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Rochester mayor calls for calm as protests against Daniel Prude’s death grow more contentious


The mayor and police chief say outside agitators have been arrested.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and the city’s police chief La’Ron Singletary called for calm Sunday as the city geared up for another night of protests following the death of Daniel Prude.

Warren’s pleas came after authorities said outside agitators have plotted to damage the city and after police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd of over 1,200 people Saturday night.

Warren stood by Singletary and the police department and commended them for their restraint during the last couple of nights of protest. Singletary added that officers have arrested suspects from out of state and cited intelligence from social media that some of the alleged agitators planned to damage the city’s public safety building during the protests.

“People from outside of the city like Alaska and Massachusetts have been arrested,” Singletary said at the news conference.

PHOTO: Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

Daniel Prude is arrested by Rochester Police on March 23 in bodycam video footage released on Sept. 2, 2020.

The protests stem from last week’s release of body camera footage showing the March 23 incident involving Rochester police officers and Prude, 41. Prude’s brother Joe called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.

In the video, which was first reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, officers approach Prude, who is naked, and Prude initially complies with the officers’ orders. Prude is subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompts officers to place a spit bag over his head.

The officers are seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head, and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died in the hospital a week later.

Seven Rochester officers have been suspended with pay as New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s office investigates the incident, which is part of New York state’s protocol anytime someone dies in police custody. On Saturday, James announced she would empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

Protests that have taken place in the city since the news broke have become contentious between those involved and the police. Officers say they’ve been struck by bottles and rocks and have had to use pepper spray, tear gas and other weapons to disperse crowds during the demonstrations, including the one on Saturday night.

About 1,500 people marched downtown Saturday and some allegedly set off fireworks, according to the Rochester Police Department. Three officers were treated for injuries related to the fireworks and nine people were arrested, according to the police.

Warren said she is coming up with a plan that would allow protesters to assemble while at the same time protecting people from injuries and damage to buildings. She called on the city’s elders to meet at a church Sunday evening to work to keep the demonstrations as peaceful as possible.

“Our elders will stand as the buffer between the protesters and our police department,” she said.

At the same time, Warren acknowledged that the department and city should have done more to protect Prude.

“We have to own the fact that in that moment, we did not do that,” she said.

The mayor revealed that she first saw the body camera footage last month but could not take any direct action because of the investigation by the attorney general. She defended Singletary and his actions thus far in the investigation, saying that he’s done everything by the book and has not impeded or covered up the case.

“I wholeheartedly believe RPD Chief Singletary can lead us through this time,” she said.

In the meantime, Warren and Singletary said the city is already working to change the way the city responds to mental health emergency calls. The city will double the availability of mental health professionals and the police will review its measures in place for handling such emergencies, according to the mayor and chief.

“Certain calls shouldn’t be handled by police,” Singletary said.



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Mayor defends Vernon’s 4.9% tax increase in 2020 budget – Okanagan


Many city councils have been crunching the numbers for their 2020 budgets, and in Vernon, the result is a significant tax increase.

Vernon rate payers will be levied almost 4.9 per cent more next year.

However, the city’s mayor is defending the tax hike, saying the money will translate into extra services.


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“It is really quite a level budget matching inflation,” Mayor Victor Cumming said.

“The only difference we’ve really done is added these extra services in fire, in safety and in recreation.”






Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review


Central Okanagan Public School releases first survey results from transportation review

Along with extra funding for bylaw and recreation staffing, the 2020 budget will see the city continuing with an infrastructure catch-up program to make up for Vernon’s lack of investment in replacing aging equipment in the past.

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Vernon is currently eight years into what is expected to be a 10-year catch-up program, which the mayor said is already paying off.


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“We are spending less on emergency maintenance every year because we are catching up to basic maintenance and basic replacement,” Cumming said.

The budget also includes money to staff Vernon’s second fire hall in the landing area nearly 24/7 for faster response times.

During a pilot project for staffing that fire hall, Cumming said, crews had quicker response times in the western part of the city and faster response times for backup crews.


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“We ran a pilot last year,” the mayor explained. “We discovered that we got quicker access to any kind of issue on the west part of the city.

“We also got a really much better backup when we send firemen to a situation — we had much faster backup.”

After Vernon was plagued by dust advisories when the snow melted last year, the city is also planning to spend roughly $350,000 on a vacuum street sweeper in an effort to improve air quality.

“If anybody’s seen our street cleaners, there is a bit of a cloud of dust around them,” Cumming said.

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“We are hoping to eliminate that and clean the streets faster and clean them more thoroughly.”


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Exactly how the tax increase will be divided up among residential, commercial and industrial rate players won’t be decided till the new year.






Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery


Vernon mayor Victor Cumming speaks on development near heron rookery




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Chicago Mayor Fires Police Superintendent, Citing ‘Ethical Lapses’ : NPR


Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced on Nov. 7 that he would retire at the end of the year. On Monday, he was fired by the mayor.

Teresa Crawford/AP


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Teresa Crawford/AP

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced on Nov. 7 that he would retire at the end of the year. On Monday, he was fired by the mayor.

Teresa Crawford/AP

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday fired the retiring police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, who she accused of lying about an incident in which he was found asleep at the wheel of his car a few blocks from his home after having drinks on a mid-October night.

Her announcement, at a hastily called news conference, came after reading an inspector general’s report and viewing bodycam video of the incident. Johnson had said that he had neglected to take his blood pressure medication and had been drinking earlier in the evening.

Lightfoot made it clear that she was not buying Johnson’s story.

“The findings … make it clear that Eddie Johnson engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming, but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision making that is inconsistent with having the privilege of leading the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said.

The report and video showed that Johnson had repeatedly lied about the events on the night of Oct. 16 and morning of Oct. 17, the mayor said.

“What he portrayed to me, what he portrayed to the public was fundamentally different than what the facts show,” she added.

But Lightfoot declined to be more specific about what the report and video showed, saying she did not want to influence the ongoing investigation and that she was acting “out of deference” to Johnson’s family.

“While at some point, the inspector general’s report may become public and those details may be revealed, I don’t feel like it is appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time,” she said.

The police who discovered their boss asleep in his car did not administer a sobriety test and allowed him to drive himself home.

Johnson, 59, was chief of patrol when then-mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed him to lead the nation’s third largest police force in 2016 to replace the fired Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Johnson, who never applied for the job as Chicago’s top cop, was selected when Emanuel bypassed three finalists in favor of the former patrolman who was raised in Chicago in an apparent effort to ease tensions between the police department and communities of color.

At the time of his appointment, the police department was reeling from the release of the video depicting the controversial shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014. Last fall a jury convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and earlier this year, he was sentenced to 81 months in prison.

Johnson supervised an expansion of the police force by about 1,000 new officers and the largest roll-out of police body cameras in the country. Overall violent crime declined in November 2019 compared with the same month a year ago.

Last month, Lightfoot and Johnson had appeared together at a news conference announcing he would retire at the end of the year. The mayor praised the reform-minded superintendent who insisted that his decision to leave his post had nothing to do with the October incident. The mayor said she now regrets appearing at that event.

Former Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, who already been named as Johnson’s interim successor, will take immediate control of the police department.



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Legal storm clouds gather over Rudy Giuliani, America’s tarnished mayor


<span>Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP</span>
Photograph: Charles Krupa/AP

When the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most bareknuckle defenders during the Russia investigation, attacking his former colleagues in the justice department, people asked: “What happened to Rudy?”

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Now, as federal prosecutors tighten a net of criminal investigations around Giuliani, the question has become: “What is going to happen to Rudy?”

The poignancy of Giuliani’s downfall from national hero and presidential candidate to the subject of multiple federal criminal investigations has been often remarked in the past year.

The net tightened again last week when it emerged a grand jury had issued a broad subpoena for documents relating to Giuliani’s international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes including money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

“We who admired him for so long expected much more from Rudy Giuliani and his legacy,” Ken Frydman, a former Giuliani press secretary, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece last month. “‘America’s Mayor,’ as Rudy was called after September 11, is today President Trump’s bumbling personal lawyer and henchman, his apologist and defender of the indefensible.”

Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and scoffed at the notion he is in any legal jeopardy – particularly from federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, an office he once led as a star US attorney during Ronald Reagan’s first term. There Giuliani built a reputation for taking on mob bosses and aggressively prosecuting the kind of criminal activity he now stands accused of.

“Me ending up in jail?” Giuliani told the celebrity gossip site TMZ at a Washington airport on Monday. “Fifty years of being a lawyer, 50 years of ethical, dedicated practice of the law, probably have prosecuted more criminals of a high level than any US attorney in history. I think I follow the law very carefully. I think the people pursuing me are desperate, sad, angry, disappointing liars. They’re hurting their country. And I’m ashamed of them.”

But in no version of events does Giuliani appear not to be in big trouble.

The immediate source of his current problems is the work he did in Ukraine over the last two years for himself and on behalf of Trump, who instructed the Ukrainian president to speak to Giuliani in a 25 July phone call.

Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to announce an investigation of Joe Biden, Trump’s chief political rival, according to US officials who testified in the impeachment hearings. In pursuit of his errand, Giuliani contacted current and former Ukrainian prosecutors, multiple Ukrainian presidential administrations and multiple Ukrainian oligarchs, according to testimony.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani offered the oligarchs help with their problems with the US justice department in exchange for help with his project to harm Biden, a charge Giuliani has denied.

<span class="element-image__caption">Rudy Giuliani’s business associates Lev Parnas, left, and Igor Fruman sit either side of lawyer during their arraignment in New York City on 23 October.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters</span>
Rudy Giuliani’s business associates Lev Parnas, left, and Igor Fruman sit either side of lawyer during their arraignment in New York City on 23 October. Photograph: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Two Soviet Union-born American associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested last month on campaign finance charges, and Parnas is cooperating with investigators. Alongside the prosecutors in New York, the US justice department in Washington is also investigating Giuliani’s conduct, as is the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Congress is also after Giuliani, who came in for sharp public criticism in the impeachment hearings earlier this month, when Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch described a smear campaign Giuliani had mounted against her, allegedly because as an anti-corruption advocate she stood in the way of Trump’s Ukraine scheme.

“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” Yovanovitch testified. “What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known those claims were suspect, coming as they reportedly did from individuals with questionable motives and with reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

As the pressure on him has intensified, Giuliani’s antics in his own defense have grown increasingly animated. He warned last week that he had collected information that would put his political enemies on their heels.

“I’m also going to bring out a pay-for-play scheme in the Obama administration that will be devastating to the Democrat party,” Giuliani told Fox News.

He even threatened to start an impeachment podcast.

<span class="element-image__caption">Giuliani on Trump: ‘We are friends for twenty-nine29 years and nothing will interfere with that.’</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Giuliani on Trump: ‘We are friends for twenty-nine29 years and nothing will interfere with that.’ Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

But what matters most for Giuliani right now is his long friendship with Trump, his most powerful protector, which goes back to the late 1980s, when Trump served as co-chair of Giuliani’s first fundraiser for his 1989 mayoral campaign, according to Wayne Barrett, who has written books about both men.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Giuliani said: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”

Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who was also on the call, then interjected: “He’s joking.”

“We are friends for 29 years and nothing will interfere with that,” Giuliani told TMZ of Trump. “The president knows that everything I did, I did to help him. And he knows it. I did it honorably. I did it legally. I did it in a way that it will embarrass the people who are pursuing me and have nowhere near the integrity and honor that I have.”

Trump has tweeted that Giuliani “may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer”.

In an interview with disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last Tuesday, however, Trump distanced himself from Giuliani.

Analysts watching Giuliani’s case expect that an indictment could be handed down at any moment, raising the prospect of America’s Mayor in handcuffs.

“If Rudy’s story ends the way it feels like it’s going to end,” wrote Evan Mandery, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and veteran of New York City political campaigns, “it’s not plausible for anyone who knows or has studied him to say they never saw it coming.”





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