7 Things: Police reform executive order signed, UAB doctors want you to wear a mask, COVID-19 numbers climbing and more …
7. Virginia governor looking to make Juneteenth a holiday
- Virginia “Governor Blackface” Ralph Northam has announced that he will move to make Juneteenth an official state holiday, which is celebrated on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery.
- Juneteenth was recently in headlines as President Donald Trump had a campaign rally scheduled for that day in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but the rally has since been moved. Recently in Virginia, Northam also announced that they had removed the statue of Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond.
6. Voting restrictions changing ahead of July 14 runoff
- U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon has issued a preliminary injunction to limit some of the restrictions placed on absentee voting, limiting enforcement of the requirement for two witnesses or a notary and providing a photo ID copy.
- The ruling will also prevent some restrictions on curbside voting at polling places. A senior counsel of the Legal Defense Fund, Deuel Ross, said they’re “happy that the Court removed Alabama’s needless barriers to voting and that many tens of thousands of vulnerable people will now have a safe means of voting in July.”
5. Renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge
- In Selma, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a U.S. Senator, leader in the Confederacy and white supremacist, might be renamed after a petition has already been signed by more than 114,000 people to change the name.
- The petition requests that the bridge be renamed after U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), who was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and was one of the organizers for the Selma to Montgomery March. Lewis was beaten by Alabama State Troopers during the march and suffered a fractured skull.
4. Brooks isn’t pleased with recent SCOTUS decision
- The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that LGBTQ people will be protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects them from discrimination due to gender identity or sexual orientation. U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said that was “the dumbest I’ve read” of SCOTUS decisions.
- On Twitter, Brooks posted his thoughts on the issue, saying, “There is a difference between SEX (over which person has NO control) & CONDUCT (over which person has TOTAL control). In a Republic, ELECTED reps make law. APPOINTED judges interpret law. Bad.” When asked about the issue, Brooks said that it’s a “POLICY matter decided by ELECTED representatives IN A REPUBLIC.”
3. Positive test rates increasing in the state
- One of the coronavirus testing clinics in Huntsville, Thrive Alabama, has started reporting much higher positive rates in recent weeks, but the amount of people they’ve tested has stayed mostly the same. Thrive CEO Mary Elizabeth Marr is contributing this to the state reopening and “people are not social distancing, they are not wearing masks.”
- The amount of positive tests coming back had been 3% and then jumped to 14%, which led Marr to notify Mayor Tommy Battle, Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers and Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson. Marr said that we just have to wait and “see what happens this week,” but she’s hoping people take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
2. UAB wants you to wear a mask, Montgomery doesn’t require it
- The Jefferson County Health Officer and doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham addressed a spike in coronavirus cases across the state, and they’re encouraging everyone to wear masks as hospitalizations increase. Director of UAB Division of Infectious Disease Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said this is not part of a second wave because “we never stopped having the first wave.”
- In Montgomery, the city council debated a mandatory mask ordinance but could not get support to pass it, so they settled on an official request that citizens wear masks. Councilman Brantley Lyons stated, “At the end of the day, if an illness or a pandemic comes through we do not throw our constitutional rights out the window.”
1. Police reform executive order signed
- In a new executive order on police reform that President Donald Trump has signed, “chokeholds will be banned except if an officer’s life is at risk.” While speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump added, “We’re united by our desire to ensure peace and dignity and equality for all Americans.” The order also creates a federal database of police officers with a history of using excessive force and encourages the use of social workers and individuals trained in mental health issues for non-violent calls.
- While speaking about those who have lost loved ones at the hands of police officers unjustly, Trump promised that “your loved ones will not have died in vain.”