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NY Congressional Primaries Could Produce as Many as Three New Black Members

We won’t have official counts in these races until June 30th because of the extensive use of mail-in “pandemic” ballots, but the two incumbent Congressional Black Caucus members from New York appear to be marked safe. Rep. Gregory Meeks handily defeated his opponent, Shaniyat Chowdhury, in the 5th Congressional District, which is mainly based in southeastern Queens with a tiny part of Long Island's Nassau County. Yvette Clarke barely won two years ago, edging Adem Bunkeddeko by 1,800 votes, but appears to have trounced him in the June 23rd primary. Early results in two other races show that New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres and progressive lawyer Mondaire Jones are each in a strong position to win their primaries. Both candidates are running in districts viewed as Democratic strongholds; if they win come November, Torres and Jones would be the first openly gay Black members of Congress. Torres would also be the first openly gay Afro-Latino congressman. As we reported earlier, Jamaal Bowmann appears to have defeated long-term incumbent Eliot Engel in the 16th District of New York. LeBron James Launches Voting Rights Initiative: Basketball star LeBron James and a number of black athletes and celebrities are creating a voting rights non-profit aimed at encouraging Black people to vote and combating voter suppression. More Than A Vote will initially be funded by James and his business manager, Maverick Carter, while ESPN commentator Jalen Rose as well as current basketball stars Trae Young and Skylar Diggins-Smith are also involved in the organization. The nonprofit will team up with voting rights groups to register Black voters and James said he will use his large social media following to draw attention to efforts to suppress the vote of racial minorities. The Latest on Justice for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd: On June 24, the three men accused of the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery were indicted by a Glynn County grand jury. Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William R. Bryan were each charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal intent to commit false imprisonment. The men could face up to life imprisonment without parole. On June 23, the Louisville Metro Police Department announced that Brett Hankison, one of the three police officers responsible for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, had been terminated, effective immediately. A letter written by interim Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder indicated that Hankison violated standard operating procedure when his “actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired ten rounds” into Taylor’s apartment. The other involved officers remain on administrative leave; no formal charges have been filed against any of the officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death. Hankison has 10 days to appeal the termination. On June 19, eight persons of color who work as correctional officers in Minnesota filed a discrimination lawsuit with the state’s Department of Human Rights alleging they were barred from guarding or being on the same floor as Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd. Superintendent Steve Lydon of the Ramsey County Jail, where the alleged incident occurred, stated he “had an immediate duty to protect and support employees who may have heightened ongoing trauma by having to deal with Chauvin.” The attorney for the eight accusers indicated her clients “never asked for protection” and they felt “humiliated and debased” as though they weren’t trusted by their supervisors. Lydon’s responsibilities have been modified and an interim supervisor installed while the sheriff’s office reviews the allegations. George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Passes the House, Families of Police Killings Approve: In a largely party-line vote of 236:181, the House passed sweeping policing reform legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Just three Republicans broke rank with their party to support it: Reps. Thomas Massey (KY-4), Rep. Andy Harris (MD-1), and Rep. Warren Davidson (OH-8). Senate leaders have already signaled they have no intention of bringing the bill up for consideration in the Senate. The bill’s passage comes a day after Democrats blocked a motion to proceed on a Senate Republican bill perceived as weak leaving both parties at odds over solutions to address systemic injustice in law enforcement. Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and John Crawford, Jr., father of John Crawford III, released the following joint statement in support of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, legislation to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and build trust between law enforcement and our communities: “The unjust killing of a loved one, especially at the hands of law enforcement, is a pain too many families have been forced to endure. We are proud to support this effort because it’s the right thing to do. From banning chokeholds to eliminating no-knock warrants, this bill will hold officers accountable to the communities they serve and compel them to have a guardian mentality, not a warrior mentality. In the valiant pursuit of justice, this is a strong step in the right direction.” Trump Asks SCOTUS to Kill Obamacare: The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare yesterday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the move as “an act of unfathomable cruelty” during the pandemic. A new Fox poll shows that 56% of Americans have a favorable view of Obamacare. SBA To Allow Justice- Involved Small Business Owners To Access PPP: On Wednesday, the agency issued new rules that will allow small business owners with pending misdemeanor charges as well as individuals on probation or parole for older crimes to access PPP Loans. As of last Saturday, the PPP program had more than $100 billion in unclaimed funds that eligible small business owners can apply to receive by June 30th. To date, more than 4.7 million companies have received PPP loans, totaling more than $516.5 billion. GAO Report Finds Significant Risk of Fraud in PPP Implementation: The report cites a number of issues with the Treasury & SBA’s implementation of the program that led to this finding, including confusing rules, lack of sufficient guardrails, and a haste to get money to businesses without certifying whether companies were eligible for the small business loans. These issues were compounded by new rules issued by both agencies that nullified or amended previous rules after the program had been launched, leaving borrowers and lenders further confused and increasing the likelihood that funds would be misused. Justice for Breonna Taylor! Breonna Taylor was an award-winning emergency medical technician from Louisville, Kentucky. On March 13, the reckless and excessive actions of three Louisville police officers executing a “no knock” warrant on the wrong home, cut her promising life short. Now nearly 3 months later, no charges have been filed against the officers involved. Despite the absence of arrests, there have been some recent wins for the side of justice: • May 28, the FBI announced it would open an investigation of Breonna’s case; • May 29, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer suspended the use of “no knock” warrants by the Louisville Metro Police Department; • June 2, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad was fired for continued police misconduct leading to the death of local businessman David McAtee who was attending a protest for Breonna; and • June 3, Louisville Mayor Fischer announced he is seeking an independent firm to conduct a “top to bottom” review of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Let’s continue to apply pressure to get the three officers directly involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor off the streets! Send an email AND Tweet to KY Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer demanding swift justice for Breonna Taylor using this link: (Don’t forget to share the campaign on Facebook and Twitter!) Tell the DOJ: “We Will Not Rest with an Arrest…We Demand Justice for Ahmaud!” ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The lethal use of force against African Americans on “suspicion” of any crime MUST END! Because the state of Georgia is one of four U.S. states without a hate crimes statute, we are calling on U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the career officials of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to move swiftly to investigate the unnecessary killing of Ahmaud Arbery as a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. #ArrestIsNotEnough! Contact the Department of Justice TODAY and demand #JusticeforAhmaud! When you are done, make sure your SHARE this campaign link with others in your community and social media networks! Campaign Link: Get Families Connected: Urge Congress to include the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 [H.R. 6563] in the fourth COVID-19 Relief package is now LIVE! Please take a moment TODAY to send an email to your Senators and Representatives in the House. News & Political Action from Clint Odom, Executive Director, Washington Bureau, National Urban League.

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