Rise and Shine: June 12, 2020

Good morning, CivMixers. It’s Friday.

Today is National Loving Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which struck down all anti-miscegenation (inter-racial marriage) laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. This is NOT a nationally recognized holiday, despite attempts to make it so.

Says Wikipedia:

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the court majority opinion at the time that “the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”

The case was brought by Mildred Loving, a black woman, and her husband, Richard Loving, a white man, who first met when she was 11 and he was 17. After she became pregnant, they married in Washington, D.C., in 1958, when she was 18. They were arrested a few weeks after they returned to their hometown north of Richmond, Virginia, pleaded guilty as charged and and avoided jail time by leaving the state and agreeing not to return for 25 years.

The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C., and began legal action by writing to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union. After the Warren Court unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple, they returned to Virginia, where they lived with their three children.

In 1975, Richard Loving died in a car accident. Mildred Loving died May 5, 2008, at the age of 68.

It’s going to be a mostly clear day, with temperatures in the low 80s, according to The Weather Channel.

In the headlines…

The killing of George Floyd has resonated in Europe, drawing thousands of demonstrators into the streets of cities like Paris, London and Berlin. Statues of colonizers and slave traders have been pulled down or defaced.

President Trump says he’s preparing an executive order that encourages police to adopt the “most professional” use of force standards — while urging “the opposite” of defunding cops.

Trump will nominate retired Army brigadier general and Fox News commentator Anthony Tata to be the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy, the White House announced.

The government’s use of surveillance planes to watch over those protesting Floyd’s death has captured the attention of nearly three dozen Congressional Democrats, who want to know whether the planes were used for “surveilling of Americans engaged in peaceful protests.”

The teenager who filmed the infamous bystander video of Floyd has spoken out through her attorney to say she never intended to be a hero, and had no idea of the impact the video would have around the world.

The country’s top military official, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized for taking part in Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square for a photo op after the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters.

Companies have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks. But many advocates say now is the time for action — in the form of pay equity for nonwhite workers.

Statues of Christopher Columbus were targeted by protesters in Massachusetts and Virginia this week in an act of solidarity with indigenous peoples.

A statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded by protesters yesterday as the city tried to remove the monument from a park in Camden, New Jersey.

The Columbus statue in Columbus Circle was guarded by members of the NYPD.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has a long history on this issue, again said that he did not believe New York City’s prominent statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed and pointed out its importance in the Italian American community.

“I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support, but the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” Cuomo said during a briefing in Albany. “For that reason, I support it.”

For many black service members, who make up about 17 percent of all active-duty military personnel, the Pentagon’s decision to consider renaming Army bases bearing the names of Confederate officers, which the president has vowed to block, seems excruciatingly overdue.

The debate about what to do with Confederate monuments and symbols has simmered for decades. Now, in several days, officials have decided to remove and protesters have toppled or defaced dozens of statues across the U.S., and entertainment and sports companies have entered the discussion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says members of her party are trying to figure out a legal way to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol building.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio waded into a resurgent national debate over the legacy of the Civil War, calling on military officials to rename a street at an Army base in Brooklyn named after Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general and its military leader.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan signed an executive order directing the removal of a statue depicting Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, reportedly Albany’s largest slave-owner in his day, City Hall.

Sheehan said the city’s diversity officer first raised the issue with her last year and she decided now was the time to act. The statue will be given to a museum or other institution “for future display with the appropriate historical context.”

“Scores of community members have reached out to my office requesting the removal of the statue of former slave owner Gen. Philip Schuyler and I thank those residents for making their voices heard,” Sheehan said in a statement.

Protesters in New York City gathered to demonstrate against Floyd’s death for the 15th consecutive day yesterday, leaving a trail of red paint on 5th Avenue to symbolize “blood on the streets.”

At least one of the demonstrators spray-painted “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) on a street sign near The Metropolitan Museum of Art and was arrested — as the rest of the group chanted “Let him go!”

Testing data has thus far indicated little evidence of any spike in COVID-19 infections among thousands of New York protestors — a seemingly confounding development that experts say is attributable to a few key factors.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the protesters who have declared an “autonomous zone” on the city’s street as “patriotic,” and said Trump’s threat to send in federal resources to crack down on the protesters was “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Lawmakers and police unions denounced the New York City Council for allowing members of the public testifying at a remote NYPD oversight hearing to curse out cops, flip the bird and display offensive signs.

A homeless man faces federal charges for torching an NYPD captain’s unmarked car in Brooklyn — a crime he appeared to record with his own cell phone, authorities said.

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man shoved to the ground by Buffalo police during a protest last week, suffered a brain injury, his lawyer said.

Supporters attending Trump’s Oklahoma campaign rally next week — the first since the coronavirus pandemic — must first sign a disclaimer bearing all responsibility if they catch the illness.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany pushed back against mounting outrage over Trump’s decision to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, saying black Americans are “very near and dear to his heart.”

Trump will deliver his Aug. 27 convention speech in Jacksonville, Fla., inside an arena that holds 15,000 people, after his demands for an event without social distancing rules led to a rift with Democratic leaders in North Carolina, where the Republican convention was originally planned.

The task of nominating the party’s candidates for president and vice president will be done in Charlotte, N.C., with a limited number of delegates, but the big convention events will shift to Jacksonville, which raced to put together a proposal and overcame concerns about hotel and arena capacity.

The Labor Department said more than 1.5 million Americans filed new state unemployment claims last week — the lowest number since the crisis began, but far above normal levels.

Congress and Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic.

Those who remain unemployed will get only the state unemployment benefits if lawmakers don’t extend the benefits. For many, the additional benefits mean higher incomes while jobless, with 2 in 3 Americans earning more with the additional $600 per week than when employed.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that shutting down the economy for a second time to combat the spread of Covid-19 isn’t a viable option and could cause even more headaches for Americans.

On the same day the official total of U.S. COVID-19 cases hit the 2 million marker, a Harvard doctor warned that the national death toll could leap to 200,000 by autumn.

Some U.S. states that were largely spared during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic are now seeing record hospitalizations, causing some experts to fear that loosened restrictions and the approach of summer led many Americans to begin letting down their guard.

Growing fears of a surge in coronavirus infections sent the stock market tumbling yesterday, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 1,800 points for its worst day since March.

Thousands of lives could be on the line in July, when the first experimental U.S. COVID-19 vaccine test kicks off. Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna is slated to commence a major study to prove that a new drug is capable of wiping out the virus.

New York leaders faced an unanticipated crisis as the new coronavirus overwhelmed the nation’s largest city. Their response was marred by missed warning signs and policies that many health-care workers say put residents at greater risk and led to unnecessary deaths.

The hospitals serving New York City’s neediest and most vulnerable patients face a financial reckoning as a result of the new coronavirus outbreak and uncertain stimulus funding from Washington. The city’s Health + Hospitals system is running with about 18 days of cash on hand, officials say.

Upstate-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced the start of the first clinical trial of its investigational dual antibody cocktail for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. It is called REGN-COV2.

Restaurants in five upstate regions — North Country, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, the Southern Tier, and the Finger Lakes — will be able to relaunch indoor dining today.

Cuomo asked for caution, pointing out infection spikes in California, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Arizona, and saying: “You can make a mistake today that wipes out everything we’ve done. We are a more dense state and we have more crowding.”

Restaurants, bars and food trucks are all part of Phase III of the Cuomo administration’s reopening plan.

Leaders in upstate regions that aren’t yet allowed to move into Phase III are urging the governor to accelerate that process.

Cuomo also announced that the state is allowing localities to open public pools and playgrounds at their discretion while following state guidance.

Pools and playgrounds can reopen at local governments’ discretion, the governor said. He urged officials to make the moves only if the data supports the changes.

Nassau County plans to reopen its 35 public parks tomorrow, aiming to bring back “a fun outdoor activity for some of our youngest residents,” County Executive Laura Curran said.

Young Jewish children took over the streets of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn last night calling on the state to allow sleep-away camps to operate this summer.

Though COVID-19 cases on Long Island continue to drop, health care experts said it’s too early for residents to let their guard down, and that minority communities remain the most impacted.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul announced garage sales, which were previously not allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now OK, though social distancing guidelines remain in place.

The man arrested for taking explosives into a Long Island hospital this week was also armed to the teeth with body armor and a pickaxe, Suffolk police said.

The MTA has installed “hundreds of thousands” of social distancing decals on subway platforms across the city to guide straphangers on how to stay 6 feet away from each other, officials said, and some feature pig trotters, horse shoe prints, cat and dog paws, as well as a pair designed to look like a robot’s “feet.”

Due to the pandemic, New York City is now inadvertently running an experiment in how to operate without high-stakes admissions screens. Some hope that a looming decision on how schools will admit students into top schools this fall could lead to integration long after the pandemic ends and the protests ebb.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is not running for mayor in 2021, yet his emergence as a sought-after candidate speaks to a surging desire among progressive activists for more options than those offered by the slate of Democratic Party candidates now before them.

The NYPD’s handling of a Bronx teenager, Jahmel Leach, who was bruised and shocked with a stun gun during the unrest following Floyd’s death, is now under investigation.

The annual NYC Pride celebration is going virtual.

Social service providers say they are struggling as the state withholds grant payments in response to the novel coronavirus crisis. Cuomo’s budget division froze payments to municipalities and nonprofit agencies, and withheld scheduled raises to some workers in April after revenues crashed as a result of the pandemic.

A task force led by Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, came up with nearly a dozen steps the state can take to address abuse, which experts say has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said that he still has not seen his mother since the coronavirus pandemic started in New York in March — and doesn’t plan to until it’s safe.

New York’s June 23 primary elections — taking place amid a once-in-a-century coronavirus pandemic — could turn out to be the most unpredictable in modern history, with the outcomes of many competitive races left up in the air on Election Night because hundreds of thousands of voters casting ballots by mail.

As the end of May neared, nearly a quarter million New York City voters had requested absentee ballots for the June 23 primary election, after Cuomo sent applications to every potential primary voter to help limit the spread of coronavirus. Many have not yet received those ballots.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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