The Marshall Project
Opening Statement
May 30, 2020
Edited by Andrew Cohen
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Pick of the News

Another night of fury and frustration. In Houston, where police lobbed tear gas and blocked roads. Houston Chronicle In Washington, D.C., just outside the White House. Associated Press In Portland, Oregon, where protests turned violent, The Oregonian In Phoenix. Arizona Republic In Brooklyn, New York. The New York Times In Atlanta, where the mayor said: “This is chaos.” USA Today In Denver, for the second night in a row. Colorado Sun In Louisville, Kentucky, over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. WLKY In Los Angeles, where at least four LAPD officers were injured. Los Angeles Times In Detroit, where dozens were arrested and a young man was shot to death. Detroit Free Press In San Jose, California, where police fired at the driver of an SUV who ran over protesters. San Jose Mercury News In Baltimore, where Freddie Gray died. Baltimore Sun Finally: Searing images of another day of protest. New York Magazine

Call and response. Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck as the dying man begged for breath on a public street, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Minneapolis Star Tribune Prosecutors say Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly three minutes after Floyd became unresponsive. NBC News The allegations. USA Today More: Read the complaint here. Amid looting and fires, residents of south Minneapolis want to know: Where are the cops? MPR News Related: Police misconduct, prosecutorial inertia, raise anew old questions about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s record as a local prosecutor in Minneapolis. The New York Times

TMPToilets are overflowing again in Texas prisons. Even as public health officials warn that basic hygiene behind bars is a critical component in the fight against the coronavirus, some men are being forced to live with their own unflushed waste for days. Recent plumbing problems at two penitentiaries, holding thousands of prisoners, highlight persistent structural failings in a system with many facilities built generations ago that now are crumbling and overburdened by use. “Our prison system is pretty much held together by duct tape and baling wire,” says a corrections union official. Prisoners use harsher language to describe their conditions. Joseph Neff and Keri Blakinger have our story. The Marshall Project

TMPNearly 35,000 prisoners across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 18 percent from last week. Five states—Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, and North Carolina—are largely responsible for the increase as corrections officials there have begun broad testing. Here’s our updated state-by-state tally. The Marshall Project More: Wyoming marks the first reported COVID-19 cases in a correctional facility in the state. At least two test positive at the Wind River Reservation’s jail run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Casper Star Tribune Officials in Oklahoma City say a COVID-19 spike there is attributed to a federal prisoner transfer station. KOCO Prison releases on such a broad scale to reduce the impact of the coronavirus are “an experiment” in public health and safety, say advocates and others. Bloomberg Law

More on Derek Chauvin, now a murder defendant. New details about the former cop’s troubled career. Nearly 20 discipline cases, virtually no discipline. Associated Press The knee restraint used by Chauvin to subdue Floyd should not have been used, experts say. The New York Times TMP Context: Minneapolis police officials failed to adequately reform the department when they had a chance. The Marshall Project Chauvin doesn’t live in the city he patrolled. That’s not uncommon. Mother Jones How and why Chauvin and the other officers implicated in Floyd’s death could get their jobs back or gain employment in another police department. The Guardian

Reactions in Minnesota and beyond. Gov. Tim Walz on the killing of George Floyd: “Thank God a young person had a camera to video it.” MSNBC More: President Obama weighs in: This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020. Twitter Related: The U.S. Supreme Court could decide, as early as Monday, whether it will hear another “qualified immunity” case about liability for police misconduct. USA Today Some police union officials have criticized the Minneapolis cops. Reason Colin Kaepernick, whose football career was derailed by his police protests, says of the Floyd case: “We have the right to fight back!” Yahoo News Finally: The Pentagon puts military police on alert to go to Minneapolis. Associated Press Customs and Border Protection officials send drones over Minneapolis to assist police. NBC News


The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday night by a 5-4 margin upheld the emergency public health orders invoked by California officials to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Those orders were challenged by church officials who want to hold mass, in-person religious services. The New York Times Related: Read the ruling. U.S. Supreme Court

Police union officials in Chicago, Illinois, threaten to challenge the constitutionality of local social distancing orders requiring crowds to disperse because of COVID-19. WBEZ Related: Chicago officials say they’ll put another 100 cops on street duty after gun violence flared in the city over Memorial Day weekend. Chicago Tribune

Mississippi’s attorney general, a Republican, says she will drop a manslaughter charge against Canyon Boykin, a white police officer who shot and killed a black man, Ricky Ball, in October. A grand jury indicted Boykin in 2016 under the state’s former attorney general, a Democrat. Associated Press

The drive to register the newly re-enfranchised in states like Kentucky, Florida and Louisiana has been stalled by shelter orders and other restrictions on canvassing. The Appeal TMP Context: They got their voting rights back. Now what? The Marshall Project

Another COVID-19-related death of a federal prisoner at FCI Terminal Island in California, this time a man said to have been recovering from the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times

Officials in Wayne County, Michigan, have ramped up their use of a “digital portal” that allows victims of domestic violence, many who are trapped under shelter orders with their abusers, to seek protection orders. Detroit Free Press/The Trace


A lament for Floyd, Arbery and so many others. “For those of you who are tired of reading about racism, I’m tired of black and brown bodies being killed by it.” Los Angeles Times More: White people can compartmentalize police brutality. Black people have to fear it every day. The Washington Post Related: The president’s late-night tweet, urging the police shooting of looters, isn’t just obscene. It’s also unconstitutional. The Atlantic That tweet and the sentiment behind it also echoed racist police policies half a century ago. PBS

The cops who confronted George Floyd did almost everything wrong. And his violent death was a foreseeable consequence of their misconduct The Washington Post More: “But we cannot only be reactive. We must be proactive.” And that means more and better police training, for starters. The Washington Post

“Life becomes a battle against anxiety.” The lonely isolation of undocumented immigrants in a time of coronavirus. The Atlantic

We need to study and learn from the pandemic inside prisons. But “any study based on prisoners must be conducted transparently and voluntarily, without exploitation, mistreatment, coercion or risks to the participants.” The New York Times


Conflict of the Day: The threat of COVID-19 at the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has generated a new fight between defense attorneys and military officials over the use of telephone calls between lawyers and clients. Politico

Mother of the Day: Domingo Garcia was one of hundreds of migrant workers swept up last year in ICE raids in Mississippi. Instead of being with her children today she’s caught in an immigration bind in Mexico, unable to return to her native Guatemala or to the U.S. Slate

Recommendations of the Day: A national task force of former law enforcement officials says there should be independent oversight of the federal Bureau of Prisons and no more mandatory minimum sentences. The Crime Report Related: Read the report. Council on Criminal Justice

Book Review of the Day: All you ever wanted to know about the secret history of the Texas Rangers can be found in Doug Swanson’s new book. “Cult of Glory.” Texas Monthly

Question of the Day: There are now thousands of judicial opinions in which criminal defense attorneys have cited neuroscience, the study of brain patterns, on behalf of their clients. Can the emerging science show whether someone has acted with criminal intent? ABA Journal TMP Related: Can neuroscience predict how likely someone is to commit another crime? The Marshall Project

Revenue Raiser of the Day: The rising use of GPS-monitored ankle bracelets on pretrial detainees continues to be a lucrative and largely unregulated growth industry. Good news for the companies that profit. Bad news for the men and women driven into debt by the costs of the technology. Vice/Bail Project

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