Lauren Floyd

Ron DeSantis is leading Florida into utter destruction while COVID-19 cases spike to record level

Two days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing schools from requiring students to wear masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing the state broke records with 21,683 new cases of the virus in one day. In just two days, the number of new cases spiked from 17,093 to more than 21,000, beating a peak of 19,334 new cases reported on Jan. 7, 2021 in Florida, The Associated Press reported. "The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread," Associated Press writer Mike Schneider penned on Saturday.

The new figures tracked on Friday and released on Saturday follow the governor's outright rejection of expert advice throughout the pandemic. "The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day," DeSantis said in a news release on Friday. "Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children." DeSantis attributed the recent spoke to "a seasonal increase—more Floridians are indoors because of the hot weather with air conditioning circulating the virus," according to The Associated Press.

DeSantis held a roundtable on Monday at the state Capitol to spread more anti-mask rhetoric, with teachers left out of the conversation, according to an account spokeswoman Taryn Fenske gave the Tallahassee Democrat. "With the recent uptick in discussion around mask mandates in schools this upcoming academic year, and indications that the federal government might advise masking children as young as 3 years old, Governor DeSantis wanted to exchange perspectives on this topic with experts like Dr. (Jay) Bhattacharya and other medical professionals, as well as a concerned parent, student, and school administrator," Fenske said. Bhattacharya, a Stanford University professor, has spoken on numerous roundtable panels addressing the pandemic, including one YouTube removed for "misinformation" in March because the doctor said schools should open "with no restrictions," the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Bhattacharya said during the recent roundtable: "I don't think the Delta variant changes the calculus or the evidence in any fundamental way. Masks do actually cause some harm to children, developmentally." Mark McDonald, a clinical psychiatrist who spoke during the panel discussion via Zoom, said: "Masking children is child abuse. Children are being harmed by mask mandates. There is no scientific evidence that masks work. "The masks are nothing more than a symbol of fear and anxiety."

The dangerous rhetoric flies in the face of actual expert advice. After earlier releasing guidance that vaccinated people could forego masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course on Tuesday, recommending even vaccinated people wear masks indoors. That includes all teachers, staff, students, and school visitors. The agency wrote: "Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others." Following the new recommendations, Disney World in Orlando and other theme parks in Florida changed their mask policies, again requiring visitors to wear masks indoors and in "enclosed transportation" regardless of vaccination status.

"There is no higher risk area in the United States than we're seeing here," infectious disease expert Aileen Marty, of Florida International University, told CBS Miami. "The numbers that we're seeing are unbelievable, just unbelievably frightening." Florida Rep. Carlos Smith tweeted: "JUST IN: Florida reports worst day ever for new COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic with 21,683 cases. Exactly ZERO state mitigation efforts exist + @GovRonDeSantis signed a law banning local COVID restrictions. It didn't have to be this way."

Read DeSantis' executive order below:

WHEREAS, a right to normal education is imperative to the growth and development of our children and adolescents; and

WHEREAS, last summer, at my direction, Florida's Department of Education ordered schools to be open for in-person instruction for five days per week to ensure the continued well-being of students and families; and
WHEREAS, schools – including those that did not require students to be masked – did not drive community transmission of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, despite recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "guidance," forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification; indeed, a Brown University study analyzed COVID-19 data for schools in Florida and found no correlation with mask mandates; and

WHEREAS, masking children may lead to negative health and societal ramifications; and

WHEREAS, studies have shown that children are at a low risk of contracting a serious illness due to COVID-19 and do not play a significant role in the spread of the virus; and

WHEREAS, forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other contaminants, and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance; and

WHEREAS, there is no statistically-significant evidence to suggest that counties with mask requirements have fared any better than those without mask requirements during the 2020-2021 school year; and

WHEREAS, on April 29, 2021, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued a Public Health Advisory stating that continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, including long-term use of face coverings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences; and

WHEREAS, on June 29, 2021, I signed into law H.B. 241, the Parents' Bill of Rights, which prevents the state, its subdivisions, or any governmental institution, from infringing on the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, or mental health of a minor child without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by less restrictive means; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Florida law, all parents have the right to make health care decisions for their minor children; and

WHEREAS, many school districts are scheduled to begin classes on August 10, 2021, which is less than two weeks away, and within four weeks virtually all public schools across Florida will be underway; therefore immediate action is needed to protect the fundamental right of parents to make health and educational decisions for their children; and

WHEREAS, Section 1003.22(3), Florida Statutes, mandates the Florida Department of Health to adopt rules, in consultation with the Florida Department of Education, governing the control of preventable communicable diseases, including procedures for exempting children from immunization requirements; and

WHEREAS, Florida's State Board of Education, the chief implementing and coordinating body of public education in Florida, has the authority to adopt rules pursuant to Sections 120.536(1), 120.54, and 1001.02, Florida Statutes, and may delegate its general powers to the Commissioner of Education; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 1008.32(4), Florida Statutes, if the State Board of Education determines that a district school board is unwilling or unable to comply with the law, the State Board shall have the authority to, among other things, withhold the transfer of state funds, discretionary grant funds, discretionary lottery funds, or any other funds specified as eligible for this purpose by the Legislature until the school district complies with the law or state board rule and declare the school district ineligible for competitive grants; and

WHEREAS, given the historical data on COVID-19 and the ongoing debate over whether masks are more harmful than beneficial to children and to school environments in general, we should protect the freedoms and statutory rights of students and parents by resting with the parents the decision whether their children should wear masks in school; and

WHEREAS, we should equally and uniformly protect the freedoms and rights of students and parents across the state.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:

Section 1. I hereby direct the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education, working together, to immediately execute rules pursuant to section 120.54, Florida Statutes, and take any additional agency action necessary, using all legal means available, to ensure safety protocols for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in schools that:

  1. Do not violate Floridians' constitutional freedoms;
  2. Do not violate parents' right under Florida law to make health care decisions for their minor children; and
  3. Protect children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols such as face masking requirements.
Section 2. Any action taken pursuant to Section 1 above shall at minimum be in accordance with Florida's "Parents' Bill of Rights" and protect parents' right to make decisions regarding masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.

Section 3. The Florida Commissioner of Education shall pursue all legal means available to ensure school districts adhere to Florida law, including but not limited to withholding state funds from noncompliant school boards violating any rules or agency action taken pursuant to Section 1 above.

Section 4. This does not prohibit the Florida Legislature from exploring legislation to further protect the fundamental rights of students and parents to be free from excessive, harmful regulation in schools.
Section 5. This Executive Order is effective immediately.

Mistaken for an election official in Kansas? You could be charged with a felony and imprisoned

Voter registration groups and voting rights nonprofits in Kansas have been forced to suspend voter registration drives following passage of a new law that could land their volunteers in jail if someone mistakes any of them for an elected official, the Kansas Reflector initially reported. House Bill 2183 went into effect on Thursday despite a lawsuit and temporary injunction asking a judge to stop the law from going into effect until the suit is resolved.

The League of Women Voters of Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center launched the suit, naming Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt as defendants on June 1 in Shawnee County District Court. Davis Hammet, president of the social justice and voting rights group Loud Light, said in a video shared on Twitter Wednesday that his organization would be canceling voter registration events planned for this weekend in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 26th Amendment that gave 18-year-olds the right to vote on July 1, 1971. "The new law threatens our staff, volunteers, and all Kansans with criminal prosecution if they are subjectively perceived to be an election official," Hammet said. "This means if someone mistakes you for an election official, you could be charged with a felony and imprisoned for up to 17 months."

Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said in a news release that the nonprofit "serves thousands of voters year-round with the information and assistance they need to cast their ballot with confidence. "Voters depend on our services, and those of organizations like ours, to help them exercise their most sacred right," Lightcap said. "This law makes it a crime for the League to do our most basic, most important service."

Ami Hyten, executive director at the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, said in the same release on June 17 that the civil rights of Kansans with disabilities rely on the availability of accommodations. "Accommodations often include the help of advocates, friends, family, and volunteers our agency organizes to ensure that every eligible voter can receive information and assistance in exercising their right to vote," Hyten said. "This law would come into play exactly as we are helping people prepare for primary season voting, leaving the people who offer these supports in fear of violating the new law."

Jami Reever, executive director of Kansas Appleseed, said the goal of her organization has always been to engage Kansans in the election process. "If this provision of the law is allowed to take effect, it will cause great uncertainty and concern for the staff and volunteers in the voter engagement work of advocates throughout the state," Reever said.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, who vetoed both House Bill 2332 and House Bill 2183 before the Republican-led legislature overrode her veto, called the legislation "a solution to a problem that doesn't exist" in The Kansas City Star. House Bill 2332 requires "any individual who solicits by mail a registered voter to file an application for an advance voting ballot," according to a summary of the legislation. The bill also restricts executive and judicial branches from creating election laws and requires legislative approval for the secretary of state to enter into consent decrees with courts, The Kansas City Star reported.

"It is designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud," Kelly said. Since former President Donald Trump cried widespread voter fraud with no proof , Republicans have masked voter suppression efforts as concern about voter fraud. "We are supposed to be proactive," Republican Sen. Richard Hilderbrand told The Kansas City Star, "and if we see instances where there could be and we can do a better job of ensuring election integrity then we should be doing that."

Yet somehow Republicans didn't seem to feel morally called to change election laws until after they lost the presidency.

'Loser-Palooza' indeed: Trump makes himself center attention despite catastrophe in Surfside

There are 121 people still unaccounted for after almost 55 units of a 136-condo-building in Florida were flattened when the building collapsed on June 24, CNN reported. The news network confirmed the death toll at 24 people on Saturday in Surfside. Those facts, however, didn't stop former President Donald Trump from holding a rally across the state in Sarasota, The New York Times pointed out.

"The political rally in the midst of a disaster that has horrified the nation became a topic of discussion among aides to the former president and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Trump ally whose growing popularity with the former president's supporters is becoming an increasing source of tension for both men, according to people familiar with their thinking," New York Times journalist Annie Karni wrote. When asked in advance by the governor's chief of staff if Trump planned to cancel the event on Saturday, the former president's team gave no such indication.

Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Trump told the Times the rally in Sarasota was "three-and-a-half hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts." She said Trump "has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally."

DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw told The Washington Examiner: "Governor DeSantis is focusing on his duties as governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida — from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump's rally — should be canceled."

At the actual rally, Trump dedicated a short moment of silence for victims and their family then as Karni put it, "quickly launched into a castigation of cancel culture and of the (President Joe) Biden administration's immigration policies."

Trump tried to deem a "15-year tax fraud scheme" and resulting 15 felony charges against the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg "prosecutorial misconduct." Then, he made a reference to benefits of the crimes that seemed to be an admission of guilt. "And yet they go after good hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car, a company car," Trump said. "You didn't pay tax on the car, or a company apartment. You used an apartment because you need an apartment because you have to travel to far where your house is. You didn't pay tax.

"Or education for your grandchildren. I don't even know, do you have to put, does anybody know the answer to that stuff?"

His son, Donald Trump Jr., also seemed to implicate the former president in an interview on Fox News. "They say he didn't pay taxes on $1.7 million worth of stuff over 16 years," Donald Trump Jr. said. "So that's to New York state 8% of that, $136,000. Half of that was because my father paid for his grandchildren's school in New York City, so you take that out. It amounts to about five grand a month."

By Sunday morning, "LoserPalooza" was trending on Twitter. While that may have had more to do with a plane that flew over the rally with the scrolling text "Loser-Palooza," the phrase certainly seems fitting for a rally accomplishing little more than further inflating the ego of a man accused of inciting an attempted coup because he loss an election.

Fox News' Chris Wallace asks GOP rep: Who's really defunding the police — and he brings the receipts

It seldom takes much to put a Republican in his or her place. Simple facts do it on most occasions, and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace had plenty of them for GOP Rep. Jim Banks on "Fox News Sunday." Wallace responded to Banks' accusation that Democrats opposing police brutality are to blame for increasing crime rates with a clip of the top Democrat, President Joe Biden promoting his $350 billion anti-crime plan. "That means more police officers, more nurses, more counselors, more social workers, more community violence interrupters to help resolve issues before they escalate into crimes," Biden said.

Wallace pointed out that Banks opposed the spending, which was part of the American Rescue Plan, as well as every other Republican in Congress. "Congressman Banks, you voted against that package, against the $350 billion, just like every other Republican in the House and Senate, so can't you make the argument that it's you and the Republicans who are defunding the police?" Wallace asked.

Republicans who've grossly mischaracterized the defund the police effort have repeatedly accused Biden of supporting their misinterpretation, which is to strip law enforcement agencies of all funding leaving rapists and murderers free to roam suburban streets. The actual call of the defund the police movement is to reallocate a portion of public safety funding to preventative social services, mental health resources, and education programming.

Banks wrote in a Fox News op-ed that the murder rate jumped by an average of 30% in America's biggest cities in 2020, and that there is "overwhelming evidence connecting the rise in murders to the violent riots last summer and the Defund the Police movement." He of course cited no such "overwhelming evidence" that the protests, which were actually aimed at stopping police violence against people of color, caused the uptick in violent crimes.

"The saddest part about Democrats' own responsibility for rising violent crime is that it's now impossible the White House to work to reduce violence in America – they would have to denounce everything they stood for less than a year ago," Banks wrote. He attempted to name Rep. Rashida Tlaib in continuing the same argument on Wallace's show. Banks was referring to Tlaib's statement following the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, in which she said policing in the United States was "inherently and intentionally racist." Wright, a Black man, was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, about 10 miles north of the Hennepin County Courthouse, where ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial for murdering George Floyd, another Black man. Ex-cop Kim Potter claimed she was reaching for her Taser and grabbed her gun instead when she shot Wright on April 11, and Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison on Friday.

Wallace cut Banks off at the mention of Tlaib. "I heard you make that point but I'm asking you there's $350 billion in this package the president says can be used for policing and let me put up some of the specific things that he said," Wallace said. "Congressman Banks, let me finish and I promise I will give you a chance to answer."

"The president is saying cities and states can use this money to hire more police officers, invest in new technologies and develop summer job training and recreation programs for young people," Wallace continued. "Respectfully, I've heard your point about the last year, but you and every other Republican voted against this $350 billion." With no answer for Wallace and no actual solutions to propose to help reduce crime, Banks continued trying to pin rising crime on progressive Democrats who as he put it "stigmatized one of the most honorable professions in America." It's a shame he didn't actually listen to the protesters he's now trying to demonize. Banks might've actually learned the truth of what racist policing looks like in Black and brown communities.

Fourth Amendment 'still technically a thing' as Supreme Court sides with driver followed home by cop

In some good news for the day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a police officer who followed a driver into his garage over a minor traffic offense had no right to do so without a warrant. Arthur Lange was blasting music and honking his horn when he caught the attention of a highway patrol officer who started following him, the court stated in a synopsis included with its opinion. "Rather than stopping, Lange drove a short distance to his driveway and entered his attached garage," the court stated. "The officer followed Lange into the garage.

"He questioned Lange and, after observing signs of intoxication, put him through field sobriety tests. A later blood test showed that Lange's blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit."

The court continued:

The State charged Lange with the misdemeanor of driving under the influence. Lange moved to suppress the evidence obtained after the officer entered his garage, arguing that the warrantless entry violated the Fourth Amendment. The Superior Court denied Lange's motion, and its appellate division affirmed. The California Court of Appeal also affirmed. It concluded that Lange's failure to pull over when the officer flashed his lights created probable cause to arrest Lange for the misdemeanor of failing to comply with a police signal. And it stated that Lange could not defeat an arrest begun in a public place by retreating into his home. The pursuit of a suspected misdemeanant, the court held, is always permissible under the exigent-circumstances exception to the warrant requirement. The California Supreme Court denied review.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, offered a different majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan. "The place to start is with our often-stated view of the constitutional interest at stake: the sanctity of a person's living space," Kagan wrote. She referenced the Fourth Amendment assuring Americans protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. "At the Amendment's 'very core,' we have said, 'stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable government intrusion,'" Kagan wrote.

She later added "one important exception" that her peers Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh zeroed in on and that is for "for exigent circumstances." "It applies when 'the exigencies of the situation make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that [a] warrantless search is objectively reasonable,'" Kagan wrote. She determined the "flight of a suspected misdemeanant does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home."

"An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency," Kagan wrote. "On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter—to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home.

"But when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so—even though the misdemeanant fled. Because the California Court of Appeal applied the categorical rule we reject today, we vacate its judgment and remand the case for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion."

Thomas wrote that he agrees with the majority except where a contextual application of warrantless entry is applied. "The majority sets out a general rule requiring a case-by-case inquiry when an officer enters a home without a warrant in pursuit of a person suspected of committing a misdemeanor," Thomas wrote. "But history suggests several categorical exceptions to this rule. First, warrantless entry is categorically allowed when a person is arrested and escapes." Thomas added: "I also write to point out that even if the state courts on remand conclude that the officer's entry here was unlawful, the federal exclusionary rule does not require suppressing any evidence."

Kavanaugh agreed with Thomas and said in his view "there is almost no daylight in practice" between the Court's opinion and that of Thomas. Kavanaugh said the difference between the two will be "academic in most cases" because "cases of fleeing misdemeanants will almost always also involve a recognized exigent circumstance—such as a risk of escape, destruction of evidence, or harm to others—that will still justify warrantless entry into a home."

Only, it should never, especially when considering the very real possibility that a person of color is fleeing in fear of his life when a trooper decides to stop him for that broken tail light or improper use of a turn signal. As journalist Elie Mystal put it in a tweet: "Supreme Court generally agrees, somewhat grudgingly, that in some limited circumstances, the 4th Amendment is still technically a thing."

Watch: Video shows Maryland cop shock Black tourist with Taser after accusing him of vaping on boardwalk

Viral videos showed Maryland police tackling a teen, kneeing him in the stomach, and shocking another man with a Taser because of their response to allegations they were vaping on the Ocean City boardwalk Saturday evening, according to The Washington Post. A city ordinance prohibits "smoking and vaping outside of the designated areas on the Boardwalk," city officials said in a news release. It is the kind of blameless-cops-meet-defiant-troublemakers news release that has become commonplace among city agencies. In it, city officials described in detail alleged missteps of those police encounters but failed to include any description of the involved officers' actions. At one point in the release, authorities described the crowd that assembled was "aggressive and hostile," but they simply described the cops—some of whom were shown in the video brutalizing tourists—as "officers making an arrest." One video of the police encounter showed one of the men who police targeted raising his hands above his head just before he was shocked with the Taser. The encounter led to four arrests of tourists from Harrisburg, Pittsburgh.

Warning: Video throughout this story contains footage of profanity and police violence that may be triggering for some viewers.

Khalil Dwayne Warren, 19, was accused of doing nothing more than "standing on private property next to two 'no trespassing signs'" when officers targeted him. He ended up facing charges of trespassing and resisting/interfering with an arrest. "We are aware of the social media videos circulating regarding this incident," city officials said in their release. "Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance. All uses of force go through a detailed review process.

"The uses of force from these arrests will go through a multi-level examination by the Assistant Patrol Commander, the Division Commander and then by the Office of Professional Standards."

Although there have been conflicting reports of the ages of those involved, none were older than 20 years old according to the police officials' account. The confrontation allegedly started when officers saw what they described as "a large group vaping on the boardwalk." The officers approached the tourists, asked them to stop vaping, and the group walked away, city officials said. "As the group walked away, officers observed the same male start vaping again," city officials said. "During the course of the interaction, the male refused to provide his proof of identification and became disorderly. A large crowd of people began to form around the officers."

The situation escalated when officers tried to arrest Brian Everett Anderson, 19, for what officials described as "failure to provide necessary identification for the violation of the local ordinance." Authorities claimed in the release that "Anderson began to resist arrest" and was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct, resisting/interfering with an arrest, assault in the second degree, and failure to provide proof of identity. "During the interaction with Anderson, Kamere Anthony Day, 19, Harrisburg, PA, was yelling profanities and approaching officers during the lawful arrest," authorities said. "Officers placed a marked police bike in front of Day and advised him to back up. Day refused to comply with the officer's orders, continued yelling profanities while attempting to approach the officers placing Anderson under arrest."

Officials said "officers approached Day to place him under arrest for disorderly conduct" and he "resisted arrest." The city added that as officers and public safety aides tried to "provide a perimeter to separate the aggressive and hostile crowd" and "the officers making an arrest," they saw Jahtique John Lewis, 18, push one of the aides in the chest while yelling profanities. Officials also accused John Lewis of picking up a police bicycle and trying to hit an aide with it.

"John Lewis assaulted the Public Safety Aide again," officials said. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, obstructing and hindering, assault in the second degree and resisting/interfering with an arrest. All four of the men arrested were released on their own recognizance after appearing before the Maryland District Court Commissioner.

The incident follows both national and local calls for measures to hold officers accused of excessive force accountable. In Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, about 10 miles north of the Hennepin County Courthouse where ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stood trial for murdering George Floyd, a white cop shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Kim Potter, who later resigned her position with Brooklyn Center police, said she mistook her gun for her Taser and fired at Wright, a Black man, after he was pulled over on April 11 because his air freshener blocked a portion of his rearview window.

In Ocean City, the police department has been the subject of increased scrutiny following its policing of the city boardwalk, a popular spot amongst tourists visiting the area. Ocean City police are investigating Lt. Frank Wrench to determine if the force he used in video showing him punching and wrapping his arm around the neck of a 20-year-old white man accused of carrying an open container of alcohol. "You can tell he was getting mad from what I was saying and right when I called him a 'pig,' that's when he got mad, came over, grabbed me by my throat and punched me in my face and then put me in a chokehold for literally no reason," Taylor Cimorosi, the accused man, told Delmarva Now. "I was really just speaking my First Amendment. And I just, I feel like that cop shouldn't be, shouldn't have a badge no more."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed three police reform bills the General Assembly passed earlier this year to mandate police use of body cameras by July 2025, limit no-knock warrants to emergency use only, and allow greater access to police discipline records, the Associated Press reported. The package of legislation would have also meant harsher penalties in excessive force cases, including 10 years in prison if excessive force leads to death or serious injury.

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones mentioned the reform effort in a tweet on Monday condemning how officers handled the tourists on the Ocean City boardwalk. "The video from this weekend in Ocean City is deeply disturbing. Vaping on the Boardwalk is not a criminal offense," Jones said in the tweet. "Black and brown children should not be tased while their hands are up. Officers should not kneel on the back of a minor. Vaping should not yield a hog tie."

She continued in another tweet:

"Each of these actions is why the Maryland General Assembly passed police reform this year. I urge Ocean City officials to make review of this incident a top priority, dismiss the overzealous charges against this young man and reform or retrain officers on use of force immediately."

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, made a similar request in a tweet Sunday, tagging Maryland's Democratic attorney general and Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland. Ifill wrote: "Attorney General @BrianFrosh can you please investigate these multiple incidents involving police and unarmed Black teens in Ocean City, MD? @RepAndyHarrisMD is this your district??"

View other responses from social media below:

Mo Brooks accuses Swalwell's team of 'accosting' wife to serve Trump insurrectionist his suit

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks is finally getting the lawsuit he deserves for helping to incite a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The congressman from Alabama confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that he has received the lawsuit Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell had served at Brooks' home. "Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE)," Brooks said in the tweet earlier discovered by CNN. "HORRIBLE Swalwell's team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!"

One of Swalwell's attorneys, Philip Andonian, told CNN Brooks' allegations are false. "No one entered or even attempted to enter the Brooks' house," he said. "That allegation is completely untrue. A process server lawfully served the papers on Mo Brooks' wife, as the federal rules allow." Another of Swalwell's attorneys, Matthew Kaiser, told the news network Brooks can contest in court if he doesn't feel he was served legally. "We look forward to reading the papers," Kaiser said.

Brooks is accused of helping incite a deadly riot in former President Donald Trump's lying honor. Relying on unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, Trump called for his supporters to march to the Capitol to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. "We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen," Trump said at the Save America rally before the riot at the Capitol. "You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about." At the same rally, Brooks asked the crowd if it was willing "to do what it takes to fight for America."

"Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!" Brooks said." Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that's the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Louder. Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? [cheers and applause] Louder! Will you fight for America?"

Rep. Mo Brooks asking D.C. insurgents whether they are ready to sacrifice their blood for America

He was less boisterous in facing the fallout from his words. Swalwell had to hire a private investigator to track down Brooks after a judge in the case gave the California congressman 60 days to serve Brooks.

"Plaintiff had to engage the services of a private investigator to attempt to serve Brooks personally -- a difficult feat under normal circumstances that has been complicated further in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that Defendants incited," Swalwell's team said in a court document CNN obtained. "Plaintiff's investigator has spent many hours over many days in April and May at locations in multiple jurisdictions attempting to locate and serve Brooks, to no avail."

Brooks denied that he's been intentionally thwarting attempts to serve him. "I am avoiding no one," he told CNN through a spokesman on Thursday. "I have altered my conduct not one iota since Swalwell's politically motivated, meritless lawsuit was filed."

Speaking on Brooks' allegation that he was improperly served, Andonian added in his interview with CNN: "Mo Brooks has no one but himself to blame for the fact that it came to this. We asked him to waive service, we offered to meet him at a place of his choosing. Instead of working things out like a civilized person, he engaged in a juvenile game of Twitter trolling over the past few days and continued to evade service. He demanded that we serve him. We did just that. The important thing is the complaint has been served and Mo Brooks can now be held accountable for his role in inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol."

Texas GOP's response to COVID-19 pandemic is to make it more difficult to vote

Through what the Texas Tribune described as "closed-door negotiations" between the state House and Senate, Texas Republicans worked late into the night on Saturday to pass sweeping legislation to cut early voting hours and increase access for "partisan poll watchers," the newspaper reported. The legislation, Senate Bill 7, would also add a photo identification requirement following in Georgia's footsteps and ban drive-thru voting similar to a bill the Alabama governor signed into law last week. Journalist Judd Legum tweeted in a Twitter thread on Sunday that a new provisions in the Senate bill allows judges to "overturn" an election "without attempting to determine how individual voters voted."

"This section appears to validate (former President Donald) Trump's claims that he won various states because a certain number of people voted 'illegally' without any other details," Legum tweeted.

If that sounds more like voter suppression than the unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud Republicans claim they're trying to prevent, that's because it is. Republicans throughout the country have taken to slashing voting rights legislatively after a triple loss for the party last year in the White House and in two U.S. Senate runoff races, effectively flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Legum added in followup tweets:

"3. Texas is poised to adopt this unprecedented and radical legal provision without ANY DEBATE IN EITHER CHAMBERIt was negotiated in a secret conference committee and released on a Saturday of a holiday weekendAnd there is plenty of other bad stuff in this bill
4. The final bill text also:Bans drive-thru voting and voting after 9PM (used disproportionately by voters of color in Harris County) Bans voting on Sundays before 1PM (Souls to the polls)Makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to vote by mail"

The part of the proposed legislation Legum is referring to would require early voting during the week to take place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and push early voting on Sundays to the hours between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Activists have described the change as a direct attack on "Souls to the Polls," programing aimed at encouraging Black churches to send their congregations to the polls following church services. "They want to create long lines so that people of color -- it's more difficult for them to vote on Sundays right after they go to church," Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchiá told CNN. "That's really what this bill is about: to have a chilling effect on voters of all stripes, and especially hard hit will be people of color."

Attorney Marc Elias tracked the bill's speedy passage through one chamber of the state legislature on Sunday. "The Texas Senate passed #SB7 at 6:09am, after an all night debate about a bill that says Texans can't vote at night," he said in the tweet. "The Texas House calendar makes #SB7 eligible for a vote at 450pm CST. After that it goes to the Governor for his signature."

Vice President Kamala Harris called the Texas voting rights restrictions "yet another assault on our democracy" in a tweet on Saturday. "Congress needs to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We need to make it easier for eligible voters to vote. Not harder," Harris said in the tweet. President Joe Biden also condemned the legislation and advocated for federal legislation to protect the right to vote in a statement on Saturday. The For the People Act, which the House passed but Senate Republicans are blocking, would expand ballot access by creating automatic voter registration throughout the country, restore the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated, expand early voting, and modernize voting systems. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the Voting Rights Act and update the formula used to decide which states require preclearance from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to change any element related to voting in a protected jurisdiction.

The president said in his statement:

"Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote. It's part of an assault on democracy that we've seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.

It's wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.

I call again on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And I continue to call on all Americans, of every party and persuasion, to stand up for our democracy and protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections."

Read other criticisms of the proposed Texas legislation on social media:

'The GOP is destroying democracy': Alabama GOP hit with a barrage of criticism after curbside voting ban

First, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey came after women, signing into law in 2019 a bill outlawing abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, except when medically necessary. Then, she targeted transgender youth and signed into law on April 23 a bill prohibiting the children from participating in public school sports. Now, Ivey's targeting people with disabilities.

The Republican governor signed a bill into law on Wednesday to ban curbside voting and in effect make casting ballots more difficult for people with disabilities. The unfortunate law prohibits placing voting machines outside of voting places and prevents poll workers from taking ballots into or out of voting places except when done as part of the established process to transport ballots. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Wes Allen was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives in a 74-to-25 vote on March 18 and pushed through by the Senate in a 25-to-6 vote on May 17, the last day of the legislative session, the Montgomery Advertiser initially reported. The ACLU of Alabama tweeted: "With our state is in the middle of a devastating pandemic and economic downturn, what is the Alabama Legislature doing? Passing bills that burden or attack Alabamians."

Ivey didn't mention curbside voting ban's potential impact on people with disabilities in her press release bragging about rubber stamping Republican Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill's voter suppression effort. "Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote," she instead said. "A strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world." Protecting the electoral process has become a popular guise for voter suppression tactics embraced throughout the country among Republicans following a triple loss for the party, last year in the White House and in two U.S. Senate runoff races effectively flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democratic.

Maria Schell-Cannon, a mother and educator, called the new Alabama law "disgraceful' in a tweet on Wednesday. "This doesn't prevent fraud, just mks it more difficult 4 the disabled & elderly 2 gt 2 the polls," she said in the tweet. "Sad! The GOP is destroying democracy." Randy Wilson, a real estate investor and father, tweeted on Thursday: "No lottery. No expanded medicaid. No effort to rewrite the antiquated constitution. BUT, we made it a priority on the last day in session to ban curb side voting without a single case of curbside voting or any significant voter fraud. C'mon Alabama..."

Voters and activists brought up the subject of curbside voting last year in a federal lawsuit criticizing voting laws that didn't take into account health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a federal judge sided with activists, reported. Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall, however, successfully appealed the decision, getting the U.S. Supreme Court's permission to ban curbside voting. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the dissent opinion that Merrill "does not meaningfully dispute that the plaintiffs have disabilities, that COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal to these plaintiffs, and that traditional-in-person voting will meaningfully increase their risk of exposure."

Sotomayor also highlighted in her dissent the account of Howard Porter, Jr., a plaintiff in the case and a Black man in his 70s with asthma and Parkinson's Disease. He said in district court "many of my (ancestors) even died to vote. And while I don't mind dying to vote, I think we're past that. We're past that time." Alabama Republicans apparently disagree.

'Patently false': Doctor condemns new COVID-19 guidelines

t's official: Public health experts have way more faith in the American people than I do. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually built new guidelines released on Thursday that lean heavily on a kind of honor system in which people who haven't been vaccinated for COVID-19 should continue wearing masks both inside and outside. Those who are fully vaccinated can enjoy a new mask-free reality without requirements to socially distance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains.

Problem is, that whole trust issue I laid out actually stems from repeated instances of anti-maskers putting their own wants above public health needs. And now, according to the latest advice from experts, I'm supposed to attach my children's health to the hope that an American people with an incredibly shoddy track record on pretty much all fronts do the right thing. Yeah, not gonna happen. It's worth noting, however, that I'm privileged enough to simply not have to take my children to the grocery store, but what about those who aren't?

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday's "State of the Union" that children who have not been vaccinated—and no child under 12-years-old can be—should continue to wear masks in public and socially distance. She said the hope is that "by the end of this year" vaccines will be available to children in younger age ranges. "We recognize the challenge of parents who can't leave their kids at home," Walensky said. "(They) should be masked in those settings and to the best of their ability to keep a distance. The recommendations for those settings have not changed."

Neither has guidance for schools through the end of the current academic year, but that may not be the case for summer camps, Walensky said. "So yes, we do have to rapidly update our camp guidance and we're working on that right now," she said.

When asked if she trusts if people who aren't vaccinated will keep their masks on, Walensky said: "You know, I think that people who were not inclined to wear a mask were not inclined to wear a mask before Thursday."

Bash responded: "But some of them were mandated to do so, and those mandates are lifting in part because of your new guidelines."

Walensky said: "Yes and what we're really asking in those settings is to say, in terms of the honor system, people have to be honest with themselves. You're protected if you're vaccinated. You're not if you're not vaccinated."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that real world effectiveness of the vaccines is even better than in clinical trials at well over 90% protection against the coronavirus. "Number two, a number of papers have come out in the past couple of weeks showing that the vaccine protects even against the variants that are circulating," Fauci said. "And thirdly, we're seeing that it is very unlikely that a vaccinated person, even if there's a breakthrough infection, would transmit it to someone else."

Read more from Fauci's interview transcribed by CBS News:

JOHN DICKERSON: So, on that third point, let me ask you this. If I have no symptoms and I have been vaccinated, but I- but I am infected, what's the difference between that? And if I have no symptoms and I'm infected but have not been vaccinated?

DR. FAUCI: Good question, JOHN. And what the- what the issue is, is that the level of virus in your nasal pharynx, which is correlated with whether or not you were going to transmit it to someone else, is considerably lower. So even though there are breakthrough infections with vaccinated people, almost always the people are asymptomatic, and the level of virus is so low, it makes it extremely unlikely, not impossible, but very, very low likelihood that they are going to transmit it. Whereas when people who are getting infected, who were without symptoms, who are not vaccinated, generally the titer or the level of virus, relatively speaking, is higher than in the vaccinated individuals.

JOHN DICKERSON: A lot of people have heard about the Yankees; eight members of the club have tested positive. But it seems to bear out what you're saying, which is most of them have no symptoms. And you're- what you seem to be saying is they have no symptoms, and we don't need to worry about them spreading because they've all been vaccinated.

DR. FAUCI: Well, yeah. I mean, it's not going to be absolute zero, but the likelihood, JOHN, of this spreading is really very, very low. And that's one of the reasons why they're even talking about if you are vaccinated, that you're going to cut down on the testing of individuals, because even if they test positive, the likelihood of their transmitting to someone else is really very, very low.

JOHN DICKERSON: So, if- if a person is deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, they have to keep in mind whether it's going to keep them healthy. But based on these new findings, it would suggest they also have an opportunity, if vaccinated, to knock off or block their ability to transmit it to other people. So, does it increase the public health good of getting the vaccination or make that clearer based on these new findings?

DR. FAUCI: And you know, JOHN, you said it very well. I could have said it better. It's absolutely the case. And that's the reason why we say when you get vaccinated, you not only protect your own health, that of the family, but also you contribute to the community health by preventing the spread of the virus throughout the community. And in other words, you become a dead end to the virus. And when there are a lot of dead ends around, the virus is not going to go anywhere. And that's when you get a point that you have a markedly diminished rate of infection in the community. And that's exactly the reason, and you said it very well, of why we encourage people and want people to get vaccinated. The more people you get vaccinated, the safer the entire community is.

Not everyone in the medical community is thrilled about the new guidance.

Dr. Tara Smith, an infectious disease epidemiologist, tweeted in a thread on Sunday that she's "frustrated" about the guidance and the messaging used to defend it. "'Anyone who wanted a vaccine had plenty of time to get it.' This is patently false," she said. "One, the vaccine just became available for the 12-15 year age group. Why not wait another month until many in this group were able to get both shots and develop protection?"

She added: "Two, even those in the 16+ age group who got the vaccines as soon as they were eligible are wrapping up their 2nd dose in some states, because eligibility for them just opened at some point in April. Even if they jumped in on first day eligible, some are not yet fully immune."

Smith concluded: "I 100% agree that the science shows that vaccinated individuals are very safe. But many still *want* to be vaccinated & can't be or haven't been yet for many reasons. They're now at risk. It's an own goal to not have worked in this area first before changing the guidelines."

National Nurses United, the country's largest nurses union, released a statement on Friday condemning the new guidance. "This newest CDC guidance is not based on science, does not protect public health, and threatens the lives of patients, nurses, and other frontline workers across the country," National Nurses United Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said. "Now is not the time to relax protective measures, and we are outraged that the CDC has done just that while we are still in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century."

COVID-19 related deaths are still being reported, with 780 people having died from the virus the day the new guidelines were released, the union said. "If the CDC had fully recognized the science on how this deadly virus is transmitted, this new guidance would never have been issued," Jean Ross, president of the union said.


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