Oregon sues feds over Portland protests as unrest continues

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s attorney general is seeking an order to stop federal agents from arresting people in Portland as the city continues to be convulsed by nightly protests that have gone on for seven weeks and have now pitted local officials against the Trump administration.

Federal agents, some wearing camouflage and some wearing dark Homeland Security uniforms, used tear gas at least twice to break up crowds late Friday night, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality have happened every day in Oregon’s largest city since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25. At 10 p.m. Saturday, several hundred peaceful demonstrators against police brutality rallied in front of downtown’s Multnomah County Justice Center and the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, which has a newly built fence around it.

President Donald Trump has decried the disorder, and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blasted the protesters as “lawless anarchists” in a visit to the city.

Before the aggressive language and action from federal officials, the unrest had frustrated Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local authorities, who had said a small cadre of violent activists were drowning out the message of peaceful protesters in the city. But Wheeler said the federal presence in the city is now exacerbating a tense situation and he has told them to depart.

“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Wheeler said Friday.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum late Friday sued Homeland Security and the Marshals Service in federal court. The complaint says that unidentified federal agents have grabbed people off Portland’s streets “without warning or explanation, without a warrant, and without providing any way to determine who is directing this action.”

Rosenblum said she was seeking a temporary restraining order to “immediately stop federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregonians.”

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Rights activists, political leaders mourn Rep. John Lewis

Rights activists, politicians from both parties and many other people touched by the legacy of John Lewis mourned the congressman and pillar of the civil rights movement Saturday, lauding the strength, courage and kindness of a man whose lifelong struggle against racial discrimination took him from a bridge in Selma to the nation’s Capitol.

“As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope,” said former President George W. Bush. “And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union.”

Former President Barack Obama, America’s first Black president, recalled being sworn in for his first term: “I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made.”

Lewis died Friday, several months after the Georgia Democrat announced that he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Lewis, 80, often recalled his upbringing in the segregated South, including how he was denied a library card because the library was for “whites only.” He was determined to destroy segregation, joining with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to help plan the 1963 March on Washington.

Two years later, Lewis helped lead the “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march intended to go from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. White police, state troopers and thugs blocked their way on the bridge out of Selma, attacking the peaceful marchers with clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. Lewis suffered a cracked skull.

He went on to make a career in politics, representing Atlanta in Congress for more than 30 years, and all the while imploring people to press for justice — to make what he came to call “good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms described that call as “a generational rallying cry for nonviolent activism in the pursuit of social justice and human rights.”

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3 friends on fishing trip killed in 'massacre,' Florida sheriff says

FROSTPROOF, Fla. – Three Florida men were fatally beaten and shot while on their way to fish in a remote area late Friday night, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

During a media briefing near the scene on Lake Streety Road on Saturday morning, Judd identified the victims as Damion Tillman, 23, Keven Springfield, 30, and Brandon Rollins, 27. The three men had been friends for years, Judd said, adding the families of the victims gave police permission to release their names.

Judd, who has worked at the department since 1972, described the killings as a “massacre.” 

“This is a horrific scene,” Judd said Saturday. “I’ve been to a lot of murder scenes in my life, and this ranks among the worst.”

According to the preliminary investigation, Judd said just after 10 p.m. Friday, Rollins called his dad on his cellphone and said “Help.” Judd said Rollins’ father knew his son was fishing with his two friends and drove to Lake Streety Road.

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Upon arriving at the scene, Rollins’ found his son barely alive and his two friends both dead.

Judd said Rollins was able to say a few things to his dad before he died, which the sheriff’s office didn’t release at the morning briefing.

Judd said it appeared that Tillman arrived first in his red pickup truck, and that while he was being killed, Rollins and Springfield arrived in a white pickup truck and also were shot.

“In Brandon’s father’s excitement to run to help his son, he forgot his cellphone at home. So now he is out in the middle, as you can see, of no place without any communication,” Judd said. The father drove back to the nearest convenience store to call 911 and said “my son needs help.”

A 17-year-old girl, the daughter of the convenience store’s owner, jumped into Rollins’ father’s vehicle and the two drove back to Lake Streety Road, Judd said.

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Mexico reports 7,615 new cases of coronavirus, marking record

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Health Ministry on Saturday posted a record for new coronavirus cases reported on a single day, with 7,615 more confirmed cases, bringing its overall tally of infections to 338,913, health ministry data showed.

The ministry also reported 578 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 38,888 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Speaking to a news conference, the Mexican government’s head of epidemiology, Jose Luis Alomia, stressed that the country must not let down its guard.

“We expect to have a long epidemic, so we have to change personal habits and protect ourselves from risk,” he said.

(Reporting by Diego Ore and Lizbeth Diaz; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

2 women arrested after black paint smeared on NY 'Black Lives Matter' mural

NEW YORK — Two women were arrested Saturday afternoon for smearing black paint across the “Black Lives Matter” mural outside Trump Tower, with a city cop injured after he slipped while grabbing one of the suspects, police said.

The chaotic scene, the third attack by vandals targeting the Midtown street art in a week, began around 3 p.m. when a car carrying four women and 10 cans of paint arrived at the Fifth Avenue site, according to witness/street artist Nina Khan and a photo of the vehicle.

A video captured one of the two Black women involved in the incident pouring paint on the street, then getting down on her knees and using gloved hands to spread paint across the mural.

“Refund the police!” the woman shouted as the cops moved in and an angry eyewitness shouted obscenities at her. “Refund the police! Jesus matters! Jesus matters! We will never support Black Lives Matter!”

One of the officers, trying to keep his feet in the wet paint, slipped and fell with a loud thump on his shoulder and head, the video showed. The scene later degenerated into a confrontation between supporters and opponents of President Trump.

“My whole body was shaking,” said Khan, who recorded 10 minutes of video. “It was very intense. I didn’t want the police to get hurt. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Julie Calb and her 15-year-old daughter Eleanor came to Manhattan from Larchmont to visit the mural, only to catch the tail end of the incident. The mural, with help from Mayor Bill de Blasio, went up last week — with vandals now three times targeting the “Black Lives Matter” message.

“I wanted to bring her and show her everything that’s going on,” said Julie Calb. “We’re very (much) for BLM. He’s not perfect, but we’re very proud of the mayor.”

Cops said the two women, ages 29 and 39, were arrested and likely to face charges of criminal mischief. The officer was taken to a nearby hospital and was expected to recover, police said.

The NYPD was still searching for the man who splashed red paint on the mural this past Monday before fleeing the scene.

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Cory Booker on the blessing and burden of knowing John Lewis

WASHINGTON — On the morning after Rep. John Lewis died, Sen. Cory Booker spoke with Yahoo News on Saturday about his experiences with the man he viewed as a mentor and a “titan of American history.” Booker said he was feeling “deep grief” over Lewis’s death at 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“Every time I would sit in a room with him or take a sojourn with him over this last six years, I just had this feeling that God was giving me this precious gift of letting me be in the presence of one of the greatest Americans of this past century or more,” Booker said.

Lewis was part of Booker’s first day in Washington. Before Booker was sworn into the Senate in 2013, he and his mother visited Lewis in the congressman’s office, where he had prepared a country breakfast with grits. Lewis also gave Booker a message.

“His office, by the way, is like a museum of civil rights memorabilia … and he’s in every picture,” the New Jersey senator recounted. “So, you have this humbling moment to just sit in his presence and sit in his office. … To have him tell me, try to impress upon me, how grateful he is to see me be the fourth Black person ever popularly elected to the United States Senate and tell me how much it meant to him to give him the sense of fruition of his struggles.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Sued to Block Atlanta's Face Mask Ordinance. Here's What to Know

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging restrictions implemented by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, including her ordinance mandating residents wear masks, to help stem the spread of COVID-19. It is the latest step in a growing clash between the governor and local municipalities over who has authority over how the state handles the ongoing pandemic.

The lawsuit — filed by Kemp against both Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council — challenges Bottoms’ ability to instruct the city’s population to wear face masks. Given the unique situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts expressed differing views on whether or not the suit is likely to succeed.

The day before, on Wednesday, Kemp passed an executive order banning municipalities from issuing ordinances requiring people wear masks. The suit argues that local state municipalities do not have the legal authority to issue orders that are more or less restrictive than those issued by the governor.

“As the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive orders,” the suit states. It also challenges Bottoms’ July 10 decision to roll Atlanta back from “Phase 2” of reopening to “Phase 1,” asking residents to stay home except for essential trips and requiring restaurants and businesses only serve to-go and curbside meals.

Several other cities in Georgia have issued mask ordinances similar to Bottoms’, including Savannah and Athens, but Kemp’s suit only addresses Atlanta. Similar tension between state and local governments has arisen elsewhere in the U.S., such as in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio have publicly sparred over reopening measures.

On July 10, Bottoms said in a statement that she rolled back reopening measures “[b]ased upon the surge of COVID-19 cases and other data trends, adding that “Georgia reopened in a reckless manner and the people of our city and state are suffering the consequences.”

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85 children under age 2 tested positive for coronavirus in 1 Texas county, as U.S. sets new record

More than 80 children under 2 years old, most of them younger than 1 year old, have tested positive for the coronavirus in one Texas county, a local public health official announced, as the United States set a single-day record in the tally of new cases.

The public health director in Nueces County on the Texas Gulf Coast said 85 children under 2 years old, including 52 younger than a year old, have tested positive for the virus.

“These babies have not even had their first birthdays yet,” director Annette Rodriguez said Friday of the infants in the group. “Please help us to stop the spread of this disease. Stay social distanced from others; stay protected. Wear a mask when in public and for everyone else please do your best to stay home.”

Rodriguez initially said at a meeting Friday that a review of coronavirus statistics showed that 85 infants have tested positive. She clarified this on Saturday to say that total also includes children between the ages of 1 and 2 years old. The numbers are taken from testing that started on March 21, 2020.

The health director added that she believes it is hard for families to isolate such young children and that family members are passing the virus on to each other.

Fewer than 10 of the infants have been hospitalized, she said.

The Nueces County medical examiner, Adel Shaker, told NBC News on Saturday that a 6-week-old boy who died last week tested positive for the virus. Shaker said he has not determined if COVID-19 was the cause of death and is running more tests to find out.

Her announcement came as the U.S. set a single-day record with 75,775 newly-reported cases of the virus, according to NBC News’ tally. The death toll in the country has now passed 140,000.

Trump, in brief Twitter statement on John Lewis, says he's 'saddened' by death of 'civil rights hero'

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was “saddened” by the death of Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon whom others in his administration praised as a “giant” who “changed America forever.”

“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing,” Trump posted on Twitter as his motorcade returned to the White House from his golf course in northern Virginia. “Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”

The short and understated sentiment made no mention of the animosity that developed between the two men when Lewis questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 election victory and the president attacked Lewis’ Atlanta district. Trump, however, was far less loquacious in his tweet than others in the White House. 

Honoring John Lewis: Flags lowered to half-staff at the White House and Capitol

Vice President Mike Pence called Lewis “a great man,” and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany noted his “incredible contributions” to the nation. 

“John Lewis will be remembered as a giant of the civil rights movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union and his example will inspire generations of Americans,” Pence said in a statement. 

Gov. Cuomo applauds NY's still-dropping coronavirus numbers, says he's 'alarmed' by states with rising cases

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered more good news Saturday in the state’s ongoing fight battle against COVID-19 while expressing his dismay over the growing number of cases in the nation’s hot spots.

The latest statewide New York numbers continued to decline, with the number of hospitalized patients down by 22 on Friday compared to the day before. The number of newly admitted patients stood at 65, down six from Thursday, while the number of intensive care unit patients stood at 172 — a reduction of seven patients.

Another 94 New Yorkers were discharged from hospitals, boosting that figure to 72,064 statewide, Cuomo said.

“As New York continues to show progress combating COVID-19 with low hospitalizations and a low rate of positive cases, we remain alarmed by the spikes in much of the country and the risk of a lack of compliance at home,” he said.

New York’s declining numbers stand in stark contrast with recent jumps in hot spots like Florida, Louisiana and Texas. The national death toll stands at more than 139,000, with more than 3.6 million confirmed cases.

“New Yorkers’ vigilance, courage and adoption of basic behaviors — mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing — has driven our ability to control the virus, and we have to continue on that path to success,” he said.

“I urge everyone to stay New York tough and New York smart,” said the governor.

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