Black Lives Matter mural with black paint and Nelson directly aided in her alleged criminal conduct.
  • Surveillance video released Tuesday shows a Michigan teenager being forcefully restrained by at least seven staff members in a youth facility before his death days later. 

16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks was pushed and held down by staff members at the Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo after he threw a sandwich in the cafeteria. 

The teenager screamed “I can’t breathe” as he was being restrained for about eight minutes on April 29. Fredericks went into cardiac arrest when being detained and died on May 1.

  • The U.S. Park Police has said that its radio communications system did not record any transmissions when the agency and other law enforcement officers dispersed a crowd of protestors gathered around Lafayette Square on June 1 ahead of President Trump’s visit to a nearby church. The episode is now the subject of investigation from Congress and the Interior Department’s internal watchdog.

Administration News

  • Top White House aides are reportedly narrowing in on a list of fewer than 10 potential Trump administration officials who could have leaked information about Russian agents providing funds to Taliban-linked militants to target American troops in Afghanistan.
  • President Trump is scheduled to receive his first intelligence briefing this month on Tuesday. It is his first “daily” intelligence briefing since June 30.
  • Some White House officials are privately expressing frustration over President Trump’s recent embrace of a message stoking racial and cultural divisions.

But Trump is “going with his gut” and “relying on instinct,” the two officials said. Instead of touting wins, Trump has opted to zero in on the national debate about race and side with supporters who view themselves as victims unfairly cast as racists in the renewed national discussion about discrimination targeting minorities.

  • The United States will leave the World Health Organization on July 6, 2021, the United Nations said on Tuesday, after receiving notification of the decision by President Donald Trump, who has accused the agency of becoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Payday lenders won’t have to check whether borrowers can afford to repay their high-interest loans under a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Its director, Kathleen L. Kraninger, said the new provision will provide “access to credit from a competitive marketplace.”

The rule rolls back a 2017 provision by the Obama administration to protect consumers from taking out expensive payday loans, which can carry interest rates as high as 400%.  With the new rule, lenders will no longer be required to “reasonably” determine whether a consumer can repay the loan in a timely manner.

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul on Wednesday for wide-ranging talks, overshadowed by Pyongyang’s insistence that it has no intention of returning to denuclearisation negotiations any time soon.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations News

Read Time: 2 Minutes

  • Breonna Taylor Taylor, a 26-year-old Black EMT, died in March after she was fatally shot by plainclothes police who arrived at her home in Louisville late at night to execute a no-knock warrant as part of a drug case but no drugs were found.

FBI investigators say the months-old case is a “top priority” for them and their “best agents” are working on it.

  • Police are looking to identify a white man and white woman who vandalized a city-approved Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez, California, on the Fourth of July.

The woman was caught on video by onlookers as she painted over the words “Black Lives Matter” on the street in front of the Contra Costa County courthouse while the man appeared to film her on his phone. Authorities are asking the public to identify the couple so they may be “held accountable for their actions,” Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said in a Sunday press release.

“The community spent a considerable amount of time putting the mural together only to have it painted over in a hateful and senseless manner,” the release said. “The City of Martinez values tolerance and the damage to the mural was divisive and hurtful.”

  • Police in Lincoln City, Oregon, said this weekend that they arrested 7 men on various charges after a group of white people they were a part of allegedly harassed a Black family on Independence Day by using racial slurs and Nazi salutes.

At one point, the agency said officers at the scene had to form “a line between the group of white persons and the black family allowing the black family to safely leave the beach and return to their room.”

  • A predominantly Black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for removal of the giant Confederate rock carving at the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism.
  • Several hundred people gathered in Sydney on Sunday as part of weekend-long protests in Australia’s large cities in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and increased focus of the mistreatment of indigenous peoples.
  • In an apparent appeal to race-based voters, Monday morning the president Tweeted in defense of the confederate flag and accused NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace of propagating a hoax: “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration News

Read TIme: 3 Minutes

Protest/Race Relations

  • Two protesters were injured, one critically, in Seattle early on Saturday, when the women were hit by a speeding car that drove past other stopped vehicles into a crowd demonstrating on an interstate highway, police said.

UPDATE: One of the pedestrians has died. Summer Taylor was 24. A 27 year old suspect is in custody. 

  • A giant 20-by-30 foot Confederate flag was raised along a busy highway in North Carolina this weekend to mark the Fourth of July, but despite complaints local officials say there are no ordinances against it. The Sons of Confederate Veterans raised the flag, saying they did so to mark Independence Day and in response to the removal of Confederate statues in the state.
  • Protesters yanked down the Christopher Columbus statue near Little Italy and tossed it into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as fireworks went off around the city on the evening of the Fourth of July.
  • Former NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick marked July Fourth by sharing a video of actor James Earl Jones reciting Frederick Douglass’s historic speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” with Kaepernick calling the holiday a “celebration of white supremacy.”

“Black ppl have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized + terrorized by America for centuries, & are expected to join your commemoration of ‘independence’, while you enslaved our ancestors,” he wrote. “We reject your celebration of white supremacy & look forward to liberation for all.”

  • “We have Americans that cannot breathe, except on ventilators. Who cannot breathe because of a knee on their neck, because of oppression and racism,” the former GOP California governor said in his message. “Slavery and racism are incompatible with freedom… on this July Fourth we celebrate the day America’s promise will be real for everyone.”

“We must fight every day to make sure that dream is as true for a black child born in Minneapolis as it was for a white bodybuilder born in Austria.”

  • Protesters marched and gathered outside the Aurora Police Department precinct to demand the remaining two officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain to be terminated from their jobs.

One officer involved in McClain’s death already resigned after a recent image appeared depicting police reenacting the carotid hold near a memorial for McClain, the same chokehold used at the time of his death.

  • In his Independence Day Speech, Trump compared his fight against the “radical left” to the US’s fight against Nazis in WW2. “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth,” Trump said. “We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”
  • “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” President Donald Trump said in a July 4 speech. 
  • In an Independence Day message, Joe Biden said, “Our country was founded on an idea: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ We’ve never lived up to it. Jefferson himself didn’t – he held slaves, women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be restrained. Through it all, these words have gnawed at our conscience and pulled us towards justice. We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation.”

Administration News

  • North Korea does not feel the need to have talks with the United States, which would be nothing more than “a political tool” for Washington, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Saturday, ahead of a U.S. envoy’s visit to South Korea.
  • The United States is sending two aircraft carriers into the South China Sea at the same time as China is conducting military exercises in the contested waterway.
  • President Trump took aggressive swipes at the “radical left” and news media during his wide-ranging Independence Day address.

In one part, Trump said when people, specifically the media, call his and allies’ actions racist: “You not only slander me, you not only slander American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America.”

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post