5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 25, 2020

Oh, welcome to Thursday all. It has been a day. That is really all I can say.

It has been a day. I hope everyone got to enjoy the slightly cooler weather. If you live in the Scotia/Glenville area as I do, please be mindful – as we discussed yesterday – and observe water conservation requirements.

Let’s get into it, shall we? From singing to SCOTUS to more Albany violence, there is a lot to cover.

1) The controversy of the National Anthem and sporting events is again the subject of nation-wide debate, as civil unrest continues in the wake of the many incidents involving the deaths of black people of color at the hands of the police.

Tulsa Athletic is a semi-professional soccer team that is part of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) that plays out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today, the organization announced it will no longer play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games, saying it does not correspond with their core values as an organization.

According to their press release this afternoon, the Tulsa Athletic’s will instead be honoring the country and showing their patriotism by playing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Co-owner of the Tulsa Athletics, Sonny Dalesandro, confirmed the switch is a more inclusive way to show patriotism and unity within the stadium.

The argument the Tulsa Athletic’s truly have behind changing their pre-game song hinges on the little known and rarely sung third verse to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Many people do not even know the National Anthem has a third (and fourth) verse, but it does. In that allusive third verse, there is a direct reference to slaves and their deaths at the hands of masters.

Mix in with that the knowledge that Francis Scott Key was a slave-holder that fully believed in the institution. Key agreed with the idea that the black people of color forced into the slave trade were not equal to white men and were in the right spot for their station in life lends itself to the Tulsa Athletic’s argument.

Tulsa Athletic has stated that all are invited to join in singing Guthrie’s love letter to the US as it is played, and emphasized that any form of “patriotic expression” is allowed, invited and welcomed at the stadium – as long as done with respect to others expressions.

This is not the first time the singing of the National Anthem before sporting events has come under debate as being improper. Just last week, Bruce Arena, former coach of the US National Men’s soccer team, told ESPN that he does not think the song should be played at such events, noting that he feels it often puts people in awkward or uncomfortable positions.

“We don’t use the national anthem in movie theaters and on Broadway, other events in the United States and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game, an MLS game.”
-Bruce Arena, former US Men’s National Soccer Team coach

Earlier in June, the US Soccer Federation itself repealed the policy they had in place that required all players to stand during the song. That policy was first enacted when Megan Rapinoe, midfielder on the US Women’s National Team, kneeled during the anthem to show solidarity with the protest started by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers.

The Tulsa Athletic will start their new pre-game tradition at the Equality Cup, which is a league sponsored match. Their first game will be in Tulsa versus Minneapolis City at Veterans Park. There is no date set yet.

2) In our continued SCOTUS watch, today, a ruling gave President Donald Trump’s signature issue of immigration a bump.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that if people coming into the country do not make a valid case for asylum during their initial screening, they can be put onto the fast-track for deportation with no repercussion available to them in any federal courts. The case for asylum made has to be a genuine and certifiable claim that they are in fear of persecution in their homeland.

The case was brought by a Sri Lanka man named Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He was caught by federal border agents north of the US-Mexico border. He claimed that since he is part of Sri Lanka’s minority the Tamil, Thuraissigiam would be facing severe danger and harm if he was to go back. He spoke of previously being kidnapped and beaten but had no clue why he had been attacked.

Thuraissigiam’s initial plea for asylum was denied, and he, therefore, filed a Habeas corpus petition, which invokes Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the Constitution, which protects against illegal detention by a person by the state. It has been upheld by case law and legislation. However, today SCOTUS ruled that this was not an option available to Thuraissigiam.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion for the majority. According to that opinion, Habeas corpus is for reliving unlawful detention, not a path to federal courts. The opinion also stated that migrants who have not been lawfully admitted to the US, and therefore do not necessarily have protections to constitutional rights – up to and including the rights of due process.

Dissenting were liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayer. They claim that ruling against constitutional protections for those seeking asylum is wrong, and that this decision can help to lead to more errors in immigration decisions and judgments.

The case, opinion, and dissent can be found here.

An ACLU lawyer, Lee Gelernt, represented Thuraissigiam. Gelernt responded to the ruling with disappointment, stating that the opinion flies in the face of the Constitution, and our founding father’s intent to protect all who are being denied liberties by guaranteeing them a day in court. He went on to say that this will undoubtedly lead to people being wrongly deported and put them into seriously dangerous situations.

The Trump administration has long blasted the asylum system for being abused, claiming that most asylum, please are unmerited. Trump and his administration have pushed to go back to the days where anyone here who is undocumented can be deported with no hearings quickly as long as detained within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of their entry – but they want to apply it to anyone anywhere in the country within TWO YEARS of their entry.

3) In some lighter news for the Empire State, today was the first day you might have seen the new license plate design for NYS. The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles said that today, in approximately one dozen counties in NYS, the new plates have begun being phased into the rotation.

The DMV refers to these plates as the Excelsior plates, and the plan is for them to eventually replace both of the previous designs gracing current NYS registered vehicles, including the recent model, know as Empire Gold plates, with a mustard-yellow backing featuring blue numbers.

The new plate is white, with images of the Adirondack Mountains, a Lighthouse, the Manhattan Skyline, Niagra Falls, and the Statue of Liberty line the bottom. The numbering and lettering are blue, and the official state motto of “Excelsior” is below the numbers in gold.

Any county that has depleted its Empire Gold inventory has begun issuing these plates. For all renewals, there will be an option to keep your old plates, get the same number on new plates for $20, or get new plates with new numbers for $25. As always, registration renewals will be based upon the type/size of your vehicle.

DMV spokesperson Lisa Koumjian said that the new plates will be issued in Albany, Columbia, Franklin, Greene, Madison, Oneida, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schuyler, St. Lawrence, Tioga, Warren, Wyoming and Yates counties, as they have all gone through their Empire Gold plates. Koumjian added that many dealerships will be issuing the plates throughout the state.

This design was decided on last year by online votes between many different proposed designs. At that point, Governor Andrew Cuomo planned on requiring all drivers who had plates that were at least ten years old to buy the new ones at their own expense. He decided against that when there was significant pushback

4) Unfortunately, in a story we have been following from the start, there is another shooting in Albany to talk about.

Albany Police Department is investigating what was to become a fatal shooting last night. 23-year-old Eddie Richardson was taken to Albany Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the torso. He was pronounced dead at AMC.

The fourth shooting to happen in less than 12 hours yesterday became another fatal one in the multitude of shootings that have happened in Albany since last Thursday. Last night’s incident was in the Second Ave area of Grandview Terrace, at approximately 11:50 PM.

Yesterday, Mayor Kathy Sheehan issued a warning that there would be an increased police presence in light of the violence that has been ramping up over the past week and especially over the short period yesterday.

Around 1:20 p.m., the APD responded to a shooting around South Pearl St and Morton Ave. There was a male shot in the torso multiple times. He was transferred to AMC. At 5:15 PM, APD confirmed that this victim succumbed to his wounds, and the investigation is now being treated as a homicide.

About an hour later, there was a second shooting at First and Quail, where APD says that as a group of people were driving down Quail, they began firing in the opposite direction. According to Chief Eric Hawkins, an older woman was hit in the neck by a stray bullet.

The APD confirmed a third shooting occurred at around 8 p.m. The victim was a male, 16, and was sent to AMC with non-life-threatening wounds to his leg.

5)  Some local businesses joined forces to help support Glens Falls Hospital while also having some fun at the current state of social distancing. The result? Inactive Wear.

Fountain Square Outfitters typically sell activewear, which gave them the idea of selling the opposite in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown. They teamed up with Trampoline Design and developed the quarantine-themed line. The clothing is comfortable, snarky, and all proceeds go to Glens Falls Hospital.

The owners are interested in finding other people to help out with the project. Let us know in the comments below if you know of any business that may be interested in this!!

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

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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