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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Supreme Court lets state church restrictions stand … Arizona challenges Google location tracking policies … Boston Marathon canceled.
Protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody defined the weekend, with the New York Times reporting that there were demonstrations in at least 75 cities and curfews ordered in more than two dozen. In Baltimore, Michelle Bramucci, 39, said she was drawn to participate in a protest because she watched the video of an officer continue to kneel on Floyd’s neck while he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. “The reason you’re seeing that is not because it’s a new thing. It’s because it’s being filmed,” she told the Baltimore Sun. In some cities, peaceful protests later morphed into fires and looting, including police cruisers set ablaze in Los Angeles, stores looted on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, an interstate blocked in Wilmington, Delaware, and storefronts smashed blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C. Across the country, people also voiced complaints about aggressive police responses to the protests, with many departments deploying officers outfitted in tactical gear and riot shields and shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into assembled crowds. In New York, bystander videos showed a police SUV surrounded by a crowd driving into the protesters, while in Minneapolis a Twitter user described officers firing a paint canister at residents on their porch.
- In Camden, New Jersey, and Flint, Michigan, police leaders captured national attention by joining protest marches. “This is the way it’s supposed to be — the police working with the community,” Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said. [NJ.com; MLive.com]
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the city planned to distribute masks at a protest on Sunday to protect against transmission of Covid-19. [Boston Globe]
- As President Trump suggested over Twitter that more military deployment was necessary at protests, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sunday told “Face the Nation” that the president should “stop talking.” She said, “He's making it worse. This is not about using military force. This is about where we are in America. We are beyond a tipping point in this country. And his rhetoric only inflames that.” [CBSNews.com]
- While federal government officials said left-wing groups are being agitators in protests, experts say there is also evidence of far-right groups becoming involved for their own purposes. [Associated Press]
CHURCH RESTRICTIONS | The U.S. Supreme Court over the weekend rejected requests from church leaders in California and Illinois to intervene in state gathering restrictions so that more parishioners could attend in-person services on Pentecost Sunday. In a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts about California’s limits on church attendance—which restrict churches to a high of 100 people attending a service, no matter how big the building—he said an injunction isn’t appropriate because the state order is likely constitutional. “Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” he wrote. “Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.” [SCOTUSblog]
LOCATION TRACKING | Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against Google this week over allegations that the tech company violated the rights of Android smartphone users. The company allegedly continued to collect location data even after users turned the feature off. “When consumers try to opt out of Google’s collection of location data, the company is continuing to find misleading ways to obtain information and use it for profit,” Brnovich said. [Washington Post]
BOSTON MARATHON | Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that the city was cancelling the world famous Boston Marathon this year after they had initially rescheduled it from April to September. “While our goal and hope was to make progress and contain the virus and recover our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or anytime this year,” Walsh said.
REMOVING COMMENTS | A resident of the small town of Scott City, Kansas sued the mayor for allegedly deleting Facebook comments on the government’s page that were critical of the town’s response to the pandemic. The lawsuit seeks a court order that would prohibit the mayor or other city employees from deleting comments on social media. [Associated Press]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.