ROUNDUP: Senate Subcommittee Hearing Energizes Advocates for Legalizing Immigrant Essential Workers This Year
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety held a hearing, chaired by Sen. Alex Padilla titled “The Essential Role of Immigrant Workers in America.” In response to this unofficial kick off of the next stage of the immigration debate, immigration advocacy organizations released statements highlighting the important roles immigrants play in our economy as essential workers and especially during national challenges, like the unprecedented pandemic. The hearing underscored why providing them a pathway to citizenship would not only be the right thing to do for them and their families, but also our country.
This is our opening salvo in a renewed push to make legalization and citizenship a reality for essential workers in the next 100 days — including DACA, TPS, and Farmworkers. They are the backbone of key sectors in our economy and valuable contributors to our nation. With the support of the majority of the American public, and the collective power of our movement, we will work with Democrats to ensure that we legalize as many people as possible after decades of inaction.
We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Padilla, Senator Menendez, Sen. Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats who are working to advance this goal. Unlike what the Republicans may lead you to believe, the moment is now. There is a legislative path for immigration reform either through reconciliation or through the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. We are ready to make sure our essential workers are able to live their lives with dignity and free from fear, and to that end we will hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable.
Immigrant workers make up 17.4 percent of the labor force in the United States, and they have played a crucial role amid the pandemic. Across numerous sectors, immigrants are doing essential work on the front lines fighting Covid-19 and keeping the nation safe. Immigrants—faithful to their entrepreneurial spirit—have kept our country fed, healthy, and moving forward thanks to their work in health care, food supply, transportation, and other vital jobs.
The Forum believes that if our economy is to recover from the setbacks Covid-19 presented, we need immigrant workers operating at full steam. Hence, we urge Congress to pass immigration reforms to deal with the existence of the millions of people already living and working in the United States, many of whom are essential workers standing alongside American-born workers to help with Covid-19 response and recovery. The Forum endorses legislation that would allow essential workers—such as agricultural and health care workers—to earn permanent resident status and the possibility of citizenship.
Today’s hearing is an important step forward, as we continue to urge Congress to seize this critical moment and provide a long overdue pathway to citizenship for essential workers, immigrant youth, people with temporary protected status, and, eventually, all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. As we move into a recovery from COVID and build back our nation, we must recognize that there is no recovery without immigrants.
For far too long, Dreamers, farm workers, TPS holders and many more immigrant workers have waited for Congress to deliver an opportunity to pass a meaningful, permanent solution that provides a path to citizenship. CWS joins nearly 1,000 faith organizations, faith leaders, and people of faith urging the Biden administration to include a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers, farmworkers, people with DACA, TPS, and DED, and their families in the upcoming recovery packages prioritized through reconciliation […]. CWS urges the Biden administration and Congress to secure a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, including essential workers, immediately.
More than five million undocumented essential workers have risked their health and lives throughout the pandemic to keep the country from completely collapsing. They take care of our kids and elderly, keep our hospitals and public spaces clean, and they are the workers–in the fields and grocery store aisles–who are responsible for feeding the nation. Congress has the ability to create this path and use any and all vehicles available to make it a reality–including via reconciliation. Denying them a pathway to citizenship is irresponsible and cruel.
The country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on Congress advancing legislation that delivers on its promise of long overdue relief to millions of DACA recipients, TPS holders and undocumented essential workers. With broad support across the country, Congress must deliver a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants as part of the reconciliation process. Before and throughout the pandemic immigrant essential workers put their life on the line to keep our communities safe and sustain our economy. It is time Congress values their work, honors their sacrifices, and recognizes their contributions by keeping them safe from deportation and separation from their families. To Build Back Better, Congress must take decisive action to move forward a path to citizenship for essential workers by passing the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act without any harmful provisions that criminalize our people.
Undocumented immigrants are workers, taxpayers, consumers, entrepreneurs and neighbors, fueling our economic growth as a nation at every step. Year after year, they add trillions of dollars to our GDP and contribute to federal, state and local coffers with their taxes.
But during this past year, they have done even more: they have kept us safe even as they risked their own health to keep the country running. Some of them have even lost their lives in that effort. This bill would look after their families.
The least we can do as a nation is to see that sacrifice, acknowledge it, and reward them with the path to citizenship so many of them have sought for decades. They have our gratitude, but they deserve more: they must have the legalization that will allow them to keep contributing to this nation, now in the full sunlight of a fairer system–not in the shadow of fear and deportation.
Over five million undocumented people continue to put their lives on the line to keep our communities and families healthy, fed, and safe amidst the pandemic. Despite facing increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, millions of undocumented people remain excluded from federal relief and recovery efforts, and in several cases have been denied vaccines in states like Florida and Texas because of their immigration status.
With immigration status being one of the most significant barriers preventing communities from fully recovering from COVID-19, passing a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, immigrant youth, TPS holders, and farm workers is relief. Until all undocumented communities are protected permanently, we will not fully recover. Senate Democrats must do everything in their power to act swiftly to deliver a pathway to citizenship for millions now! This includes adding a pathway to citizenship for millions in the American Jobs Package and moving it through the budget reconciliation process.
Providing these essential workers with permanent legal status will allow them to realize their full potential, to realize their American dreams. This is not only part of a just, inclusive, and robust post-pandemic economic recovery for all Americans, but can be done without increasing undocumented immigration to the U.S. Immigrant essential workers who lack permanent legal status deserve more than our recognition and our praise; they have earned a pathway to citizenship. They have kept us fed by working in our nation’s food supply chain. Workers deemed essential today should not live with the uncertainty and fear of deportation tomorrow.
With each day that goes by without meaningful immigration reform the fear of deportation or separation due to immigration status sits as an added burden on the shoulders of millions of immigrant essential workers and their families. Indeed, immigrant essential workers who lack permanent legal status have earned a pathway to citizenship. A pathway to citizenship for these workers is crucial not only for just keeping families together, but also for an inclusive and robust post-pandemic rebuilding of America.
Immigrant workers are essential workers and it’s time our country values their work, sacrifices, and contributions by providing a path to citizenship. We cannot continue to simultaneously treat essential workers as both essential and deportable.
In his short time in the Senate, Sen. Padilla has taken an important leadership role on immigration and as Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee. Today’s hearing marks a new phase in the debate that underscores Democrats’ consensus that this is the year to finally achieve a popular breakthrough on citizenship and for Democrats to use their majority to change lives, strengthen the country and engage America’s immigrants fully in our recovery from COVID-19 and our recovery from the Trump years.
We Are Home is a nationwide campaign to fight for immigrant communities on three fronts: prioritizing and demanding a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; a moratorium and overhaul of interior enforcement; and broad affirmative relief from deportation. We Are Home is co-chaired by Community Change/Community Change Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)/Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers/UFW Foundation; and United We Dream.
UPDATE: With Unprecedented 18 Anti-LGBTQ Bills Enacted, 2021 Officially Becomes Worst Year in Recent History for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks
With Anti-LGBTQ Momentum Sweeping through State Legislatures, 2021 Surpasses 2015 as Worst Year In Recent History
Detailed Breakdown of 2021 Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation Below
With an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ measures sweeping through state legislatures across the country, 2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, according to updated tracking and analysis by the Human Rights Campaign (detailed breakdown below). The previous record — set six years ago in 2015, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law — was broken on Friday, as the sixteenth and seventeenth anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law as well as the eighteenth anti-LGBTQ bill today. In addition, 7 anti-LGBTQ bills are on governors’ desks awaiting signature or veto and several more are continuing to move through state legislatures across the country.
“The rights of LGBTQ people — and especially transgender people — across the country are being systematically threatened and undermined by national anti-LGBTQ groups coordinating with anti-equality lawmakers to wage an unprecedented war on the LGBTQ community. In fact, some of these bills are similar to or even worse than anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been rejected in previous years, including the Indiana religious refusal bill of 2015 and North Carolina’s infamous HB2. Bills that have become law so far this year range from making it a felony to provide transgender youth with life saving health care to banning transgender girls from participating in sports to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum to granting broad licenses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This crisis cannot be ignored and necessitates concrete action from all those with the ability to speak out,” saidHuman Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “These bills are not only harmful and discriminatory, but also represent a failure in our democracy and the commitment elected officials make to protect and serve their constituents. Now is not the time for reluctance or passivity, it is time to take urgent action to protect the basic rights and humanity of LGBTQ people in America.”
The wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation — a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local lawmakers – is part of a broader strategy to score political points with the conservative base by curtailing the rights of LGBTQ people and specifically trans youth — under the guise of responding to nonexistent and baseless threats. These bills represent a cruel effort to further stigmatize and discriminate against LGBTQ people across the country, specifically trans youth who simply want to live as their true selves and grow into who they are.
Breakdown of Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Sweeping State Legislatures in 2021
So far in 2021, eighteen anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law surpassing 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history (when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law), including:
7 anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia
4 religious refusal bills, including in Arkansas, Montana, and South Dakota
2 anti-LGBTQ education bills in Tennessee and Montana
1 anti-trans medical care ban bill in Arkansas
1 sham “hate crimes” bill in Arkansas
1 anti-all comers bill in North Dakota
1 anti-trans birth certificate bill in Montana
1 discriminatory diversity training ban bill in Oklahoma
With eighteen bills now signed into law, states have enacted more anti-LGBTQ laws this year than in the last three years combined (anti-LGBTQ bills enacted in previous years include 2 bills in 2018, 7 bills in 2019, and 4 bills in 2020).
More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021, including:
At least 35 bills that would prohibit transgender youth from being able to access best-practice, age-appropriate, gender-affirming medical care
At least 69 bills that would prohibit transgender youth (and in some cases college students) from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity
At least 43 bills that would allow people to assert a religious belief as justification for failing to abide by the law or provide services to people of whom they disapprove
At least 15 bills that would prohibit transgender people from having access to restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity
Wide range of business and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation
More than 90 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
Kamala Harris Will be First Vice President to be Immortalized by Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Madame Tussauds New York Releases Clay Head Sculpture Images of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Honor of Their 100th Day in Office
Kamala Harris made history when she was sworn in on January 20th becoming the first woman, first Black person and first Asian American vice president. Madame Tussauds New York is adding another first to Harris’ list of achievements by creating a wax figure in her likeness; an honor that has never-before been extended to a vice president. It’s tradition for Madame Tussauds to create a wax figure of each U.S. president. President Joe Biden’s figure was announced following the 2020 presidential election.
Madame Tussauds shared the news by releasing work-in-progress images of Biden and Harris, just ahead of their 100th day in office. The clay heads were created by a team of studio artists based in London and represent meticulous detail captured by researching hundreds of images to achieve an exact likeness of the famous U.S. leader’s faces. The heads took six weeks to sculpt, and the figures will take between four to six months to complete. “We’re honored to create a figure for Vice President Harris and reflect this significant moment in U.S. history for guests inside Madame Tussauds New York,” said Brittany Williams, spokesperson for Madame Tussauds.
President Biden and Vice President Harris’ figures will be wearing replicas of the outfits worn at the 46th presidential inauguration ceremony. President Biden’s figure will be dressed in a midnight blue Ralph Lauren suit, white dress shirt with a French cuff and a lavender tie. Madame Tussauds designers also included small, yet noteworthy details including navy and gold cufflinks with the words ‘U.S. Senator’ and a United States flag lapel pin.
The outfit for Vice President Harris’ figure was created custom for Madame Tussauds New York by Christopher John Rogers, the designer of the symbolic and elegant purple coat and dress worn at the inauguration. The look created for the figure is a replica of the blazer and dress worn by Vice President Harris on Inauguration Day for her indoor appearance and swearing in of the senators. Her gold and pearl necklace, pearl earrings, bracelets and rings will also be replicated to complete the authentic look.
Madame Tussauds plans to unveil the figures later this year and place them in the “Oval Office” experience at Madame Tussauds New York where guests can make their own history posing with Biden and Harris up close.
The case regarding the former police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been unfolding. Chauvin has now been charged with both second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all accounts. The case can be viewed live on CNN’s website here.
George Floyd’s death was recorded via cellphone footage from a nearby bystander, Darnella Frazier. Frazier, then seventeen at the time, has brought critical attention to Floyd’s death as a result of her footage, a major piece of evidence in bringing light to the case. Frazier has revealed that she only observed violence from the police officers at the scene of Floyd’s death, which contradicts the defense’s illustration of the bystanders as a “angry mob that was striking fear into the police.” Earlier this month on Facebook, Frazier had posed a query to her followers, asking what would have happened if no one recorded Floyd’s arrest and death, posing an important question surrounding the relationship between the police and the community members that the force governs. Frazier ended her testimony with an emotional statement: “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.”
Frazier had witnessed the distressful scene alongside her nine-year-old cousin. The witness said that the officer on the scene had his knee on Floyd’s neck, even after the EMT personnel asked “him nicely to get off of him.” She continues, explaining that the ambulance personnel had to get the officer off of Floyd. “I was sad and kind of mad”, she remarks, “because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him.”
Another witness to Floyd’s death, mixed-martial artist Donald Williams II, has taken to the stand to account what he observed at the scene of Floyd’s arrest. Williams had called the police on the police after seeing Floyd transported from the gruesome scene via ambulance. Williams claims, “I believed I witnessed a murder.”
Williams has faced speculation and discreditation from the defense attorney of Officer Chauvin, Eric J. Nelson. Nelson spent much of the morning on the second day of the trial questioning William’s knowledge of martial arts defense. Nelson also attempted to portray Williams as angry, to which Williams clarified his reaction was out of desperation because of the harrowing situation at hand. Nelson also attempted to portray the crowd of bystanders as mad at and violent towards the police officers present at the scene. As earlier stated, this claim contradicts Frazier’s assertion that the police were the source of violence at the scene. Nelson averted the attention from the video footage, asserting that there are 50,000 items in evidence and this case is “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”
On the other hand, the prosecution said it would bring in seven medical experts and the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Floyd (who classified the case as homicide) to bring further clarity to the case. Chauvin’s attorney is arguing that Floyd died due to a drug overdose and heart condition, though the nine minutes and twenty-nine second video also clearly shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, restricting his ability to breathe. Prosecuting attorney, Jerry W. Blackwell, spoke about the video footage: “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide–it’s murder.”
Another witness to the scene, paramedic Seth Zachary Bravinder, testified that when he arrived on scene, he could tell that Floyd already wasn’t breathing. When lifting Floyd into the ambulance, the paramedic recalls Floyd’s state: “I guess limp would be the best description. He wasn’t — he was unresponsive and wasn’t holding his head up or anything like that,” Bravinder said. He continues, explaining that Floyd flatlined while on the way to the hospital. Once realizing his patient had flatlined, Bravinder and his partner stopped the ambulance to give medical aid to Floyd. Bravinder elaborated on the condition of Floyd, explaining that the term “flatlining” refers to “not a good sign…basically just because your heart isn’t doing anything at that moment. There’s not — it’s not pumping blood. So it’s not — it’s not a good sign for a good outcome.”
Another paramedic who delivered medical assistance to George Floyd, Derek Smith, also delivered a testimony in the trial of Chauvin. Upon arriving on scene, Smith reports that he saw Floyd on the ground with three officers on top of him. He continues detailing the scene: “I walked up to the individual, noticed he wasn’t moving. I didn’t see any chest rise or fall on this individual.” Smith reported that he thought Floyd was dead, and upon checking the victim, he says that Floyd’s pupils were “large” and “dilated” and that he couldn’t detect his pulse. Still, Smith says he did all that he could in an attempt to revive Floyd: “”[H]e’s a human being and I was trying to give him a second chance at life.”
A doctor who provided emergency care to Floyd at Hennepin County Medical Center, Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld, also took to the stand. Dr. Langenfeld had pronounced Floyd dead on May 25, 2020. Langenfeld attested that the emergency responders who responded to the event were originally called upon for a “lower type of acute event of facial trauma,” but the call was later upgraded to call for “an individual under distress.” When Floyd arrived at the hospital, Langefeld explains that the paramedics attempted to resuscitate Floyd for “approximately 30 minutes,” by inserting a tube down his throat to ventilate his lungs, as well as attempted to administer CPR and medication. The report did not mention that the police officers on scene nor any of the bystanders attempted to give Floyd CPR. Langenfeld, who provided medical treatment to Floyd, testified that hypoxia was likely a cause of Floyd’s cardiac arrest. He says, “Based on the history that was available to me, I felt that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities.” Langenfeld clarified to prosecutor Jerry Blackwell that hypoxia refers to “cardiac arrest meaning oxygen insufficiency.” Langenfeld continues describing the condition of his patient: “There was no obvious, significant external trauma that would have suggested he suffered anything that could produce bleeding to lead to a cardiac arrest.” Jerry Blackwell asked if Langenfeld theorized oxygen deficiency as the leading cause of Floyd’s death, to which Langenfeld replied: “That was one of the more likely possibilities. I felt at the time based on information I had, it was more likely than the other possibilities.”
Capt. Jeremy Norton of the Minneapolis Fire Department had also been in the ambulance which escorted Floyd to the hospital. In his testimony, he recalled the scene when he entered the ambulance: “He was an unresponsive body on a cot.” Norton continues, attesting that after Floyd was delivered to the hospital, he filed a report with his supervisors regarding the incident. Norton says, “”I was aware that a man had been killed in police custody, and I wanted to notify my supervisors to notify the appropriate people above us in the city, in the fire department and whomever else, and then I also wanted to inform my deputy that there was an off-duty firefighter, who was a witness at the scene.”
Minneapolis police inspector, Katie Blackwell, also testified in Chauvin’s trial. She detailed that she had worked with Chauvin for over 20 years, and had selected him as a field training officer. Blackwell documented that Chauvin had been regularly instructed in defensive tactics and the proper use of force as taught by the Minneapolis Police Department. She continued testifying, adding that officers are also trained in their medical unit about the dangers of possible asphyxiation and the cruciality of positioning people up right or on their side to recover from such. She added that once a person is under control, officers should position them in a recovery position “as soon as possible.” Further, Blackwell said that Chauvin participated in a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training in 2016, and another seven hour refresher course in 2018– which included de-escalation training as part of the program. In viewing an image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Blackwell said: “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she said. “It’s not what we train.”
Another witness, Christopher Martin, continues to fill in more details to the harrowing day of Floyd’s death. Christopher Martin was the cashier at Cup Noodles, a convenience store in south Minneapolis. He explains that Floyd came in to buy cigarettes with a friend on May 25, and describes Floyd’s condition as “very friendly” and “talkative.” Martin testified that Floyd appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Martin continues, explaining that Floyd had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. After realizing the counterfeit payment, Martin reported it to his manager, as the store had a policy of deducting the amount of counterfeit payment from its employee’s paychecks. Martin’s boss instructed the worker to approach Floyd and ask him to come back into the store, and Martin was met with refusal. He returned to the store and told his manager that he would accept the pay deduction, but Martin’s manager encouraged him to again approach Floyd. After Floyd refused for the second time, Martin’s manager told another store worker to call 911. Minutes later, Martin says that he recalls a large crowd of people gathering outside, “yelling” and “screaming.” Martin joined the crowd outside, observing as bystanders demanded for the police to take Floyd’s pulse as Chauvin continued to kneel on the victim’s neck. Reflecting on the scene, Martin says he felt “disbelief and guilt.” Elaborating on that statement, Martin explains: “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.” Martin has also added that “the one thing I would say to Derek Chauvin is justice will be served.”
The man who had been in the car alongside Floyd, Morries Hall, refuses to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin and has asserted that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment if called to the stand. Hall had fled Minnesota shortly after Floyd died, and was soon after arrested in Texas on account of outstanding felony warrants that had been issues to him prior to Floyd’s death. One of the charges includes being a felon in possession of a firearm. Regarding the day of Floyd’s death, Hall has been accused of trying to get rid of evidence related to the case. A court document filed by the defense reports: “Surveillance video from the nearby Dragon Wok restaurant shows that Mr. Hall appeared to use Mr. Floyd’s resistance as a distraction to destroy evidence…The video demonstrates that Mr. Hall watched through the windows of Mr. Floyd’s vehicle to ensure that he was not being observed by police, then…. Mr. Hall furtively dropped something into the sewer drain on the street.”
Courteney Batya Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend since August 2017, took to the stand and revealed that both herself and Floyd had struggled with opioid addiction. She explains their opioid use: “Both Floyd and I, our story — it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We both have prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, and we got addicted, and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.” Elaborating on Floyd’s opioid usage, Ross disclosed that Floyd had been hospitalized for overdose in March of 2020.
The prosecution presented this information regarding Floyd’s usage to light not to paint him in a negative light, but to show the full truth of the situation. CNN legal analyst Laura Coates explains the prosecution’s strategy: “’It’s because as the prosecutor, you want to present and address and resolve these bad facts. You don’t want to have the defense be able to say, ‘Hey, jury, why didn’t they tell you about this? Here are the things they don’t want you to know.’ Sprinkling seeds of doubt’….Coates added that the prosecution is addressing it so they can “package it essentially” to say, “‘So what? He has an opioid addiction.’ And of course in America, we view opioid abuse very differently than we did even decades ago. How does this actually impact Chauvin’s decision to act?’”
Retired Sgt. David Pleoger of the Minneapolis Police Department took to the stand to describe a phone call that had taken place between Chuavin and himself on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin had kneeled on Floyd’s neck. He recalls: “I believe he told me that they had — tried to put Mr. Floyd — I didn’t know his name at the time, Mr. Floyd into the car. He had become combative,” adding that “I think he mentioned that he had injured — either his nose or his mouth, a bloody lip, I think, and eventually after struggling with him, he suffered a medical emergency and an ambulance was called and they headed out of the scene.” Pleoger also detailed that he has known Chauvin since 2008.
Another member of the force, Jon Curtis Edwards, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, took to the stand to discuss details about the crime scene and body camera footage. Edwards reports that he arrived at the scene of 38th and Chicago around 9:35 p.m. ET. Upon arrival, Edwards says there were only two officers still present– J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane– and not many other people around. While Edwards attests that he arrived on scene with his body camera turned on, he says that the two officers who had been at the scene did not have their cameras on. Edwards asked them to turn their body cameras on. Then, after the two officers detailed to Edwards where the scene had occurred, Edwards told them to place crime scene tape around the area “so that we could preserve any potential evidence that was there.”
The most senior officer on the Minneapolis police department and head of the Minneapolis Police’s homicide unit, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, also took to the stand. He clarified that the actions of Chauvin are not compliant with the training that police officers receive, adding that “if your knee is on a person’s neck, that could kill them.” As the most long-standing member of the police force, and having been trained every year in the appropriate use of force, he says that he has never received instruction to deliver force via kneeling on the back or neck of someone, as Chauvin demonstrated. “Pulling him down to the ground face down, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger — if that’s what they felt — and that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force,” Zimmerman stated. He says that Chauvin’s use of force would only be used in a “top-tier, deadly force” situation and in case of Floyd was “totally unnecessary.” There are varying degrees of how officers can work to restrain someone. Zimmerman explains, “Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way. They are cuffed, how can they really hurt you,” he said. “You getting injured is way down. You could have some guy try to kick you or something, but you can move out of the way. That person is handcuffed, you know, so the threat level is just not there.” Upon arriving at the crime scene around 10 p.m., Zimmerman recalls walking up to officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. Determining the two as “involved officers,” Zimmerman says he instructed them to go to city hall to be interviewed. Zimmerman explains that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) took over the handling of the case when the hospital determined Floyd had passed. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, head of the Minneapolis Police’s homicide unit, said the use of force by former officer Derek Chauvin against George Floyd was “totally unnecessary.”
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo from the Minneapolis Police Department also took to the stand to discuss the use of force and de-escalation techniques. He has held his position as chief for three years, and has been involved with the department since 1989. At the beginning of his testifying, he was asked to identify Derek Chauvin, whom he successfully pointed out. He discussed de-escalation tactics and the use of force in the Minneapolis Police Department. Reading the department’s policy, Arradondo states: “As an alternative and/or the precursor to the actual use of force MPD officers shall consider verbally announcing their intent to use force including displaying an authorized weapon as a threat of force when reasonable under the circumstances.” He continues, “The goal is to resolve the situation as safely as possible. So you want to always have de-escalation layered into those actions of using force.”
When asked about Chauvin’s use of force unto Floyd, Arradondo said “The conscious neck restraint by policy mentions light to moderate pressure. When I look at exhibit 17 and when I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear in any way, shape or form that that is light to moderate pressure.” Arradondo comments on the use of restraint by Chauvin: “I absolutely agree that violates our policy,” detailing that the Department’s core values include treating everyone with “dignity and respect.” Arradondo continues, “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting. And certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped. There is an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds. 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 proned-out, handcuffed behind their back. That, in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not a part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
Arradondo also commented on the first amendment right of protesters to record officers with their cellphones, even if the officers find the recording “irritating.” This “absolute first amendment right” is granted to all people, “with the exception that they cannot obstruct the activity of the officers but they absolutely have the right, barring that, to record us performing our duties,” he added. In the case of Floyd, the recording of officers was deemed by Arradondo as non-obstructive.
In his own viewing of the footage surrounding Floyd’s death, Arradondo commented that the city-owned video camera footage he originally saw didn’t show as much detail as community member footage. Arradondo recalls learning of the bystander video recording: “Probably close to midnight a community member had contacted me and said, chief, almost verbatim, but said, chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago? And so once I heard that statement, I just knew it wasn’t the same milestone camera video that I had saw. And eventually within minutes after that, I saw for the first time what is now known as the bystander video.”
In reviewing the footage, which showed Chauvin’s use of force on Floyd’s neck, Arradondo commented on whether the officer followed the department’s de-escalation policy: “”I absolutely don’t agree with that”…”that action is not de-escalation. And when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about the principles and values we have, that action goes contrary to what we’re taught.”
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, also was present in the court room alongside the Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump. Having to relive his brother’s death through re-watching the traumatic video footage, Philonise commented that it was an “emotional day watching his brother being tortured to death, screaming for his mom, talking about his kids… it was a tragedy that should have never happened.” While Chauvin and his defense are attempting to pin Floyd’s death on other factors, including drug use and health issues, Crump refocuses the case on Chauvin’s defense’s allegations: “That’s their playbook. That’s what they’ve done to so many people of color who have been unjustifiably killed by police. [They] assassinate their character so it can be a distraction from their excessive use of force.” As Chauvin’s defense looks to explain the cause of Floyd’s death as due to factors outside of the police force, Crump declares “The reason Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck is because he lacks humanity.”
When it came time for Chauvin to take the stand, he plead his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent, choosing not testify in his own defense. On Thursday, Chauvin’s attorneys rested their case shortly after his invocation. The prosecution had rested its case on Tuesday, after hearing from 38 witnesses over 11 days of the murder trial. Chauvin has plead not guilty to second-degree unintentional manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder charges.
Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said during his closing argument that “that Derek Chauvin’s own use of force trainer at the Minneapolis Police Department testified that placing the knee on the neck of a suspect “is not an unauthorized move,” according to CNN. Nelson is referring to the earlier testimony of Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, who conducts the training for the Department. Mercil had testified that using a knee on someone’s neck “can be justified in certain circumstances,” perhaps as a means of “using body weight to control.” However, Mercil had also remarked “however, I will add that we don’t — we tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible and if you’re going to use body weight to pin, to put it on their shoulder and be mindful of position.” Keeping all this in mind, during his closing argument Nelson urged the jury to consider the circumstances Chauvin had arrived at on-scene, including meeting “active resistance” and “potentially active aggression” from Floyd. Nelson stated to the jury, “The state has really focused on the 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It’s not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 15 minutes and 59 seconds. Completely disregards.” Nelson reminded that jury that his client, Chauvin, has a “presumption of innocent,” until possibly being proven guilty beyond a reasonable guilt by the state.
The case’s prosecuting attorney, Steve Schleicher, reminded the jury that “George Floyd is not on trial here,”…”For 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He begged, George Floyd begged until he could speak no more, and the defendant continued. This assault. When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued. When he was unable to breathe the defendant continued. Beyond the point that he had a pulse. Beyond the point that he had a pulse, the defendant continued this assault. Nine minutes and 29 seconds.” During Schleicher’s closing statement, he asserted that Chauvin’s actions were not in line with the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, “to protect with courage.”
Another prosecuting attorney, Jerry Blackwell, took to the stand again to deliver his closing statement. He reminded the jury that while “”when he [Eric Nelson] was talking about causation, he talks about fentanyl, heart failure, hypertension. He says that we have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that none of these other factors played a role”…but “”what we need to prove is that the defendant’s actions were a substantial causal factor in his death. It does not have to be the only causal factor. It doesn’t have to be the biggest substantial factor. It just has to be one of them.” Further, he asserted the power that Chauvin held over Floyd while kneeling on the victim’s neck: “He had the bullets, the guns, the mace that he threatened the bystanders with. He had backup. He had the badge. He had all of it. And what was there to be afraid of, here particularly, at this scene?”
Blackwell also urged the jury to consider what he called the case’s 46th witness– common sense. He cited the eyewitness account of the nine-year-old bystander, claiming that the case is “so simple a child could understand… [t]he 9-year-old girl said, ‘get off of him.’ That’s how simple it was. Get off of him. Common sense.”
As the closing arguments of the case are being released today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released her statement: “Today is a solemn day as the closing arguments are presented in the George Floyd murder trial. I commend the Floyd family for their dignified calls for justice, which were heard around the world”…”As outraged as we are by his death, let us be prayerful that the truth will prevail and will honor George Floyd’s memory.”
Chauvin is on trial for three different charges, in which the jury must deliberate whether or not the prosecution “proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” The first charge Chauvin could be convicted of is second-degree unintentional murder. The prosecution must prove that Chauvin caused George Floyd’s death while committing an underlying felony. Futher, prosectors must also prove that Chauvin acted with no intent to kill, just intent to act. If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison. Secondly, Chauvin faces a possible charge for third-degree murder. In order to be convicted, prosecutors must prove Chauvin committed a reckless act that is “eminently dangerous” to others with “depraved mind.” If Chauvin is convicted of third-degree murder, he could face up to 25 years in prison. Finally, Chauvin faces a third conviction for second-degree Manslaughter. In order to be charged, the prosecution must prove Chauvin was “culpably negligent” and disregarded awareness of substantial risk of great bodily injury or death of Floyd. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin could face up to 10 years in prison. All of the charges are seperate, so Chauvin could end up being charged for a combination of charges, being found guilty on all accounts, or be found completely non-guilty.
While the world waits to heart the outcome of Derek Chauvin’s trial, the NYPD is bracing for the reaction to the case’s verdict. In a statement, the. NYPD said that the department has been preparing for months and has provided the necessary training for its officers to “protect and facilitate the constitutional right to peace protest.” In DC, the Army has positioned 250 members of the National Guard in preparation for potential protest, riots, and civil unrest. Around the country, police departments are preparing to face the reaction to the outcome of the trial.
The jury panel working to determine the outcome of the trial consists of six white jurors and six Black or multi-racial people. Of the jurors, seven are women and five are men. The panel consists of a grandmother, nurse, chemist, and auditor, among others. The jury’s verdict must be unanimous, and must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
Shortly after the juror deliberations had begun, several of Minnesota’s most prominent politicians spoke about to urge for calm, regardless of the trial’s outcome.
Gov. Tim Waltz spoke to Minnesota residents: ““We must acknowledge two truths: We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos, we must protect life and property,” the governor continued. “We also must understand very clearly, if we don’t listen to those communities in pain, and those people on the streets, many of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth, that we must change, or we will be right back here again.”
Minneapolis’ mayor, Jacob Frey, echoed similar peaceful sentiments: ““There’s been pain and anguish, anger and frustration that is undoubtedly acutely felt by our Black and Brown communities,” Frey said. “Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality, which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police.” Similarly, Saint Paul’s mayor cautioned against violence.
Gov. Melvin Center spoke out about the jury deliberations on Monday afternoon: ““Whatever the jury decides, we know that in this age of insurrection and extremism that we must be ready for the possibility of those who would exploit this moment and drown out the powerful voices of constructive protests across our nation with violence and destruction.'”
Even President Biden spoke out about the trial, sharing similar thoughts. The President said he hopes the right outcome of the trial will prevail, and commented on the “overwhelming” evidence of the case. Biden also had a private conversation to discuss familial loss with George Floyd’s brother, Philonise.
The verdict of the case has been decided and publicly announced, as reported by CNN: “Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all charges by a jury in the Hennepin County court. The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death in May 2020.”
As seen in media from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach:
“Today’s three guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin are an important public act of accountability. But any verdict on a charge of less than first-degree murder — a charge that Chauvin did not face — is a sign that we still have work to do. Before the entire nation, fellow officers took the stand in this trial and testified that their colleague did not protect and serve but abused power and killed George Floyd. We must meet this public act of justice and accountability with federal legislation that will hold officers of the law accountable in every state, and we must continue to work in every community to shift public investment from over-policing poor, Black and brown communities to ensuring restorative justice and equity for all people.”
Ten Anti-LGBTQ Bills Sit on Governors’ Desks, Poised to Undermine Rights Across the Country
As a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states continues to intensify, ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sit on the desks of governors across the country waiting to be signed into law. These bills are only the latest examples of a concerted effort in state legislatures to undermine LGBTQ rights that has already resulted in the passage of several anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation in recent months.
“State legislators across the country were elected to represent all of us, not just some of us and yet they continue to send hateful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills to the desks of governors to sign into law, threatening the well-being, health, and fundamental rights of thousands of LGBTQ Americans in states from coast to coast,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “From anti-transgender sports bans to erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum, these bills are driven by fear and would have a significant negative impact on the lives of so many LGBTQ people. The governors of these states are responsible for protecting their citizens, and they must refuse to sign these baseless and unconscionable cruel bills into law. Otherwise, they should and will be held accountable for the consequences.”
These bills include blatant attacks on transgender youth, including prohibiting transgender kids from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, allow student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech, erase LGBTQ people from history books, and add substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.
Below is a roundup of the ten anti-LGBTQ bills currently sitting on the desks of governors:
House Bill 391 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
The Alabama Senate and House passed House Bill 391, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for signature or veto.
Senate Bill 1456 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BILL
The Arizona State House passed Senate Bill 1456 – discriminatory legislation that affects not only sexual education material, but all learning materials in the classroom and makes it harder for LGBTQ kids to see themselves in school curriculum.
The bill, which would make Arizona’s sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues, now heads to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for consideration.
Senate Bill 389 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATON BILL
The Arkansas Senate passed Senate Bill 389, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence. This bill disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and put children at greater risk of health consequences.
Kansas Senate Bill 55 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
The Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 55, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
Senate Bill 280 – BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILL
The Montana Senate passed SB 280, a bill that adds substantial hurdles for transgender people who want to change the gender on their birth certificate by first requiring gender-affirming surgery.
Senate Bill 215 – RELIGIOUS REFUSAL BILL
The Montana House passed SB 215, an expansive religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against Montanans and visitors, including LGBTQ people, people of faith, and women, across a wide range of goods and services in the state.
House Bill 1503 – ANTI-ALL COMERS BILL
Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require student organizations receiving financial and other support from the institution not to discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
These policies allow all members of the student body to participate in student organizations and prevent such organizations from discriminating against students with state funding. The Supreme Court upheld these all-comers policies as constitutional in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez decision in 2010.
North Dakota HB 1503, in part, undermines inclusive “all-comers” policies at North Dakota public colleges and universities, by allowing student organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech.
House Bill 1298 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
The North Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1298, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
Senate Bill 1229 – SEX ED PARENTAL NOTIFICATION
The Tennessee Senate passed Senate Bill 1229, a bill which would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
In addition to making it harder for students kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence.
SB 389 also disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and puts children at greater risk of health consequences.
House Bill 3293 – ANTI-TRANS SPORTS BILL
The West Virginia Senate passed House Bill 3293, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
Wide range of businesses and advocacy groups oppose anti-trans legislation
More than 65 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students
The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory anti-transgender legislation under consideration on notice that their actions will have repercussions for their states.
A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern
These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.
For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters
A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.
At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.
Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”
States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm
Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.
The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
EIGHT KILLED IN INDIANAPOLIS FEDEX FACILITY SHOOTING
What we know so far
Brandon Hole, the shooting suspect, opened fire outside and inside of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday evening.
Eight people were shot and killed, while several others were wounded in addition to the gunman.
Police believe the gunman killed himself as officers encountered him.
The motive for the shooting known at this time.
Law enforcement were notified of a mass casualty situation at the Indianapolis FedEx location late Thursday evening. Timothy Boillat, a FedEx employee, was inside of the building when the gunshots began, according to CNN. He was on break when he heard “two loud metal clangs,” not realizing that it was gun shots. Boillat said his friend saw someone grabbing a gun out of the trunk of their car. It was at that moment that Boillat saw a body on the ground. Levi Miller was interviewed this morning by the Today Show and stated “I saw a man, a hooded figure. The man did have an AR in his hand, and he started shouting and then he started firing. I thought he saw me, so I immediately ducked for cover.”
Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations for Indianapolis Police, Craig McCartt, stated that four of the victims were found inside of the FedEx facility and four were found outside. The suspect was found deceased, in addition to eight other people. The Indianapolis Police Department said they have an idea of who the suspect was, however, have not formally identified him. The Department believes that the shooter was using a rifle, but they do not yet have any specifics on the weapon. The police are being assisted by the FBI in searching the suspect’s house. Special agent Paul Keenan is in charge.
During a news conference McCartt stated, “This suspect came to the facility. He got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility. There was no confrontation with anyone. That began in the parking lot and then he did go into the building.”
Alfarena McGinty, the Chief Deputy Coroner at the Marion County Coroner’s Office, said that the Department is conducting an investigation, but cannot yet enter the crime scene to confirm the victims’ identity until all evidence has been collected. “We are still a number of hours out before we are able to go on to the scene to conduct our investigation, and then after that, we’ll work with the families. Following that process, what we have to do is we will perform our examinations,” she said, adding that extra staff will be called in to complete those examinations in the next 48 to 72 hours, reports CNN.
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 147 mass shootings incidents in 2021 in the United States. The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from various law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in order to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is a non-profit corporation based out of Washington DC, as stated on their website.
Indianapolis Police has released the names of the deceased victims from Thursday night’s shooting.
The victims are:
32-year-old Matthew R Alexander
19-year-old Samaria Blackwell
66-year-old Amarjeet Johal
64-year-old Jaswinder Kaur
68-year-old Jaswinder Singh
48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon
19-year-old Karlie Smith
74-year-old John Weisert
A statement by IMPD says the next of kin has been notified by the Marion County Coroner’s Office.
The cause of death will be determined after autopsies are complete, according to the statement.
IMPD said the names of those injured are not being released.
1,500+ Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth Condemn Anti-Trans Bills in Open Letter to Lawmakers
More than 1,500 parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth — from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — signed a letter imploring elected officials to oppose anti-transgender bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country.
The letter comes in response to a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are currently more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of these discriminatory bills, 106 directly target transgender people, including efforts to ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity and prohibit evidence-based, life-saving health care for transgender youth.
“Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: ‘You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power and you don’t,’” the parents wrote. “Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society.”
“Transgender children are children. They deserve the ability to play organized sports and have access to medically necessary care, just like all children. These bills are cruel — and parents are not going to be silent when elected officials attack their children through discriminatory legislation,” saidHuman Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “Transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth impacted by these bills are among the most vulnerable to experience depression and engage in self-harm, including suicide. Legislators must realize the seriousness of this issue and remember that they were elected to lead — not call into question whether certain children have the right to exist, to be happy, or to live authentically.”
“As a trans person, I know what it means to have lawmakers try to write me out of existence — imagine being a trans child trying to cope with this reality. There is a coordinated attack on transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth being waged in state legislatures across the country and it is having a devastating impact on the mental health of kids, who just want to be kids,” said Jay Brown, Senior Vice President, HRC Programs, Research & Training. “Parents will not back down when it comes to protecting their children, and they will not tolerate their elected officials using their positions of power to harm and further oppress them. We will never give up hope that if people — including elected officials — hear from people at the center of the policy debate, and their loved ones, that their hearts will open, and their minds will change.”
The full letter is below.
April 12, 2021
Dear Elected Officials,
Many of you are sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for legislation that would force transgender children to participate in sports based on a letter on their birth certificate rather than who they are – or not participate at all. Some of you are also sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or considering voting for bills that would criminalize best-practice, evidence-based, life-saving health care that transgender youth need (and deserve!) to thrive.
Parents of transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive youth like us have called you, sent you emails, and have showed up in the midst of a global pandemic to testify about how devastating these bills are…not only if or when they pass and become law, but also right now because, by whipping up a firestorm of attacks on our kids, they have already caused damage to our families.
Parenting during a pandemic is hard enough. The fact that these bills exist at all—that the lives of our children are up for debate in any state in this nation—adds a layer of worry to an already fraught time. Let’s be clear: the impact of these bills goes far beyond sports and medical care; they call into question whether our children have the right to exist, to be happy, to live authentically. The answer is yes. They absolutely do.
We have shared studies with you explaining that trans youth are more susceptible to struggle with anxiety or depression, not because they are transgender but because of stigma and discrimination. You have heard that being able to participate in sports and being on a team with friends and classmates can improve their mental health. You have heard adolescents tell you how afraid they are of experiencing the wrong puberty or how terrified teenagers are of having their medically-prescribed hormones denied to them.
This isn’t the first time. We tried telling you all of this a year ago before the pandemic thankfully cut many legislative sessions short and these bills floundered. After hearing some of these concerns last year, a senator in Missouri was quoted dismissively saying “We can’t be responsible for everyone’s mental health.”
We are pointedly telling you now that you actually are responsible for the mental health of these kids. We are holding you personally responsible for the amount of stress, anxiety, and fear our precious children are currently struggling with. We are holding you responsible for how some of our children are crying themselves to sleep every night, asking why so many people hate trans kids and want them to suffer. You are the reason they are asking to move somewhere where they will be protected, because their home doesn’t feel safe anymore with you in charge of creating its laws.
You were elected to your positions to lead. And leaders understand that in our great but imperfect system of government, we favor the concept of “majority rule, minority rights.” Leaders do not use their positions of power to harm and further oppress a struggling and hurting minority.
Transgender kids all across the country are listening to what you say and watching what you do. The act of writing bills like this, holding hearings, and later casting votes sends a direct message to them: “You aren’t real to us. We don’t believe you when you tell us who you are. Your existence is dangerous to the other kids around you. We are okay if you feel lonely, isolated, and unwelcome. We are willing to take away even the smallest concessions that have been made for you because we have power, and you don’t.”
Transgender folks are so tired, tired of fighting for their existence. And parents like us are tired of begging you to see our kids and treat them as full and equal members of society.
Here is a powerful quote from Nomi Ruiz, a Puerto Rican trans woman, artist and performer, that we’d like you to take time to think about…
“The outside world will never truly understand the magnitude of the trans experience, especially that of a child who has an undying need to live in truth despite being ostracized for it. The only way for trans children to thrive is to allow them to live freely in the face of a society that abuses them for it.”
Stop abusing our kids by creating legislation that targets them. Kill these bills now and leave our kids alone.
Parents of Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Expansive Youth
Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states
Chris Adamo, vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America; Brad Figel, vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc.; Molly Fogarty senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA; and Tom Langan, North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever:
“As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.”
“These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic…This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.”
“Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.”
“Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.”
“Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans”
We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people.
As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.
These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people. Such laws not only threaten hard-won progress to bring greater awareness, support and equality to transgender Americans, they also threaten the livelihoods and safety of their communities and their families.
This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.
Member companies of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, including Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA and Unilever United States, urge the entire U.S. business community to do the same.
This issue is not political. Providing the same basic protections to LGBTQ+ people as are provided to protected groups under federal law is the right thing to do for businesses and for society.
We employ tens of thousands of people in communities across the country. We embrace diversity in our workforces. Inclusive principles already guide the way we work, run our successful businesses, and engage with our employees and communities.
Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.
In Kentucky, for example, proposed legislation would allow health care providers to turn away LGBTQ+ and other patients, and bar trans youth from K-12 public school and university sports. Similarly, in Texas, legislators have proposed bills that would ban transgender girls from youth sports.
When states legislate this way, not only do they create an environment where not everyone feels safe and welcomed, they endorse it. Such environments deny transgender and nonbinary people the opportunity to fully contribute to the economies in places where they work and live. This harms them and their families and hinders businesses and local communities.
We applaud Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision this week to veto legislation that would have banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor’s veto Tuesday.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs a bill in March 2021 to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.
Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.
Legislation hurts states’ economies
The ramifications of these discriminatory bills on states’ economic and financial health are also well-documented. A UCLA study found that the social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people negatively impact Texas’ economy by tens of millions of dollars each year. Another study by the Texas Association of Business estimated that discriminatory legislation could result in an estimated economic loss to Texas’ gross domestic product ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion.
The impacts of such bills are not limited to the states where they are passed. Researchers that studied 39 countries found a clear link between LGBTQ+ discriminatory practices and legislation and the corresponding loss of potential economic output. For LGBTQ+ youth, the study found that discrimination harms their learning, resulting in increased dropout rates and, consequently, reduced participation in the workforce.
We acknowledge that words are powerful. But for companies to engage new generations of workers and consumers, while fostering an environment good for people and for business, we must move beyond only public statements of support for LGBTQ+ issues.
Companies should protect employees
Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans.
We four SFPA companies are committed to stepping up and taking action, including through our advocacy on this important issue. Doing so will support an environment in which all people can grow, thrive, compete and succeed as their true, authentic selves.
Chris Adamo is vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America. Brad Figel is vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc. Molly Fogarty is senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA. Tom Langan is North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever.
“From the Westside With Love” originally dropped as a mixtape in March 2010 and later in June 2011 came “From the Westside with Love II” which is the debut studio album for Dom Kennedy. The album features artists from Asher Roth, Mikey Rocks, Polyester, Big K.R.I.T., Casey Veggies, and Schoolboy Q. The album charted #19 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #15 Billboard’s Independent Albums.
Dom Kennedy has taken over the rap game by storm by working with acts such as Kehlani, Big Sean, Hit-Boy, Nipsey Hussle, and more. With a forthcoming album set to release this Spring, Dom Kennedy is set to dominate 2021.
“When I decided to release the first From the Westside with Love in March 2010, I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a body of work that would reach way beyond just my neighborhood in Los Angeles,” says Dom Kennedy. “It was a gut check for me to show my love for the genre of rap and what I could possibly bring to it. A year later we dropped “From the Westside with Love II” which many believe to be one of my best efforts. At this point in my career, I’m still in love with making great rap music. I decided to cement my true legacy with another gift, From the Westside with Love III.”
About Dom Kennedy:
Born in Los Angeles, CA, Dom Kennedy is an artist with a fiercely independent streak. With a style that pairs simple lyricism with a knack for narration, Kennedy took inspiration from rap legends such as DJ Quick, Tupac, and the Notorious B.I.G. Kennedy made his debut in 2008 with “25th Hour”, “From the Westside With Love” in 2010, and “The Original Dom Kennedy” in 2011. By this point, he had begun touring across the U.S. and internationally, playing a show in Djibouti, Africa. Not being able to find a fair deal to suit him, the talented MC instead started his own label, The OPM Company (Other People’s Money), which he has used to release his own albums as well as for others. “From the Westside With Love II” arrived in 2011 and was a success, hitting the top 100 of the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Kennedy shortly after released “The Yellow Album” with the lead single “My Type Of party”, this mixtape is regarded as an all-time favorite worldwide. From Kennedy himself, “my music has always been about evolution, results may vary but I have tried to remain responsible to what I was feeling at the time. I wouldn’t have lasted any amount of time without the fans, so I thank them. OPM till it’s over.”
South Dakota Gov. Noem Exposes Vulnerabilities for All States Considering Anti-Trans Sports Bills
On Friday, March 19th, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued a style-and-form veto of HB 1217, the anti-transgender sports ban bill that she had previously expressed excitement about signing. Having made several substantive changes to the legislation, including striking collegiate-level provisions from the bill, it will now be sent back to the legislature. This backtrack, by even an extreme governor with national political aspirations, exposes the economic, legal, and reputational threats these bills pose to states considering anti-transgender legislation and has sparked an uproar amongst conservative groups who see Governor Noem playing politics and trying to have it both ways.
Gov. Noem’s winding path from “excited to sign” to a veto
On March 8th, Governor Noem tweeted that she was “excited to sign this bill,” in reference to HB 1217, using the occasion of International Women’s Day to state her support for the bill under the fallacious frame of “protecting women’s sports.”
Argus Leader reporter Stu Whitney described Noem’s veto this way: “Shorter version: This bill is so ill-conceived, poorly written and damaging to South Dakota that I can’t sign it even though it would boost my national conservative political profile.”
South Dakota’s Republican legislative leadership issued a joint press release condemning Noem’s “unprecedented interpretation of the…style and form veto” as an abuse of power. The legislature will meet on March 29th to consider whether to accept Noem’s changes or abandon the bill altogether.
Today, Noem held a press conference standing alongside known anti-LGBTQ extremists to justify her veto
Today in a press conference, Governor Noem announced the creation of a coalition to “Defend Title IX Now” which appears to be a national list-building exercise by Noem, with a website created yesterday by someone in Ohio (coincidentally, Governor Noem’s campaign website was created by Ohio political consultants The Aventine Group). This website’s “paid for by” disclaimer refers to a committee that is not yet registered with the Federal Election Commission or the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office.
When asked in today’s press conference why she was pressing a ban on transgender student athletes when there are no transgender players currently competing in secondary school sports in South Dakota, Gov. Noem replied “it’s an issue because people are talking about it and for the future.”
Noem said of HB 1217, that it was a “trial lawyer’s dream” that would open the state to litigation in its current form and expressed concern for NCAA repercussions, saying “if we’re going beyond [K-12] to the collegiate level…just know that we could face retaliation — it’s more than likely, and at that point, we would have to sue, which is a cost to the taxpayers.”
From praise to condemnation from anti-equality extremist groups
But only weeks later, American Principles Project shared their condemnation of Governor Noem’s style-and-form veto of HB 1217, saying that she “[broke] her word,” “[froze] out advocates of HB 1217 and instead [took] advice from the bill’s most vocal critics,” and that “[b]y standing with Joe Biden and the radical left against protecting women’s sports, Noem has irreparably damaged her standing with both her own constituents as well as Americans nationally… This betrayal will have political consequences.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, went from support to condemnation as well, saying in a statement that Governor Noem “abuse[d]” her veto power to “cave to ‘woke’ corporate ideology.” They similarly called Noem’s actions a “betrayal” and characterized today’s press conference as damage control to rehabilitate her “credibility and political image.”
In reaction to today’s press conference, Sean Davis, co-founder of the conservative publication The Federalist tweeted: “Stop making excuses and insulting everyone’s intelligence and sign the bill already. This is embarrassing.”
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