The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

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Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation on Tuesday, one day after the Seattle City Council cut the police department’s budget, as part of reform efforts following mass protests against police violence.
  • The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody in August of last year, is suing Aurora, Colorado police and medical officials over his death. McClain died after walking home from the grocery store as police responded to a suspicious person and he was injected with ketamine.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, McClain’s death has drawn renewed national attention.

  • “This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing and morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality,” The Rev. Jesse Jackson said, condemning the looting reported in Chicago and asserting it’s not related to the broader movement fighting for Black Lives Matter.
  • An Indiana man has been charged with a hate crime by the Justice Department, which says he displayed swastikas, burning crosses and signs with racial slurs in an attempt to intimidate his Black neighbor. He also allegedly egged the neighbor’s house and played “Dixie,” an unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, on repeat.
  • A Colorado police officer has been placed on temporary suspension after it was learned he posted online comments under a fake name saying “kill them all” about Black Lives Matter protesters on a livestream of protests. Sgt. Keith Wrede was handed a 40-hour suspension, which he noted amounted to more than $2,000 in lost pay.
  • Harry H. Rogers, a 36-year-old self-proclaimed KKK leader, was convicted of six misdemeanors and sentenced to 12 months in jail for each after he drove a car through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. He still faces three felony charges of attempted malicious wounding.
  • “I would say this: If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” President Trump said in a new interview expressing hopes that the NFL is able to open during the coronavirus pandemic with the caveat that he wants players to stop participating in kneeling protests against racial injustice during the national anthem.
  • A federal judge ruled that an Idaho law, signed by GOP Gov. Brad Little, banning transgender people from altering the gender on their birth certificates is unconstitutional.

Trump Administration

  • Most Department of Veterans Affairs prescriptions are fulfilled by mail. But as U.S. Postal Service delays mount, veterans are reporting long wait times to receive critical medication and VA staff says the problem is growing.

VA’s mail-order pharmacy system processes nearly half a million prescriptions daily and each day, more than 330,000 veterans receive a package of prescriptions in the mail. Veterans who live further from VA medical facilities, especially in rural and remote areas of the country, often depend on mail-order prescriptions.

The delays are a direct result of policies instituted by Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.

  • President Trump’s interest in taking intelligence briefings has been declining steadily since his first months in office and has dropped to near zero in recent weeks, according to a review of all of his daily schedules.

Trump went from a high of 4.1 briefings per week on average in March 2017 to 0.7 per week since July 1, shortly after it became public that he had ignored intelligence reports about Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Monday’s briefing, in fact, was the first in August and the first since July 22. That month had only three briefings scheduled.

  • A U.S. district court struck down the legal opinion used to justify the Trump administration’s coming rollback of protections for migratory birds late Monday, writing that the Department of the Interior memo was “contrary to law.”

The Trump administration had suggested a change that would only punish big oil and gas companies for killing birds on purpose, but not if it was accidental.

  • A government assessment recently obtained by an environmental group appears to link a well the group says is used in U.S.-Mexico border wall construction to low water levels in wildlife habitats at an Arizona refuge with endangered species.
  • A federal appeals court appeared unsympathetic to arguments that it should order a district court judge to dismiss criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Presidential Campaign

  • The Democratic National Convention announced its speaker lineup. Notable speakers include: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. 
  • In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014
  • Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto fact-checked the Trump campaign’s assertion that Sen. Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist, noting that she “never did.”

The fact check followed Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson falsely claiming: “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received.”

  • President Trump is claiming that Sen. Kamala Harris was his “number one pick” to be Joe Biden’s running mate, knocking her unsuccessful presidential bid and complaining at length that she was “nasty” to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as Biden.

“She was extraordinarily nasty to Judge Kavanaugh… She was nasty to to a level that was just a horrible thing,” Trump said. “She was very very nasty, she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden.”

  • President Trump and his campaign debuted their first video ad targeting Sen. Kamala Harris just minutes after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named her as his running mate on Tuesday, trying to brand her as “phony” and him as “slow.”
  • In a racially charged statement, President Trump claimed he had such good poll numbers before the pandemic that “George Washington would have had a hard time beating me before the plague came in, before the China plague. And then, you know, like every other nation, like other countries, when you get hit, it affects you, and we went down a little bit.”
  • President Trump on Tuesday defended his “reluctance to embrace” United States intelligence agencies as he continues to question the latest reports that Russia is meddling in the 2020 election.

“If the first people you met from so called American Intelligence were Dirty Cops who have now proven to be sleazebags at the highest level like James Comey, proven liar James Clapper, & perhaps the lowest of them all, Wacko John Brennan who headed the CIA, you could perhaps understand my reluctance to embrace!”

  • Attendees at the Republican National Convention will be required to wear masks and badges that allow them to be tracked through Bluetooth technology that will help contact trace people should anyone contract coronavirus.
  • The progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, 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

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Protests/Race Relations News

  • Boston city officials voted to remove “The Emancipation Statue” depicting President Lincoln standing tall above a formerly enslaved Black man kneeling at his feet. Critics argue the controversial monument is a “reductive representation” of the role Black Americans played in the abolition movement and the Civil War.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Thursday he plans to introduce legislation withholding federal funding for states and cities that don’t enforce laws protecting statues and monuments.
  • GOP Rep. Andy Biggs is calling for the White House to dissolve its coronavirus task force so that health officials like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx can’t contradict many of Trump’s “stated goals and actions” when it comes to the economy.
  • U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) are proposing scrapping Columbus Day as a federal holiday and replacing it with Juneteenth.
  • Newly released body-camera footage shows two officers laughing about shooting protesters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with rubber bullets, with one saying, “Did you see me fuck up those motherfuckers?” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione defended the footage and said his officers were under attack.

Video shows protesters were mostly peaceful, however, and police were responding to a water bottle being thrown at them because another officer had pushed a kneeling woman to the ground.

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has confirmed that soldiers who were deployed to Washington, D.C. to quell the protests over George Floyd’s death were given bayonets, knife-like attachments for rifles and other guns that allow them to be used as spears.

The members of the division and the regiment never were sent to the demonstrations to respond and were told no weapons would enter the city without orders or before nonlethal response methods were analyzed.

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson called on protesters across the U.S. to cease efforts to dismantle statues of some historical figures and called on state leaders to dismantle “autonomous zones,” an apparent reference to the now-dismantled Seattle Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone.
  • The NFL is planning to have “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing,” long referred to as the Black national anthem, played or performed before games during the first week of this year’s season.
  • An Aurora, CO police officer who was involved in taking pictures reenacting the police chokehold used on Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died three days after the encounter, has resigned from the force.

The photos show officers from the Aurora Police Department posing inappropriately near his memorial site and reenacting the carotid restraint used on McClain before his death

  • A husband and wife were charged with assault Thursday, one day after pulling a gun on a Black mother and her two daughters amid an alteration in Oakland County, Mich.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper charged Jillian and Eric Wuestenberg with one count each of felonious assault.

  • As statues are removed in the U.S., Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered to take the statues and move them to Spain. Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya has sent diplomatic letters to “federal, state and local authorities” in the United States to address the issue. 

“We have made them aware of the importance we award to this shared history with the United States, as shared as it is unknown.”

  • Parole, a historically Black suburb of Annapolis, MD, will soon be the site of a large mural of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman who was fatally shot by police in her home in Kentucky earlier this year.

According to The Capitol Gazette, the mural of Taylor, which also will feature the phrase “Black Lives Matter” along with her date of birth and death, is expected to span 7,000-square feet across several basketball courts at Chambers Park, with creators aiming to make it visible from space.

  • FedEx has requested the NFL’s Washington team change its name from the Redskins. A FedEx spokesperson released this statement: “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”

FedEx is the title sponsor of the team stadium in Landover, MD.

  • Fans of Waverly-Shell Rock High School baseball team in Iowa taunted the opposition’s only Black player with racially charged insults. Charles City High School’s Center Fielder, Jeremiah Chapman, said, “They called me Colin — I assumed they were just calling me Colin Kaepernick.” After making a play, “They said, ‘You need to go back to the fields to do your job.’”

“They looked at me and said, ‘You should have been George Floyd,'” the Minneapolis man killed by a police officer. “Then they started chanting ‘Trump 2020,'” Chapman said.

Waverly-Shell Rock High School put out a statement on their Facebook page saying they “fully acknowledge” the remarks happened. “This behavior is unacceptable. We make no excuses, because there are none,” the post said. “We do, however, wish to make a sincere apology to the Charles City school district and community and, in particular, the young man towards whom these comments were directed.”

Administration News

  • The U.S. Supreme Court says it will decide whether US House investigators can get access to grand jury material from Mueller’s special counsel team; the court will hear the case during the new term in the fall, delaying Congress’ potential access to the material.
  • The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June.
  • The Commerce Department’s internal watchdog is accusing the department of “actively preventing” it from releasing a full report expected to detail a “flawed process” during what is now known as the Sharpiegate controversy.
  • The Trump administration has reportedly awarded a contract to a California-based tech startup to set up hundreds of “autonomous surveillance towers” along the U.S.-Mexico border to aid its immigration enforcement efforts. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Thursday that the towers, which use artificial intelligence and imagery to identify people and vehicles, were now a “program of record” for the agency and that 200 would be deployed along the southern border by 2022.

  • A little-known North Dakota construction firm that was awarded the single largest border wall contract–after its CEO praised the president in a slew of conservative media appearances–is now defending its product as experts warn the structure is in danger of collapsing, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune reported Thursday.

Several experts interviewed for the report said poor planning and shoddy engineering have left the wall “in danger of falling into the Rio Grande.”

  • Mark Burkhalter, president Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Norway, is facing demands that he abandon his pursuit of the diplomatic post following the unearthing of a 1994 court filing indicating his involvement in the production of a racist campaign flier against an African American politician in Georgia.

Burkhalter  helped create a flier that distorted and exaggerated the features of Gordon Joyner, a candidate for county commissioner in north-central Georgia. Joyner was pictured with some features darkened, a large Afro, enlarged eyebrows and a warped eye.

Joyner sued for libel, resulting in an out-of-court settlement, an apology signed by Burkhalter and three other men, and payment of an undisclosed sum.

  • Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, who resigned last month under pressure from Attorney General William Barr, will testify to the House Judiciary Committee next week about the circumstances of his departure, according to a congressional aide.
  • Weeks after the firing of former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, Richard Donoghue, a top Washington deputy to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, is under consideration to replace an outgoing prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, CNN reported.
  • Former Trump administration officials said President Trump’s national security advisers began limiting their briefing of the president on matters relating to Russia due to his frequent pushback on such assessments, CNN reported.

Former officials responsible for briefing Trump on national security issues said they found he frequently became angry when being presented with intelligence implicating Russia in political interference.

“The president has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn’t favorable to Russia,” a former senior national security staffer told the network.

  • President Trump retweeted a series of tweets from ACT for America, which is an anti-Muslim hate group. 

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: 3 Minutes

  • Walmart will stop selling “All Lives Matter” merchandise, a phrase typically used to counter Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

“We fundamentally believe all lives do matter and every individual deserves respect. However, as we listened, we came to understand that the way some, but not all, people are using the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ in the current environment intentionally minimized the focus on the painful reality of racial inequity.”

  • Hulu has removed a 1988 episode of “The Golden Girls” in which actresses Betty White and Rue McClanahan wear black mud on their faces as some were concerned it could be mistaken as black face. But the removal is being met with pushback as many Black activists say it is not anything advocates have pushed for and takes away from actual demands and policy change being requested.
  • Protesters outside of City Hall reportedly clashed with New York Police Department  officers on Tuesday morning ahead of an expected vote on a city budget that includes a $1 billion cut to the NYPD.  

Police in riot gear are seen pushing protesters back, in video footage reported by ABC News. 

The clash between protesters and police followed the arrest of an 18-year-old from Brooklyn who police said was caught spray-painting a statue outside of City Hall at 2:40 a.m. on Tuesday, ABC reported.

  • Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday signed into law a measure that removes the Mississippi state flag, which features the blue bars and white stars of the Confederate battle flag. The legislation requires it to be removed within 15 days.
  • Facebook has removed a network of anti-government accounts associated with the fringe “boogaloo” movement after designating the group as a dangerous organization, the company said. The network, which represents a subset of the broader movement, actively planned violence, Facebook said, though it declined to share additional details, saying it did not want to interfere with ongoing law enforcement investigations.

On Tuesday afternoon, the company removed: 220 Facebook accounts.95 Instagram accounts, 28 Facebook pages, 106 Facebook groups, 

In addition, Facebook removed more than 400 other groups and 100 other pages that were “hosting similar content as the violent network but were maintained by accounts outside of it.” As of today, the boogaloo network will fall under Facebook’s policy for Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, which bans posts “praising, supporting, or representing it.”

  • Injured Buffalo protester Martin Gugino has been released from the hospital, nearly four weeks after he was pushed to the ground by two Buffalo police officers.
  • The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it is reviewing Elijah McClain’s death to determine if a federal civil rights probe is “warranted.”

McClain, a Black man who worked as a massage therapist, died after a confrontation with police. Police placed McClain in a chokehold, and the man then experienced a heart attack in an ambulance before being declared brain dead three days later. 

His last words were documented on police body camera footage: “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.”

  • The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the first step in a plan to replace Los Angeles Police Department officers with community-based, unarmed emergency responders for non-violent calls for service.
  • A Fort Lauderdale police officer captured on video last month appearing to push over a kneeling protester who had her hands up was charged with battery on Tuesday, authorities said.
  • The president Tweeted: “I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!”

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