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Georgia Court Sets Aside Immunity Ruling for 3 Deputies in Stun Gun Death

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After the death of 58-year-old Euree Lee Martin, three white Washington County deputies were indicted with the murder of the man. In 2018, the officers applied for immunity, which all three received. This decision is now being appealed by Georgia’s highest court.

What We Know:

  • Euree Lee Martin was approached by officers, Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott when a homeowner called the police to report Martin. In the call, it was never mentioned that Martin approached the homeowner to ask for some water. Instead, the homeowner said he wasn’t sure whether he was “crazy, drunk, or what”.
  • Martin was approached by Howell as he walked down a road in Deepstep, Georgia. When Martin refused to stop, Howell called back up. Copeland arrived and asked Martin to get off the road. They, then, walked out of view of the dash cam.
  • Officers Michael Howell, Henry Lee Copeland and Rhett Scott, who also responded to the call for back up, used stun guns on Martin out of view of the dash cam. Their testimonies stating that Martin was in a “defensive stance” were used to determine if the use of the stun guns was appropriate.
  • It was found that the court exaggerated truths in relation to appropriateness of self defense, did not use clear factual evidence of whether the officers had intention to kill Martin, and the lower court failed to review each deputy individually.
  • Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel wrote in the unanimous opinion, “We determine that, in granting immunity, the trial court made findings of material fact that were inconsistent with its legal conclusions regarding the deputies’ encounter with Martin.”
  • The case will be sent back to trial court where it will need to be determined if use of deadly force was appropriate, and if Martin was actually committing the crime of walking on the highway. If Martin was not walking on the highway, he would have had the right to resist arrest.

The case will be sent back to the low courts to review the facts pertinent to each officer individually.

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Coronavirus

Cuomo Wants New York to Buy Vaccine Directly from Pfizer

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The Governor of New York is seeking to buy the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. The company itself is already saying they won’t do it.

What We Know:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Trump Administration has failed to deliver enough COVID-19 vaccines to his state, so he wants to buy more doses directly from the manufacturer. Cuomo has asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla whether it would be possible to cut out the middle man. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility to more than 7 million New Yorkers from 5 million practically overnight, stated Cuomo said Monday in a letter to Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla. “No can do,” Pfizer replied.
  • The company said it’s open to collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a way that will allow the drugmaker to distribute its vaccine to as many Americans as possible quickly. It will still need the okay from the government to do so, according to Bloomberg. Pfizer told CNBC that model would first have to be cleared under the emergency use authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration for the drug’s use.
  • According to the most recent CDC figures, Trump had promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2020, but as of Monday, just 12.2 million had gotten their first dose. However, public health and chain supply experts said a shortage of vaccines isn’t the only reason it’s taking so long to get the shots into American arms.
  • The federal government has left the distribution details up to local governments, which were no match for the overwhelming demand. And federal guidelines meant to get the most vulnerable vaccinated first have reportedly resulted in thousands of doses going to waste.
  • New York has ramped up its vaccine administration over the past five weeks, from about 35,000 during the first week to 330,000 last week, the governor said. To date, more than 1 million doses have been administered. The state is in a footrace with the vaccination rate and the COVID-19 infection rate. The state’s positivity rate is down statewide, and the hospitalization rate is slowing. Still, new variants of the virus could bring another wave, Cuomo said.

The Government is urged to begin testing all international travelers immediately and to stop those coming from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil, where variants have emerged.

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Anonymous Donor Gives $40 Million to NAACP to Fund Education of 50 New Civil Rights Lawyers

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund just announced a new scholarship program created with the help of a single anonymous donor.

What We Know:

  • The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund announced on Monday that they would be introducing a new scholarship called the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program. The program aims to create 50 new civil rights lawyers funded by a single 40 million dollar donation.
  • The scholarship will pay the law school tuition for 50 scholars in exchange for an eight-year commitment towards racial justice work, specifically in the South. After graduating from law school, participants must spend their first two years working in a fellowship with the civil rights organization of their choice.
  • The program was named after Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Constance Baker Motley. Marshall founded the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1940 and became the first Black Supreme Court Justice in 1967. Motley served as Marshall’s law clerk, aiding him in Brown v. Board of Education’s ground-breaking case that outlawed segregation in public schools. Motley was later appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and became the first Black woman federal judge.
  • The NAACP chose Martin Luther King Day to announce the project to fight against racial injustice and increasing violence across the nation.
  • Reverend Bernice King showed her support in a statement saying, “Our country continues to be plagued with racial injustice, and we need Nonviolent Warriors who are prepared and equipped on all fronts to deal with it – especially on the legal front. It will allow the LDF to make greater strides on behalf of the Black community for generations to come in the area of racial justice, just as they did during the movement led by my parents.”

We remain hopeful for the future and look forward to seeing the strides these scholars will make in the fight for racial equality.

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Biden Inauguration: All 50 U.S. States on Alert for Armed Protests

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Barricades are being assembled around the US Capitol ahead of the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. EPA

All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) are on alert for possible violent protests this weekend, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

What We Know:

  • National Guard troops from across the country are being deployed to Washington, D.C. to prevent any repeat of the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6. The FBI has warned of possible armed marches by pro-Trump demonstrators at all 50 state capitols.
  • Trump, who lost both popular and electoral votes, encouraged his supporters to attend rallies. Later at the U.S. Capitol, throngs of people pushed past police who were trying to block them from entering the building as lawmakers inside debated counting electoral college votes confirming Biden’s victory. The mob was able to breach security and successfully enter the building, where one person was shot and later died.

  • Windows are boarded and fences are being constructed with hopes of preventing disturbances similar to those that played out at the Capitol building. One official in Vermont stated this is the highest alert his state has been on since the September 11 terror attacks. “There is a heightened state of alert and concern that we have not seen since 9/11,” Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling said.
  • While Vermont has not activated its National Guard, Schirling said they are ready if needed. Other states, like Kentucky, have already activated the National Guard. Connecticut has K9 teams conducting additional security lengths around government buildings and has increased the number of visible units inside and outside those campuses. Further, bike rails have been placed on the north and south sides of the Capitol building, forming a barricade between potential rioters and law enforcement.
  • The governors of Maryland, New Mexico, and Utah have all declared states of emergency ahead of possible protests. California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin are amongst those activating their National Guards, and Texas will shut its state capitol from Saturday until after inauguration day. Arizona has put up fences around the Capitol complex.
  • Social media companies have warned that there has been increased talks and organization from far-right users and channels planning possibly violent protests this weekend in hopes of obstructing the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
  • Parler is suing Amazon after the technology company booted the social network supported by the far-rights off its web-hosting services, alleging it’s being targeted for political reasons and to reduce competition.

“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter said late last week.

While many are plotting in support of President Donald Trump, the president released a statement earlier this week requesting his supporters not to be violent at upcoming protests. Twitter said it was working to restrict the spread of posts about possible violent protests planned for January 17.

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