5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: Aug. 24, 2020

Welcome to a new week, CivMixers. If today is any indication, we’re in for a wild ride.

Over the weekend, firefighters in California fought the wildfires – mainly in vain. Unfortunately, the coming weather could cause even more blazes.

With President Donald Trump’s continuous attacks on mail-in voting, the GOP and his own campaign are working hard to ensure that Republican voters who don’t want to cast their ballots in person are actually willing to trust the USPS.

In Lafayette, Louisiana, protestors and police clashed after yet another incident of a black man being shot and killed by police – an incident that was again caught on video and widely shared on social media.

Police were responding to a call for a man in a convenience store armed with a knife. They found Trayford Pellerin in the parking lot with a knife, and tased him to no effect. He was then shot before entering another store. The investigation into the incident is ongoing, and the protests are still raging.

Well, I am already exhausted from this news cycle. And the week has barely gotten underway.

And now, 5 Things…

1) Unfortunately, the news of police shootings doesn’t end with the above mentioned Trayford Pellerin. Though Pellerin’s name will now be added to the list of deaths including Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and so many more – there was another incident this weekend that sparked protests. Jacob Blake is alive and in serious condition after being shot in the back several times by the police.

Blake, 29, was caught on video Sunday evening as he tried to get into his parked vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The video shows the police following him with drawn guns. One officer pulled on the back of Blake’s shirt before shooting him in the back multiple times.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers released the following statement”

“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.”
-Tony Evers, Wisconsin Governor

The Wisconsin DOJ is investigating the incident. Right now, it is believed that officers were responding to a domestic disturbance. There they encountered Blake, and the video uploaded to social media show Blake walking away from the officers, around the front of an SUV and attempting to get in the car before the shooting occurred. At least seven shots were fired.

Officers gave Blake medical assistance, and he was transported to a Milwaukee hospital, where he remains in serious condition. The DOJ says the officers involved are on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney hired in the case by Blake’s family, says that Blake had three of his kids with him in the SUV, ages 3, 5, and 8, when the incident occurred. Crump also says that Blake was on the scene trying to de-escalate the domestic incident to which the police responded.

The shooting set off renewed protests in Kenosha at the scene of the incident, and many businesses were vandalized. Today, Kenosha has its second straight night of curfews. The governor is supportive of peaceful protests, but did authorize the Wisconsin National Guard to support law enforcement.

2) The Republican National Convention begins tonight. According to Charlotte, North Carolina police and RNC officials, there have already been some arrests. Several protestors were arrested, but also taken into custody was an unidentified person who broke into the secured area around the Charlotte Convention Center.

No further information on the incident was released.

Saturday, protestors began moving into the city, with over one hundred people meeting up near the governmental buildings uptown. They then split into smaller groups to march through the city. The delegates are being housed at the Westin Charlotte Hotel, where 80 protestors ended up later last night.

A little before midnight, the protestors moved barricades into roadways and then left the area in a march. At one point, police say they massed around a truck that was attempting to move through them. The CMPD also released a statement saying that police were attacked and assaulted by demonstrators when they tried to do their jobs and also stated there was an incident of a demonstrator falling when bicycle cops blocked the path.

Pepper spray was used once protestors refused to leave an intersection.

Saturday, five protestors were arrested. Yesterday, officers said that a person known to have felony warrants out was recognized and taken into custody and that another person was arrested for attempting to interfere in that arrest.

This morning during a small meeting, the GOP decided to re-nominate sitting President Donald Trump.

3) According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Western New York is seeing an uptick in positive COVID tests, which though not yet concerning, should be viewed as a “caution flag.”

Last Wednesday, the area returned a positivity rate of 1 percent and on Saturday, it was at 1.8 percent. Its five-day average rose almost double,  from 34 to 63. Though yesterday it did drop back down .7 percent to 1.1 percent, it remains virtually double the statewide positivity rate.

Cuomo confirmed that there are a few separate clusters in the region. Two of them were in factory-like settings – a steel plant in Erie County, and a food processing one in Chautauqua County. Two nursing homes had positive results due to state-mandated testing. Cuomo says the fact that these clusters have been found is an essential step toward containing them.

4) The Albany Police Department is going to be undergoing an audit to assess the racial bias within the APD. Today, city officials announced that a company out of Arlington, Virginia called CNA will be the firm conducting the audit.

Dr. Dorcey Applyrs, Albany’s Chief City Auditor, explained that the audit will cover all of the APD’s internal operations as well as its policies and procedures. It is intended to find any bit of implicit and racial biases towards city residents, especially any POC.

Dr. Applyrs said that the auditors are going to collect data about any police-civilian interactions, including traffic stops or any other use of force. They will also compile data on all existing reforms, including body cameras. They will then analyze the data to see if there is anything further the APD can do to help stop the racial profiling of POCs within the city of Albany.

According to city officials, the audit is going to come out of the city’s annual budget and has a price tag of $80,000.

5) In 1902, TrustCo Bank was founded in Schenectady. The company still works to give back to the community.

This year, TrustCo Bank donated not only 450 backpacks that were filled to the brim with supplies and also donated Personal Protective Equipment to Pleasant Valley Elementary. They also donated $2,500 to Pleasant Valley.

The backpacks contain cloth face masks, lunch boxes, and hand sanitizers, as well as typical school supplies. Today, executives meant with leaders within the Schenectady community to hand over the donations.

Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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