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In our news wrap Friday, city crews in Seattle tried to clear away protesters’ so-called “occupied zone” but were blocked when demonstrators chanted their resistance and lay down in front of heavy equipment. Police stood by but did not intervene. Also, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to dismantle its police department, which could lead to a November ballot measure on a new agency.
Two big states, Texas and Florida, are reining in their reopenings, as COVID-19 infections surge back. Republican governors in both states ordered bars to close today or stop selling alcohol.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis argued that his early push to reopen is not to blame for the turn of events.
Gov. Ron DeSantis:
We went to phase one the beginning of May, and we had the best COVID results we have ever had all through May and the beginning of June. I mean, positivity was low. The cases were low.
I think what's just happened since, in the last few weeks, is, I think it's more just, you know, people want to be social, they want to interact.
All told, the nation had a record 40,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, and the death toll neared 125,000.
In Washington, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned that young Americans, most of whom may show no symptoms, are driving the new infections.
You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility, because, if we want to end this outbreak, really end it, and then hopefully when the vaccine comes and puts the nail in the coffin, we have got to realize that we are part of the process.
Dr. Fauci spoke as President Trump's Coronavirus Task Force gave its first briefing in almost two months.
Vice President Pence acknowledged that infections are rising in 16 states, but he said the overall situation is better than two months ago. He also defended the president's decision to resume political rallies.
On Wall Street, the COVID resurgence and moves by Texas and Florida to reimpose closures sent investors heading for the exits. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 730 points, nearly 3 percent, to close at 25,015. The Nasdaq fell 259 points, and the S&P 500 gave up 74.
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously today in favor of dismantling its police department. That could lead to a November ballot measure on creating a new agency with a public health approach, but also with licensed officers. The death of George Floyd during a May arrest in Minneapolis galvanized the move.
In Seattle, city crews tried today to clear away protesters' so-called Occupied Zone, but they were blocked. Demonstrators chanted their resistance and lay down in front of heavy equipment. Police stood by, but did not intervene.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives celebrated passage of a major police overhaul measure. It seeks to ban choke holds and to reduce legal immunity for officers.
In the Senate, majority Republicans favor a more limited bill, but Democrats have blocked it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that the next move is up to the GOP.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:
We always have a responsibility to reach across the aisle, but, instead of a handshake, you get a slap in the face, then you say, you better go back to the drawing board. And that's what they better do.
And that's up to the Senate, when they come to their conclusion. They can't pass a bill, and you think we should embrace it? No.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the House Democrats' bill cannot pass the Senate.
The House voted today, for the first time ever, to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. The measure passed 232-180, with all but one Democrat in favor, and all Republicans opposed. It is given little chance in the Senate. We will take a closer look at the issue later in the program.
In Mexico City, police were out in force after gunmen tried to assassinate the police chief in a daybreak assault. It happened in an upscale neighborhood, where attackers blasted the chief's armored vehicle with sniper rifles and grenades. He was badly wounded, and three people were killed. Officials blamed a drug cartel, and said that 12 suspects were in custody.
The last of three men convicted in the infamous Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing has died in prison. Thomas Blanton Jr., a former Ku Klux Klansman, was 81. Officials said that he passed away today of natural causes. The 1963 bombing killed four young black girls. Blanton was finally convicted in 2001.
And corporate giant Unilever will stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to protest racist and violent content online. It's the latest company to take that decision, and it says that the ad halt will last through December. Unilever makes everything from Dove soap to Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
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