WORK TO HEAL THE PANDEMIC OF POVERTY AND CANCER OF RACISM: The pandemic has revealed how essential low-wage jobs have always been. It has revealed a backwards kind of accounting that values corporate executives and Wall Street speculators hundreds of times more than the care-giving work of nursing home aides, the public-health providing work of janitors, the life-saving work of nurse aides, or the sustenance-giving work of farmworkers, food processors and grocery store clerks. We now deem these workers “essential” even as we denigrate them with low wages, lack of sufficient PPE, and health care guarantee. Meanwhile, another of America’s pre-existing conditions has come to the fore. Racism and poverty are chronic illnesses crippling the heart of our nation. In the wake of the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, whose names we say in a list that continues to grow far too long, people of all races have risen up to proclaim that Black Lives Matter and to demand an end to police or vigilante violence targeted at African Americans.
NC'S HISPANIC POPULATION IS SUFFERING DISPROPORTIONATELY FROM COVID 19: In Durham County, North Carolina, where I work, Hispanic people are 13.4 percent of the population. Yet in May, they comprised 67 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19. Likely contributing factors include other medical conditions, poverty levels, work circumstances, and access to health care. Although this may be news for many in our country, it is not news to those of us who work with this population on a regular basis. Even before the pandemic began, minorities in this country were disproportionately affected by chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Hispanic patients, in particular, are significantly impacted by diabetes. And many Hispanic patients live in poverty and have less access to high-quality health care. The COVID-19 pandemic also has had has a major impact on the Hispanic economy. Data show that Hispanics are disproportionately affected by job losses due to coronavirus. In a recently published Pew Research Center report, approximately 49% of Hispanics reported that they or someone in their household has taken a pay cut or lost their job during the pandemic. That compares with 33% of all U.S. adults.
CONGRESS, PASS JUSTICE IN POLICING ACT NOW: Reps. G.K. Butterfield, Alma Adams and David Price, all North Carolina Democrats, have all signed-on as co-sponsors of the bill. North Carolina’s Republicans in the House – Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy, David Rouser, Mark Walker and Patrick McHenry – need to join them in support of the bill. The House will hold hearings on the bill on Wednesday. The bill is set to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Sen. Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican who serves on the committee and rarely missed an opportunity to boast of his claims to bipartisanship, should live up to his rhetoric and announce his support for the bill. North Carolina’s other Republican in the Senate, Richard Burr, needs to affirm his support, too. The common-sense reforms in this legislation are both long overdue and directly respond to the abuses that sparked protests across the nation and brought out diverse crowds in dozens of North Carolina communities – rural and urban, large and small – demanding change. “Black lives can’t wait until the next election,” Rep. Adams said. “Congress must take urgent action to address the epidemic of police brutality against Americans. This bill does that.”
I USED TO BE A POLICE CHIEF. THIS IS WHY IT'S SO HARD TO FIRE BAD COPS: In Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo quickly fired the officers involved in the death of George Floyd. But very few chiefs have this ability. In my time as a chief in Michigan, Colorado and Florida, I never did, thanks to a combination of state and local laws, union contracts, and past labor precedents. Much more typical is this scenario: A cop commits serious misconduct. The chief suspends him immediately. Often, the cop still gets paid to sit at home, because this is legally required. Internal affairs investigates, but the process is delayed by exasperating legal and contract hurdles. Meanwhile, the community stews: Why hasn’t the chief fired him? Finally, the chief has the evidence to act. If merited, the cop is fired. Months have gone by, but that was the easy part. Now the cop will appeal — because the review process is staggeringly favorable to bad cops. The case goes either to an arbitrator or to a panel, a “civil service commission” appointed by the city council. The arguments are always the same: The chief’s investigation was shoddy; the chief had a vendetta against this particular cop; other cops did this before and weren’t fired; the alleged misconduct wasn’t really that bad. Too often, arbitrators feel the pressure to “split the baby” in their decisions. Perhaps the cop is docked pay or demoted; otherwise, he’s back on patrol. In nearly nine years as chief in Aurora, Colo., I had 16 cops out of 650 whom I felt should be fired. Four I actually did fire. The Civil Service Commission promptly reversed me on three of them. So with the other 12 cops, I bent over backward to negotiate their departures with creative severance packages. I succeeded in getting them out — with deals that protected the city from litigation — but these agreements also allowed the cops to get jobs elsewhere if they could.
TO OVERTURN TRUMP, WE HAVE TO OVERTURN WHITE SUPREMACY: It doesn’t necessarily follow that a nationwide protest over police brutality would, for some, become a reason to take action against Confederate statues and other controversial monuments. But it has. In just the last week, protesters have knocked down Confederate statues in Richmond, Va., Nashville and Montgomery, Ala., as well as monuments to Christopher Columbus in Boston and St. Paul, Minn. This is because the George Floyd protests are not just about police violence. They’re about structural racism and the persistence of white supremacy; about the unresolved and unaddressed disadvantages of the past, as well as the bigotry that has come to dominate far too much of American politics in the age of Trump. Born of grief and anger, they’re an attempt to turn the country off the path to ruin. And part of this is necessarily a struggle over our symbols and our public space. It’s unclear how Americans feel about the removal of these statues in this manner, but we do know there has been a sea change in attitudes toward Black Lives Matter. Over the last two weeks, my colleagues Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy note in The Upshot that support has “increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years.” The majority of Americans, by a 28-point margin, now support the movement. Concurrent with this shift is a sharp drop in support for President Trump. His average job approval rating is down to 41 percent, two and a half points lower than it was on the eve of the protests. His average disapproval rating is up to 55 percent. And against the Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, he is down an average of eight points, a substantial decline from May. The Covid-19 crisis has harmed him, but it is his antagonistic handling of the protests that has accelerated his downward turn.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SHERIFF CLARENCE BIRKHEAD: WE NEED TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO ON POLICING: As Sheriff and a Durham resident, I write to say our entire community should be proud of the way people are releasing their frustration. While we’ve seen street protests turn violent in other places, the activity here is peaceful and constructive. My office will continue working with the Durham Police to give our community the space it needs to peacefully protest. Recently, I met with local residents angry about the unfulfilled promise of our country. As an African-American male, I understand their frustrations because I’ve lived it. As a law enforcement professional, I am committed to criminal justice reform and welcome the dialogue happening within our community about the injustices we’re witnessing. Together we can strive for, and achieve, law enforcement which provides enforcement without fear, just consequences and a safer community. As a fellow citizen, I pledge to work together to change the status quo in order to enhance community and police relations. Transparency, engagement and accountability are my guiding principles as sheriff. My office will be a part of the solution.
LINDSAY MCDAVID: I SUPPORT GOVERNOR COOPER'S CLOSURE OF ACE SPEEDWAY: Ace Speedway’s actions last Saturday were a blatant violation of law under the guise of being a “peaceful protest.” True protesters don’t have to buy tickets, thus selling tickets to the event made a lie of the speedway’s claims. The contention that it was a “peaceful protest against injustice everywhere” mocked and undermined the message of the Black Lives Matter protests. The speedway itself is committing an injustice against the people of North Carolina who are put at risk by its disregard for pandemic restrictions in the interest of profit. As a Christian, the photograph of speedway attendees praying was a shock. The Christian faith is rooted in selfless, sacrificial love and compassion for all humanity. Christians shouldn’t be praying while they are defying the law, endangering fellow North Carolinians, and trivializing protests against true oppression. I wholeheartedly support Gov. Roy Cooper’s closure of Ace Speedway.
DR. MARK GRAHAM: COVID 19 HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS CONTINUE TO RISE: Now 1,000 have died. Record COVID cases are reported, ostensibly due to increased testing. But rates of hospitalizations and deaths, however, tell a more ominous story. Hospitalizations rose from 134 per day on April 2 to 522 on May 5. Though they declined for a short time in early May, starting eight days after Phase 1 (May 8) and continuing into Phase 2 (May 22) hospitalizations rose by 40% to record levels at 675 per day on June 3. Deaths also rose early on, then held steady at 18 per day through May 12. Deaths decreased consistently to 12 per day through Memorial Day. However, since then there has been a rapid rise to more than 20 deaths per day through June 3. If deaths remain 20 per day, 5,000 will be upon us in the 200 days until Christmas. We in North Carolina will have more deaths than the 4,638 in all of China.