Headlines June 8, 2020

Headlines June 8, 2020

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    Headlines June 8, 2020 KGNU News

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Thousands of people gathered for Black Lives Matter Rallies in cities around the Front Range on Saturday and Sunday. In Denver, approximately 3 thousand people, mostly youth, participated in the march. Speakers who addressed the crowd called for more black educators in public schools and for police to be removed from schools.

Tay Anderson, the youngest ever person elected to the Denver School Board, last week announced the proposal to remove so-called School Resource Officers.

“We want to be able to have a school system where students are greeted with school nurses, with full-time mental health supports, with restorative practice coordinators and not Denver Police Department,” he said at a press conference on Friday.

While thousands of young people rallied outside the state capitol on Sunday, inside the building state lawmakers were debating a vaccine exemption bill.
Senate Bill 163 passed out of a state House of Representatives committee on a 7 to 4 vote.

The School Entry Immunization bill requires that those seeking an exemption for religious beliefs would need to provide one of two certificates for a child to attend school, either a certificate of completion of an online education module about the benefits of immunization, or a certificate signed by a health-care provider.

Republican members of the House objected to the bill being heard on a Sunday, saying it was rushing through legislation. 9 news reports that the chair of the committee, Rep. Susan Lontine, a Democrat from Denver, said that the hearing was scheduled on a Sunday to minimize contact during the COVID-19 pandemic and It was not intended to get in the way of anyone’s religious beliefs. Opponents of the bill protested outside the state house. Their chants mixed with those of the students who were rallying in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Today Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to the Center for Disease Control asking for asked for federal help in obtaining flu vaccines. The letter, addressed to Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC, says that one of the most significant threats to the state’s continued progress in battling COVID-19 is the upcoming flu season.

Polis said that his administration has been working to increase vaccination rates, but needs to do even more this coming flu season especially among older Coloradans and vulnerable residents, to reduce the number of flu patients in need of hospitalization and free up those beds for COVID-19 patients if needed. The letter asks that the CDC ensures that flu vaccines be widely available.

Governor Polis also asked that more Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, be available for healthcare workers and that additional federal resources be made available particularly for local public health departments that serve rural areas, senior living facilities and those who work with marginalized, hard to reach communities.

The city of Longmont has reopened playgrounds and picnic shelters.

Longmont parks staff is removing caution tape from playgrounds and shelters, starting today, along with reinstalling swings and other equipment that was removed during the closures.

A playground area that is still taped off should be avoided for now.

The city said the new Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines announced last Thursday remain in place for all Longmont parks, playgrounds, shelters and other facilities.

Some of the guidelines include avoiding the park if you are having flu-like symptoms, maintaining 6-foot social distancing, having face coverings, and no more than 10 individuals may be on a playground or in a shelter area at one time.

Officials told the Times Call that Longmont parks’ restrooms remain open and continue to be cleaned twice daily but please bring hand sanitizers and wipes when using those facilities.

Use of playgrounds and shelters is at the visitors own risk.

 

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Sunday marked the 11th day that protesters took to the streets in Denver, decrying police brutality. Yesterday’s protest was led by members of the Denver Public Schools community and began around 10 in the morning.

The Denverite reports that about 3,000 people marched from the capitol along Colfax avenue to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in City Park. The procession included students, parents, and young kids calling for an end to racism.

In Boulder, hundreds of people carrying signs joined black and indigenous leaders in a march through the downtown area in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The Daily Camera reports that the protest started in front of the Boulder County Courthouse where people worked to build an alter honoring those killed by the police.

Many of those who spoke to the crowd in Boulder identified themselves as queer.

Yesterday’s activism followed protests on Saturday. In Aurora, KDVR reports that hundreds of people gathered outside the Municipal Building to honor Elijah McClain despite severe winds and a downpour.  McClain died in August after an altercation with police who were cleared of charges, but community members continue to call for justice.

In Longmont on Saturday, protesters again gathered calling for justice for George Floyd the African American killed by police in Minneapolis. The Times Call reports that the rally included children, teens and adults, and also paid tribute to Breonna Taylor who police shot and killed in Louisville, Kentucky in March.

So many people driving down Main Street in Longmont were honking their horns that the sound carried for blocks.

On Friday night a federal judge in Denver ordered that the Denver Police could not use chemical weapons and non-lethal projectiles on protesters. Judge Brooke Jackson ruled that protecting First Amendment rights was more important than protecting buildings, and he wrote that the Denver Police Department had failed in its duty to police its own.

The 11-page ruling came after four protesters filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging aggressive police actions. The judge said that he found the plaintiffs had established a strong likelihood that the city’s police had violated First Amendment rights to free speech. He ordered that police were banned from using chemical weapons or projectiles of any kind against persons engaging in peaceful protests or demonstrations. The judge also set guidelines for when police officers can use the non-lethal weapons against protesters.

The Denver Police Department announced yesterday changes to the use of force and body-cam policies. Officers are now banned from using chokeholds in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Also, police will have to tell supervisors anytime they point a gun at someone, not just if they fire their weapons. Additionally, all SWAT officers will have to turn on their body cameras when engaged in tactical operations.

The change in Denver police policy came in a Sunday evening news release.

The city of Boulder has signed onto a pledge surrounding the use of force by police. Mayor Sam Weaver signed the pledge last week which requires the city to engage the community to gain a diverse range of input, experiences, stories and then report back to the community. The Daily Camera reports that the city also pledges to reform the department’s policies to align with public desires as shown by the results.

The promise is called the My Brother’s Keeper pledge and is sponsored by the Obama Foundation. Former President Barack Obama launched the effort in 2014 to address opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color.

In an email announcing the decision, Mayor Weaver wrote that the city will take the steps in the context of on-going police reform and to eliminate structural racism from policing practices, and in the even broader context to eliminate institutional racism within the city government.

Community leaders are calling on the Boulder Valley School District to eliminate the police resource officer program. The call comes after the effort is already underway int Denver Public Schools.

The Daily Camera reports that the school resource officer program is part of a broader effort by the NAACP to reform school discipline.

In both the Boulder Valley Schools and those in the St. Vrain Valley District, students of color are disciplined ­– by being sent out of the classroom, suspended or referred to police – at higher rates than their white classmates, according to the most recent data available.

On Friday in Denver students, school board members and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova signaled their intent to end the school system’s relationship with the Police Department.

Board members Tay Anderson and Jennifer Bacon, introduced a resolution to halt the district’s contract with the police department.

The Denverite reports that Friday’s announcement came after more than a decade of demands for the removal of officers led by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, a group that advocates for equity in the education system.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper was found to have violated two state ethics laws banning gifts to public officials.

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ruled Friday that Hickenlooper had not violated 4 other charges.

The decision came after Hickenlooper testified by video for several hours Friday morning, but only after the commission found him to be in contempt Thursday for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

The violations involved the former governor’s allowing large corporations to cover the cost of a private jet trip, a limousine ride, and several dinners in 2018.

The commission will meet June 12 to consider what penalties to place on Hickenlooper for the two ethics violations, as well as his contempt citation.

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