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Former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields Resigns

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Erika Shields, Atlanta Police Chief of 3 years, resigns after a white officer fatally shoots a black man.

What We Know:

  • Shields, a former stockbroker in Boston, moved to Atlanta in 1994 and climbed the ranks of the Atlanta force after patrolling some of the city’s most impoverished communities. She was named chief in 2016, becoming the second woman and only openly LGBT person to lead the department. Shields successfully fought for pay raises for officers and leaned on programs that prioritized use of social services over imprisonment.
  • In January, Shields suspended police car chases, arguing that the risk to the officer, everyday people and the suspect outweighed the benefit of apprehension. Shields then sent a trove of data on Atlanta police chases over the past three years to the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit that studies policing techniques and trains law enforcement leaders, an action done by none of the prior police chiefs.
  • But as racial tensions rise, police brutality has become a major issue in the city of Atlanta and all over the nation. Previous outcries for Shields’ resignation came after two college students were tasered and forcibly removed from their car. Cries came to a high rise when the death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks made headlines in Atlanta, Georgia Friday, June 12, 2020.
  • Police were called to the nearing Wendy’s with reports that Brooks had fallen asleep in the drive-thru. Officers attempted to take Brooks into custody after a failed sobriety test but struggled with Brooks on the ground. Captured video from Wendy’s surveillance and bystanders, shows Brooks breaking free and escaping while aiming what was identified as a taser. Brooks continued to run and aim the taser at pursuing officers. Video footage then showed officer Rolfe aiming and firing his gun, and Brooks hitting the ground.
  • Following the death of Brooks, Police Chief Erika Shields decided to resign. Shields said in a statement, that she stepped aside, “for the community to build trust between law enforcement and the community it serves”. The police executive research director Chuck Wexler, stated that from a private conversation with Shields she, “just felt like this was the right thing to do, to step down, that it might help quell the anger in some ways if by her taking responsibility and stepping down.”
  • Brooks death followed weeks of protesting for the fatal shooting of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. The death of Brooks fueled the already blazing fire of police brutality. As the death of Brooks was released,  many felt as though Shields resigning wasn’t enough. Protestors set out to the Wendy’s where Brooks was shot, and burned it to the ground, while other demonstrator’s marched on interstate-75 demanding that Officer Rolfe be fired.

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated Saturday that Shields would not be fired but would be reassigned to a different position. Bottoms also stated that Shields was to be replaced by Deputy Chief Rodney Bryant. It was also announced that Officer Rolfe would be fired for the murder of Brooks.

As Atlanta makes strides to overcome these past chaotic weeks, The removal Police Chief Shields and the call for police reform has made many feel like there’s a glimpse of what can be called progression.

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Senate Prepares to Move Forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

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On Monday, the Senate pushed to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill just hours after its legislative language was completed and unveiled. Senators who created the proposal expect it to clear the upper chamber in the following days.

What We Know:

  • Senate negotiators completed the 2,702-page bill on Sunday night. The bill, known as H.R. 3684, aims to provide $550 billion to fund the nation’s roads, bridges, railways, and public transit systems.
  • Since then, the Senate began taking up two amendments to the proposal. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previewed three bipartisan amendments for consideration. Currently, it is uncertain how many amendments the Senate will consider. However, Schumer wants to vote on amendments quickly; he also noted that the first three “constitute only the first tranche of potential amendments.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell commented that H.R. 3684’s text lays out “a good and important jumping point for what needs to be a robust and bipartisan process” on the Senate floor. McConnell added that an “artificial timetable” must not affect the Senate’s “full consideration” of the bill.
  • On July 28, the bipartisan group of Senators and the White House reached an agreement on H.R. 3684’s details. Officials also voted 66-28 on the deal, which opened the package to potential changes during the amendment process. After this, Senators worked throughout the weekend to hammer out the legislative language.
  • If the Senate passes H.R. 3684, it will be a significant victory for President Joe Biden. A key proposal in his economic agenda, Biden boasted on the impact H.R. 3684 will hold on the nation. On Sunday, he tweeted that the deal is the most important investment in America’s public transit history. He additionally stated the bill will impact the U.S. just as much as the invention of the Amtrak 50 years ago.

If Congress approves H.R. 3684, it will ensure that Democrats may begin work on a $3.5 trillion proposal that focuses on Biden’s plans for childcare, healthcare, education, the environment, and possibly immigration. Doing so will ensure another success on Pres. Biden’s behalf.

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Coronavirus

Florida Breaks Record for COVID-19 Hospitalizations

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Florida recently saw 10,207 hospitalizations caused by coronavirus cases, the highest number since July 23, 2020.

What We Know:

  • On July 23, 2020, Florida reached a high of 10,170 hospitalizations, just six months before the COVID-19 vaccine became available. The new record makes Florida the leader in per capita hospitalizations for the virus.
  • Most of the new cases come from the highly contagious Delta variant. On average, Florida sees 1,525 adult and 35 children hospitalizations daily. In addition, Saturday revealed a peak in positive numbers, as the stated reported  21,683 occurrences of COVID-19. The day prior, the Sunshine State saw 17,093 cases.
  • Many hospital employees believed the excess hospitalizations would end soon because of an increase in vaccinations. However, the Delta variant changed all this. The Associated Press wrote that several hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic Florida and the UF Health North emergency room, needed to operate overcapacity and put beds in hallways to treat patients; the Mayo Clinic will continue to do so until the current surge ends. In Tampa, some local ambulances already needed to divert ambulances to other locations because of capacity concerns.
  • The higher numbers also are a direct result of a loosening of restrictions and a governor’s stubbornness. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis actively declares he will not enact any more mask mandates and vaccine requirements. Along with the state Legislature, this makes it difficult for local officials to impose restrictions that will ease the positive numbers.
  • Medical officials scorned DeSantis for his adamance on the issue. Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based vascular cardiologist and Florida State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, commented that the state would not be in its position now if DeSantis focused more on lowering cases than proving Dr. Anthony Fauci wrong. Gainesville infectious disease expert Dr. Frederick Southwick agreed with Ashby’s statement, saying that DeSantis needed to stop acting like “Florida won the pandemic.”

DeSantis recently announced that Florida would resist any federal authorities’ campaigns to enforce mask mandates inside schools despite the criticism.

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NY Attorney General: Gov. Cuomo harassed women, tried to retaliate against accuser

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NEW YORK — Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday announced the findings of her inquiry into accusations against Andrew Cuomo, concluding that the governor sexually harassed multiple women. James said victims included current and former employees, and that Cuomo tried to retaliate against at least one woman who came forward. Over 179 people were interviewed.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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