ANGRY demonstrators marched through the northwest city of Columbus in Ohio last Friday to demand justice and transparency in investigations into the police killing of an African-American youth last week outside his home.
As they marched on the state capital towards the Ohio statehouse chanting, ‘No justice, no peace, no racist police’, they were closely followed by police officers on foot and in patrol vehicles.
The protest rally came a week after 23-year-old Casey Christopher Goodson was shot to death on December 4th by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy assigned to a group of US marshals searching for a fugitive in the Northland neighbourhood where Goodson lived.
‘I’m calling for justice and that’s all I’m calling for,’ Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, said. ‘My son was a peaceful man and I want his legacy to continue in peace.’
The fatal police shooting is the latest in a wave of killings of African Americans by police officers across the US that have triggered an upsurge of protest rallies over the persisting racial injustice and brutality by American law enforcement officers.
Police-involved shootings and killings of black men have recently led to mass protests and violent clashes in major cities across the US, including Portland, Oregon, for the killing of African-American George Floyd.
Floyd was killed at the hands of a white police officer in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.
His death sparked protests across the country, but in Portland, anti-racism protesters remained on the streets practically every night for several months.
Pro-Donald Trump demonstrators have clashed with counter-protesters in some US cities with one person being shot in Olympia, Washington and 23 people being arrested in Washington D.C.
On Saturday night, pro-Trump ‘Proud Boys’ protesters and ‘Antifa’ counter-protesters brawled in downtown Washington, with police officers using pepper spray to disperse them.
Earlier in the day, nearly 200 members of the Proud Boys – a violent far-right group – had joined the marches near the Trump hotel, with many of them wearing combat fatigues, black and yellow shirts and ballistic vests and carrying helmets and flashing hand signals white nationalists often use.
In the state capital, protesters included Trump supporters, Black Lives Matter activists and people opposed to restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Proud Boys protesters shouted insults at Antifa demonstrators and burned Black Lives Matters flags.
A gun was fired by a Proud Boy demonstrator, hitting a counter-protester, but Olympia police secured the area.
Meanwhile, ‘March For Trump’ protesters clashed with counter-demonstrators in the nation’s capital, with pro-Trump marchers chanting, ‘Four more years’ and, ‘We want Trump’.
Four people were stabbed there and at least eight people were taken to hospital.
Demonstrations were also held in other communities around the country, including Atlanta, Georgia – another state where the Trump campaign had tried to overturn his Democratic rival Joe Biden’s election victory, as well as Mobile, Alabama.
Over 50 federal and state court rulings have upheld the former vice president’s victory in the disputed November 3rd presidential election.
On Friday, the US Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Texas and supported by Trump seeking to annul voting results in four states.
The US Supreme Court has rejected an unprecedented attempt to throw out election results in four battleground states that was backed by President Trump.
Trump has not conceded defeat so far, alleging that he was denied victory because of massive fraud.
- The first shots in a massive US Covid-19 vaccine campaign began yesterday, Monday, with Pfizer Inc and partners aiming to start shipments across the hard-hit country on Sunday, an Army general organising the rollout said.
Healthcare workers and elderly people in long-term care facilities are expected to be the main recipients of the first wave of 2.9 million shots this month, with healthcare worker inoculations as soon as Monday and nursing home residents by the end of next week, US Army General Gustave Perna said on a Saturday press call.
Despite months of preparation, distributing and administering the vaccine to as many as 330 million recipients poses a major logistical challenge, he said. The vaccine has complex shipping requirements and must be stored at -70 Celsius.
‘We have a lot of work to do. We are not taking a victory lap. We know the road ahead of us will be tough,’ General Perna said.
Pfizer’s vaccine was authorised for use by US regulators last Friday. Cases are surging in the United States, with thousands of deaths per day, while hospital intensive care units across the country are nearing capacity. More than 295,000 Americans have died of Covid-19.
A panel of outside advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to endorse emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
Doses of the vaccine from US-based Pfizer and German partner BioNTech will be delivered to 145 locations around the country on Monday, Perna said.
The remainder of the 636 delivery locations selected by US states and territories will receive doses on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, adding that every week going forward Pfizer will have more doses ready for distribution and administration.
Within three weeks, the vaccine programme, known as Operation Warp Speed, should be able to get Pfizer’s shots to any healthcare facility in the country, Perna said.
Pfizer is working with logistics companies United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp to distribute the vaccines. They must coordinate deliveries of doses with shipments of other products needed to store and administer vaccines, such as syringes, dry ice, and protective equipment for healthcare workers.
‘The final mile is going to be the most difficult. Once it hits the hospital or nursing homes, they also have to keep the vaccine under temperature control,’ said Cathy Morrow Roberson, a logistics consultant and former UPS analyst.
‘This massive clock is ticking, there is no room for error,’ she added.
More US residents will be eligible in January, when those in the highest priority populations are expected to have had an opportunity to receive a vaccine.
With distribution imminent, top regulators sought to reassure Americans that the record fast pace was warranted and had not sacrificed safety.
‘We worked quickly based on the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure,’ US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said during a press conference earlier in the day.
Last Friday evening, the US granted an emergency use authorisation for the vaccine for people aged 16 and older. The immunisation was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 in a late-stage trial.
It is the first Covid-19 vaccine authorised in the US. Britain, Canada and three other countries have already authorised it.
The Trump administration has poured billions of dollars into developing vaccines and will manage the distribution and allocation to states. Authorities have said general availability of the vaccine is expected by April.
An advisory group to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Saturday to recommend the vaccine for patients 16 and over.
The FDA said the vaccine is safe for most Americans with allergies despite reports of severe adverse reactions in the UK in two patients who had a history of serious allergies.
But E Michael Jones, an American writer and former professor, says that US Covid-19 vaccines are more dangerous than the virus itself, because they have not been tested properly.
- The United States Senate has approved a massive annual military budget amid forecasts of a new Cold War.
The Senate on Friday passed a $741 billion bill to fund US military forces fighting major world powers.
China and Russia have joined Iran to express strong opposition to the ‘US unilateralism’ in international affairs.
Known as the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), the bill authorises US military spending and outlines Pentagon policy.
With 84 votes, the annual defence bill surpassed the two-thirds majority that would be needed to defeat US President Donald Trump’s promised veto of the NDAA bill.
The NDAA bill usually gets the Senate approval vote with strong bipartisan support and veto-proof majorities.