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Commentary

The Chauvin verdict won’t change American justice, only a recognition of our shared humanity can do that

As we awaited the verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer convicted on charges of murder and manslaughter Tuesday in the asphyxiation death last May of an unarmed — and handcuffed — Black man named George Floyd, there was much discussion of how high the stakes were. The American justice system itself was on trial, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott declared during a meeting with The Sun’s editorial board Monday, “for how it treats the very descendants of the very people that built the country.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Fentanyl deaths: America’s epidemic worsens in the pandemic. What do we do about it?

After listening to April Babcock speak and weep about the son she lost to a fentanyl overdose in 2019, I went to reports for that year and learned that Austen Babcock of Dundalk was one of the country’s 70,630 drug overdose victims. Reports for 2020 are out and they’re even worse — staggering, really, and almost too much to bear after a year when hundreds of thousands died from a virus. But here it is, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: There were 87,203 overdose deaths across the country and 2,773 of them in Maryland. Our opioid epidemic continues.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Colleges should require students and faculty get vaccinated against COVID-19

This month, Johns Hopkins University made a decision on a question that many colleges and universities are thinking hard about: whether to mandate that students get COVID-19 vaccines, and provide proof of it, before returning to campus for classes in the fall. “Given the importance of mass vaccination in protecting our community, we will require all students coming or returning to our campuses this fall, and who do not require religious or health exemptions, to be vaccinated,” the leadership team, including President Ronald J. Daniels, wrote in a letter to the Johns Hopkins community April 9. “We strongly urge, and may soon require, all faculty and staff to be vaccinated as well.”

Read More: Baltimore Sun
person smoking
Baltimore state’s attorney: A year ago, I stopped prosecuting low-level offenses. Here’s why — and what happened

Over three decades ago, political and health policy leaders in Baltimore — including then-Mayor Kurt Schmoke — sounded the alarm about the failures of the federal government’s war on drugs. The harms done by this modern version of prohibition were acutely and disproportionately felt in communities of color. Calls for converting the war on drugs to a public health approach were met with derision. I was only 8 years old and living in another city when Mayor Schmoke called into question the war on drugs in Baltimore in 1988.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Frank DeFilippo: In Lead-up to Campaigns for Governor, Candidates Galore Diddle and Dawdle

Eliot’s April is the cruelest month for Maryland voters. Politicians think about, ponder, pander, ruminate, consider and mull – the foreplay of campaigns. Occasionally they decide. It’s the pregnant pause of politics, the blank space between the General Assembly’s release and the crank-up for next year’s elections. This season brings with it a slight variation, though, as there are wide-open slots at the top and below, mainly through term limits and the upward urge.

Councilman: Session Delivers Long-Awaited Update to Prince George’s 50-Yr.-Old Zoning Law

The historic 2021 Maryland General Assembly session has just adjourned, and among the significant measures passed in this session is House Bill 980 (PG-416-21), allowing Prince George’s County to move forward with modernizing the county’s 50-year-old zoning ordinance. The bill, passed by the House as amended by the Senate, will now be forwarded to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. The legislation becomes effective on July 1, 2021.

The case for legalizing online poker in Maryland

Marylanders will soon be able to wager in person and online on the outcome of a sporting event, but poker players in Maryland remain unable to compete and wager online. With the ascendancies of sports betting, it is time for Maryland to join six other states — New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania — in legalizing online poker.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
A police car
Having a mental illness is not a crime and shouldn’t be treated as one

Police aren’t the ideal people to handle mental health crises, but often find themselves doing just that. They’re frequently the first deployed when families call 911 because someone in the home is suffering mental distress and is a threat to themselves and others. Unfortunately, sometimes these calls can go horribly wrong, like when police can’t de-escalate the situation and end up using force — sometimes lethal — to subdue someone.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
A booster shot should not be cause for concern. It’s a window into the future.

WAIT, A BOOSTER? The chief executive of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, says those who have received its two-shot coronavirus vaccine are “likely” to need “a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination,” depending on the science. This should not be a cause for dismay. Rather, it is a window into the future — the battle against coronavirus will go on for years, and require agility and different behavior.

Extending the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause for a week was a deadly mistake

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) this week made no recommendation on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, meaning the CDC’s initial decision to pause administration of the vaccine will likely remain in place until at least next Friday. As a result, 10 million doses of the vaccine will sit unused in refrigerators as hundreds of thousands of Americans are infected with covid-19. As infections and hospitalizations rise in many states, slowing down vaccinations was a deadly mistake.

The Morning Rundown

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