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LGBT Activists, Allies Nationwide Mark Pulse Massacre Anniversary With Protests for Stronger Gun Laws



Two years ago today a terrorist walked into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and shot 49 people to death. The club, a gay bar, was hosting Latin night, so most of the dead were LGBT and most were people of color.

Today, across the nation LGBT activists and allies are marking what was at the time the deadliest terror attack since 9/11, the deadliest anti-LGBT hate crime and deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with protests demanding stronger gun laws.

They’re calling it National Die-In Day, and they’re being bolstered by the Parkland student survivors.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), running for re-election, appears to be among the lawmakers most-targeted:

Some are outside the Capitol, and still others are protesting in cities across the country.

“The National Die-In Day was organized by three students, Amanda Fugleberg, 18, and  Frank Kravchuk, 21, both of Orlando, and Nurah Abdulhaqq, 14, of Douglasville, Georgia,” Beatrix Lockwood writes at The Trace.

“The three met in a text-messaging group in the days following the Parkland shooting, where they began talking about ways to build on the activism started by survivors,” Lockwood’s report continues. “But it wasn’t until they were introduced to each other on Twitter by one of those survivors, David Hogg, that the idea for a nationwide die-in solidified. Hogg quickly signed up as an advisor to the demonstration, helping the organizers access resources and promoting it on social media.”

Separately, other protests by LGBT activists and allies demanding action on gun control are taking place.

“‘Six hundred and twelve days,’ said Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse shooting and organizer of the Pulse Rally to Honor Them with Action at Orlando City Hall, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“That’s how long it took for Pulse headlines to become Parkland headlines. … That’s how long it took for 49 lives lost to become 17 more. And in those 612 days, nothing changed.”

“[Gov.] Rick Scott was so busy trying to appease his gun lobby donors, he wouldn’t even wear a damn ribbon,” Wolf said, joining state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, in criticizing Scott for never having worn a rainbow Pulse ribbon in two years — while often wearing a red Marjory Stoneman Douglas ribbon.

Many are using the hashtags , and .




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Family Called Police to Help a Mentally Ill Teen. Cops Shot Him to Death After He Surrendered



On December 30, 19-year-old teenager Christian Hall experienced a mental health crisis, and his family called the Pennsylvania State Police to help him as he stood on a bridge considering suicide. Instead of helping, they shot the teen as he appeared to raise his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender.

While the incident occurred at 1:30 p.m. local time on December 30, it is more recently coming to light because the young man’s family is being represented by Ben Crump, the racial justice attorney who represents George Floyd’s family. Crump shared a video of the shooting this last Wednesday.

“He was having a crisis,” Crump said, according to Yahoo! News. “There is a suggestion that he was contemplating suicide. He was crying out for help,” Crump added. “Christian Hall needed a helping hand, but yet he got bullets while he had his hands up.”

Hall died at a hospital, and the police released a statement saying that he had a firearm, a weapon he might have used on himself considering his distraught mental state. Cops told him to drop the weapon, but they said he allegedly became uncooperative, retrieving the gun from the ground and pointing it at officers, which caused them to fire.

But the viral video of his death shows that their version of events may not be true. Hall seems to have had his hands up when police began firing at him anyway.

In a statement, the district attorney’s office wrote, “No one from Mr. Hall’s legal team has reached out to us at all. We weren’t told that the attorneys were going to conduct a press conference today. We have not been asked to provide any information relative to this matter. We are still awaiting certain reports and results before we make any final decision.”

In the meantime, the officers involved in Hall’s slaying are still working while state police and the Monroe County district attorney’s office are investigating.

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3 States & Over 20 Cities Have Declared Racism a ‘Public Health Crisis.’ Here’s What That Means



Black Lives Mater, racism, public health emergency, racial justice

More than 20 cities and counties and at least three states — Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin — have declared racism a public health crisis, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a public policy research group. Even Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced a national resolution to do the same on June 3.

But while the declarations are meant to ignite changes on all levels of government to address threats to the Black community, they rarely ever entail specific policy or funding changes. Does that mean they’re mostly symbolic? Not entirely.

The declarations ideally serve as a starting point so that a city, county, or state can start calling on its different sectors — social services,  transportation, healthcare, education, housing, criminal justice, budgets and taxes to name a few — to recognize racial inequalities and consider the best ways to resolve them.

As Pew points out, “Higher rates of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and toxic environmental exposure, as well as less access to quality medical care also contribute to poor overall health in Black communities.” The stress of everyday racism also has negative effects on Black health, contributing to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes which ultimately shorten their lifespans.

By declaring racism as a public health emergency, states and local governments can encourage other community organizations — such as school boards, hospitals, businesses, and others — to make pledges to research and develop policies for improving the lives of black and brown residents

In order to be truly effective though, the resolutions require city and state administrations to appoint officials who will apply pressure, follow-up, and measure concrete changes rather than just issue supportive statements. Even better, future resolutions should create committees that will develop policy and funding changes to substantively address the issue.

Among the cities that have made such declarations are Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and at least eight counties across the United States.


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