Top 5 Live-WURD Wednesday June 24
1. Autopsy shows Freddie Gray died of ‘high-energy injury’: Baltimore newspaper
The autopsy of the Baltimore black man who died after being hurt while in police custody shows he suffered a “high-energy injury” like those in shallow-water diving accidents, the Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday.
The spinal injury to Freddie Gray, whose death in April triggered protests and rioting, was most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated, the newspaper said. It cited a copy of the autopsy report, which has not been made public.
The state medical examiner’s office concluded that Gray’s death fit the medical and legal definition of an accident. But it ruled the death to be a homicide because officers failed to follow safety procedures “through acts of omission.”
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 following a foot chase by officers and suffered a severe spinal injury while in police custody.
2. Wolf to GOP: Drop push for pension, liquor reform
A visibly frustrated Gov. Wolf emerged from mid-morning budget talks Tuesday saying Republican leaders must back off their insistence on tackling liquor privatization and pension reform at the expense of more pressing budget items.
Instead, the governor told reporters, he has asked Republicans to seriously discuss the question of education funding and property tax cuts.
Wolf also dismissed complaints from GOP leaders that he is refusing to meet them halfway on issues important to them.
“We are making every effort to show good faith,” the governor said, later adding, “We are going to continue to talk until I have a budget I can sign.”
The governor’s budget would raise the sales and personal income tax, and use much of that money to finance property-tax reductions statewide. Wolf also wants to replace the state’s impact fee on natural gas drillers with a higher tax to generate dollars for public schools.
3. Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race
Rollins Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.
“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.
An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.
For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.
4. Philly prepares to auction 938 tax liens
Several community and nonprofit groups are crying foul over the city’s plan to auction 938 tax liens in hopes of collecting millions of dollars in unpaid property taxes and fees.
The auction is being done as a pilot. If it’s successful it will result in other tax lien sales.
The city has tried such sales before, with mixed results. In 1997 a tax lien sale under then-Mayor Ed Rendell eventually led the city to default on $46 million worth of bonds.
The current tax lien sale, critics say, could hurt the Land Bank, an agency the city is using to streamline vacant property sales. Many properties the Land Bank would like to acquire are tied up in old and costly privately held liens.
5. South Carolina Lawmakers Move to Debate Confederate Flag Removal
The South Carolina Legislature took the first steps Tuesday toward removing the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds after the massacre at a black church in Charleston.
By a vote of 103-10 in the House and a voice vote in the Senate, lawmakers voted to allow debate on the flag later this summer, when they finish a special budget session.
State Sen. Paul Thurmond, son of the late segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, said he supported moving the flag to a museum.
“I can respond with love, unity and kindness, and maybe show others that the motivations for a future attack of hate will not be tolerated,” he said.
Earlier, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the State House, where the flag has flown since 2000 at a monument to Confederate soldiers. For four decades before that, it flew atop the Capitol dome itself.
Click here to read these stories on 900amWURD.
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon