- A US District Judge said New York must hold the Democratic Presidential Primary on June 23 as previously scheduled.
- The state’s Board of Elections had canceled the event citing coronavirus concerns; however, the primaries would still go forward in the counties with other issues on the ballot.
- Former candidate Andrew Yang filed a lawsuit against the Board, saying that it suppressed voters’ rights and violated the rights of candidates who qualified to be on the ballot.
- The judge sided with Yang, saying voters should have the right to vote for candidates who share their viewpoints, and that candidates should not be deprived of their ability to get delegates heading into the convention.
- Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order to mail absentee ballots to every voter in the state so they can participate in the election via mail. In-person polls will still remain open.
Presidential Primary Reinstated
A United States District Judge ruled that New York’s presidential primary election is to go forward on June 23 as scheduled.
At the end of April, New York’s State Board of Elections canceled the primary citing concerns over the coronavirus. The board voted to remove all candidates who had suspended their campaigns from the ballot, leaving only the presumptive nominee Joe Biden, and eliminating the need for a Democratic presidential primary. Not all primaries were canceled, though. Counties with other elections on their ballots were still to cast their votes.
This decision was met with criticism from many in the Bernie Sanders campaign and others involved in the primaries. Former candidate Andrew Yang ended up hitting the election board with a lawsuit, claiming that this choice suppressed voters in the state and violated his right as a qualified candidate to appear on the ballot.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres agreed with Yang. Torres wrote that by “removing Yang, Sanders, and eight other Democratic presidential candidates from the ballot deprived them of associational rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.”
She also claimed that Yang was able to prove that he and his delegates had “suffered an ‘injury’” as a result of the election board’s decision. Yang, and the other former candidates, chose to suspend their campaigns rather than terminate them so they could continue to appear on ballots and collect delegates in the remaining states. Torres said that not only did the decision to cancel the election deprive candidates of their shot at the bid for presidency, but it also “deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform” at the August convention.
Torres also added that it took voter’s chance to elect delegates that represent their points of view away from them. As a result, Yang and Sanders, as well as Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Deval Patrick and Tom Steyer will appear on the presidential primary ballot alongside Biden.
Yang released a statement on Twitter celebrating the decision. He said he was “glad that a federal judge agreed that depriving millions of New Yorkers of the right to vote was wrong.
Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, also gave a statement applauding the order.
“We’re glad Judge Torres has restored basic democracy in New York,” Shakir said. “People in every state should have the right to express their preference in the 2020 Democratic primary.”
Others online were also happy with the news, prompting #YangSavesDemocracy to trend on Twitter for a moment.
The race may not be over, though. Douglas A. Kellner, a co-chair of the New York Board of Elections, told the New York Times that the board is “reviewing the decision and preparing an appeal.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also said that while the elections are set to go ahead in June per the court’s order, an appeal is possible.
What Comes Next?
Many, however, are concerned about how the state will vote during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his initial reasoning for canceling the elections, Kellner said that holding this presidential primary right now would “essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous,”
New York City has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, and has one of the worst outbreaks globally. The state has over 300,000 cases and almost 20,000 deaths. New York City makes up roughly half of the state’s case totals.
While states like Wisconsin have held their primary elections during this, that choice sparked a lot of outrage among voters and others throughout the country. Several reports indicate that some Wisconsin voters have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Because of this, mail-in voting will be prioritized. In April, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order directing the Board of Elections to mail all New York voters absentee ballot applications. This will allow any and all voters who want to vote by mail to do so, potentially limiting long lines and close contact at polling stations.
Polls will still remain open for those who fail to apply for an absentee ballot and for those who need assistance requiring in-person voting.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Gothamist) (Bloomgberg)
Conservatives Slam Elmo For Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19
While critics accused the muppet of promoting propaganda, CDC data shows the shots are safe and effective.
Elmo Gets Vaccinated
Conservative politicians expressed outrage on Twitter after the beloved “Sesame Street” character Elmo revealed he got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently cleared the way for children between the ages of six months and five years to get vaccinated against the virus. The famous red muppet is three years old, making him finally eligible for the jab.
In a video shared by “Sesame Street,” Elmo said that he felt “a little pinch, but it was okay.”
Elmo’s father, Louie, then addressed parents who might be apprehensive about vaccinating their own kids.
“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine,” he said to the camera. “Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice.”
“I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love,” he continued.
Republicans Criticize “Sesame Street”
While some praised the video for raising awareness and addressing the concerns parents may have, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) quickly lambasted the effort.
“Thanks, Sesame Street for saying parents are allowed to have questions,” Cruz tweeted. “You then have Elmo aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5. But you cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.”
Despite Cruz’s claim, the CDC has provided ample resources with information on vaccines for children.
He was not alone in criticizing the video. Harmeet Dhillon, a committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California, suggested that Elmo would be taking puberty blockers next.
Other anti-vaxxers claimed Elmo would get myocarditis and accused “Sesame Street” of promoting propaganda.
COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective against transmission of the virus, but this is not the first time conservatives have turned their anger against a friendly-looking muppet who opted to get the jab. When Big Bird got vaccinated in November, Cruz and other right-wing figures accused the show of brainwashing kids.
Big Bird’s choice to get vaccinated was not a shocker though, clips dating back to 1972 show him getting immunized against the measles.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Market Watch)
Uvalde Puts Police Chief on Leave, Tries to Kick Him Off City Council
If Pete Arredondo fails to attend two more consecutive city council meetings, then he may be voted out of office.
Police Chief Faces Public Fury
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave Wednesday following revelations that he and his officers did not engage the shooter at Robb Elementary for over an hour despite having adequate weaponry and protection.
Superintendent Hal Harrell, who made the announcement, did not specify whether the leave is paid or unpaid.
Harrell said in a statement that the school district would have waited for an investigation to conclude before making any personnel decisions, but chose to order the administrative leave because it is uncertain how long the investigation will take.
Lieutenant Mike Hernandez, the second in command at the police department, will assume Arredondo’s duties.
In an interview with The Texas Tribune earlier this month, Arredondo said he did not consider himself in charge during the shooting, but law enforcement records reviewed by the outlet indicate that he gave orders at the scene.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told state senators on Tuesday that some officers wanted to enter the classrooms harboring the shooter but were stopped by their superiors.
He said officer Ruben Ruiz tried to move forward into the hallway after receiving a call from his wife Eva Mireles, a teacher inside one of the classrooms, telling him she had been shot and was bleeding to death.
Ruiz was detained, had his gun taken away, and was escorted off the scene, according to McCraw. Mireles later died of her wounds.
Calls for Arredondo to resign or be fired have persisted.
Emotions Erupt at City Council
Wednesday’s announcement came one day after the Uvalde City Council held a special meeting in which community members and relatives of victims voiced their anger and demanded accountability.
“Who are you protecting?” Asked Jasmine Cazares, sister of Jackie Cazares, a nine-year-old student who was shot. “Not my sister. The parents? No. You’re too busy putting them in handcuffs.”
Much of the anger was directed toward Arredondo, who was not present at the meeting but was elected to the city council on May 7, just over two weeks before the massacre.
“We are having to beg ya’ll to do something to get this man out of our faces,” said the grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a 10-year-old victim. “We can’t see that gunman. That gunman got off easy. We can’t take our frustrations out on that gunman. He’s dead. He’s gone. … Ya’ll need to put yourselves in our shoes, and don’t say that none of ya’ll have, because I guarantee you if any of ya’ll were in our shoes, ya’ll would have been pulling every string that ya’ll have to get this man off the council.”
One woman demanded the council refuse to grant Arredondo the leave of absence he had requested, pointing out that if he fails to attend three consecutive meetings the council can vote him out for abandoning his office.
“What you can do right now is not give him, if he requests it, a leave of absence,” she said. “Don’t give him an out. We don’t want him. We want him out.”
After hearing from the residents, the council voted unanimously not to approve the leave of absence.
On Tuesday, Uvalde’s mayor announced that Robb Elementary is set to be demolished, saying no students or teachers should have to return to it after what happened.
We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.
Texas Public Safety Director Says Police Response to Uvalde Shooting Was An “Abject Failure”
New footage shows officers prepared to engage the shooter one hour before they entered the classroom.
Seventy-Seven Deadly Minutes
Nearly a month after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers, evidence has emerged indicating that police were prepared to engage the shooter within minutes of arriving, but chose to wait over an hour.
The shooting at Robb Elementary began at 11:33 a.m., and within three minutes 11 officers are believed to have entered the school, according to surveillance and body camera footage obtained by KVUE and the Austin American Statesman.
District Police Chief Pete Arredondo reportedly called a landline at the police department at 11:40 a.m. for help.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot… They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have firepower right now. It’s all pistols.”
At 11:52 a.m., however, the footage shows multiple officers inside the school armed with at least two rifles and one ballistic shield.
Law enforcement did not enter the adjoined classrooms to engage the shooter until almost an hour later, at 12:50 p.m. During that time, one officer’s daughter was inside the classrooms and another’s wife, a teacher, reportedly called him to say she was bleeding to death.
Thirty minutes before law enforcement entered the classrooms, the footage shows officers had four ballistic shields in the hallway.
Frustrated Cops Want to Go Inside
Some of the officers felt agitated because they were not allowed to enter the classrooms.
One special agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting started, then immediately asked, “Are there still kids in the classrooms?”
“It is unknown at this time,” another officer replied.
“Ya’ll don’t know if there’s kids in there?” The agent shot back. “If there’s kids in there we need to go in there.”
“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” the other officer responded.
According to an earlier account by Arredondo, he and the other officers tried to open the doors to the classrooms, but found them both locked and waited for a master key to arrive. But surveillance footage suggests that they never tried to open the doors, which a top Texas official has confirmed were never actually locked.
One officer has told reporters that within minutes of the police response, there was a Halligan bar, which firefighters use to break down locked doors, on-site, but it was never used.
At a special State Senate committee hearing Monday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw called the police response an “abject failure” and “antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from (entering rooms) 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said. “The officers have weapons, the children had none.”