with Mariana Alfaro
The death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 500 in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. District health officials report that 375 of the 506 fatalities have been African American, 65 have been Hispanic and 54 have been white. Blacks and whites each account for about 46 percent of the city’s population, according to Census Bureau data, while about 11 percent are Hispanic. Yet blacks account for 74 percent of covid-19 deaths, and the wards of the city with the largest black populations have suffered the heaviest losses.
While many states have not released racial breakdowns, the D.C. statistics are consistent with patterns that front-line medical workers have been seeing across the country and what other areas have reported.
Public health experts say the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on communities of color should be seen as an exclamation point in the national conversation about the systemic barriers to racial equality. Polls show the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day has helped awaken more consciousness among whites about the pervasiveness of racial injustice in law enforcement. Many of the African Americans who have passed away from the coronavirus also had preexisting conditions like diabetes and hypertension because of structural inequities in our health system, experts say, which made them more susceptible once they contracted the virus.
“It’s been really demoralizing in terms of being a provider, taking care of black and brown patients that are dying from covid every day, and it’s also been really frustrating seeing our political leadership not respond to some of these issues,” said Janice Blanchard, an emergency medicine physician at George Washington University Hospital.
Blanchard co-authored an academic paper with nine other African American doctors in D.C. that highlights how their patients of color were more likely to die because of chronic diseases, but they have also been more likely to suffer those conditions because they lack access to healthy food, space to exercise, secure housing and regular income.
“The covid pandemic has unmasked the fact that social determinants are so important,” said Blanchard, who is also a professor at GW’s medical school and the chief of the health policy section. “If you don’t have job security, then you’re going to work. If you live in an apartment with eight people, or with crowded housing conditions, you cannot socially isolate. We need to go beyond just thinking about health-care solutions. We need to think a little bit bigger in terms of how to fix the social determinants.”
Blanchard noted that about 40 percent of deaths in D.C. from covid-19 are residents from nursing homes. “I had one day where I went to work – this was at the peak of the pandemic – when literally every single patient that came in was a black nursing home patient with covid, and they were just so incredibly sick. I went home, and I just felt hopeless,” she said. “When you look at the nursing home distribution, black and Latinx patients tend to be at nursing homes that are more crowded and have more beds.”
Sadly, these disparities are not breaking news. They have persisted since the outbreak upended our society and economy in March. But this storyline should not get short shrift just because we have been reporting about it extensively for three months.
Blanchard appeared on a panel that I moderated earlier this week about the coronavirus, which was sponsored by the 92nd Street Y in New York. Also joining the conversation was Kavita Patel, a Brookings Institution fellow who held a senior health policy job in Barack Obama’s White House and still practices as a primary care physician in the District. She lamented the warped incentive structures that she says cause there to be significantly more physicians per capita in the predominantly white parts of D.C. than the more African American sections closer to the Anacostia River.
“It’s because we can make more money building hospitals in more affluent neighborhoods that are insured by commercial patients and margins on surgeries and a lot of things that are kind of unspoken,” said Patel. “In order to go forward, thinking about building blocks for what we need to do to move ahead, we need to look not just at systemic racism as a public health issue, but we also need to think about the infrastructure of our very health-care system. I’ve been a big advocate for flipping the pyramid and putting as much into community health centers and safety-net clinics in places that are trusted by communities of any color.”
Northern Virginia begins its second phase of reopening today. Dine-in service at restaurants and some entertainment venues will reopen in those suburbs. Gatherings of 50 people are now permitted, up from 10 before. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has said the city will not enter its second phase of reopening until at least June 19, but neighboring Prince George’s County in Maryland announced that it is moving toward its next phase of reopening on Monday. Restaurants there will be able to offer dine-in service and swimming pools can open, both with social distancing restrictions.
“Public health experts said the region’s trends on infections, hospitalizations and death rates are moving in the right direction, but warned those trends could reverse as more people go to restaurants, the gym or shop inside retail stores,” Rachel Chason, Dana Hedgpeth and Antonio Olivo report.
There are now more than 2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and the national death toll is 112,311. “Despite a decline in U.S. deaths for six weeks in a row, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said the USA must be prepared for 100,000 victims in the next few months,” USA Today reports. Ogbonnaya Omenka, a public health expert who teaches at Butler University, told the paper that the numbers might be even higher if there is a resurgence in the fall. “Conventional wisdom indicates the second wave would present more difficulties than the first,” Omenka said.
Those we’ve lost are human beings, not just statistics. Here are just a few of the African Americans we have lost in the District: Theodore Gaffney risked his life photographing the Freedom Riders in the 1960s. Carla Thompson, a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital, died at 67 with no family she was in touch with to mark her passing. Edna Adams survived the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression and two world wars. “She was a woman of faith and conviction who devotedly attended Sunday services at Rock Creek Baptist Church but never hesitated to accept and embrace her nephew Bill Campbell, and his partner, Mark Kelley,” Marissa Lang reports.
“It was not unusual for Alyce Gullattee to wander alone down alleys in Northwest Washington, at the height of the crack epidemic of the 1980s, searching for a patient she feared had overdosed. In one of those alleys one night, a man started mugging the psychiatrist,” writes Samantha Schmidt. “But Gullattee did not run away. She looked the man in the eyes and talked to him. ‘Wait a minute,’ Gullattee told him. ‘Before you do all that, we need to get to the root of why you need to rob me.’ She persuaded the man to go to Howard University Hospital and seek out psychiatric treatment, said her daughter, Deborjha Blackwell. Gullattee, a pioneering psychiatrist and devoted civil rights activist, would become one of the nation’s most respected experts on substance abuse. As the country waged a war on drugs, Gullattee reached out to the most vulnerable — the crack addicts, the AIDS patients, the sex workers — and treated them like family.”
More on the coronavirus
Migrant workers are moving north from Florida to other states in search of jobs. They might take the virus with them.
“Farmworkers living and working in cramped conditions are especially vulnerable to exposure and infection from the virus, advocacy groups say, much like workers in the meatpacking industry who were hit particularly hard in May. And workers groups say state officials and growers were slow to respond to the threat and did not move until fairly recently to ramp up testing,” Laura Reiley reports. “Immokalee, on the eastern side of wealthy Collier County, is the country’s winter tomato capital. During the winter/early spring, it is home to about 25,000 people, 43 percent of whom live below the poverty line on an income below $26,000 for a family of four. … Latino and Haitian migrant workers board early-morning school buses or hop into the roll-up backs of U-Haul trailers to reach the fields. They work side by side hand-harvesting mostly round green tomatoes that are later gassed with ethylene to ripen them. At the end of the day, workers hop back in those buses and trucks to head home to retrofitted trailer parks often owned by the growers, with between six and 16 workers bedding down in bunk beds and mattresses on the floor in single-wide trailers meant to be one-bedroom homes. …
“The Florida Department of Health in Collier County, assisted by an 11-member Doctors Without Borders team, this month stepped up testing among migrant worker communities ahead of an annual migration of Immokalee farmworkers northward to work the fields in Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia or Michigan. But Kristine Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the county’s health department, acknowledged officials have had problems in ramping up testing and contacting workers with their test results — in part because many workers don’t have primary health-care providers. Others are undocumented and fearful of giving out contact details, despite assurances from county officials they won’t be deported.”
- Watch for nativists in the White House to push the narrative that legal cross-border travel from Mexico, rather than loosened restrictions on businesses and public life, may be causing a recent rise in coronavirus infections. (AP)
- Canada is considering upgrading the status of asylum seekers who have contributed positively to the coronavirus response. (Amanda Coletta)
- An Ohio Republican lawmaker was fired from his job as an ER doc over racially charged covid-19 remarks. State Sen. Steve Huffman asked whether “African Americans or the colored population” have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic because they “do not wash their hands as well as other groups” during a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis. (Allyson Chiu)
Some people have been sick with the coronavirus for more than 60 days. Doctors aren’t sure why.
“Juana Diaz, 62, from Washington, D.C., has had symptoms since April 3,” Ariana Eunjung Cha and Lenny Bernstein report. “Cara Schiavo, a 31-year-old social worker from Cedar Grove, N.J., came down with something that looked like pinkeye on March 15, and then wound up in the emergency room when she developed a fever and other symptoms. Since then, ‘I haven’t had a day when I’ve been back to normal.’ Matthew Long-Middleton, 35, a radio journalist in Kansas City, Mo., was struck with fever, chills and typical flu-like symptoms on March 11, and has never fully recovered. ‘I sometimes try to work from bed, but sometimes just sitting up is too much,’ he said.
“Post-viral syndromes have been associated with numerous viruses in the past, but until the pandemic, they were considered relatively rare. In the case of covid-19, researchers are unsure whether people with extended symptoms are simply facing a long recovery — or whether their illness will come to resemble something like myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex illness characterized by profound exhaustion and sleep problems, or other conditions that can last for years, or a lifetime. … The virus also involves so many parts of the body — from the brain to the toes — that some symptoms may be due to damage to different organs that have not repaired themselves.”
Researchers think tuberculosis and polio vaccines could be used to ward off the virus.
“Tests are already underway to see if the TB vaccine can slow the novel coronavirus, while other researchers writing in a scientific journal Thursday propose using the polio vaccine, which once was melted on children’s tongues,” Carolyn Johnson and Steven Mufson report. “New vaccines aim to teach the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy the coronavirus, but scientists are only now beginning to test them in people. Vaccines developed against TB and polio have already been used in millions of people and could offer a low-risk way to rev up the body’s first line of defense — the innate immune system — against a broad array of pathogens, including the coronavirus.”
The sign-up page for Trump’s rallies now includes a coronavirus liability waiver.
“The sign-up page for tickets to President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa next week includes something that hasn’t appeared ahead of previous rallies: a disclaimer noting that attendees ‘voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19’ and agree not to hold the campaign or venue liable should they get sick,” Felicia Sonmez reports. “More than a dozen states are now tallying record-high new infections; Oklahoma is not among them, although Tulsa County has reported a gradual uptick of new cases since the beginning of June … The BOK Center has a capacity of more than 19,000.”
The Republican National Convention festivities have officially been moved to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte so that Trump will be able to address a packed arena. Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey scooped on Tuesday that the RNC had settled on the northern Florida city. The RNC’s announcement overnight confirms what I wrote about in yesterday’s Big Idea: The president is now poised to accept the party’s nomination on the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” when a mob of 200 whites – organized by the KKK and supported by local police officers – used ax handles and baseball bats to club African Americans who were trying to integrate a lunch counter. “While we cannot erase some of the darkest moments of our nation’s past, we can denounce them, learn from them, fight for justice and a more perfect union for every American,” said Paris Dennard, the RNC’s senior communications advisor for black media affairs. “That is exactly what President Trump has done.”
- The GOP has opted to keep its 2016 platform for 2020 so that fewer people will be required to go to Charlotte for business meetings that are required to stay there because of legal contracts. Ironically, that means the party’s platform will repeatedly condemn “the current president” for actions like growing the deficit.
- Face masks were credited for a lack of cases linked to two Missouri hairstylists who served 140 clients while sick. (Antonia Farzan)
- A Utah study detected elevated levels of coronavirus in sewage before cases surged. Those findings indicate that monitoring wastewater can help alert public health officials to rising infection rates. (Antonia Farzan)
The Trump administration is concealing the identities of PPP recipients, shielding applicants from public scrutiny.
“Federal officials responsible for spending $660 billion in taxpayer-backed small-business assistance said Wednesday that they will not disclose amounts or recipients of subsidized loans, backtracking on an earlier commitment to release individual loan data. The Small Business Administration has previously released detailed loan information dating to 1991 for the federal 7(a) program, a long-standing small-business loan program on which the larger Paycheck Protection Program is based,” Aaron Gregg reports. “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza declined to discuss specific borrowers [at a hearing]. … The Post is among 11 news organizations suing the SBA for access to records on loan recipients, amounts of loans and other basic information the agency has previously released. …
“The SBA and the Treasury Department allowed lenders to take borrowers at their word regarding their need and eligibility. … Reality television star Maurice ‘Mo’ Fayne was arrested and charged with bank fraud for spending more than $1.5 million in SBA loan money on jewelry, expensive cars and child support. Fayne received a loan through a Georgia corporation called Flame Trucking. … Well-known restaurant and hotel chains including Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Ashford Hospitality Trust initially received tens of millions of dollars through their franchises. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, nearly 300 publicly traded companies received $1 billion in stimulus funding, prompting an after-the-fact ruling from SBA that public companies with access to credit elsewhere would probably not qualify. Many of those businesses subsequently returned the money, although the SBA has declined to say exactly how many did so.”
For millions of working-class Americans, economic calamity looms this summer.
“The US economy right now is like a jumbo jet that’s in a steady glide after both its engines flamed out. In about six weeks, it will likely crash into the side of a mountain. What’s kept us in the air so far is an extraordinary government relief effort,” BuzzFeed News reports. “The massive interventions that made all this possible will soon come to an end — but the unemployment won’t. On July 31, the $600 federal unemployment payments going to unemployed people every week will end, and there’s no sign they’ll be replaced with anything nearly as generous. … So income for tens of millions of households is likely to nose-dive in August. That will coincide with evictions returning after being put on hold for months. A federal law that bans evictions in any properties financed by federally backed mortgages — more than a quarter of all households, according to one estimate — expires on July 25 … Unless they are extended, statewide orders banning all evictions in places that have been hardest hit by the unemployment crisis will also expire around then: Florida’s on July 1, California’s on July 28, and New York’s on Aug. 20. … Payments on millions of paused student loans will begin again at the beginning of October; the more than 4 million homeowners who received a six-month pause on their mortgage after April’s mass layoffs will need to start making payments again at the end of October.”
“State and federal investigators are scrambling to stop scammers from stealing millions of dollars in unemployment benefits, imposing a raft of new restrictions that have inadvertently deprived some out-of-work Americans from receiving much-needed payments for weeks,” Tony Romm reports. “The broad, national crackdowns began in May, following reports that organized criminals had set their sights on local labor agencies at a moment when they’re trying to manage the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. States including Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington each have reviewed scores of past applications, while halting some current unemployment payments, hoping to thwart fraudsters before they could sap any more funds. … But these states’ aggressive interventions have also swept up many people who have nothing to do with the scams. Some out-of-work Americans who had properly filed for help — and weathered long delays to obtain checks in the first place — have been baffled and frustrated to find their benefits are now unexpectedly paused.”
But the rich get richer: A hedge fund manager stands to profit after ‘flipping’ a taxpayer-funded coronavirus drug.
“Ridgeback Biotherapeutics had no laboratories, no manufacturing facility of its own and a minimal track record when it struck a deal in March with Emory University to license an experimental coronavirus pill invented by university researchers with $16 million in grants from U.S. taxpayers. But what the tiny Miami company did have was a willingness from its wealthy owners — hedge fund manager Wayne Holman and his wife, Wendy — to place a bet on the treatment in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” Christopher Rowland reports. “That wager paid off with extraordinary speed in May when, just two months after acquiring the antiviral therapy called EIDD-2801 from Emory, Ridgeback sold exclusive worldwide rights to drug giant Merck. … Demands are increasing in Congress and around the world that drug companies set affordable prices on coronavirus treatments and vaccines and distribute them equitably. Yet the role of middlemen like Ridgeback puts pressure on companies to increase prices, by adding extra costs.”
- Nursing homes around the country are complaining that protective gear sent by FEMA is unusable. Complaints include gloves that are too small for adults, gowns missing armholes and masks with loose ear loops. (WSJ)
- Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who has rejected allegations of insider trading related to closed-door briefings about the coronavirus, is building a tone-deaf campaign fundraising system that depicts her as a Wall Street-style investment opportunity. Donors and bundlers are told they can buy into one of three tiers: investor, shareholder or board member. (Daily Beast)
Melania Trump initially stayed in NYC when Trump took office as leverage for renegotiating her prenup.
That’s one of the nuggets in my colleague Mary Jordan’s biography of the first lady, “The Art of Her Deal,” which comes out Tuesday. Jada Yuan has a preview: “The campaign had been full of harsh news about Trump’s alleged sexual indiscretions and infidelities, from the ‘grab them by the p—y’ Access Hollywood tape to an affair with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal; Melania learned new details from the media coverage … Melania’s original prenup had not been incredibly generous … According to three people close to Trump, Jordan writes, Melania had finally renegotiated the prenup to her liking [by mid-2018]. She’d already been looking out for [her son] Barron’s future by making sure he had dual citizenship in Slovenia, which will position him to work in Europe for the Trump Organization when he comes of age. … Jordan writes: ‘She wanted proof in writing that when it came to financial opportunities and inheritance, Barron would be treated as more of an equal to Trump’s oldest three children.’”
Jordan conducted more than 100 interviews for her book, and a major theme is that the first lady is as devoted to her own mythmaking as her husband: “Despite saying she wouldn’t get plastic surgery, three photographers who worked with her said they’ve seen the scars. She attended a highly competitive architecture program at the University of Ljubljana, but did not graduate, though she claimed in sworn testimony to have a bachelor’s degree. There’s also little evidence to suggest her claims of being able to speak four or five languages fluently are true. … Reporting in the book suggests she only speaks English and Slovene fluently.” (The book also says that she and Trump still live in separate bedrooms at the White House and whenever they travel, and that they’ll often be in the same building but not the same room.)
Fox News host Harris Faulkner educated Trump on the violent origins of “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“‘You look at me, and I’m Harris on TV, but I’m a black woman. I’m a mom,’ Faulkner told Trump. ‘You’ve talked about it, but we haven’t seen you come out and be that consoler in this instance,’” Allyson Chiu reports. “‘And the tweets, when the looting starts the shooting starts,’ she continued, referencing Trump’s widely criticized response to the Minneapolis protests last month, which many interpreted to be a racist threat of violence. Faulkner then paused, briefly averting her eyes before looking back at Trump. ‘Why those words?’ she asked. … [She then] pointedly educated him on the violent origins of the language he chose to parrot. It was the first time Trump had been questioned about the inflammatory tweet in a televised interview on a major network. ‘So, that’s an expression I’ve heard over the years,’ he started to say, prompting Faulkner to interject, ‘Do you know where it comes from?’ Trump paused. ‘Um, I think Philadelphia,’ he said. ‘The mayor of Philadelphia.’ ‘No,’ Faulkner interrupted, cutting the president off again. ‘It comes from 1967.’ The host went on to inform Trump that the words were first uttered by former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who held a news conference in 1967 ‘declaring war’ on criminals as armed robberies and unrest consumed black neighborhoods in the city. … Trump continued to insist that he had heard former Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo say something similar.” (The city of Philadelphia last week unceremoniously removed a statue of Rizzo, who was known for his aggressive tactics policing the black and gay communities.)
“Trump is gambling that taking divisive stances on Confederate symbols and policing will energize his mostly white supporters in November. But many Republicans and even some of Trump’s own advisers worry that the approach risks further alienating voters who have already started to abandon him, including college-educated whites, and to harden opposition to him among minorities,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly signaled that his sympathies lie with the police over the protesters … In a roundtable Thursday in Dallas, Trump proclaimed that the nation’s problems with racism will be solved ‘very easily. It will go quickly and it will go very easily.’ … ‘But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots.’ … The Trump campaign on Thursday also released a new 30-second ad portraying the president as a tough-on-crime patriot, while depicting [Joe] Biden as a radical leftist who won’t stand up to Black Lives Matter protesters and demands from some on the left to ‘Defund the Police.’ … Recent polling shows that Trump’s harsh approach to the protests is not in sync with much of the country. A Washington Post-Schar School poll released Tuesday found that 74 percent of adults supported the protesters, including 53 percent of Republicans.”
Trump will deliver a commencement address tomorrow at West Point while quarreling with top military leaders.
Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who apologized Thursday for the decision to join Trump at a photo op after protesters were forcibly removed from Lafayette Square, will not accompany the president to the U.S. Military Academy and neither will Defense Secretary Mark Esper, himself a West Point graduate who also clashed with the president over his handling of protests, Phil Rucker, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe report. “In a letter posted Thursday on Medium, hundreds of West Point alumni cautioned the Class of 2020 to uphold their oath to the Constitution, not to any political party or leader. ‘Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events,’ they wrote. The signatories appeared to take aim at Esper… ‘When fellow graduates fail to respect the checks and balances of government, promote individual power above country, or prize loyalty to individuals over the ideals expressed in the Constitution, it is a travesty to their oath of office,’ the alumni letter said.”
- Milley discussed resigning over his role in the photo op, NBC News. Three defense officials told the network that Milley spent hours looking at social media and reading articles criticizing him for being part of the photo op. He reached out to confidants to discuss whether he should resign.
- The Department of Justice, collaborating with local police departments, is using Facebook to hunt down alleged rioters and looters, alarming civil liberties groups. (Politico)
Protesters continue toppling monuments of America’s enduring Civil War.
“Even as this extraordinary wave of topplings and defacings of statues continues, more Confederate monuments are being built — more than 30 in the past two decades, [North Carolina historian Karen] Cox said — and at least seven Southern states have passed laws in recent years making it tougher to get rid of existing statues,” Marc Fisher reports. Despite protests, “defenders of the monuments have not budged. ‘You can’t satisfy some people,’ said Samuel Mitcham Jr., the heritage operations historian for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who wrote a book, ‘It Wasn’t About Slavery,’ arguing that the South left the Union for strictly economic reasons. ‘These monuments belong to our history.’ … Most of the Confederate statues that dot the Southern landscape were erected, however, not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but half a century later. … The groups that paid for the monuments sought to send a message at a time when they were pushing for — and winning — Jim Crow laws to codify racial segregation.”
- Trump may go down in history as the last president of the Confederacy, argues columnist Eugene Robinson.
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) asked protesters for patience as he litigates the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. (Gregory Schneider)
- Country band Lady Antebellum apologized for using a name associated with slavery in America. It will now be known as Lady A. (Pitchfork)
- A century after three black men were lynched in Duluth., Minn., after being accused of raping a white woman with virtually no evidence, State Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) said long overdue justice is also owed to a fourth victim in the horrific episode: Max Mason, a black man ultimately convicted of raping 18-year-old Irene Tusken in 1920, who officials now believe was likely innocent. Ellison said he and the Minnesota Board of Pardons will take up a pardon application, which, if approved, will become the first posthumous pardon in the state’s history. (Meagan Flynn)
Louisville has banned “no-knock” warrants after Breonna Taylor was killed during a police raid in her home.
“The 26 local officials who represent districts in the state’s largest city voted to pass ‘Breonna’s Law,’ which also requires police and corrections officers to wear body cameras while serving warrants. Officers did not wear their cameras during the shooting that killed Taylor, an emergency room technician studying to be a nurse,” Katie Shepherd reports. “Taylor was killed during a police raid that started with a no-knock warrant. … Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who lived with her, said he did not realize that the officers were police and fired one shot that hit a police sergeant’s leg. Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed when officers opened fire in response. … Police have said they knocked before forcing entry into the home with a battering ram, but witnesses have disputed that claim.” No officers have been arrested or charged in her death.
- Chicago police officers were caught on video relaxing in the South Side office of Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) without his knowledge as looting took place outside the door. “They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and pop some popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight, within their reach,” Rush said. “They were in a mood of relaxation, and they did not care about what was happening to the businesspeople in this city.” (Mark Guarino and Derek Hawkins)
- “Sweeping legislation swiftly passed by the D.C. Council this week to bring greater accountability and transparency to the District’s police force will expand civilian review, make it far easier to fire officers and tweak rules governing the use of deadly force,” Peter Hermann reports. “D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham supports some of the changes but said he believes the council acted too quickly and without enough consideration and input, particularly on the body-camera provisions, and his agency is scrambling to figure out what the emergency legislation requires.”
- Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester shoved by police in Buffalo, N.Y., suffered a brain injury as a result of the incident, his lawyer said. He will need physical therapy. (NBC New York)
- ICE will no longer be able to make civil immigration arrests in and around New York courthouses, a judge ruled. (ABC News)
- Microsoft won’t sell its facial recognition technology to police until there’s a federal law regulating it. (Jay Greene)
- Walmart said it will stop locking “multicultural” hair and beauty products following mounting criticism that the practice is discriminatory against black shoppers. (Abha Bhattarai)
Langston Thomas was handcuffed by police when he was 9. He was hit by a rubber bullet at 22 while protesting.
When he was 9, Thomas “was playing outside when a white friend threw a rock that struck a neighbor’s house in suburban Maryland. But when the neighbor emerged, it was Thomas he angrily chased. And it was Thomas the two white Montgomery County police officers put into handcuffs,” Michael Miller reports. “Thirteen years later, the 22-year-old was surrounded by hundreds of people protesting the death of George Floyd as he unfurled a sign in front of the White House. It read: ‘Justice or Violence: You Choose.’ Over the course of three days, Thomas — a new college graduate named after a renowned black poet — would be tear-gassed, shot with a rubber bullet and chased out of Lafayette Square by police … Many demonstrators of color say they are motivated by more than Floyd’s death … They are also driven by their own bitter experiences with racist policing.”
- Devaughnta Williams, a 27-year-old janitor from the Bronx, clocked out of his shift a week ago to go sleep a few hours before his next shift at a Family Dollar store. But NYPD officers arrested him for breaking curfew. He is still in jail. (Gothamist)
Other news that should be on your radar
The DEA’s former spokesman pretended to be CIA operative in a $4.4 million scam.
“The former chief spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted Thursday that he ran a $4.4 million scam by manipulating officials from the DEA, the Army, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Institutes of Health as he falsely claimed he was part of a covert task force doing secret operations in Africa,” Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman report. “Garrison Courtney, 44, of Tampa acknowledged in Alexandria federal court that between 2012 and 2016, he perpetuated a complicated scheme involving at least three other unnamed individuals, seven public officials and 13 companies. He convinced victims that he was an undercover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, then persuaded private companies to pay him as a secret officer. He then finagled a job at a federal agency where he steered contracts to those companies as repayment, telling both sides it was part of the classified project.” Courtney previously worked as chief of staff to then-Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), but he was never in the CIA.
- Robert Morris Levy, the former Veterans Affairs pathologist who the agency says botched 3,000 cases, including at least 15 in which patients died, admitted in court that he schemed to cover up a substance abuse problem and twice misdiagnosed a cancer patient who got the wrong treatment and died. Levy, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and another of involuntary manslaughter. (Lisa Rein and Matt Zapotosky)
- Border officials used emergency funding meant for migrant families and children to pay for dirt bikes, canine supplies, computer equipment and other enforcement-related expenditures, according to the Government Accountability Office. These expenses were not authorized and violate the law, the GAO said, without indicating how much of a $112 million budget was wasted. (Nick Miroff)
- Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is cancer-free, two years after his diagnosis. “I wasn’t willing to acknowledge that I was about to get hit by the Grim Reaper,” Reid told Paul Kane. “I feel good. I’m alive.”
- The U.S. and Iraqi governments began talks over the future of American troops in the country, as Islamic State militants pose a renewed threat there. The U.S. has been under pressure to withdraw forces since Trump ordered the targeted killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January. But relations have improved since the selection of a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. (Mustafa Salim and Louisa Loveluck)
- NASA is sending a rover to the moon that would roam the lunar south pole in search of water to gain insights that might help astronauts “live off the land.” (Christian Davenport)
Quote of the day
“I’m beginning to get bored by my own talk here,” Joe Biden said while giving a presentation of his economic proposals. (Matt Viser)
Social media speed read
As Columbus and Confederate statues came down, some Twitter users shared statues that celebrate freedom:
Nèg Mawon is an eight-foot-tall statue in Port-au-Prince, Haiti depicting a runaway slave whose ankles & wrists are shackled but the chains are broken. In his left hand, he holds a conch shell, blowing to call others to join the revolt.
It is Haiti’s iconic symbol of freedom. https://t.co/9jh16z4PB7 pic.twitter.com/h9APHpxXVR
— Pierre-Antoine Louis (@DebonairPierre) June 11, 2020
The Dignity statue in South Dakota ?? https://t.co/HZQV8ElH2i pic.twitter.com/ZH4w5ZZ3K2
— Ekichetu (@WoOlowan) June 11, 2020
This is John Gorrie. He invented air conditioning. https://t.co/wFltL6PyOa pic.twitter.com/P6JVZUes3n
— Steve Schale ??? (@steveschale) June 11, 2020
Civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated 57 years ago today:
The home in Jackson, Mississippi, where Medgar Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963, is now a national landmark: pic.twitter.com/6iapLvzcKJ
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) June 11, 2020
And the Trump campaign is selling this:
Trump campaign now selling these onesies: pic.twitter.com/nJmVKiT1qv
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) June 11, 2020
Videos of the day
Stephen Colbert said Trump is insulting black Americans by scheduling a MAGA rally on Juneteenth:
Seth Meyers analyzed Trump’s defense of the Confederacy:
And Dave Chappelle released a short special on George Floyd that was recorded with a live, socially distanced audience:
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