5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: July 21, 2020

Today, oh today.

So far today, Dr. Anthony Fauci has brushed off President Donald Trump’s claims that he is an alarmist, saying he is, in fact, a realist when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that she was accosted and called a slur by a Republican colleague, who, for the record, denies the slur part.

And the speaker of the Ohio House was arrested was arrested on bribery charges in connection with the bailout of a power plant.

And those aren’t even my Top 5 headlines for the day…Because it was THAT kind of day.

Shall we?

1) In May, three photojournalists were shot with rubber pellets at a protest in Detroit, MI. Yesterday, Corporal Daniel Debono, an officer from the Detroit Police Department, was charged with three counts of felonious assault in connection with that incident.

In the late hours of May 31, Debono was on duty, dressed in his riot gear and carrying a gun that was equipped to fire rubber pellets in addition to his regulation sidearm as he and other officers patrolled the streets where protestors were demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, police brutality writ large and other issues.

Once the majority of protestors were out of the area, three people with press credentials displayed encountered Debono and two of his fellow officers. They put their hands up and announced that they were members of the media. They then asked to cross the street, according to a press release from prosecutor Kym Worthy.

As the trio – Nicole Hester, a photojournalist with MLive, and two independent photographers, Seth Harold and Matthew Hatcher – crossed the street, they were each hit with rubber pellets that are believed to have been shot by Debono.

All three were injured. Herald had an injury to the wrist. Hatcher was wounded in the face and the ribs. Hester had the most wounds on her arms, face, legs, and neck. According to Worthy, the shooting was unwarranted and without cause. There has not been a time set for an arraignment.

Detroit Chief of Police James Craig says these alleged actions should not define how his department has dealt with protestors in the city. In his opinion, DPD has handled the protests appropriately and that this was an unorthodox move by an officer, who has since been suspended.

Craig reached out to MLive and opened an investigation as soon as he was made aware of the allegations.

Each charge against Debono is for felonious assault and would carry a penalty of a maximum time of four years in prison if convicted.

Detroit is not alone in the Debono incident, as police officers in many cities across the country are facing charges of inappropriate conduct or the overuse of force in response to the protests that took place across the nation in the wake of the Floyd death.

2) A descendant of famed Confederate General and military commander Robert E. Lee has joined leading Democrats and other leaders calling for the removal of Confederate monuments. Reverend Robert W. Lee IV seeks to put an end to the myth of Gen. Lee, pointing to his ancestor’s testimony in Congress after the Civil War to underscore why he is not someone who should be commemorated.

Advocates for taking the monuments down as soon as possible have said that the slow process in removing these statues has helped contribute to vandalism and protestors taking matters into their own hands.

Rev. Lee IV joined many Black historians who attended the hearing held by the House subcommittee on forests, national parks, and public lands. They urged the committee to pass proposed legislation that would address the issues of Confederate statues on federal property.

One such figure that could be removed with this legislation is the one that stands at the entry to the battlefield of Antietam. This battle was the single deadliest in one day worth of fighting. The statue of Lee was put up this century.

In response to the increased talk both in public and at governmental levels, President Trump has ordered federal agencies to protect all federal property, including Confederate monuments. He has declared that “anarchists and left-wing extremists” are responsible for destroying statues.

Utah Republican Rep. John Curtis, the senior GOP legislator on this subcommittee, said he would welcome more debates on historical figures and who should – or should not – be memorialized on federal lands. However, he and others have cautioned against the vandalism of said memorials. Many are defending these statues as historic artifacts, but Democratic leaders point out many of these statues were put up during the 1950s Civil Rights Movement as an opposition to that movement.

3) There have been an additional ten states added to New York’s 14-day-self-quarantine list, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced, bringing the total number of states on the list to 31.

The complete list of states is below, with the ten additions in bold. Delaware was taken off the list last week, but this week was added back on.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

These quarantines first began being required in June, and apply to states where they are testing at a rate of more than ten people per 100,000 residents or with at least a 10 percent positive rate – both based on seven-day rolling averages.

Cuomo and state health experts have implemented this policy to help protect the state from the rising COVID cases across the country. In addition to this list, all who come into New York from different states have to submit a form to the state about where they came from, where they are going, where they are staying, and their contact information.  

If the form is not filled out or if the information is found to be inaccurate, the traveler can face a court summons and a fine of $2,000.

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo went to Georgia, which is on the quarantine list. However, he said he would not be quarantined as he counts as an essential worker and is exempt. There is also an exemption for any traveler who was in one of the 31 states for under 24 hours.

Cuomo on Monday traveled to Georgia, one of the states on the list, but said he would not quarantine when returning since he is exempt as an essential worker. The policy also includes an exemption if travelers are in a state on the list for less than 24 hours.

4) Green County Correctional Facility corrections officers are drawing attention to what they say is an increased amount of drugs obtained and used in the medium-security facility in a relatively small amount of time. This report is sparking an increased call for reforms.

On July 10, officers at the prison reported four different attempts to smuggle drugs into the jail through mail to the inmates. The officers first noted something weird about some fruit snacks that came in from the Buffalo region. When opened, they found two dozen small baggies that had a green leafy substance (synthetic marijuana) inside. They also found a plastic bag with a powdery white substance (cocaine) in it.

That first discovery was around 7:30 a.m. About 90 minutes later, they found more synthetic marijuana inside some balloons inside four cans of corn from downstate. About 90 minutes after that, some chips and snacks sent to an inmate from the Capital District that contained both marijuana and synthetic marijuana. Less than an hour later, they found the last in two orange strips that were found in a letter from Long Island, and those strips tested positive for Suboxone.

According to Michael Mazzella, Vice President of the NYSCOPBA Mid-Hudson Region said this was simply a tip of the more significant systemic problem of drugs coming into prison, which has seen a drastic uptick during the pandemic. He has called for the NYS DOC to make drastic changes.

5) New Hope Family Services, a Christian Adoption agency in Syracuse, is asking for an appeals court to rule in its case against NYS.

New Hope says that due to its religious beliefs and foundation, it cannot and will not recommend any same-sex or unmarried couples for adoption. The Office of Children and Family Services shut told them that they needed to change their policy as it was considered discriminatory. If they did not change this policy, OCFS threatened to shut the agency down, according to the filing.

New Hoped then sued OCFS.

Last year, a federal court dismissed the case. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the dismissal was premature and remanded the case back for further hearing in that lower trial court.

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

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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