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HeadlinesJune 09, 2020

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Thousands Pay Their Respects in Houston as George Floyd Is Remembered by His Family

Jun 09, 2020

In Houston, Texas, thousands gathered Monday to pay their respects to George Floyd two weeks after he was killed by police in Minneapolis. His brother Terrence Floyd spoke to reporters in front of a memorial at the Fountain of Praise church, where a public viewing was held.

Terrence Floyd: “And I’ll tell you what: If he was told he would have to sacrifice his life to bring the world together, and knowing him, I know he would have did it. And, I mean, again, I love this love, and we’re all hurting as a family.”

The Reverend Al Sharpton appeared with George Floyd’s brothers, along with relatives of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Ahmaud Arbery and Michael Brown. The Floyd family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, also spoke.

Benjamin Crump: “Either America will destroy racism, or racism will destroy America. In the name of George Floyd.”

George Floyd’s funeral is today in Houston, his hometown. He will then be buried next to his mother.

Chauvin Appears in Court, Bail Set at Over $1 Million

Jun 09, 2020

In Minneapolis, former police officer Derek Chauvin made his first court appearance for the murder of George Floyd via video from a maximum-security prison. His bail was set at $1.25 million, or $1 million with conditions.

Video Shows Texas Police Killing Black Man After Minor Traffic Violation as He Pleads “I Can’t Breathe”

Jun 09, 2020

A warning to our audience: This headline contains video of graphic police violence. Authorities in Austin, Texas, are facing new questions over the death of an African American man named Javier Ambler in March of last year. He died after being pulled over by Williamson County deputies after a chase that began when he failed to dim the headlights of his SUV while passing a deputy’s car. Newly released police body cam footage shows Ambler was repeatedly tased while he told the officers “I have congestive heart failure” and “I can’t breathe.”

Officer 1: “Other hand!”

Javier Ambler: “I’m about to get on my knees, sir.”

Officer 1: “Other hand!”

Javier Ambler: “I’m about to give it to you, sir.”

Officer 1: “Give me your hand!”

Officer 2: “Sir, I need you to comply.”

Javier Ambler: “Sir.”

Officer 2: “I’m going to tase you.”

Officer 1: “Flat on your stomach! Flat on your stomach!”

Javier Ambler: “Sir, I can’t breathe.”

Officer 1: “Flat on your stomach!”

Javier Ambler: “I can’t breathe!”

Officer 1: “Flat on your stomach! Flat on your stomach! Stop resisting.”

Officer 2: “Stop.”

Javier Ambler: “I can’t breathe!”

Officer 1: “Stop resisting.”

Officer 2: “Stop.”

Javier Ambler: “Sir!”

Officer 2: “You need to comply.”

Javier Ambler: “I’m not resisting!”

Officer 1: “Stop resisting!”

Javier Ambler: “I can’t breathe!”

Details about Amber’s death are only coming to light now after the Austin American-Statesman successfully forced the release of the police body cam footage and internal reports about the killing. Until last week, Ambler’s family only knew he died in police custody. His death was also filmed by A&E’s reality show “Live PD,” but the footage has never been publicly viewed. Ambler was a former postal worker and father of two. The Travis County district attorney has announced the case will go to a grand jury this summer.

New Mexico Officer Charged with Killing Man in Neck Restraint During Traffic Stop

Jun 09, 2020

In New Mexico, a Las Cruces police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of a man after a traffic stop in February. The officer, Christopher Smelser, remains free on bail. He is accused of killing Antonio Valenzuela by placing him in a neck restraint. Smelser is heard on a newly released lapel video telling Valenzuela, “I’m going to [expletive] choke you out, bro.” Even after Valenzuela lost consciousness, the video shows Smelser made no attempt to help him. Instead he is heard describing his encounter with Valenzuela as a “good little fight.” Antonio Valenzuela was a father of four who worked as a painter. According to The Washington Post, Las Cruces, New Mexico, had the highest rate of police killings of any city in the country between 2015 and 2019.

Democrats Unveil Police Reform Legislation, Take Knee to Remember George Floyd

Jun 09, 2020

On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate introduced their police reform legislation Monday. This is Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass.

Rep. Karen Bass: “The Justice in Policing Act establishes a bold, transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minneapolis: the slow murder of an individual by a uniformed police officer.”

The legislation would make prosecuting police abuses easier; create a national registry to track misconduct; ban the transfer of some military equipment to police departments; and ban chokeholds and other practices that have killed people. Before unveiling the bills, a group of prominent Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congressmember Jim Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker, took a symbolic knee on the floor of the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Derek Chauvin pinned George Floyd to the ground by his neck while Floyd gasped for air, slowly dying.

Ramsey Orta, Who Filmed Police Killing Eric Garner, Released from Prison

Jun 09, 2020

In New York, Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed Eric Garner’s arrest and police killing, has been released from prison. He had been serving four years on gun and drug charges but was given early release because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Peaceful Protesters Injured and Killed Around the Country by Cars Ramming into Crowds

Jun 09, 2020

In Virginia, a man who claims to be a leader of the Ku Klux Klan has been arrested after driving his car into a group of protesters in Richmond on Sunday night. Harry Rogers was charged with assault and battery. Local authorities described him as an “admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology.”

Meanwhile, in Bakersfield, California, there have been at least three recent cases where drivers ran into protesters. On Saturday, a 55-year-old African American named Robert Forbes died after being hit earlier in the week by a white driver. No charges have been filed, but witnesses have accused the driver of intentionally trying to hit protesters.

And in Seattle, an African American man was injured on Sunday when a man drove into a crowd of protesters and opened fire. The driver, Nikolas Fernandez, is being held for suspicion of assault in the first degree.

Protesters Establish Autonomous Zone Around Seattle PD Building as Police Retreat

Jun 09, 2020

In Seattle, protesters are claiming victory after they established a barricaded zone around a police precinct building that had been the site of protests — and a brutal police crackdown — for eight days. The precinct building is now boarded up. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best described the move as an exercise in “trust and deescalation.”

On Friday, Seattle announced a 30-day ban on the use of tear gas, but officers continued to use it against protesters over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council has begun discussing demilitarizing or defunding the police force. On Monday, Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant introduced a bill to ban police from using chemical weapons and chokeholds.

France, U.K. Seek Changes in How They Handle Police Violence

Jun 09, 2020

The killing of George Floyd has sparked major shifts globally on how governments are approaching police violence. On Monday, France banned police use of chokeholds during arrests. In Britain, over 160 members of Parliament wrote a letter to the international trade secretary demanding Britain suspend the export of British riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the U.S. “We should not be helping Donald Trump repress his own people,” Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn wrote on Twitter.

Joe Biden Says He Does Not Support Defunding the Police

Jun 09, 2020

While calls to defund the police are growing in the United States, Joe Biden has come out against the policy. On Monday, a spokesperson for his campaign said Biden “does not believe that police should be defunded.” Meanwhile, Joe Biden traveled to Houston on Monday to meet with the family of George Floyd.

Palestinians Rally Against Israel Annexation Plans and in Support of Black Lives Matter

Jun 09, 2020

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians rallied Monday in Ramallah against Israel’s plan to annex the West Bank. Protesters also carried signs honoring George Floyd and in solidarity with the anti-police-brutality uprising in the U.S. The protest follows similar actions across the occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel in recent days. On Saturday, Senator Bernie Sanders addressed crowds via video stream at a rally in Tel Aviv, telling protesters “annexation must be stopped.”

Meanwhile, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a mural of George Floyd was painted on the separation wall with Israel. This is Mahmoud Abiedalla, who initiated the idea for the tribute mural.

Mahmoud Abiedalla: “We paint on the apartheid wall, that we are trapped under, as a message of solidarity with them and of solidarity with Black people who are in the United States that are oppressed, and where you can see racial discrimination between white and Black people.”

In other news from the region, the Israeli government recently reversed its relaxation of coronavirus restrictions after it recorded a spike in cases.

Global Coronavirus Cases Top 7 Million as WHO Warns Situation Worsening in Many Areas

Jun 09, 2020

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide now top 7 million, with over 400,000 deaths. As many countries open up again, the World Health Organization warned Monday the situation is getting worse globally.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it’s worsening. More than 100,000 thousand cases have been reported on nine of the past 10 days. Yesterday, more than 136 [thousand] cases were reported, the most in a single day so far.”

Nearly 75% of recent cases came from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia, said the WHO. The WHO also said that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people appears to be rare.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with the highest tolls reported in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru — which together account for over 1 million confirmed cases. The WHO said over the weekend Central and South America have likely not reached peak transmission yet.

However, Cuba remains a bright spot in the region, where infections have been on the decline for two months. Cuba announced this weekend it is “closing in on the tail end of the pandemic.”

In New Zealand, nearly all restrictions have been lifted, including social distancing and limits on public gatherings, as the country enters into the least restrictive phase of its recovery. New Zealand has not reported any new cases in over two weeks.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is “worried” as the country’s cases have surged over the past two weeks. On Monday, the official death toll topped 1,000.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surging in Many States as Restrictions Are Relaxed

Jun 09, 2020

Here in the U.S., COVID-19 infections hit record highs in 14 states and Puerto Rico since the start of June, as the nationwide caseload nears 2 million and over 111,000 deaths. Some states that started easing restrictions before meeting the recommended metrics for reopening have seen major surges, including Texas and Arizona. But the true toll of the pandemic in the U.S. remains hard to estimate. Fewer than half of U.S. states are reporting probable coronavirus cases and deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per federal recommendations. These include some of the largest and most populous states, including California, Florida and New York.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that dozens of major hospitals that received billions in government bailouts through the CARES Act continued to furlough, fire or cut the pay of tens of thousands of workers — even as their CEOs receive pay packages of tens of millions of dollars.

Immigrant Rights Groups Say ICE Is Spraying Dangerous Chemicals on Prisoners During Pandemic

Jun 09, 2020

In immigration news, a complaint filed by two immigrant rights groups accuses Immigration and Customs Enforcement of spraying a likely hazardous coronavirus disinfectant over 50 times a day at the Adelanto Detention Center in California, in poorly ventilated and crowded areas. Prisoners there have reported nosebleeds, fainting, headaches, stomach pain and a burning sensation in their skin after coming into contact with the chemical.

In related news, at least one asylum seeker held at ICE’s Port Isabel Detention Facility in South Texas has entered his second week on hunger strike to protest squalid conditions and lack of protection against COVID-19.

Ex-Salvadoran Colonel on Trial for 1989 Murder of Jesuit Priests

Jun 09, 2020

In Spain, a former Salvadoran Army colonel appeared in a Madrid court Monday to face trial 30 years after he allegedly orchestrated the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, as well as a mother and her teenage daughter, in El Salvador. Five of the victims were Spanish nationals. Inocente Orlando Montano served as El Salvador’s security minister and is accused of ordering the attack that was carried out by a U.S-trained counterinsurgency force. Montano lived in the United States for 16 years and was extradited to Madrid in 2017. Montano could face up to 150 years in prison if convicted.

Peace Activist Liz McAlister Sentenced to Time Served for Breaking into Nuclear Sub Base in Georgia

Jun 09, 2020

Eighty-year-old peace activist and former nun Liz McAlister has been sentenced to time served for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base on April 4, 2018, to protest U.S. nuclear weapons programs. The Georgia base is home to at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each of which carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons. Her six co-defendants in the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will be sentenced later this month. During the sentencing hearing Monday, McAlister said, “I don’t apologize for it. I think the weapons are completely destructive of life.” In addition to time served, she was sentenced to pay $25 per month and serve three years of supervised release. Liz McAlister appeared on Democracy Now! last October after serving 17 months locked up.

Liz McAlister: “If the munitions on those Trident submarines are ever used, that’s the end of life on Earth. That’s the end of life on Earth. I have to say no to that. We don’t have that right to destroy God’s creation.”

Click here to see our full interview with Liz McAlister.

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