Lauren Floyd

How Trump’s draft executive order could have led to 'coup d'état': analyst

Pastor John Pavlovitz wrote in December that he’s lost respect for the Republicans he often finds himself surrounded by, those he considers friends. Once just considering them ignorant of the true inner-workings of the party they belong to, he said their continued support even after former President Donald Trump’s attempt to lead an insurrection against the very nation he was tasked with protecting eliminated all possibilities of ignorance. A draft of an executive order Politico published revealed on Friday that Trump was considering deploying the National Guard to seize voting machines after the election loss. News had already broke that the former president’s campaign established fake electors in seven swing states at the command of Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

"They know Donald Trump is a lying, vile, incompetent, traitorous monster who hasn’t had a noble instinct in his lifetime," Pavlovitz wrote. "They know that their party is on balance, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT, anti-Semitic, and anti-women. They know all these things. They just don’t care."

A fake elector CNN cited from Michigan bragged at a Republican event that the Trump campaign spearheaded the entire fake elector operation. "We fought to seat the electors. Um, the Trump campaign asked us to do that—under a lot of scrutiny for that today," Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said. “My husband has, he's suffered for that a little bit in Lansing because it's not very popular, but you know when you represent the whole state of Michigan and that's what I see it now. I realize that even though you're going to vote for somebody to be your next state representative, your next state senator, the truth is, this body of people, they represent all of us.” Maddock is hardly the only Trump-apologist. Pavlovitz named Republicans like Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, and Marjorie Taylor Greene who repeatedly defend Trump’s intolerable actions at all costs. “They are ‘winning,’ in whatever way they define that, and so the intoxicating ends justifies the sickening, violent, shameful means,” the pastor wrote of Republicans. “They no longer have a need to weigh the morality of the people they are in bed with, no longer worry about abiding the teachings of Jesus, no longer have to do the uncomfortable work of examining their own hearts. The victory trumps decency.”

That much was even clearer after reading the draft order Trump considered. The order would’ve utilized the power law granted the defense secretary to protect election records to instead “seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under.” Another part of the order would have allotted the defense secretary 60 days to assess the election, an act Politico reported "suggests it could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021."

Terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance told MSNBC if Trump had issued the executive order, it would've been "immediately dismissed" by every officer in the armed forces because it is an “unlawful order.” The bigger problem, he said, is what would’ve happened if National Guard units from states in favor of Trump were ordered by their governors to do what the armed forces couldn’t.

“This is literally the definition of a Latin American or Sub-Saharan African style coup d'état,” Nance said.

Read the full text of the draft order Politico published.

Juror reveals the 'key turning point' in the Kim Potter trial

A juror who spoke to NBC-affiliated KARE 11 on the condition of anonymity told the news station why convicting former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter last Thursday took some 27 hours. Potter, a white woman, was convicted on counts of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter after she shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black father, on Apr. 11, 2021.

It was difficult not to question whether race played a factor in how Potter responded to Wright before killing him. The shooting happened about 10 miles north of the Hennepin County Courthouse, where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial for murdering George Floyd. Chauvin had kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, killing him as onlookers begged the officer to stop. But the juror in the Potter case said he didn’t believe race was a factor in Potter’s handling of Wright.

“I don’t want to speak for all the jurors, but I think we believed she was a good person and even believed she was a good cop,” the juror said. “No one felt she was intentional in this. It’s ludicrous that some people are assuming we thought she was a racist. That never came up or anything like that. We felt like she was a good person, we felt she made a mistake, and that a mistake does not absolve you from the fact she did commit a crime. Being a good person doesn’t mean you’re above the law.”

At the time of Wright’s death, Potter had been a Brooklyn Center police officer for 26 years. She claimed she was reaching for her Taser when she accidentally grabbed her gun instead. Wright had been pulled over in a traffic stop for expired license plate tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror—a stop Potter said she didn’t want to make, but did because she was in the process of trainingofficer Anthony Luckey. “An air freshener to me is just an equipment violation,” she said, adding that she was advised not to enforce those kinds of infractions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luckey and Potter ultimately stopped Wright and learned he had an active misdemeanor warrant. Potter’s former supervisor, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, testified during the trial that when Luckey tried to arrest Wright, they struggled and Johnson opened Wright’s passenger door in an attempt to prevent him from driving away. Johnson testified that he held Wright’s arm, thinking Luckey or Potter would cuff Wright’s other arm. Instead, Johnson heard someone say, “Taser, Taser,” and dropped Wright’s arm to avoid the Taser’s probes, the sergeant testified. But Potter never used her Taser and instead grabbed a Glock handgun, weighing about 2.11 pounds. Her Taser weighed less than a pound, Sam McGinnis, a special agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified during the trial.

Jurors got to hold both weapons—a pivotal point in the case, the unnamed juror told KARE 11. “The Taser kind of feels like a mouse click whereas the trigger has some trigger draw weight,” he said. “That was a key turning point.”

At that point, the jury had agreed Potter was guilty of second-degree manslaughter, but two jurors weren’t willing to bend to the majority’s will on the higher count. First-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and is applicable when a person “intentionally causes the death of another person in the heat of passion,” or “causes the death of another in committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense with such force and violence that death of or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable,” according to state statute.

The juror who spoke to KARE 11 said one of the two holdouts was missing language that spelled out that the severe consequence of the act didn’t have to be intentional for it to be first-degree manslaughter.

“One of them asked me, ‘Hey, could I just go have a one-on-one with this other holdout? And let’s just talk it through and work through both of our reasons together and see if we can come to some sort of understanding,’” the juror who witnessed the conversation told KARE. “He was caught up on the language, and she was not. She helped clear up the language for him. She was caught up on the accountability side of things, and he helped clear that up for her. It was kind of interesting that they worked each other out. In the large group discussions, he kept saying, ‘I don’t think she was consciously aware that she was holding a firearm.’ We were like, ‘We get that. We understand. We agree. But you are missing the language where it says or intentional.’”

Before the jurors agreed to their decision, deliberations kept circling the same points, the spotlighted juror told KARE. There were times in deliberations when nearly every juror cried, he said, adding that the group still came to its decision respectfully. He said he plans to attend Potter’s sentencing hearing, which is set for Feb. 18.

“I hope for a lighter sentence. But when you factor in the vehicle that got hit and also the injury Daunte’s passenger sustained, I am of the belief that Kim Potter’s responsible for that harm as well and that should play into her sentence,” the juror said. “It just hurts for me to say that because I do think this was a mistake.”

'They chased him': 13-year-old boy dies after police tried to stop him for riding a dirt bike

A 13-year-old Black boy who police said was “driving recklessly” died Sunday after he crashed his dirt bike when a Florida officer attempted to pull him over, NBC News reported and authorities confirmed. Family of the Boynton Beach teen identified him as Stanley Davis Jr. in an interview with NBC affiliate, WPTV.

“That was my grandson, my only grandson,” Tina Hunter told the news station. “They chased him, chased him. He just panicked because he’s a kid. Chased him right to his damn grave and figured he’s just another Black boy and ain’t nothing is going to be done. That’s the prejudice of the Boynton Beach police that we’ve been having problems for all these damn years.”

Although police have not confirmed a chase, surveillance video obtained by WPTV showed the teen getting gas at the Boynton Chevron gas station just before the crash. A police SUV can be seen trailing Stanley as he rode out of the gas station.

The Boynton Beach Police Department wrote in its news release on Sunday:

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a young person who was operating a dirt bike this afternoon.Preliminary investigation indicates that the dirt bike operator was observed driving recklessly on Boynton Beach Boulevard. Officers attempted a traffic stop, and the dirt bike went down in the 800 block of North Federal Highway.“Our hearts go out to the family members of this young person, and they can trust that we and our law enforcement partners will be conducting a series of thorough and meticulous investigations into the circumstances of what occurred,” Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory said.The officer involved will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations, per department policy.We will be able to provide updated information about the dirt bike operator once we have confirmed proper notification of next of kin.We ask that anyone with information call us at 561-732-8116 or submit information via our website,

Chief Gregory, a Black man, said during a news conference after meeting with the child’s family that the family and community are “devastated and grieving.”

"There's nothing to make that pain any less. What we hope to do is do the best we can conducting a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the facts and circumstances that led to it," Gregory said.

Gregory said the department has asked the Florida Highway Patrol to take over the investigation to ensure objectivity. “They will be in charge of it,” the chief said. “They will be collecting the evidence, conducting the interviews, and it will be their investigation. We will get the outcome of that investigation.”

He also said the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's office will be conducting a separate investigation looking into the cause and manner of Stanley's death. An internal affairs investigation into any policy or procedural violations will follow.

"Again, can't say how difficult it is to think of the loss of someone as young as 13 years old with such a bright future ahead of him," Gregory said. "And I know that our community is upset. I know that there is a lot of emotion, and in some cases, there is some false narratives and false information that's floating around, so it's incumbent upon us to make sure that we share what we can.”

Gregory said there’s no evidence that the officer’s SUV made contact with Stanley’s dirt bike or that there was a secondary crash in the incident. He explained that they won’t be able to share everything while authorities are looking into the matter, but he promised a "fair" and "impartial" investigation.

"I can't begin to describe to you the pain that the family members are going through tonight," Gregory said. "It was difficult to have that conversation with them, but it was necessary."

Boynton Beach is a city about 15 miles south of West Palm Beach with a population that is about 30% Black and 63% white. Last June, one city worker was fired and the fire chief was asked to resign when the faces of two former fire chiefs were replaced with that of white people in a fire station art mural. Retired Deputy Chief Latosha Clemons, who was the city's first Black female firefighter, and retired Chief Glenn Joseph, a Black man, were replaced in the mural. Clemons sued the city for $100,000 in damages in April, according to The Washington Post.

“I was like, ‘Wow, why did this happen?’” Clemons said at a news conference. “I was hurt. I was disappointed. And then I was outraged.”

Ohio pastor who bragged about hunting people is charged in shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr.

The now-retired Ohio sheriff’s deputy/pastor who shot and killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4, 2020 after earlier bragging to a congregation about being able to “hunt people” is finally facing charges, according to ABC News. Jason Meade shot Goodson in the back five times, netting him charges including two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide Thursday. He has also faced continued criticism from protesters who have called into question the absence of footage from police body cameras or dash cameras in the shooting.

Activist Lance Cooper compared Meade to Derek Chauvin, the former cop convicted of murdering George Floyd when he kneeled on the Black father’s neck for more than nine minutes. “There are many Derek Chauvins in America,” Cooper tweeted back in April. “Casey Goodson Jr. was murdered by Deputy Jason Meade in Ohio. Casey was shot in the back six times while entering his home. He was returning from the dentist with Subway for his family. His keys were in the door when he was executed.”

The Franklin County coroner has confirmed that Goodson was actually shot five times, ABC News reported.

Mark Collins, Meade's attorney, alleged in a statement ABC News obtained that his client began pursuing Goodson after seeing him aim a gun at another driver then at Meade. Collins cited the story of a deputy who said Goodson was "waving the firearm erratically." According to the attorney's statement, Meade followed Goodson first in his car then on foot as Goodson approached a home relatives say belonged to Goodson's grandmother. Collins said Meade identified himself as a police officer and ordered Goodson to show his hands, one of which was carrying a plastic bag. The other held a gun, Collins claimed. Meade "commanded Mr. Goodson to once again 'drop the gun,' and when that command was ignored, and while the gun was pointing at Mr. Meade, he, in fear for his life as well as those inside the house, fired his weapon at Mr. Goodson," the attorney said in the statement.

Goodson's mother, Tamala Payne, said she was “overwhelmed with joy” to hear Meade had been indicted. “It’s been a year of sadness, it’s been a year of grief, it’s been a year of pain," she said at a news conference. "But I know that every day of this year, that my family and I wake up and just fight for what’s right.”

Ohio officer charged with murder in

In stories earlier reported by the Columbus Free Press and The Washington Post, Meade made his policing goals clear two years before the encounter with Goodson. “I work for the sheriff’s office ... I hunt people—it’s a great job, I love it,” he told attendees at a 2018 convention of the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists. “I worked this job 14 years, you know I ain’t never been hit clean in the face one time? It’s a fact. It ain’t ’cause I’m so good ... You know why? I learned long ago I gotta throw the first punch. And I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like, ‘Oh, police brutality.’ People I hit you wish you could hit, trust me.”

Goodson was not a suspect nor the focus of an investigation, but Meade shot him reportedly for waving a gun from his car, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office alleged in a statement.

Meade, an Iraq War veteran who started his work with the sheriff's office in 2003, is a pastor at Rosedale Free Will Baptist Church, which is about 30 miles west of Columbus. Before launching into the confession of his true belief system, Meade earlier confessed to another Baptist congregation: “I’m not politically correct. Do I need to throw that out? Full disclosure: if you’re looking for PC you got the wrong one.”

Listen to Meade’s complete remarks.

Meade went on to paint police as David and victims of police brutality as Goliath in a twisted interpretation of the popular biblical story in which a young man, David, slays the great warrior Goliath with a slingshot and a rock. The story is often used to demonstrate how faith can make the seemingly impossible possible, but Meade’s takeaway seemed to be that David won because he took the first shot.

New report finds cops killed 400+ unarmed people in 5 years during traffic stops — many for minor infractions

A New York Times investigation found that in five years police officers killed more than 400 people who weren't in possession of a gun or knife and weren't suspected of a violent crime, yet only five of the officers have been convicted in connection with the killings. The more likely outcome was a lawsuit, which played out with local governments (i.e. taxpayers) paying at least $125 million in 40 wrongful death suits, the Times reported. Journalists David Kirkpatrick, Steve Eder, Kim Barker, and Julie Tate wrote in the piece that Black drivers were overrepresented in the number of deaths when compared to the population, and they were stopped over minor infractions like red light violations or driving with broken taillights. "In case after case, officers said they had feared for their lives," the reporting team wrote. "And in case after case, prosecutors declared the killings of unarmed motorists legally justifiable.

"But The Times reviewed video and audio recordings, prosecutor statements and court documents, finding patterns of questionable police conduct that went beyond recent high-profile deaths of unarmed drivers. Evidence often contradicted the accounts of law enforcement officers."

Some 24 cases involving the officers are pending, while only five officers have actually been convicted in relation to killings, the Times reported. Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd when the white Minneapolis cop kneeled on the Black father's neck for more than nine minutes, was one of two officers sentenced to considerable time in prison. One cop got away with only probation, the Times reported. Another served seven months in prison, and cases involving the other two officers are still playing out in court, one of whom will have his appeal considered by the Texas Supreme Court, the Times reported.

The latter case is that of former North Texas police officer Roy Oliver, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of shooting and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, The Texas Tribune reported. The teen was riding in a car that was driving away from officers, who had been called to a house party to investigate alleged underage drinking on April 29, 2017, Texas Monthly reported.

While Oliver was prosecuted, that was not a common outcome in the cases The New York Times investigated. In more than 150 statements from prosecutors tasked with holding officers accountable for the deaths, many of them blamed the drivers. "Prosecutors and courts give more leeway to officers' decisions to use force at vehicle stops, as a result of the exaggerated concern about the potential for officers getting hurt," Michael Gennaco, a police consultant and former Justice Department prosecutor, told the Times. "Officers would likely kill fewer drivers if there were deterrence."

The Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney seem to have taken steps in the right direction along those lines by passing the Driving Equality Bill, which is aimed at banning officers from pulling over drivers for low-level vehicle infractions and instead allowing officers to mail citations. Kenney told The Hill he signed the bill into law on Wednesday and his administration intends to implement it and accompanying legislation through executive action. The companion legislation requires officers to keep and make public data on traffic stops at least monthly.

"This is something that is historic that could put us in a position where we're addressing an issue that has been plaguing Black communities," the Driving Equality bill's author Isaiah Thomas told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Philadelphia is leading the nation when it comes to this particular issue."

The U.S. Supreme Court began allowing officers to use minor traffic infractions as a means to investigate unrelated crimes in 1996, but the end result of that allowance has been cops disproportionately stopping Black and Latino drivers "despite those drivers being no more likely to be found to be carrying anything illegal," the newspaper reported of studies.

"A person of color's first exchange with a police officer shouldn't be during a discriminatory traffic stop," Thomas said in a June news release. "By working closely with the Philadelphia Police Department, we were able to identify traffic stops that do nothing to keep people safer and remove the negative interaction.

"I believe this Philadelphia legislation can set a precedent for other cities, not only through the policy itself but through the collaborative process."

Watch: Madison Cawthorn gets 'upset' when a student asks him to admit a simple truth

As many a Democrat would be, one politically savvy Dartmouth College student appeared to be jumping out of his seat when put in a room with Rep. Madison Cawthorn. A Republican, Cawthorn is a supporter of former President Donald Trump's who, like many others, has against all logic proclaimed that the election Trump loss to President Joe Biden was rigged.

Jack Cocchiarella, digital director for Democrat Marcus Flowers' campaign for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's House seat, seemed to have applied great restraint in the encounter. The sheer audacity of Cawthorn to claim that anyone would have to rig an election to unseat a reality TV star who went on to lead an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is low-hanging fruit.

But Cocchiarella didn't go there. He asked Cawthorn outright: "I just got a quick question for you Congressman Cawthorn. A majority of Republicans believe that President Biden was not lawfully elected. Now you know that he was and that he won the 2020 election. So when will you stop lying to your constituents, admit that Donald Trump lost, and end this senseless attack on our democracy?" Cocchiarella got a response that wasn't exactly grounded in truth.

Cawthorn started by saying he "wholeheartedly" disagrees. "On the facts, you disagree with me," Cocchiarella responded, before later letting Cawthorn continue.

The North Carolina Republican said:

"So as you can all see in Article II, Section 3 of the constitution, the only people who have a right to change election law in the United States of America, are the state legislatures. You saw in six key states, namely Wisconsin and Arizona, as the the worst perpetrators. The state (...) governors and the Board of Elections there who actually went around the will of the state legislature and changed election laws on their own. That is unconstitutional. When you have voter drop boxes that are set up in parks when you didn't give it a signature verification of voter identification laws. That is against the law and is an unconstitutional thing. Are you against the constitution?"

Cocchiarella responded: "When you incited the January 6th insurrection, were you against the constitution?"

While former Attorney General William Barr announced last December that the Justice Department uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud, there's video evidence of Cawthorn revving up a crowd of Trump supporters hours before the insurrection.

"My friends, I encourage you to go back to your states after today," Cawthorn said. "Hold your representatives accountable. Make sure that they stood up for election integrity, and make your voices heard."

Cawthorn - 'Constitution was violated' by 2020

A Black Lives Matter protester was billed $57,000 for the legal defense of cop who wrongfully arrested her

Disturbing video taken six years ago shows a Black woman walking to her car while St. Louis police officers, in a state of panic, attempt to disband the few protesters pictured in the footage. "Get back!" one officer is shown yelling. "Grab anybody. They're all in the street!" someone else yells. Within seconds, an officer approaches the woman, Kristine "Kris" Hendrix, and a Black man also walking nearby, then uses a Taser on them both. Hendrix sued two officers involved in the encounter according to a lawsuit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained. She was awarded $3,500 in damages due to the actions of officer Stephen Ogunjobi; the other officer, Louis Wilson, was cleared, the nonprofit news organization the Missouri Independent reported.

Now, that officer is trying to force Hendrix to pay $57,000 in legal fees stemming from her suit.

The 2007 law that gave the city the right to seek such fees is brought to you by—shocker—a Republican legislator. Former Sen. Jack Goodman, who's now an appellate judge, advocated for a firearms bill that included in its language a provision giving law enforcement officers who use "justified force" an "absolute defense against criminal prosecution or civil liability," as St. Louis Public Radio describes the law.

"The court shall award attorney's fees, court costs, and all reasonable expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by the plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant has an absolute defense," lawmakers stated in the bill.

A circuit court judge still denied the city's request seeking fees from Hendrix last year, citing the city's decision to seek the fees some three years after the case was filed. The city again brought the issue before the Missouri Court of Appeals in the Eastern District on Tuesday, the Missouri Independent reported. And in that process, attorneys ended up hashing out elements of the original case. "The trial court improperly speculated that the Taser cycles could have been motivated by malice or ill will," said Erin McGowan, an attorney for the city who also represented one of the officers in the initial suit.

Hendrix's attorneys responded by explaining that "malice can be inferred from continuing to use a Taser at maximum capacity while a woman is lying on the ground screaming."

In court, the city attorney also argued that officers saw Hendrix with a "closed fist" just before she was shocked with a Taser. Maureen Hanlon, one of Hendrix's attorneys, told the Missouri Independent hearing the city defend the officer's action is not easy. "The force used was egregious, and a jury agreed," Hanlon said. "It is hard for Ms. Hendrix to sit and hear the city's continued defense of this force that was very traumatizing for her."

Attorneys stated in her initial lawsuit:

It is clear from the video and from Officer Wilson's testimony that he and Officer Ogunjobi approached Ms. Hendrix from behind. . . . [T]he "pop" sound of Officer Ogunjobi's taser clearly can be heard as he applies it to Ms. Hendrix for the first time. Within a couple of seconds of that Ms. Hendrix can be heard saying "Oh myGod, oh my God, oh my God. Why did you do that? I wasn't doing anything?" An officer can be heard saying "Put your hands behind your back," but before he even finishes the sentence the sound of Officer Ogunjobi administering another cycle of tasing to Ms. Hendrix can be heard, and she screams. In response to the officer's command, she then can be heard saying five times in succession "I can't it hurts! I can't it hurts!" then "It hurts so bad, please, please stop." She repeats this several more times, then Officer Ogunjobi tases her a third time. Again, Ms. Hendrix screams, then says, "Oh my God, why are you doing this, I'm on the ground."

Exhibit A, Judgment, City of St. Louis v. Hendrix, et al., 1622-CR03662, 9.

Ms. Hendrix was being electrified almost continuously before the officers handcuffed her. This Court believes Ms. Hendrix [sic] testimony—which is bolstered by the audio from the video recording—that she could not comply withOfficer Wilson's command that she put her arms behind her back. The Court finds this to be so because for much of the time she was on the sidewalk one arm was pinned under her, she was being tased repeatedly in quick succession, and between the tasings she was telling the officers repeatedly that "I can't! It hurts!"

Warning: This video includes violent footage of police using a Taser that may be triggering for some viewers.

#STL Metro PD tazing protesters May 29,

"We understand that with acts of civil disobedience, there can be consequences," Hendrix said in a phone interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a few days after her arrest. "However, we just assume that with well-trained police staff, those consequences don't necessarily have to be Tasering or shooting or even arresting people—because, what a waste of time and energy when there are people being murdered at alarming rates in our city."

Hendrix also told the newspaper she isn't taking up the issue for herself. "This is about everyone who has been treated unjustly by our so-called justice system," she said. "We need to look at the pattern, not just individual people." Seven other protesters were arrested the same day as Hendrix on suspicion of impeding the flow of traffic. Along with Hendrix, one of the other protesters also picked up the added charge of resisting arrest.

Hendrix was later acquitted on Dec. 1, 2016, when Circuit Judge Nicole Colbert-Botchway concluded that "evidence presented in this case does not establish that Ms. Hendrix was ever given an opportunity to comply before she was tased repeatedly and then handcuffed."

'Court cannot sit idly by' when judge turns 'court of law into a Skinner Box': Texas appeal opinion

It took five years for the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to issue a public warning to a judge who ordered a defendant, on three occasions, to be shocked with a stun cuff during his criminal trial. The order to place the cuff came after the defendant's "disruptive conduct" led bailiffs and the judge to believe he was a security threat.

Terry Lee Morris was accused of soliciting a sexual performance from a 15-year-old girl, and his trial played out in 2016 in the courtroom of State District Judge George Gallagher, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper reported that Gallagher's order hurt and scared Morris so much that he didn't attend the rest of his trial and skipped nearly all of his sentencing hearing. The Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso ended up throwing out Morris' conviction because his constitutional right to be present for his trial was violated.

"While the trial court's frustration with an obstreperous defendant is understandable, the judge's disproportionate response is not," Justice Yvonne Rodriguez said in the court opinion the Post obtained. "We do not believe that trial judges can use stun belts to enforce decorum. A stun belt is a device meant to ensure physical safety; it is not an operant conditioning collar meant to punish a defendant until he obeys a judge's whim. This Court cannot sit idly by and say nothing when a judge turns a court of law into a Skinner Box, electrocuting a defendant until he provides the judge with behavior he likes."

In a judicial conduct decision journalist Keri Blakinger tweeted on Sunday, the conduct commission determined Gallagher "should be publicly warned for engaging in willful conduct that cast public discredit upon the judiciary and the administration of justice" in violation of the Texas Constitution "when he ordered the activation of Mr. Morris' stun cuff which resulted in injury to Mr. Morris and his absence from the remainder of the guilt-innocence phase of his own criminal trial." The commission says its action was taken "in a continuing effort to protect the public and promote public confidence in the judicial system."

The commission laid out in its findings of fact that a stun cuff was placed on Morris' ankle at the recommendation of Gallagher's bailiffs, "who believed the defendant posed a security risk based on his disruptive conduct during previous court appearances and while in custody." Gallagher ordered Morris to be shocked during the trial but "outside the presence of the jury," the commission found. Gallagher ordered the shocking in response to Morris "moving around the end of the counsel table and into the well of the courtroom in a manner Judge Gallagher perceived to be a security threat." The commission found that "the trial court's record is devoid of any description of a security threat."

Dallas Morning News writer Jacquielynn Floyd pointed out in an op-ed that Morris was no blameless man. "Being a trial judge would probably be more agreeable work were it not for defendants like Terry Lee Morris—obnoxious, disruptive, bent on turning the courtroom into a reality TV free-for-all with himself as the star," Floyd wrote. "This guy, as the saying goes, would have tested the patience of a saint." Even Morris' attorney, Bill Ray, told Texas Lawyer he didn't object to the court using a stun belt because his client was acting "like a loaded cannon ready to go off."

However, the thing with constitutional rights is that they aren't granted dependent on the subject being a good person. "The trouble is, now Morris, previously a convicted pedophile sentenced to 60 years for sexting his ex-girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter, wins a get-out-of-jail card and a new trial," Floyd wrote.

Northern Idaho hospitals permitted to save beds and ventilators for those 'most likely to survive'

As hospital workers desperately try to save lives with limited resources and dwindling available beds during the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials Idaho activated a "crisis standards of care" for northern hospitals last week that would in rare cases allow hospitals to save beds and ventilators "for those who are most likely to survive," The Associated Press reported of the guidelines dated last year.

"Crisis standard of care is a last resort," Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement the AP obtained. "It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our health care systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect."

Jeppesen added: "This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible—it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from COVID-19."

Coronavirus cases in Idaho, a state with one of the country's lowest vaccination rates, have spiked in recent weeks. The state health department detailed "a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in the northern area of the state caused by a massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization."

Republican Gov. Brad Little said the state had reached an "unprecedented and unwanted point" in its history. "We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again, we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," Little said in a statement. He didn't specify those steps, and many wonder what the governor is doing to protect his constituents.

Idaho had more than 600 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and only 40% of residents vaccinated as of a New York Times report on Monday. "Washington State is reeling under its own surge of coronavirus cases," Times writer Mike Baker wrote. "But in neighboring Idaho, 20 miles down Interstate 90 from Spokane, unchecked virus transmission has already pushed hospitals beyond their breaking point."

Cassie Sauer, the president of the Washington State Hospital Association, told the newspaper while Washington residents are required to wear masks when indoors, students exposed to the virus are required to quarantine, and vaccination orders are in place for many workers, Idaho leaders have issued no such requirements. "It's ridiculous," Sauer said. "If you have your health care system melting down, the idea that you would not immediately issue a mask mandate is just bizarre. They need to be doing everything they can possibly do."

Hospital capacity concerns exist in Idaho and throughout most red states, where Republican governors have sat on their hands for more than a year as much as possible regarding the pandemic.

"Wait times can now be measured in days," CEO Darrell Pile told ProPublica. Pile leads the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council, which oversees patient transfers in a region of 25 counties. State data in the Lone Star State showed only 319 intensive care unit beds available for adults and 104 for pediatric services in the state of some 29 million people. "Now, as the highly contagious delta variant envelops swaths of low-vaccination states all at once, it becomes harder to find nearby hospitals that are not slammed," ProPublica writer Jenny Deam wrote.

Dr. Normaliz Rodriguez, a Florida pediatric emergency physician, told the news nonprofit, "This is not just a COVID issue; this is an everyone issue."

It took doctors six hours to diagnose 12-year-old Seth Osborn with appendicitis after being taken to Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North Hospital in late July, ProPublica reported. Seth's appendix had burst, a life-threatening circumstance, by the time doctors operated on him. Luckily, he survived.

Daniel Wilkinson, a 46-year-old U.S. Army veteran, was not as lucky. Experiencing unbearable pain in his abdomen on August 21, Wilkinson told his mother: "Mama, take me to the hospital." When she did, Dr. Hasan Kakli at Bellville Medical Center in Bellville, Texas, diagnosed Wilkinson with gallstone pancreatitis, an otherwise treatable illness. But doctors couldn't find a hospital with an available intensive care unit bed, ProPublica reported.


Kakli searched for six hours in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado before a hospital the doctor had contacted earlier found Wilkinson a spot about an hour away in Houston. By that point, the veteran who had served two tours in Afghanistan was in grave condition, his blood pressure dropping, which is a signal of organ failure, Kakli told ProPublica. Wilkinson was flown to the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and put in a medically-induced coma, but he ultimately died 26 hours after initially going to the emergency room. "If he had 40 minutes to wait instead of six hours, I strongly believe he would have had a different outcome," told ProPublica.

Judge strikes down DeSantis’ anti-protest law

In the fight to strip their constituents of their right to protest, Republican governors in states throughout the country have been pushing legislation to criminalize protesting. Well, a federal judge said I don't think so on Thursday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed what he dubbed "the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country" on April 19. He and other GOP politicians have been particularly vocal about such legislation since the murder of George Floyd and the widespread protests for justice the Black father's death inspired. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in a ruling obtained by The Washington Post that the governor's "new definition of 'riot'" lacks specificity and criminalizes "vast swaths of core First Amendment speech."

Responding to a lawsuit from social change organizations Dream Defenders and the American Civil Liberties Union, Walker said DeSantis' law changed the "common law definition of riot." "Tossing Molotov cocktails at the police station with 10 of your best friends is clearly rioting," Walker wrote, but the GOP governor's law isn't that detailed.

The law banned "willfully participating in a violent public disturbance" but fails to specify what that is, the Post reported of Walker's ruling. "Is it enough to stand passively near violence?" he wrote. "What if you continue protesting when violence erupts? What if that protest merely involves standing with a sign while others fight around you? Does it depend on whether your sign expresses a message that is pro- or anti-law enforcement? What about filming the violence? What if you are in the process of leaving the disturbance and give a rioter a bottle of water to wash tear gas from their eyes?"

The ACLU Florida wrote in a news release about the lawsuit that it "targets Black protestors and their allies who demand racial justice and has already slowed protest activity among Black organizers in Florida."

Activists stated in the lawsuit:

"The Act is rife with constitutional infirmities. By defining new protest-related crimes, and by amending the definitions of terms like "riot" to extend far beyond their historical, common-law roots, Florida now permits the arrest, detention, and prosecution of protestors who are not engaged in criminal conduct, but rather who simply participate in certain protests. At the same time, the Act creates mandatory minimums for certain offenses and prohibits bail for those arrested—ensuring that even wrongfully detained non-violent protestors must remain in custody for extended periods of time. The law also allows those who intentionally injure or kill protestors to escape civil liability for their conduct. And the Act includes new offenses that, as written and intended, will be applied to such basic free-speech activities as electronically posting the name and email address of a state legislator or sheriff—public figures—on the Internet. The enactment of these overbroad and vague offenses, coupled with heightened penalties for existing ones, serves to do exactly what was intended—i.e., silence Black people and their allies who protest racial injustice."

Ultimately, Walker's decision to deem the law unconstitutional in a 90-page ruling supports activists' interpretation of the law. "If this court does not enjoin the statute's enforcement, the lawless actions of a few rogue individuals could effectively criminalize the protected speech of hundreds, if not thousands, of law-abiding Floridians," Walker wrote.

DeSantis said in a media appearance that he plans to appeal Walker's decision. "We will win that on appeal," he s said. "I guarantee we will win that on appeal."

Democrat and State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for governor, called the law "dangerous and discriminatory" in a media statement. "Today's injunction is a win for Floridians' First Amendment rights, blocking enforcement of a dangerous and discriminatory law," she said. "We have now seen three court decisions in as many days where the judicial system has confirmed what we have long known: The Governor's continued attempts to strong-arm and silence opponents are unconstitutional."

'I didn’t even like voting for you': Black West Virginia voters vow to hold Manchin accountable

With a state population that is only 3.6% Black and has a Republican senator and a watered-down Democratic senator in Joe Manchin, it's no wonder Black voters in West Virginia feel overlooked. They are, The Washington Post reported. "Black West Virginians feel dismissed and written off," Post writer Clyde McGrady penned. "They are well aware of how their fellow Americans view them: unsophisticated, uneducated residents of a (Donald) Trump-country backwater.

"They believe they've been forgotten by Democrats in their state, forgotten by the national party and ignored by the political media, which typically sees West Virginia as a bunch of white conservatives." So marching hand-in-hand with white West Virginians, they took their concerns to Manchin directly, or at least they tried to.

The topics central to their agenda were the senator's repeated opposition to filibuster reform and the For the People Act, a voting bill aimed at reigning in legislation passed across the country by Republican-led legislatures making it more difficult to vote. A filibuster is an operational instrument requiring 60 votes instead of a simple majority to stall or block a vote. Senate Republicans have used it to delay civil rights legislation for decades. Manchin accused Democrats of trying "to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past."

He wrote in an op-ed for his hometown paper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

"As a reminder, just four short years ago, in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster. Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster. Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster.

It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, what I've seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy."

When his constituents marched to his office to call him out on his views, specifically on how they misrepresented their best interest, Manchin was in D.C. "His staff greeted marchers outside to visit with them and listen to their concerns," Sam Runyon, Manchin's communications director, said in a statement the Post obtained. "In a large group situation, comment cards ensure everyone has the opportunity to thoroughly express their thoughts," Runyon added. "As always, his staff shared the concerns of the marchers with Senator Manchin."

Rev. David Fryson interpreted the response as "a little contrived," as if Manchin's team was trying to subdue "the passion and the power that we had." "I think that many times we didn't vet him the way that we should have," Fryson told the Post. "As you look back now over the course of his public life, you realize that he kind of leans towards giving the African American community the glad hand, but at the same time, with a wink and a nod, be willing to facilitate things that are against us."

Jennifer Wells is a senior organizer with a local branch of the Community Change Action, a national organization working to empower marginalized voters. She told The Washington Post: "In the time that I've been here in West Virginia, this is the angriest that I felt the energy around him, and the fact that, 'You know what, I didn't even like voting for you.' That's just what I've heard on the street." Wells told the newspaper she's from New Orleans but ended up in West Virginia when Manchin, then governor, welcomed those fleeing Hurricane Katrina. During her time in West Virginia, she learned the state had produced noted civil rights leaders like Memphis Tennessee Garrison, who focused on Black educators during Jim Crow years, and minister Leon Sullivan who advocated for upward mobility through job training for Black people. Wells, however, said the state's Black population just is not taken seriously politically.

"I would walk into rooms, rooms with Black people from other parts of the country, and they'd ask who you are and where you're from, and I would say West Virginia, and people would start laughing," she told The Washington Post. "And they're like, 'Oh, you must be one of the two people that live in the state.' " She later added: "By no means do I think that the Black folks in Appalachia, the Black folks in West Virginia, are going to be able to win everything they want just by themselves. It has to be multi­racial, but each part of the coalition has to feel their voice and their power. And I think that's what's been missing."

Jean Evansmore, 80, of West Virginia, was cited during the Women's Moral Monday March on Washington, which the new Poor People's Campaign organized outside of the Supreme Court last month, according to The Washington Post. There, Evansmore, the granddaughter of a coal miner who went to union meetings weekly, called for an end to the filibuster to protect voting rights. Charly Carter, the executive director of the advocacy group the Democracy Initiative, was arrested and cited at the march. At one point, she asked Evansmore: "So, what are we going to do about Joe Manchin?" Her response was to keep fighting, keep protesting as long as she lived.

This lawmaker had a brave and prescient warning about the Afghanistan War just days after 9/11

Viral video of Afghans clinging to a U.S. military plane departing Afghanistan circulated online Monday in the aftermath of the Taliban occupying the presidential palace in Kabul and taking control. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, The New York Times reported. For many, the takeover U.S. intelligence officials seemed to be ignorant of signaled a two-decade-long, $2 trillion failure of the United States government to train Afghan military forces to defend its nation.

And while social media users spent much of Sunday assigning blame, many seemed to have forgotten it was a Black Democrat who had the courage to stand alone and vote against the war in Afghanistan to start with following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Rep. Barbara Lee's words opposing military force in Afghanistan on Sept. 14, 2001, were both moving and telling.

Lee said:

"Mr. Speaker, members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart, one that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Only the most foolish and the most callous would not understand the grief that has really gripped our people and millions across the world.
This unspeakable act on the United States has really forced me, however, to rely on my moral compass, my conscious, and my God for direction. September 11th changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us, yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. This is a very complex and complicated matter.
Now, this resolution will pass, although we all know that the president can wage a war even without it. However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, 'let's step back for a moment. Let's just pause, just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control.'
Now I have agonized over this vote, but I came to grips with it today, and I came to grips with opposing this resolution during the very painful yet very beautiful memorial service. As a member of the clergy so eloquently said, 'as we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.'"

Speech on 9/14/

Molly Jong-Fast tweeted on Monday: "The only person who absolutely cannot be blamed for the war in Afghanistan is @RepBarbaraLee"

Filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome similarly tweeted: "Barbara Lee was literally the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing (George) Bush to launch 'the forever war' in 2001. (Joe) Biden was among the senators who voted for it… 1/

"…Again, *the entire US political establishment* is implicated in the compounding disasters we're facing right now b/c it's literally been the same ppl in power shuffling around different positions in the government since the 1970s. We need to deepen our collective analysis. 2/2"

Biden tweeted on Monday: "I will be addressing the nation on Afghanistan at 3:45 PM ET today."

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.
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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 toThe 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.

Oklahoma governor's spokesperson says refusing to respond to Black-owned media site is 'our policy'

If only people knew the racist inner-workings that inform how they get their news, we'd have far more former CNN aficionados retreating into media-free solitude. The racism at work at your favorite news stations, newspapers, and red carpet events is so rampant that many of the Pulitzer-Prize and other award winning journalists shedding light on systemic issues of racism often had to do so at the disapproval of their bosses and on their personal time. I know this because I've worked as a journalist for more than a decade and have friends in a wide gamut of media roles, some with Emmys and Pulitzers to boot, some who have yet to receive their roses for their courageous work.

So imagine my disgust when I learned that a spokesperson for Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt had the gall to try to belittle the work of a journalist of color working for a Black-owned media outlet. Sarah Gray, who self-identifies as a "proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation and of Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Kiowa Tribe descent," is a political correspondent and senior writer for The Black Wall Street Times. After Gray asked routine questions about how a commission voted on legislation and the governor's involvement, Stitt's director of communications Carly Atchison wrote and The Black Wall Street Times screenshot this response: "Hi Sarah, thanks for reaching out but our policy is to respond to journalists, not activists pretending to be reporters. Good luck!"

News flash: Any journalist worthy of the title is an activist pretending to be a reporter. Now, depending on the outlet, some have to pretend a bit more convincingly than others, but if a sense of justice and a desperate need to right some societal wrong doesn't drive the work of journalism, then it's not journalism.

"The governor's message to the more than 1 million readers of The Black Wall Street Times is clear; he has no interest in sharing information with you, the journalists or Black-owned publication you trust," the media company's editorial board penned. "This anti-Black dog whistling is nothing new to members of the press who represent Black media. Anti-Blackness has inarguably become a cornerstone of the Stitt Administration's general policy position."

The news site fittingly based in Oklahoma, the birthplace of the economically thriving Black Tulsa community that is also the news organization's namesake, was asking the governor about his attendance at a meeting of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to discuss Stitt's role on the commission—or more accurately, lack there of. No one from his office showed up to the meeting on Monday despite being invited, while the governor twice "snubbed" the commission, The Black Wall Street Times reported. "Now more than ever, we need policies that bring us closer together – not rip us apart," the Republican governor said in a statement on Friday. "And as governor I firmly believe that not one cent of taxpayer money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans about their race or sex."

Stitt made the speech the same day he signed into law Oklahoma House Bill 1775, which The Black Wall Street Times defined as "a law that shields White students from learning about the trauma and effects of systemic racism if it makes them feel discomfort or guilt." Let's not forget, this is in a state where white supremacists burned and terrorized the wealthiest Black community in the country, that of Tulsa, in 1921. The governor promised House Bill 1775 wouldn't "prevent or discourage" difficult conversations about "our past." He said "verbatim" it reads: "No teacher shall require or make part of a course that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex."

The legislation maintains that no public school employee should require or make part of a course any content that makes any individual "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex." It also includes bizarre language that bans defining "meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic" as "racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race." Still, Stitt wants his constituents to believe the bill is harmless.

If the bill is as harmless as the governor implies, it's unclear why his office had such a problem answering The Black Wall Street Times' basic questions about how each member on the Tulsa commission voted in coming to a collective decision not to support the legislation. "Based on this interaction, it is the Black Wall Street Times Editorial Board's opinion that Governor Stitt and his communications team are operating with a segregated media policy," the editorial board wrote.

'Impeach and remove Maxine Waters': New York Post condemns Democrat as violent. What about the police?

Far-right commentators tried to rebrand calls to action as quests for violence on Sunday following statements from both CNN host Chris Cuomo and Rep. Maxine Waters about the need for police reform. Days before closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Cuomo said Friday on his show "Cuomo Prime Time: "Shootings, gun laws, access to weapons. Oh, I know when they'll change. Your kids start getting killed, white people's kids start getting killed."

The anchor said only then will white parents start asking: "'What is going on with these police? Maybe we shouldn't even have police.'"

Cuomo made the statements on the fifth night of protests following the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot and killed allegedly when she reached for a Taser but grabbed a gun instead. Wright was killed some 10 miles away from the courthouse where Chauvin's trial is being held. Waters, of California, joined protesters demanding justice and change on Saturday night in Minnesota. "We've got to stay in the street, and we've got to demand justice," she told the crowd. Demonstrators protested well into the early morning on Sunday despite a curfew in effect from 11 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday.

"We've got to get more active," Waters said. "We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business." With those words, supporters of former President Donald Trump, journalists included, seemed to have a field day.

"Democrats actively encouraging riots & violence. They want to tear us apart," Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. Rep. Lauren Boebert added: "Why is Maxine Waters traveling to a different state trying to incite a riot? What good can come from this?" Political commentator Tim Pool asked in a tweet on Sunday: "More confrontational than burning down buildings?"

One social media user @MVP28_ responded: "Nah, more confrontational than storming the Capitol building and killing a police officer." Another who goes by Sean Fisher tweeted: "Question: do you think it's confrontational for police to murder unarmed citizens?" He didn't get an answer from Pool or the other Trump apologists making similar claims, more notably among them the New York Post's editorial board. The journalists interpreted Waters' interview as "trying to create a Civil War," and they described her words as "irresponsible rhetoric" in an article with the headline 'Impeach and remove Maxine Waters.'

"In supporting the second impeachment of President Trump, California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters said he was 'inciting' his followers, and was 'trying to create a Civil War.' By her own standards, Maxine Waters should be impeached and removed," the Post's editorial staffers wrote. I find it curious to say the least that no such outrage is expressed regarding the actual details of George Floyd's death, but "rioting, looting, graffiti" is outright condemned by the Post. The entire editorial board actually seems to value the integrity of walls more than a Black man's life.

Chauvin kneeled on Floyd for more than nine minutes while the Black father called for his mother and repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. The cop is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, and he spoke live for the first time in court on Thursday to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "This is guilty for murder," Waters said. "I don't know whether it's in the first-degree, but as far as I'm concerned, it's first-degree murder." The congresswoman said she would like to see a police reform bill passed in Congress but "the right wing, the racists are opposed to it."

Black men and women have been shot down and killed by police for decades, and Republicans are condemning a legislator who called out the atrocities and an anchor who pointed out their hypocrisy. "See, now (if) Black people start getting all guns, forming militias, 'protect themselves. You can't trust deep state,'" Cuomo said, describing the exact behaviors of Trump supporters. "Whoo who, you'll see a wave of change in access and accountability. We saw it in the 60s. That's when it changes cuz that's when it's you."

WARNING: This video contains video clips that may be triggering to some readers.

CNN's Chris Cuomo talks police

It's a point similar to one activist Tamika Mallory made in the days immediately following Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. "Don't talk to us about looting," she said in a simply inspired speech. "Y'all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here. So looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. We learned violence from you.

"The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, than damnit you do better."

Will Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot resign? These activists hope so

Activists are calling for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to resign after her mishandling of two different cases involving Chicago police. Lightfoot, who is both the first Black woman to lead the city and the first LGBTQ person to do so, twice suggested that 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed because he was holding a gun despite later released police body-camera footage that showed Adam was unarmed when he was shot. The mayor was also accused of trying to prevent the public release of horrific video showing police raiding the wrong home and subjecting Anjanette Young, a Black social worker, to unimaginable dehumanization despite her telling officers 43 times that they were in the wrong home. She was handcuffed naked with police body cameras rolling.

Filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome tweeted on Thursday: "Lori Lightfoot's office buried footage of police raiding a Black woman's home & terrorizing her while she was left unclothed. Never forget" Alex Sammon, a staff writer at the progressive policy analysis site The Prospect, similarly condemned Lightfoot on Thursday for her handling of Adam's death. "Lori Lightfoot told the city of Chicago and the entire country that Adam Toledo was holding a gun in his hand when he was murdered by the cops. She saw that same video we all saw. She must resign immediately or be removed from office," he tweeted. To be fair, Lightfoot's remarks in Adam's case were less direct than her critics allege, but her complacency in the face of appalling misrepresentations from police officials was every bit as damaging.

Body-camera footage shows that after running from police on March 29, 2021, Adam had followed an officer's command to stop and show his hands, when the officer identified as Eric Stillman shot the child anyway. He was unarmed at that point although Adam was said to have dropped a gun he was holding before Stillman shot him.

Police described Adam as an "armed offender" in a preliminary statement about the shooting. Responding to a call about shots fired, officers alleged that they spotted two males near an alley. "One armed offender fled from the officers," officials said in the statement. "A foot pursuit ensued which resulted in a confrontation in the alley of the 2300 block of S. Sawyer. The officer fired his weapon striking the offender in the chest. A weapon was recovered and the offender was pronounced deceased on scene."

Police, who had no problem tweeting a photo of the gun recovered on the scene, didn't inform Adam's mother of his death for two days; and when they did, she was only able to confirm his identity through a picture, Elizabeth Toledo told the nonprofit news organization Block Club Chicago. She had reported her son missing days before his death, so when police contacted her asking for a photo after the shooting she said she thought it was related to her missing person's report. "They told me I had to identify my son's body and I couldn't even see him," the mother told Block Club Chicago. "They showed me a picture of my son Adam for just a couple of seconds." She said her son was only a child. "If they are trained to shoot, why shoot to kill him?" the mother asked.

The mayor provided little explanation for the officer's actions at a news conference on April 5 and instead focused on how the child may have accessed the gun. "Let's be clear," Lightfoot said. "An adult put a gun in a child's hand. A young, impressionable child, and one who should not have been provided with lethal force, a weapon that could, and did, irreparably change the course of his life."


In another news conference before the release of body-camera footage on April 15, the mayor confirmed the accuracy of allegations Adam was holding a gun and had refused to drop it when he was shot. Prosecutors made the argument five days earlier at a bond hearing on April 10 for Ruben Roman, the other person police said they spotted on the scene before Adam was killed.

"Mayor, to be clear prosecutors said last week, told a judge in court, that Adam Toledo had a gun in his hand. I understand the video will be released in an hour and a half, but can you confirm that? Is that accurate?" a reporter asked the mayor during the news conference. She responded: "You'll be able to see what the video shows. It's not for me to confirm that. I'm very aware of what was said at the bond hearing for Mr. Roman. I believe that, as articulated, the comments of the State's Attorney were correct, but it's not for me to confirm or deny anything about this. There's an ongoing investigation, and I want to honor that."


Calls for the mayor to resign intensified over the weekend following her release of the body-camera video, a rumored cheating scandal, and a mystifying tweet from former Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan. "Chicago, will see what tomorrow brings..." Duncan tweeted on Saturday.

More than a thousand people protested near the mayor's home Friday night in Logan Square to call for justice in Adam's death, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Ashlee Rezin Garcia tweeted. Ja'Mal Green, a civil rights advocate who ran for mayor of Chicago, said he is "100%" calling for Lightfoot to resign. "I don't think that she's ready to make this bold change, to take down this racist system that she's given," Green said. "She gave over 2 and a half-billion dollars to the police last year. For what? The highest crime rate in 30 years. They ain't solving much crime. They traumatizing and brutalizing people, but they got 2 and a half-billion dollars. Show me an investment of $100 million in a Black or brown community."

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Defense expert claims George Floyd should have been 'resting comfortably' with knee on his neck

The defense in the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began building its case this week, and unfortunately but predictably attorneys seem to be trying to convince the jury that George Floyd was responsible for his own death. Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert called by the defense on Tuesday, aided the defense in some regards. He testified that sometimes suspects "don't feel pain" and have "superhuman strength" while on drugs. He also said that Floyd was "actively resisting" and "struggling against the officers" for several minutes when being held in the prone position. "A compliant person would have both their hands in the small of their back and just be resting comfortably versus like he's still moving around," Brodd said when shown a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.

He even claimed that holding Floyd in the prone position while he was handcuffed didn't constitute a use of force because Floyd wasn't in pain. "I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd," Brodd said. But even the alleged expert couldn't stick with that interpretation of the facts when the prosecution presented him with body-camera video and photos. He ended up admitting that the position Floyd was held in could inflict pain and that Chauvin's response did not align with the Minneapolis Police Department's policy.

In other matters pertaining to the case, however, Brodd seemed to stick with his interpretation of what happened. What the prosecution called "writhing on the ground because he can't breathe," Brodd deemed to be resisting. When Floyd said "everything hurts," Brodd admitted he didn't "note it."

When Floyd said his neck hurt, Brodd also admitted that he didn't make a note of it. Why, it's almost as if he was preparing for this very moment to be of use to the defense. In fact, his testimony contradicts nearly every police official who's testified in this case during the first two weeks, including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

"There's an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds," Arradondo testified last Monday, "but once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person prone out, handcuffed behind their back, that, that in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy.

"It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values."

The defense continued building on its position that Floyd's drug use caused his death, with attorney Eric Nelson focusing on the testimony of a woman who is a retired paramedic and knew Floyd. Former emergency worker Michelle Moseng testified that Floyd told during an earlier arrest in 2019 that he had taken a opioid, but he was not in respiratory distress as a result at that time.

Shawanda Hill, who was in the SUV Floyd was sitting in at the time of his detainment, testified that Floyd was "happy, normal, talking, alert" before his death on May 25, 2020. She said she had bumped into him at the Cup Foods store and he offered to give her a ride home; but while she was taking a call from her daughter, Floyd fell asleep. Hill said he nodded off repeatedly, but Floyd didn't wake up until Hill told him police were outside his window. At one point, an officer had a gun pointed at the window, she said.

"So he instantly grabbed the wheel and he was like, 'please please don't kill me. Please please don't shoot me. Don't shoot me. What did I do? Just tell me what I did,'" Hill recounted.

Testimony from Minneapolis police officer Peter Chang seemed to support another element of Chauvin's defense, that a loud and unruly crowd of onlookers posed an added risk and distraction to officers. Chang described the crowd as "aggressive," but earlier witnesses testified that they were only frustrated and desperately trying to get Floyd help.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter who lived in the area of Cup Foods, testified that she tried to help but former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao prevented her from intervening and even questioned her authority. "'If you really are a Minnesota firefighter you would know better than to get involved,'" Hansen said of Thao's reported words. She broke down in tears when describing how frustrated she felt knowing that she could help but not even being allowed to try. She admitted to calling officers a "b---h." "Mm hmm, yeah, I got quite angry after Mr. Floyd was loaded into the ambulance and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody," Hansen said.

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Expert witnesses debunk claims that George Floyd died from a drug overdose

Despite a medical doctor's compelling testimony and myriad police officials deeming the force applied to George Floyd excessive in the widely-publicized murder trial of ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, a political committee fundraising for pro-police candidates blamed the Black father for his own death.

In an April 1 email The Intercept obtained, a representative of the Protect Our Police Political Action Committee advocated for Chauvin's innocence and in effect, asserted Floyd's guilt in his own death. "Our founding fathers knew the importance of a fair justice system, but unhinged radical cop haters are taking every opportunity to pervert the law to advance their agenda," the representative said in the email. "That's exactly what's happening in Minnesota to officer Derek Chauvin. Let's get one thing clear: George Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 and was high on a lethal dose of fentanyl when he died May 25th, 2020… but the mainstream media doesn't want you to know that!"

The PAC representative went on to say: "Chauvin is facing trial for a murder he did not commit — leftist radicals want to make an example out of an innocent man that followed the protocol he learned in his training. They want to ruin his life for political gain." Nick Gerace, a former Philadelphia cop and president of the PAC, later blamed the email—signed with his name—on a marketing firm the PAC hired.

"I terminated our relationship with this firm and the individual involved with this tactless messaging," he said in a statement tweeted from the PAC's account. "Chauvin's actions were examples of bad policing and poor training that directly caused George Floyd's death in my opinion."

He continued in the statement:

"The kind of messaging and innuendo included in that single email is not in line with our mission and I vehemently denounce it. I am not a politician or an elected official. I will do what they rarely do. I am taking responsibility and I sincerely apologize for this mistake. This will never happen again. We can do better. We will do better. We must do better.
Since we started this organization 9 months ago, we never once defended the actions of Chauvin or blamed George Floyd for his tragic and unnecessary death. This touches on one of our main motivations for starting this organization."
Not all cops are bad or bastards. There are almost 800,000 law enforcement offices in the US and the vast majority serve the public with distinction and integrity. However, there can be bad police officers and there are certain reforms that are necessary to increase the overall safety of our community and our law enforcement. This will take adequate funding and effective training. Let me be clear. No one hates a dirty cop more than a good cop. Our organization stands for good cops and we will continue to advocate on their behalf and for public safety."

However offended Gerace claims to be, the email was not out of accordance with other fundraising materials emailed by the PAC. The fundraising committee has declared progressive Philadelphia prosecutor Larry Krasner, who's up for reelection this year, a target for his policies, which are aimed at ending mass incarceration and pursuing alternatives to incarceration. The PAC also described the Black Lives Matter organization as an "anti-cop operation" and accused the Defund the Police movement, calling for the reallocation of a portion of police budgets to social services, of having "blood on (its) hands," The Intercept reported.

Interestingly enough, the PAC doesn't seem to advocate nearly as fiercely for victims when officers have blood on their hands. As outraged as Gerace appeared to be, not a single tweet from his organization even mentions Floyd—except to retract the unnamed marketing firm's email. That's despite hours of heart-wrenching testimony from witnesses detailing how they felt frustrated and helpless as officers prevented them from doing anything to help Floyd.

On the ninth day of the trial, physicians analyzed in troubling detail the conditions that led to Floyd's death. Doctors Martin Tobin, a Chicago pulmonologist and critical care physician, and Bill Smock, an emergency medical physician, both made a mockery of the defense's notion that fentanyl detected in Floyd's system caused his death. Smock testified that Floyd's fentanyl use did not impact his breathing and there was no evidence of a blood clot, heart attack, or arrhythmia. "Mr. Floyd died from positional asphyxia, which is a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen left in his body," Smock said.

Tobin detailed in court how "a healthy person, subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to, would have died." He demonstrated signs of a brain injury four minutes before Chauvin stopped kneeling on him, the doctor said on the stand.

"Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen. And this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused [an arrhythmia] that caused his heart to stop," Tobin said. He explained that the level of oxygen in Floyd's body dropped to zero, and at that point "there's not an ounce of oxygen left in his body."

Both Tobin and Smock analyzed for the jury images of Floyd pushing his fingers against the street to lift himself up. "To most people, this doesn't look terribly significant, but to a physiologist this is extraordinarily significant, because this tells you that he has used up his resources and he's literally trying to breathe with his fingers and knuckles," Tobin said.

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Derek Chauvin's lawyers claimed George Floyd said 'I ate too many drugs' — then prosecutors rolled the tape

On the eighth day of the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, investigators helped paint a more thorough picture, albeit not free from flaws, of the crime scene in the hours after George Floyd's death. McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, admitted in court on Wednesday that investigators had to process two vehicles on the scene twice, after Chauvin's defense noticed in January what appeared to be half-disintegrated pills with Floyd's DNA on them. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took over the investigation into Floyd's death on May 25, 2020—the day he died.

Anderson said she was given no information about the potential use of drugs and focused on DNA testing and body fluid identification when she arrived on the scene. She said she was told of the possible presence of blood and said she did DNA testing on eight different bloodstains in the back of a squad car on the scene. The prosecution directed her to check Floyd's car for Suboxone, which is used to treat drug addiction, The New York Times reported. The medication's presence in Floyd's car supports testimony from his girlfriend Courteney Ross that they had long been fighting drug addiction together.

Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that a glass pipe in the SUV Floyd rode in contained traces of THC and that other pills she tested contained acetaminophen, oxycodone, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. Susan Neith, a forensic chemist at a top laboratory for toxicology testing, also testified that she found methamphetamine and fentanyl pills in the SUV Floyd rode in.

Methamphetamine, fentanyl, and THC were determined to be in Floyd's system when he died, according to an autopsy report The Washington Post obtained. The Black father's drug use appears to be a central element of Chauvin's defense, being that it potentially allows Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson to claim a cause of death other than murder. Fittingly, Nelson questioned Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension about a moment in Floyd's detainment in which Reyerson initially said it seemed Floyd shouted "I ate too many drugs." When the prosecution showed Reyerson a longer version of the same clip, Reyerson clarified what he heard, saying Floyd instead yelled, "I ain't do no drugs."

The defense's focus on Floyd's drug use appears more and more like the trial version of grasping at straws when juxtaposed with video of Floyd's actual death. Ex-cop Chauvin was shown kneeling on Floyd for more than nine minutes. Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger, an expert witness who the prosecution called to the stand on Tuesday, testified that when Floyd stopped resisting, officers "should have slowed down or stopped their force as well." The sergeant deemed the force Chauvin applied "excessive," and added in testimony on Wednesday that Chauvin used "deadly force" in a situation that called for "no force." A Cup Foods store worker called police on Floyd after a teen clerk suspected him of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Stiger said holding someone handcuffed in a prone position, which Chauvin applied to Floyd, can make it more difficult to breathe. "When you add body weight to that, it just increases the possibility of death," he said.

Stiger also said he didn't consider bystanders watching Chauvin detain Floyd to be a threat—another apparent focal point for the Chauvin defense—"because they were merely filming, and most of it was their concern for Mr. Floyd."

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Defense attorney Eric Nelson cross-examines expert witness Sgt. Jody Stiger | FOX 9

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms takes bold action to counter Republican voter suppression efforts

The Atlanta mayor has issued an administrative order to protest a new Georgia law that limits drop boxes, gives the majority Republican legislature more control over local elections, and adds a requirement to provide photo identification when voting by mail.

"The voting restrictions of SB 202 will disproportionately impact Atlanta residents—particularly in communities of color and other minority groups," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news release. "This Administrative Order is designed to do what those in the majority of the state legislature did not—expand access to our right to vote."

The city order directs city law and equity officials to develop a plan to "mitigate the impact" of the law on Atlanta residents. The order also spells out a plan to disseminate information on how to secure identification required to vote by mail and to train staff members on voter registration and on early, absentee, and in-person voting. Another way the mayor seeks to lessen the blow of the new law is by sending out links to information on voter registration and absentee voting with city water bills and other mailings. She also hopes to work with corporate and community partners to "provide clarity" on new deadlines associated with the law.

"It is not too late to right this sinking ship," the mayor said in a tweet urging the legislature to reconsider the harm it has triggered.

The new law allows the legislature to appoint the majority of the state election board, including the chairperson, giving the state board the power to restructure municipal election boards when it sees fit. "This is extraordinarily dangerous," Sara Tindall Ghazal, a former election director of the Georgia Democratic Party, told Mother Jones. "When you're appointing the majority of the body that you're responsible to, it's self-dealing."

Lauren Groh-Wargo, head of Democrat Stacey Abrams' voting rights organization Fair Fight Action, told reporters in a phone interview last month the new law "will make what we all lived through in 2020 child's play … Donald Trump won't have to strong-arm our election administrators," Groh-Wargo said. "The most radical fringes of the Republican Party sitting in the state legislature will be able to wipe out boards of elections, challenge voters because they don't have the right name according to them or they don't look the way they think they should look.

"This is Jim Crow 2.0."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey spoke out against the law and Major League Baseball vowed to move its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of the law. Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier told The New York Times he and other executives began emailing and texting each other following the passage of Georgia's law. Their goal is to stop other restrictive voting bills from passing across the country. "As African-American business executives, we don't have the luxury of being bystanders to injustice," Frazier said. "We don't have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines when these kinds of injustices are happening all around us."

Black leaders in Georgia and across the country are calling for boycotts of corporations that have failed to help fight the law. "Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected," Bottoms said in a tweet. "Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed."

'Don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting': Firefighter nails Chauvin defense

It didn't take long for the defense for Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis cop accused of murdering George Floyd, to zero in on a Black mixed martial arts fighter and witness to the brutal arrest. The testimony of Donald Williams, who was being questioned as a mixed martial arts expert, started on Monday and continued on Tuesday. He laid out a sequence of events that with the testimony of a 911 dispatcher, a firefighter, and an 18-year-old girl who recorded the arrest as a teen helped shred the defense's assertion that what played out on recorded video shouldn't be a focal point.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, tried to paint a picture, distorted as it may be, of an angry, mob-like crowd hampering officers' efforts on May 25, 2020, near the Cup Foods store where Floyd was detained. The attorney asked Williams during his testimony on Tuesday: "Do you recall saying 'I dare you to touch me like that, I swear I'll slap the f—k out of both of you?'" Williams responded: "Yeah I did. I meant it." Nelson, who had previously asked Williams about his anger, followed up with another similar question. "So again sir, it's fair to say that you grew angrier and angrier?" Williams, not taking the bait, said: "No, I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body. You can't paint me out to be angry."

Nelson, however, tried several times. He asked Williams if he called Chauvin a bum 13 times, and Williams admitted he did. The attorney asked if Williams' voice got louder and louder, and he said yes "so I could be heard." But when Nelson asked if Williams got angrier and angrier, he said no, he was "pleading for life." Williams witnessed Chauvin and other officers detaining Floyd from a nearby sidewalk where former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao, who was dispatched to the scene, kept the crowd confined. Williams admitted when asked that he yelled over and over again at Thao "because I wasn't being heard." "He tried to intimidate me so," the mixed martial arts expert said.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter who lived in the area of Cup Foods, gave a similar account that Thao didn't allow her to assist even though she informed him that she was a firefighter. His response, Hansen said was: "'If you really are a Minnesota firefighter you would know better than to get involved.'"

"That's not right," Hansen said in her testimony. "That's exactly what I should've done." She said had officers let her help, she would've called for additional help and sent someone to a gas station to find an automated external defibrillator. She said she would've checked Floyd's airways for blockages and checked his pulse. She said, if she couldn't find a pulse, she would've done chest compressions until help arrived. When the prosecution asked Hansen if she felt frustrated, she started crying. "Yes," she replied, grabbing a tissue.

The firefighter had said earlier in her testimony that Chauvin seemed "comfortable" holding all of his weight on Floyd's neck while two other officers also put their weight on him, but she knew Floyd was in trouble. She described his face as "smushed into the ground" and "puffy and swollen." She noticed fluid coming from him and she couldn't tell where it originated, but she explained that when a patient is dying he'll often release his bladder. Hansen said when responding to emergency situations, she'll often press hard against a patient's fingernail to test if he is responsive to pain. She said she could tell Floyd had an "altered level of consciousness to the point where he wasn't responding to painful stimuli," that stimuli being Chauvin on the Black father's neck. "What I needed to know is whether or not he had a pulse anymore," Hansen said. She later learned he had died.

Nelson asked her if she was frustrated or angry. Hansen said she was "more desperate." The defense attorney then asked if she called officers a "b---h."

"Mm hmm, yeah, I got quite angry after Mr. Floyd was loaded into the ambulance and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody."

She also said when asked if she would describe other witnesses' demeanors as upset or angry: "I don't know if you've seen anybody be killed, but it's upsetting."

Day two of testimony in the Chauvin trial proved to be another emotional day, with multiple witnesses driven to tears when they had to relive what they saw last May. Alyssa Funari, 18, described a feeling of helplessness. "I was upset because there was nothing that we could do as bystanders but watch him take this man's life in front of our eyes," she said.

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she witnessed Floyd's death along with Hansen, said during her testimony: "When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them."

'We're tired of it': Lindsey Graham accuses Biden of playing 'the race card'

Sen. Lindsey Graham seemed to have quite a lot to say on Sunday about President Joe Biden's stance against restrictive voting rights bills like one quickly passed by Georgia's majority-Republican Legislature and signed into law. When taken to task nationally over proposed legislation to ban no-excuse absentee voting and restrict voting on the weekends, GOP lawmakers abandoned those elements not for naught though. Instead, Republicans quietly turned a two-page bill to make sure eligible voters didn't repeatedly receive absentee ballot applications into what Georgia Democrats called "a 93-page voter suppression omnibus bill." Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein tweeted that the recently passed policy works to "restrict drop boxes, require voter ID for mail-in ballots and gives the Republican-controlled Legislature more authority over local elections officials." The president called the new Georgia law and similar efforts "un-American" and "sick" at his press conference on Thursday, he dubbed the suppressive legislative push "Jim Crow in the 21st Century" in a statement on Friday.

When asked by "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace if Republicans were going too far, Graham responded: "You know what's sick is that the president of the United States to play the race card continuously in such a hypocritical way. He said the fillibuster was a relic of the Jim Crow era." And Biden's not wrong.

Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, an operational instrument requiring 60 votes instead of a simple majority to stall or block a vote, to delay civil rights legislation for decades. "It's been a tool used overwhelmingly by racists," Princeton University race historian Kevin Kruse told Vox magazine. Sen. Harry Reid told the magazine that a modern version of filibuster rules originally unassociated with race was used "consistently" to block civil rights bills.

The filibuster is similarly being used today to block voting rights legislation. In response, Democrats have called for an end to the filibuster, which would otherwise be subject to the limitations of another Senate procedure known as cloture. The Senate defines that tool as "the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster." "When people talk about ending the filibuster, what they really mean is reinterpreting Senate rules around cloture so that legislation could pass by a simple majority instead of being held up by a minority," CNN reported.

Biden had earlier refrained from calling for an end to the filibuster, opting instead for a return to a talking filibuster, in which senators "had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking," the president told ABC News. He signaled at the presser last week that for legislation about rights as fundamental to the democracy as voting, he'd be willing to "go beyond" his fight for a talking filibuster.

Graham seemed to interpret the president's remarks as hypocrisy serving what Graham deemed a "sick" legislative effort in the For the People Act, also known as HR 1.

"So every time a Republican does anything, we're a racist," Graham said. "If you're a white conservative, you're a racist. If you're a Black Republican you're either a prop or a uncle Tom. They use the racism card to advance a liberal agenda, and we're tired of it. HR 1 is sick, not what they're doing in Georgia."

In the same interview, however, Graham acknowledged how ridiculous the Georgia law is, which also makes it a crime to give voters standing in line food or water. "Well, we uh, all I can say is that that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," Graham said.

The For the People Act, which passed in the House and was introduced in the Senate earlier this month, is aimed at driving out state efforts to undermine voter protections. It would require states to allow automatic voter registration when residents for example get driver's licenses or other services through the Department of Motor Vehicles. It would also "end congressional gerrymandering, overhaul federal campaign finance laws, increase safeguards against foreign interference, (and) strengthen government ethics rules," according to the policy institute, the Brennen Center for Justice.

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams has been tirelessly pushing the legislation as a response to more than 250 legislative bills aiming to peel back voting rights across the country. "Now more than ever, we need federal action to protect voting rights as we continue to fight against these blatantly unconstitutional efforts that are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0," she tweeted on Thursday.

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