5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 29, 2020

Just like that, it is Monday again. I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. It was a little rainy at points yesterday, but no complaints here, since the rain is desperately needed.

I have had a horrible time with my asthma recently, and have had to do breathing treatments daily – if not multiple times a day. I have talked to a few other people with similar issues, and they have experienced flare-ups as well.

So watch yourself, know your body, and be cognizant of the crummy air quality.

I assume this has to do with the pollen counts have been higher. Remember, if you are having issues with allergies or asthma after being outside, there is plenty to do when you get inside to help. You should shower and change your clothes. Make sure you have your medicines filled and accessible.

Also, even if you may be able to shut off your air conditioners because it’s cooler at the moment, you may want to run them anyway if only to help keep the allergens out of your house – and your system.

Today was rainy and even stormy. I hope that the power holds and doesn’t go out as it has bumped a few times, and I forgot to plug my computer in last night.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people turned up in New York City this weekend and marched in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Pride Parade that was technically canceled due to COVID-19 restraints. Many also held signs or wore clothing that showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yesterday, officials in the final hold-out – the state of Mississippi – voted to approve the process to change their flag by removing the symbol of the Confederacy. The current Mississippi flag was adopted in 1894. The flag is red, white, and blue and has the Confederate Battle Emblem on its corner.

The bill establishes a committee to come up with a new design that will remove the Confederate Battle Emblem and replace it with the words “In God We Trust.” Whatever the design, it will be voted on in November. Mississippi’s governor, Republican Tate Reeves, has agreed to sign the bill into law.

Shall we see what other headlines are leading off the week for us?

1) In California, Joseph Jame DeAngelo, a 74-year-old former police officer, entered a plea of guilty to the first of multiple counts of murder attributed to a long sought-after serial predator known as the “Golden State Killer.”

For years, many break-ins, rapes, and murders plagued the Golden State and kept people in fear. The crimes date back to the mid-1970s. The plea DeAngelo entered today was just the beginning of a much larger deal with prosecutors covering 13 different counts of first-degree murder from 11 different counties.

The plea allows for DeAngelo to be spared from facing the death penalty for his crimes and condemns him to life in prison with no possibility of parole. The prosecutors also stated that one of the inspirations behind the plea was to save the survivors, their families, victims’ families, and scores of other witnesses – including some law enforcement agents – to be protected from a long drawn out case.

DeAngelo appeared at the hearing wearing a typical orange jail jumpsuit, in a wheelchair, and between his two lawyers. He pleaded guilty in a raspy voice.

DeAngelo was caught in 2018 after four decades of investigation. The case was solved thanks to the modern-day use of DNA.

The breakthrough came from a renewed interest in the “Golden State Killer” approximately two months following the release of “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a national best-selling book on the matter.

The trial today was held in a Sacrament State University ballroom instead of a courthouse to let everyone involved abide by CA’s social distancing protocol due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a strange twist of fate, HBO premiered a docu-series this past Sunday that was inspired by the bestselling novel, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”

2) Another Monday, another decision day at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled to block the Louisiana abortion law that barred doctors from performing abortions unless they had admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

All four liberal justices voted in the majority and were joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote his own separate concurrent opinion.

Justice Stephen Breyer authored the majority decision, arguing that the LA law is, in fact, unconstitutional. Breyer also stated that due to general opposition to abortion in the state, some of the hospitals could and did bar doctors from having admitting privileges and that the law was likely to cause almost every clinic that provides abortion services to be shut down.

Today’s ruling shows a consistent trend Roberts siding with the more liberal portion of the court. In recent decisions, Roberts has also voted in favor of upholding DACA and agreed with extending the Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ employees.

In his separate concurring opinion, Roberts referenced a case four years ago in which the court struck down a similar Texas statute. The make-up of the court has changed significantly since then, with the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the controversial and Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh coming on.

With a more conservative make-up, many abortion supporters and advocates for woman’s rights were afraid that many of the recent precedents, including this one, and the landmark opinions (i.e., Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that shaped abortion rights would be overturned.

Instead, Roberts stated that this LA statute would put an undue burden on abortion access that was as severe as the TX law already ruled on. Therefore, he concluded, the LA law could not be left to stand under the court’s previous precedent.

Kayleigh McEnany, spokeswoman for the Trump White House, attacked not only the decision in this case but took shots at the justices themselves, calling them “unelected” individuals who took it upon themselves to enact policy and override “legitimate abortion safety regulations.”

This case was under a microscope as there are nine other “gestational bans” across the country (mainly in red states) that are waiting to take effect as courts have blocked the majority of them.

However, just because Roberts sided with the liberal justices here, his separate opinion left room for other states to enact a similar law, as long as the intent to end abortion is not tied up in denying admitting privileges to doctors. This decision by Roberts did not seem to be a turn in his belief on the right to abortion or about the benefits to one side or the other but to the undue burden placed on the clinics by the admittance restriction.

In short: Future decisions coming out of this court on this matter remain important, hot-button issues to be watched by both sides alike.

3) Broadway is going to stay dark until January 2021 at the earliest, the Broadway League reported today. All tickets currently held up until January 3, 2021 will either be refunded or exchanged. The hope is that shows will then begin to re-open on a rolling basis.

Many productions are indicating they expect a return to stage in late winter or even the beginning of spring. With the unpredictability behind the novel coronavirus, the Broadway League says it is not willing to speculate on exactly when the famous theater district will raise its curtains again.

There are a lot of procedures currently in place and being discussed in the theater world as being hard logistical issues. It is unknown how temperature taking, masks, cleaning, and sanitizing can work in the house, and on and backstage.

Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, stated she is hopeful that they are closing in on possible protocols that will work in the theater world. If it holds, she can foresee a rolling basis of re-starting shows earlier in the new year.

When Broadway went dark back on March 12 in light of the coronavirus crisis in New York, 31 shows were running, including eight in previews. There were an additional eight shows in rehearsals/preparation to enter preview. This is the most prolonged shutdown in the history of Broadway.

Three shows have become a victim of COVID, announcing that they will not be returning to the stage at all. These are two that were in previews – a play “Hangman” by Martin McDonagh and the latest revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee. The big musical extravaganza of Disney’s “Frozen” is the shutdown’s third victim, announcing that it will not return to the stage after opening in 2018.

Though nothing is set for sure, some shows are expecting to open in late winter, and several are planning for spring debuts.

4) In Schenectady yesterday, over 200 people met at Bumpy’s Polar Freeze to protest texts that recently came to light in which the business’ owner, David Elmendorf, used racial slurs and stated he doesn’t and won’t hire black people.

Though passionate, the protest was peaceful and lasted for more than two hours. The participants blocked the part of State Street in front of the store and caused the establishment to shut down three hours early at 6:15 p.m. Three employees (all black men) walked out and quit their jobs.

The demonstration was a quick response, organized by All of Us, a community organizing group. The leader of this particular event was 21-year-old Mikayla Foster, a native to Schenectady. Foster was intent in making sure that people know the current civil rights movement is against any form of organized racism and oppression – not just police brutality.

At approximately 4 p.m., Foster was joined by around 75 people. By 5 p.m., the group swelled to nearly 200. They moved from chanting and dancing in protest in front of Bumpy’s to staging a sit-in in the parking lot that lasted for about an hour.

Those in attendance put out a call to help out the employees who quit, raising around $270 for all three of them, and offered to help them find new jobs. Shameil McCoy was one of the employees who walked out, and he removed his Bumpy’s shirt to the cheers of the protestors. It was later jumped on by some of the attendees and then ended up being thrown into a pool next to the restaurant.

Bumpy’s should not have even been open Sunday, as they were shut down earlier in the week over a minor health code violation by the Schenectady County DOH.

Chris Gardner, Schenectady County Attorney, also confirmed that Elmendorf is being charged with obstructing governmental administration for allegedly removing and destroying the notices the DOH posted on the establishment to shut down. He is fined $2,000 a day every day he is open without addressing the issues.

BLX partnered with All of Us to organize the protest, and member/organizer of that group, 27-year-old Khalifa Jackson said this is just the start of plans to expose and take down many local businesses that have been built on and thrive in the environment of white supremacy.

As of last Friday, Gardner requested that the NYS attorney general initiate a civil rights investigation about the alleged discriminatory and illegal hiring practices by Elmendorf.

5) The Police of Gloversville, NY, is asking for help from the public in finding information surrounding a teen that has been missing since June 19, 2020.

Bishop A. Fraser, 17, is around 5’8″ and weighs approximately 149 pounds. He was last seen in the area of South Main Street, leaving the Berkshire Farm Group Home in Gloversville.

According to the GPD, he has ties to Albany, and was last seen with a black hoodie on, and is believed to have been wearing sweatpants.

If you have any information on Bishop, his whereabouts, or anything else that could be considered useful information about this, please call the GPD Sergeant’s desk line at (518) 773-4506.

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

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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