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5 things to know for June 15: Rayshard Brooks, policing, coronavirus, economy, China

Andrew Cuomo

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1. Rayshard Brooks

Another weekend of protests was punctuated by another police shooting of a black man. Protesters flooded the streets of southeast Atlanta after 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed during a confrontation with police in a Wendy’s parking lot Friday. Within 48 hours of the incident, the Atlanta officer who shot Brooks was terminated, the city’s police chief stepped down and the Wendy’s where the incident took place burned to the ground. Videos from police, the restaurant and witnesses are being used to piece together the last minutes of Brooks’ life. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said she doesn’t believe the killing was a justified use of force, and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard says the officer who shot Brooks could face charges. Outside of Atlanta, protests carried on across the nation. In Washington, demonstrators shut down part of Interstate 395, a major highway in the nation’s capital. In Seattle, an area around the city’s downtown precinct is now occupied by protesters, some of whom are calling it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ.

2. Police reform

The current energy of the protests has centered around defunding or otherwise reforming police. San Francisco is among the latest cities to consider changes to its police forces. Mayor London Breed unveiled a new police reform plan with the hope of addressing structural inequities and fundamentally changing the nature of policing in the city. As part of the plan, San Francisco Police Department officers would stop responding to issues like disputes between neighbors, reports about homeless people and school discipline interventions. However, such changes are not being welcomed everywhere. Ten South Florida police officers resigned from their city’s SWAT unit, saying they feel “restrained by the politicalization of our tactics” and expressing displeasure that their command staff took a knee with activists.

3. Coronavirus

What’s open? Is it safe to go out? Who’s making these decisions, anyway? Those are the questions echoing around the world as some countries ease coronavirus restrictions while others consider tightening back up in the face of rising cases. The UK will start easing lockdown measures today, allowing non-essential shops to reopen along with some public spaces like zoos and theme parks, but there’s confusion over what some see as uneven levels of guidance. In China, Beijing is reintroducing strict lockdown measures and rolling out mass testing to beat back a fresh cluster of cases. Some states in the US are seeing record numbers of hospitalizations, and thousands more people are being infected every day, prompting concerns that a second shutdown may be necessary. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, it’s a completely different story: Crowds (remember those?) gathered to watch a rugby match after the country counted three weeks with no new coronavirus cases.

4. Economy

Another huge stimulus bill could be around the corner. The White House is reportedly targeting a phase four stimulus package to the tune of at least $2 trillion, according to White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. He says President Trump is in favor of such a deal, which falls in between the sums being requested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on the higher end, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the lower end. The package would likely focus on American manufacturing. As far as timing, Navarro said it would have to be wrapped up by before the August recess.

5. China

Tensions between the US and China are simmering again, but this time it’s not because of the pandemic or any kind of trade war. The deployment of three 100,000-ton US Navy aircraft carriers to the Pacific Ocean for the first time in years has drawn a swift reaction from China, with state-sponsored media saying Beijing will defend its interests in the region. Aircraft carriers are essentially giant floating symbols of dominance, so to have three of them around is quite a statement. US warships have also been active in the highly-contested South China Sea this year, an area rife with multi-national conflict. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to meet with Chinese officials in Hawaii early this week to discuss a wide range of issues as the the two countries continue to spar over coronavirus responsibility and Beijing’s recent vote to impose a highly contentious national security law in Hong Kong.


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