A Minneapolis jury is hearing closing arguments today in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes. Jurors will be sequestered until they reach a unanimous verdict.
This comes as demonstrations continued over the weekend in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center over the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. On Friday, police arrested over 100 people at protests. Officers also rounded up journalists, forced them onto their stomachs and photographed their faces and press credentials. Others were shot with chemical sprays and other so-called less lethal weapons.CNN producer Carolyn Sung was thrown to the ground, zip-tied and arrested by a trooper who yelled, “Do you speak English?” — even though she repeatedly identified herself as a journalist. Sung is Asian American. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday, barring state law enforcement officials from attacking or arresting journalists covering the protests. The order does not apply to local law enforcement or National Guard officers.
The Minneapolis protests came as The New York Times reported more than three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement since Derek Chauvin’s trial began.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland has reversed a Trump-era Justice Department rule limiting the use of federal consent decrees to address abuses by local police departments.
Protests are also continuing in Chicago over the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a Latino boy. Police bodycam video shows Adam had his hands up in the air when he was shot dead by an officer in March. On Sunday, thousands marched in the largely Mexican neighborhood of Little Village, where Adam was killed. James Murphy, a longtime prosecutor in Cook County, has been placed on administrative leave after he falsely told a judge that Toledo was holding a gun when police shot him.
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is set to sign the state’s so-called anti-riot bill that was pushed by Republicans in the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matter uprising. Among other things, it bars local governments from cutting police budgets without state approval and raises penalties on demonstrators accused of a crime, including damage to historical monuments or statues.
The eight victims of last week’s mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility have been identified. They are Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Sekhon, Jasvinder Kaur, Karli Smith and John Weisert. Four of the victims are members of the local Sikh community.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis police revealed Brandon Hole, the 19-year-old white mass murderer and former FedEx employee, legally purchased the two semiautomatic rifles used in the attack. They were bought just a few months after police seized a shotgun from Hole after his mother brought forward concerns about his mental state.
At least two other mass shootings took place in the U.S. over the weekend. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, three men were shot dead Sunday at a college bar. Three others were hospitalized. In Texas, another three people were killed Sunday in a shooting in Austin. A former deputy with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Stephen Nicholas Broderick, has been named a suspect.
The world has topped 3 million reported deaths from COVID-19, with infections rising across parts of Asia, Latin America and Europe. On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization warned the pandemic could soon be entering its worst phase yet.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months. This is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic.”
In Brazil, hospitals remain stretched to their limit as deaths average 3,000 per day. A new study estimated over 2,000 children under 9 have died of COVID-19 in Brazil — over half of those babies — since the pandemic started.
India recorded yet another new record of over 273,000 cases Monday. This is a surgeon at a Delhi hospital.
Dr. Arvind Kumar: “There are no beds in the ICU. There are no ventilators. There are no — medicines are in short supply. Even oxygen is in short supply in more and more states. And those who have died are waiting for hours together for a decent cremation. What can be more dangerous and more frightening than this scenario?”
While many countries have yet to inoculate even their most vulnerable, some wealthier nations are moving toward a return to normal life after successful vaccination campaigns. Israel has lifted its outdoor mask mandate and fully reopened schools. But Israel’s medical apartheid has left the majority of Palestinians out of the region’s recovery.
Here in the U.S., half the adult population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and a quarter are fully vaccinated. The U.S. continues to average more than 67,000 new infections a day.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel will meet Friday to issue recommendations on whether to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine. The U.S. temporarily halted use of the one-shot vaccine after at least six people reported an extremely rare blood clot disorder. On Friday, J&J scientists said there was “insufficient” evidence of a link between the clots and the vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend he expects the U.S. will resume its use.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “My estimate is that we will continue to use it in some form. I doubt very seriously if they just cancel it. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
South Africa’s health regulator has recommended resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations after also halting its rollout.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has expelled 10 U.S. diplomats and will bar top U.S. officials from traveling to Russia, after President Biden ordered sweeping new sanctions against Russia. The White House accuses Russia of interfering in the 2020 election and says Russian hackers are behind the massive SolarWinds hack, which compromised the computer systems of U.S. government agencies and scores of private companies.
In Bangladesh, five people were killed and dozens more wounded Saturday after police opened fire on a crowd of 2,000 workers protesting unpaid wages and demanding better working conditions. The violent crackdown came at a Chinese-owned coal-fired power plant southeast of the capital, Dhaka.
Syria’s parliament has announced plans to hold a presidential election on May 26.
Hammouda Sabbagh: “I call on Syrian citizens inside and outside the country to practice their right in electing the president of the republic.”
Candidates must have lived in Syria for the past decade, leading exiled opposition politicians to condemn the election as a farce. The vote is widely expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to a third term. This comes on the 10th anniversary of Assad’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, which sparked a civil war that has displaced millions and left more than 380,000 dead.
President Biden walked back his decision to keep the Trump-era cap on the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., after intense backlash from some Democrats and rights groups. The current annual limit is just 15,000 — a record low. Biden now says he will announce the increased number for this fiscal year by May 15.
North Carolina police arrested two men over the shooting deaths of two Black transgender women. The women have been identified as Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell. They are believed to be at least the 14th and 15th transgender or gender nonconforming people to be violently killed this year.
Meanwhile, states continue to push laws threatening the lives and safety of trans people around the country. Another bill that would bar trans athletes in student sports teams is currently making its way through Florida’s Legislature. In Texas, 10-year-old trans activist Kai Shappley addressed state lawmakers last week to speak out against two bills criminalizing gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.
Kai Shappley: “Texas legislators have been attacking me since pre-K. I’m in fourth grade now. When it comes to bills that target trans youth, I immediately feel angry. It’s been very scary and overwhelming. It just — it makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist.”