5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 17, 2020

Another week, another hump day, CivMixers. It is yet another lovely day, and I hope that everyone is enjoying the great weather we are having.

So, a little tidbit here, CivMixers. I know in Rise and Shine today, Liz shared some history with you of what has happened on this day in history. I found that ironic because I had the same thing in mind today.

Five years ago today, nine black lives were taken during a shooting at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. In 1994, America was glued to the screen, watching a slow-speed chase by OJ Simpson in California with the infamous white Bronco. In 1775, the battle of Bunker Hill began on this day as well. Finally, today in 1972, the Watergate burglars were arrested.

Let’s break down the news for the day.

1) This past Friday, Rayshard Brooks, 27, was shot and killed by police outside of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta, GA after he failed a field sobriety test. He had fought the officers, grabbed one of their Tasers, then ran away from them into the night. They gave chase, and he was later shot from behind multiple times.

Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot at Brooks three times, was charged with felony murder today, and the other officer on scene, Devin Brosnan, was charged with aggravated assault, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced.

Rolfe was fired after the footage that showed him shoot Brooks from behind multiple times was viewed. After shooting Brooks, Rolfe said “I got him” and kicked him. Brosnan then stood on Brooks’ shoulder, Howard said. The officers did not provide medical aid to Brooks for over two minutes after shooting him, Howard said.

In the wake of the incident, Atlanta’s police chief resigned. The APD recently released Rolfe’s personnel record that shows he was the subject of a written reprimand in 2017 stemming form a 2016 complaint about his use of force. There were multiple other complaints filed by citizens that were noted as no action taken.

The two officers have been asked to surrender by tomorrow, and arrest warrants have been issued for both.

2) Cases of the novel coronavirus in both Arizona and Florida spiked again today, with both states reporting their second-highest one-day increase. This comes one day after six states, including both of the above as well as Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas, reported record high increases in the rate of COVID-19 infections.

In Florida, the number reported today was over 2,600, and in Arizona it was 1,800. Also of concern: Hospitalizations due to COVID are rising, and this is a number that can not be attributed to more testing, as some newly reported infections can be.

In AZ, ICU beds reached a record high at 83 percent occupied. In FL, much of the increase is being attributed to bars reopening, as people crowded in after being isolated and locked down for months. Overly crowded, indoor spaces make it easy for the virus to be transmitted.

Bars are seen as the culprit in TX as well. However, OR has more than 200 cases that can be traced back to one single church. In OK, there is a fear for the upcoming Trump rally, where participants are being told they have to sign a waiver recognizing they have no recourse if they get sick.

A judge recently ruled in favor of the campaign, denying a lawsuit that was trying to force COVID regulations to be enforced to hold the event.

Mike Pence, Vice President, did say yesterday that they are considering some other venues within Tulsa for the rally, maybe even some outdoor ones. The VP refused to indulge in the contemplation of a rise in cases, stating the increased numbers were due to more testing, not a second wave.

Meanwhile, in NYS, frequent Trump detractor Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed his joy that NYS has gone from being the epicenter of the US COVID infections to having the lowest infection rate across the country.

In the US, over 2.1 million have been infected, and more than 116,000 have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This is by far the highest rate globally.

3) Yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially signed a piece of legislation that will require all New York State Police to wear body cameras when they are on duty and patrolling.

This bill is one of the many reforms made by way of legislation by the New York State government to help deal with what is known to be an ongoing issue across the country. They are hoping to deal with racism, inequality within the justice system, and incidents of police brutality by individual officers using their power to abuse minorities, marginalized communities, and specifically black POCs.

According to this specific piece of legal reform, all NYS troopers must wear body cameras when on duty. They must switch them on when responding to a call or otherwise interacting with members of the public.

Gov. Cuomo signed another piece of reform that created a specific unit that will be reviewing, studying, and auditing current procedures within police agencies.  They will then make recommendations to help police not only serve their communities better but also help them to protect the civil liberties and rights of all members of their community.

By the end of last week, NYS legislators had passed ten reform bills for the police within the state. This is in response to the nationwide unrest after the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis.  On Friday, the governor had signed four of those into law.

This week, he signed two more bills on Monday, and this one yesterday, the majority now full-fledged laws. Yesterday, Gov. Cuomo gave a briefing in which he spoke about an executive order he issued last week that requires all law enforcement agencies to implement all reforms per community-related issues by April 1, 2021. If they do not do so, they will risk losing their state funding. He is hopeful that this order will force agencies to comply with the needed changes.

Gov. Cuomo stated that there are now the legal tools needed for communities and police to work together and reconcile within the communities. He pointed out that there are still over 280 days left to do this. He stressed the importance of NYS, helping to lead the way in reforming the way the police and communities they work within work together.

 

“The relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve isn’t working,” the governor said. “New York is the progressive capital of the nation, and we are leading the way by enacting real reforms to increase transparency in policing, promote accountability among our law enforcement agencies and ultimately mend that frayed relationship between the police and the community.”
-New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

4) I know that I usually do two regional stories, but today I am going to cover two state-wide headlines. Wild and crazy stuff here, CivMixers – hang on.

Today, Cuomo announced that he would be taking steps to make Juneteenth an officially recognized holiday in New York.

He is going to sign an executive order that recognizes Juneteenth as an official holiday for New York State employees. The elevation of the holiday is occurring in the aftermath of the international protests that have been continuously happening since May 25 and the George Floyd homicide at the hands of Derek Chauvin, ex-Minneapolis police officer now charged with manslaughter.

5) In Niskayuna, a town official has been suspended without pay from his position. This suspension comes after some old social media photos re-surfaced that are of a racially insensitive matter. The matter is being investigated while he is on unpaid suspension.

A local group called “Progressive Schenectady” brought the issue to the town’s attention, and the suspension and investigation occurred within hours. The post appears to be about two years old. Both Progressive Schenectady and Niskayuna Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed made it clear that there will be no discrimination tolerated in Niskayuna.

According to Syed, the investigation will be done by an outside third party to ensure the investigation is fair to all sides, and that whatever is found, the town will take proper disciplinary action.

That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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