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The nation in brief

by Compiled Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | May 9, 2021 at 4:11 a.m.

Governor pardons 34 lynchings victims

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a posthumous pardon for 34 victims of racial lynchings in the state who were denied legal due process involving allegations against them between 1854 and 1933, a spokesman for Hogan said Saturday.

Michael Ricci, Hogan's spokesman, said the sweeping pardon is the first of its kind by a governor.

Hogan signed the order at an event honoring Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old who was dragged from a jailhouse and hanged from a sycamore tree by a mob of white men in 1885 before his attorneys could file an appeal of a rape conviction reached in just minutes by an all-white jury.

Earlier this year, the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project and students at Loch Raven Technical Academy petitioned Hogan to issue the pardon for Cooper. After receiving the request, the Republican governor directed his chief legal counsel to review all of the available documentation of racial lynching in Maryland.

Hogan and other state officials attended a ceremony in Towson, Md., next to the former jailhouse where Cooper was held.

Officers' indictments please Floyd's kin

HOUSTON -- George Floyd's brother and nephew expressed gratitude Saturday after a federal grand jury indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in his death.

The three-count indictment unsealed Friday "put a smile on our faces" and "holds these guys to accountability," said Rodney Floyd, George Floyd's brother.

Brandon Williams, George Floyd's nephew, said the indictment "gives us hope."

"No family should have to go through what we went through," he said.

The news conference was held at Texas Southern University in Houston, where George Floyd grew up. His death sparked protests worldwide and calls to hold police accountable after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

Chauvin was convicted last month on state charges of murder and manslaughter, and is asking for a new trial. The other three are set for state trial on Aug. 23.

The federal indictment names Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, accusing them of willfully violating the Black man's constitutional rights as he was restrained face-down on the pavement and gasping for air. Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the use of force and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Cuffed-man's death stirs investigation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island authorities are investigating the case of a man who died after being handcuffed by police in Providence.

Officers were called about 12:30 a.m. Friday to investigate a report of a man who was screaming in the street and possibly under the influence of narcotics, according to an account by Providence police. They found him groaning unintelligibly as he rolled on the ground next to a ball field.

The officers called for an ambulance from the Providence Fire Department and spent more than 10 minutes trying to talk to the man and calm him down, but he did not answer questions or follow commands. Then the officers had what police described as a "minor struggle" with the man as they handcuffed him to protect rescue workers.

Body camera video released by Providence police shows that the officers eventually held the man down on his stomach for about 90 seconds while cuffing his hands behind his back. An emergency responder joined them, and then the man suddenly stopped yelling and appeared to stop moving.

He was identified as Joseph Ventre, 34. Police said he was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:41 a.m.

The death is being investigated by Providence police, Rhode Island state police and the Rhode Island attorney general, which investigates deaths that occur under police custody.

3 people dead after shooting, blaze

WOODLAWN, Md. -- Three people, including a suspect, were killed and two were injured, one critically, in a shooting and fire Saturday morning in Maryland, according to authorities.

It was not immediately clear what led to the violence on a residential street in suburban Baltimore, and neither the suspect nor the victims were immediately identified.

Around 6:40 a.m., officers responded to reports of a fire and an active shooter in Woodlawn, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said at a news conference.

Officers found an armed male outside and shot him, according to Stewart.

Authorities then began fighting the fire that started in a townhouse and spread to two others, Tim Rostkowski, a county Fire Department spokesman, said at the news conference.

Besides describing the suspect as male, Stewart said she could not immediately provide more details about the people involved.

An investigation and search of the scene for possible additional victims was ongoing Saturday afternoon.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

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