In Minnesota, police fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades as protesters defied a curfew and took to the streets of the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for a second straight night. They were demanding justice for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop Sunday.
State authorities have identified the officer who killed Wright as Kimberly Potter, a 26-year police veteran who has served as the police union president for the department. She has been placed on administrative leave. On Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon claimed Potter accidentally pulled a gun instead of a Taser. He also played an excerpt of police body camera footage showing the shooting.
Kimberly Potter: “I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser! Holy [bleep]! I just shot him. Yes!”
According to the Star Tribune, Daunte Wright is the sixth person killed by Brooklyn Center police since 2012. Five of the six have been men of color. On Monday, the director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations joined calls for officer Kimberly Potter to face criminal charges. This is Jaylani Hussein.
Jaylani Hussein: “We are told it’s an accident, but I’m going to tell you it is not an accident. Daunte Wright was killed before he was even stopped, because he’s a Black man in America. Daunte Wright was killed by this white officer because she did not see his humanity. She did not believe that Black lives matter.”
The police killing of Daunte Wright took place just 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis, where former officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd last May. On Monday, a cardiologist called as an expert witness by the prosecution testified that Floyd died due to oxygen deprivation — not from drugs or a heart condition — after Derek Chauvin pressed him into the pavement for over nine minutes. Another expert witness, law professor and former police officer Seth Stoughton, blasted Chauvin’s actions.
Seth Stoughton: “No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.”
George Floyd’s brother Philonise gave tearful testimony as the prosecution wrapped up its case. Derek Chauvin’s defense is due to call its first witnesses today. After headlines, we’ll go to Minneapolis for the latest on the police killings of Daunte Wright and George Floyd.
U.S. health officials are calling for an immediate pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, after six recipients developed a rare complication from blood clots within two weeks of their vaccinations. One woman died, and another has been hospitalized in critical condition. It’s not known if the vaccine caused the disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as many as 100,000 people regularly die of blood clots each year, and clotting is often a symptom of COVID-19.
On Monday, the U.S. recorded 70,000 new cases as the nation’s COVID-19 death toll passed 562,000. The CDC reports 120 million U.S. residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The World Health Organization warns global COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise exponentially, with 4.4 million positive tests last week — the seventh straight week of increases.
Among the hardest-hit nations are India, which reported more than 160,000 new infections Tuesday, and Brazil, where COVID-19 deaths have topped 355,000, second only to the United States.
In Russia, government statistics show over 360,000 “excess deaths” in 2020. The finding strongly suggests Russia sought to cover up the true toll of the pandemic, as it reported just 57,000 deaths from COVID-19 last year.
In the Philippines, far-right President Rodrigo Duterte made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks Monday, seeking to end speculation about whether he’d fallen ill from a coronavirus infection.
President Rodrigo Duterte: “If you want me to die early, you must pray harder.”
Duterte said he would “waive” his chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine, outraging public health officials who’ve called on him to be vaccinated in public in order to combat vaccine hesitancy. This week, Duterte’s administration relaxed sweeping lockdown measures for the capital Manila and surrounding regions, despite a record surge in infections that’s threatening to overwhelm hospitals. The Philippines is now the worst-affected country in Southeast Asia. Just over a million Philippines residents have received a COVID-19 vaccination, a tiny fraction of the nation’s 110 million people.
Meanwhile, England has begun reopening pubs, gyms and restaurants after months of lockdown. COVID-19 cases in the U.K. have plummeted due to one of the world’s fastest mass vaccination programs, with some 40 million doses administered.
In Brussels, European Union officials are deciding whether to allow emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, after many European nations suspended use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine for younger people amid reports of rare incidents of blood clots. In clinical trials, the two-dose Sputnik V outperformed AstraZeneca with over 90% efficacy at preventing COVID-19.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency use of its monoclonal antibody cocktail. Regeneron says a clinical trial showed its drug reduced the risk of symptomatic infection by over 80% among people who lived in the same household as someone who tested positive for coronavirus.
In immigration news, human rights defenders are condemning the Biden administration’s agreements with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to further militarize their borders in an attempt to keep asylum seekers from reaching the United States. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the objective is to make people’s journey north and crossing through borders “more difficult.” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, denounced Biden’s move and said, “Instead of deploying more troops, governments in the region must respect and uphold people’s rights to seek asylum and live in safety.” Click here to see our full interview with Erika Guevara-Rosas.
The United Nations is warning the entire population of Saint Vincent has been left without access to clean water as a volcano continues to spew ash and hot gas over the Caribbean island nation. The U.N. says about 20,000 evacuees are in need of shelter. Cruise ships dispatched to ferry Saint Vincent residents to safety refused to pick up passengers unless they could prove they’d been vaccinated against COVID-19, and some neighboring islands said they would only take in vaccinated people.
In Japan, government officials have announced plans to release more than 1 million tons of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power station into the ocean. The plans are drawing condemnation from China, South Korea, environmental groups, and local fishers who worry the industry will be further impacted. Japanese officials say the water release will begin in about two years and that the process will likely take decades.
Back in the United States, convicted rapist and former Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein appeared by video link in a New York court Monday, where a judge is weighing whether to extradite him to California to face new charges of rape and sexual assault on five women. Weinstein’s next court hearing is set for April 30.
Actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua are moving production of their upcoming film “Emancipation” out of Georgia in a protest against voter suppression legislation signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp in March. In a joint statement, Smith and Fuqua write, “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting.” In “Emancipation,” Will Smith will portray an enslaved man known as “Whipped Peter,” who escaped a Louisiana plantation and joined the Union Army in 1863.
The Southern Center for Human Rights is demanding better treatment and conditions for people incarcerated at the Lee Arrendale State Prison in Georgia, where advocates say people who have just given birth are being shackled or placed in solitary confinement in violation of state and federal law. In a letter to the prison’s warden, the group says people have described being placed in solitary within days of giving birth, sometimes without being able to change out of the bloodied clothing they wore during childbirth. The group also warns of using solitary confinement to detain people who’ve contracted COVID-19 — who are often held in filthy cells with malfunctioning plumbing, insufficient water and personal hygiene products.
Fox News is defending primetime host Tucker Carlson over his on-air defense of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory. On April 8, Carlson made these comments as he lashed out against immigrants and the Democratic Party.
Tucker Carlson: “The left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term 'replacement,' if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s — that’s what’s happening, actually. Let’s just say it. That’s true.”
Tucker Carlson’s reference to “replacement” echoed the words of violent white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, chanting “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.” The Anti-Defamation League is urging Fox News to fire Carlson, calling his comments “antisemitic, racist and toxic.” “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was former President Trump’s favorite Fox News program and is the most popular cable news show in history.
The Washington Post reports domestic terrorism incidents surged to a record high in 2020, fueled by white supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right. The Post found that, since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks leading to 91 deaths.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the NCAA, said Monday it “firmly and unequivocally supports” transgender student athletes — in the face of Republican-led efforts to ban trans athletes from school sports. The NCAA has also vowed to hold championships only in places that are free of discrimination. In a statement, the NCAA says, “Our clear expectation … is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect.” Almost 30 state legislatures are considering bills banning trans students from competing in school sports. Four states — Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Idaho — have already enacted such bans.