Rise and Shine: June 5, 2020

It’s finally Friday, CivMixers, which, for some reason, I thought might never get here.

It’s World Environment Day, established by the UN in 1974 to encourage awareness and worldwide activism around preserving the globe. This year’s theme is biodiversity, which comes as some 1 million species on this planet face extinction.

It’s also National Doughnut Day. More on that here.

It’s going to be another warm day, with a mix of sun and clouds and temperatures reaching into the low 80s, according to The Weather Channel. There’s a chance of scattered thunderstorms, so be ready for that.

In the headlines…

George Floyd’s brother joyfully shared memories of their childhood together in Houston – from eating banana and mayonnaise sandwiches to playing football together – during the first of several memorials planned in Floyd’s honor.

The private service was attended by celebrities, civil rights activists, politicians and family members to both celebrate Floyd’s life and mourn a man whose death at the hands of police has sparked protests nationwide and calls for an end to racial injustice.

By turns somber and defiant, the mourners celebrated Floyd as a friend and father and uncle to those closest to him, but also as a victim of racial injustice whose killing had drawn a legion of people to the streets.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the longtime activist and political commentator, took his turn mocking President Trump’s widely criticized photo op in front of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, as he spoke at Floyd’s memorial.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to “dismantle” the city’s police department in the wake of worldwide protests over the killing of Floyd.

A judge in the Hennepin County District Court set bail at $750,000 apiece for the three former Minneapolis police officers who were arrested and charged in the killing of Floyd.

The federal plan to contain continuing protests in Washington, D.C. currently employs about 7,600 civilian law enforcement, National Guard and active-duty Army personnel stationed just outside the city, an array of forces Attorney General William Barr and others say is justified to defend the capital at a time of unrest.

New York Times executives scrambled to address the concerns of employees and readers angered by the newspaper’s publication of an opinion essay by a United States senator, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, calling for the federal government to send the military to suppress protests against police violence in American cities.

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr announced that investigations of recent violence spinning out of protests yielded evidence that not only are various “extremist” groups taking advantage of the unrest for their own ends, but that “foreign actors” are also getting involved.

Barr said the forceful removal of peaceful protesters outside the White House before an appearance by Trump this week was necessary to protect federal property and law-enforcement officers, as the operation continued to stoke criticism in Washington.

The nation’s highest-ranking U.S. military officer, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reminded leaders of the armed forces of their oath to uphold the values of the Constitution, amid concern that Trump may order active-duty troops onto American streets for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Former Vice President Joe Biden told a group of black supporters last night that most Americans were good people who think the nation can be improved, while also declaring that “there are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people.”

A Georgia investigator testified that one of the three white defendants accused of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was running in a South Georgia neighborhood, heard another defendant use a racist slur moments after firing the shotgun blasts that ended Arbery’s life.

Trump’s re-election campaign this week has accused former Biden of constructing the modern prison-industrial complex, architecting American mass incarceration, and filling the nation’s prisons with low-level offenders, even though the president himself has supported those policies.

Even as Biden’s campaign adds people of color, allies worry that a lack of diverse viewpoints at the top could come with a steep cost: the possibility of taking for granted his strength with black voters.

Unnerved by his slipping poll numbers and his failure to take command of the moral and public health crises straining the country, religious conservatives have expressed concern in recent weeks to the White House and the Trump campaign about the president’s political standing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was drowned out by booing at a memorial for Floyd in Brooklyn, as the preacher who introduced him pleaded with attendees to show “respect.”

De Blasio condemned the attack on three New York Police Department officers in Brooklyn and defended the police response to large-scale demonstrations over the Floyd’s killing.

Thousands of protesters continued to march in defiance of the 8 p.m. curfew, including in Upper Manhattan, in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, clashing with police on the eighth day of citywide demonstrations against police brutality.

Preliminary figures showed about 170 people were arrested in the protests citywide for breaking the curfew, said police.

Hundreds of people who have been arrested during the NYC protests have been detained in cramped cells for more than 24 hours, their health at risk in the midst of a pandemic, defense lawyers said.

De Blasio is under siege, facing what may be the worst moment of his tenure since the 2014 fatal shootings of two police officers by a man seeking retribution for the police killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Republican Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich is calling on his colleagues to take a vote of no confidence in de Blasio, possibly setting the stage for a state takeover of the city’s management.

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that police crowd-control chemicals cause coughing that could spread the coronavirus — and he will raise the matter with the White House task force.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea made an impassioned plea to stop the violence on cops — and apologized for any improper acts of aggression by officers — as protests over the death of Floyd stretch into the eighth day and Gotham still reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that those who have been participating in protests in response to Floyd’s death should “assume” that they are “infected” with coronavirus, suggesting they get tested.

Cuomo said he wants to crack down on those who have been looting during protests, and would like to see them held with bail despite the state’s new bail reform laws.

“These people should be charged for the crime that they are committing and bail set,” Cuomo said, adding that looters should be charged with burglary in the second degree. I understand the political environment. I also understand that the law is the law.”

The state district attorneys association said Cuomo and members of his administration are wrong on the law and should not be saying — as they have this week — that prosecutors could be charging looters with second-degree burglary, a felony that after July 2 would allow judges to set bail on the offense.

The governor said he never apologized to the New York Police Department (NYPD) for saying they “did not do their job” amid demonstrations protesting Floyd’s death.

A Manhattan judge sided with police by denying Legal Aid lawyers’ request for the immediate release of hundreds of prisoners held in custody for days after their arrest amid the Floyd protests.

An elderly man was shoved by a police officer in Buffalo yesterday, resulting in an apparent head injury that caused him to bleed from one of his ears and rendered him unconscious.

Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay after a video showed authorities knocking down the 75-year-old man during a protest, Mayor Byron Brown said.

…but in cities across the nation where police have clashed with protestors and in some cases used force against them, discipline or other charges hasn’t been so swift.

State lawmakers are expected to introduce a package of police reform bills today in the wake of widespread civil unrest over police brutality against African-Americans.

…They plan a return Monday to Albany, and will take up several measures including a controversial law that blocks the public from viewing the confidential files of police, firefighters and corrections officers.

State Sen. Julia Salazar said legislators should take up an adult use cannabis legalization bill now in order to “help increase police transparency and help increase accountability to New Yorkers’ most common encounters with police.”

Curtis Sliwa, 66, suffered a fractured jaw as he and his Guardian Angels confronted hammer-wielding looters in Manhattan earlier this week.

A decision on when and whether to reopen sleepaway camps in New York will come next week, Cuomo said.

The organizer helping Shenendehowa school students plan a Black Lives Matter march on Monday afternoon said the teens who are planning the event feel intimidated by town officials and the State Police who want in on the plans.

There was another Black Lives Matter rally in Schenectady. More here.

As the nation is gripped with racially-charged unrest, City of Schenectady Police have officially released their use of force policy for the first time.

Members of the Albany Common Council said they would push for a series of reforms, including giving subpoena powers for city police records to the city’s Community Police Review Board, as activists and other leaders called for broader changes.

Dozens of people marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Albany yesterday afternoon after the Council held an outdoor news conference to call for the aforementioned police reforms. They marched to the executive mansion when the conference was over, chanting “no peace, no justice” as they went.

In lieu of Albany County’s normal coronavirus update, elected officials and local officials held a prayer service in the aftermath of protests that turned to unrest in Albany Saturday and Monday.

Mayor Patrick Madden encouraged city residents to attend the “Troy Rally for Black Lives” to be held Sunday at Riverfront Park, and said he’s taking organizsers at their word that the event will be peaceful.

At least some of the states rushing to reopen are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases, according to a new report. Cases are increasing in 14 states, most notably in Texas and Arizona, Axios reported Wednesday. Florida is also high on the list.

Dr. Anthony Fauci claims that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available even before its effectiveness is confirmed.

The idea of keeping schools closed in the fall because of safety concerns for children might be “a bit of a reach,” according to Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A racehorse named for Fauci finished second in his debut Wednesday at Belmont Park in Queens. Fauci the 2-year-old colt was beaten by a horse named Prisoner in the third race. He was the favorite at less than even money.

Two major studies casting doubt on the ability of antimalaria drugs to treat Covid-19 patients based on data from a little-known Chicago company, Surgisphere Corp., were retracted yesterday.

Now that the initial, terrifying flood of Covid-19 patients in hard-hit cities has subsided, doctors across the United States are seeking to draw lessons from their overuse of antibiotics, a practice that can spur resistance to the lifesaving drugs as bacteria mutate and outsmart the drugs.

U.S. exports and imports both posted their largest monthly decreases on record amid coronavirus-related shutdowns around the world.

American Airlines has joined other carriers in restoring some flying that was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, as parts of the country start to reopen.

After shutting down in mid-March in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Las Vegas casinos are now trying to bring tourists back together while keeping them apart, selling pleasure during a pandemic and widespread civil unrest.

…hundreds lined up for the chance to gamble for the first time in months.

Medical schools in New York will be able to reopen June 22, Cuomo said, but for now there will be no large high school or college graduation ceremonies — just the “drive-thru” or “drive-by” kinds that have become common in the coronavirus era.

With New York City poised to end its months-long COVID-19 shutdown in the coming days, de Blasio is already looking ahead, announcing a plan to temporarily use open space to provide city restaurants with more outdoor dining areas, eliminating red tape they’d otherwise face in the process.

Days before New York City is due to enter the first phase of reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor and the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority are continuing to clash over how to make the transit system safe for people returning to work.

The Big Apple marked a major turning point in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday with no new confirmed deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since March 12.

The NYPD is facing its first budget cut in at least two decades — thanks to a “perfect storm” of events including “dire economic circumstances,” fallout from the Floyd killing and calls for reform from the progressive wing of the City Council, experts and insiders said.

Cuomo’s sudden announcement Wednesday that Capital Region restaurants could reopen yesterday for outdoor dining both pleased and frustrated area operators, who previously had believed reopening wouldn’t come for another two weeks.

Control room meetings across upstate New York have been defined by disorganization and uncertainty, as many local leaders plea for more clarity and agency through the reopening process.

When it comes to the Capital Region’s tourism industry, there hasn’t been much good news lately. Officials are hoping things will soon improve.

New York’s and local government agencies are continuing to hope for financial relief from Congress, but local officials are warning state lawmakers that any cut to state aid would only deepen the deficits communities are facing.

Getting ballots to voters in school budget and board elections continues to hit road blocks, as both the Ballston Spa and Shenendehowa school districts said they do not think some ballots will get to people in time to be mailed back for Tuesday’s vote.

Twenty-seven New York State senators signed a letter urging Cuomo to allow school budget vote ballots to be postmarked by the day of the election, due to widespread complications in getting the absentee ballots printed and mailed to voters.

Albany Police are investigating a shots fired incident that left a 10-year-old boy with a gunshot wound.

A proposed $35 million trash-to-fuel processing facility at the site of the former BASF chemical plant in Rensselaer would substitute recycled materials for dirty coal as a fuel for concrete plants, steel mills and other industrial uses, company officials insist. (Not everyone is convinced).

Yesterday, the horses came back to Saratoga with the opening of the Oklahoma Training Track, which is normally open in April, but was closed due to the pandemic.

Th NBA Board of governors approved a plan to restart the season with a tentative start date of July 31; 22 teams will compete for an NBA title at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Seeking to avoid the fate of ex-congressman Joe Crowley — who was ousted in a shocking primary victory by young unknown Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — veteran Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney is throwing the kitchen sink at her chief Democratic primary rival.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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