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Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks is Charged, Must Surrender

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Former Atlanta police officer, Garrett Rolfe, was charged Wednesday with 11 counts related to the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, 27, last Friday night, June 12.

Rolfe was called to the scene of an Atlanta Wendy’s drive-thru because Brooks was asleep at the wheel in the drive-thru line. He and Officer Devin Brosnan spent over 45 minutes speaking with Brooks, a black man and father of 3, before they attempted to arrest him for driving under the influence. As the officer tried to cuff him, Brooks resisted, got into a scuffle with the two officers, wrestled a taser from one, then fled the scene, at which point he was shot twice in the back by Rolfe. 

Almost immediately, witnesses on-scene and activists in the hours following the shooting called for the APD officers’ immediate termination and indictment. Protesters remembered Brooks by hitting the streets with renewed vigor amidst ongoing protests related to the death of George Floyd, the unjust murders of Black people while in police custody, and systemic racism in America as whole.

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On Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Jr. announced felony murder, aggravated assault, and other charges against Rolfe. According to DA Howard, the state contends that because Brooks was running away from Rolfe at the time of the shooting, he posed no imminent bodily threat and that Rolfe actually committed a felony – assault – when he shot into Brooks’ back. Further punctuating Georgia’s case, video of the fatal encounter shows Rolfe initially chasing Brooks with his taser, a non-lethal weapon. As he runs toward Brooks, who is holding Officer Brosnan’s taser by now, he switches his taser from his right hand to his left and reaches for his service weapon.

Less than a second after Rolfe reaches for his gun, Brooks turns around and fires the taser he’s carrying into the air. Then, the officer fires his gun 3 times in Brooks direction, striking him twice in the back. How could the officer have been in fear of his life before Brook even fired the taser at him? 

The district attorney also revealed Rolfe kicked Brooks after Brooks fell from being shot in the back and said “I got him.” Officer Brosnan stood on Brooks’ shoulders as he lay dying from being shot. Neither provided medical assistance for more than two minutes following the shooting – going against APD policy.

After the announcement of the charges, DA Howard told reporters former officer Rolfe would have until 6:00PM EST Thursday to surrender himself to law enforcement custody. 

At the time of this reporting, Garrett Rolfe has not yet surrendered himself into custody.

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Detective Involved in Breonna Taylor’s Murder Fired

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On Friday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the Louisville Metro Police Department’s intention to terminate Brett Hankison, one of the three Louisville Metro Police officers who shot into Breonna Taylor’s apartment while she and her boyfriend slept, killing her. 

In a memo to Hankison, interim police chief Robert Schroeder called the officer’s actions on the night of the shooting a display of “an extreme indifference to the value of human life when [he] wantonly and blindly fired ten round into the apartment.”

While both the mayor and the police chief cited a state law which prevented them from going into specifics about why the decision to fire Hankison was made, Chief Schroeder wrote in his memo:

“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. You have never been trained by the Louisville Metro Police Department to use deadly force in this fashion. Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department….I have the utmost confidence in my decision to terminate your employment for the best interest for the Louisville Metro Police Department and our community.”

Friday’s announcement comes on the 25th-straight day of nationwide uprisings against the unjust killings of Black Americans at the hands of the police. Critics argue Hankison’s firing doesn’t go far enough in getting justice for Breonna Taylor, with many calling for the immediate termination of the other two officers involved and criminal indictments against all three.

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove – the two other officers who shot into Taylor’s apartment – are on administrative reassignment while the department investigates.

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Trump Administration Cuts Protections for Transgender Americans

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On Friday, the Trump administration announced it would be rolling back an Obama-era rule protecting transgender Americans from discrimination in health care. 

Under the Obama administration, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act expanded the definition of sex discrimination to include discrimination based on one’s gender identity. Under a revised version of the rule, the Department of Health and Human Services will enforce Section 1557 “by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology” beginning in mid-August. In other words, doctors and insurance companies receiving funding from the Fed can legally refuse any patient needing transition-related medical care.

Of course, as quickly as the rule was finalized, many LGBTQ+ organizations including the ACLU,announced intentions to sue the Trump administration over this new language. “The Trump admin has issued a rule that will embolden health care discrimination against transgender people.. All while a global pandemic is occurring.” said the ACLU in a tweet. 

Forget a global pandemic, ACLU. Friday’s announcement came on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, a mass shooting at a popular Florida gay nightclub that left 49 people and the shooter dead.

President Trump has made it clear how he feels about the nearly 1.4 million transgender people in this country, his fellow Americans – he doesn’t feel anything.

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Donald Trump to Host Rally in Tulsa,OK on Junteenth

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Yes, you read that right. Donald Trump is returning to the 2020 campaign trail with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th. It’s hard to say that this is just a coincidence when both the day and location mark significant times in Black history.

Tulsa, Oklahoma was the home of the Black Wall Street Massacre in 1921 where a white mob looted and burned businesses. According to Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, it’s believed that as many as 300 people died from that travesty.

June 19th (Juneteenth) is also an important day in Black history because it celebrates the official end of slavery in the United States.

We can’t ignore how calculated this is for Trump have his first rally since COVID-19 here. Especially with race being a hot topic in the country as we speak with #BlackLiveMatter at the forefront.

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