Saturday News: No justice, no peace


HUNDREDS GATHER TO PROTEST UNC'S LACK OF RACIAL EQUITY: Saying “this fight is not new,” more than 200 UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, alumni and others gathered Friday to protest the university’s failure to grant tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as what they say is a larger lack of support for Black faculty and students. Taliajah Vann, president of the campus Black Student Movement, said racial issues on campus are bigger than the tenure of Hannah-Jones. Vann cited too few Black faculty and a lack of support for Black students on campus. The BSM, which organized Friday’s “solidarity demonstration,” outlined a list of 13 demands for UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, including the removal of police from the residence hall move-in process and increased funding for student mental healthcare.

GOVERNOR VETOES ANTI-ABORTION DOWN SYNDROME BILL: Calling it "unprecedented government intrusion" in the doctor-patient relationship, Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed legislation that would prevent a woman from getting an abortion in North Carolina simply because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Under the bill, the doctor would have to submit an attestation to the state that they did not hear or have reason to believe that a woman requested an abortion because of a Down syndrome diagnosis or the presumed race of the fetus. The doctor would also be required to submit any testing results for Down syndrome. "This bill gives the government control over what happens and what is said in the exam room between a woman and her doctor at a time she faces one of the most difficult decisions of her life," Cooper said in a statement. "This bill is unconstitutional and it damages the doctor-patient relationship with an unprecedented government intrusion."

NC'S DISMAL VACCINATION NUMBERS DRAW BIDEN HERE FOR PEP TALKS: Less than half of North Carolinians eligible for a COVID-19 shot are fully vaccinated, even though there are more than 2.1 million doses waiting on shelves for residents to take. In the two weeks since the state announced four $1 million prizes would be given out to vaccinated adults, less than 118,000 residents, about 1% of the state population, came in for a first dose. North Carolina ranks 12th-worst in the nation in vaccines administered per capita, and second-worst among states with a Democratic governor, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those lagging numbers were the context under which President Joe Biden visited Raleigh on Thursday to urge North Carolinians to come in for a COVID-19 vaccine. “Folks, there is no reason to leave yourself vulnerable to the deadly virus for one single day more,” Biden told the small crowd.

CHAUVIN SENTENCED TO 22 1/2 YEARS FOR KILLING GEORGE FLOYD: A Minnesota judge on Friday sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22½ years in prison for the murder of George Floyd, a Black man whose desperate gasps for air beneath the knee of the White officer captured on a viral video changed the American conversation on race and justice. Chauvin, who was fired after the killing and convicted by a jury in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, had faced up to 40 years in prison. In rendering his sentence, Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill, who oversaw Chauvin’s trial, offered brief remarks, saying it was not the time to be “profound or clever” from the bench. He said he had based the sentence on the facts of the case and not “public opinion.” The family members were not allowed to address Chauvin directly, but Floyd’s brother, Terrence, looked toward him and posed questions that have flummoxed even those who know Chauvin. “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck when you knew he posed no threat anymore?” he said, as tears rolled down his face. Shortly before being sentenced, Chauvin approached a court lectern and spoke briefly, offering his condolences to the Floyd family. But he declined to speak at length, citing other “legal matters” he is facing. He did not apologize for his role in Floyd’s death.

COLLAPSED FLORIDA CONDO MANAGERS KNEW ABOUT STRUCTURAL DAMAGE SINCE 2018: Three years before the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex near Miami, a consultant found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 13-story building. The engineer’s report helped shape plans for a multimillion-dollar repair project that was set to get underway soon — more than two and a half years after the building managers were warned — but the building suffered a catastrophic collapse in the middle of the night on Thursday, trapping sleeping residents in a massive heap of debris. The complex’s management association had disclosed some of the problems in the wake of the collapse, but it was not until city officials released the 2018 report late Friday that the full nature of the concrete and rebar damage — most of it probably caused by years of exposure to the corrosive salt air along the South Florida coast — became chillingly apparent. Investigators have yet to identify the cause and are still awaiting full access to a site where rescue crews have been urgently sifting through an unstable pile of debris for possible survivors. Experts said that the process of assessing possible failure scenarios could take months, involving a review of individual building components that may now be buried in debris, the testing of concrete to assess its integrity and an examination of the earth below to see if a sinkhole or other subsidence was responsible for the collapse.