The state of Texas is facing growing calls to halt the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed, an African-American man who has spent over 20 years on death row for a rape and murder he says he did not commit. A group of 26 Texas lawmakers — including both Democrats and Republicans — have written a letter this week to Governor Greg Abbott to stop the execution planned for November 20. More than 1.4 million people have signed an online petition to save Reed’s life. Supporters include celebrities Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna and Meek Mill. Reed was sentenced to die after being convicted of the 1996 murder of a 19-year-old white woman, Stacey Stites, with whom he was having an affair. But since Reed’s trial, substantial evidence has emerged implicating Stites’s then-fiancé, a white police officer named Jimmy Fennell, who was later jailed on kidnapping and rape charges in another case. In a major development, a man who spent time in jail with Fennell signed an affidavit last month asserting that Fennell had admitted in prison that he had killed his fiancée because she was having an affair with a black man.
After the recent tragic shootings in El Paso, it’s absolutely unthinkable that Walmart would continue to profit from gun sales. They must stop the sale of guns in their stores now!
Companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods have already taken actions to use their economic leverage to curb gun violence.1
Walmart is one of America’s largest gun sellers and must be part of the movement to end gun violence. The company has taken some steps in recent years—but the stores are still selling weapons of destruction and selling bullet-proof backpacks at the same time. Walmart has the power to make a real difference, not just cosmetic changes.
Please join with us and ask Doug McMillon, the Chief Executive of Walmart, to stop the sale of guns in his stores now.
—Matthew Hildreth, Rural Organizing
On Sunday, a gunman with a military assault-style weapon killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy, and injured 12 at a garlic festival in California. It was the 42nd mass shooting in July alone and the 246th in America this year.1
These shootings need to stop. At festivals. At schools. At places of worship. At night clubs. At movie theaters.
There are so many simple, clear steps that lawmakers can take to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in America—by passing into law policies that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans and even most gun owners.2,3
Universal background checks. Closing the gun show loophole. Banning assault weapons such as AR-15s. Banning bump stocks.
Indeed, the Democratic U.S. House passed two bills that would accomplish many of these goals earlier this year, but Mitch McConnell and the GOP—at the bidding of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun manufacturers—won’t even allow the bills to come up for a vote in the Senate.4 They won’t even allow federal funding for research into gun violence.5 It’s outrageous. And it’s heartbreaking.
That’s why we’re going to hold McConnell and other vulnerable GOP senators accountable and defeat them in 2020, starting with putting up billboards in central, high-traffic locations in their home states that highlight their role in America’s gun violence epidemic. Will you pitch in $3 to help us pay for the billboards?
The horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly seven years ago should have been a tipping point on gun violence in America, but since then:
- There have been approximately 2,185 mass shootings.6
- Congress has passed into law zero measures to make our children and communities safer.
- The NRA and gun manufacturers continue to write big checks to Republican politicians.
According to polls, Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators who are up in for re-election in 2020 are increasingly vulnerable.7 But to defeat them in 2020—which is the only way we can finally pass legislation to address America’s gun violence crisis—we need to make sure their constituents know that they’re standing with the NRA and blocking commonsense reforms to address America’s gun violence epidemic.
We didn’t budget for the billboards, which is why we’re asking you to chip in now, so we can quickly purchase them. We can only do it if we raise the money now. Can you chip in $3—or whatever you can afford—right now?
We can never forget that the GOP is culpable in these heartbreaking and avoidable gun deaths, as a result of their obedience to the NRA’s dangerous agenda. Let’s make sure that the voters in their states know it, too.
Thanks for all you do.
–Emily, Emma, Stephen, Manny, and the rest of the team
AUGUSTA, Maine — A committee vote Friday left Maine unlikely to move forward on legislation prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, but lawmakers are still weighing other bills aimed at limiting access to firearms.
The Democratic-led Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Friday against half a dozen gun control bills.
The bills received dozens of comments at public hearings last week from critics who warned of governmental overreach infringing on constitutional rights, and supporters who say Maine must address domestic violence homicides tied to firearms and rising rates of firearm suicide.
“I think it’s all about access, not taking away guns,” said Democratic Rep. Victoria Morales, a committee member. “Reducing access for those who are most vulnerable.”
The committee is set to consider five additional bills May 28. Committee Democratic House Chair Charlotte Warren said lawmakers need more time to go through such bills.
“We want to do it right,” she said.
Those bills include background checks for private firearm sales, 72-hour waiting periods for gun buyers, and criminalizing leaving unattended a loaded firearm that a child then inappropriately uses. Another bill would prevent the manufacture, import, sale, transfer and possession of 3D printed guns, with certain exceptions.
A Republican, meanwhile, proposes allowing the use of deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury to defend oneself, one’s home or another person.
Gun control efforts have long faced steep odds in the largely rural state, where hunters tout a long history of responsible gun ownership. The Democratic-led Legislature could still revive the bills, but such a move is seen as unlikely.
Voters in Maine, which allows licensed owners to carry guns in public as long as they are concealed, defeated a question on universal background checks backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2016, and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has said Maine should respect the people’s will on the issue.
Police say one suspect in custody after attack that also left four people wounded.
Two people have been killed and four others wounded – two with life-threatening injuries – in a shooting at the University of North Carolina.
UNC Charlotte issued a campus lockdown late on Tuesday afternoon, saying shots had been fired. Later in the evening, the campus was declared secure after a suspect was taken into custody.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement on Twitter that one person was in custody and no one else is believed to be involved.
Television station WBTV in Charlotte reported that gunfire erupted about 5:45 pm local time (2145 GMT) near the university’s Kennedy Hall administrative building.
The Mecklenburg EMS, an independent agency that handles emergency services for the county, confirmed that two people were dead on the scene and that four others were taken to a nearby hospital, two of them with life-threatening injuries.
Aerial shots from local television news outlets showed police officers running toward a building, while another view showed students running on a campus sidewalk.
The police later said that the campus had been secured and that officers were going through buildings to let people who had sheltered in place know that it was safe.
Sam Rice, a senior on UNC Charlotte’s tennis team, told Spectrum News that he was in the library studying for a final exam when he heard people yelling “shooter, shooter”.
He said he heard police yelling for people to stay down and stay on the floor.
He was “waiting for someone to tell us everything was going to be OK”.
When people were told to leave, he ran out in his socks, running over glass on the floor.
|Students and faculty file out of buildings with their hands up during a lockdown after a shooting on the campus of University of North Carolina. [Logan Cyrus/AFP]|
“We are in shock to learn of an active shooter situation on the campus of UNC Charlotte. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, the entire UNCC community and the courageous first responders who sprang into action to help others,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said on Twitter.
A former policeman in the US state of Minnesota has been found guilty of murdering an unarmed Australian woman.
Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond as she approached his patrol car to report a possible rape behind her Minneapolis home on 15 July 2017.
Noor, 33, testified last week that he opened fire because he feared he and his partner were being ambushed.
Ms Damond, 40, a yoga instructor from Sydney, was engaged and was due to marry a month after the shooting.
The death drew international criticism and Australia’s prime minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable”.
Noor was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately upon being convicted by a jury on Tuesday of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He was acquitted of the most serious charge of second-degree murder with intent to kill.
The trial heard the victim, a dual US-Australian citizen, lay dying from a gunshot wound just over a minute after ending a phone conversation with her fiance.
She had told Don Damond that police had just arrived after she called them to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind their home. No such attack was ever found to have occurred.
Noor took the stand last week to say he recalled seeing a blonde female in a pink T-shirt approach his squad car on the night of the shooting.
He said he believed there was an imminent threat after he heard a loud bang and saw Ms Damond with her right arm raised.
Noor said his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, shouted “Oh Jesus!” and fumbled with his gun in its holster before “he turned to me with fear in his eyes”.
The defendant said he “had to make a split-second decision” and shot Ms Damond across his partner through the car window.
Noor told the court that upon realising he had shot an unarmed woman he “felt like my whole world came crashing down”.
Prosecutors questioned whether the loud bang was real, pointing out that neither Noor nor his partner initially mentioned anything at the scene about hearing such a noise.
Ms Damond’s fingerprints were not found on the squad car, the court heard.
She had moved to the Midwestern city to marry her boyfriend, Don Damond, and had adopted his surname ahead of their nuptials.
Mr Damond was in Las Vegas, Nevada, when investigators called him to say she was dead.
He told the court he learned from a second phone call that she had been shot by a police officer.
Mr Damond said contacting her family in Australia to tell them the news was the “worst phone call” he ever had to make.
Noor is a former Somalian refugee whose family moved to the US and settled in Minneapolis.
He joined the police force in 2015, but was sacked after being charged in the shooting.
The fallout also cost Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau her job and was a factor in the election defeat of the city’s mayor a few months later.
The Damond family have filed a civil lawsuit against the city and several police officers seeking $50m (£38m) in damages.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologised to Damond’s friends and family in a statement released after Tuesday’s verdict was read.
“This was indeed a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbours, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly in her home country of Australia,” he said.
SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The Maine State Police are letting the public know the agency is continuing to investigate a case in which a woman’s body was discovered off a logging road nearly 26 years ago.
Susan Hannah’s body was found in Limington in November 1993, more than a year and a half after her mother reported her missing. Hannah was 22 when she was last seen at a bar in Old Orchard Beach.
The Portland Press Herald reports Hannah was living with her mother in Scarborough after having separated from her husband. The Maine State Police alerted the public of its continuing investigation with a Facebook post on April 20. The agency sometimes uses Facebook to notify the public about cold cases.
The agency asks anyone with information call 207-657-3030.