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Civil unrest could influence Joe Biden’s search for running mate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s search for a running mate could be reshaped by the police killing of George Floyd and the unrest it has ignited across the country, raising questions about contenders with law-and-order backgrounds and intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee to select a black woman. Biden, who has already pledged to…

Civil unrest could influence Joe Biden’s search for running mate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s search for a running mate could be reshaped by the police killing of George Floyd and the unrest it has ignited across the country, raising questions about contenders with law-and-order backgrounds and intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee to select a black woman.

Biden, who has already pledged to pick a woman, has cast a wide net in his search. Some of the women on his list have drawn national praise amid the protests over Floyd’s death, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who delivered an impassioned appeal for calm in her city on Friday night. But the outcry over police brutality against minorities has complicated the prospects of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had a controversial record addressing police violence as a prosecutor in the city where Floyd died.

Biden’s choice of a running mate will be among the most consequential decisions he makes in the campaign, particularly given that the 77-year-old is already talking about himself as a “transition” candidate to a new generation of Democratic leaders. His pick will also be viewed as a signal both of his values and who he believes should have representation at the highest level of the American government.

Even before the outcry over Floyd’s death, some Biden allies were already urging him to put a black woman on the ticket given the critical role African Americans played in his path to the Democratic nomination. Those calls have gotten louder in recent days.

“The more we see this level of hatred, the more I think it’s important to confront it with symbolic acts, including potentially the selection of an African American woman as vice president,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and one of the labor leaders who’s been asked for input by Biden’s team on the selection process.

Bottoms is one of several black women under consideration by Biden’s campaign. Others Biden is believed to be considering include California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings and Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and voting rights activist.

Demings didn’t answer directly when asked if the events of the past week increased pressure on Biden to choose a black woman in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday.

“Well, we’ve never seen a black woman selected as a vice presidential candidate. But I think the American people want someone who cares about their issues and are willing to move the ball forward,”

Asked if she believes race should be left out of the conversation, she was careful to defer to Biden.

“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” she said. “What matters is what Americans think, and what Joe Biden thinks.”

Demings, a former Orlando police chief, wrote a high-profile editorial on Friday challenging her former colleagues in law enforcement.

“As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?” Demings wrote in The Washington Post.

Politicians with law-and-order backgrounds have been viewed skeptically by some in the Democratic Party given the high-profile instances of police brutality against minorities and other inequities in the criminal justice system. In an interview Sunday, Demings defended herself and other potential contenders with such backgrounds, declaring “you’re either gonna be part of the problem or part of the solution.”

“And I think the community wants people who understand the system from the inside out in order to bring real life necessary reforms,” she said.

Harris faced criticism throughout her Democratic primary campaign for her record as a prosecutor and attorney general in California, when she resisted reforms that would have required her office to investigate killings by police and established statewide standards for body cameras.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested a resume as a prosecutor could be problematic for potential contenders.

“Prosecutors are not very popular, especially among young people now,” he said. “I’ve got a granddaughter who is graduating from law school and she wants to be a public defender. She doesn’t want to be a prosecutor. And I think a lot of younger people feel the same.”

Klobuchar, who also sought the Democratic nomination, has faced questions about her eight years as prosecutor for Minnesota’s largest county during the primary. Most of the more than two dozen people who died during police encounters in her tenure were people of color, according to data compiled by Communities United Against Police Brutality and news articles reviewed by the AP.

An officer involved in one of those past fatal incidents was Derek Chauvin, who was arrested and charged Friday with Floyd’s murder.

Since ending her campaign, Klobuchar has emerged as a key Biden surrogate and some Democrats see her as a running mate who could help him appeal to some of the white, working-class voters who turned against the party in the 2016 election. Yet some Democrats say the renewed focus on police brutality could complicate her path.

“This is very tough timing for her,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a top Biden ally.

Klobuchar has said that she is confident Biden will make the right choice and that she’s not thinking about politics right now.

Biden has said he will announce a running mate by Aug. 1, a timeline that leaves plenty of time for the national mood to shift again, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic collapse pressed on.

Those twin crises have already led to increased scrutiny for others in the mix to become Biden’s running mate.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a frequent Trump target during the pandemic for her resistance to lifting stay at home orders, faced questions after her husband allegedly tried to skip the line with a dock company and get his boat in the water ahead of other patrons over Memorial Day weekend.

And Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico was criticized by Republicans in her state following a report that she purchased jewelry from a local business just days after she ordered non-essential businesses to shut down and told residents to stay home.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was vetted as a potential vice presidential pick in 2004, said the scrutiny contenders are facing now has “proliferated.”

“The scrutiny compared to when I was vetted is so much more intense and potentially troublesome for a VP candidate,” he said.

Biden’s search process is still in a relatively early phase. A search committee has been meeting with power players on the left, with special attention to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and across organized labor. Biden, who has largely been cloistered at his home in Delaware during the pandemic, would also like to conduct in person meetings with finalists.

“It’s important for him to see the candidate, talk to the candidate, get body language from the candidate. And I don’t mean one time. I think it needs to be several times,” said Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman and campaign co-chair.

__

Barrow reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington and Michelle L. Price in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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‘That same fight’: DC civil rights march commemorates MLK’s dream |NationalTribune.com

Washington, DC – Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC on Friday to denounce racism, protest against police brutality and commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 civil rights march when Martin Luther King Jr made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In his iconic address, King lamented “the unspeakable horrors of police…

‘That same fight’: DC civil rights march commemorates MLK’s dream |NationalTribune.com

Washington, DC – Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC on Friday to denounce racism, protest against police brutality and commemorate the anniversary of the 1963 civil rights march when Martin Luther King Jr made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In his iconic address, King lamented “the unspeakable horrors of police brutality” and envisioned a reality, a future where his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.
Kimberly Jones, a Black woman from Illinois, was one of hundreds of marchers, lining up to enter the National Mall.
“Fifty-seven years later we are still fighting that same fight,” Jones said, “the fight for equality.
“I’m angry, I’m frustrated, and I’m disappointed,” she said.

Demonstrators gather for the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington 2020 in support of racial justice in Washington 

The march comes at the end of a summer rocked by nationwide protests and racial unrest over police killings of Black people – sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died in late May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network began planning for the march back in June in the wake of Floyd’s death. On Friday, he delivered the keynote address in front of the cheering crowd.
“The reason we had and still have to say Black Lives Matter … we go to jail longer for the same crime like we don’t matter, we get poverty, double the unemployment like we don’t matter, we’re treated with disrespect like we don’t matter,” he said. 
“So we figured we’d let you, Black Lives Matter and we won’t stop until it matters to everybody.”

Reverend Al Sharpton addresses the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington 2020 on the spot where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech 57 years ago today in Washington, US [Tom Brenner/Reuters] 

Martin Luther King III, a son of the late civil rights icon, also took the stage and addressed his father’s legacy as well as the issues that continue to plague this generation.
“We are courageous but conscious of our health, we are socially distant, but spiritually united, we are masking our faces but not our faith in freedom, we are taking our struggle to the streets and to social media,” King said.  
“The nation has never seen such a mighty movement in a modern-day incarnation of what my father called the coalition of conscience,” he added.
Relatives of an ever-growing list of police killings in recent years, including Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor – also briefly took turns addressing the crowd. 
The protest, called the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” gained new urgency in recent days, after police shot another Black man, Jacob Blake, multiple times in the back at close range in front of his children in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake’s father and sister attended the march. The father had earlier said that Blake has been paralysed from the waist down. 
After the speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, participants marched to the nearby Martin Luther King memorial, led by the families of victims of police violence.

People attending the march have their temperatures checked before entering the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech [AP Photo/Julio Cortez] 

But unlike the historic 1963 event, when more than 200,000 people took part to demand equality and an end to racial segregation, this year’s march comes in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, a disease that has killed more than 180,000 Americans and has disproportionately affected Black people.
Participants were required to wear masks and temperature checks were conducted at the entrance. Hand sanitiser and face masks were being distributed by volunteers.
Organisers estimate some 50,000 took part in the march in Washington, DC after shuttle buses from coronavirus hotspots were cancelled. But hundreds of thousands tuned in to the virtual commemoration, which featured civil rights activist Reverend William Barber. Politicians, entertainers and celebrities were also in the lineup.
Sharelle Jackson, from New Orleans, Louisiana whose own daughter contracted the coronavirus earlier this summer, said she was determined to come, despite the risks.
“This is so important, I will be as safe as possible, wear a mask, social distance and use hand sanitiser,” she said. “It’s a sacrifice that needs to be made for the change that we require.”
The event is also taking place during a fraught political moment, following national conventions by the Democratic and Republican parties over the past two weeks.
Trump, who is running for a second term in office on a law-and-order platform, has not denounced Blake’s shooting and on Thursday announced that he has dispatched federal forces to quell the protests in Kenosha. 

Succes: Since the National Guard moved into Kenosha, Wisconsin, two days ago, there has been NO FURTHER VIOLENCE, not even a small problem. When legally asked to help by local authorities, the Federal Government will act and quickly succeed. Are you listening Portland?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2020

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris recorded a three-minute video on Twitter, which was  played during the march. 
She said if civil rights activists from the 1960s were here today, they “would share in our anger and frustration as we continue to see Black men and women slain in our streets and left behind by an economy and justice system that have too often denied Black folks our dignity and rights”. 
“They would share our anger and pain, but no doubt they would turn it into fuel,” Harris said. “They would be lacing up their shoes, locking arms and continuing right alongside us to continue in this ongoing fight for justice.”

On the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, let’s continue to march on for justice, in the name of our ancestors and in the name of our children and grandchildren. pic.twitter.com/BlP5oCEbxW
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 28, 2020

Water bottles and energy drinks were being distributed as groups of people, all wearing masks gathered on the grass around the Reflecting Pool on Friday, some dangled their feet in the water on a particularly hot and humid day, listening to the speeches. 
Speakers talked about the importance of justice, police reform and referenced John Lewis, the late lawmaker who spoke at the 1963 march. They spoke of hope and of the importance of voting in November’s election.
Victor Radcliffe who came from Dallas, Texas, said that it was deeply meaningful to him to come on this day to demand racial equality and change, as well as reflect on King’s vision. 
“Fifty-seven years ago Martin Luther King was out here, and we’re still fighting for that dream,” Radcliffe said, “but the reality is, we’re still living a nightmare.”
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A civil war over Donald Trump and the GOP platform?

ANALYSIS/OPINION: It’s hard to believe the party of President Donald Trump and Ronna Romney McDaniel can be so out of sync and dysfunctional this late in the game. But, God help us, it does appear so. Mrs. McDaniel, who is Mitt Romney’s niece and the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, so far has rejected…

A civil war over Donald Trump and the GOP platform?

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s hard to believe the party of President Donald Trump and Ronna Romney McDaniel can be so out of sync and dysfunctional this late in the game. But, God help us, it does appear so.

Mrs. McDaniel, who is Mitt Romney’s niece and the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, so far has rejected every proposal for putting Mr. Trump’s imprimatur on the party’s written platform.

And, so far, she has slammed the door on Mr. Trump’s request for the 2020 platform to be boiled down to readable size for the everyday voter.

Mr. Trump said as much way back on June 12. “The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform,” he tweeted. “No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible.”

The Republican Party has not yet voted on a Platform. No rush. I prefer a new and updated Platform, short form, if possible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2020

In other words, the president wants to add to the 2020 GOP platform a “short form” statement of principles.

These would be built around his novel idea of having an American president and his party put America’s interests first.

That idea includes moving heaven and earth to keep or bring back home strategic industries.

The president’s preference is for four pages of policy goals and principles instead of 54 pages of details as was the case with the 2016 platform.

But who cares what he wants? He is merely a U.S. president seeking reelection. Mrs. McDaniel’s Republican National Committee exists to make that happen. You would think the RNC cares about what he wants.

Somebody might actually read a short platform that succinctly brags on the president and his accomplishments in office.

But forget about it. Mrs. McDaniel is determined to drag the 2016 platform’s 54 pages, cobwebbed but intact, onto the stage in Charlotte.

She reasons that to do otherwise would invite a civil war among Republicans who normally help write the quadrennial platform.

The platform pleaders didn’t go near it this time because the platform committee never met, thanks to widespread Wuhan willies.

Think of it as a gift that keeps on killing. A late Christmas gift that Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping and the lovely city of Wuhan surprised us with early this year.

The war that she feels is sure to break out will be among Republicans who normally make the case for this or that social or economic issue. And they would turn into peaceful rioters if they find out Mrs. McDaniel let someone add something without their knowledge and consent — or that they didn’t write themselves.

They couldn’t have met to write the 2020 platform because of those Wuhan willies.

How about a pre-release conference call with the platform people the night before to explain the incorporation of Mr. Trump’s principles and achievements?

Nope, that would not placate the platform crowd, Mrs. McDaniel insists. There would be war!

Really? Even though the platform writers and pleaders are all 100 percent pro-Trump?

Doesn’t anyone think it a bit odd that there’ll be no trace of Trump DNA in a party platform meant to kick off the fall election campaign, especially when the only purpose of that campaign is to keep the Donald and his new Republican Party atop the heap and leading the nation?

You can see the logic here. Why tout what’s best in your basket? Why risk winning a presidential election when there’s so much more you can do to ensure you lose it?

A civil war would distract from the heavenly aura of all-for-one, one-for-all unity the White House, Trump campaign and RNC want to convey in their Monday through Thursday mostly-virtual convention. At least, that’s what Mrs. McDaniel told her party.

Normally, the presidential nominee or the president seeking a second term and his campaign organization dictate to the RNC where and when to jump and how high.

Not this time. Is it because the RNC runs smoother than the Trump reelection campaign?

Even if that’s true, the RNC itself is scared of its own shadow. With Mrs. McDaniel at the party’s helm, Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and has lost special elections.

Now it’s the presidency at stake, and with it the need to put Trump DNA into the convention’s holiest document.

The consolation at this point for Republicans is that they aren’t debating whether to put in their platform the accomplishments and principles of someone like Joe Biden.

The 2020 GOP platform would be an empty sheet of paper in that case, no form instead of a short one.

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John Lewis, civil rights icon, dies at 80

John Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers in the Jim Crow era who went on to become the dean of Georgia’s congressional delegation with legendary credentials as both a civil rights fighter and longtime Democratic lawmaker, has died. He was 80. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed his death late Friday night, calling him “one of…

John Lewis, civil rights icon, dies at 80

John Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers in the Jim Crow era who went on to become the dean of Georgia’s congressional delegation with legendary credentials as both a civil rights fighter and longtime Democratic lawmaker, has died. He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed his death late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”

“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.’”

 The death of Mr. Lewis, who had fought pancreatic cancer, marks a milepost in American history as his departure was the last of all the African-American speakers at the historic March on Washington in 1963. Then 23 years old, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and an acolyte of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Lewis was the youngest speaker at that famous event. 

But Mr. Lewis left his stamp as a civil rights fighter beyond the Mall and across his native Deep South. He was assaulted in 1961 as one of the original Freedom Riders; he was an inmate in numerous southern jail cells for non-violent offenses; and he was bloodied on the bridge in Selma, Ala., in the infamous 1965 clash between protesters and state and local law enforcement. 

Indeed, that last incident, known as “Bloody Sunday” in civil rights lore, provided a kind of trademark for Mr. Lewis during his subsequent long career as a politician as he would frequently note there are “still many bridges to cross.”

“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal,” Mr. Lewis told the Smithsonian Magazine on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders. “We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”

He drew on the bridge crossing metaphor again in December 2019 when he startled friends by announcing he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, a disease he vowed to fight with all the tools of modern medicine and his own proven tenacity.

Longtime colleagues said Mr. Lewis’ extraordinary resolve was among the qualities that set him apart.

“Not everybody gets the calling to be a leader, because only a few people have the charisma and the courage John Lewis had,” said Southern Christian Leadership Council President Charles Steele Jr. 

Mr. Steele remembered Mr. Lewis as a stalwart backer of both the SCLC, an organization forever linked to King, and myriad other groups who tirelessly battled ingrained individual and institutional racism.

“Death couldn’t stop him then,” Mr. Steele said. “He would never be relieved of that boulder on his shoulder. Whenever you needed him, you would always get not just Rep. Lewis, but the warrior.”

That combative spirit carried over into his long stint as a public official, as Mr. Lewis became a staunch partisan in Washington.

He boycotted the inaugurations of Republican presidents in the 21st century, publicly denouncing both George W. Bush and Donald Trump as illegitimate chief executives. He was the first notable Democrat in the House to advocate impeaching Mr. Bush. In 2008, he compared Republican presidential candidate John McCain to George Wallace, accusing Mr. McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.”

Despite such hardcore partisan stunts, Mr. Lewis maintained friendships with some Republicans. In fact, he was close with Georgia’s recently retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The two men were born a few years apart, and after Mr. Lewis’ family moved from his native Alabama to Atlanta when he was a boy, the two went through school integration in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education from different perspectives.

“Those were very intense times,” Mr. Isakson said. “John and I would say that we came at it from different races but not different sides. We had one heart.”

In Mr. Isakson’s view, it is a forgotten element of the civil rights struggle that so many key decisions seemed to involve the young, but that was because at that time the sentiments of adults were too fixed, their attitudes too rigid and wrong-headed.

As a young man, Mr. Lewis found himself in a remarkable moment in time when several African-American statesmen from different corners of the Deep South all converged in Atlanta, Mr. Isakson said. The group included King and Andrew Young, who would go on to serve as the U.S. representative at the United Nations and then become mayor of Atlanta.

“It was just a classy group of men, all of them had class,” Mr. Isakson said. “And John Lewis was always who he was: a committed Christian, a committed citizen, and a man of action for his race and his city.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by many of the younger people who pursued political careers through his inspiration and support.

“The words that come to my mind with John Lewis are ‘integrity’ and ‘grace,’” said Theron Johnson, a Georgia-based Democratic consultant who served on Mr. Lewis’ staff and managed his successful 2008 campaign. “He has never gotten the credit he deserves for the generational impact he’s had. He mentored so many people like me, shaping the careers of people not just in Atlanta but all over.

“I remember reading about John Lewis when I was in elementary school, and when you get the call to work with your hero, well it was one of the best days of my life,” Mr. Johnson said, noting he was stunned by the announcement of Mr. Lewis’ disease.

Mr. Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama, and as a boy would practice his preaching and oratory on the family’s chickens. The family moved to Atlanta when he was young, and he went on to earn degrees from American Baptist College and Fisk University.

His political career began in 1981 with a successful run at an Atlanta City Council seat, and then in 1986 he beat state Rep. Julian Bond in a nasty Democratic primary before being elected to the House that November. He held Georgia’s 5th District seat ever since, often taking in more than 70% of the vote and running without opposition six times.

During his decades in the House, Mr. Lewis emerged as one of the most reliable Democratic votes in Washington. He consistently opposed trade deals, voting against both NAFTA and President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership. He was also a vehement opponent of welfare reform, although his predictions of catastrophe did not come to pass.

That formidable lawmaking run, along with awards such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed on Mr. Lewis in 2011,  represents an achievement no one in his youth would have ever dreamed possible, according to Mr. Steele.

To black boys in Jim Crow-era Alabama, the concept of an African-American man being a powerful figure in Washington, chairing committees, receiving honorary degrees from Ivy League schools, and having a U.S. Navy ship named after you all seemed as improbable as people on Mars.

 “Oh, my, no!” Mr. Steele said when asked if anyone envisioned such a career arc. “We didn’t know we were making history as young men, either.

 “But we all know at some point, no matter what your accomplishments, your time comes,” he added. “You never know why or when, and John Lewis exemplified how you live when you are already prepared for this.”

Late Decembers often brought dramatic developments to Mr. Lewis, of which his Dec. 29 cancer announcement was but the latest. He met his wife, Lillian Miles, at a New Year’s Eve party and they married in 1968. She died on New Year’s Eve in 2012. He is survived by the couple’s son, John-Miles Lewis.

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