PROTESTERS THWARTED AS THEY TRY TO PULL DOWN ANDREW JACKSON STATUE
WASHINGTON (AP) — Protesters tried to pull down a statue of President Andrew Jackson near the White House last night before being dispersed by police.
WUSA-TV in Washington reported police used pepper spray to move protesters out of Lafayette Square, where the Jackson statue is located. Videos posted on social media showed that the protesters had climbed on the statue and tied ropes around it, then tried to pull it off its pedestal.
The statue shows Jackson in a military uniform, riding a horse that is rearing on its hind legs. The 19th century president’s ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target of demonstrators protesting the United States’ legacy of racial injustice.
The Jackson statue remains.
President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday that “Numerous people” had been arrested for “the disgraceful vandalism.” He added: “10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!”
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was at the scene Monday night, and issued a statement saying: “Let me be clear: we will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served.”
On June 1, law enforcement officers forcefully cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so Trump could stage a photo op at a nearby church.
NASCAR DRIVERS RALLY AROUND BUBBA WALLACE AFTER NOOSE INCIDENT
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Bubba Wallace steered the No. 43 to the front of pit road, NASCAR champion Kyle Busch pushing the famous car on one side and close friend Ryan Blaney pushing on the other.
The entire 40-driver field and their crew members followed. After the car came to a stop, Wallace climbed out, sat on the window ledge and sobbed. Richard Petty, his Hall of Fame team owner, gently placed a hand on Wallace’s shoulder.
As federal authorities descended on Talladega Superspeedway yesterday to investigate the discovery of a noose in Wallace’s garage stall, the entire industry rallied around the Cup Series’ only Black driver.
The 82-year-old Petty, at his first race since the coronavirus pandemic began and at Talladega on race day for the first time in more than 10 years, stood side by side with Wallace during the national anthem before Monday’s rain-postponed event. Everyone stood behind the car while Brad Keselowski held the American flag at the front of the display of solidarity.
The idea to stand with Wallace started with Johnson, while former series champion Kevin Harvick suggested they all push the car to the front of the grid, Wallace said.
One by one, after the anthem, they hugged Wallace. He then had a long embrace with Petty.
And then he went racing.
If not for a shortage of fuel, Wallace might have had a chance to race for the win. A late stop for gas led to a 14th-place finish but felt like a win for Wallace. He went to the fence and slapped hands through the wiring with a group of fans, many wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts as they cheered.
He apologized for not wearing a mandatory mask but didn’t put it on because “I wanted to show whoever it was, you are not going to take away my smile.”
SEATTLE TO WIND DOWN “OCCUPIED" PROTEST
SEATTLE (AP) — Faced with growing pressure to crack down on an “occupied” protest zone following two weekend shootings, Seattle’s mayor says officials will move to wind down the blocks-long span of city streets taken over two weeks ago that President Donald Trump asserted is run by “anarchists.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality. She said at a news conference that the city is working with the community to bring the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone, or CHOP, to an end and that police soon would move back into a precinct building they had largely abandoned in the area.
Durkan also vowed to address some of the protesters’ demands, including investing more in Black communities, re-imagining policing in cooperation with community leaders, and pushing for accountability measures and statewide reform of police unions.
The mayor did not give an immediate timeline for clearing out the occupation but said “additional steps” would be examined if people don’t leave voluntarily. With scores of people camping in a park in the protest zone, Durkan said peaceful demonstrations could continue, but nighttime disorder had to stop.
SIGNS THAT CORONAVIRUS SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Alarming surges in coronavirus cases across the U.S. South and West raised fears Monday that the outbreak is spiraling out of control and that hard-won progress against the scourge is slipping away because of resistance among many Americans to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
Confirming predictions that the easing of state lockdowns over the past month and a half would lead to a comeback by the virus, cases surpassed 100,000 in Florida, hospitalizations are rising dramatically in Houston and Georgia, and a startling 1 in 5 of those tested in Arizona are proving to be infected.
Over the weekend, the virus seemed to be everywhere at once: Several campaign staff members who helped set up President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tested positive, as did 23 Clemson University football players in South Carolina. At least 30 members of the Louisiana State University team were isolated after becoming infected or coming into contact with someone who was. Meatpacking plants were also hit with outbreaks.
“It is snowballing. We will most certainly see more people die as a result of this spike,” said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO and president of Houston Methodist Hospital, noting that the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions has tripled since Memorial Day to more than 1,400 across eight hospital systems in the Houston metropolitan area.
He warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed in three weeks, and he pleaded with people to cover their faces and practice social distancing.
PENCE, OTHER TOP WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS REPEATEDLY HAVE VOTED BY MAIL
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence and a half-dozen other senior advisers to President Donald Trump have repeatedly voted by mail, according to election records obtained by The Associated Press. That undercuts the president’s argument that the practice will lead to widespread fraud this November.
More than three years after leaving the Indiana governor’s residence, Pence still lists that as his official residence and votes absentee accordingly. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has permanent absentee voting status in her home state of Michigan.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, voted absentee in Texas in 2018 and didn’t vote in the general election two years earlier when Trump’s name was on the ballot.
Two other senior Trump campaign officials — chief operating officer Michael Glassner and deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien — have repeatedly voted by mail in New Jersey. And Nick Ayers, a senior campaign adviser who was previously chief of staff to Pence, has voted by mail in Georgia since 2014.
In most election years, voting by mail is an unremarkable event. But this year is different because Trump has railed against state efforts to expand access to mail-in voting as an alternative to waiting in lines at polling places during a pandemic. He has argued without evidence that mail-in voting will lead to fraud and warned Monday that foreign countries could print ballots.
That, some experts say, is a double standard that amounts to voter suppression.
BERMAN REFUSED TO SIGN LETTER BLASTING NYC ON CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS DAY BEFORE OUSTER
WASHINGTON (AP) — A day before Geoffrey S. Berman was axed from his job as head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, he refused to sign onto a letter crafted by senior officials in Washington lambasting New York’s mayor for putting COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings.
Berman’s refusal didn’t directly contribute to his ouster. But it was another example of the ways in which he appeared to run afoul of Attorney General William Barr and other high-ranking officials at the Justice Department.
According to several people familiar with their relationship, Berman, a political donor to President Donald Trump who investigated and charged some of his allies, wasn’t a team player. He operated outside Washington leadership, and won praise from Trump critics as an independent thinker. And he had refused to even alert Washington to cases his high-profile department was working on. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
As a result, Berman’s job often appeared to be in jeopardy. He was never formally nominated to the post by Trump, despite having been personally interviewed for the job by the president. Instead, he was installed by a federal court.
As this year wore on in the wake of the prosecution of Rudy Giuliani’s associates and the probe of the former mayor, his allies in the prosecutor’s office were surprised each time Berman returned from Washington with his job intact.
“The most surprising thing is that he’s held on as long as he has,” said Danya Perry, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who represented California lawyer Michael Avenatti in his recent fraud trial defense.
The tensions between Berman and the Justice Department reached a breaking point Friday, when Barr issued a surprise press release saying Berman had resigned and would be replaced by the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, a lawyer who has virtually no experience as a federal prosecutor. Berman refused to step down, and went into work Saturday. He eventually consented to leave after Barr said Trump had officially fired him and the second in command of the office would take over.