Juneteenth celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, but the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to all states in the USA. The 13th Amendment brought an end to slavery.
Juneteenth, which commemorates the freeing of slaves at the end of the Civil War, is a state or ceremonial holiday in 47 states and Washington, D.C., and is being marked Friday by peaceful demonstrations, rallies and celebrations.
This year it is playing out against a backdrop of nationwide protests, marches and legal action following the death in Minneapolis last month of George Floyd during an arrest by a white police officer.
The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver a keynote address at a Juneteenth celebration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a white mob destroyed the “Black Wall Street” in 1921. President Donald Trump had initially planned a campaign rally in Tulsa on Friday but later rescheduled to Saturday after learning about the significance of the holiday.
In Atlanta, police officers called out sick Thursday to protest the filing of murder charges against ex-officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back. Brooks was to be buried Friday in a private ceremony. Nearby, in Decatur, a 112-year-old Confederate monument that has become a flashpoint for protests was removed by a crane amid shouts of “Just drop it!”
A closer look at some recent developments:
- Rayshard Brooks’ funeral will be held Tuesday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
- Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said the state is “ready” and “excited” for President Donald Trump’s visit Saturday for a campaign rally. Meanwhile, the state’s Supreme Court is expected to rule today whether those who attend the campaign rally must adhere to CDC guidelines for face masks and social distancing.
- The Georgia Law Enforcement Organization raised $250,000 for fired Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe.
- Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has not revealed when his office will conclude its investigation into the conduct of officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
- Fractured skulls, lost eyes: In an investigation into law-enforcement actions at protests across the country, Kaiser Health News and USA TODAY found that some officers appear to have violated their department’s own rules when they fired “less lethal” projectiles at protesters who were for the most part peacefully assembled.
Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.
Atlanta police call out sick Thursday night
A barrage of sick calls from Atlanta police officers continued Thursday night as members of the force protested murder charges against fired officer Garrett Rolfe. Prosecutors brought felony murder and other charges against Rolfe, a white officer, after the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man.
Interim Chief Rodney Bryant told The Associated Press sick calls began Wednesday and continued Thursday, but said the department has sufficient staff to protect the city. It’s not clear how many officers have called out.
“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Bryant said of the officers. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”
Crane swoops away 112-year-old Confederate monument in Georgia
Hundreds gathered in Decatur and watched a crane remove a stone obelisk in Decatur, Georgia, on the eve of Juneteenth amid jeers and chants of “Just drop it!”
The monument in the Atlanta suburb was among those around the country that became flashpoints for protests over police brutality and racial injustice in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. The monument to the Lost Cause that was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy was often vandalized and marked by graffiti.
Senators plan to introduce bill to designate Juneteenth as national holiday
Sen. Kamala Harris announced Thursday that a group of Senate Democrats will introduce a bill that declares Juneteenth a national holiday.
“Together with my colleagues Cory Booker, Tina Smith, and Ed Markey, we are proposing that Juneteenth be a national holiday. And we are dropping that bill saying that Juneteenth should be a national holiday,” Harris told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
Harris’ announcement comes after Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday he would introduce similar legislation. “Texans have celebrated this end to slavery for 155 years. It’s an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and a reminder of how far we still have to go,” Cornyn said on Twitter.
Pennsylvania cop fired for ‘derogatory’ email about Black people, journalists and politicians
A longtime Pennsylvania police officer was fired Thursday after sending a “racist and derogatory” email to the mayor and local news reporters.
Erie Mayor Joe Schember announced the firing of 62-year-old Sgt. Jeff Annunziata at a press conference, alongside Police Chief Dan Spizarny. In his email, Annunziata said Black people seeking social justice “cannot take care of their own or anyone else without playing the race card.” He also defended his profession and criticized journalists.
“Sgt. Jeff Annunziata sent an email to members of the media containing racist and derogatory statements,” Schember said. “I condemn these statements. I am appalled and disgusted by the racial insensitivity of this email.”
– Kevin Flowers and Madeleine O’Neill, Erie (Pa.) Times-News
Georgia nonprofit says it raised $250K for fired Atlanta officer Garrett Rolfe
The Georgia Law Enforcement Organization started a fundraiser for fired Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who is facing a felony murder charge in connection to the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
The nonprofit announced Thursday in a Facebook post it had raised $250,000 for Rolfe’s legal fees. In multiple posts, the organization has called the arrest of Rolfe “political.” The fundraiser was started Wednesday.
“As you can imagine, we have been overwhelmed at the support we have received for Officer Rolfe,” the organization wrote in a Facebook post.
– Jordan Culver
More on protests
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt says state is ready for Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt told President Donald Trump on Thursday that his state is ready to host a pivotal campaign rally Saturday, dismissing warnings from health officials about hosting a large gathering during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re so excited to have you,” Stitt, a Republican, told the president during a White House event focused on reopening the economy. “Oklahoma’s ready for your visit.”
Some state officials, including Republicans, have warned against bringing thousands of people into an indoor venue, the BOK Center, during the pandemic. Oklahoma is experiencing record spikes in daily coronavirus cases, though Stitt said hospitalizations remain low.
The rally will mark the president’s first return to the campaign trail since the early weeks of the pandemic and comes at a time when his support is slipping in battleground states.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
Rayshard Brooks’ funeral scheduled for Tuesday; won’t be open to public
Rayshard Brooks’ funeral will take place Tuesday at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and won’t be open to the public or media, the law firm representing his family said. The service will be livestreamed.
There will be a viewing at the same church the day before, scheduled for 3-7 p.m. and open to the public but with no cameras allowed. Organizers said masks will be required and social distance guidelines will be followed at both events.
Portraits of House Speakers who served in Confederacy removed
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of four portraits in the U.S. Capitol of former Speakers of the House who served in the Confederacy, a symbolic gesture to honor Juneteenth on Friday as the country continues to protest over systemic racism and police brutality.
Pelosi, at her weekly news conference, said she wrote a letter to House Clerk Cheryl Johnson requesting the removal of portraits of the four former House Speakers, who all served in the 1880s, because “there’s no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy.”
She said the removal would be happening on Friday, which would mark the Juneteenth holiday, but instead the large portraits were taken down Thursday afternoon, just hours after Pelosi sent her letter to Johnson.
– Christal Hayes
Kentucky AG won’t put timetable on Breonna Taylor shooting investigation
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron declined on Thursday to say when his office will conclude its investigation into the conduct of officers involved in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.
“An investigation of this magnitude, when done correctly, requires time and patience,” Cameron said. “We will do what is right. We will find the truth.”
Cameron, speaking at a news conference, also reiterated that the investigation is “ongoing” and did not announce any decision relating to charges. He also declined to speak about many specifics of the investigation, including whether the scope of the case has expanded beyond the three officers who fired their weapons.
“I’d also like to say to all those involved in this case, you have my commitment that our office is undertaking a thorough and fair investigation,” he said. “This is also a commitment I’m making to the Louisville community, which has suffered tremendously in the days since March 13.”
– Darcy Costello and Tessa Duvall, The Courier Journal (Louisville, Ky.)
Contributing: The Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/19/rayshard-brooks-funeral-juneteenth-donald-trump/3215484001/