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

As I am writing this we are having one of those amazing sunshowers. I love them. They’re so weird. Also, they usually cool things off a bit…not in this case, it seems.

Also, I neglected to note for you all this morning that today is CivMix’s 1-year anniversary! A significant milestone! We are so proud of what we have managed to accomplish with this site – and the morning email blast, and the podcast – thus far, and hope that it only goes up from here.

Thank you for being a part of this community. You are what makes CivMix, well, itself.

Speaking of milestones, New York reported the lowest numbers coronavirus deaths statewide yesterday as 42 people died from COVID-19, the governor announced. At the height of the pandemic eight weeks ago, the state was reporting nearly 800 deaths a day. Hospitalizations are also down to 2,728 from the record high of 18,825 during the peak of the pandemic.

So, that’s something to feel good about, which is nice, because there’s a lot of not-so-great news to share…such as:

1) There is serious upheaval in Buffalo, as all 57 of the members of the city Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned from the unit that responds to riots and other crowd control situations. (They didn’t quit the department altogether, but did step down from the tactical unit).

In addition, the union representing Buffalo police officers told rank-and-file members that it would no longer pay for legal fees to defend officers related to the protests which began Saturday in the city’s downtown in response to the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd and have continued on and off.

The union is upset with the treatment of the two officers who were suspended yesterday after a video was posted showing them pushing an elderly man – Martin Gugino, 75, a veteran local peace activist – before he fell backward and hit his head on the sidewalk. The video shows officers walking by Gugino as he lay on the ground with blood pooling from his head.

Gugino was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was in stable but serious condition early this morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he spoke this morning with Gugino, and condemned the police who injured him. “It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening…How did we get to this place,” Cuomo said during his daily media briefing at the state Capitol after showing a video of the incident. “I was sick to my stomach.”

2) Cuomo also outlined legislation that he said would hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct and provide more access to police disciplinary records.

After years of remaining silent on the issue, the governor is now championing a bill that would repeal a 44-year-old statute known as 50-a that has shielded police officers’ disciplinary records from public scrutiny, including by defense attorneys.

He is also supporting a measure to prohibit the use of chokeholds, which the New York Police Department has already banned. Another proposal he supports would make false, race-based 911 calls a hate crime.

3) A Black Lives Matter rally in Glens Falls this afternoon drew more than 2,000 people – the latest in numerous demonstrations around the Capital Region that call for change in how law enforcement, and the nation, treat people of color.

The event was peaceful, but included a heavy policy presence. The hot and unforgiving sun caused the crowd to dissipate even as speakers continued.

4) In the ongoing national response to Floyd’s death, and in response to calls for reform, Minneapolis officials have agreed to ban the use of chokeholds and other neck restraints by the police.

The moves are part of a stipulation between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which launched a civil rights investigation this week in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody. The City Council approved the agreement today.

The agreement will be enforceable in court and would require any officer – regardless of tenure or rank – to immediately report the use of any neck restraint or chokehold from the scene to their commander or their commander’s superiors.

In the first of what will likely be many reforms to come in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he is immediately instructing POST, the state’s commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, to stop training the carotid hold to officers. He added there was also legislation in the works to ban the carotid hold by law in California and he would sign it as soon as it was brought to his desk.

Chokehold restraints, which cuts off air flow through the windpipe, are already banned in California.

5) Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani had a not-so-great moment during a “Good Morning Britain” interview when host Piers Morgan got under the 76-year-old politico’s skin.

Morgan sat quietly for nearly four minutes as Giuliani, who said he was up at 1 a.m. to do the interview on English TV, ranted about the liberal media, the international media, “you people” and former President Barack Obama, all while praising Trump’s handling of the unrest that has been generated by Floyd’s killing.

Speaking of the president, this happened today.

…I’ll just let you figure that one out for yourselves.

Happy weekend, everyone. Stay safe. Stay hydrated. Try to have some fun.

Photo credit: George Fazio

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