GRINER SENDS LETTER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN PLEADING FOR HIS HELP Brittney Griner has made an appeal to President Joe Biden in a letter passed to the

White House through her representatives asking that he not “ forget about me and the other American Detainees” and saying she feared she might never return home. “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote. “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” the Phoenix Mercury center added. “Freedom means something completely different to me this year.” Biden spoke Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the wife of the detained WNBA player, to reassure her that he is working to win Griner’s freedom as soon as possible, the White House said. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on Feb. 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team. The trial will resume July 7.

PARADE SHOOTING SUSPECT BOUGHT 5 WEAPONS DESPITE THREATS HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) – Robert ‘Bobby’ Crimo III, charged Tuesday with seven counts of murder after firing off more than 70 rounds at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago, legally bought five weapons, including the high-powered rifle used in the shooting, despite authorities being called to his home twice in 2019 for threats of violence and suicide, police said. Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said the suspect, if convicted of the first-degree murder charges, would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He promised that dozens more charges would be sought. A spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said the suspected shooter, who was arrested late Monday, used a rifle “similar to an AR-15” to spray more than 70 rounds from atop a commercial building into a crowd that had gathered for the parade in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on the Lake Michigan shore.

BIDEN TO AWARD MEDAL OF FREEDOM TO DENZEL, BILES, MCCAIN WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will present the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the U.S. Senate, the White House announced Friday. Biden’s honors list includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy. Biden himself is a public service medal recipient, who President Barack Obama honored as a longtime U.S. senator and vice president in January 2017, a week before they left office. The Democratic president will present the medals at the White House next week.

JACKSON SWORN IN, 1ST BLACK WOMAN ON SUPREME COURT WASHINGTON (AP) — Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in to the Supreme

Court on June 30, shattering a glass ceiling as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court.The 51-year-old Jackson is the court’s 116th justice, and she took the place of the justice she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement was effective at noon.

“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement issued by the court. “I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.”

GEORGIA SUBPOENAING GIULIANI, GRAHAM IN TRUMP ELECTION PROBE ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor investigating the conduct of former President Donald Trump and his allies after the 2020 election is subpoenaing U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and other members of Trump’s campaign legal team to testify before a special grand jury. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Tuesday filed petitions with the judge overseeing the special grand jury as part of her investigation into what she alleges was “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

In Washington, more witnesses are coming forward with new details on the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, following former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s devastating testimony last week against Trump, says a member of a House committee investigating the insurrection.

WARRANT FOR WHITE WOMAN WHO LIED ABOUT EMMETT TILL A team searching a Mississippi courthouse basement for evidence has found the unserved warrant charging a White woman in the 1955 kidnapping of Emmett Till. Relatives of the victim want authorities to finally arrest the woman nearly 70 years after the African American teenager’s savage murder by a group of white men. A warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham — identified as “Mrs. Roy Bryant” on the document — was discovered last week by searchers inside a file folder that had been placed in a box, Leflore County Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill told The Associated Press. “They narrowed it down between the ’50s and ’60s and got lucky,” said Stockstill, who certified the warrant as genuine.

FLAMETHROWER USED TO TORCH PAN-AFRICAN FLAG FLYING ON POLE ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in Florida.

Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s St. Petersburg headquarters, removing a flamethrower from the trunk and shooting a tower of fire at the flag flying about 30 feet above the ground. The group says the man stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him. The video shows him putting the flamethrower back in the trunk and then driving away. A photo supplied by the group shows the flag with a large hole.

St. Petersburg police said they are investigating the fire and are working to identify a suspect.

CALIFORNIA LAND TAKEN FROM BLACK COUPLE RETURNED TO HEIRS LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to return ownership of prime California beachfront property to descendants of a Black couple who built a resort for African Americans but were stripped of the land in the 1920s. The land in an area once known as Bruce’s Beach in the fashionable city of Manhattan Beach was purchased in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who built the first West Coast resort for Black people at a time when many beaches were segregated. They suffered racist harassment from White neighbors and in the 1920s the Manhattan Beach City Council took the land through eminent domain.

Last month, the county completed the process of confirming that Marcus and Derrick Bruce, great-grandsons of Willa and Charles Bruce, are the legal heirs. Anthony Bruce, a family spokesman, said in a statement that the return means the world to them but it is also bittersweet. “My great-great-grandparents, Willa and Charles Bruce sacrificed to open a business that gave Black people a place to gather and socialize, and Manhattan Beach took it from them because of the color of their skin,” he said. “It destroyed them financially. It destroyed their chance at the American Dream.”

FEDS: R. KELLY REMAINS ON SUICIDE WATCH ‘FOR HIS OWN SAFETY’ NEW YORK (AP) – Federal authorities are pushing back on R. Kelly’s claims that he was placed on suicide watch as a form of punishment last week after a judge sentenced him to 30 years behind bars for using his fame to sexually abuse young girls. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn filed court papers late Saturday saying the disgraced R&B superstar remains on suicide watch “for his own safety” following a psychological assessment. Kelly’s attorney filed a lawsuit Friday alleging prison officials placed him on suicide watch at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center “solely for punitive purposes and because of his status as a high-profile inmate,” adding that Kelly has had no thoughts of harming himself.

CHILDREN AMONG 77 KEPT IN NIGERIA CHURCH FOR RAPTURE ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Police in Nigeria have freed at least 77 people who were kept in a church basement by pastors who preached to them about Christian believers ascending to heaven with the second coming of Jesus Christ, authorities said Sunday. The people rescued Friday night from the church in Ondo state included 23 children, some as young as 8 years old. Local residents told The Associated Press that some Whole Bible Believer Church members were kept there since last year. Pastors at the church located 75 kilometers (46 miles) from Nigeria’s capital encouraged the members “to stay behind” and wait for the rapture, Ondo police spokesperson Funmilayo Odunlami said. When local authorities went there, some church members resisted their would-be rescuers and “refused to go,” cursing parents who also arrived, according to Valentino.

ATTORNEYS SEEK DESHAUN WATSON NFL INVESTIGATION DOCUMENTS AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Attorneys for multiple women suing Deshaun Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct are seeking the documents from the NFL’s investigation into the former Houston Texans quarterback. Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. A hearing with NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a retired judge, ended last week in Delaware. Robinson is expected to rule before the Browns open training camp late next month on whether the 26-year-old violated the league’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline. Last month, Watson settled 20 of 24 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct when he played for the Texans.