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‘This is criminal’: Law enforcement seizes thousands of masks sent to help protect protesters from coronavirus

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“It appears they want to ensure that people who protest are susceptible to the same deadly pandemic that they have failed miserably at stopping.”

In an effort to help protect protesters from Covid-19 and prevent the spread of the virus, an advocacy organization sent thousands of cloth masks that read “Defund Police” and “Stop Killing Black People” to major cities across the U.S. as demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd continue to grow nationwide.

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“Police have rioted coast to coast, beating, and gassing protesters who have called for an end to police violence, with the explicit approval of President Trump.”
—Chelsea Fuller, Movement for Black Lives

But as HuffPost‘s Ryan Reilly reported late Thursday, law enforcement officials have seized shipments of the masks that were destined for New York City, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. without providing any explanation.

“It’s not entirely clear what law enforcement entity seized the masks,” Reilly reported. “But the Justice Department, led by Attorney General William Barr, has taken an aggressive posture against demonstrations and on Thursday expressed concern about ‘extremist agitators’ who are ‘hijacking the protests to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.'”

In a tweet late Thursday, President Donald Trump touted a letter from his former attorney John Dowd describing protesters as “terrorists.”

Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)—which spent tens of thousands of dollars on the masks—shared a U.S. Postal Service tracking alert that says the shipment was “seized by law enforcement.”

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In a statement to HuffPost, M4BL spokesperson Chelsea Fuller said that “police have rioted coast to coast, beating, and gassing protesters who have called for an end to police violence, with the explicit approval of President Trump.”

“Now, it appears they want to ensure that people who protest are susceptible to the same deadly pandemic that they have failed miserably at stopping,” said Fuller. “The continued surveillance and disruption of social movements under this administration is as chilling as it is dangerous. It should be roundly condemned.”

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The seizure of the masks sparked widespread outrage on social media, with activists calling the move unlawful and morally unconscionable. “This is criminal,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.

“One of the first things M4BL organizers discussed last week was getting masks to protesters,” tweeted activist Leslie Mac. “Today they were seized by law enforcement. Imagine. Seizing face masks during a pandemic.”

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MSNBC’s Dr. Gupta blasts ‘weak leadership’ of GOP governors: ‘It’s too little too late’

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "Meet The Press," medical analyst Dr. Vin Gupta laid into Republican governors' mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic as new cases explode across the country.

"Dr. Gupta, we have the governor of Texas issuing an order for Texans to wear masks. Not seeing the same thing in Florida," said anchor Katy Tur. "What is your medical take?"

"I think it's too little, too late. Both in Texas and Florida," said Gupta. "Florida especially, given what is happening with day-to-day caseloads. If I was Governor DeSantis, you need to be thinking about how to save lives. That's bringing in portable ICUs, making sure you have enough dialysis nurses. This is potentially even mobilizing National Guard. I know we are not talking about military forces, reserves."

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Young Americans urged to be more responsible in coronavirus fight

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Accused of failing to uphold their civic duty, younger Americans are behind the current COVID-19 surge, with several states moving to close bars, beaches and other places that saw huge crowds when lockdowns were eased.

The median age for new cases in Florida in the past few days has fluctuated between 34 and 36. In Los Angeles, 40 percent of new cases are among those under 40. And in the greater Phoenix area, the major center of the contagion in Arizona, half are under the age of 35.

In total, half or more of all the cases in California and Arizona since the start of the pandemic have been among the 18-49 age group, and the rate is expected to rise.

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Texas conservatives lose their minds after GOP Gov. Greg Abbott mandates masks in public

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Texas' Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott finally acknowledged that there is a serious problem as COVID-19 takes down the state's population.

It was just a few months ago that municipalities were deciding for themselves when and if they would reopen. But Abbott shut it down, saying that his orders "overrule any local jurisdiction."

In April, "Abbott and the state’s other Republican leaders have blasted local officials in Dallas and Houston for what they called overzealous enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, first zeroing in on Democratically led Harris County’s decision to fine residents for not wearing face masks, a penalty Abbott banned in his April 27 reopening order," ProPublica reported. "The fights came to a head this month with the arrest of a Dallas hair salon owner who refused to shutter her business, an act of defiance that was supported by a right-wing group that launched a GoFundMe campaign a day before she reopened that raised $500,000 before it was disabled."

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