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News Roundup

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last Friday at her home in Washington at age 87.  Ginsburg served on the Court for 27 years after being nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993.  She previously held a seat on the D.C. Circuit.  Ginsburg spent much of her career litigating gender equality cases, cofounding the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU in the early 1970s.  More recently she had become a cultural icon, widely known for her strenuous workouts and “Notorious R.B.G.” nickname.  Ginsburg famously was close friends with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  At a ceremony this week, Chief Justice John Roberts described her as “tough, brave, a fighter, a winner” and added that she was “thoughtful, careful, compassionate, and honest.”  Ginsburg will lie in state in the United States Capitol today, the first woman to receive that honor.  Keep reading for more news.

Breonna Taylor.  This week Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury considering criminal charges against police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor did not return any indictments in connection with her death, though one officer will face endangerment charges for shooting into a neighboring apartment.

The news about the lack of indictments was met with a range of reactions. There were protests in Louisville and elsewhere across the country, including North Carolina, on Wednesday night, with more demonstrations expected for Thursday.  Two police officers were shot during the protests in Louisville, both are recovering and a suspect is in custody.

While there have been persistent calls from some for criminal charges in Taylor’s death, others have questioned whether charges were appropriate given that officers had a warrant and apparently were shot at by Taylor’s boyfriend, who mistakenly believed an unlawful home invasion was occurring.  Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has asked Attorney General Cameron to make all the evidence gathered from the investigation public, saying people should be able to “come to their own conclusions about justice.”  Cameron has said that he doesn’t think releasing the evidence is appropriate in light of the pending endangerment trial and an ongoing FBI investigation into the incident.

Asheville.  As WLOS reports, Asheville Police Chief David Zach criticized the use of “threatening imagery” during Wednesday night demonstrations in the city where a coffin filled with dirt was left outside the police department.  Zach said that the coffin promoted violence against the police and referenced the recent death of Henderson County Deputy Ryan Hendrix, who was shot while responding to a report of a vehicle break-in.

Earlier this month the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that 31 officers have resigned from the Asheville Police Department since June, a number that represents 13% of the force and does not take into account retirements.  Chief Zach told the Citizen-Times that about half of the officers were moving to other departments and half were changing careers.

Durham.  Several Durham businesses and the police department headquarters were damaged on Wednesday according to this report from the News & Observer.  Windows were broken at businesses in the downtown area and the phrase “burn it down” was spray painted on the police department.  Mayor Steve Schewel said that the damage was caused by a group of white people and that it was “an attempt to co-opt a racial justice movement.”  Photos show a group of people dressed in dark clothing obscuring their identities with umbrellas.

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