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A diverse crowd of hundreds marched through the streets of Louisville chanting “Black Lives Matter” on Saturday night, the fourth night of protests after a grand jury declined to charge officers with homicide in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
People in the crowd also chanted “No Justice, No Peace” as cars honked along a busy downtown artery in this Kentucky city that has seen more than 120 days of demonstrations over the death of the 26-year-old Black woman in a police raid gone wrong.
A few police cars followed behind, with officers telling protesters to stay on the sidewalk and out of the street.
Police have maintained barricades and planned another nighttime curfew starting at 9 p.m. in the city.
The protests Friday night were peaceful, but police arrested 22 people for curfew violations. A police spokesperson said some also were charged with failure to disperse.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had urged continued peaceful protests in an appearance at a news conference Saturday evening.
“I’m mindful that many in our community are hurting and angry about the decisions announced this week,” Fischer said. The mayor said he supports protesters’ First Amendment rights to protest though “we just ask you to do that peacefully please.”
Taylor was shot multiple times March 13 after her boyfriend fired at officers who had entered her home during a narcotics raid by white officers, authorities said. Taylor’s boyfriend said he didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense, wounding one officer.
On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a grand jury indicted one officer on wanton endangerment charges, saying he fired gunshots into a neighboring home during the raid that didn’t strike anyone. That officer has been fired.
Cameron said the other officers were not charged with Taylor’s killing because they acted to protect themselves.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, visited a downtown park on Friday with family and her lawyers and called on Kentucky officials to release all body camera footage, police files and the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings. Palmer said in a statement read by a family member that she felt the criminal justice system had failed her. Palmer marched at the head of Friday’s protest march.
The grand jury’s ruling weighed heavily on protesters like Amber Brown. A central figure in the downtown demonstrations, Brown said she was angry.
“It feels like we went backward,” she said Friday night. “I think people are still in shock and we’re not sure how to move forward.”
Voice of America – English
Mexican authorities have issued dozens of arrest warrants for police and soldiers who they believe may have participated in the 2014 disappearance of 43 Mexican college students, the head of the investigation said Saturday.
Omar Gomez, head of the special prosecutor’s office for the case, told a news conference in Mexico City the warrants had been issued for the “material and intellectual authors” of the crime, including military members, and federal and municipal police.
The announcement came during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City on the sixth anniversary of the students’ kidnapping. During the event, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Mexico’s Undersecretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas held fabrics embroidered by relatives of the victims, many of whom attended the ceremony holding large pictures of the disappeared students.
Saturday marks the first time in the case that Mexican authorities have announced arrest warrants for military personnel. Reuters reported earlier in the week that arrest warrants were imminent.
The Mexican military did not respond to initial requests for comment.
The students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College disappeared on September 26, 2014, in the state of Guerrero. The remains of only two of the students have been positively identified so far.
The unsolved kidnapping of the young men who were training to be teachers convulsed the country, sparking massive protests in 2014 and garnering international condemnation as one of the darkest examples of the government’s long-standing difficulty preventing violence or convicting those responsible.
In June, authorities announced the apprehension of the leader of a Guerrero gang accused of involvement in the disappearance, and arrest warrants for Guerrero officials in connection with the case.
Family members of the victims have long accused Mexican authorities, including the military, of complicity in the students’ disappearance.
“The military participated,” Maria Martinez Zeferino, the mother of one of the disappeared students, said during Saturday’s news conference.
Voice of America – English
Colleges across the country are struggling to salvage the fall semester amid skyrocketing coronavirus cases, dorm complexes and frat houses under quarantine, and flaring tensions with local community leaders over the spread of the disease.
Many major universities are determined to forge ahead despite warning signs, as evidenced by the expanding slate of college football games occurring Saturday. The football-obsessed Southeastern Conference began its season with fans in stadiums. Several teams in other leagues have had to postpone games because of outbreaks among players and staff.
Institutions across the nation saw spikes of thousands of cases days after opening their doors in the last month, driven by students socializing with little or no social distancing. School and community leaders have tried to rein in the virus by closing bars, suspending students, adding mask requirements, and toggling between in-person and online instruction as case numbers rise and fall.
Tension over the outbreaks is starting to boil over in college towns.
In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, this week blamed outbreaks at two colleges for a surge of virus cases that boosted the state’s infection rate high enough to put it on the list of places whose residents are required to quarantine when traveling to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, alarmed by what he saw as draconian rules on college campuses, said he was drawing up a “bill of rights” for college students.
Faculty members from at least two universities have held no-confidence votes in recent weeks against their top leaders, in part over reopening decisions.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison had seen more than 2,800 confirmed cases in students as of Friday. The school shut down in-person instruction for two weeks, locked down two of its largest dorms, and imposed quarantines on more than a dozen sorority and fraternity houses. The school lifted the dorm lockdown just this week.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has demanded the university send all of its students home for the rest of the academic year.
“[The virus] was under control until the university came back,” Parisi said.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank has fired back, saying tens of thousands of students with off-campus housing would still come to the city. She accused Parisi of failing to enforce capacity restrictions in bars and off-campus parties.
“You can’t simply wish [students] away, nor should you,” Blank said in a statement directed at Parisi.
Amid the fighting, thousands of students around the country have been quarantined in dorm rooms.
At Kansas State University, more than 2,200 students have been placed in quarantine or isolation since classes began. Student Emily Howard was isolated in what students have dubbed “COVID jail” after she and her dorm roommate tested positive for the virus on September 4, just three weeks after arriving on campus.
“Now you walk around campus [and] pretty much everyone says they’ve had it,” Howard said. “Now we don’t really care as much because we know we had the antibodies.”
‘Pretty much stuck’
Bryan Fisher, a UW-Madison freshman quarantined in the dorms, said students were allowed to leave only to get food from the dining hall, and they were given only 30 minutes to make each trip. He said he spent his time studying and watching movies.
“We were pretty much stuck in here,” Fisher said. “It’s been pretty hard to meet new people. Everyone’s expectations of college aren’t what they were.”
The University of Connecticut on Friday placed a third dormitory under medical quarantine. More than 150 students have tested positive.
The University of Missouri has had more than 1,500 confirmed cases among students since classes began. The school planned to limit the crowd at Saturday’s home football opener against Alabama to no more than 11,700 fans, leaving the stands about 80% empty.
Florida State University on Friday decided to require that students test negative for the virus a week before a football game before being allowed to attend and that they must wear masks in the stands. Seminoles coach Mike Norvell tested positive for the virus last week.
Despite the attempts at mitigation, student cases have sent local county infection numbers soaring. Schools’ decisions to push on with the semester have frustrated some faculty and local community leaders.
Faculty members at Appalachian State University in August approved a no-confidence vote against Chancellor Sheri Everts over university finances, morale and reopening plans. Everts has said she received support from the school’s Board of Trustees.
The University of Michigan faculty took a no-confidence vote against President Mark Schlissel earlier this month. Faculty felt Schlissel’s administration hasn’t been transparent about reopening decisions and hasn’t released any modeling gauging the health risks. Graduate students went on strike September 8 to protest reopening. Schlissel has acknowledged that trust in his leadership had slipped, but the university’s governing board expressed support for him this week.
‘Immense pressure to remain open’
“Colleges and universities are … under immense pressure to remain open,” said Chris Mariscano, director of the College Crisis Initiative, a research project at Davidson College tracking the effects of the virus on higher education. “When the president of the United States starts tweeting [about staying open], you understand just how much politics is playing a role here and institutional survival is playing a role here.”
University officials across the country say they hope to bolster testing and contact tracing as the semester continues. But Mariscano said universities should expect college students to act like college students.
At Kansas State, Howard was not especially concerned about the virus and didn’t mind the “COVID jail,” where students got free laundry service and their own bedrooms.
“I personally am not too worried about it, and everyone I have talked to is not that worried about it,” she said. “I think it is more like, you are going to get it. It’s just a matter of when.”
Voice of America – English