A bumper pay hike for Phoenix police has been condemned by community advocates who argue the money should be spent tackling the city’s extreme heat, homelessness and mental health crises.
At a heated city council meeting on Wednesday, several public speakers questioned the $19.8m salary windfall given the continuing Department of Justice investigation into the city police department over allegations of excessive use of force, retaliation against Black Lives Matter protesters, discriminatory policing and inappropriate treatment of homeless and disabled people.
The federal investigation was launched by attorney general Merrick Garland in August 2021 amid mounting evidence of disproportionate use of violence against people of color and rising rates of police shootings.
“There is such a crisis of poverty and unhoused people in the city, yet every year more money goes to a police department which is fundamentally corrupt, under investigation and which has shown no changes in the culture from when they arrested protesters on false charges,” said resident Christopher Martinez.
But city officials argued that the salary bumps, which range from 20 to 67%, will help recruit and retain officers to the beleaguered department and improve policing. It was approved by the Democratic led city council by eight votes to one.
“You’re not twiddling your thumbs, you’re doing really important work out there and it is fair that our compensation reflects what we are doing,” said Mayor Kate Gallego.
Councilman Carlos Garcia, the lone vote against the pay hikes, said: “We’re embarrassed weekly on the nightly news, we pay out millions in lawsuits [against the police]. “We continue to prioritize and fund this department and then expect them to do things that they’re simply not trained for, and the results have unfortunately been loss of life.”
In one recent incident, Caleb Blair, a 19-year-old Black homeless man who was showing signs associated with heat stroke and possible intoxication, died in police custody last Friday during the season’s first extreme heat wave. According to local reports, Blair was rolling around the ground partially dressed after being asked to leave a convenience store where he had sought relief from the scorching 112F (44C) heat.
According to his family, who spoke to Phoenix New Times, Blair was addicted to fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Substance use played a role in 60% of last year’s record heat death toll.
The police have said Blair was “showing signs of impairment” but did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about why he was handcuffed. An internal critical incident inquiry is expected to provide video and audio footage of the fatal incident on 10 June. The medical examiner’s investigation is continuing.
Of the country’s 10 largest forces, Phoenix police department ranks number one for use of deadly force, according to analysis by Mapping Police Violence. Police shootings hit record levels in 2018 in Phoenix, the country’s fifth biggest city, topping New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.
The department, which has a budget of $850m, has hundreds of vacancies.
Mishael Morgan becomes first Black artist to win Best Actress Daytime Emmy
Mishael Morgan won the Best Lead Actress Daytime Emmy Award on Friday. Photo courtesy of CBS
June 25 (UPI) — The Young & the Restless star Mishael Morgan became the first Black artist to win a Daytime Emmy Award in the Best Lead Actress category in Pasadena Friday night.
“I was born on a tiny island in the Caribbean, and I’m now standing on an international stage and I am being honored regardless of the color of my skin, regardless of my passport, for being the best at what I do,” Morgan said as she accepted her statuette.
“Now there are little girls around the world and no matter what the industry, the vocation … they can strive to be the best.”
The actress also thanked viewers for their support since she joined the soap opera in 2013.
“I am so immensely proud of our generation,” she said. “We are breaking glass ceilings left right and center and I am so honored to be a vessel and to experience this moment. Everybody out there today, we can do this thing called equality and unity together.”
BTS’ ‘Proof’ tops U.S. album chart
BTS’ “Proof” is No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. File Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo
June 25 (UPI) — K-pop group BTS’ Proof is the No. 1 album in the United States this week.
Coming in at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Saturday is Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti, followed by Harry Styles’ Harry’s House at No. 3, Post Malone’s Twelve Carat Toothache at No. 4 and Future’s I Never Liked You at No. 5.
Rounding out the top tier are Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album at No. 6, Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers at No. 7, Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour at No. 8, SZA’s Ctrl at No. 9 and Carrie Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones at No. 10.
Shooting at Oslo, Norway, gay bar leaves 2 dead
Police investigate the scene after several shots were fired outside the London Pub in the center of Oslo, Norway, on Saturday. Photo by Javad Parsa/EPA-EFE
June 25 (UPI) — Oslo, Norway, canceled its gay pride parade and raised its terror threat to the highest level Saturday after a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub left two people dead and 21 injured, authorities said.
The shooting took place at 1:14 a.m. Saturday at the London Pub, a second bar and a fast-food restaurant. Police arrested a suspected gunman who they believe acted alone.
Of those injured, 10 were in serious condition.
Police haven’t identified the suspected shooter, but described him as being a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent, according to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. CNN reported he was “known to police” and had minor previous convictions.
Authorities said they seized two weapons from him upon the arrest.
Roger Berg, the head of Norway’s domestic intelligence and security service, said the shooting was being investigated as an act of “extreme Islamist terror,” according to The Washington Post.
The suspect was being held on charges of murder, attempted murder and terrorism, police official Christian Hatlo said.
The attack happened hours before the city’s planned gay pride parade. Organizers said pride events scheduled for Saturday have been canceled upon police advice.
Despite the cancellation, thousands of people joined an impromptu parade outside the nightclubs where the shooting took place. Many waved gay pride flags, while others shouted slogans of support for gay rights.
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