Welcome to a gloomy Wednesday, CivMixers!! There seems to be some severe weather coming our way, so please everyone, keep your ears out for alerts and pay attention to the skies.
I am hoping that if there are some storms it will diminish some of the humidity as I am OVER IT. Rain is needed as a relief from the hot and dry weather, the start of droughts, or to just wash some of the allergens out of the air. I am ready for it.
Another day, more headlines, huh? Let’s get to it.
1) U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman announced his retirement today, saying through a statement by his lawyer that it has been made clear to him that since serving as a witness against President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial, his future in the military is severely and permanently stalled.
Vindman has served in the Army for 21 years. In speaking to Congress in response to a subpoena, he says he merely told the truth and did what was right. The subpoena was issued for his appearance at the impeachment proceedings after he raised concerns about a call he had overheard between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.
After the call, Vindman brought his concerns to his supervisors. In February, he was fired by Trump and removed from his assignment to the White House National Security Council. That same day, his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also removed from the NSC.
Alexander Vindman immigrated to the U.S. with his family as a child from Ukraine. He is a Purple Heart recipient for his service in Iraq with the Army.
The Army has taken a long time in releasing its latest selections for those being promoted to the rank of full Colonel. Many government officials are concerned that the White House could meddle with Vindman’s promotion in a retributory act against him by denying him this promotion.
Democratic Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, also a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, says she will put all promotions of senior Army officers on hold unless Defense Secretary Mark Esper guarantees in writing that Vindman’s promotion – if recommended – would not be held up by the White House.
Being passed over for promotions can be the end to a career in the military. Lt. Col. Vindman unwilling to wait and see if the Trump administration is going to prove vengeful has opted to end his career on his terms.
“Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it.”
-Statement released by Att. David Pressman on behalf of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman
2) Earl Gray, a lawyer for Thomas Lane, has filed a motion to dismiss all charges in the case against his client for the death of George Floyd. In his petition, Gray said there is a “lack of probable cause” in the charges against Lane for aiding and abetting a murder.
Lane, along with two other former officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Floyd by former MPD officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd died in the custody of the four officers after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes.
Floyd died on May 25; all four officers were removed from their positions on May 26.
According to Gray, Lane asked Chauvin twice if Floyd should be turned on his side as he was being detained. Chauvin said no. According to Gray, Lane did not do anything to aid, conspire with or assist Chauvin in his actions, and therefore did not engage in committing second-degree murder.
In the filing, Gray said Lane asked Floyd at least 10 times to show his hands, and then ordered him out of the vehicle. As Lane walked him to the squad car, Floyd stated he was claustrophobic, and though Lane said he would lower the windows and turn on the AC, Floyd refused to get in. An alleged struggle ensued.
During the struggle, Floyd continuously said he couldn’t breathe and that he wanted to lay on the ground. Lane eventually stated for the officers to get him on the ground. Floyd, handcuffed, was placed on his stomach. Video taken by witnesses showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he begged for air and to get up.
Lane was five days out of training when Floyd died, and, according to his attorney, was taking his cues from Chauvin, a 20-year veteran in the department. Gray maintains it’s not fair to hold this rookie to the same standard as those experienced officers on the scene – especially Chauvin.
3) Nicky Hylton-Patterson is the director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, and she clarified her stance today on an earlier statement that she is moving out of Saranac Lake.
Though she confirmed that she is physically moving her residence out of the area for her sense of security following racist graffiti that was sprayed on the town’s railroad bridge, she is, in fact, not leaving her position at the ADI and is actually “doubling down” on the post.
Hylton-Patterson took the position in early December 2019. She has done a lot of work to combat racism by reaching out to a variety of individuals and organizations throughout the Adirondacks. She has an eight-park online teaching session running now through Aug. 3, which this week covers the “Black Experience in the Adirondacks” in partnership with the Adirondack Experience Museum.
Hylton-Patterson says a lot of learning needs to take place across the region, and this inspires her to keep pushing.
The graffiti, which is very graphic in nature, appeared on a bridge on her running route. Though the words were painted over and are being investigated by the police, Hylton-Patterson pointed out that neither the Saranac mayor nor the Director of the Chamber of Commerce issued any statements in response to the incident.
4) On Monday, there was a video posted to social media sites of a Schenectady Police Officer kneeling on the head of an alleged suspect. The suspect has since been identified as Yugeshwar Gainderpersaud and the SPD officer as Patrolman Brian Pommer.
According to the SPD, Patrolman Pommer is on desk duty pending process review. Pommer has been on the SPD for seven years, and the SPD has said that the knee to head footage captured was a result of Gainderpersaud resisting arrest.
SPD Chief Eric Clifford stated that the body cam footage proves this and that the footage would be released today at some point.
So far, the body cam footage is not out, but SPD says it still should be released today.
5) The Jericho Drive-In is partnering with both Proctors and the Oldies 98.3 radio station to have a five-part summer concert series for the next five Wednesdays. The series will be pairing musical acts and classic hits with classic movies.
The shows will be some music followed by a similarly themed film. Admission is $25 per person or $100 per vehicle and can be purchased in person at the drive-in over the phone or online. All of Jericho’s coronavirus guidelines will have to be followed.
The events are as follows:
· The Oldies Show and “American Graffiti.”
- 8 p.m. on July 8
- Albany-based the Oldies Show will play hits from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, set against George Lucas’s 1973 coming-of-age comedy with Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, and Cindy Williams.
· Into the Floyd and “The Wizard of Oz.”
- 9 p.m. on July 15
- The premier East Coast Pink Floyd tribute band performs “The Dark Side of the Moon” as the soundtrack to “The Wizard of Oz.”
· The Little Mermen and “Beauty and the Beast.”
- 7:30 p.m. on July 22
- The New York City-based Disney cover band plays tunes from “The Jungle Book,” “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” and more, followed by 2017’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast.”
· Tusk and “Almost Famous.”
- 8 p.m. on July 29
- The ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute band precedes the 2000 dramedy “Almost Famous”—from writer/director Cameron Crowe—about a teen covering rock music for Rolling Stone in the ’70s.
· Reflections and “Lady Sing the Blues.”
- 8 p.m. on August 5
- The 1972 film “Lady Sings the Blues”—about legendary Jazz singer Billie Holiday—precedes a tribute ensemble uniting an all-star group of singers from top Capital Region bands to honor the golden age of Motown, Staxx Records, Chess Records, and Philadelphia International soul music.