Quickly on the heels of last week’s racist mass shooting comes America’s latest tragedy. On Tuesday, a teenager in Texas killed nineteen elementary school children and two of their teachers with an assault rifle he bought a week prior and the day after his 18th birthday. While the shooting is the deadliest ever for a school in Texas, surpassing an incident with ten victims at a high school in Santa Fe four years ago, it is only the second-deadliest elementary school shooting in our history. Twenty-six people died at Sandy Hook a decade ago, twenty of them children. Keep reading for more news.
This week, yet again, America mourns a mass shooting after a young white man attacked the Tops Food Market in Buffalo, New York, killing thirteen people, eleven of them Black, in what appears to be premeditated murder motivated by racism. Along with the fact, toll, and motivation of the shooting, accomplished as others with a legally purchased assault rifle, is an additional hallmark of our time – the suspect plotted and broadcast the attack on the internet. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
As the PBS Newshour reports, this week the United States Department of the Interior released the first volume of an investigative report that examines the federal Indian boarding school system that operated from 1819 to 1969 and visited widespread abuse upon children of Native communities. A second volume of the report is expected to investigate burial sites at the schools, where thousands of students died from illness, accidental injuries, and abuse. Keep reading for more news.
The biggest legal story of the week was the surprise leak of a draft opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Politico broke the story and later reported Chief Justice John Roberts’s confirmation that the leaked draft was authentic and his direction to the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the leak. Keep reading for more news.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department held a press conference this week saying that the department is increasing its efforts to prevent groups of people from riding bicycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs recklessly and aggressively in the Uptown area. Officers have arrested nearly 30 people over the past two years for crimes associated with the reckless riding and Captain Bret Balamucki said that there has been a recent increase in violence by the groups. Keep reading for more news.
CBS 17 reports that members of the Raleigh Fire and Police departments gathered in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday prior to a city council meeting to protest and call for the city to pay them higher wages. The City Council was set to consider a 2 percent pay increase for city employees, but those gathered at the protest noted that the cost of living in and around Raleigh has risen more than 2 percent in recent years and that wages weren’t competitive relative to other opportunities. The CBS 17 report says that vacancies at the police department are at an all-time high, with a vacancy rate around 20%.
This week the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the court when she takes Justice Breyer’s place at the end of the current term, and will be the only current member with experience as a public defender. Three Republicans joined all Senate democrats to confirm Jackson with a vote of 53 to 47. Keep reading for more news.
On Tuesday, President Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, bipartisan legislation that amends 18 U.SC. § 249 by expressly making lynching a federal hate crime. A Time article explains that the bill will allow criminal prosecutions in situations where a group of people conspire to commit a hate crime which results in death or serious bodily injury. The NewsHour aired a lengthy segment this week on the new law and the history of racial violence in the United States. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and was opposed by only three members of the House of Representatives. Keep reading for more news.
This week the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the United States Supreme Court. Jackson currently sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and her prior experience, following graduation from Harvard Law School where she was an editor of the law review, includes serving as vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission and working as a federal public defender. Judge Jackson would be the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court if she is confirmed.
Late last week Governor Roy Cooper’s office announced that he had commuted the sentences of three people who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms as teenagers and had served decades behind bars. April Leigh Barber, now 46, served 30 years in prison after being convicted of killing her grandparents by setting their house ablaze when she was 15 years old; she has a job lined up as a paralegal when she is released, according to WFMY. Joshua McKay, now 37, served 20 years for the murder of Mary Catherine Young in Richmond County when he was 17; the Richmond County Daily Journal says that he would have been released in November of this year absent the commutation. Finally, Anthony Willis, now 42, has served 26 years for the murder of Benjamin Franklin Miller in Cumberland County at the age of 16; WRAL reports that Willis has earned several college degrees while in prison, including a masters degree. The commutations were recommended by the Juvenile Sentence Review Board, which Cooper previously established by executive order. Keep reading for more news.