In Texas, anger is mounting over the police response to Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which left 19 students and two teachers dead. On Thursday, Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety said there were no officers outside the school to confront the 18-year-old gunman, contradicting earlier accounts that a school resource officer unsuccessfully engaged the teen. Escalon also had few answers about the initial police response and why officers took at least an hour to directly confront the shooter even though scores of police officers were on the scene.
Victor Escalon: “Once we interview all those officers, what they were thinking, what they did, why they did it, the video, the residual interviews, we’ll have a better idea. Could anybody have got there sooner?”
One mother was handcuffed by a U.S. marshal as she pleaded with officers to do more to help students trapped inside the school. Another officer was seen holding a Taser to keep angry parents at bay. One law enforcement official told a local news channel some officers went into the school to rescue their own children.
The husband of a fourth grade teacher killed in Tuesday’s massacre died Thursday of a heart attack. Fifty-year-old Joe Garcia had just returned home from dropping off flowers at a memorial for his wife, Irma Garcia, when he collapsed. Garcia’s cousin wrote, “I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart.” Joe and Irma Garcia were high school sweethearts who had been married for a quarter-century; they leave behind four children.
In Toronto, Canada, five schools were placed on lockdown Thursday as police shot and killed a man seen carrying a rifle near an elementary school. Toronto Police Chief James Ramer wouldn’t name the person killed, but described him as a young man in his late teens or early twenties.
Police Chief James Ramer: “Due to the proximity to a school, I certainly understand the trauma and how traumatic this must have been for staff, students and parents, given the recent events that have happened in the United States.”
Students at scores of schools across the United States walked out of classrooms at the stroke of noon Thursday in a coordinated protest demanding passage of gun control laws. In Michigan, hundreds of Oxford High School students assembled on their school’s football field, forming a giant “U” in solidarity with victims of the massacre in Uvalde. Four Oxford students were killed in November by a 15-year-old gunman. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows firearms have surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans used the threat of a filibuster Thursday to block a bill to combat neo-Nazi and white supremacist violence. Forty-seven Republicans voted against beginning debate on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which would create domestic terrorism offices within the FBI and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. This comes less than two weeks after a white supremacist gunman killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in a predominantly African American neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.
On Thursday, the Senate adjourned for a 10-day recess after failing to take action on gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. Democrats rallied outside the Capitol demanding gun control, while rejecting Republican calls to arm teachers and school resource officers. This is California Senator Alex Padilla.
Sen. Alex Padilla: “And no, putting more armed adults in schools is not the answer. If more guns was the answer, the United States of America would be the safest nation in the world. But it’s not.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has canceled plans to speak in person at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, which opens today in Houston, less than 300 miles from the site of Tuesday’s massacre in Uvalde. Governor Abbott still plans to appear by video. Two other prominent Texas Republicans — Senator John Cornyn and Congressmember Dan Crenshaw — also canceled plans to attend the NRA gathering, as have music stars Larry Gatlin, Larry Stewart, Lee Greenwood and Don McLean. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick still plan to attend, as does today’s featured speaker, former President Donald Trump. The NRA says the Secret Service will prohibit guns inside the Houston convention center during Trump’s speech.
Ukraine’s military retreated from several positions along the eastern front Thursday as Russian forces made slow but steady gains in a push to seize control of Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russia appears to have seized control of Lyman, a town with a strategically important railway junction. Meanwhile, the mayor of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine claimed Russia’s assault has killed 1,500 city residents while destroying over half of the city’s residential buildings. On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia’s military of genocide, saying it was burning whole cities into ashes.
In Sudan, security forces were deployed in the capital Khartoum Thursday as massive protests demanding an end to military rule continue. Thousands of people took to the streets and marched toward the presidential palace demanding a return to civilian rule following a coup by Sudan’s military in October. This is one of the protesters.
Shahinaz Gamal: “Today there are a lot of injuries. They are targeting children and women, who are especially hit in the head and eyes. A woman told me she was hit by a security vehicle firing tear gas.”
In Colombia, voters are choosing a new president Sunday. Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro shows a significant lead in recent polls, with right-wing rival Federico Gutiérrez in second place. Petro’s running mate is the Goldman Prize-winning environmental activist Francia Márquez Mina. Both Petro and Mina have denounced mounting death threats they’ve received during their campaign and racist attacks against Mina, who is poised to become Colombia’s first Black vice president. Petro has vowed to fight inequality in Colombia, stop all new oil development and redistribute pension savings, among other reforms. Click here to see our interview with Francia Márquez Mina.
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising in most regions of the United States heading into Memorial Day weekend. Officially, the U.S. is averaging over 110,000 daily infections, though the widespread use of at-home tests means the true number is likely far higher.
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study finding more than one in five adults who survive COVID-19 go on to experience at least one symptom of “long COVID,” with problems including fatigue; heart, lung and kidney damage; cognitive decline; blood clots and more. The World Health Organization estimates as many as 100 million people around the world may experience mid- and long-term health effects of COVID-19. And the protection offered by vaccines against “long COVID” appears limited. A Department of Veterans Affairs study published in the journal Nature this week found vaccination reduced the risk of long-term lung and blood clot disorders from COVID-19 but did little to protect against other long-term health effects from the disease.
Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli has been reunited with his family after serving nearly half a century in prison. Acoli is 85 years old and suffers from dementia. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Acoli is not a risk to public safety, paving the way for his release.
Oklahoma has banned nearly all abortions beginning at the moment of fertilization. The new law took effect immediately after it was signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt on Wednesday. The bill allows private citizens to sue abortion providers, with a “bounty” of at least $10,000 for successful lawsuits. This comes after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed justices are prepared to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.
The Department of Justice has decided not to charge the FBI agents who for months failed to properly investigate serious sexual abuse accusations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. This comes after a report in July 2021 found Indianapolis FBI officials failed to follow up with key witnesses or alert other law enforcement agencies of the crimes. The neglect led to Nassar abusing or assaulting more than 100 other gymnasts between the time the FBI first heard of the accusations in 2015 until Nassar’s arrest the following year. The two FBI agents also made false statements and omitted key information in trying to hide failures in the Nassar investigation.
Spain’s parliament has approved landmark legislation that would codify the definition of consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will into Spanish law, freeing survivors of sexual assault from the burden of having to prove violence or intimidation was used against them. The measure, known as “Only Yes Means Yes,” makes consent a key determinant in sexual assault cases and emphasizes that a person’s silence does not equal consent. The efforts were spearheaded by Spain’s Equality Minister Irene Montero.
Irene Montero: “Today the feminist movement makes history again. We owed this to each one of the survivors. We owed it to ourselves. And most likely it will be one of the most important rights that we can leave to our daughters, for the present and future. Only yes means yes. Long live the women’s fight. Many thanks.”