HeadlinesMarch 31, 2021

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Eyewitnesses Give Chilling Testimony of Police Killing of George Floyd

Mar 31, 2021

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is entering its third day. Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges for killing George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. On Tuesday, jurors heard chilling testimony from eyewitnesses, including Darnella Frazier, who was just 17 years old when she used her cellphone to film the killing of George Floyd. Her image was not broadcast on the court television feed because she was a minor at the time of his death.

Darnella Frazier: “When I look at George Floyd, I look at — I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them. It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s like, it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he [Chauvin] should have done. He should have” —

Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier, testifying at the trial of Derek Chauvin, who she says should have saved George Floyd’s life. The mixed martial artist Donald Williams, who also witnessed Floyd’s death, told prosecutor Matthew Frank he called 911 after seeing Chauvin put Floyd in what Williams had earlier called a “blood choke.”

Matthew Frank: “At some point, did you make a 911 call?”

Donald Williams: “That is correct. I did call the police on the police.”

Matthew Frank: “All right. And why did you do that?”

Donald Williams: “Because I believe I witnessed a murder.”

Matthew Frank: “And so you felt the need to call the police?”

Donald Williams: “Yeah, I felt the need to call the police on the police.”

Lawyers for officer Derek Chauvin attempted to counter the moving accounts by portraying the eyewitnesses to George Floyd’s death as being part of an angry mob, but another one of the eyewitnesses was an off-duty firefighter and EMT. Genevieve Hansen told prosecutor Matthew Frank that she urged the police officers to check George Floyd’s pulse as he lay motionless on the ground.

Genevieve Hansen: “I also offered — in my memory, I offered to kind of walk them through it, or told them, 'If he doesn't have a pulse, you need to start compressions.’ And that wasn’t done, either.”

Matthew Frank: “Is this — are these things that you wanted to do?”

Genevieve Hansen: “It would have — it’s what I would have done for anybody.”

Matthew Frank: “When you couldn’t do that, how did that make you feel?”

Genevieve Hansen: “Totally distressed.”

Matthew Frank: “Were you frustrated?”

Genevieve Hansen: “Yes.”

Minneapolis firefighter and EMT Genevieve Hansen broke down in tears as she recalled seeing George Floyd die and being prevented from helping him. Click here to see all of our coverage on the police killing of George Floyd.

Brazil in Crisis as COVID Deaths Soar & Military Chiefs Quit in Protest

Mar 31, 2021

Brazil is facing a mounting public health and political crisis. On Tuesday, Brazil recorded nearly 3,800 new COVID-19 deaths — its highest daily death toll yet. Meanwhile, the heads of Brazil’s Army, Navy and Air Force all quit in an unprecedented move a day after Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro ousted his defense minister as part of a broader Cabinet shakeup. The developments have alarmed many in Brazil who believe Bolsonaro, who is a former Army captain, will install ultra-loyalists to the military posts to consolidate his power ahead of next year’s election, when he is expected to be challenged by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

U.S. COVID Deaths Top 550,000; Florida Undercounted Thousands of Deaths

Mar 31, 2021

The U.S. COVID-19 death toll has topped 550,000 — by far the highest in the world, and the true figure is likely even higher. A new study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests Florida has undercounted the number of COVID deaths by thousands. This comes as Arkansas has become the latest state to lift its statewide mask mandate, ignoring calls by President Biden for states to keep restrictions in place as COVID cases are rising in 26 states. In vaccine news, Pfizer has announced clinical trials show its COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective for youths between the ages of 12 and 15.

Bloomberg Employees Got Special Access to Vaccines at NYU Hospitals

Mar 31, 2021

The New York Times has revealed NYU Langone Health, a major hospital system in New York City, has set aside COVID vaccines solely for employees of Bloomberg, which is run by the billionaire former mayor of New York, Mike Bloomberg. The news comes just weeks after Bloomberg Philanthropies gave another part of NYU a $25 million donation.

China Delivers 100,000 COVID Vaccines to Palestine

Mar 31, 2021

In international news, Palestinian authorities have received 100,000 vaccine doses from China in a boost to efforts to vaccinate the 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. While Israel has vaccinated more than half of its population, it has largely refused to vaccinate Palestinians, except for some who work in Israel or in illegal settlements.

White House Unveils $2 Trillion Jobs & Infrastructure Plan

Mar 31, 2021

The White House has unveiled a $2 trillion jobs plan to help address the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. It includes over $650 billion for roads, bridges, railways and ports; over $300 billion for housing infrastructure; $300 billion for domestic manufacturing; and billions for modernizing the electrical power grid, expanding broadband and eliminating lead pipes in drinking water systems. To pay for the plan, President Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, end federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies and crack down on corporate tax avoidance.

Two Police Deputies Indicted in Texas for Killing Javier Ambler After Traffic Stop

Mar 31, 2021

A grand jury in Texas has indicted two former police deputies on second-degree manslaughter charges for killing Javier Ambler, a 40-year-old Black man. Ambler was tasered to death in Austin in March of 2019 after being pulled over for not dimming his headlights for oncoming traffic. As he was dying, Ambler said, “I have congestive heart failure,” and “I can’t breathe.” Bail has been set at $150,000 for the two deputies, James Johnson and Zachary Camden.

Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump as GOP Welcomes Oath Keepers Founder in Texas

Mar 31, 2021

Two police officers at the U.S. Capitol who were injured in the January 6 insurrection have sued former President Trump for inciting and directing the right-wing rioters. Meanwhile, Republicans are continuing to embrace backers of the violent insurrection. Video has emerged showing Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, speaking at an official Republican event in Texas on March 26 in the border town of Laredo. Other speakers at the event included Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West. Over a dozen members of the Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy for attacking the U.S. Capitol.

Man Arrested for Viciously Attacking Filipino Woman in NYC Hate Crime

Mar 31, 2021

New York police have arrested a man who viciously attacked a 65-year-old Filipino woman near Times Square as she was walking to church on Monday. Video footage shows the man kicked the woman in her stomach and then repeatedly stomped on her face while reportedly yelling anti-Asian slurs. The assailant walked away as bystanders, including security guards at a luxury apartment building, did nothing in response. New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang condemned the attack.

Andrew Yang: “An elderly Asian woman walking the streets of Hell’s Kitchen could easily have been my mother, because that’s where we live. And so, when I saw this video, that is who I thought of. My children actually play in that playground across the street from that apartment building regularly. So, seeing this happen in my neighborhood hit very close to home.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland has ordered the Justice Department to conduct a 30-day review of what he called a disturbing trend of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.

U.N. Accuses France of Killing 19 Civilians in Bombing of Wedding Party

Mar 31, 2021

In news from Mali, a United Nations investigation has determined French warplanes bombed a wedding party in January, killing 19 civilians. The mass killing prompted protests in Mali, where France has deployed 5,000 troops. France rejected the findings of the U.N. report, claiming all of the victims were Islamic militants.

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Children Videotaped Crying in Overpacked CPB Jail in Donna, Texas

Mar 31, 2021

The Biden administration has finally allowed some journalists inside a temporary Customs and Border Protection jail in Donna, Texas. Over 4,100 asylum seekers, including 3,400 unaccompanied children, are being held at the site, which has an official capacity of just 250 due to the pandemic. Children were seen crying as they lay on floor mats while being covered by foil blankets. One CBS reporter counted 615 children in a plastic-walled pod designed to hold just 32 people during the pandemic.

Washington State Lawmakers Vote to Ban For-Profit Prisons

Mar 31, 2021

Lawmakers in Washington state have passed a bill banning for-profit prisons and immigrant detention facilities, in a move that could result in the eventual shutdown of the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, which is run by the GEO Group. During the pandemic, many asylum seekers imprisoned at Northwest launched several hunger strikes protesting the squalid and dangerous conditions inside the ICE jail. The bill now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk.

New York Legislature Votes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Mar 31, 2021

The New York state Legislature has voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults and to expunge the records of people previously convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to sign the legislation.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz Faces DOJ Probe for Sex Trafficking over Relationship with Teen

Mar 31, 2021

Florida Republican Congressmember Matt Gaetz is facing a Department of Justice probe into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws by having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paying for her to travel with him. Gaetz has denied the reports and claims he is a victim of “criminal extortion.” The probe grew out of an investigation of one of Gaetz’s political allies, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year for sex trafficking of a child, among other charges. In 2019, Gaetz and Greenberg visited the White House together.

Watergate Burglar G. Gordon Liddy, 90, Dies

Mar 31, 2021

The notorious Republican operative G. Gordon Liddy has died at the age of 90. Liddy spent four-and-a-half years in jail for his role in the 1972 break-in of the Democratic Party national headquarters at the Watergate complex, which led to the downfall of Richard Nixon. He also once admitted to making plans to kill the investigative journalist Jack Anderson.

Black Panther Activist “Chip” Fitzgerald Dies After 51 Years in Prison

Mar 31, 2021

Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald has died in prison after being locked up for over 51 years in California. He was the longest-imprisoned member of the Black Panther Party. For decades, authorities in California refused to grant him parole, even after he had a stroke and was forced to use a wheelchair or walker. Fitzgerald was 71 years old.

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