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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

 

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Protests intensified in Atlanta after a police officer shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant.  The encounter was caught on surveillance camera and by a witness. Police approached Brooks after he had fallen asleep in his car. The police questioned Brooks, patted him down and gave him a breathalyzer test.  Witness videos, surveillance footage, bodycam and dashcam footage show the officers engaged Brooks without incident for 41 minutes before the encounter turned fatal.

Atlanta Police Department officer Devin Brosnan arrived at the Wendy’s restaurant to investigate a report of a man asleep in a car which was blocking the drive-through lane.  Brosnan awakened Brooks and told him to move the car to a parking space and take a nap.  Brooks fell asleep again without moving the car prompting Brosnan to again wake Brooks and instruct him to park the car.  Brosnan checked Brooks’s driver’s license and radioed for assistance from an officer certified to conduct driving under the influence investigations.  Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived at 10:56 and, with Brooks’s permission, performed a pat-down search for weapons, a field sobriety test, and a breathalyzer test.  Brooks appeared impaired and said he had consumed one to one-and-a-half drinks and denied driving or being too drunk to drive. The Breathalyzer registered a blood alcohol level of 0.108%, above the legal limit of 0.08%.  Brooks asked to leave his car in the parking lot overnight and walk to his sister’s house a short distance away.

At 11:23, Rolfe told Brooks: “All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving. Put your hands behind your back for me”; he and Brosnan then moved behind Brooks to handcuff him.  Brooks tried to break free and he and the officers scuffled on the ground. During the struggle Brosnan drew his Taser, but Brooks wrested from him and fired it toward Brosnan before attempting to run away.  Brosnan says the Taser contacted him and he struck his head on the pavement.  Rolfe drew his own Taser and shot Brooks with it.  Brooks fled through the parking lot with Brosnan’s Taser still in hand as Rolfe pursued him and fired again with his own Taser.  While still running, Brooks turned to fire the second shot of Brosnan’s Taser – capable of two shots before being reloaded – over Rolfe’s head.  According to prosecutors, Brooks and Rolfe were 18 feet apart when Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his handgun and shot Brooks once in the mid-back and once in the buttocks; a third shot struck a nearby vehicle, narrowly missing its three occupants.  According to prosecutors Rolfe then declared, “I got him”.

Within 24 hours of the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that she did not believe it was justified, leading to Rolfe’s firing, Brosnan being placed on administrative duty and the resignation of the city’s police chief, Erika Shields.  The county medical examiner rule Brooks’ death a homicide and Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation.  The Fulton County District Attorney said Brooks did not present himself as a threat and appeared almost jovial during the encounter.  He announced 11 charges against Rolfe: felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations, and damage to property.  He said Rolfe should have been aware that the Taser Brooks had taken posed no danger, as after being fired twice it could not fire again.  He also said that Rolfe and Brosnan did not provide timely medical aid to Brooks and that before they did, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders.  The district attorney said it was a violation of department policy for Rolfe to begin handcuffing Brooks before telling him he was being arrested.

 

 

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

 

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With mass uprising over police brutality showing no signs of abating, more policy changes are taking shape around the country.  San Francisco announced last week that trained, unarmed professionals will respond to noncriminal calls instead of police. Colorado lawmakers passed a bill to introduce sweeping police changes, including banning choke holds and requiring officers to intervene if they see excessive force being used. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he will reallocate $3 million from the police department’s budget toward public health initiatives. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to replace the police department with a community-led public safety system.  Minneapolis Councilmember Alondra Cano said, “We acknowledge that the current system is not reformable, that we would like to end the current policing system as we know it.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont imposed a series of reforms on the Connecticut State Police, including a ban on choke holds, a mandate that officers use body cameras and dashboard cameras, and restrictions on a program that funnels military equipment to local law enforcement.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill into law, prohibiting the use of a choke hold in an arrest “except when a person cannot be captured any other way or has used or threatened deadly force” and preventing an officer from being hired in Iowa if they have a previous felony conviction, were fired for misconduct, or left before they could be fired for misconduct.  The bill also requires annual anti-bias and deescalation training for law enforcement and allows the Iowa Attorney General to prosecute officers for a criminal offense resulting in the death of a human being.

Michigan State Senator Jeff Irwin introduced Senate Bill 945 which would require the addition of “implicit bias, deescalation techniques, and mental health screening” as part of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certification process for new law enforcement officers.  The bill was drafted before the death of George Floyd in response to the broader problem of police brutality and passed the State Senate unanimously on June 4. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced a series of police reforms, including whistle blower protections, independent review of officer-involved shootings, and use of body cameras by police officers.  New Jersey has banned police departments from using choke holds and similar neck and carotid restraints.  According to Attorney General Grewal’s order, “Because these tactics create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm, officers who cause a subject’s death or injury while performing them face potential criminal liability” except when “deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life”.

Meanwhile, counties and cities across the country, including Cleveland, Denver and Indianapolis, are declaring racism a public health crisis. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is calling for a section of downtown known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to remain permanently in community control. Protesters took over several city blocks last week after the Seattle Police Department abandoned its Capitol Hill precinct and stopped trying to violently disperse marches.  The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to ban police use of tear gas and choke holds.

The New York Police Department announced it is dismantling its plainclothes anti-crime unit and the 600 officers in the unit will be reassigned. In 2018, news outlets reported plainclothes anti-crime officers had been involved in 31% of fatal police shootings in New York since 2000. Meanwhile, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has announced plans to create a new civilian department made up of social workers and others to respond to non-emergency 911 calls. In Georgia, the state Legislature reopened with a call to pass a hate crimes bill. Georgia is one of four states with no hate crime laws.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

 

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As historic protests continue to sweep the country two weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council announced it would move to disband the city’s police department. Nine members of the council — a veto-proof majority — made the vow during a community rally. The vow to disband the police came just days after the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. Congress is slated to introduce reforms that include a chokehold ban, a limit on qualified immunity for officers and a restriction on military weapons. While news reporting may be bias, social media videos of police brutality toward peaceful protestors has sparked many local governments to take action as the protests continue. Although many of these reforms will be subjected to a long debate among local officials, some activists say it is a good start.
In Louisville, KY, the City Council unanimously passed “Breonna’s Law” Thursday night that banned the use of “no-knock” warrants. The legislation was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was killed in her home while in bed in March by Louisville police officers while executing a no-knock warrant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended the use of no-knock warrants last month, said he will sign the bill. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.” The officers involved in Taylor’s death are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave.
New York’s state legislature voted to repeal parts of a provision that shielded police disciplinary records from the public. The repeal of 50-A means that police officers across the state must disclose personnel records used to evaluate performance. Criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the repeal for years. The legislation also bans officers from using chokeholds, prohibits false race-based 911 calls and appoints the state attorney general to be an independent prosecutor in any case where an officer shoots an unarmed person. The state Senate approved the bill and the state Assembly approved it with later in the day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a sweeping set of reforms that would shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors of the city’s budget. De Blasio said he will work with the city council to hammer out the details over the next three weeks, but told reporters Monday that the amount would be “something substantial.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she will sign the emergency legislation passed by the City Council that bans the police from using neck restraints on suspects. The bill also bans the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The Council also passed a bill that requires the mayor to release police body camera video from any police-involved death or serious use of force within three days of the incident. The family members of the person involved in the incident will be the first to see the video, according to the bill’s language.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced short- and long-term changes to the city’s police force to address the concerns about police from residents. She said she will review the Seattle Police Department’s budget with a “special focus on listening community voices throughout the process.” Durkan has also called for an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute any police officers as well as updating the department’s procedures for mass protests.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the state will ban police departments from using chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints or similar tactics. Grewal said their use has led to several incidents where a suspect suffered asphyxiation. The order provides an exemption “in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

Covid 19 Cases Continue Rising Since Memorial Day

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There are almost 8,000,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with over 420,000 deaths. As many countries open up again, the World Health Organization warned the situation is getting worse globally. Nearly 75% of recent cases came from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia, said the WHO. The WHO also said that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people appears to be rare.
Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic now with the highest tolls reported in Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru — which together account for over 1 million confirmed cases. The WHO said Central and South America have likely not reached peak transmission yet. Cuba remains announced they are closing in on the tail end of the pandemic, where infections have been on the decline for two months.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in U.S. states that were among the first and most aggressive to reopen, leading some local officials to reconsider reopening plans. In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown announced a 7-day statewide pause on further reopening as health officials study the data and try to contain budding outbreaks. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to reassure people that the rise in confirmed cases was expected and that the state’s hospitals have the capacity to handle a further surge.
Recent data shows 21 states have seen an increase in their average daily new Covid 19 cases this week than in the previous week. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent. Hospitalizations have risen as well. For example, Arkansas has seen a 120.7 percent increase in hospitalizations, from 92 cases to 203, since Memorial Day.
Health officials warn that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the virus, as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week across the globe. CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Three Officers Charged In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Continue

Three Officers Charged In George Floyd’s Death As Protests Continue

 

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Protests against police violence continue across the country as many cities have imposed curfews. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have activated their National Guards, with nearly 80 localities implementing curfews in response to the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.  Protests largely remain peaceful during the day but by night, protests turn to riots.  At least 9,300 people have been arrested across the US during protests.

Protesters across the US and globe keep gathering to march, some shouting slogans including “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd told the Minneapolis police officer who had a knee on his neck in a bystander’s video of the incident.  Others have gathered to lie face down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.  In many cities, just before the 8 p.m. curfew begins, police begin shooting tear gas, flashbang grenades and rubber bullets at demonstrators in an attempt to disperse crowds.

In Houston, Texas, 16 members of George Floyd’s family joined a crowd of 60,000 protesters who marched to City Hall to remember Floyd, who spent most of his life in Houston before moving to Minnesota in 2014 for a fresh start.  His family urged protestors to continue to fight for police reform and equality by protesting but said rioting is not the way to fix this.  Chauvin and Floyd both worked security at the same night club with together with Chauvin working outside security and Floyd working inside the bar.  Former coworkers of the two said they bumped heads over Chauvin’s aggressiveness with patrons of the club.  Floyd’s family believe George’s death was, in part, personal.

Two separate autopsies confirmed Floyd’s death was a homicide.  George Floyd’s memorial service was planned for Thursday in Minneapolis, and his funeral was scheduled for next Tuesday in Houston.  Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed charges against all four Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.  A charge of second-degree murder was added against Officer Derek Chauvin, who was already facing a third-degree murder charge.  The other three officers present were charged with aiding and abetting the murder. Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were arrested with bail set at $750,000 each.  Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz said the state’s Department of Human Rights has opened a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

Many wonder how we got here or believe the arrest of all four officers involved should quell the protests but George Floyd is not the only person protestors seek justice for.  Protestors say Floyd was just the last straw in a growing list of black people that have been killed with no charges for the officers involve or charges being filed months after, only after protests start.  News media coverage of the protests has been largely bias and focused on reports of looting have marred the message peaceful protestors want to make.  Social media sites like tik tok or youtube can give the world a more factual account of what goes on during these protests in every city by those that are actually there and countless videos show protestors stopping the looters, chasing them off or handing them over to police.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases In US Since Reopenings

Covid 19 Cases In US Since Reopenings

 

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There are now over 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 325,000 known deaths around the world. Over 2 million people around the world have recovered from the virus. Despite the US having less than 5% of the world’s population, there are almost 1.5 million confirmed cases with over 100,000 deaths, representing over one-quarter of all fatalities and almost one-third of the confirmed cases. Over 450,000 people have recovered from Covid 19 but there are now cases in the US of people that have been re-infected, meaning they did not develop antibodies to build immunity with their first infection.
Forty-eight states will be at least partially reopened this week as health experts continue to warn of the danger of a hasty end to lockdowns. Each state has their own guidelines on what businesses have reopened and a timeline on further openings. There are 17 states that have seen an uptick in new cases since reopening. Officials from the World Health Organization say those who ignore measures such as social distancing are at risk of seeing a resurgence of the coronavirus. They also advise people to wear face masks when they are in groups. While coronavirus generally doesn’t spread outdoors as easily as it does indoors, there’s still a risk with any cramped crowd — especially because the virus can spread by just talking.
A cluster of new cases emerged after a swim party in Arkansas. In Atlanta, several recent prep school graduates also tested positive for the coronavirus, including one who had friends over for a graduation party. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed new COVID-19 cases are predominantly coming from people leaving their homes to shop, exercise or socialize. Meanwhile, in California, Orange County’s coronavirus cases continue to mount, with over 4,000 cases reported. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Texas, with 1,800 new infections reported last Saturday — the highest single-day increase in Texas so far. South Dakota has also seen a spike in cases since reopening.
Some states are now seeing drops in the number of confirmed cases. New Jersey, one of few states that had one of the strictest and longest stay at home orders, has seen a decrease in cases. This appears to be relatively bright news for hard-hit New Jersey, second in the country only to New York for the number of total reported cases with over 143,600 confirmed and over 10,000 deaths.
Missouri also saw a drop in cases when they began allowing all businesses to reopen May 4, but then an increase during the second week of reopening. Businesses were allowed to reopen provided they could abide by certain social distancing guidelines. Indoor retail businesses must limit their number of customers to no more than 25% of normal capacity, and local communities can choose stricter rules if they choose. Missouri has over 11,000 cases and over 600 deaths. Idaho, which only has around 2,500 cases, also saw a decrease in reported cases.
As each state opened, many leaders stressed the importance of following the social distancing guidelines but left responsibility up to it’s’ citizens. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. They say that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

Covid 19 Vaccine Trials Underway

 

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Physicians caution that amid a desire to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, developers of drugs and vaccines have become overly enthusiastic about the chances their products will work.  Several vaccine developers have issued statements looking into the future — setting possible timetables for study completion and vaccine manufacturing.

Biotech company Moderna said early trials of their coronavirus vaccine show promising results as volunteers developed antibodies against the virus. Eight people took part in the study. The company, which is developing the vaccine with the National Institutes of Health, says it will move on to larger-scale trials and that a vaccine could be made available as soon as January.   Moderna is collaborating on its vaccine development with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said while Moderna’s numbers were limited, “it was good news” and he was “cautiously optimistic” about the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently over 100 vaccine efforts underway around the world.  There are 10 vaccines in human clinical trials worldwide. There are four teams in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer, Inovio and Novavax.  Five Chinese companies have vaccines in human trials. University of Oxford is the only team in Europe currently running trials.  Inovio and Moderna have said they expect their large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, to last around six months. Pfizer hasn’t given a timetable for its Phase 3 trial.  Worldwide, there are 114 more candidates in pre-clinical trial stages.

One big stumbling block for any vaccine trial is that Covid-19 infection rates in many areas of the world are flattening out or declining. The point of Phase 3 is to vaccinate people and then see if they naturally become infected, and with lower rates of circulating virus, the study subjects are less likely to be exposed to the virus in the first place.  For a vaccine clinical trial to be successful, there needs to be sufficiently high levels of the virus circulating in the community. If there isn’t enough virus around, it will be impossible to tell if the vaccine protected the study subjects, or if they were just never exposed to the virus.

The global effort to develop a vaccine is just the beginning of this race. It also takes time to ramp up vaccine production and deciding how it will be distributed will be difficult in a world of more than 7 billion people.  New drugs and vaccines traditionally go first to the wealthiest countries and that’s the expectation in this case as well. But the exact order could depend on where the vaccine is first developed and what that countries priorities are in distribution.  Wealthier countries have been hit hardest by the virus so far. But in many of these nations, COVID-19 cases are leveling off or declining, while they are rising rapidly in the developing world, including countries such as India, Brazil and Peru.  Nations and drug companies are likely to face a range of conflicting pressures with the need to provide the vaccine at home and intense scrutiny to share it widely, fairly and cheaply abroad.

 

 

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

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Authorities in Georgia have arrested a third man in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old man who was chased down and shot to death by two men in February. The man, William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, was arrested on charges of felony murder and attempted false imprisonment. He filmed the video showing Arbery jogging down a narrow road in Brunswick, Georgia, in broad daylight, before being ambushed. Retired police officer Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were both arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault earlier this month.
The video Bryan recorded on his cellphone shows Arbery trying to run around the McMichaels’ truck before turning sharply toward Travis McMichael and tussling over his shotgun. Arbery was shot three times and collapsed in the street. The 36-second video was not released until more than 10 weeks after the killing and spurred calls for the McMichaels’ arrests. It does not show what led up to the final moments of Arbery’s life.
Gregory McMichael — a former prosecutorial investigator, ex-Glynn County police officer and Travis’ father — told police that he and his son chased Arbery after seeing him at a neighbor’s under-construction home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in a rash of break-ins, according to an incident report. Surveillance footage from inside the under construction home show Arbery entered the home and was inside for approximately 3 minutes looking around but he did not take anything before leaving to continue his jog.
Bryan is accused of using his vehicle on multiple occasions between about 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. that day to “attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority,” the warrant states. Investigators believe this “underlying felony helped cause the death of Ahmaud Arbery,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said, referring to the charge of attempted false imprisonment. Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough, had said his client committed no crime, was no vigilante and would be the state’s “star witness.” He said his client has no relationship with the McMichaels. Bryan’s name appears in the police report filed the day of the shooting. Gregory McMichael told police that after he and his son Travis attempted and failed to stop Arbery, “Roddy” tried to intercept him, according to the report.
Gough told new outlets last week that Bryan was working in his yard when he saw a person he did not know being chased by a vehicle he recognized from the neighborhood. During an interview, Bryan said he prays for the Arbery family every night and said of the video, “I hope that it, in the end, brings justice to the family and peace to the family.”
The attorneys representing members of the Arbery family said they were relieved. “We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process,” the family’s attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump, and L. Chris Stewart, said. “His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well. I can say Wanda Cooper and Marcus Arbery were very, very relieved to see this arrest finally take place. Not only have we been waiting since the McMichaels were arrested, they have been waiting for three months for all three of these men to be brought into custody,” Merritt said.
Bryan was booked into the Glynn County Jail, where the McMichaels are being held on charges of murder and aggravated assault. The father and son’s legal teams have said the full details of the case haven’t made it into the public arena, and they’ve promised the truth will exonerate their clients.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the country’s largest meatpacking workers’ union, is condemning the reopening of 14 meatpacking plants under a recent executive order by the US Administration.  The union is calling for CDC coronavirus safety guidelines to be made mandatory, as at least 30 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 and over 10,000 have been exposed to or infected by the coronavirus. The industry work practices under normal circumstances tend to put workers in close proximity to each other, working at high speed as they cut up animal carcasses.

The pandemic caused at least 30 meatpacking plants to temporarily close over the past two months, resulting in a 40% drop in pork production capacity and a 25% drop in beef production capacity, the union said.  The U.S. Agriculture Department said 14 plants that had closed due to outbreaks of the virus were in the process of reopening this week.  The 14 plants included a Smithfield Foods Inc pork facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that started operating on May 7 and another in Waterloo, Iowa, that Tyson Foods said earlier in the week would resume limited operations.  The agriculture department also said meat facilities operated by JBS USA [JBS.UL] in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and six other Tyson plants were reopening.

UFCW has previously said more protective equipment and testing would be required to open the plants.  But as plants reopened without these measures in place, UFCW International President Marc Perrone criticized the decision.  “Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.  Since the executive order was announced, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants.”

Health guidelines issued by CDC and OSHA to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in slaughterhouses includes face coverings, health training in multiple languages, and more distancing between workers. Processing lines in meat plants typically run at high speeds, with employees eviscerating animals inches apart from each other. Slowing lines down and spreading workers out will undoubtedly increase the cost of producing meat, but Perry says it’s a small price to pay to protect their lives.  CDC is also asking meat plants to do away with the contentious practice of offering “attendance bonuses,” in which companies offer hundreds of dollars of incentives to workers on the condition that they don’t miss their shifts.

The common criticism of OSHA and CDC’s Covid-19 guidance to meatpackers is that it’s entirely optional. This has resulted in an inconsistent patchwork of protections by plant and by state which leaves workers at risk for other outbreak.  Unions are asking for standardized workplace protections against airborne diseases like Covid-19.  Such requirements wouldn’t be without precedent.  In 2010, following the H1N1 pandemic, OSHA began to draft mandatory guidelines to reduce the spread of viruses that spread through air and respiratory droplets.  That rulemaking was finalized in 2017 but was halted during the change in US Administration.

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Two Men Arrested in Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

Two Men Arrested in Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

 

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Two months after the February shooting death of 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery, and just two days after video of the shooting was released to the public, the two men who gunned him down while he was jogging were arrested and charged for murder. The men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were each charged with murder and aggravated assault and booked into a jail in coastal Glynn County, Ga., where the killing took place. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in a news release, stated that it was Travis McMichael who shot and killed Mr. Arbery on Feb. 23.
The details of Mr. Arbery’s killing — and the fact that no one had been arrested in the months since it happened — led to a wave of outrage nationwide. Public pressure for an arrest intensified with the release of the video. The video of the shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man, Travis McMichael, standing beside its open driver’s-side door with a rifle in his hand. Gregory McMichael is standing in the bed of the pickup. Mr. Arbery runs around the other side of the truck to avoid Travis McMichael. As Travis approaches the front of his truck, muffled shouting can be heard before Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.
It’s during this struggle that Arbery was shot a point blank range by Travis McMichael. Arbery then attempts to run away but collapses face down in the street. Gregory, a retired Glynn County police officer, and his son Travis both claim they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest when they followed Arbery after seeing him enter a home under construction 2 doors down from their home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in break-ins and burglaries in the area despite no reports of any in the neighborhood.
The owner of the home said nothing has ever been taken from the property but people have entered before. He released dozens of surveillance videos of people entering the property including one of Arbery from minutes before he was shot. Arbery was inside the home for less than 3 minutes looking around before he exits to continue his run. The additional videos show many other people entering the property to look around, including neighborhood kids and a couple who entered the same day Arbery was killed but no other trespassers were confronted.
The Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr formally requested the intervention of the FBI in the case to investigate the killing after there were reports that Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said that no arrests should be made in the case and recused herself from further involvement in the case because Gregory McMichael had previously worked as an investigator in her office. The GBI found probable cause to charge Gregory and Travis McMichael within 36 hours of taking the case, and, on May 7, arrested the pair on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels were booked into the Glynn County Jail and were denied bond the following day.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and federal authorities to look into how local prosecutors possibly held crucial evidence of Arbery’s killing and refused to make arrests, as more than two months passed before the attackers were arrested. The Brunswick police reportedly had a copy of the shocking video but no arrests were made until 2 days after it was released to the public by a lawyer the McMichaels consulted with but did not retain.

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