It seems the Trump campaign is aware of the significance of the president holding his first rally since coronavirus shut states down in Tulsa, on 19 June.
Responding to a Bloomberg reporter, a Trump campaign advisor wrote that “Republicans are proud of the history of Juneteenth”.
Campaign advisor Katrina Pierson also said that Trump “built a record of success for Black Americans, including unprecedented low unemployment”.
In fact, although unemployment among Black Americans reached a record low during the Trump administration prior to the pandemic, most of the progress came when Barack Obama was president. Moreover, median household income for African Americans was lower in 2018 than during a peak in 2000.
Pierson also said that “Joe Biden spent last Juneteenth raising money at a private fundraiser.” On the eve of Juneteenth, Biden invoked southern segregationist senators and fondly recalled the “civility” of the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s at a fundraiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. His comments drew widespread criticism at the time.
Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old Georgia media executive, has won the state’s Democratic primary for a Senate seat.
AP projected Ossoff’s victory a day after the state’s elections descended into chaos, with poll workers reporting long lines and issues with voting machines. Ossoff, who earned an endorsement from the civil rights leader and Georgia representative John Lewis, rose to prominence after breaking fundraising records during a 2017 special election for a US House seat.
Ossoff lost the House seat to Republican Karen Handel back then. (And then Handel lost the next year to Lucy McBath, a Democrat).
Ossoff will now face off against Republican David Perdue, an ally of Donald Trump. Democrats hope that they can flip the seat in a competitive race in November.
Coronavirus cases in the US are nearing 2m. Johns Hopkins has just added new cases to its tally for the US, with 1,999,313 currently confirmed.
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Here are some of the most striking images of protest from today.
LeBron James is launching a voting rights organization, the New York Times reports.
The basketball star has partnered with a group of other prominent Black athletes and entertainers to start an organization called More Than a Vote. The effort will focus on fighting voter suppression, while also encouraging African Americans ro register to vote and cast ballots.
Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told the Times. “We feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
From Guardian staff and agencies:
Nine California counties are reporting a spike in new coronavirus cases or hospitalizations of confirmed cases, raising fears that authorities may have to reimpose or tighten public health restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’s spread.
New diagnoses in the heavily populated Los Angeles area are going up in part because testing is more widely available. But officials say infections and hospitalizations in most other parts of the state are being driven by factors tied directly to the loosening of restrictions or overt flouting of public health rules. It is too soon to see whether cases will also spike after protests over the death of George Floyd swept the state.
In Sacramento county, which had 33 hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients and 14 in its intensive care units as of Tuesday, health officials said the rise in infections is tied to recent gatherings, including birthday parties and a funeral.
“Many of the cases that are showing up in hospitals are linked to gatherings that are taking place in homes – birthday parties and funerals,” said Olivia Kasirye, public health director of Sacramento county.
Nearly three months after Breonna Taylor was killed in her own home, the Louisville police released an incident report that lists injures as “none”.
A copy of the report was obtained by the Courier Journal. It described a “death investigation” and lists Taylor as the victim and three officers as offenders. But the four-page report says there was no forced entry — even though officers forcefully entered Taylor’s home with a battering ram. The report also lists her injuries as “none,” even though she was shot at least eight times according to her family’s attorneys.
The report was released after the Courier-Journal brought a legal challenge against the Louisville police department.
“I read this report and have to ask the mayor, the police chief and the city’s lawyers: Are you kidding?” Richard Green, the paper’s editor told a reporter for the Courier Journal. “This is what you consider being transparent to taxpayers and the public?”
Hallie Golden reports for The Guardian:
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has ordered a new investigation into the death of Manuel Ellis, an African American man who died more than three months ago in police custody, following questions over the independence of the investigation.
The move comes one day after a lawyer for the Ellis family released footage from the night of his death, which shows him screaming, “I can’t breathe sir. I can’t breathe,” followed by what sounds like an officer saying, “Shut the fuck up.”
Inslee said in a statement on Wednesday that his decision came after the county prosecutor informed the state that the Pierce county sheriff’s department, which was leading the investigation, had officers at the scene of Ellis’s arrest on 3 March.
“The state will ensure an independent investigation and independent prosecutorial review into the death of Manuel Ellis,” said Inslee, adding that his office was working to determine which agency would conduct it. “We will ensure that the work is done free of conflicts of interest.”
Ellis’s death, which has been ruled a homicide, has become part of the protests over police brutality and racism that have spread across the country following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.
Thomas Lane, one of the officers charged with aiding and abetting the killing of George Floyd, has been released on bail
Lane was released after posting bond. His bail was set for $1m.
Lane was one of the officers – including Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng – who stopped George Floyd while responding to a call about the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 bill.
While Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, Lane and the other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting Chavin.
As Trump rallies in Tulsa, a number of cities have planned protests and marches against police brutality and systematic racism.
On 19 June, marches are planned in New York and New Jersey. In Wisconsin, the Legislative Black Caucus has asked governor Tony Evers on to call a special session on Juneteenth to take up measures overhauling the policing system.
It’s unclear if the Trump campaign’s choice to hold his first rally since coronavirus shut down states on Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery, was intentional.
The president has acknowledged the date before. In 2017, Trump released a statement, saying: “Melania and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Juneteenth, a historic day recognizing the end of slavery.” That year, Trump also delivered a rambling speech during Black History month, calling the late Frederick Douglass “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”
A statue of Christopher Columbus has fallen outside the Minnesota state capital in St Paul. This appears to be the latest depiction of the colonizer to be torn down.
Yesterday, protestors in Richmond, Virginia, tore down a Columbus statue, set it on fire, and threw it in a lake. And in Boston, a Columbus statue was beheaded.
The Guardian’s technology reporter Kari Paul writes:
Amazon is implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its artificial intelligence software Rekognition amid growing backlash over the tech company’s ties to policing.
The company has posted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which advocates for police reform, but sells its facial recognition software to police forces. Amazon has not said how many police forces use the technology, or how it is used but Amazon marketing materials promoted Rekognition being used in conjunction with police body cameras in real time.
When it was first released, Amazon’s Rekognition software was criticized by human rights groups as “a powerful surveillance system” that is available to “violate rights and target communities of color”. Advocacy groups also said the technology could disproportionately negatively impact non-white people.
An experiment run by the ACLU in 2018 showed Rekognition incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to photos of people arrested for a crime. It disproportionately misidentified Congress members who are not white.
In a statement on its blog Wednesday, Amazon said it will pull the use of its technology from police forces until there is stronger regulation around it. The move follows IBM putting a permanent end to its development of facial recognition technology.
“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” Amazon said. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”
Nancy Pelosi has requested that Confederate monuments be removed from display at the US capital.
In a letter to the leaders of the Joint Committee on the Library, Pelosi wrote: “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals.”
Pelosi and other Democrats in Congress tried to pass legislation to have Confederate statues removed from the capital in 2017, in the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
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