5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: Aug. 26, 2020

Before we get started, I have to apologize to my wife, Amy. She pointed out that she came up with “Travel Ban Tuesday”, and though we both employ that phrsaW in different ways, and mine is much more musical in tone, if this apology was not the first thing in today’s article, I was probably sleeping on the couch.

So, Amy, I apologize and give you credit.

So, Tuesday is Travel Ban Tuesday, Thursday is SCOTUS Watch, what should we designate Wednesday as, CivMixers? I think we should give “What Happened Wednesday” a whirl, since I love local history, and you know, it can’t make reading THE news in today’s world any worse, right?

As discussed this morning by Liz over on Rise and Shine today is Women’s Equality Day, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19thAmendment, giving women the legal right to vote. It was a massive win for the suffrage movement, whose ties to upstate are many and profound.

In honor of this day and New York’s connection to it, downstate officials announced that Central Park will soon be home to the first statues of women to be erected within its borders. The statues will honor women’s rights pioneers, and heroes of the original suffrage movement: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.

Let’s see, some other things that took place in our state today.

The first professional baseball game was broadcast on the experimental television station W2XBS from Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1939. In 1986 on this day, Jennifer Levin was strangled in Central Park, which was one of the first cases to earn a nickname – “the preppy murder case.” Robert Chambers was eventually arrested in connection with the crime.

As for modern day news, there has been some insanity in the headlines because, well, 2020.

The CDC has reversed itself on the question of whether those who have been exposed to someone with COVID have to be tested, saying it’s not actually necessary – a position that has confounded medical experts.

Hurricane Laura gained massive strength overnight and is now expected to be a Category 4 hurricane before it hits land in Louisiana and Texas. She’s a real monster storm and capable of real destruction.

And now, onto our 5 Things.

1) Sunday brought the unassuming, lakeside city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, into the national consciousness as the latest community to be rocked by civil unrest and protests – both peaceful and violent – in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, which was captured on video and uploaded to social media.

Last night was the third straight night of demonstrations, and just before midnight, gunshots rang out. This prompted some officials to plead for federal assistance. President Donald Trump said – via a a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1298671451030073344″>tweet – that he spoke with Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has agreed to let federal authorities enter the state for support.

The violence coincided with Night Two of the RNC, which has been heavy on what Democrats have deemed fear-mongering and also has highlighted the president’s “law and order” for violent protests, while failing to acknowledge the reason for the civil unrest.

For the first two nights of the protests, the violence was mainly arson and vandalism. With the shots fired last night, it became deadly. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested for allegedly committing two murders and seriously injuring another person during the protests.

Rittenhouse appears to have been a member of a vigilante militia group, whose members took it upon themselves to patrol the protestors, armed.

The Kenosha police are looking for any witnesses to come forward. According to the KPD, a self-identified militia group known as the Kenosha Guard had posted a message that stated they would be patrolling the streets. It is unclear if that is the group on Rittenhouse’s now-deleted Facebook page.

Yesterday Blake had to undergo additional surgeries to stabilize his spinal cord. According to his family and lawyers, he is paralyzed from the waist down.

Though both the KPD and the Wisconsin DOJ are investigating the incident, Blake’s family has received no information regarding what they have found so far.

2) Today, a 4th Circuit federal appeals court located in Richmond, Virginia, ruled 2-1 in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who had sued his local school board in 2015 for blocking him from using the school bathroom that is in line with his gender identity.

Grimm sued after he was denied access to the boys’ room in his school. Grimm was assigned as a female at birth but identifies as male. According to the court, this was a violation under both federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

The federal law is one that bars sex discrimination in education, and the protection from the Constitution comes from the requirement that all people be treated equally under the law. The court upheld a lower court decision in 2019 that also ruled for Grimm. Judge Henry Floyd delivered the majority opinion, stating that this discrimination was particularly insidious has it had occurred against a young person who would likely feel the impact of the incident for the rest of his life.

Bathroom use has become a significant battle line in the fight for transgender rights. This is the most well-known suit on the docket, coming in the wake of the unprecedented rollbacks of LGBTQ rights.

Grimm is now attending college.

3) Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver began his 6.5-year sentence at the Otisville federal penitentiary today, bringing years of delaying his time behind bars to an end. Silver, 76, reported to the facility earlier today.

Silver was found guilty of corruption first in 2015. He appealed the conviction and saw the initial ruling overturned, which kept him free for a while. But he was retried and again convicted in 2018. Part of that ruling was also thrown out, and the last sentencing occurred in July of this year. Silver sought home confinement, arguing that due to pre-existing conditions, he is vulnerable for contracting COVID-19 while incarcerated.

District Judge Valerie Caproni did not relent, however, insisting that Silver serve his sentence in prison, as originally ordered.

Part of the case that survived through to July’s sentencing hearing involved Silver supporting legislation in Albany that would benefit two real-estate developers who sent tax business to a law firm that paid Silver fees.

The Otisville prison is approximately 80 miles outside of New York City in the Catskill mountains. As a recent arrival, Silver will be quarantined for the required 14 days and tested for COVID-19.

4) In October 2018, 20 people died in a limo crash in Schoharie. Today, the National Transportation Safety Board released its docket on what happened that day. Though we are two years out from the collision, this is still not the final report.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of new information in the report, which details the investigation and findings by the NTSB over the past two years, including its probe into Prestige Limo – the company that owned the limo in which the victims were riding, and its operator, Nauman Hussain, who was ultimately charged in the case.

NTSB officials also announced that their final findings, report, and recommendations will be released during a meeting on Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m. During that meeting, they also expect to be able to announce finding for probable cause.

5) Tollbooths have been a part of inter and intrastate traveling for the past 70 years in New York. This fall, the era of tollbooths will come to an end with the flip of s single switch.

According to state Thruway Authority Operations Director Eric Christensen, one Saturday night, all tolling will be flipped over to cashless tolling gantries. In the $355 million, multi-year project, these gantries were erected and equipped with cameras, lights, monitors and motion sensors on all of the 58 entry and exit points on the Thruway.

Once the last one is erected either tonight or tomorrow, there will be 70 gantries throughout the state.

Toll amounts will not change, and there will be a campaign for more drivers to use EZ Pass to make it easier for NYS to collect money.

Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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