RNC LETTER TO COOPER DOES NOT MENTION MASKS OR SOCIAL DISTANCING: Cooper’s office said Thursday evening that the letter doesn’t constitute a plan. “We are still waiting for a plan from the RNC, but our office will work with state health officials to review the letter and share a response tomorrow,” said Sadie Weiner, Cooper’s communications director. Convention organizers are asking Cooper to approve several preliminary safety protocols, including daily online health care questionnaires, pre-travel healthy surveys, thermal scans of all mandatory attendees prior to boarding sanitized, pre-arranged transportation and health checks before attendees can enter the arena. It does not mention social distancing or face coverings, which have been used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With Cooper’s approval, RNC officials will further develop a detailed plan for the convention.
LEGISLATURE PASSES BILL TO OPEN BARS WITH OUTDOOR SEATING: State lawmakers voted Thursday to allow bars to reopen in outdoor spaces, overriding Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order that has closed them since March. Legislation would allow bars to serve patrons in outdoor spaces, permanent or temporary, at 50 percent of the capacity of their indoor area, with social distancing guidelines from the CDC and the state Department of Health and Human Services. House Bill 536 would also allow restaurants to set up temporary outdoor spaces to serve customers in the same way. Restaurants are currently limited to 50 percent of their capacity, and the outdoor seating could bring them up to 100 percent, or close to it. The measure would be in effect until Oct 31 or until the executive order is lifted. The Senate voted 42-5 in favor of the bill, while the House vote was a much closer 65-53.
RALEIGH MAYOR UNDER FIRE FOR TAKING JOB WITH CITY CONTRACTOR: Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin has a new job that some see as problematic. Baldwin is now the director of business development at Barnhill Contracting, a major Triangle construction company. Although some critics say the position is a conflict of interest because Barnhill does business with the city, Baldwin said Thursday that’s not the case. She said her new position is a matter of timing and circumstance. She previously led the nonprofit Holt Foundation, but she said she couldn't raise money during the pandemic, which prevented her from doing her job. Potential conflicts arise when part-time public leaders have private-sector jobs. Days before Baldwin says she was approached to work for Barnhill, the company won a $6.3 million contract to resurface Raleigh roads by a unanimous vote of the City Council. UNC School of Government professor Frayda Bluestein said there's no violation as long as Baldwin doesn’t vote on Barnhill contracts. "No, I don’t think there’s a conflict legally," Bluestein said, adding that doesn’t keep the situation from being awkward. "The fact that this is happening is not illegal, but there are questions that will come up as it goes along."
MINNEAPOLIS POLICE ARREST BLACK CNN CORRESPONDENT, LET WHITE REPORTER GO: A Minnesota State Police officer said the journalists were arrested because they were told to move and didn’t, according to CNN. Jimenez is seen and heard on camera before his arrest identifying himself and his crew as reporters and saying, “We’re getting out of your way” and “put us back where you want us. Just let us know.” The arrest, which happened during CNN’s “New Day,” shocked hosts Alysin Camerota and John Berman. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Berman said. Police continue to arrest crew members until the cameraman was left. It’s unclear whether police were aware that CNN’s camera continued to roll as they carried it away. CNN political reporter Abby Phillip noted that her other colleague on the scene, who is white, was not arrested. “He just reported that police approached him, asked him who he was with, he said CNN,” Phillip said via Twitter. “And they say “ok, you’re good.” This is minutes after Omar, who is black and Latino, was arrested nearby.”
TWITTER FLAGS TRUMP TWEET ABOUT SHOOTING LOOTERS IN MINNEAPOLIS: A Minneapolis police station was overrun and set ablaze by protesters Thursday night as destructive demonstrations raged in the city and spread across the country overnight Friday after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody. He died after pleading, “I can’t breathe,” while a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck. The death set off days of continuing protests and scattered looting of stores in the city, as demonstrators denounced another in a long line of fatal encounters between African-Americans and law enforcement officers. President Trump, who previously called the video of Mr. Floyd’s death “shocking,” later called the protesters “thugs” on Twitter and said that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” prompting the social media network to attach a warning to the tweet, saying that it violated the company’s rules about “glorifying violence.” The spectacle of a police station in flames and a president appearing to threaten violence against those protesting the death of a black man in police custody — set against the backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that has kept many residents from engaging with one another directly for months — added to the anxiety of a nation already plagued by health and economic crises. The anger and the rage in Minneapolis have been building for days. After prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had not decided whether to charge the police officer who was caught on video with his knee pressed against the neck of George Floyd as the man begged for air, that rage turned to chaos.