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Weekend Digest – July 26, 2020

Good afternoon and welcome new subscribers!

Here’s your Weekend Digest for Sunday, July 26.


1. John Lewis memorial comes to Troy, Selma and Montgomery

  • The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the final time this morning as remembrances continue for the civil rights icon.
  • A crowd began gathering near the bridge that became a landmark in the fight for racial justice when Lewis and other civil rights marchers were beaten there 55 years ago on “Bloody Sunday,” a key event in the fight for voting rights for African Americans.
  • A horse-drawn hearse retraced the route through Selma from Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the 1965 march began. As the wagon approached the bridge, members of the crowd shouted “Thank you, John Lewis!” and “Good trouble,” the phrase Lewis used to describe his tangles with white authorities during the civil rights movement.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler and see more photos HERE.
  • Lewis was remembered in his hometown of Troy Saturday at a memorial service at Troy University.
  • Saturday morning’s service was titled “The Boy from Troy,” the nickname the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave Lewis at their first meeting in 1958 in Montgomery. King had sent the 18-year-old Lewis a round-trip bus ticket because Lewis was interested in trying to attend the then-all-white university in Troy, just 10 miles from his family’s farm in Pike County.
  • Read more about the Troy service HERE.
  • Also remember that Mr. Lewis’s casket will arrive at the Alabama State Capitol in the 1:00 hour where it will lie in state this afternoon. Your best chance to go pay your respects is from 3:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.


2. Mackey: Up to half of students will do virtual classes

  • Alabama Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey on Friday estimated that up to half of the state’s public school students will be attending classes remotely in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mackey said more than a quarter of students are in systems that are only doing remote classes for the first part of year. He said as many as 15% to 30% of students will be choosing to do remote learning in school systems that have that as an option, in addition to in-person classes.
  • “My request for everybody is for patience. I know people are frustrated. I know people are in many cases scared. … But I promise you, there are thousands of educators who have the best interest of your children at heart. And it will be a struggle and we will get through it,” Mackey said.
  • Mackey spoke Friday in a press conference with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones that was broadcast on Facebook.
  • Jones said his office has heard from teachers concerned about safety.
  • At least 15 school systems have announced that they will do online classes only for the first nine weeks.
  • The superintendent said for education quality he believes there is nothing that replaces a highly qualified teacher in the classroom with students, but said “we have to do the best we can” in a difficult situation.
  • Read more from Kim Chandler HERE.




3. Mnuchin: Virus aid package soon, $1,200 checks by August

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that Republicans were set to roll out the next COVID-19 aid package Monday and assured there was backing from the White House after he and President Donald Trump’s top aide met to salvage the $1 trillion proposal that had floundered just days before.
  • Mnuchin told reporters at the Capitol that extending an expiring unemployment benefit — but reducing it substantially — was a top priority for Trump. The secretary called the $600 weekly aid “ridiculous” and a disincentive for people to go back to work. He also promised a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks would be coming in August.
  • “We’re prepared to move quickly,” Mnuchin said after he and Mark Meadows, the president’s acting chief of staff, spent several hours with GOP staff at the Capitol. He said the president would “absolutely” support the emerging Republican package.
  • Mnuchin’s optimistic assessment came before Democrats weighed in publicly on the updated proposal, which remained only a starting point in negotiations with House and Senate leaders in the other party. He said he recently called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of shuttle negotiations next week on the broader deal.
  • The White House floated plans to cut the additional aid back to $100 a week, while Senate Republicans preferred $200, with general agreement about phasing out the flat boost in favor of one that ensures no more than 70% of an employee’s previous pay.
  • Mnuchin also said the $1,200 direct payments would be based on the same formula from the earlier aid bill. Individuals making $75,000 or less, for example, received the full amount and those making more than $75,000 received less than $1,200 depending on their income. Individuals earning above $100,000 did not qualify for the payment.
  • Read more from Lisa Mascaro HERE.


4. Trump order flips the script on redistricting

  • In case you missed it, last week President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that seeks to bar people in the U.S. illegally from being included in the headcount as congressional districts are redrawn.
  • Trump said including them in the count “would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government.”
  • At least four lawsuits or notices of a legal challenge have been filed seeking to halt the directive. Some opponents say it’s an effort to suppress the growing political power of Latinos in the U.S. and to discriminate against immigrant communities of color. The lawsuits say there is no reliable method for counting people in the U.S. illegally and the order will diminish the accuracy of the census.
  • If Trump succeeds in getting immigrants in the country illegally excluded from being counted in the redrawing of U.S. House districts, California, Florida and Texas would end up with one less congressional seat each than if every resident were counted, according to an analysis by a think tank.
  • Without that population, California would lose two seats instead of one, Florida would gain one seat instead of two and Texas would gain two seats instead of three, according to the analysis by Pew Research Center.
  • Additionally, the Pew analysis shows Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would each keep a congressional seat they most likely would have lost during the process of divvying up congressional seats by state known as apportionment, which takes place after the U.S. Census Bureau completes its once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The bureau currently is in the middle of the 2020 census.
  • Federal law requires the Census Bureau to hand over the final head-count numbers used for apportionment to the president at the end of the year, but the bureau is asking Congress for an extension until next April 30 because of disruptions caused by the pandemic.
  • Besides being used to divvy up congressional seats, the 2020 census results will help determine how many votes in the Electoral College each state gets and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding.
  • Read more HERE.



5. News Briefs


Ivey appoints Alabama prosecutor to replace indicted judge

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama prosecutor is now one of the state’s newest judges.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Limestone County prosecutor Russell “Gray” West to replace Doug Patterson as a district judge for Place 1 in the county. West, 31, was sworn in Friday to the post.
  • West began his legal career at the District Attorney’s Office after graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2014.
  • “It’s still a bit surreal,” West told by phone following the swearing-in ceremony. “It’s slowly but surely sinking in that it’s happening.”
  • West said he’s excited to start hearing cases, which could happen as soon as next week.
  • He acknowledged that part of his role in replacing Patterson could include rebuilding the community’s trust in the court.
  • “I hope and pray I’ll be able to restore it by being myself and continuing to put the community first,” he said. “My intent is always to put the county first and do what I think is right.”
  • Patterson resigned about three weeks ago, just before he was to face a trial at the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Patterson also faces a criminal trial on felony charges of theft and abuse of power. He’s accused of using the judgeship to steal from juvenile court funds and faces allegations of theft from his time as an attorney.
  • Patterson has pleaded not guilty.
  • West will serve the remainder of Patterson’s term, which runs until 2022. West can then seek election to the position.
  • “I’m really excited about getting to continue serving Limestone County,” he said.

Alabama teen accused of shooting multiple people at party

  • VANCE, Ala (AP) — An Alabama teenager has been arrested for the shootings of seven people at a party last month.
  • U.S. Marshals took Ja’wan Datravis Sawyer, 18, of Marion, into custody in Vance on Thursday, reported. District Attorney Michael Jackson said Sawyer faces seven counts of attempted murder and is being held in the Hale County Jail on $420,000 bond. Online jail records did not indicate if he’s represented by an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
  • Authorities said more arrests are expected.
  • The shooting happened about 1 a.m. June 28 at an outdoor party held in a field between Sawyerville and Akron. That area is in the Jerusalem Settlement. The shooting stemmed from an altercation, authorities said.
  • Jackson said one of the victims was shot in the face, but all of the victims recovered.
  • The Hale County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Efforts to reach sheriff’s officials for additional details were unsuccessful.

Man accused of killing, burying wife arrested in Alabama

  • BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) — A man accused of killing his wife and burying her in a shallow grave in South Carolina, then imprisoning a teenage family member, was arrested in Alabama, authorities announced.
  • The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office took Dionicia Nava Abarca, 42, into custody at a highway gas station in Bay Minette early Sunday, the agency said in a statement obtained by news outlets Thursday.
  • Abarca was charged with the unlawful imprisonment of his 17-year-old nephew after a deputy approached a car at the closed business, and the teen driver told the officer he was being forced to take Abarca from South Carolina to Texas, officials said.
  • The body of Abarca’s wife, Alisia Campos Garcia, 37, was discovered Sunday afternoon in a shallow grave in a cornfield in Gaffney, South Carolina, according to Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler. The field was near where the family owned a rental property, news outlets reported, citing authorities.
  • Abarca’s children told investigators they witnessed the couple arguing and saw Abarca attack Garcia before the two left the home together.
  • The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office charged Abarca with murder and he was later transported back to South Carolina, according to
  • It was unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Body of civil rights icon John Lewis crosses Selma bridge


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Civil rights icon John Lewis remembered in his hometown


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mackey: Up to half of Alabama students will do virtual classes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mnuchin: Virus aid package soon, $1,200 checks by August


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trump order flips the script on redistricting


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Legislation would regulate use of license plate scanners, data collected


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Schools Reopen: Overcoming the Equity Challenges of COVID-19


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – July 24, 2020


AL.COM  – Martin Luther King III calls for voting rights reform in honor of John Lewis


AL.COM  – Alabama sees new highs for coronavirus hospitalizations, deaths: Week in review.


AL.COM  – Alabama rolls out plan to test every college student for coronavirus


AL.COM  – Segregation, King meeting set John Lewis on quest for justice


AL.COM  – Child abuse reports drop dramatically during school shutdown in Alabama


AL.COM  – Alabama home sales rebound in June from pandemic slump


AL.COM  – Still in lockdown: Nursing home residents in Alabama face depression, fear as pandemic drags on


AL.COM  – Columnist Frances Coleman: No kidding; these days I really do pity the poor millennials


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  – Rep. John Lewis: Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, lying in state in the capitol


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  – Rename Edmund Pettus Bridge for John Lewis? Some civil rights veterans say no.


MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER  – In Selma, tributes to John Lewis and calls to protect his voting rights legacy


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – PHOTOS: Remembering Congressman John Lewis


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Northport police charged 2 men in human trafficking investigation


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Nationwide aluminum can shortage could impact local breweries


Decatur Daily – 3M agrees to order requiring cleanup of ‘forever chemicals’ in Morgan, Lawrence


Decatur Daily – Morgan’s elevation to ‘very high risk’ category forces Decatur school changes


Decatur Daily – High school marching bands face uncertain season due to COVID-19


TIMES DAILY  – Buchanan: Shoals COVID-19 surge creates ‘critical time’


TIMES DAILY  – Florence offers drive-thru Census


TIMES DAILY  – Legislation would regulate use of license plate scanners, data collected


Anniston Star – COVID workload stretching staff at RMC


Anniston Star – Ranburne festival celebrates home-grown wares


Anniston Star – Suspect charged in death of Oxford man


YELLOWHAMMER NEWS  – AG Marshall: DOJ report highlighting abuses within Alabama prisons an effort to prejudice public opinion, including members of the legislature


YELLOWHAMMER NEWS  – ‘Hiking with Hailey’ explores Alabama’s great outdoors


YELLOWHAMMER NEWS  – UAB and ADPH enhance statewide stroke response system


WASHINGTON POST  – As pandemic limits scrutiny, GOP fears lesser-known Democratic candidates will steamroll to Senate majority.


WASHINGTON POST  – As Confederate monuments tumble, die-hards are erecting replacements


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump’s week of retreat: The president reverses course as the coronavirus surges out of control


NEW YORK TIMES  – Disability Pride: The High Expectations of a New Generation


NEW YORK TIMES  – The Great Climate Migration


NEWSWEEK  – Second Stimulus Package Will Focus on ‘Kids, Jobs, and Healthcare’: McConnell



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