McAuliffe creates two task forces to study violence

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed two executive orders to create the Task Force on Public Safety Preparedness and Response to Civil Unrest and the Commonwealth Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The public safety task force, which will be chaired by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, will evaluate “the circumstances that led to the violent white supremacist events in Charlottesville” on Aug. 11 and 12 and assess “the commonwealth’s procedures for preparing and responding to events where civil unrest could occur,” according to a statement. A final report from the commission is due Dec. 1.

The diversity council will assess “how hatred and discrimination against racial minorities, religious groups and gay, lesbian, bisexual and [transgender] individuals led to those tragic events.” Members will identify possible state-level policy changes and the steps that the federal government can take “to support state efforts to combat intolerance and expand opportunity for all,” and the group will examine “how people become radicalized and what steps can be taken to prevent political violence in the future.”

The membership of both task forces will be announced at a later date.


UVa police investigating Jefferson statue vandalism

University of Virginia police are investigating the vandalism of the Jefferson statue that resides on the north side of UVa’s Rotunda.

Authorities said they received a report about the vandalism at 3:20 a.m. Sunday. Police would not confirm the investigation until Thursday morning.

The statue appeared to have been splashed with red paint. University workers were spotted cleaning the statue on Sunday morning.

The Jefferson statue was the point at which thousands of students ended a community march last week in quiet protest of the violence that occurred during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the University Police Department at police@virginia.edu or (434) 924-7166.


UVa Student Council endorses demands

The University of Virginia Student Council Executive Board has endorsed demands presented by the Black Student Alliance and other UVa groups.

Those demands include removing Confederate plaques from the Rotunda; denouncing and banning Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler and other hate groups from Grounds; requiring all students to take a class about white supremacy and slavery as they relate to Thomas Jefferson, the founder of UVa; and taking action to increase the enrollment of African-American students to more accurately reflect the state’s demographics.

A statement from the student council says President Teresa A. Sullivan was presented with the demands on Monday.


Schumer: Kill the president's voting commission

 WASHINGTON — Saying that Americans had "entered a new world" after a racist march on Charlottesville turned deadly this month, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is calling for President Donald Trump to disband the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and for Republicans to expand voting rights.

"We need more than just words — we also need action," Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in an opinion piece first published on Medium. "And I believe that one important way that Congress can begin to heal this painful divide in our country when we return in September is by showing that we can come together to stop the systemic disenfranchisement of American voters."

Schumer's most concrete proposal is to end the voting commission, created after the president speculated, without evidence, that millions of illegal votes were cast in 2016, costing him a victory in the popular vote. Democrats, who have been fighting efforts to increase voter ID requirements and trying to stop purges of state voter rolls, worry that the commission will be used to justify more restrictions on voting ahead of the 2018 elections.


Philadelphia wants opinion on fate of Rizzo statue

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia is asking for the public's help in deciding the fate of a statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo.

Officials on Thursday announced they're taking suggestions on what to do with the statue, which stands outside the Municipal Services Building, after calls to tear it down escalated since Aug. 12.

Rizzo served as mayor from 1972 to 1980. Critics argue he reigned over a corrupt police department and used his power to alienate minorities. Supporters say he was a devoted public servant who spoke his mind.


Rabbis protest Trump by dropping holiday conference call

NEW YORK — American rabbis critical of President Donald Trump say they won't try to organize a conference call with him for the Jewish High Holy Days next month.

 The conference call for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur had been a tradition under President Barack Obama, though it was never planned under Trump.

 But rabbis representing the liberal and centrist branches of American Judaism say they wouldn't hold the call with Trump in protest of his response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

 The rabbis who made the announcement Wednesday are from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. The conservative Orthodox rabbinical association didn't join them.


Maine governor says he’s gotten death threats

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he received death threats after comparing the removal of Confederate statues to the removal of a 9/11 memorial. He also blamed right- and left-wing demonstrators for the violence.

The Republican governor made the comparison a week ago during a radio appearance on WGAN-AM. He appeared on the same station Thursday to say he's gotten letters "threatening to kill me" and "threatening my personal life and my family."

LePage said this week that 7,600 Maine residents fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He said Thursday he might be mistaken. Historians had expressed doubt about the figure.

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