Hundreds of people gathered outside a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the deadliest racist massacre in the US – and President Joe Biden is set to honour the victims later today.
The Tulsa race massacre took place between 31 May and 1 June 1921, when white residents in Tulsa’s Greenwood district attacked black residents and burned down businesses, with estimates of death tolls ranging from dozens to 300.
Earlier, civil rights leaders joined local faith leaders offering prayers outside Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was under construction at the time but largely destroyed during the massacre.
Reverend William Barber, a civil rights activist, said he was “humbled even to stand on this holy ground”.
“You can kill the people, but you cannot kill the voice of the blood,” he said.
Although the church was nearly destroyed, worshippers continued to meet in the basement and rebuilt it several years later – becoming a symbol of resilience in Tulsa’s black community.
Among those who spoke at the outdoor ceremony were Democratic representatives Barbara Lee, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons.
“We’re here to remember, to mourn, to rebuild equitably,” Ms Rochester said.
As the ceremony came to an end, participants put their hands on the prayer wall along the side of the sanctuary while soloist Santita Jackson sang Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Monday’s activities were supposed to culminate in a headline event at ONEOK Fields, with a performance from John Legend and a keynote speech from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.
However, the event was cancelled last week after an agreement could not be reached over payments for three survivors of the attack.
In a statement tweeted on Sunday, Legend did not specifically address the cancellation of the event but said: “The road to restorative justice is crooked and rough – and there is space for reasonable people to disagree about the best way to heal the collective trauma of white supremacy.
“But one thing that is not up for debate – one fact we must hold with conviction – is that the path to reconciliation runs through truth and accountability.”
Meanwhile, other events included a joint service for the massacre at the First Baptist Church of North Tulsa led by Reverend John Faison Sr on Sunday.
On Monday, the Centennial Commission hosted a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the massacre, and President Biden is scheduled to visit Tulsa on Tuesday.
He will be the first president to be part of the remembrances of what happened in what used to be known as “Black Wall Street”.
Sending love to the people of Tulsa as they commemorate the Massacre of 100 years ago. While we won’t be together tomorrow, I look forward to visiting with you in the near future, and, most importantly, to a true reckoning and reparations for the survivors and their descendants. pic.twitter.com/v1qA1hyVdU
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2021
Last October, at least 10 bodies were found in an unmarked mass grave during a search for victims of the massacre.
The discovery of 10 coffins was described as significant by the city’s mayor, GT Bynum, who budgeted $100,000 (£71,000) to find victims after previous searches had failed.
Kevin McCarthy: US House Speaker removed from office for first time in history
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been removed from office after a historic challenge to his leadership from his own party.
The Republican faced a motion to vacate, which was triggered by Donald Trump ally Matt Gaetz on Monday, just months after securing the position in 15 rounds of voting.
It is the first time in the country’s history that House representatives have voted the Speaker out.
Behind closed doors early on Tuesday, Mr McCarthy told fellow Republicans: “If I counted how many times someone wanted to knock me out, I would have been gone a long time ago.”
Several Republicans, however, had said they were sticking with Mr McCarthy as they emerged from the meeting, during which they said he received standing ovations.
It follows a decision made by Mr McCarthy over the weekend to cooperate with the Democrats to keep the government running rather than risk a shutdown.
It is a move that angered Mr Gaetz and other far-right Republicans, as Mr McCarthy relied on Democratic votes to pass a temporary funding extension on Saturday that avoided a partial government shutdown.
A band of about 20 Republicans had forced Mr McCarthy’s hand by repeatedly blocking other legislation.
Mr Gaetz and his allies said they were frustrated by the slow pace of spending legislation on Mr McCarthy’s watch.
Republican Representative Tim Burchett, who said he would vote to oust Mr McCarthy, said: “We took a whole month of August off. I think that that’s pretty telling.”
Another day of history in US politics
It’s political pantomime, without the laughs.
To look at the House of Representatives is to see the turbulence of America’s political ecosystem.
The ousting of Kevin McCarthy leaves the lower chamber of Congress in a state of paralysis.
There will be an interim Speaker but his or her role will effectively amount to finding a permanent replacement.
It is a dysfunction at the heart of power, an extension of the fault lines that fracture the modern-day Republican Party.
Never before has a House Speaker been ejected in this way, another day of history in US politics
The history-makers at the wheel have travelled a distance from the party fringes to positions of influence.
Matt Gaetz is the high-profile House representative who tabled the motion to oust McCarthy.
He’s prominent amongst a hard-line conservative core of House Republicans, Trump-aligned, and bent on reshaping party traditions and reorientating its trajectory to the right.
It is a tail that can wag the dog and this episode is clear evidence of it.
The rules dictate that just one representative – Mr Gaetz in this case – can trigger a vote to oust the Speaker.
That arrangement was a deal Mr McCarthy struck in January to appease his party’s right wing and enable his accession to the position of Speaker.
It didn’t look like clever politics by Mr McCarthy at the time and it looks even less so today.
Today, politics are harder in a party whose politics have changed.
Not all are convinced by Mr Gaetz’s intentions, with some Republicans believing he is angling for a change at a higher office.
“It seems very personal with Matt. It doesn’t look like he’s looking out for the country or the institution,” Mr McCarthy said.
Mr Gaetz has denied he is spurred on by a dislike of Mr McCarthy.
Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to three firearm charges
Hunter Biden, the son US President Joe Biden, has pleaded not guilty to three federal firearm charges filed against him after a plea deal collapsed.
He is accused of lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun, which he kept for around 11 days.
Abbe Lowell, his lawyer, told the court in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, challenging their constitutionality.
While the president’s son has admitted to struggles with a crack cocaine addiction over the period in question, his lawyers insist he didn’t break the law.
These kind of gun charges are rare, and an appeals court has found banning drug users from guns violates the Second Amendment.
The case remains on track for a possible trial just as the 2024 election looms.
This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.
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Woman sues Disney theme park over claims water slide gave her ‘painful wedgie’
A woman is suing Disney over claims a water slide at one of its theme parks left her with serious injuries.
In a lawsuit filed in Orange County, Florida, last week, the woman claims the Humunga Kowabunga slide at Walt Disney World gave her “severe vaginal lacerations”.
Warning: The article below contains details some people may find distressing
After going on the ride at Typhoon Lagoon as part of her 30th birthday celebrations in 2019, she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital before being moved to another that specialised in gynaecological injuries, court documents say.
There medics found she had a “full thickness laceration” of the vagina, which “caused the plaintiff’s bowel to protrude through her abdominal wall and damage her internal organs”.
She is seeking $50,000 (£41,400) in damages from Disney, Sky News’ US partner network NBC News reports. The lawsuit said the Humunga Kowabunga slide puts riders at risk of a “painful wedgie”.
According to court documents, she went on the ride wearing a one-piece swimming costume with her mother and daughter after being instructed to cross her legs.
“The slide caused [her] clothing to be painfully forced between her legs and for water to be violently forced inside her,” the documents read.
“She experienced immediate and severe pain internally and, as she stood up, blood began rushing from between her legs.”
It adds that “risk of injury as a consequence of water being forced inside a woman’s body” is “far greater than it is for a man”.
Disney has not responded to NBC News’s requests for comment.
Humunga Kowabunga is Typhoon Lagoon’s fastest and steepest waterslide. It sends people down a five-storey descent at speeds of up to 40mph, according to Disney’s website.
The theme park was built in 1989.
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