‘INCREDIBLE DAY’ AS LEE STATUE REMOVED IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Cheers erupted Saturday as a Confederate statue that towered for nearly a century over downtown Charlottesville was carted away by truck from the Virginia city where it had become a flashpoint for racist protests and deadly violence. It was a day of palpable joy and immense relief for scores of residents and visitors who lined neighboring streets to watch the larger-than-life ﬁgure of Gen. Robert E. Lee as it was hoisted from its pedestal and taken – at least for now – to storage. The statue’s removal came more than ﬁve years after racial justice activists had renewed a push to take down the monument, an initiative that drew the attention of white supremacists and other racist groups, culminating in the violent “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. “I’m ecstatic that we’re here now. It’s sad that it’s taken so much to get us to this point. But this is an incredible day,” said Don Gathers, a local Black activist who long advocated for the statue’s removal. Work to remove Lee’s statue, and one of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson shortly after, proceeded peacefully and without interruption. It was a project held up for years by a long, winding legal ﬁght coupled with changes in a state law that protected war memorials. Also removed Saturday was a statue depicting Sacagawea, and explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, which has been criticized for a depiction of the Native American guide and interpreter some view as subservient and weak. Couples, families with small children and activists looked on Saturday. The crowd intermittently chanted and cheered as progress was made fairly quickly. Hymns at one point wafted down the street as musicians performed from the front steps of a church. “Good atmosphere, good vibes, good energy,” said Jim Henson, a resident of a nearby community who came to witness the “historic” event. There were at least a handful of opponents present, but there was no visible, organized protest presence. Kristin Szakos, a former Charlottesville City Council member, said that “folks in this community have been trying to get these statues down for a hundred years.” She added: “I think that we’re ﬁnally ready to be a community that doesn’t telegraph through our public art that we are pretty ﬁne with white supremacy.”
TUSKEGEE CONFEDERATE MONUMENT DAMAGED, STILL STANDS
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) – A council member using a saw cut into a 115-year-old Confederate memorial at the center of historic Tuskegee but failed to topple it, marking the latest move in a push to remove the contentious monument from the nearly all-Black Alabama town. Johnny Ford, a former mayor whose City Council district includes the park where the monument is located, said he took action because constituents voted in a public meeting last week in favor of removing the rebel memorial, which has been the subject of complaints and a target for vandals on and off for years. Using a lift to reach the statue of a Confederate soldier atop a stone pedestal, Ford said he sawed into a leg of the memorial, which was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The group has refused to take down the statue even though Tuskegee, a town of 8,100, is 97% Black and known internationally as a home of Black empowerment. Ford said he stopped cutting when Sheriff Andre Brunson showed up and asked him to quit. But Ford said the ﬁght isn’t over. “We can’t have a Confederate statue which represents slavery standing up in the middle of our town,” Ford said in an interview with The Associated Press. Brunson said a report will be sent to the district attorney, and added that charges are possible. “I understand what many people think and what he thinks, but it’s still destruction of property,” Brunson said.
RACIST ABUSE OF THREE ENGLAND SOCCER PLAYERS INVESTIGATED
LONDON (AP) – The Metropolitan Police condemned the “unacceptable” abuse of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, three Black players who failed to score penalties in England’s shootout loss to Italy in the European Championship ﬁnal, and said they will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts published soon after Italy won Sunday’s shootout 3-2 following a 1-1 draw. A mural of Rashford on the wall of a cafe in south Manchester was also defaced with grafﬁti in the wake of the match. The racist abuse, which was condemned as “unforgivable” by England coach Gareth Southgate, has led to calls for social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to do more in hunting down the perpetrators of the abuse. All three players targeted are part of a young England squad that has been widely praised for its diversity and social conscience. Rashford, for one, has been at the forefront of a campaign against child poverty, which convinced the British government to restore free lunches for thousands of poor children amid the coronavirus pandemic. The abuse was widely condemned, with Prince William, the president of the English Football Association, saying he was “sickened” by the racism aimed at the England players.
BUILDING COLLAPSE REVIEW CLOSES MIAMI COURTHOUSE
MIAMI (AP) – The Miami-Dade County Courthouse will begin undergoing repairs immediately because of safety concerns found during a review prompted by the deadly collapse of a nearby condominium building, ofﬁcials said. An engineering ﬁrm that examined the 28-story courthouse recommended that it undergo immediate structural repairs and that floors 16 and above be closed. All courthouse employees, including those who work on lower floors, will return to working from home, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other leaders said in a joint statement. The announcement came during the third week of the search for victims of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in nearby Surfside. The courthouse, which was completed in 1928 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, is where most civil cases are heard and contains some administrative ofﬁces. Separate courthouses for criminal, children’s and family cases are not affected. Workers only recently returned to the building after working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Court operations will go back to a remote format until the safety concerns are addressed. The court planned to notify people with upcoming court proceedings of the changes.
MEMPHIS TO HONOR IDA B. WELLS WITH PLAZA, STATUE
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – A statue of journalist, teacher and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells will be unveiled as part of a week’s worth of events honoring the former resident of Memphis, Tenn. The life-size bronze of Wells, who lived in Memphis for 10 years in the late 1800s, is being erected at a plaza in downtown Memphis. The unveiling is scheduled for July 16, culminating a weeklong celebration of Wells’ life and legacy that also will include a community prayer service, a parade and a visit to a prominent lynching site in Memphis. Wells was a Black journalist and publisher in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She helped found civil rights and women’s suffrage groups while ﬁghting racial injustices such as lynching. She died in 1931. Born in 1862 in Holly Springs, Miss., Wells moved to Memphis with her sisters in 1882 to live with her aunt. She taught at two Memphis schools before becoming a full-time journalist. Three Black men and friends of Wells were lynched in Memphis in 1892, and Wells wrote articles about it. Wells’ ofﬁce on historic Beale St. was destroyed and her life was threatened for her reporting on the lynching.
SHARPTON EULOGIZES WHITE ARK. TEEN SHOT BY DEPUTY
BEEBE, Ark. (AP) – The Rev. Al Sharpton and attorneys for George Floyd’s family mourned a white Arkansas teenager fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy, as they urged support across racial lines for efforts to reform police practices. Sharpton eulogized 17-year-old Hunter Brittain, who was shot and killed by a white Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Michael Davis, during a trafﬁc stop June 23 near Cabot, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. The killing in the predominantly white community has drawn the attention of national civil rights activists such as Sharpton, who said concerns about police tactics aren’t just limited to the Black community. “The issue of policing is not about Black and white,” Sharpton told a packed auditorium at Beebe High School, where Brittain was a rising senior. “It’s about right and wrong.” Many attending the memorial wore jeans and shirts that read “Justice for Hunter.” Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley last week ﬁred Davis for not turning on his body camera until after he had shot Brittain. Staley said the only footage police have is from the aftermath. Arkansas State Police are investigating Brittain’s death. Davis is white. Authorities have released few details about the shooting. Brittain’s family has said the teenager was unarmed and was holding a jug of antifreeze when he was shot. Brittain’s family and friends have held protests nightly outside the Lonoke County sheriff’s ofﬁce and have complained about the lack of information-release
SPELLING BEE CHAMP MAKES HISTORY WITH FLAIR
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Zaila Avant-garde understood the signiﬁcance of what she was doing as she stood on the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage, peppering pronouncer Jacques Bailly with questions about Greek and Latin roots. Zaila knew she would be the ﬁrst African American winner of the bee. She knew Black kids around the country were watching Thursday night’s ESPN2 telecast, waiting to be inspired and hoping to follow in the footsteps of someone who looked like them. She even thought of MacNolia Cox, who in 1936 became the ﬁrst Black ﬁnalist at the bee and wasn’t allowed to stay in the same hotel as the rest of the spellers. But she never let the moment become too big for her, and when she heard what turned out to be her winning word – “Murraya,” a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees – she beamed with conﬁdence. It was over. Declared the champion, Zaila jumped and twirled with joy, only flinching in surprise when confetti was shot onto the stage. The 14-year-old from Harvey, La., is a basketball prodigy who owns three Guinness world records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously and hopes to one day play in the WNBA or even coach in the NBA. She described spelling as a side hobby, even though she routinely practiced for seven hours a day. Zaila – her dad gave her the last name Avant-garde in tribute to jazz musician John Coltrane – will take home more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.
ATLANTA VOICE PUBLISHER AGAIN ELECTED NNPA 1ST VICE CHAIR
(BPRW) – The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) announced that the organization elected Janis L. Ware, publisher of The Atlanta Voice since 1991, to serve as its ﬁrst vice chair for a second term. “As a publisher of a historic newspaper and the daughter of a publisher, J. Lowell Ware, who founded The Atlanta Voice, it’s not just my pleasure to serve my fellow brothers and sisters in Black media, but it is my duty to support them in continuing to provide a voice to our communities across the country,” Ware said. Ware previously served as treasurer for four years for NNPA, the national trade organization that consists of more than 200 Black media outlets around the country and has represented Black media in many communities in America for over 80 years. While Ware’s publication is the only Black media outlet that still prints a physical edition in Atlanta, she’s led a robust digital transformation. “It’s been a joy of mine to see this organization not just grow, but thrive, even when trouble comes over the horizon,” she said. “In times like a pandemic, an uprising, an insurrection, or the ever-pending upcoming election, we as members of the Black media are always there, which are the times that we’re needed the most.”
ADAMS WIN IN NYC LATEST IN SURGE FOR MODERATE DEMS
NEW YORK (AP) – The triumph of a moderate Democrat in the mayoral primary in deep blue New York City appears to accelerate a recent trend of some of the party’s most fervent voters breaking away from its more radical candidates. Eric Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, this week became his party’s nominee to lead the nation’s largest city after making a centerpiece of his campaign his rejection of left-leaning activists’ calls to defund the police. Those successes come a year after President Joe Biden defeated more liberal opponents to capture his party’s nomination on his way to winning the White House. Biden and his staff have taken pride in ignoring a lot of the dialogue on Twitter, often fueled by the most inflexible partisans from both parties, a sentiment Adams echoed. “We have reached a point where we’re allowing the dialogue to get in the way of moving us in the right direction,” Adams said on CNN, “and I’m hoping that what happened here in New York City, people are going to see a cross section of everyday, working class New Yorkers came together.” His lifetime of speaking out against police misconduct and his blunt, working-class style make it difﬁcult to pigeonhole him. Adams, 60, made a strong connection with voters in the city’s boroughs outside Manhattan, and spoke frequently on the campaign trail of being beaten by police ofﬁcers as a teenager and joining the force to reform it from within. He was a founder of a group called 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care that fought against racial proﬁling and advocated for the hiring of more ofﬁcers of color. When Adams spoke to his supporters on primary night, “he said unequivocally `Black lives matter,”’ noted Christina Greer, a Fordham University political science professor. “So obviously that’s going to touch a certain segment of the New York population. He then quickly pivots to, `but it can’t just be cops and Black people, we have to address Black on Black crime,”’ Greer said. “Well, that’s a message that conservative whites, conservative Blacks, of which there are many, and other groups also agree with as well.”
OHIO EMERGES AS TEST FOR TURNER, LEFTISTS
CLEVELAND (AP) – Nina Turner built a national reputation as a leading voice for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, but faces another election of her own next month, and questions of whether her brand of politics still has a place in the Democratic Party. Turner is the best known of more than a dozen Democrats vying to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, who left Congress to become President Joe Biden’s housing chief. The Aug. 3 primary is shaping up as one of the ﬁnal tests this year for leftists, who have faced setbacks in other races, including Democratic primaries for Virginia governor and New York mayor. With just a six-seat advantage in the House, some Democrats are taking aggressive steps to blunt Turner and back more centrist alternatives. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, whose support helped Biden secure the Democratic nomination last year, is backing County Councilwoman Shontel Brown over Turner. Hillary Clinton, the political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus, several leading unions and more than 100 local leaders are doing the same. Federal rules prohibit Fudge from endorsing in the race, but her mother appeared in a commercial for Brown. A 53-year-old community college professor, Turner served on the Cleveland City Council, was a state senator and ran unsuccessfully for Ohio secretary of state before crisscrossing the country with Sanders during his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids. The hard-fought presidential primary between Biden and Sanders has left some lingering resentments. The advocacy group Democratic Majority for Israel has produced ads seizing on Turner once likening supporting Biden to being forced to eat excrement. The Rev. Aaron Phillips, executive director of the Cleveland Clergy Coalition, blames Sanders and Turner for dividing Democrats, which he says helped Republican Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016. Brown, meanwhile, “has been a faithful Democrat all of her life,” Phillips said. “She has never varied.” Turner denies that she’ll be a congressional provocateur. Brown counters that she can actually achieve the kind of bipartisanship Turner only talks about. “I feel like the `all or nothing’ approach ends up with nothing. So we have to be able to ﬁnd compromise,” she said. “Being a partner doesn’t mean being a puppet.”