The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said new outbreaks of the coronavirus may be arising because younger Americans aren’t abiding by federal guidance.

Pence said people “should wear masks whenever social distancing is not possible” and “wherever it is indicated by state or local authorities.”

  • A choir of more than 100 people performed without masks at an event in Texas at the First Baptist Church on Sunday that featured a speech by Vice President Mike Pence.

Nearly 2,200 people attended the “Celebrate Freedom Rally,” according to rally organizers. The venue capacity for the indoor event was close to 3,000 attendees, organizers say. Face masks at the event were “strongly encouraged,” with signs posted around the venue. According to reports, at least half of the crowd was wearing a face covering. 

Throughout the service, the members of the choir sang at full volume, behind an orchestra. Between songs, the choir members put their masks back on when they sat down.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday a nationwide mandate to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus is “definitely long overdue.”

The speaker called on President Trump to “be an example” to the U.S. and wear a face covering, saying “real men wear masks.”

  • Vice President Pence said the federal government would extend support for coronavirus testing in Texas as long as necessary amid a dangerous surge in new cases. U.S. health officials had originally moved to end supporting sites at the end of the month..
  • Florida Gov. DeSantis says his state’s rise in coronavirus cases is being “driven by a big increase over the last three weeks in individuals testing positive throughout the state of Florida in younger age groups.”
  • California Governor. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in several counties to close due to the spread of COVID-19, including Los Angeles County.

Newsom tweeted the order around Noon on Sunday, which also affects Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare counties.

The governor also recommended bars close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that “the window is closing” to take action to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases across the southern United States continue “surging.”

In an interview with “Meet the Press,” Azar said that the country has “more tools than we had months ago” to fight the virus and the disease it causes, including new treatments and more personal protective equipment. But he stressed that America is facing a “very serious situation.”

  • A CBS News poll shows record numbers saying efforts against the outbreak are going badly (including new highs saying efforts are going very badly); President Trump receives his lowest marks for handling the pandemic since it began; and the outlook for the summer is grim. Twice as many expect the outbreak to worsen, rather than improve.

In addition to coronavirus concerns, overall, views of how things are generally going in the country are decidedly negative. Seventy-six percent of Americans say things are going badly compared to 56% who felt that way in December 2019.

  • Allegheny County, PA officials say they are banning on-site consumption of alcohol following a recent surge of new Coronavirus cases.

“For the first time since COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state, Allegheny County led the state in the number of new COVID-19 cases,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We’re going the wrong direction.”

  • The United Kingdom reported a weekly total of 6,820 coronavirus infections, that’s a decrease of 19.2% over last week and 80.9% since the week of April 19th.
  • Brazil tallied 38,693 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The number of COVID19 infections stands at 1,313,667 and the death toll at 57,070 as of Saturday night, with no sign of policy changes by the Bolsonaro government.
  • The University of Tennessee will require students to have both flu and, when available,  COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday New York State’s lowest death toll and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Saturday, there were five deaths and 869 hospitalizations in New York State.

Of the 61,906 tests conducted in New York State Saturday, 616, or 0.99 percent, were positive.

  • Oklahoma (478), South Carolina (1,384), Louisiana (1,454),  North Carolina (1,576), Georgia (2,225), and Arizona (3,857) all set records for new coronavirus cases.

Protest/Race Relations News

  • Two street murals, one reading, “All Black Lives Matter” and the other “Abolish White Supremacy” were painted on two streets in Newark, NJ by artists with the support of the city.
  • The Mississippi state legislature — both the House and Senate — passed a bill on Sunday to change the state’s flag in a historic step toward removing the flag’s Confederate battle emblem.

The bill will now go to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who has said he would sign legislation that state lawmakers send him to remove the Confederate insignia. The legislation cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote

  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Tweeted: “Today, Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag.

We replaced the MS flag with the American flag at Liberty State Park last year due to its hateful imagery. We look forward to raising a new MS flag soon.”

Administration News

  • United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.

Officials briefed on the matter said the assessment had been treated as a closely held secret but that the administration expanded briefings about it over the last week — including sharing information about it with the British government, whose forces were among those said to have been targeted.

In addition to saying he was never “briefed or told” about the intelligence report, Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the assessment’s credibility. He described the intelligence report as being about “so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.” The report described bounties paid to Taliban militants by Russian military intelligence officers, not direct attacks. Mr. Trump also suggested that the developments could be a “hoax” and questioned whether The Times’s sources existed.

  • Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, said in a Twitter message on Sunday: “If reporting about Russian bounties on U.S. forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the [Presidential Daily Briefing]? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?”
  • Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total 26 deaths from 2018-2019.

  • British security officials have confirmed to Sky News that the reports about the Russian bounty plot are true.
  • The president Tweeted late Sunday night: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP . Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!

Presidential Campaign

  • 5% of Americans say they feel things in America today, generally speaking, are going “very well” according to a new CBS poll.
  • Following pressure to disclose the number of minorities on their staffs, the campaigns for former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump released diversity statistics.

In a summary of staff data obtained by NBC News, the Biden campaign disclosed that 35 percent of the full-time staff and 36 percent of senior advisors are people of color.

After the Biden campaign revealed its numbers, the Trump campaign followed, announcing that 25 percent of its senior staff are people of color but declining to provide information for all full-time staff.

  • Fox News Senior Correspondent Charles Gasparino Tweeted: “BREAKING— (thread)GOP operatives are for the first time raising the possibility that @realDonaldTrump  could drop out of the race if his poll numbers don’t rebound. Over the weekend I spoke to a sample of major players; one described Trumps current psyche as “fragile.”

“I’m not convinced yet; he’s got time and he’s running against an opponent who is literally hiding in his basement. Plus the public isn’t focusing yet on just how left wing @JoeBiden has become, so much so, he can bring himself to denounce rioting.

“That said the speculation indicates how tense  GOP operatives are about Trump losing and the party losing the senate and having their entire agenda abolished in a leftist wave election. Again lots of time and Trump has endured a horrible couple of months but that’s the snap [shot]”

Sources:  ABC News, 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: 4 Minutes

  • Mississippi junior basketball player Blake Hinson plans to transfer to Iowa State. Hinson said there were factors beyond basketball that influenced his decision to leave.

“To make a general statement, it was time to go and leave Ole Miss,” Hinson said. “I’m proud not to represent that flag anymore and to not be associated with anything representing the Confederacy.”

  • Princeton University announced Saturday that it has voted to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the university’s School of Public and International Affairs.

“We believe that Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school whose scholars, students, and alumni must be firmly committed to combating the scourge of racism in all its forms,” Princeton’s board said in a statement.

  • The Mississippi state House advanced legislation to change the Magnolia State’s flag, the last in the country to still include the stars and bars of the Confederacy.

The chamber advanced the bill by an 84-35 margin, allowing lawmakers in the state House to reach the two-thirds majority needed to suspend the rules to consider the change.

The House will then be able to consider the legislation and vote on the measure, which would go to the Senate if passed.

  • Four men alleged to have been trying to tear down the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square just outside of the White House were each charged with destruction of federal property, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C.
  • A second statue of Christopher Columbus has been removed in Newark amid a wave of such removals across the country.

The monument was removed from Columbus Plaza on Bloomfield Avenue, outside the St. Francis Xavier Church, by private citizens around 6:30 p.m. Friday, according to several sources.

A city spokesman confirmed that the city did not remove the monument, and declined to comment on who actually took it down. Reportedly, the owner of the statue had it removed. 

  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R), who has long insisted voters should decide whether to remove the Confederate emblem from the state’s flag, said for the first time Saturday that he would sign a bill to change the banner if one is sent his way.
  • A Hoover, Alabama police officer was fired Friday for a social media post earlier this week that showed a protester in the crosshairs of a rifle scope.

The officer made the post on Facebook Tuesday in response to an article posted about protesters at the Georgia Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed.

The headline of that article was “Armed protesters remain at Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed. So what’s next?” The article was accompanied by a photo of a Black protester holding a shotgun.

In his response to the post, Officer Ryan Snow reposted the photo of the protester to show him in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. He wrote, “Exhale. Feel. Pause. Press steadily. That’s what’s next.”

  • Four police officers in San Jose, California, have been placed on leave while the department says it is investigating alleged racist and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook.

Screenshots published in a blog post on Medium by “the partner of an active law enforcement officer in a San Francisco Bay Area police department,” included posts that said, ““Black lives don’t really matter” and “I say re-purpose the hijabs into nooses.” The posts were made in a private Facebook group called 10–7ODSJ.

The FBI has been asked to assist in the probe

  • Federal prosecutors brought extortion charges against the man whose arrest this week sparked violence and destruction in Minneapolis.

U.S. Attorney Scott Blader filed the charges against Devonere Johnson, alleging he threatened to bash windows of downtown businesses unless employees gave him money. 

Blader also alleges Johnson, 28, threatened to “shut down and destroy” another business unless Johnson and his friends were provided free food and drinks.

Blader said Johnson sought to extort the business owners by taking advantage of protests and unrest following the death of George Floyd.

“Those who attempt to take advantage of recent events to extort local businesses under the guise of community activism will be vigorously prosecuted,” Blader said in a statement.

  • Protesters demonstrating over the death of Elijah McClain blocked Highway 225 in Aurora, Colorado Saturday evening.

McClain, a Black man who worked as a massage therapist, died last year following a confrontation with police officers in Aurora. An officer placed the main in a chokehold, and McClain later suffered a heart attack in an ambulance. He was declared brain dead three days later. 

McClain’s last words were caught on police body camera footage. In the footage, McClain could be heard saying, “I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me … I’m so sorry.”

  • According to police, at around 9 pm, shots were fired in Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, Kentucky. Personnel from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department performed live-saving measures on a male victim who eventually died.

Multiple eyewitnesses say a homeless man who had been kicked out of the park several times somehow acquired a gun and fired upon protestors. 

  • The president Retweeted a video of a supporter yelling “White Power” at counterprotesters in The Villages, a large retirement community in central Florida. The president praised his supporters, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages.”
  • White House spokesperson Judd Deere on Trump’s now-deleted tweet: “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”

Sources:  ABC News, 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: 5 Minutes

Protest/Race Relations News

  • Following years of criticism about the racist origins of the ride, Splash Mountain at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort will be re-themed to reflect the story of The Princess and the Frog, the company said Thursday. The re-themed ride has been planned since at least last year.
  • Native American activists have for years protested what they view as the desecration of the Black Hills, a sacred Lakota Sioux site that was sculpted into Mount Rushmore by KKK member Gutzon Borglum, saying “It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide.”

Now, as President Trump is set to visit next week, more protests are planned.

  • A New York police officer who allegedly used an illegal chokehold while conducting an arrest earlier this week has been detained and charged with second-degree strangulation. A viral video caught the officer holding a man in a chokehold as onlookers screamed: “Stop choking him! Let him go!”
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has directed officials in his office to reexamine the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man who died in police custody last year, after more than 2.6 million people signed a petition demanding justice.

McClain was placed in a chokehold by police and injected with ketamine after someone called 911 to report him as suspicious while he walked home from a convenience store.

  • Three employees of a Michigan youth center have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in the death of 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks. The Black teenager went into cardiac arrest and died of asphyxia after he was restrained by staff for allegedly throwing part of his sandwich at another resident.
  • A newly-released State Department report found that racial and ethnic terrorism — particularly white supremacist threats — are “on the rise and spreading geographically.” The report warned that white terrorist groups are increasingly targeting immigrants, LGBTQ people, as well as Jewish, Muslim and other religious minorities.
  • The University of Alabama football team released a powerful new video calling for “building a better, more just future” and saying that “All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.”

“We speak for justice, for fairness, for equality, for greater understanding. We stand together against racism, against brutality, against violence, for a better world.”

  • NAACP President Derrick Johnson sees some of the Trump administration’s actions on race and citizenship as reminiscent of the US before the Civil War, likening the president’s efforts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 that ruled Black Americans were not citizens.

“He’s operating from a space of creating a divisive tone, allowing for levels of racism to germinate from the White House.”

  • A new bill proposed by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst would withhold federal funding from local governments that don’t disband autonomous zones created by non-government figures and accused local leaders of not doing an adequate job keeping peace in their areas. The proposal comes as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan addresses what was initially dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and later the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest
  • New York City appears set to receive a “Black Lives Matter” street mural outside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, according to a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

“The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City. He can’t run or deny the reality we are facing, and any time he wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter,” Julia Arredondo, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported.

The statement will be painted along Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th streets in front of President Trump’s notable Manhattan building sometime before July 4.

The new mural is one of seven that will be added throughout the city’s five boroughs.

  • President Trump accused a Black Lives Matter leader of promoting treasonous activity and objected to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to install a street mural in support of the movement outside Trump Tower.

“Black Lives Matter leader states, ‘If the U.S. doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it,’” Trump tweeted Thursday. “This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!”

The president’s comments appeared to be in response to remarks made by Hawk Newsome, leader of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, in an interview Wednesday on Fox News about the movement’s objectives after the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

“If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. I can be speaking figuratively, I can be speaking literally, it’s a matter of interpretation.”

“Told that @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio wants to paint the fabled & beautiful Fifth Avenue, right in front of Trump Tower/Tiffany, with a big yellow Black Lives Matter sign. ‘Pigs in a Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon’, referring to killing Police, is their chant. NYC Police are furious!” Trump tweeted.

  • The Madison, Wisconsin police department is investigating a Wednesday assault as a hate crime after four white men allegedly poured lighter fluid and threw a lighter at a teenage bi-racial woman after yelling “the N-word really loud”. The 18-year-old, Althea Bernstein, works as an EMT and was in her car at a red light when the incident took place and said medical professionals “had to pretty much scrub the skin off, which was extremely painful.”
  • Prosecutors added hate crime charges Thursday against Harry H. Rogers, a self-identified leader in the Ku Klux Klan, accused of driving through peaceful protesters in Richmond.

Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor brought additional charges against Rogers, including four counts of assault with hate crimes, two counts of felonious attempted malicious wounding and one count of felony hit and run.

Video footage and photos shown during the hearing Thursday show Rogers driving onto the median to pass a group of cars behind an estimated 300 protesters headed north on Lakeside Avenue near Vale Street. From there, footage shows Rogers’ driving into at least two bicyclists and one demonstrator on foot.

  • The U.S. Senate voted 90-7 on Thursday to debate the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, setting the stage for a battle between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s Republicans over changing the names of military bases named after Confederate generals.
  • President Trump suggested unruly protesters who deface or topple monuments and statues will likely face “retribution,” likening them to “terrorists.”

Trump sat for a town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity during a trip to Wisconsin. During the question-and- answer session, one attendee asked what the government was doing to “give us back our streets” amid national unrest over racial injustice and police brutality.

“Every night we’re going to get tougher and tougher, and at some point there is going to be retribution because there has to be,” Trump said. “These people are vandals, but they’re agitators, but they’re really, they’re terrorists in a sense.”

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

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

Read Time: 2 Minutes

Protest/Race Relations News

  • GOP Sen. Josh Hawley unveiled a proposal to remove language in the mammoth defense bill that requires the Pentagon to implement a plan to rename Confederate-named bases and other military installations, saying the requirement “smacks of the cancel culture the Left wants to impose on the nation.”
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren and dozens of other Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would require the Pentagon to strip Confederate names from military bases and other property within one year.
  • NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace dismissed an FBI investigation that concluded a noose found in the garage he was recently assigned to at Talladega Superspeedway was a garage door pull that had been there since last year and not a hate crime directed at him, with the 26-year-old driver calling it “a straight-up noose” in an interview.
  • The National Guard has agreed to send unarmed members to assist U.S. Park Police in securing Washington’s national monuments.
  • GOP Sen. Mike Braun introduced legislation to scale back qualified immunity, an idea that divides Senate Republicans. 

Braun’s bill, titled the Reforming Qualified Immunity Act, would get rid of a current standard that shields police officers from civil lawsuits if their behavior didn’t  violate a “clearly established” law.

Instead, a police officer would be eligible for qualified immunity if the conduct in question “had previously been authorized or required by federal or state statute or regulation” or if a court has found it is “consistent with the Constitution and federal laws.”

  • Senate Democrats blocked a narrow Republican bill to incentivize police departments to change their tactics. They denounced the measure as an insufficient and irredeemably flawed answer to the problem of systemic racism in law enforcement.
  • The Department of Justice has told lawmakers that it is considering launching a probe into potential discriminatory practices taking place at the Minneapolis Police Department.
  • Three Wilmington, NC police officers – Michael ‘Kevin’ Piner, James ‘Brian’ Gilmore, and Jessie E. Moore II – have been fired after a customary review of dashcam footage revealed the officers engaging in racist conversations. Among the comments, Moore was discussing with Piner the arrest of a Black woman the previous day, “‘she needed a bullet in her head right then and move on. Let’s move the body out of the way and keep going.”

After more derogatory comments about the arrestee and the magistrate, the conversation took an even bleaker turn, as the two officers discussed an upcoming civil war.

“Piner tells Moore later in the conversation that he feels a civil war is coming and he is ‘ready.’ Piner advised he is going to buy a new assault rifle in the next couple of weeks. A short time later Officer Piner began to discuss society being close to ‘martial law’ and soon “we are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them fucking niggers. I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.”

  • The three white men arrested in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was chased while running in a South Georgia neighborhood, have been indicted on murder charges by a Georgia grand jury, the prosecutor in the case announced on Wednesday.

The men — Gregory McMichael, 64; his son Travis McMichael, 34; and their neighbor William Bryan, 50 — were arrested and charged last month with murder and other charges in connection with Mr. Arbery’s death, which prompted nationwide protests and indignation, particularly after a graphic video of his Feb. 23 killing was released online.

  • NASA will rename its Washington, D.C., headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the agency’s first Black woman engineer, Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday.

Jackson worked for seven years in the agency’s segregated West Area Computing division in 1951 before becoming an engineer in 1958. She had achieved the senior-most engineering title within NASA by 1979, and voluntarily took a demotion to work as an Equal Opportunity Specialist, seeking out accomplished women and minorities for recruitment within NASA.

Jackson retired in 1985 after 34 years at NASA; she died in 2005 at the age of 83.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Protest/Race Relations News

  • North Carolina’s governor called for the removal of Confederate monuments from State Capitol grounds on Saturday, citing public safety after anti-racism protesters in Raleigh pulled two statues down with ropes Friday night.
  • ▪NASCAR launched an investigation after noose was found in Black driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall. at the race in Alabama. It comes less than two weeks after Wallace successfully campaigned to ban the displaying of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. Wallace, who is the circuit’s only full-time Black driver, released a statement of his own, saying “This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down.”
  • South Africa’s last apartheid president, F.W. de Klerk, has withdrawn from a U.S. seminar about minority rights because he did not want to embarrass himself or his hosts in the current charged racial climate.

De Klerk was scheduled to speak at an American Bar Association virtual event on issues such as minority rights, racism and the rule of law.

  • Eight minority corrections officers in Minnesota have filed discrimination charges with the state’s Department of Human Rights after they were barred from guarding Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged in George Floyd’s death.

As Chauvin was brought to the lockup, all officers of color were ordered to another floor, according to the Star Tribune, which obtained a copy of the racial discrimination charges.

A supervisor told one of the minority officers that, because of their race, they would be a possible “liability” around Chauvin. 

“I understood that the decision to segregate us had been made because we could not be trusted to carry out our work responsibilities professionally around the high-profile inmate — solely because of the color of our skin,” wrote one acting sergeant, who is black, the Star Tribune reported.

“I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate,” the officer added.

  • At least one person is dead and another is in critical condition after a reported shooting early Saturday morning in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). 

The Seattle Police Department, which was driven out of the CHAZ by Black Lives Matter protesters last week, tweeted that it was investigating a shooting in the area.

  • The New York Police Department said on Sunday that it was investigating the use of force during an arrest of a black man in Queens, after cellphone video of the encounter that was posted online showed an officer appearing to use a chokehold on the man until he became limp.
  • Three Thousand Oaks, CA men — including two who worked as civilian employees for local law enforcement agencies — were recently arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign in Westlake Village, authorities said.

The sign, described as a tarp with the letters BLM painted on it, has been displayed on a fence on Westlake Boulevard for the past three weeks, officials said, and has been damaged or removed on several occasions.

The sign’s owner installed a surveillance camera which documented the damage, officials said. When video of one of the crimes was posted on social media, detectives with the sheriff’s office recognized the employee.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • In a CNN interview, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the coronavirus was a “product of the Chinese Communist party” and suggested without evidence that the potentially fatal virus may have been purposefully created by the Chinese government.
  • Navarro also defended the president’s statement that he directed officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down.” “Come on now, Jake. You know it was tongue in cheek. Come on now. That was tongue in cheek,” cutting off Tapper as he repeatedly asked about the president’s remarks.

“I don’t know that it was tongue in cheek at all,” Tapper retorted.

  • Navarro said that the White House was working to prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus in the fall, though he said it wouldn’t necessarily come.

“We are filling the stockpile in anticipation of a possible problem in the fall,” “We’re doing everything we can.”

  • Nationwide, cases have risen 15 percent over the last two weeks. Cases are rising in 18 states across the South, West and Midwest. Seven states hit single-day case records Saturday, and five others hit a record earlier in the week.
  • Spain opened its borders to most European countries and ended a state of emergency imposed to contain the coronavirus.
  • Chinese researchers have started phase 2 tests on humans of a possible vaccine against the new coronavirus.
  • Authorities in Germany’s Goettingen and North Rhine Westphalia regions have called on police to enforce quarantine measures following a rise in local coronavirus infections, which caused the country’s virus reproduction rate to spike.
  • The Trump administration is doing “a great job” reopening the country after lockdowns to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Sunday, as infections continued to spike in several states.
  • Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus, an official said on Sunday, as testing continued across the city to try to contain the spread of a fresh outbreak.
  • The drastic reduction in pollution during coronavirus lockdowns around the world should lead to greater concern for the environment as restrictions are lifted, Pope Francis said.
  • India’s drug regulator has given Hetero Labs the green light to manufacture and market its generic version of Gilead Science’s experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir.
  • Britain will outline its plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown this week, health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday, potentially relaxing the two-metre rule on social distancing, allowing many businesses to reopen in early July.

Administration News

  • The Tulsa Fire Department said just under 6,200 people attended President Trump’s campaign rally at the BOK Center in Oklahoma, a figure far short of the arena’s full capacity of 19,000 and well below the campaign’s expectations.
  • Trump was “furious about the unused outdoor stage and the comparatively thin crowd in the stadium,” according to two people familiar with his reaction. News broadcasts carried video of the partially empty stadium.
  • The family of Tom Petty sent a cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign after it played one of the rock legend’s songs, “I Won’t Back Down,” at a rally in Tulsa,OK: “Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”
  • At least 135 former U.S. attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys signed an open letter condemning the firing of former Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, saying that they “deplore” President Trump and Attorney General William Barr’s actions: “The actions of the President and the Attorney General are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner.”
  • President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said in an interview published Sunday that he intends to vote against Trump in November.

“In 2016 I voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Now, having seen this president up close, I cannot do this again. My concern is for the country, and he does not represent the Republican cause that I want to back.”

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Protest News

  • GOP Sen. John Cornyn will introduce legislation making Juneteenth, a commemoration of the emancipation of formerly enslaved African Americans, a federal holiday. The Texas lawmaker called the day “an opportunity to reflect on our history, the mistakes we have made, but yet how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and a reminder of just how far we still have to go.”
  • The watchdog for the Air Force is launching an investigation into whether the military improperly used reconnaissance aircraft to conduct surveillance on the protests over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis.
  • Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a top State Department official who has served since the beginning of President Trump’s administration, quit Thursday over Trump’s handling of the nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd and police brutality.

“The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions. I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs,” Taylor wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

  • Seattle’s largest labor group has expelled the city’s police union, citing unaddressed racism within the police force’s ranks.
  • Legislatures in 19 states and the District of Columbia have introduced more than 160 bills to address police violence in the three and a half weeks since the killing of George Floyd.
  • Little Rock, AK is the latest city to ban its police force from using neck restraints as a method to subdue and restrain individuals in custody. The police department will also institute a new “duty to intervene” policy that requires officers to stop fellow officers from using excessive force.
  • President Trump said he struggled to watch the entire video of George Floyd’s arrest and death at the hands of Minneapolis police, panning the officer now charged with his murder: “I couldn’t really watch it for that long a period of time, it was over eight minutes. Who could watch that? But it doesn’t get any more obvious or it doesn’t get any worse than that.”
  • A Richmond, Va., judge has indefinitely extended a hold on the removal of the city’s statue of Robert E. Lee two weeks after Gov. Ralph Northam announced it would be removed from public property.
  • Sen. Roy Blunt blocked the Senate from passing a bill to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered the removal of four portraits in the Capitol of previous House Speakers who served in the Confederacy.
  • The city council in Norman, OK has voted to cut $865,000 from the local police department budget and redirect most of the funds to community outreach efforts.
  • A Texas man is facing federal charges after authorities said he made racist and threatening comments against black people and Black Lives Matter protesters.

Manuel Flores, 42, of El Paso, was arrested on Monday and charged with transmitting threatening communications.

  • The Southeastern Conference demanded that Mississippi remove the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag. Without change, the commissioner warned, the conference might not hold future championship events in Mississippi.

Administration News

  • In a 5-4 ruling. the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from ending an Obama-era program that shields nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation, upending a key feature of President Trump’s immigration agenda. The justices ruled that the administration failed to give an adequate justification for terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, keeping it intact.
  • President Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he made “Juneteenth,” the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery that has been celebrated for more than a century, “very famous” by originally scheduling a campaign rally on the date.

“I did something good. I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

  • President Trump escalated his criticism of the Supreme Court after a pair of rulings this week went against his administration, calling for new justices to be appointed and pledging to release a new list of potential nominees ahead of November’s election.

Trump tweeted: “The recent Supreme Court decisions, not only on DACA, Sanctuary Cities, Census, and others, tell you only one thing, we need NEW JUSTICES of the Supreme Court. If the Radical Left Democrats assume power, your Second Amendment, Right to Life, Secure Borders, and…Religious Liberty, among many other things, are OVER and GONE!”

  • Facebook said it had taken action against ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate. The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups,” featured an upside-down triangle.

The Anti-Defamation League the triangle “is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.”

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol

  • The Environmental Protection Agency ended an Obama-era drive to regulate a widespread contaminant in drinking water linked to brain damage in infants. The agency rejected warnings that the move will mean lower IQs for an unknown number of American newborns.

Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s Wheeler said the decision to drop the introduction of federal limits for perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, ammunition and explosives, “fulfills President Trump’s promise to pare back burdensome ‘one-size-fits-all’ overregulation.

  • More than 1.5 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance in the second week of June, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday. Roughly 760,526 Americans also filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an extension of jobless benefits to workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic but do not qualify for standard unemployment insurance.
  • The National Park Service is awarding $1.9 million in grants to 12 Indian tribes and 18 museums in order to recover ancestral remains and cultural items from across the United States.
  • Twitter took the rare step of appending a warning label to one of President Trump’s tweets after the company determined it violated its policies on manipulated media.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The US is sitting on a pile of 66 million anti-malaria pills after they were scrapped as a treatment for COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA approved chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for use on hospitalized COVID-19 patients on March 28 but revoked less than three months later, following debate over their efficacy and safety.

  • Mark Lamb, an Arizona sheriff who in May said that he wouldn’t enforce a stay-at-home order during the pandemic, has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Trump at the White House.
  • A church in rural northeastern Oregon that was holding services in defiance of a stay-at-home order is now the epicenter of the state’s largest coronavirus outbreak, as 236 people tested positive for the disease.
  • Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said the lockdowns meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus saved “millions of lives.”

“But if you look at the data … the fact that we shut down when we did and the rest of the world did, has saved hundreds of millions of infections and millions of lives,” he said.

  • The Monroe County Commission in Florida has voted to require all visitors and residents of the Florida Keys to wear face masks at any business or establishment until June 2021.
  • Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida is asking local county officials to defer some of its $88,338 monthly rent as it has lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic and federally passed aid specifically blocks the president’s companies from benefitting.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas jumped 11 percent on Wednesday. The state now has 2,793 patients hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections.
  • Pro-Trump activist Brandon Straka was removed from an American Airlines flight from New York to Dallas after refusing to wear a mask in an incident caught on video by a New York Times reporter. Passengers applauded when he left the plane.
  • Florida’s Department of Health on Tuesday morning confirmed 2,783 additional cases of COVID-19, setting another daily total record high since the start of the pandemic. The state now has a total of 80,109 confirmed cases. The state now has less than 25% of its ICU beds available.

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