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March 12, 2021 at 3:32 pm #1204113979
Minneapolis reaches settlement with George Floyd’s family for record $27M
BY MARTY JOHNSON – 03/12/21 02:04 PM EST
The city of Minneapolis has settled a civil suit with the family of George Floyd for a record $27 million.
The settlement was unanimously approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday. It’s the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in American history.
“When George Floyd was horrifically killed on May 25, 2020, it was a watershed moment for America,” Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the Floyd family, said at a press conference with city Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and members of Floyd’s family on Friday afternoon. “It was one of the most egregious and shocking documentations of an American citizen being tortured to death by a police officer…having his knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.”
Crump filed the civil complaint last July against Minneapolis and the four police officers who were involved with Floyd’s death, arguing that the police department had “frequently” failed “to terminate or discipline officers who demonstrate patterns of misconduct.”
As captured by graphic cellphone footage, Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after Floyd was unconscious. Floyd pleaded with Chauvin multiple times, saying that he couldn’t breathe before becoming unresponsive; he was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
At least $500,000 of the payment will go to revitalizing the 38th St. & Chicago Ave. community where Floyd was fatally restrained.
The killing sparked the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter movement, with nationwide protests calling for police reform and the end to systemic racism dominating last summer.
During his remarks, Crump said history will judge the “power of our actions,” noting he and Floyd’s family are “grateful” for the reforms that Minneapolis has already taken.
Since Floyd’s death, Minneapolis has implemented multiple policing changes, including the prohibition of chokeholds, an overhaul of its use of force policy and no longer allowing officers to turn off their body cams while responding to a call.
The city council in December also decided to cut $8 million from the police department’s budget, opting to use the funds for violence prevention and other social services.
The settlement comes as the criminal case for Chauvin, who is standing trial for Floyd’s murder, began jury selection this week.
He faces counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Six jurors have been selected so far for the high-profile case.
The other former officers who were on the scene–J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao–all face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Their joint trial is slated to start in August.
Last week, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was first introduced in June following Floyd’s death.
If signed into law, the legislation would overhaul national policing standards on several levels.
Racial profiling at every level of law enforcement would be prohibited; chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants would be banned at the federal level; qualified immunity for officers would be overhauled and a national police misconduct registry would be created so officers who were fired for such discretions could not be hired by another police department.
Although the bill would not technically ban certain reforms such as chokeholds at a state and local level, it would tie in the new federal standards as thresholds for police departments to meet if they wanted to continue receiving federal aid.
While police reform is not a partisan issue, the bill received no Republican support in the House and is expected to face stiff opposition in the evenly split Senate.April 5, 2021 at 10:21 am #1204179670
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K Dick Blade RunnerApril 7, 2021 at 4:34 pm #1204184936
Scott Rudin accused of creating a hostile working environment, allegations include accusations of racism and sexismApril 9, 2021 at 10:15 am #1204188282
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dead at 99
by Max Foster, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Luke McGee, CNN
Updated 1:08 PM ET, Fri April 9, 2021
London (CNN) Prince Philip, the lifelong companion of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history, died at the age of 99 on Friday.
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.
The death of the duke comes after a period of poor health. Philip spent a month in two London hospitals, where he was treated for an infection and underwent heart surgery, before being discharged in mid-March.
Philip’s funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, “in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the College of Arms, which oversees many ceremonial aspects of the royal family’s work, said in a statement Friday.
The statement added that the duke would not have a state funeral, and that the funeral would not be proceeded by a lying-in-state.
“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral,” the statement added.
More details on funeral arrangements are expected to be confirmed by Buckingham Palace on Saturday, according to a royal source.
The royal family joined the British government in asking the public to not gather at the royal residences, in light of coronavirus restrictions, and “make a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of The Duke of Edinburgh.”
An online condolences book has been launched on the family’s official website for those who wish to leave messages, Buckingham Palace said.
The College of Arms also gave details for the period of mourning, stating that all “official flags, including the Union Flag, will be flown at half-mast from now until 08:00 on the day following the funeral.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the duke, saying that he’d “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world.”
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement: “Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family. The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the Armed Forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired.”April 20, 2021 at 10:06 am #1204211257
Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93
BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL 04/19/21 08:59 PM EDT
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who was also the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, died on Monday at the age of 93.
Kathy Tunheim, a spokesperson for the family, confirmed the former vice president’s death in an email to The Hill. Axios first reported the news of Mondale’s death.
According to Tunheim, Mondale died peacefully of natural causes at his home in downtown Minneapolis at 7:21 p.m. while surrounded by his immediate family.
Prior to serving as vice president during former President Carter’s single term in the White House, Mondale represented Minnesota in the Senate for 12 years. Before that, he was Minnesota’s attorney general for four years. Mondale also held a post in the Clinton administration, serving as ambassador to Japan.
Mondale was the recipient of many calls and messages from friends and current and former public officials in his final days, according to Tunheim.
Axios on Monday evening reported that Mondale spoke with President Biden, Vice President Harris, former presidents Carter and Clinton, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) by phone on Sunday as his health was fading. He also spoke to his friend and former campaign staffer Tom Cosgrove.
According to Axios, Mondale sent a final goodbye email to 320 staffers, spanning more than four decades, to express how much they meant to him, adding that he knew that they would keep up “the good fight.”
“Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side! Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight,” Mondale wrote, according to Axios, which obtained a copy of the email.
“Joe in the White House certainly helps,” Mondale continued before signing the note from “Fritz.”
The message, Axios noted, was prepared to be sent upon his death.
Cosgrove told Axios that Mondale was relieved after Biden won over former President Trump in the 2020 election, telling Axios that “there was a difference after the inauguration–a letting go” and adding that “there was a big exhale of relief.”
Mondale made history during his time in politics. He became the first major-party candidate to select a female running mate, tapping former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro to join him on the Democratic ticket.
Additionally, Mondale was the first vice president to have an office in the White House, leading to unprecedented, frequent access to the president, according to the Wilson Center.
Mondale was married to his wife, Joan Mondale, from 1955 until her death in 2014. He is survived by his two sons, Ted and William Mondale, in addition to a brother and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Eleanor.April 20, 2021 at 4:40 pm #1204211980
Derek Chauvin found guilty of all three charges for killing George Floyd
by Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper, CNN
Updated 7:13 PM ET, Tue April 20, 2021
Minneapolis (CNN) The former Minneapolis Police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes last year was found guilty Tuesday of all three charges against him in one of the most consequential trials of the Black Lives Matter era.
Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days in coming to their decision.
Wearing a mask inside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Chauvin had no apparent reaction to the guilty verdict. Afterward, his bail was revoked and he was placed in handcuffs and removed from the court through a side door.
The second-degree murder charge said Chauvin assaulted Floyd with his knee, which unintentionally caused Floyd’s death. The third-degree murder charge said Chauvin acted with a “depraved mind,” and the manslaughter charge said his “culpable negligence” caused Floyd’s death.
Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for manslaughter. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend about 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for the manslaughter charge. In this case, the state has asked for a tougher sentence than the recommendations provide. Chauvin’s sentencing is set for eight weeks from now.
The verdict comes about 11 months after excruciating bystander video showed Chauvin impassively kneeling on the neck and back of Floyd, handcuffed and lying prone on the street, for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020. Under the officer’s knees, the 46-year-old Black man gasped for air, repeatedly exclaimed “I can’t breathe” and ultimately went silent.
His final moments illustrated in clear visuals what Black Americans have long said about the ways that the criminal justice system dehumanizes Black people, setting off mass protests across the country as well as incidents of looting and unrest.
Over about three weeks of testimony in court, Minnesota prosecutors have repeatedly told jurors to “believe your eyes” and rely on that video.
“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes,” prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher said in closing arguments. “This wasn’t policing. This was murder.”
The defense called seven witnesses of its own–but not Chauvin himself, as he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that Chauvin’s use of force was reasonable, that he was distracted by hostile bystanders and that Floyd died of other causes.
Tears of joy in and out of court
In a first for Minnesota, the trial was broadcast live in its entirety to accommodate Covid-19 attendance restrictions, giving the public a rare look into the heart of the legal system.
Tensions have been high throughout the Twin Cities region, and authorities ramped up security in anticipation of a verdict. The Hennepin County Government Center has been surrounded by fencing and barricades since jury selection began in March. More than 3,000 Minnesota National Guard members have also been activated in the Twin Cities, while businesses in Minneapolis have boarded up windows.
But the all-guilty verdict led to cries of joy and sighs of relief among those in Minneapolis, including outside the Cup Foods store where Floyd took his final breath.
Inside court, Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, clasped his hands over his head in prayer as the verdict was read, according to pool reporters, including CNN’s Josh Campbell. During the third guilty verdict, his hands shook back and forth and he kept his head down and eyes closed as his head nodded up and down, the report said.
After court concluded, Philonise Floyd was seen crying as he hugged all four prosecutors.
“I was just praying they would find him guilty,” he explained. “As an African American, we usually never get justice.”
The Floyd family, the Rev. Al Sharpton, attorney Ben Crump, and other close allies called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in a post-verdict press conference that was in turns triumphant, joyous, relieved, and solemn.
“We frame this moment for all of us, not just George Floyd,” Crump said. “This is a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity, those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morals over immorality.”
For Philonise Floyd, who testified about his brother during the trial, the verdict was personal.
“I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity for, hopefully, getting some sleep,” he said. “A lot of days that I prayed and I hoped and I was speaking everything into existence. I said I have faith that he will be convicted.”
President Joe Biden on earlier Tuesday said he was praying for the “right” verdict in the case, noting that the evidence was “overwhelming.” After the verdict, he and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on the phone with the Floyd family and their attorneys, according to video posted by Crump.
“Nothing is going to make it all better,” Biden told them, but “at least now there’s some justice.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case, cautioned that the verdict was not the end of the road.
“I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice,” he said.
The nation’s largest police union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, also praised the trial as fair.
“Our system of justice has worked as it should, with the prosecutors and defense presenting their evidence to the jury, which then deliberated and delivered a verdict,” the statement read. “The trial was fair and due process was served. We hope and expect that all of our fellow citizens will respect the rule of law and remain peaceful tonight and in the days to come.”
Prosecutor says trial is “pro-police”
Prosecutors called 38 witnesses over the course of three separate phases of the trial.
First, bystanders at the scene testified about their fear and horror as they watched Floyd slowly die under Chauvin’s restraint. Next, a series of police supervisors and use-of-force experts–including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo–criticized Chauvin’s continued kneeling as excessive and unreasonable, particularly after Floyd had passed out, stopped breathing and had no pulse.
Finally, five separate medical experts explained that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen when Chauvin restricted his ability to breathe in what’s known as “positional asphyxia.”
In the state’s closing argument, Schleicher said Chauvin kneeled on Floyd for so long because of his pride and his ego in the face of concerned bystanders.
“He was not going to let these bystanders tell him what to do. He was going to do what he wanted, how he wanted, for as long as he wanted. And there was nothing, nothing they can do about it because he had the authority. He had the power, and the other officers, the bystanders were powerless,” he said. “He was trying to win, and George Floyd paid for it with his life.”
He contrasted Chauvin’s “ego-based pride” with the proper feelings of pride in wearing a police badge and praised policing as a noble profession. He insisted the state was prosecuting Chauvin individually–not policing in general.
“This is not an anti-police prosecution; it is a pro-police prosecution,” he said. “There is nothing worse for good police than bad police.”
In response, Nelson said Chauvin acted as a “reasonable officer” would in that situation and said there was no evidence he intentionally or purposefully used force that was unlawful.
“You have to take into account that officers are human beings, capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations,” Nelson said. “In this case, the totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be. This is reasonable doubt.”
The three other former officers on scene–Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao–are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They have pleaded not guilty, and their joint trial will be held this summer.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Josh Campbell, Omar Jimenez, Peter Nickeas, Brad Parks, and Sara Sidner contributed to this report.
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