Connect with us

U.S.

Michigan Security Guard Shot and Killed After Telling a Customer to Wear a Mask

Published

on

  • Calvin Munerlyn, a Family Dollar security guard in Flint, MI., was shot and killed Friday after telling a customer she needed to wear a mask to shop in the store.
  • Local authorities announced Monday that they had charged three people allegedly involved in the incident with premeditated first-degree murder. While one person was arrested, two are still at large.
  • Tensions over mask policies also appear to exists outside of Michigan. In Stillwater, OK., city officials rolled back mask requirements just hours after enforcing the policy due to escalated threats of violence, including one shooting.

Michigan Guard Shot and Killed

Three people in Michigan were charged with first-degree murder on Monday after allegedly shooting and killing a security guard who told their family member they were required to wear a mask while shopping. 

The incident occurred in Flint on Friday when Family Dollar security guard Calvin Munerlyn told a woman she needed to wear a face mask to stay in the store. Notably, that woman then left and went back to her car; however, her mother—who was wearing a face mask—remained inside the store.

Calvin Munerlyn; Source: WJRT

The mother, later identified as Sharmel Teague, reportedly began yelling and even spitting at Munerlyn. Because of that, he asked the cashier not to serve her. She then stormed out of the store, got in her car, and drove off. 

About 20 minutes later, prosecutors said that same car drove back into the parking lot. This time, Teague’s husband and son—Larry Teague and Ramonyea Bishop—reportedly get out of the car and walked into the store.

According to surveillance footage obtained by prosecutors, Larry Teague approached Munerlyn. Teague then started yelling at him, telling Munerlyn that he had disrespected his family members.

Prosecutors said Bishop pulled out a gun and shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, killing him.

Bishop, Larry Teague, and Sharmel Teague were all charged with premeditated first-degree murder on Monday.

While prosecutors said they found and arrested Sharmel Teague, both Bishop and Larry Teague are still at large.

Family and Friends Remember Munerlyn

Munerlyn was reportedly the father of eight children. On Sunday, his wife of 10 years grieved for his loss while speaking with local NBC affiliate WEYI.

“This just can’t be real. My babies need their daddy,” Latryna Sims Munerlyn said while in tears. “I’m just suffocating. I feel like a knife is in my chest.” 

Also on Sunday, Munerlyn’s cousin, Tina James spoke with ABC affiliate WJRT, where she expressed a mixture of anger and grief. 

This was just senseless over a mask!” she said. “Over a mask! I don’t understand it.” 

Later that night, family and friends gathered for a vigil at the Family Dollar where Munerlyn died to remember him. 

On Monday, Genesee County commissioner Bryant Nolden called Munerlyn a longtime friend and said Munerlyn worked out at a local gym where Nolden serves as the director. 

“This really broke my heart,” Nolden said. “He would come in three or four times a week and he’d train anyone who wanted to be trained for free. We have a senior dance, and he’d come and dance with the seniors.”

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton suggested in a statement that he doesn’t believe Munerlyn acted out of conduct when interacting with Sharmel Teague and her daughter.

“From all indications, Mr. Munerlyn was simply doing his job in upholding the governor’s executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of store employees and customers,” Leyton said. 

On April 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order requiring customers in businesses to wear face masks. Since then, there’s been a hefty amount of pushback against various parts of this order, but there’s no actual criminal penalty for breaking it. It mainly allows businesses to refuse service to anyone not wearing a mask.

However, Larry Teague has also been charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the executive order.

Stillwater, OK. Rolls Back Mask Mandate

Almost a thousand miles away on the same day that Munerlyn was murdered, Stillwater, Oklahoma enacted a new requirement forcing all customers and employees in local businesses to wear face masks.

Notably, that comes as the state begins reopening businesses like restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters; however, just three hours later, multiple businesses were reporting that their employees had faced not only verbal abuse but also violent threats when trying to enfore the policy.

One of those threats even reportedly included a shooting. 

Later in the day, the city decided to roll back its mask mandate, instead encouraging—but not requiring—customers and employees to wear masks. 

The announcement also came with a sharp rebuke from city manager Norman McNickle toward those threatening violence.

“The City of Stillwater has attempted to keep people safe by the simple requirement to wear a face covering to protect others,” McNickle said in a statement. “It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.”

On Sunday Mayor Will Joyce told MSNBC that part of the decision to roll back the mandate came because Stillwater simply doesn’t have a big enough police force to deal with the number of violations it expected.

“It’s been a difficult issue for the last two weeks,” Joyce said. “We’ve had a strong encouragement in all of our orders for the last two weeks for everyone to wear face coverings while out in public even while we were under a shelter in place order. And sort of measuring that against the idea of trying to enforce a broader order, which is difficult, you know, we’re a small city. We don’t have the kind of police force that can go out and try to deal with every single one of the people who may not be willing to wear the mask.”

Similar to “no-shirt, no-shoes” policies, businesses in Stillwater are currently still able to make their own rules when it comes to the issue of requiring face coverings. 

See what others are saying: (WEYI) (WJRT) (Detroit Free Press)

U.S.

Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan

Published

on

The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”


Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify

A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. 

Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts. 

Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”

“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”

Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation

Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.

“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote. 

“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”

“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”

Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.

Published

on

In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.


New Cases Flattening

After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.

Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days. 

New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.

Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.

Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.

According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.

In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.

Concerns Remain 

Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit. 

While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country. 

Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)

Continue Reading

U.S.

COVID-Driven School Closures Top Record Highs, But Many Remain Open

Published

on

While some districts have implemented protective measures, many teachers say they fall short.


Schools Respond to Omicron Surge

U.S. COVID cases, driven by the omicron variant, are continuously topping new record highs, posing difficult questions for schools resuming after winter break.

According to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school closures, at least 5,409 public schools canceled classes or moved to remote learning by the end of last week due to COVID — more than triple the number at the end of December.

That is still only a fraction of the nation’s 130,000 schools, and many of the biggest school districts in the country are still insisting that students come into the classroom.

Los Angeles, which is home to the second-biggest district, is requiring that students at least test negative before they return to school this week.

In the biggest district of New York City, classes have already resumed following winter break. Although the city has said it will double random tests and send home more kits, students were not required to provide negative results.

Teachers Protest In-Person Learning

Teachers in other major districts have protested the local government’s decisions to stay open.

One of the most closely watched battles is in Chicago, where students on Monday missed their fourth consecutive day of school due to a feud between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).

Last week, the union voted to return to remote learning in defiance of a city-wide order mandating they teach in-person, citing inadequate COVID-19 protections. Lightfoot claimed the conditions were fine and that students were safe, despite record surges, instead opting to cancel classes altogether while the fight plays out.

On Sunday, the union said it was “still far apart” from making any kind of agreement with public school officials after Lightfoot rejected their demands.

Lightfoot, for her part, has said she remains “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but she also stirred up the union by accusing teachers of staging an “illegal walkout” and claiming they “abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.”

Meanwhile, teachers in other school districts have begun to emulate the tactics in Chicago.

On Friday, teachers in Oakland, California staged a “sick-out,” promoting 12 schools serving thousands of students to close.

See what others are saying: (The Chicago Tribune) (CNN) (The New York Times)

Continue Reading