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Tensions Escalate at Lockdown Protests Across the U.S.



  • Protestors across the country have continued to call for an end to stay-at-home measures.
  • In Michigan, some armed protesters took to the capital in a move that was criticized by state leaders; however, President Donald Trump expressed support for these demonstrators.
  • Others in Chicago, Illinois made headlines after one demonstrator held a sign with a Nazi slogan on it, meanwhile, protests in Sacramento, California led to 32 arrests.
  • Roughly 1,000 people attended the Sacramento protest, but polls indicate these people hold the minority opinion in California as 70% of the state think lockdowns should continue.

Michigan Protests

Protests against coronavirus lockdown measures all over the country have led to high tensions between those who think it’s time for states to reopen, and others who think these demonstrations put public health in jeopardy. 

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer denounced armed protesters who gathered in the state’s Capitol building. Whitmer claimed that some of the demonstrators at Thursday’s rally were carrying signs with racist imagery while calling for the stay-at-home order to end.

“There were swastikas and confederate flags and nooses and people with assault rifles,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Whitmer said that these people were not representative of her state, which is largely listening to public health officials’ advice of staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

“Some of the outrageousness of what happened at our capitol this week depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country,” she also added.

Other state leaders also spoke out against the protestors’ choice to bear arms during their rally. State Sen. Dayna Polehanki said that some of her colleagues dawned on bulletproof vests as men with rifles yelled at them inside the building. 

On the other hand, President Donald Trump called the protesters, many of whom showed support for him at the demonstrations, “very good people.” He also said that Gov. Whitmer should hear them out. 

Outrage in Chicago

Michigan was not the only state to stir controversy with protests against lockdown measures. In Chicago, Illinois a viral photo depicting a woman holding a sign with a Nazi slogan caused outrage.

The German phrase translates to, “work will set you free.” The sign was quickly criticized by the Auschwitz Memorial, which said the phrase was a “false, cynical illusion” given to the prisoners of Auschwitz.

“Those words became one of the icons of human hatred,” the memorial explained. “It’s painful to see this symbol instrumentalized & used again to spread hate. It’s a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration.”

Sacramento Protests

Protests in Sacramento, California also made headlines after they resulted in 32 arrests on Friday. Reports indicate that around 1,000 people attended. While the events started off peacefully, demonstrators ended up clashing with the California Highway Patrol. 

In April, California banned protests at the state capitol, an order that these protestors did not comply with. CHP ordered the protesters to disperse. As this became increasingly difficult and many refused, they began to detain protesters. 

The protest was organized in part by a movement called #ReopenCalifornia. On a website promoting protests in the state, they claim to be “a non-political group of citizens who believe our rights are being violated by the Coronavirus “Shelter In” Process.” 

“We want to go back to work in order to support our lives and the lives of our families,” the website adds. The group believes that the coronavirus has not hit the state hard enough to warrant these measures. The virus has infected over 55,000 people in California and caused over 2,200 deaths. 

These protesters do appear to be in the minority opinion of the state. A recent poll of California voters suggests that most want officials to be cautious and take their time when it comes to ending restrictions.  The poll found that 70% fear that if stay at home orders end too soon, the disease will spread further. On the other side, only 30% are concerned that the orders will last too long and hurt the economy. 

See what others are saying: (SacBee) (NBC News) (Chicago Tribune)


Couple Slammed Over Slavery-Themed Pre-Wedding Photoshoot



Many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left completely dumbfounded by the entire ordeal.

Photoshoot Goes Viral

A couple has come under fire after sharing images on Instagram from their slavery-themed pre-wedding photoshoot.

The photos show a Black man in shackles looking deeply into his white fiancé’s eyes before she works to releases him.

1842. Days passed and everything changed, our love got stronger and stronger, he was no longer a slave, he was part of the family,” the post’s caption reads.

To indicate his transition from “slave” to family, a fourth image shows him wearing a long coat and top hat with well-shined shoes, as opposed to the white shirt, trousers, and straw hat he wore in the previous images.

Social Media Users React

It’s not immediately clear who these people are since the social media handle is redacted in the images circulating online.

Still, many have expressed outrage at the duo for trying to romanticize slavery while others were left just completely dumbfounded by this entire ordeal. Some also directed criticism at the photographer who agreed to the shoot, along with the hundreds of Instagram users who liked the original posts.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Dot) (Black Enterprise) (BET)

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Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked CA Wildfire Hit With 30 Charges, Including Involuntary Manslaughter



The fire, which caused massive damage and took months to extinguish, also killed the head of an elite firefighting team.

Gender Reveal Sparks Deadly Wildfire

A couple whose gender reveal party sparked the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California earlier this year has pleaded not guilty after they were hit with 30 charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez triggered the fire in Yucaipa on Sept. 5 with a smoke bomb that exploded in especially dry and hot conditions.

By the time the fire was extinguished in November, it had burned over 22,000 acres of land, injured more than a dozen people, forced hundreds of evacuations, and destroyed at least 10 structures.

The blaze also took the life of 39-year-old Charlie Morton, the leader of an elite firefighting team who worked as a firefighter for 18 years.

“He’s fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he’s there,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference.

Charges Include Involuntary Manslaughter

Authorities have charged the couple responsible for the wildfire with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to the property of another.

The charges were filed after a grand jury heard 34 witness interviews over four days. A total of 434 exhibits were ultimately presented to the grand jury, leading to the indictment that was unsealed Tuesday.

After entering their not guilty pleas, the duo was released on their own recognizance until their next scheduled court date. CBS Los Angeles reported that they could face up to 20 years each if convicted as charged.

“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” Anderson explained at the press conference.

He also stressed that part of the reason the investigation and ultimate prosecution took so long was because authorities wanted to make sure justice was fully served.

“Given the scope and the impact of the El Dorado Fire on the land and lives of so many, particularly Charles Morton and his family, it was imperative that every investigation be completed within both federal and state agencies to provide a full, fair presentation to the members of our community,” he said.

See what others are saying: (CNN)(CBS)(NBC)

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Los Angeles County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Rising Cases



The renewed restrictions for the nation’s largest county come as coronavirus infections have been spiking across America, with new cases doubling in the last two weeks.

L.A. County Masks Up, Again

Starting Saturday, Los Angeles County will require people to wear face masks indoors again regardless of vaccination status as the nation’s most populous county grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases.

In a press conference Thursday, L.A. County health officials pointed to low vaccination rates, a steady climb in new infections, and the rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant as driving factors behind the decision.

“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

Without providing full details, Davis said there would be some exceptions to the restrictions, including people being allowed to take off their masks while eating and drinking at restaurants.

The move comes as community transmission in the county has skyrocketed since June 15, when California reopened its economy and ended capacity limits, along with social distancing guidelines.

For the week-long period ending on that date, L.A. County had averaged 173 new coronavirus cases a day. Exactly one month later, those numbers have increased by nearly 580%, with the county reporting an average of 1,176 infections a day for the seven-day period ending July 15.

On Thursday, officials logged over 1,537 more cases — the highest figure since early March. Around 70% of COVID samples in the county from June 27 to July 3 were identified as delta variants.

Notably, the vast majority of those impacted have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus. According to reports, between Dec. 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people made up 99.6% of L.A. County’s COVID cases, 98.7% of hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.

Only five million of the more than 10 million residents in the county have been inoculated against the virus.

Cases Surge Across U.S.

L.A. County is not the only locality that has seen a spike in COVID cases, though it is one of the few that has taken firm action.

New cases largely driven by the delta variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now accounts for nearly 60% of all infections in the U.S., have more than doubled in the last two weeks, according to The New York Times tracker.

The 14-day average has risen dramatically from 12,799 on July 1 to 28,315 on July 15.

According to The Times, 49 states have seen at least a 15% increase over the past 14 days, and 19 of those states are reporting double or more the number of new infections. Full outbreaks, largely concentrated in the South, have emerged in a number of states with low vaccination rates.

In the last two weeks, Arkansas, which is currently reporting the highest per capita COVID cases in America, has seen increases of 120% for new cases and 77% for hospitalizations. Florida and Tennesee have seen the most significant 14-day spikes in terms of population percentage, reporting surges of 232% and 373% respectively.

Some states and counties have begun to make additional safety recommendations. Officials in Mississippi, where cases have risen over 70% since July 1, have urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated senior residents to avoid large indoor gatherings.

Health officials in California’s Sacramento and Yolo counties also issued voluntary warnings this week for all residents to wear masks while indoors.

However, it remains to be seen whether more localities will reimpose mandatory requirements or restrictions as cases continue to swell and the delta variant proliferates. 

Rising cases in the U.S. and abroad also pose a more long-term threat to global efforts to fight the pandemic. On Thursday, the World Health Organization warned that the influx of new cases in many parts of the world will enhance the likelihood of more severe variants emerging that will be difficult to control with vaccinations.

The WHO also urged wealthier countries like the U.S. — where just over 50% of people are vaccinated despite the existence of supplies for all those eligible  — to send more jabs overseas.

See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)

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