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“Stop Treating Us Like Animals and Thugs and Start Treating Us With Some Respect,” NY Police Union Head Says

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  • Mike O’Meara, the president of the New York Police Benevolent Association, slammed legislators and reporters Tuesday for “vilifying” police officers. 
  • He pleaded with the public to stop treating officers like animals and thugs, demanding respect instead, among other remarks. 
  • Many noted that this is exactly how Black people have been treated for centuries and pointed to videos of police using excessive force against peaceful protesters. 
  • Others criticized the fact that white male officers were on display at the press conference when departments like the NYPD are actually much more diverse.

Comments Made at Press Conference 

New York Police Benevolence Association President Mike O’Meara sparked outrage Tuesday after demanding that the public treat officers with more respect.

For more than two weeks now, people all around the world have been calling for justice over the killing of George Floyd. However, his death has also sparked larger conversations about systemic racism, police brutality, and the policies that protect officers. Because of this, public outrage against authorities has drastically increased, with many calling to defund or abolish the police, and people using phrases like “All Cops Are Bastards.” 

Well, it seems like some officers in New York have had enough. On Tuesday, officials from 21 law enforcement unions held a press conference condemning what they called an “anti-police environment.” 

But some of the most viral comments from that conference came from O’Meara, who started off by saying there are over 375 million interactions between officers and the public every year, which are usually met with “overwhelming positive responses.”

Despite that, he added, “I read in the papers all week, we all read in the papers, that in the black community, mothers are worried about their children getting home from school without being killed by a cop. What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen! It does not happen.”

“I am not Derek Chauvin. They are not him. He killed someone. We didn’t,” he added, referring to the officer charged with murdering Floyd after pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

“Everybody’s trying to shame us. The legislators. The press. Everybody’s trying to shame us into being embarrassed about our profession,” he continued.

“Well, You know what?” O’Meara said while holding up his badge. “This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it, and so do theirs.” 

“Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect. That’s what we’re here today to say. We’ve been left out of the conversation. We’ve been vilified. It’s disgusting.”

O’Meara went on to say that he doesn’t condone the actions of police officers in Minneapolis and added, “It’s not what we do. It’s not what police officers do.”

He closed by saying that he’s proud to be a cop and will continue to be until the day he retires.

Reactions 

As you can imagine, those comments were met with a ton of scrutiny from people who noted that this is how Black people have been treated for centuries. Some even pointed out that O’Meara essentially used the same exact language people of color used when talking about how they are treated. 

Others found his remarks frustrating given the amount of violence police used against peaceful protesters, especially within the state.

One of the most memorable incidents involved Buffalo police pushing an elderly man to the ground, which law enforcement initially described as him tripping and falling.

However, there is actually even more video evidence of police using excessive force in recent weeks. In fact, people online have been sharing a video with the audio from O’Meara’s speech placed over a supercut of those violent incidents.

It shows officers aggressively shoving protesters to the ground and one pulling someone’s face mask off to pepper spray them. It also includes several clips of officers beating people with their batons, repeatedly punching someone during an arrest, and other graphic videos. 

On top of that, there was also criticism over the number of white officers on display at the press conference. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) even pointed that out in a tweet saying, “Any New Yorker can tell you that this group does not look representative of the NYPD at all. Most NYPD patrol officers are Black, Latino, or Asian American – and the overall force is about 1/5 women. So what’s going on here?

Those claims check out based on data charts from the city’s website, which show that 53% of NYPD officers are nonwhite and 18% identify as female. 

So that led some to wonder if these comments were actually representative of the entire police force. Some even called it a display of white fragility, a term used to describe the discomfort and defensiveness of a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice.

O’Meara Doubles Down 

Even after all the backlash, O’Meara appeared on Fox News to double down on his comments. In an interview with Martha MacCallum, he against stressed that officers like Derek Chauvin are not the majority. 

“We interact with the community at a very high level,” he added. “We’re social workers, we’re marriage counselors. We do everything that everybody else fails at. So we get involved in people’s lives at a very high level. And sometimes that gets emotional and sometimes it gets dangerous and sometimes it’s a bad situation. But the overwhelming majority of police officers and their interactions with the public are positive.

“And we can’t keep saying that the police [are] systemic racist thugs that are out there. We are not. We are not.”

Ultimately, O’Meara said that Chauvin should go to jail for the rest of his life, but he added that police need to be a part of the conversation about race relations and reforms in law enforcement. 

“You want to talk about how we can do our job better? We’d love to hear it…because we want to do our job better,” he said.

“We don’t want these situations where we have these tense atmosphere. All the members of the public and the members of the police. And we want to help fix it. But nobody’s talking to us. The only thing they’re doing is throwing stones at us. And you know what?… It’s hard for us.”

Those comments have also continued to generate a lot of backlash from people who feel like police really aren’t listening and are now trying to make themselves the victims of this larger social issue. 

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox News) (RealClearPolitics

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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