A new study by British researchers finds population-wide mask use could help push coronavirus transmission rates down to controllable levels. Cambridge University researcher and report co-author Richard Stutt said, “Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public.”
A former British government adviser said Wednesday the U.K. could have halved its number of coronavirus deaths if the government had imposed its lockdown just one week earlier.
On Capitol Hill, the brother of George Floyd, whose killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers sparked a global uprising, demanded lawmakers take action to stop more deaths at the hands of police officers. Philonise Floyd traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to address the House Judiciary Committee in person.
Philonise Floyd: “The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. By the leaders that are in our country, the world needs the right thing. The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change. George’s name means something. You have the opportunity here today to make your names mean something, too. If his death ends up changing the world for the better — and I think it will — then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain.”
Philonise Floyd’s testimony came a day after his brother was laid to rest, and two days after Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants and start a national database to track police abuse.
Calls are growing for the arrest of the Louisville police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old African American emergency room technician who was shot to death by police inside her own apartment in March. On Wednesday, the police department finally released its incident report from that night — but the report is almost entirely blank. It lists Taylor’s injuries as “none,” even though she was shot eight times. The report claims there was no forced entry by police, even though officers used a battering ram to knock down her door.
Meanwhile, Louisville police are investigating sexual assault allegations against Brett Hankison, one of the officers who shot Taylor. Two women have claimed he sexually assaulted them after giving them rides home in his police vehicle.
Protests against racism and police brutality are continuing across the United States and around the world. In Washington, D.C., hundreds marched from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday chanting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” In Boston, the Coalition of Black Youth led a massive rally outside City Hall demanding the defunding of the police department.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, activists are demanding school districts cancel contracts with local police departments. This is Jackie Byers, director of the Black Organizing Project, speaking at a rally in Oakland Wednesday.
Jackie Byers: “We don’t want police in schools. We want teachers. We want librarians. We want public health. We want nurses. We want art programs. We want ethnic studies.”
Monuments to racists, colonizers and Confederates continue to fall across the United States and around the world. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday, activists with the American Indian Movement tied a rope around a statue of Christopher Columbus and pulled it from its pedestal on the state Capitol grounds. The AIM members then held a ceremony over the fallen monument.
In Massachusetts, officials said they’ll remove a Columbus statue from a park in Boston’s North End, after it was beheaded by protesters early Wednesday morning.
In Richmond, Virginia, protesters toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from Monument Avenue on Wednesday night. In the nearby city of Portsmouth, protesters used sledgehammers to destroy a monument to Confederate soldiers. One person sustained a serious injury and was hospitalized after a statue fell on his head.
In Washington, D.C., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday joined other lawmakers demanding the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol.
President Trump said Wednesday he will “not even consider” renaming U.S. Army bases named after Confederate military officers. There are 10 such bases — all of them in Southern states. Trump tweeted, “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” Trump’s tweet contradicted Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley, who suggested they were open to a discussion about renaming the bases.
President Trump has announced he will hold his first campaign rally since March 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19 — a highly symbolic day. It was on June 19, 1865, that enslaved Africans in Texas first learned they were free — two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is now celebrated as Juneteenth.
Tulsa recently marked the 99th anniversary of one of the deadliest mass killings of African Americans in U.S. history. In 1921, a white mob killed as many as 300 people, most of them Black, after a Black man was accused of assaulting a white elevator operator. The white mobs destroyed a thriving African American business district known at the time as the Black Wall Street of America.
Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller is reportedly drafting a speech for President Trump to deliver about race in America. Last November, the Southern Poverty Law Center leaked a cache of Miller’s emails showing longtime support for white nationalism, far-right extremist ideas and racist conspiracy theories. Miller, who co-authored President Trump’s inaugural address, is the architect of Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies, including family separations.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are suing the Trump administration for shutting down the southern border during the coronavirus pandemic. The suit was filed on behalf of a 16-year-old Honduran boy who fled his home seeking a safe place to live.
In other immigration news, a federal judge has blocked Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from intercepting and arresting immigrants at New York courthouses.
Meanwhile, The Intercept is reporting ICE is seeking to spend $18 million to buy thousands of Tasers.
HBO Max has temporarily removed the film “Gone with the Wind” from its streaming video service. The Washington Post reports HBO’s parent company, WarnerMedia, is planning to make the 1939 Hollywood blockbuster available again next week, after adding a new introduction from a yet-to-be-named African American studies scholar.
“Gone with the Wind” was taken offline just hours after screenwriter John Ridley, who won an Oscar for “12 Years a Slave,” wrote in an L.A. Times op-ed, “It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south. It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.”
President Trump has repeatedly praised “Gone with the Wind.” This is Trump at a Las Vegas campaign rally in late February.
President Donald Trump: “What ever happened to 'Gone with the Wind,' that beautiful movie? Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, right? What ever happened? Bring back 'Gone with the Wind'!”
The A&E channel has canceled “Live PD,” its popular reality TV show about police officers, amid protests over the show’s role in the police killing of an African American motorist. Javier Ambler died in March of 2019 after police in Austin, Texas, repeatedly tased him during a traffic stop, while Ambler told the officers, “I have congestive heart failure,” and “I can’t breathe.” Ambler was pulled over after he allegedly failed to dim his headlights to oncoming traffic. The killing was filmed by a “Live PD” camera crew, but the footage was never publicly released. On Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman reported the show’s producers have since destroyed the footage.
Protesters in the San Francisco Bay Area are demanding justice for 23-year-old East Oakland resident Erik Salgado, who was shot dead by California Highway Patrol officers Saturday night. Police allege Salgado tried to ram their patrol cars during a traffic stop; family members say officers fired 40 rounds indiscriminately at Salgado’s vehicle, killing him and badly wounding his pregnant girlfriend Brianna Colombo. Both passengers were reportedly unarmed. Protesters are demanding police release the names of the officers involved, and for their prosecution.
Amazon has placed a one-year moratorium on letting police use its facial recognition technology, following protests from civil rights and privacy advocates. Earlier in the week, IBM announced it would pull out of the facial recognition business entirely. In a letter to Congress, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna condemned software that could be used for “mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.” Researchers have found facial recognition software is more likely to misidentify people with darker skin.
NASCAR has banned displays of Confederate flags from its events, where the white supremacist symbol has long been a fixture. The move came just two days after NASCAR’s only top-tier African American driver, Bubba Wallace, made this comment on CNN.
Bubba Wallace: “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
This week, Wallace wore a T-shirt reading “I can’t breathe” as he debuted his car’s new paint scheme: all black, with the hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” stenciled along the side.