Friday News: Sgt. Big Brother


RALEIGH POLICE VIOLATED POLICY WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE: In the months that followed, emails provided by the Raleigh Police Department show, at least 20 people at the department had access to Clearview, a service that trumpeted its “unlimited” power to identify just about anyone in seconds with a single photo. That number far exceeds the three employees authorized to use the service before the department abruptly banned it in February 2020. “I think facial recognition technology, in the long run, has much more potential to change our lives as we know it, and to completely eradicate practical obscurity,” said Jolynn Dellinger, a senior lecturing fellow at the Duke University School of Law and former special counsel for privacy policy and litigation at the N.C. Department of Justice. If anyone can be identified anywhere — at a political protest, church or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — Webb said authorities gain the “unprecedented power to spy on us wherever we go.”

NC REPUBLICANS SPONSOR BILL ALLOWING 10% CUTS TO UNIVERSITY SALARIES: The bill would give the University of North Carolina System president new flexibility on salary cuts, but only for employees making at least $65,000 a year. Hardister said there are "no plans" to cut salaries, but the flexibility to do so makes layoffs less likely. This is a softening from the bill that passed the House last month, which put this threshold at $45,000 a year and capped salary cuts at 20 percent. The State Employees Association of North Carolina opposes the bill and spoke against it in committee Thursday. SEANC spokesman Jonathan Owens said after the meeting that the bill allows cuts any time there's a budget reduction between now and December 2022, meaning cuts don't have to be tied to the pandemic and can be triggered if the legislature lowers university funding. "So, any cut in General Assembly funding will be made on employees' backs," Owens said. I don't like saying "I told you so," but Republicans are not your friends.

TWO TRANSGENDER SEX WORKERS MURDERED IN CHARLOTTE AT DIFFERENT HOTELS: Police and LGBTQ+ groups in Charlotte issued dire warnings on Thursday, saying an unknown person or more than one person may be targeting transgender women with deadly violence. Already, officials said, two trans women have been killed in recent days. In one case, police discovered the body of Jaida Peterson, 29, in a hotel room, on Easter Sunday. Peterson had been shot. At a vigil last week, loved ones told the Charlotte Observer they knew she was a sex worker for a time, but they don’t agree that’s why she was targeted. Her funeral took place in South Carolina on Tuesday. Details on the identity of the second person who was killed were not immediately available Thursday. The victim was found in a hotel room at the Sleep Inn, located on North Tryon Street in University City early Thursday morning, authorities said. Multiple LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and activists helping with housing and other support for the trans community in Charlotte posted safety alerts Thursday night. Charlotte Uprising said on Twitter late Thursday that “hotels are not safe at this time,” and that organizers were working to fundraise for alternative housing for Black transgender women who need other places to stay.

GEORGE FLOYD'S KILLER REFUSES TO TAKE THE STAND IN HIS OWN DEFENSE: Derek Chauvin spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest in May, telling a judge Thursday that he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination and not testify in his own defense in his murder trial in the death of George Floyd. The defense rested its case minutes later, after just two days of testimony, paving the way for closing arguments and jury deliberations in the landmark trial to begin Monday. In a dramatic moment outside the view of the jury, the former police officer removed his face mask inside the downtown Minneapolis courtroom where he has sat silently and stoically day after day through jury selection and weeks of intense testimony about the night Floyd died while pinned beneath his knee. The moment ended weeks of intense speculation, including among prosecutors, about whether Chauvin would take the stand and attempt to explain what he was thinking when he knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for over nine minutes. Floyd was handcuffed, face down on a street, begging for breath and calling for his deceased mother until he went limp. Arthur Reed, Floyd’s cousin who sat in the courtroom Thursday as Chauvin announced he would not testify, said afterward he was not surprised by his decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Reed said the prosecution “would have chopped him down second by second” about why he had knelt on Floyd so long. “We didn’t think they were going to put him on at all,” Reed said. “We’re just ready to get this over with, make sure he gets the justice he deserves. We think the state has put on an excellent case.” Chauvin’s decision effectively ended the defense case, which called just seven witnesses over two days — far less than the three dozen prosecution witnesses who appeared over a span of two weeks.

8 DEAD IN MASS SHOOTING AT FED EX WAREHOUSE IN INDIANAPOLIS, GUNMAN USED "SUBMACHINE GUN" (Probably AR-15): Eight people were killed and at least seven others were injured in a shooting at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis late Thursday, and the gunman was believed to have killed himself, the police said. Officer Genae Cook of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told reporters Friday morning that at least five other people had been hospitalized with injuries, including one in critical condition. Two others were treated at the scene and released. She said employees at the facility were still being interviewed by detectives and might not have had the chance to contact their families. A reporter with WRTV, an Indianapolis station, posted an interview on Twitter with a man who said he had been at the facility when the shooting broke out and later saw a body on the floor. WISH, another local station, quoted an employee at the warehouse, Jeremiah Miller, as saying that he had heard up to 10 shots after finishing his shift. “This made me stand up and actually look out the entrance door, and I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open,” Mr. Miller told the station. “I immediately ducked down and got scared and my friend’s mother, she came in and told us to get inside the car.” Indiana has some gaping holes in their gun control laws, many of Chicago's crime guns originate there.