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GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert Introduces Resolution To Ban Democratic Party

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Trump Threatens To Send Federal Agents To Police NYC: “I’m Going To Do Something” “If federal agents are coming in to assist the NYPD and take [alleged criminals] through federal court, where we know the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute them, I think that’s a great idea,” said Sergeant Mullins.

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Bombshell Report: Herd Immunity Reached at 20%

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Protesters, residents sue city over tear gas on 52nd St., 676

By Ryan Briggs • July 14 2020

Protesters face off with police during a demonstration on I-676 in Philadelphia on Monday, June 1 (Courtesy of Pilar Goñalons Pons)

Protesters face off with police during a demonstration on I-676 in Philadelphia on Monday, June 1 (Courtesy of Pilar Goñalons Pons)

Updated: 9:30 a.m.

676. Both incidents garnered national attention over the arrests of protesters and viral videos of police deploying tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of 11 plaintiffs over the use of force by police in West Philadelphia following looting that took place along the 52nd Street corridor on May 31. But the suit asserts that police and an armored vehicle outfitted with a canister launcher later turned tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters and spilled into surrounding streets.

“[Police] went up and down residential streets in the neighborhood, launching tear gas canisters and firing rubber bullets at residents and passersby who were doing nothing more than sitting on their porches,” the suit asserts.

Plaintiffs include nearby residents who say they were sickened by tear gas that wafted through open doors or windows, a man whose shoulder was dislocated when he was allegedly struck by a rubber bullet, a medical student who was gassed after treating multiple residents injured by the police, and litigants that asserted cops used racial epithets while attempting to disburse protesters, among others.

NAACP LDF Assistant Counsel Cara McClellan described a long history of police violence against the Black community in West Philly, comparing the May incident to the 1985 MOVE bombing.

“City officials must be held accountable for these militaristic police actions, which are discriminatory, illegal, and completely unacceptable,” she said. “Our clients deserve safety and security in their own neighborhood and to be free of fear of discrimination and police terror.”

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Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO

BY BRETT SAMUELS

The White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, breaking ties with a global public health body in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said. Withdrawal requires a year’s notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed.

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the administration informed Congress of the withdrawal plans.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” the senator tweeted.

Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.

— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020

The formal notification of withdrawal concludes months of threats from the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the WHO, which is affiliated with the United Nations. President Trump has repeatedly assailed the organization for alleged bias toward China and its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

But public health experts and Democrats have raised alarms that the decision may be short-sighted and could undercut the global response to the pandemic, which has infected 11.6 million people worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world at nearly 3 million.

They have also argued that some of the WHO’s initial missteps can be attributed to China’s lack of transparency in the early stages of the outbreak.

The president first froze funding for the WHO in April while his administration conducted a review of its relationship with the entity. Weeks later, he wrote to the WHO demanding reforms but did not specify what those reforms would be.

________________________________________________________

July 07, 2020 – 02:08 PM EDT

Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO

BY BRETT SAMUELS85,221TWEETSHAREMORESorry, the video player failed to load.(Error Code: 101102)

The White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, breaking ties with a global public health body in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said. Withdrawal requires a year’s notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed.

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that the administration informed Congress of the withdrawal plans.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” the senator tweeted.

Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the @WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone.

— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 7, 2020

The formal notification of withdrawal concludes months of threats from the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the WHO, which is affiliated with the United Nations. President Trump has repeatedly assailed the organization for alleged bias toward China and its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

But public health experts and Democrats have raised alarms that the decision may be short-sighted and could undercut the global response to the pandemic, which has infected 11.6 million people worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world at nearly 3 million.

They have also argued that some of the WHO’s initial missteps can be attributed to China’s lack of transparency in the early stages of the outbreak.

The president first froze funding for the WHO in April while his administration conducted a review of its relationship with the entity. Weeks later, he wrote to the WHO demanding reforms but did not specify what those reforms would be.

Trump announced at the end of May the U.S. was “terminating” ties with the WHO.

The move was cheered by conservatives who had accused the WHO of harboring pro-China bias and argued the global body was not a productive use of funds.

Critics of the WHO have pointed to its initial assertion that the coronavirus could not be spread via human-to-human transmission, and Trump has harped on the organization’s opposition to travel bans after he imposed one on China.

Trump and his allies have also lashed out at the WHO for failing to stop early warning signs of the outbreak.

China first alerted the WHO to the presence of a cluster of atypical pneumonia in the city of Wuhan on Dec. 31 after the WHO picked up reports through its epidemic intelligence system. But there is evidence to indicate the virus was circulating in Wuhan as early as mid-November.

The United States contributes upwards of $400 million annually to the WHO — making it the group’s largest contributor — and public health experts have warned that a suspension of funds would severely damage the organization.

The timing of the administration’s decision has drawn intense scrutiny and is likely to spur questions about U.S. involvement in global efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

“This decision is irresponsible, reckless, and utterly incomprehensible. Withdrawing from the @WHO in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime is a self-destructive move. More Americans will be hurt by this careless choice,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) tweeted.

This report was updated at 3:12 p.m.

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EU diplomats say they barely considered letting US residents in for Europe’s reopening: The country ‘was never going to make it’

Ashley Collman

European Union officials eliminated the US early while deciding which countries to allow in for the bloc’s initial reopening this week, NBC News reported Thursday, citing three diplomats.

The diplomats, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the decision over which countries to reopen to was strictly based on epidemiological data.

So the US, which is grappling with the most coronavirus cases in the world, was never going to make the cut, they said.

“The US was never going to make it,” one of the diplomats told NBC News. “Just look at their coronavirus situation.”

A doctor walking by a sign on a boarded-up shop in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco on March 17. 
Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The diplomats said the cuts were made by eliminating countries in multiple rounds, rather than evaluating on a country-by-country basis.

To pass the first round, countries’ rates of new coronavirus cases had to be the same as or lower than the EU’s average over a two-week period.

At the time, the EU rate was 15 cases per 100,000 residents. The US rate was almost 10 times as high: 145 cases per 100,000.

For this reason, the US didn’t even make it to round two, in which countries were evaluated on whether their infection rate was increasing or decreasing and on how reliable their government was at tackling the virus.

This looked at, for example, the accuracy of a country’s coronavirus reporting and availability of testing.

President Donald Trump at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on May 14. 
Evan Vucci/AP

Fifteen countries made the list allowing residents to travel to the EU’s member states starting Thursday.

Among the countries that made the list are China, where the pandemic started, and the US’s northern neighbor, Canada.

The decision not to open the EU to travelers from the US will no doubt have an impact on Europe’s tourism industry, but the diplomats said they never took that into consideration.

“If we started talking about making exceptions for countries that provide a lot of tourism, even if they have a lot of coronavirus cases, that would not be the right approach,” one EU diplomat told NBC News.

A poll conducted in late April and early May found that majorities of people in numerous European countries including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, and Portugal had lost trust in the US because of its response to the pandemic.

European health experts have also been stunned by the US’s slow response to its outbreak, as Business Insider’s Tom Porter reported.

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The US Military Is All Over Africa Despite Not Being at War in Africa

by Strategic Culture Foundation

US TROOPS

There are currently roughly 7,500 US military personnel, including 1,000 contractors, deployed in Africa. For comparison, that figure was only 6,000 just a year ago.

round 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. Those forces utilize several hundred military installations. Africa is no exemption. On August 2, Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier took command of US Army Africa, promising to “hit the ground running.”

The US is not waging any wars in Africa but it has a significant presence on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special ops are currently conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time, waging secret, limited-scale operations. According to the magazine Vice, US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day — an astounding 1,900% increase since the command rolled out 10 years ago. Many activities described as “advise and assist” are actually indistinguishable from combat by any basic definition.

There are currently roughly 7,500 US military personnel, including 1,000 contractors, deployed in Africa. For comparison, that figure was only 6,000 just a year ago. The troops are strung throughout the continent spread across 53 countries. There are 54 countries on the “Dark Continent.” More than 4,000 service members have converged on East Africa. The US troop count in Somalia doubled last year.

When AFRICOM was created there were no plans to establish bases or put boots on the ground. Today, a network of small staging bases or stations have cropped up. According to investigative journalist Nick Turse, “US military bases (including forward operating sites, cooperative security locations, and contingency locations) in Africa number around fifty, at least.” US troops in harm’s way in Algeria, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan Tunisia, and Uganda qualify for extra pay.

The US African Command (AFRICOM) runs drone surveillance programs, cross-border raids, and intelligence. AFRICOM has claimed responsibility for development, public health, professional and security training, and other humanitarian tasks. Officials from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Energy, Commerce, and Justice, among other agencies, are involved in AFRICOM activities. Military attachés outnumber diplomats at many embassies across Africa.

Last October, four US soldiers lost their lives in Niger. The vast majority of Americans probably had no idea that the US even had troops participating in combat missions in Africa before the incident took place. One serviceman was reported dead in Somalia in June. The Defense Department is mulling plans to “right-size” special operations missions in Africa and reassign troops to other regions, aligning the efforts with the security priorities defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. That document prioritizes great power competition over defeating terrorist groups in remote corners of the globe. Roughly 1,200 special ops troops on missions in Africa are looking at a drawdown. But it has nothing to do with leaving or significantly cutting back. And the right to unilaterally return will be reserved. The infrastructure is being expanded enough to make it capable of accommodating substantial reinforcements. The construction work is in progress. The bases will remain operational and their numbers keep on rising.

A large drone base in Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, is reported to be under construction. The facility will host armed MQ-9 Reaper drones which will finally take flight in 2019. The MQ-9 Reaper has a range of 1,150 miles, allowing it to provide strike support and intelligence-gathering capabilities across West and North Africa from this new base outside of Agadez. It can carry GBU-12 Paveway II bombs. The aircraft features synthetic aperture radar for integrating GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The armament suite can include four Hellfire air-to-ground anti-armor and anti-personnel missiles. There are an estimated 800 US troops on the ground in Niger, along with one drone base and the base in Agadez that is being built. The Hill called it “the largest US Air Force-led construction project of all time.”

According to Business Insider, “The US military presence here is the second largest in Africa behind the sole permanent US base on the continent, in the tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.” Four thousand American servicemen are stationed at Camp Lemonnier (the US base located near Djibouti City) — a critical strategic base for the American military because of its port and its proximity to the Middle East.

Officially, the camp is the only US base on the continent or, as AFRICOM calls it, “a forward operating site,” — the others are “cooperative security locations” or “non-enduring contingency locations.” Camp Lemonnier is the hub of a network of American drone bases in Africa that are used for aerial attacks against insurgents in Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia, as well as for exercising control over the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. In 2014, the US signed a new 20-year lease on the base with the Djiboutian government, and committed over $1.4 billion to modernize and expand the facility in the years to come.

In March, the US and Ghana signed a military agreement outlining the conditions of the US military presence in that nation, including its construction activities. The news was met with protests inside the country.

It should be noted that the drone attacks that are regularly launched in Africa are in violation of US law. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), adopted after Sept. 11, 2001, states that the president is authorized to use force against the planners of those attacks and those who harbor them. But that act does not apply to the rebel groups operating in Africa.

It’s hard to believe that the US presence will be really diminished, and there is no way to know, as too many aspects of it are shrouded in secrecy with nothing but “leaks” emerging from time to time. It should be noted that the documents obtained by TomDispatch under the United States Freedom of Information Act contradict AFRICOM’s official statements about the scale of US military bases around the world, including 36 AFRICOM bases in 24 African countries that have not been previously disclosed in official reports.

The US foothold in Africa is strong. It’s almost ubiquitous. Some large sites under construction will provide the US with the ability to host large aircraft and accommodate substantial forces and their hardware. This all prompts the still-unanswered question — “Where does the US have troops in Africa, and why?” One thing is certain — while waging an intensive drone war, the US is building a vast military infrastructure for a large-scale ground war on the continent.

Top Photo | U.S. Air Force, soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF) depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 21, 2013 (AP/U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Micah Theurich)

© Strategic Culture Foundation

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Iran issues arrest warrant for Trump over drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani

Updated 1444 GMT (2244 HKT) June 29, 2020

(CNN) – Iran has issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump over the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in January, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Monday.

Trump is one of 36 people Iran has issued arrest warrants for in relation to the death of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), according to Fars, but the Tehran attorney general Ali Alqasi Mehr said Trump was at the top of the list.

Mehr claimed Trump would be prosecuted as soon as he stands down presidency after his term ends, Fars reported.

Iran also said it had asked Interpol to issue a Red Notice for these 36 individuals, semi-official state news agency ISNA reported, though it was unlikely that Interpol would grant the request.

In a statement to CNN, Interpol said it “would not consider requests of this nature.” It explained that it was not in accordance with its rules and constitution, which states “it is strictly forbidden for the organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

A September 2013 photo of Qasem Soleimani

‘Political stunt’: US official

US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called the move a “political stunt” during a joint press conference with the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on Monday.

“It’s propaganda that we’re used to,” Hook said. “This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability, so we see it for what it is — it’s a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish,” he added.Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport in January along with five others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).The strike, condemned by Iran and its allies as an “assassination,” raised the specter of further regional destabilization.

A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, announced in early June that an Iranian citizen had been sentenced to death for allegedly working for foreign intelligence agencies. Esmaili claimed that Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi Majd disclosed the whereabouts of Soleimani to US intelligence officials.

The Trump administration viewed Soleimani as a ruthless killer, and the President told reporters in January that the general should have been taken out by previous presidents.

The Pentagon blamed Soleimani for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and US allies in the months leading up to his killing.”General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” the Pentagon said at the time, calling the strike “decisive defensive” action aimed at deterring future Iranian attacks.

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Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, according to intelligence assessments

In this June 10, 2017 photo provided by Operation Resolute Support, U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron maneuver an M-777 howitzer, so it can be towed into position at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. (Sgt. Justin Updegraff/AP)

By Ellen NakashimaKaren DeYoungMissy Ryan and John Hudson June 28, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. EDT

Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under the program. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed this year. In each of those years, several service members were also killed by what are known as “green on blue” hostile incidents by members of Afghan security forces, which are sometimes believed to have been infiltrated by the Taliban.

The intelligence was passed up from the U.S. Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan and led to a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March, the people said.AD

The meeting led to broader discussions about possible responses to the Russian action, ranging from diplomatic expressions of disapproval and warnings, to sanctions, according to two of the people. These people and others who discussed the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because of its sensitivity.

The disturbing intelligence — which the CIA was tasked with reviewing, and later confirmed — generated disagreement about the appropriate path forward, a senior U.S. official said. The administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, preferred confronting the Russians directly about the matter, while some National Security Council officials in charge of Russia were more dismissive of taking immediate action, the official said.

It remained unclear where those discussions have led to date. Verifying such intelligence is a process that can take weeks, typically involving the CIA and the National Security Agency, which captures foreign cellphone and radio communications. Final drafting of any policy options in response would be the responsibility of national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien.AD

The CIA assessment took some time, and coincided with the scaling back and slowing down of a number of government functions as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold, two people said.

Asked to comment, John Ullyot, an NSC spokesman, said that “the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” The CIA and the Defense and State departments declined to comment.

Russia and the Taliban have denied the existence of the program.

Among the coalition of NATO forces in Afghanistan, the British were briefed late last week on the intelligence assessment, although other alliance governments were not formally informed. The New York Times first reported the existence of the bounty program on Friday evening.

But as more details have unfolded, the primary controversy in Washington over the weekend revolved around denials by President Trump and his aides that the president was ever briefed on the intelligence.AD

Trump on Sunday confirmed statements by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and the White House press secretary that he received no briefing on the subject, and he referred in tweets to “so-called reports” by “Fake News.”

“Nobody briefed or told me, [Vice President] Pence or Chief of Staff [Mark Meadows] about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News . . . Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” Trump said on Twitter, insisting that “nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump administration.”

But his Twitter remarks did little to clarify whether the administration was denying that the assessment existed, or simply denying that Trump knew anything about it. Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence until last month, tweeted that “I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence.”AD

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday joined other lawmakers — including leading Republicans — in expressing concern and calling for the administration to provide Congress with an explanation.

“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed,” Pelosi said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

“But he wants to ignore,” she said, “he wants to bring them back to the G-8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, despite what they yielded to [Putin] in Syria, despite [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] intervention into our election, which is well documented by our intelligence community, and despite now possibly this allegation, which we should have been briefed on.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who golfed with the president Sunday, earlier tweeted that “I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports.”AD

In a second tweet, Graham said it was “Imperative Congress get to the bottom” of the Russian offer “to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-highest-ranking member of the House GOP leadership, also took to Twitter on Sunday to say that if the report of Russian bounties “is true, the White House must explain” why the president wasn’t briefed, who did know and when, and “what has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin responsible.”

A third person familiar with the issue said that “I don’t think that anybody withheld anything and screwed up by not getting to the president on time.” Until “you were absolutely sure of the intelligence and the NSC had drawn up policy options, you weren’t going to walk into the Oval Office,” the person said.AD

So the issue is not when the president was briefed, the person said, but rather, “now that you are aware of it, what are you going to do about it? That’s where the focus should be.”

In years past, there were persistent reports that Russia was supplying small arms to the Taliban. Carter Malkasian, who served as a senior adviser to the previous chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said Russia had cultivated a relationship with certain Taliban elements, largely in northern Afghanistan, beginning around 2015. The outreach was partly as a response to Moscow’s concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State militants in the region, and also out of a desire to see U.S. troops leave the region.

But more recently, U.S. officials said that Russia — which tried and failed to start its own Afghan peace process — has been cooperative and helpful since the Taliban signed a peace deal, including a plan for U.S. withdrawal, with the administration early this year.AD

Malkasian, now a scholar at CNA, said the bounty operation, if true, could be a “random” initiative, rather than one that reflected a well-coordinated program ordered by the highest levels of the government.

He said that a primary Russian goal in Afghanistan continues to be the exit of American forces, but not at any cost.

“They may want us out, and they may be happy to see a few Americans die,” he said, “but I don’t think they want to see the Taliban take over.”5.6k Comments

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Mississippi to remove state flag, the last to display the Confederate battle emblem

BY KATE SMITH

UPDATED ON: JUNE 28, 2020 / 7:50 PM / CBS NEWS

The Mississippi state legislature voted on Sunday to replace its state flag, the last in the nation to display the Confederate battle emblem. The removal of the flag marks the latest Confederate symbol to topple in the weeks following George Floyd’s death as activists have called for a reexamination of the racism that exists in all corners of society.

The bill passed by a vote of 91-23 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate.  

The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves, who on Saturday morning said he would sign the legislation into law, reversing resistance to a legislature-led change to the flag. Mississippians will vote on a replacement flag in the November election. According to the legislation, the current flag design cannot be an option.

“I would guess a lot of you don’t even see that flag in the corner right there,” said Mississippi state Representative Ed Blackmon, who is black, during public comment on Saturday. “There are some of us who notice it every time we walk in here, and it’s not a good feeling.”

Mississippi Flag
The state flag of Mississippi flies at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Mississippi, on Friday, April 26, 2019.ROGELIO V. SOLIS / AP

Up until earlier this month, the majority of Mississippians favored keeping the flag, which prominently features the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. In 2001, voters decided two to one in a ballot measure to keep the flag as is, many arguing it was a nod to their ancestors who fought for Mississippi in the Civil War. 

But a recent wave of influential business, religious and sports leaders condemning the flag — including the Southeastern Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association —  prompted a change of heart. By Thursday, polling showed 55% of Mississippians wanted a change, according to the state’s chamber of commerce.

Many symbols of the Confederacy have vanished in the wake of Floyd’s death. Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced his intention to remove a towering statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. Military leaders have said they were open to renaming forts named after Confederate generals, a proposal that’s been rejected by President Trump. NASCAR announced it would prohibit the display of the Confederate flag during races and other events, writing in a statement that the flag’s presence “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

But nowhere is the Confederate flag more on display than in Mississippi, the last remaining state to include the design on its official state flag. As other Southern states have retired designs that included the symbol, Mississippi has been the lone holdout, even as institutions across the state have voluntarily pulled it down. 

Following the attack on black parishioners by a white supremacist in a South Carolina church, all of Mississippi’s public universities and many cities have stopped flying the ensign. But the flag still flies in front of many public buildings, including the state capitol building and the Governor’s mansion.

Mississippians had previously been resistant to changing the flag, citing the state’s history. But activists argued the flag has been co-opted, and now is used as a symbol of white supremacy, the Jim Crow South and racism and violence that black Americans still face.

“My ancestors were beaten and traumatized, and it was under that flag,” said Jarrius Adams, 22, a political activist that advocated for the change. “There are a lot of moments when I’m not proud to be from Mississippi, but this is definitely a moment that I’m extremely proud to be from Mississippi.”

First published on June 28, 2020 / 6:59 PM

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