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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Prisoners extorting Alabama prison inmates’ family members … San Francisco mayor condemns Burning Man beach gathering … Colorado AG launches airline investigation.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and his command staff stepped down on Tuesday after a week of protests over the March death of Daniel Prude, who died after he was held down by police with a hood over his head during a mental health crisis. Police had said Prude died of a drug overdose, but recently released video raised questions about how officers treated the 41-year-old Black man who was having a psychotic episode after taking PCP. (An autopsy concluded Prude died from “complications of asphyxia,” although the drugs were a contributing factor.) Singletary is retiring from the Rochester, New York department, where he has worked his whole career. He defended his actions and the force. “As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” the police chief said in a statement. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.” A deputy chief and commander also announced their retirements, while other members of the command staff will return to lower-ranked positions. The New York Attorney General’s office has announced it will investigate Prude’s death and the officers involved have been suspended. A community group that had been calling for Singletary’s resignation said they still would like to see Mayor Lovely Warren also step down. [Democrat & Chronicle; NPR; New York Times]
ALABAMA PRISONS | Prisoners in Alabama institutions are extorting family members of inmates, calling on contraband cell phones to threaten harm to their loved ones. Families are reporting getting daily calls and texts, and paying thousands of dollars, to try to protect their loved ones, according to a two-day series in the New York Times. The U.S. Department of Justice has criticized the conditions in Alabama prisons, which are plagued by violence and mistreatment of prisoners. [New York Times]
POLICE SHOOTING | Police in Salt Lake City shot a 13-year-old boy with autism who was in the midst of a mental health crisis, after his mother called 911 hoping emergency responders could have him hospitalized. “He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him?” his mother, Golda Barton said afterwards. The boy is hospitalized in serious condition with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said that “no matter the circumstances, what happened on Friday night is a tragedy, and I expect this investigation to be handled swiftly and transparently for the sake of everyone involved.” [Washington Post; Salt Lake Tribune]
BURNING MAN | More than 1,000 people gathered on a beach in San Francisco this weekend to celebrate Burning Man, an annual festival that was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Mayor London Breed called the gathering “absolutely reckless and selfish" in a tweet on Sunday morning. "You are not celebrating. You are putting people's lives at risk. You are putting our progress at risk. No one is immune from spreading the virus." [CNN]
AIRLINE INVESTIGATION | Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is calling for a federal investigation into Frontier Airlines following complaints from customers who say that the airline failed to provide refunds for flights cancelled by the pandemic. "Since March 2020, my office received and reviewed more than one hundred complaints against Frontier from consumers in Colorado and 29 other states—more than about any other company during that time," Weiser said. [NBC News]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.