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Baltimore primary voters back reform candidate for mayor after Freddie Gray unrest

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A Maryland state senator backing law enforcement reform won a narrow victory on Tuesday in the Democratic nominating contest for the mayor of Baltimore, as the city recovers a year after rioting sparked by a black man’s death in police custody.

The primary election in the mostly African-American city of 620,000 people comes as Baltimore residents confront rising violent crime and unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray in April, 2015.

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The incident stoked a simmering U.S. debate on treatment of minorities by law enforcement officers and prompted the current mayor to decline to seek re-election.

While the Republican Party and other parties also held primaries, the Democratic race’s winner almost certainly will win November’s general election because Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to one in Baltimore, about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington.

In the Democratic contest, state Senator Catherine Pugh, the chamber’s majority leader edged out former Mayor Sheila Dixon, 37 percent to 34 percent. Dixon was forced from office in 2010 for allegedly misappropriating gift cards for low-income families.

Pugh defeated a field of 13 Democrats vying for the nomination, including DeRay Mckesson, a nationally known activist with the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang up after police killings of minorities in U.S. cities.

Mckesson logged 12 percent of the vote.

Pugh, Dixon, Mckesson and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are African-Americans. Pugh, who co-chaired a legislative working group on law enforcement reform, has called for greater accountability for Baltimore police and the use of mobile units to help residents find jobs.

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Voters said they hoped the election would bring positive change to the port city. At 7.1 percent, Baltimore’s jobless rate is above the national average, and the city has been hit by a surge in murders.

“I think it’s a very important election. It’s time for change,” retiree Diane McCants, 67, said at a polling place in West Baltimore.

Tyrone Forney, a 52-year-old voter in northeast Baltimore, said the mayor’s race was critical. “We need new faces, new ideas,” he said.

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The onetime steelmaking city exploded into world headlines a year ago after Gray, 25, died from a broken neck suffered in police custody.

His death sparked protests and a day of rioting. Six police officers – three black and three white – have been charged in Gray’s death.

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Rawlings-Blake, the mayor since 2010, came under fire for her handling of the crisis. She said in September that she would not seek re-election.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, Donna Owens in Baltimore and Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Pullin)


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Dr. Trump’s medicine show: Why is the president pushing an unproven drug? Follow the money

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Donald Trump only cares about Donald Trump. He doesn't care about you or the country. He only cares about exploiting this crisis to bail out his business and to get himself re-elected, thereby shielding himself from a series of indictments that surely await him if he loses. The sooner we embrace this easily-observable fact about Trump, the better equipped we'll be to evaluate his decisions during these overlapping health and financial calamities.

The "Trump is all about Trump" maxim goes a long way to explaining his obsessive beer-funneling of a malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine down the gullets of COVID-19 victims.

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The New York Fire Department is struggling to make its way through the coronavirus crisis. Currently, 493 members of the NYFD have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 3,000 are out sick.

Anthony Almojera, an EMS Lieutenant-paramedic for the FDNY told CNN Tuesday that he doesn't know how they're managing the constant influx of calls for help from New Yorkers.

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‘Can we get a refund?’ Trump flack Stephanie Grisham faces a landslide of mockery after her abrupt dismissal

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Others, meanwhile, are simply happy to see her leave despite having rarely, if ever, seen her talk in public.

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