HUSBAND OF REOPENC LEADER ASKS IF GROUP IS READY TO KILL IN VIDEO: With the ReOpenNC group planning protests in five North Carolina cities on Memorial Day, the husband of one of the group’s founders published a Facebook video that says violence shouldn’t be ruled out. “Are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay our lives down? We have to say yes,” Adam Smith said in a Facebook Live video posted on Friday. Later in the 17-minute video, he said, “If you bring force, we’re gonna bring force. If you bring guns, we’re gonna bring guns. If you’re armed with this, we’re gonna be armed with this.” Ashley Smith said her husband is an ex-Marine who remains “willing to die for all of you too,” as he was when he was enlisted. Adam Smith was also present along with other armed Blue Igloo demonstrators in downtown Raleigh on May 16. Blue Igloo is likely a play on the word “Boogaloo,” which the Anti-Defamation League describes as a slang term for a coming civil war.
SOCIAL DISTANCING OUT THE WINDOW AS PEOPLE FLOCK TO NC BEACHES: After North Carolinians being cooped up with stay-at-home orders for months, Phase 2 of reopening lined up closely with Memorial Day weekend--a time when people traditionally travel and congregate at crowded pools and beaches. Concerns about COVID-19 didn't stop big crowds from gathering at Carolina Beach on Sunday afternoon, enjoying the warm sun and May weather. Photos of crowded beaches and lakes heated up debates on whether or not visiting the beach was safe during this time. Some viewers shared concerns that with large gatherings like that, true social distancing wouldn't be possible. Other viewers stated that they were at the beach, and although cameras showed packed shorelines from above, the story from the ground was different. Some attendees said although many people were present, the crowds were maintaining responsible distance from each other.
ALAMANCE COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS DEFY COOPER'S RESTRICTIONS AND ALLOW CROWDS AT RACETRACK: In an interview with the Burlington Times-News, which regularly covers the speedway’s events, Turner dismissed Cooper’s order and questioned the legality of it. “I’m going to race, and I’m going to have people in the stands,” Turner told the paper. Saturday, Jason Turner recounted his father’s meeting earlier in the week with county officials. Those officials granted the Turners permission to allow fans into the speedway. One of those officials, Clyde Albright, the Alamance County Attorney, told the Times-News that Cooper “cannot constitutionally limit the number of people who can peaceably assemble.” Albright didn’t return a message seeking additional comment Sunday. Jason Turner, meanwhile, praised the county’s leadership for allowing Ace to welcome spectators. “People been cooped up and they’re ready to get out,” Coates said. “I think they need to open this economy back up, too. And let people be smart about what they’re doing. I mean, we’re not dummies."
TRUMP IS REPLACING FEDERAL WATCHDOGS WITH LOYAL SYCOPHANTS: Elliott’s appointment was the fifth in two months in which Trump, chafing from oversight he perceived as criticism, replaced a career investigator with an appointee considered more loyal to the president. In three of the cases, Trump has installed new leadership drawn from the senior ranks of the agencies the inspectors general oversee. For the first time since the system was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, inspectors general find themselves under systematic attack from the president, putting independent oversight of federal spending and operations at risk as over $2 trillion in coronavirus relief spending courses through the government. Inspectors general, some in acting roles to begin with, have been fired and demoted with no notice, leaving their staffs in disarray, multiple inspectors general said. Adding to their alarm, several White House nominees awaiting Senate vetting for permanent roles do not meet traditional qualifications for the job. Some say the 40-year era of independent oversight of the executive branch is under threat more than ever. “The Trump administration is attempting to make lap dogs out of watchdogs,” said Gordon Heddell, a former inspector general appointed to audit the Labor Department — and later the Defense Department — by President George W. Bush and who continued to serve in the Obama administration. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
JUDGE THROWS OUT FLORIDA LAW REQUIRING FELONS PAY FINES BEFORE VOTING: A Florida law requiring people with serious criminal convictions to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Sunday, declaring that such a requirement would amount to a poll tax and discriminate against felons who cannot afford to pay. Florida did not explicitly impose a poll tax, Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the United States District Court in Tallahassee wrote, but by conditioning felons’ voting rights to fees that fund the routine operations of the criminal justice system, it effectively created “a tax by any other name.” “The Twenty-Fourth Amendment precludes Florida from conditioning voting in federal elections on payment of these fees and costs,” Judge Hinkle wrote, calling the restriction an unconstitutional “pay-to-vote system.” The judge granted a permanent injunction to civil rights groups that challenged the law as discriminatory for the majority of felons, many of whom are indigent. The state is expected to appeal. However, much of Sunday’s ruling is built on a previous ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which would hear any appeal. “This really is a landmark decision for voting rights,” said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that sued. “It’s a decision that will likely affect hundreds of thousands of voters — and it’s been a long time coming.”