Common Dreams

‘He Needed Social Supports, Not Bullets’: Mass Protests Engulf Philly Streets for Second Straight Night Over Police Killing of Walter Wallace

“This killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace’s death must be held accountable for their actions.”byJake Johnson, staff writer

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Demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on October 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mass demonstrations flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the second consecutive night Tuesday as outrage and demands for justice continue to grow in the wake of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who city officers shot at least 10 times earlier this week as he suffered a mental health crisis.

Footage of the incident made public Monday shows Wallace holding a knife and walking toward two officers as they backed up with their guns drawn. Before the officers began opening fire, Wallace’s mother is seen in the clip attempting to hold her son back and deescalate the situation.

“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people.”
—Lynda Garcia, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Shaka Johnson, the Wallace family’s attorney, told reporters Tuesday that Walter’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance before the armed police officers arrived.

“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun… where are the proper tools for the job?” Johnson said.

Lynda Garcia, director of the policing campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday that “this killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace’s death must be held accountable for their actions.”

“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people,” said Garcia. “We must redefine public safety and prioritize investing in community-based services and non-police responses to assist people with mental health needs so we can prevent more tragedies like this.”

As many as 2,000 people poured into the streets and marched near the site of Wallace’s killing in West Philadelphia Tuesday night, with demonstrators chanting, “Who killed Walter Wallace?” and, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”

Pascale Vallee, a 34-year-old graduate student who took part in Tuesday’s demonstration, told the Washington Post that the killing of Wallace was “shameful.”

Published onWednesday, October 28, 2020byCommon Dreams

Texas Supreme Court Upholds ‘Shameful, Naked Voter Suppression’ With Ruling Allowing State to Limit Counties to One Ballot Drop Box

“Texas continues to be openly hostile to voting rights.”byJulia Conley, staff write(r)

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An election worker accepts ballots from voters in cars at a drive-through mail ballot drop-off site at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order limiting each county to one mail ballot drop-off site. (Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

In a ruling that critics said served as an endorsement of voter suppression, the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday evening sided with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott regarding his order limiting each county in the state to just one mail-in ballot drop box. 

After a federal appeals court stacked with President Donald Trump’s judicial appointees ruled earlier this month in favor of the directive—which voting rights advocates say will make it particularly hard for voters in largely Democratic, urban areas like Austin and Houston to cast their ballots—the Anti-Defamation League of Texas and Common Cause Texas brought the case to the state Supreme Court. The groups argued Abbott did not have the authority to implement a rule which would disproportionately burden residents of large counties. 

“Texas continues to be openly hostile to voting rights,” tweeted Common Cause Texas after the ruling was handed down. 

:’ see original ‘

The court claimed in its ruling that Abbott’s order “does not disenfranchise anyone” because Texas voters can cast their ballots in person prior to Election Day and can mail in their ballots—options which could force voters to risk exposure to the coronavirus or use a method of voting which has been undermined repeatedly by Trump, who has baselessly claimed that voting by mail will invite election fraud, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. 

New York Times contributing writer Wahajat Ali denounced the ruling as “shameful, naked voter suppression.”

Published onWednesday, October 28, 2020byCommon Dreams

Jake Johnson, staff writer

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Count every vote

Members of the activist group Rise and Resist gathered for a press conference and demonstration outside NBC News and Fox News in Manhattan on October 22, 2020. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Countering President Donald Trump’s false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact “counting ballots—all of ’em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won.”

“An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end,” Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump’s insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.

“All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks,” Weintraub noted. “We never have official results on Election Night.”

: ‘ … see original ‘

Trump’s comments Tuesday came amid growing fears that the president could attempt to take advantage of slower-than-usual vote counting—which is expected due to the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic—to falsely declare victory on Election Night and dismiss as illegitimate legally submitted ballots counted after November 3.

Those concerns were intensified by Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s falsehood-riddled concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s late Monday ruling that barred the battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline. The decision means that ballots received by Wisconsin officials after Election Day cannot be counted, even if they are postmarked by November 3.

In his opinion, Kavanaugh declared that absentee ballots arriving after Election Day—which is allowed in more than a dozen states—could “flip the results of the election.” But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent (pdf), “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”

“And nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]’ or ‘improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on Election Night,” Kagan added. “To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern warned late Tuesday that “by deploying so many falsehoods in his 18-page opinion, Kavanaugh sent a signal to lower court judges: Uphold voter suppression at all costs, even if you have to ignore or contort the factual record to do it.”

“Trump’s dozens of hackish judicial nominees will hear this message loud and clear,” Stern wrote. “At least one member of the Supreme Court is willing to construct a fantasy world that is utterly detached from our grim reality of mass disenfranchisement. If we cannot trust the justices to tell the truth now, why should we believe them if they decide the election next week?

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