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President Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, despite warnings from public health officials. The director of the Tulsa Health Department said he wishes Trump would postpone the indoor event. The Oklahoma health commissioner has urged all attendees to get tested for COVID and to wear face masks. Two Oklahoma lawyers have sued in an attempt to halt the rally, saying the event will endanger the entire Tulsa community. Trump’s visit comes as the administration continues to downplay the severity of the pandemic. The White House coronavirus task force hasn’t held a briefing since April 27.
The Wall Street Journal says the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities has now topped 50,000 in the United States. This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in prisons is skyrocketing. According to The New York Times, 68,000 prisoners have now been infected. The number has doubled over the past month. In Arizona, the ACLU and other groups have sued the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office seeking the release of vulnerable people from county jails. In recent weeks, the number of confirmed COVID cases in the county jail system has jumped from just six to over 300 — a 5,000% increase.
COVID outbreaks at meatpacking plants continue to grow. At least 89 meatpackers have died. In April, President Trump ordered meatpacking plants to stay open despite the health risks. While the meatpacking industry has warned of possible shortages of meats, exports of meat have reached a new high. A new report reveals the United States exported nearly 129,000 tons of pork to China in April — the highest monthly amount ever.
On the international front, scientists in Britain say new tests have shown a widely used steroid called dexamethasone can greatly reduce death rates among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients. The World Health Organization described the findings as “great news.”
In Australia, authorities have announced the country’s borders will likely remain closed until 2021. Meanwhile, the United States has announced its borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed to nonessential travel for at least another month.
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order on policing following more than three weeks of nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The order calls for the creation of a national police misconduct database and to give federal grants to departments to improve training. Trump resisted growing calls to back an outright ban on the use of police chokeholds. Instead, the order calls on officers to only use them if they feel his or her life is endangered. During an address at the White House surrounded by police officers, Trump made no mention of systemic racism and sought to downplay the crisis.
President Donald Trump: “Nobody is more opposed to the small number of bad police officers. And you have them. They are very tiny. I use the word 'tiny.' It’s a very small percentage. But you have them.”
Civil rights leaders and legal advocates widely criticized Trump’s executive order. The Rev. Al Sharpton called it “toothless and meaningless.” Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law described it as “anemic.”
Kristen Clarke: “This order was incredibly anemic, in that it does not deal with racial profiling. It does not impose a ban on chokeholds and neck holds. It does not end qualified immunity for officers. It does not strengthen the tools that we need to hold officers accountable and to make it possible to prosecute officers who use deadly or excessive force without basis.”
Protests against police brutality and racism are continuing across the country.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, dozens of protesters have entered their fifth day camped outside the city’s police department. Members of the group Justice for Jayson are calling on the police chief to fire police officer James Boulay, who shot dead 15-year-old Jayson Negron three years ago. Jayson’s sister Jazmarie Melendez is helping to organize the occupation.
Jazmarie Melendez: “We are in a state of emergency. We are no longer going to wait around for these people in power to listen to us. We are going to occupy this space until our demands are met, and we will not be leaving.” (Video footage from Justice for Jayson & Travis Carbonella)
In Richmond, Virginia, the mayor has ousted the city’s police chief after Richmond officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters on Sunday and Monday night. Richmond officers had also tear-gassed protesters earlier this month as they peacefully gathered at a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. According to The New York Times, at least 97 law enforcement agencies have used some form of tear gas against civilians protesting in recent weeks.
In Buffalo, New York, 75-year-old peace activist Martin Gugino is continuing to recover after being shoved by two Buffalo police officers on June 4. Gugino has suffered a brain injury, has a fractured skull and is not able to walk.
An active-duty Air Force sergeant with ties to the far-right “boogaloo” movement has been arrested for killing two law enforcement officials in California in recent weeks. Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo is accused of shooting dead a federal security officer in Oakland during the protests over the police killing of George Floyd in May. Later, Carrillo killed a deputy sergeant in the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Carrillo’s lawyer says the Air Force sergeant had served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. FBI special agent Jack Bennett spoke on Tuesday.
Jack Bennett: “To be clear, Carrillo elected to travel to Oakland to conduct this murder and take advantage of a time when this nation was mourning the killing of George Floyd. There is no evidence that these men had any intention to join the demonstration in Oakland, as some in the media have asked. They came to Oakland to kill cops.”
Authorities have also arrested an accomplice of Sergeant Carrillo’s. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors in Las Vegas charged three other men connected to the far-right boogaloo movement with inciting violence during the recent protests and conspiracy to commit terrorism. The three men also had experience in the U.S. military.
Human Rights Campaign has added “Tete” Gulley (also spelled as “Titi”) to its list of transgender or gender non-conforming people killed in the U.S. in 2019 bringing the count to at least 28. Gulley was found hanging from a tree in Portland Oregon on May 27, 2019. The local medical examiner ruled her death to be a suicide, but her family believes she may have been killed. Her death received renewed attention this week as federal authorities probe two recent hanging deaths of Black men in California. (Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, Democracy Now! incorrectly reported her death occurred last month). Meanwhile, in New York, a protest is scheduled for Saturday to demand a full investigation into the death of Dominique Alexander, a 27-year-old Black man who was found hanged in a Manhattan park last week. The local medical examiner’s office ruled the cause of his death to be suicide.
The Equal Justice Initiative has issued a new report documenting nearly 2,000 confirmed lynchings of Black people by white mobs in the United States between 1865 and 1877. The group, which was founded by Bryan Stevenson, has spent years documenting the legacy of racial terror in the country. The group had previously documented 4,400 lynchings of Black people in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950.
In international news, at least 20 Indian troops have died in a border clash with Chinese soldiers in the Himalayas. It was the first deadly encounter by the two nuclear-armed neighbors in 45 years. China accused the Indian troops of crossing the disputed border, but India rejected the claim.
Tensions are escalating on the Korean Peninsula one day after North Korea blew up a joint liaison office near the South Korean border. The office was set up after the 2018 peace talks. North Korea has also threatened to send troops back to the border. Meanwhile, the South Korean unification minister has offered his resignation as ties between the two countries worsen.
Sweeping new U.S. sanctions on Syria go into effect today despite warnings from aid groups that the sanctions could disproportionately impact Syrian civilians. University of Oklahoma professor Joshua Landis said, “Sanctions are sure to hurt many innocent people. Syrians are already on their knees. This will simply bring them a bit lower.”
The California utility company PG&E has confessed to killing 84 people as it pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges over its role in starting devastating fires in Northern California in 2018. The fires destroyed 18,000 structures. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey described the plea deal as unprecedented.
Mike Ramsey: “Those of you that were over in our North County Court today saw something in unprecedented nature: a major United States corporation pleading guilty to 85 felony counts, 84 of which were homicide counts — in other words, killing 84 Butte County citizens.”
In Mexico, about a dozen families whose loved ones are disappeared have been camping outside the home of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for almost two weeks demanding his government search for the over 60,000 people who’ve gone missing in Mexico and bring their families justice. The families say the nationwide coronavirus lockdown has disrupted search missions and that proposed austerity measures announced in April will likely end vital funding and support to families of the disappeared.
The Trump administration has sued former national security adviser John Bolton in a bid to block the publication of his forthcoming book. The Justice Department claims the book could compromise national security and that it did not go through the necessary pre-publication review process. President Trump recently publicly warned Bolton about publishing the book.
President Donald Trump: “I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified. So that would mean that if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he’s broken the law.”
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast is reporting the White House is also looking into ways to block the publication of a forthcoming book by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump. Her book is titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”