Headlines: June 12, 2020
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As protests against police brutality continue around the nation, one of the increasingly common expressions from protesters is aimed at historic statues celebrating confederate and colonialist leaders. And some elected officials are on board. In Houston, Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner has approved the relocation of two confederate statues that currently occupy public spaces to locations where their historical framework is more relevant. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced her support for the removal of confederate statues from Washington DC and for the renaming of military bases. She said, “The American people know these names have to go. These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country.” Her remarks come at the same time that the Congressional Black Caucus introduced a bill to remove confederate statues from Washington DC. Senator Cory Booker who introduced companion legislation in the Senate said, “Those who committed treason against the United States of America and led our nation into its most painful and bloody war to preserve the institution of slavery are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space.” Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, New Mexico thousands signed a petition to remove two statues of Spanish colonizer Juan de Oñate. ABC News explained that, “In the last two weeks, locations such as Richmond, Virginia, Jacksonville, Florida and Indianapolis, Indiana, have quickly moved to remove Confederate statues and memorials from public places.” Bucking the Democratic Party trend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he opposes the removal of Christopher Columbus’s statues because apparently they, “represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York.” Several of Columbus’s statues have been destroyed – beheaded, splashed with red paint, or torn down and dumped in a lake.
President Donald Trump who has expressed support for the confederate symbols of white supremacy faced an awkward interview from a Fox News host. Harris Faulkner, a black female Fox host asked him during a sit-down interview about recent statements he made against protesters of police brutality. Trump’s claim that former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo made the statement he echoed has been proven false. Meanwhile Trump is moving ahead with his controversial choice for his first political rally in months taking place on Juneteeth in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When Faulkner asked him about the rally he confirmed that the location and date were chosen on purpose and said, “Think about it as a celebration. They’re always a celebration.” It has now emerged that the Trump campaign will be requiring attendees to absolve the campaign of liability if they become infected with the coronavirus.
Louisville, Kentucky’s city council this week unanimously passed what they called Breonna’s Law, banning no knock-warrants of the kind that police used when they entered Breonna Taylor’s home earlier this year and killed her while she was sleeping. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that a majority of Americans support most of the reforms that the Democrats recently introduced as part of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020: “82% of Americans want to ban police from using chokeholds, 83% want to ban racial profiling, and 92% want federal police to be required to wear body cameras.” More than 90% want, “independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct.” Trump, who has remained silent on the bill, has announced he wants to sign an executive order whose title is all that is known so far: Force With Compassion.
The Los Angeles Times has published an extensive investigation into the use of force by Los Angeles Police Department officers in response to protests against police brutality. Reporters found, “officers using extreme and at times violent measures against protesters, seemingly without following department protocols around the implementation and escalation of force — which themselves offer little by way of guidance.” In Buffalo, New York where officers were caught on camera shoving a 75-year old man to the ground, it is now reported that the victim, Martin Gugino, suffered a brain injury. Trump had claimed without evidence that Gugino had faked his own assault.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent answer to a Twitter user’s question about defunding the police has gone viral. She wrote, “It looks like a suburb,” and went on to explain, “Affluent white communities already live in a world where the choose to fund youth, health, housing etc more than they fund police… When a teenager or preteen does something harmful in a suburb … White communities bend over backwards to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to ‘protect their future,’ like community service or rehab or restorative measures. Why don’t we treat Black and Brown people the same way?”
The coronavirus pandemic is still very much here as more and more states are finding out. After hundreds of new cases of infection were reported in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has delayed the reopening of her state’s businesses by one week. In Houston, Texas, officials are close to resuming a lockdown as cases skyrocket in the nation’s fourth largest city. In North Carolina where every day more than 1,000 new cases are documented, the state is also considering re-imposing stay-at-home orders. In Los Angeles County, California, the nation’s most populous county cases are rising alarmingly high and officials fear that hospitals will run out of intensive care unit beds in 2-4 weeks. In Arizona, the state’s largest hospital system says its intensive care unit is, “nearly full and will soon exceed capacity.”
Infectious disease experts say that the US is not technically in a second wave of infections because the first wave did not end. Despite all these warning signs and statements by health officials, the Trump administration refuses to accept that the virus is still a danger. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox, “There is no emergency. There is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the White House is seriously considering a second round of economic stimulus checks for Americans. Meanwhile President Trump has ensured that the millions of businesses that received billions of tax dollars in pandemic-related aid will not be scrutinized. The list of businesses will be kept a secret – a serious breach of precedent. Mnuchin has claimed that the names of the businesses are “proprietary,” and “confidential,” even though they benefited from public dollars. The advocacy group Public Citizen called the move, “Unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption,”
The Republican National Convention will be moving from Charlotte, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. The Trump campaign reportedly balked at North Carolina’s decision to limit crowd sizes due to the pandemic. The convention, which will be held in late August, is now set to take place in what the Wall Street Journal called Trump’s, “most prized swing state.” And finally after accusing CNN of faking a poll that showed Trump losing badly to Joe Biden, his new favorite conservative outlet commissioned a poll but suppressed the results as they were not to their liking. The One America News network commissioned a poll by a discredited polling agency of voters only in Florida and produced a video report of the results. The poll was then unexpectedly pulled.