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Anticipating the Chauvin Verdict, Madison Officials and Local Leaders Urge Restraint

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Tens of millions of Americans are on edge as closing arguments were delivered to the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd.

“When injustice occurs in Georgia, Louisville, Minnesota, down the street in Kenosha, Wisconsin, it will have a local reaction here because with each episode of excessive use of force, it reopens wounds not just in Minnesota, but across the nation,” said Ruben Anthony, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison during a press briefing Monday.

Following the previous summer’s agitated and sometimes combative clashes between law enforcement officers and Black Lives Matter protesters, elected officials and leaders of community organizations in Dane County toed a fine line during the briefing between encouraging protesters to speak out against police injustice while also pleading to maintain peaceful demonstrations and work with law enforcement.

“The American criminal justice system has not always defined and or exhibited justice in a manner in which we expect,” said Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes. “As a Black man in America, I’m aware of this. And as a police officer I acknowledge this.”

Barnes was sworn in as chief in February 2021 and was not in charge of the Madison Police Department during the 2020 unrest. Since starting in this position, Barnes has said he’s committed to data-driven community policing, and the department has been reviewing its policies to “do a better job for our Madison community.”

Last summer, police used crowd-control tactics in response to protests that included pepper spray and tear gas, while subsequent rioting included looting and vandalism of businesses and the setting of fires. Barnes said any demonstrations held in response to a verdict in the Chauvin trial will be managed by what the department refers to as the “Madison Method,” which are seven guidelines officers are to follow when policing crowds and demonstrations.

“Managing protests is, you know, a day-by-day, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour decision-making process,” Barnes said.

Barnes said deploying crowd-control weapons like tear gas or pepper spray would be used “as a last resort.”

“We use them to protect people who are being hurt or being injured,” Barnes said, emphasizing their focus is on preventing situations from getting there in the first place. However, critics argue that police showing up to a protest in riot gear, enforcing curfews and other aggressive tactics is what leads to escalation of clashes in the first place.

Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, called on both police officers and protesters to take responsibility for their actions in the streets.

“I would ask our police officers and to those who manage police officers to continue to listen before using any form of force against those who are protesting in our streets, while at the same time I would ask those who are protesting to do the same and to refrain from using confrontational tactics that can cause harm to those who are responsible for protecting our streets.”

Johnson and other community leaders walked with protesters last year and even hired 75 “peacekeepers” to try to quell tensions when it looked like protests were becoming destructive and called on more people to take an active role in maintaining peace, which he said was lacking in 2020.

“There was a lot of business people and community leaders that sat on the sidelines and went to social media to offer their feedback without being involved and trying to bring solutions to the table,” Johnson said. “And this city is going to need collective leadership.”

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Barnes said they have been meeting with community groups involved in organizing protests of police injustice to hear their concerns when exercising their First Amendment rights.

“We must do more than just facilitating people exercising those rights,” Rhodes-Conway said. “As a community, we have a long and complicated road ahead of us reimagining public safety and bringing internal reforms to our policing.”

“Seeing officers who have killed people who look like me as a Black male in the United States of America is emotional, it’s draining, and it’s traumatic,” Johnson said.

Madison Common Council President Sheri Carter underscored that it is up to everybody to bring about change: “May the coming days and weeks be peaceful and meaningful in the name of change for justice.”

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Injustice

Osaka, Billie Jean King get Laureus World Sports Awards

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Monaco, May 8 (IANS) World No. 2 tennis player Naomi Osaka has been named ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ at the Laureus World Sports Awards for her achievements on and off the court, while tennis legend Billie Jean King was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the Laureus Academy.

This is Osaka’s second recognition at the Laureus Sports Awards. She won the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ award in 2019 after a season that saw her win her first WTA title at the BNP Paribas Open and begin her ascent to the top of the game with her first US Open title that fall.

Osaka was also nominated for ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ in 2020 after a season in which she captured her first Australian Open title and become the first Japanese player to ascend to World No.1.

“I’ve watched so many of my role models win this (Sportswoman) award, so it definitely means a lot now to be holding it,” Osaka said on Friday. “I am so happy to receive it. It really means a lot to me.”

Coming out of a season interrupted by the sport’s shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Osaka emerged as the dominant force on hard courts. The 24-year-old marched through the US summer season, making the Western & Southern Open final before capturing the US Open, her third major title.

She continued her form in 2021, winning back-to-back Slams for the second time in her career after capturing her fourth major, at the Australian Open in February.

Osaka’s impact was not limited between the tramlines. During the Western & Southern Open, the Japanese joined in the athlete-led protests regarding racial injustice in America, a decision that led to a one-day stoppage in play. At the US Open, in an effort to raise awareness about racial injustice, Osaka wore seven masks with seven names of black victims of racial violence.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova presented Billie Jean King with her ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, in recognition of her excellence on the tennis court as well as her life’s work in pursuit of gender and racial equality.

–IANS

akm/kh

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Injustice

Pope to VAX Live: “We need light and hope, paths of healing and salvation”

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In a video message sent Saturday to participants in the VAX Live concert, Pope Francis stresses the need for deep healing, both from the effects of the Covid-19 virus and the virus of individualism and closed nationalism.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ

“Receive a cordial greeting from this old man, who does not dance or sing like you, but who believes as you do that injustice and evil are not invincible,” said Pope Francis in a video message to participants at “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.”

The event, which takes place on Saturday, aims to celebrate the hope that Covid-19 vaccines are offering families and communities around the world. It is also part of a growing chorus of voices seeking wider and more equitable distribution of the vaccines.

Need for healing from the roots

Amid the “darkness and uncertainty” brought about by the ongoing pandemic, “we need light and hope. We need paths of healing and salvation,” Pope Francis said.

Elaborating further, he specifies that he is referring to is a “healing from the roots, which cures the cause of evil and is not limited only to the symptoms.”

The Holy Father, therefore, encouraged everyone not to forget the most vulnerable in the face of the pandemic, which has “produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of all,” and also contributed to exacerbating already existing social and environmental crises.

Individualism makes us indifferent to sufferings of others

Illustrating some of the ills we need to heal from, the Pope noted that within “these diseased roots, we find the virus of individualism, which does not make us any freer or more equal, nor more brothers” but rather makes us indifferent to the sufferings of others.

Other variants of this cultural virus, he said, are closed nationalism which prevents sharing of vaccines, and putting the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of others.

Likewise, another variant is “when we believe in and foment a sick economy that allows a very rich few to possess more than all the rest of humanity, and when models of production and consumption destroy the planet, our ‘common home’.”

Everything is interconnected

Pope Francis went on to highlight the interconnectedness of everything, pointing out that we are united in nature and person, and thus every social injustice and act of marginalization against poor people also affects the environment.

He added that God instills in our hearts a new and generous spirit that enables us to abandon individualism in order to promote the common good.

It is a “spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, just, sustainable economic model,” the Pope said.

A better, post-pandemic society

The Pope then reminded everyone that “we do not come out of a crisis the same, we either come out better or worse.”

However, he noted that “the problem lies in having the inventiveness to look for paths that are better” in our efforts to deal with the crisis we are experiencing due to the pandemic.

He thus prayed that God may comfort the suffering and welcome those who have died into His kingdom.

He also implored our Lord that for us, pilgrims on earth, He may grant “the gift of a new brotherhood, a universal solidarity, so that we may recognize the good and beauty he has sown in each of us, to strengthen bonds of unity, of common projects, of shared hopes.”

The Holy Father concluded his video message with an expression of gratitude to the participants for their efforts and a request for prayers for himself.

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Injustice

Art exhibits reflect on racial injustice and Tulsa Race Massacre – KTUL

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