ANTI-RACISM PROTESTS AND GRADUAL OPENINGS: Trump threatens governors, angers bishop

Donald Trump threatened the nation’s governors that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation over the past week. His announcement came as police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church posing with a Bible. The astonishing photo-op drew the ire of the Episcopal bishop of Washington DC has who said she is “outraged”.

The Right Rev Mariann Budde, told the Washington Post, “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”

Trump’s message is at odds with the values of love and tolerance espoused by the church, Budde said, before describing the president’s visit as an opportunity to use the church, and a Bible, as a “backdrop”.

“Let me be clear, the President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” she told CNN.

“We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others. And I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen,” she added.

“I don’t want President Trump speaking for St John’s. We so dissociate ourselves from the messages of this president,” she told the Washington Post. “We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so, so grounding to our lives and everything we do, and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice.”

Meanwhile Trump’s bellicose rhetoric came as the nation convulsed through another round of violence over the death of George Floyd at a time when the country is already buckling under the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused. The president demanded an end to the heated protests and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.

If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets,” Trump said the US military would step in to “quickly solve the problem for them.”

“We have the greatest country in the world,” Trump declared. “We’re going to keep it safe.” He also, perhaps unintentionally, invoked Richard Nixon, by calling himself the ‘Law and Order President.’

Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots, capturing the White House. But circumstances are different – despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, Trump is an incumbent who risks being held responsible for the violence.

A military deployment by Trump to US states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. Yet the message Trump appeared to be sending with the brazen pushback of protesters outside the White House was that he sees few limits to what he is willing to do.

Illinois

Days of vandalism and violence following protests of George Floyd’s death prompted Illinois state officials to close multiple community-based COVID-19 testing sites. A reopening date was not given, but the move was likely to affect the tracking of cases in the state and reopening plans tied to data.

State officials said the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency ordered the closure “in order to protect staff and those utilizing these services.”

Oklahoma

Officials in Oklahoma say they will no longer release specific information about COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities or by zip code.

Oklahoma State Department of Health Agency spokeswoman Donelle Harder said attorneys at the department and in the governor’s office agreed state law prohibits the release of such detailed information but that they did so under the powers granted to the governor under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act. Those powers were not renewed by the Legislature and expired on Monday.

A recent analysis of the state’s 334 COVID-19 deaths shows nearly half have been residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

The head of the Oklahoma Press Association, a trade group that represents newspapers across the state, immediately denounced the agency’s decision.

“It boggles the mind to understand why OSDH would take a highly informative report and render it useless to local citizens throughout Oklahoma,” said OPA’s Executive Vice-President Mark Thomas. “Knowing COVID-19 by zip code and city allows citizens to be fully informed during this time of high anxiety.”

Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced that he’s allowing bars and spas that have been shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak to reopen this coming weekend, as he further eases restrictions on businesses in a state once one of the nation’s hot spots in the pandemic.

Edwards said Monday the state is “headed in the right direction,” but he cautioned its residents to remember that “there still is a lot of COVID out there.”

The latest loosening of the rules will start Friday, under the plans announced by the governor, and they will be in effect until June 26. They won’t take effect in New Orleans, however, where city officials say they want more time to gather data.

In the rest of Louisiana, bars, massage facilities, bowling alleys, recreational pools and tattoo shops will be able to restart operations, with heavy restrictions on how they interact with customers. Churches, restaurants, hair salons and other businesses that have reopened at 25% capacity since mid-May can move to 50% of their occupancy rate. Bars without a food permit will be restricted to 25% capacity, with patrons required to be seated.

The requirements outlined Monday are based on what are known as “Phase 2” reopening guidance issued by the White House.

Connecticut

Electronic signs are warning travellers to two of the world’s largest casinos about COVID-19 on Monday, the first day they partially reopen to the general public over the governor’s objections. Four portable signs installed by the state Department of Transportation near Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun flashed: “Avoid Large Crowds, Don’t Gamble With COVID” as cars – many with Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York license plates – passed by.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont had asked the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan Tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun, to delay their reopenings, to no avail.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, conceded the signs were “kind of catchy” and credited Lamont with not taking stronger action.

Florida

The Florida Keys reopened for visitors Monday after the tourist-dependent island chain was closed for more than two months to prevent spread of the coronavirus. As the Keys took down barriers, Miami-Dade County decided to keep its beaches closed because of protests over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.

Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo. Almost half of all workers in the Keys are employed by hotels, bars and other hospitality industries, and many of the rest are involved in commercial and sport fishing.

Also opening Monday in Florida was Legoland in Winter Haven. Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are planning to reopen in the coming days.

Source: Travel Industry Today
ANTI-RACISM PROTESTS AND GRADUAL OPENINGS: Trump threatens governors, angers bishop

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