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The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • When traffic in Atlanta and much of the rest of the world just about up and disappeared in the second week of March, it was almost an equilateral experience. But the slow return of traffic and increase in volume has happened more in pockets. And while certain trends are taking shape, there is no precedent to finding what the new normal may be, or if and when traffic volume from Q1 of 2020 and earlier will return. “They’re getting out and driving, but by no means are they driving the amount they did previously. So you’ll see the traffic volumes tick back up, but the miles traveled lagging behind that,” Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry told the AJC and WSB. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The traffic temperature as some commerce resumes McMurry does think the acclimation of some to teleworking is one reason tracking the return of gridlock is tough: “Hopefully that is a trend that helps overall congestion in Metro Atlanta.” The overall number of cars on the roads in Atlanta is increasing, but the car count is rising in different spots. “In Metro Atlanta, the interstate volumes are outpacing the major arterials.” By arterials, McMurry means bigger side roads like Northside Drive, Peachtree (in various forms), and Roswell Road. He said this down trend on the smaller roads is likely because fewer people are actually going back to work. In fact, both McMurry and his team of engineers, along with the WSB Traffic Team, have all noticed conditions these days being more like Fridays. “Friday” conditions are where traffic is light in the mornings, but bustling in the afternoons when people are leaving work early, heading out to run errands, or beginning weekend travels. GDOT has some widespread and ambitious plans to add lanes to I-285 and GA-400 and to rebuild the I-20 and I-285 interchanges on both sides of town. The downturn in traffic volume and the fluctuation in revenues (which come largely from fuel taxes and toll lane-use) have not changed the need for those projects. In fact, McMurry said, the changing patterns justify them even more. “When you hit that 20% less traffic volume was where you started seeing congestion decrease,” McMurry explained. “Well guess what? If you had two lanes on each side of I-285, you increase the capacity by 20% or more, depending on what part of I-285 you’re on.” So the eventual tolled Express Lanes on I-285 could possibly have the same effect on traffic years down the road as the coronavirus is having right now. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Coronavirus data on roads and our duty to keep them open At the height of the shutdown in early April, Georgia saw a 40-50% decrease in traffic volume, McMurry told the GDOT board in a May 21 meeting. But compared to May of 2019, traffic now is down only 25-30% statewide - right in the wheelhouse for making traditional delays disappear.  But if Georgia’s traffic capacity stays at a level similar to this because of both a slow economy and adjusted working patterns, could that affect GDOT’s plans further in the future? “Over the long term we will have to make those decisions and that analysis to see what the new normal is,” McMurry said.  Just a month ago, freight traffic had begun decreasing and that industry was happening upon some hard times. However, McMurry said that industry is back on a rebound. “Even higher than normal is trucks and freight on the interstates both metro and rural.”  Big rig traffic is why I-85 northeast of Atlanta, particularly in Gwinnett, did not decline as much as other freeways, because of the large warehouses and freight needs on that corridor, McMurry said. But as traffic continues to hover at a lighter than “old normal” level, real concerns about transportation revenue persist. State Road and Tollway Authority Director Chris Tomlinson said SRTA’s fiscal year 2020 revenue is set to come in at 28% below what they forecasted, as drivers simply do not need toll lanes to save them time these days. Trip volume has been down as much as 70% in those lanes and the lack of demand keeps the pricing low. The month of April garnered SRTA just 12% of its normal take in those lanes. And public transit has also seen a major dip. “During the pandemic, MARTA has experienced rail service declines in the range of 70 to 75% and bus ridership declines of approximately 40 to 50%,” Tomlinson said in a May 18 news conference. Regional commuter buses have been 90% down. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Covering Atlanta traffic during a pandemic McMurry said that in terms of vehicle miles traveled, Georgia’s pre-COVID number was the most ever. In the previous 2008 recession, Atlanta traffic took seven years to return to its previous levels. So there is a real possibility this recovery — or return to the previous ugly traffic — could take quite a while. So while the decrease in traffic and for the need in transit is good, there needs to be enough demand to maintain those infrastructures. The roads, trains, and busing are important for different people at different times, and they cannot be sustained or innovated upon without some semblance of the previous revenue levels. Atlanta traffic doesn’t need to return to awful for this to happen. But there needs to be an equilibrium somewhere between “gridlock” and “ghost town” for our systems to sustain. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • Sometimes we happen upon a smattering of traffic takes, oddities, news items, and trends that each deserve coverage. But with this column only dropping once per week, the sands of time move faster than relevancy. So here are a few of those observations from the Atlanta roadways: Traffic is very unpredictable now. Even AAA has thrown in the towel in trying to predict how the commuting cookie was going to crumble for the Memorial Day weekend. AAA said in their annual pre-Memorial Day travel release that 2019 saw 43 million Americans travel that weekend, the second-most ever. The lowest number the travel and road safety organization ever measured was 31 million in recession-weary 2009. They anticipate this year’s start of summer to potentially be lower than 11 years ago, but AAA simply could not predict a specific number. And that is because traffic has not really assumed any pattern just yet. Weekday mornings are still very light. Afternoons are moderately busy, though with barely even a hint of the pre-corona gridlock. And there seem to be increasing amounts of people out both running errands and attending outings. Several travel outlets, including AAA, have seen their bookings slightly rise. But that increase in interest still doesn’t raise potential travel numbers to anywhere close to what they were. Combine a sudden downward shock to the economy with the cautiousness surrounding COVID-19 and one isn’t likely to expect routinely bad traffic or busy airports any time soon. But, as we have mentioned in recent past Gridlock Guy columns, there are enough vehicles out on the roads to send a commute south in an instant. Crashes are causing sizable delays again, and copious construction work is doing the same. The expectation of a delay-free ride should be higher than back in early March, but it isn’t guaranteed. Arm yourself with the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App and our live reports on 95.5 WSB; both are still necessary. By the way, Memorial Day weekend is the kick off of AAA’s 100-day summer campaign for safe teen driving, a period that normally is the deadliest for young drivers. With an increased amount of free time and even more unpredictable conditions these days, this campaign comes into a greater focus and should be top-of-mind for all of us. Unpredictability is on display with several major wrecks. Devastating crashes have always been a part of the Atlanta traffic menu. But the disparity in speeds between the wayward daredevils and and those within a standard deviation of the speed limit seems to be making these gnarly collisions more common. One on I-285/eastbound (Outer Loop) at Riverdale Road last Wednesday morning shut it down for several hours and caused extreme delays. An out-of-control red sedan sideswiped a van and then veered into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a big rig and several other vehicles. The sedan’s driver died. On the evening before, a couple of vehicles collided, sending a sedan sideways and perpendicular into where a cement median wall began. The wall speared the passenger side of the car, killing the passenger. The Georgia State Patrol and HERO Units shut down I-75/85/southbound in the curve just south of I-20 (Exit 247)  to investigate this horrible wreck. Rain had just begun to fall when the chaos ensued, further highlighting the importance of lowering speeds and lessening distractions. These are just two examples of how reckless driving and sudden changes in conditions can bring calamity. There seems to be at least one epic crash of this kind per day now, causing intense traffic delays and radically shifting the lives of those involved. Now is the time to start taking driving seriously again. Delays more than itsy bitsy after a swimsuit spill. You read that correctly. A bit of commuting strangeness and ephemera shaded the commute on Friday, May 15. WSB Triple Team Traffic’s Mike Shields was the first to notice a debris field on I-285/sb (Inner Loop) near E. Ponce de Leon Avenue (Exit 40) in Clarkston. One of our Traffic Troopers called us hands-free as they passed this by and told Shields that someone had lost a load of … neon bikinis. And there were quite a few sets of two-pieces, maybe several dozen, scattered in the two right lanes of four total on I-285/southbound in that stretch of DeKalb County. The HERO operators did a great job of disrobing I-285 quickly and all lanes opened just after 3 p.m. I-285/southbound backed up several miles quite quickly, again evidencing how many are taking back to the roads. There is no word if the owner ever reunited with their precious lost cargo. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • These strange times have caused confusion and stress for many. Job loss, anxiety, social distancing, changing habits, down time — all these have thrown sticks into the bicycle spokes of routine life. WSB Triple Team Traffic has seen both sides of the coin during this pandemic. We largely have operated at full capacity, but we have had to pivot our strategy of how we cover traffic, given how those patterns have changed. » RELATED: Coronavirus data on roads and our duty to keep them open Atlanta traffic evaporated like the steam off of the streets in the muggy sun after a summer storm. Well, even faster. Metro Atlanta needed about one week to go from terrible to eerily wonderful, as towering waves of closures and stay-at-home orders crashed on our shores in mid-March. Traffic is part of WSB’s bread and butter around the clock on the 95.5 WSB and in the mornings on Channel 2 Action News. Our traffic coverage suddenly went from relevant and timely to really being in the way of the swarm of the coronavirus news. We were jumping in like normal — every six minutes on radio and every 10 on TV — but we pretty much universally were saying, “Nothing to see here. Ain’t that weird? Move on along.” But we still patrolled the roads in the WSB Skycopter and looked over our map data on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App with a fine-toothed comb. We were ready to pounce on any strand of hair that appeared out of place. » RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: COVID-19 Dashboard Being less relevant was a bit of a gut-punch to us. Covering big traffic blockages was still important for essential workers and emergency responders, but Atlanta and America were mostly holed up at home. We, like you, had no idea how long the “Great American Shutdown” would or should last. We wondered how long we would stay powered up and staffed up if this diminuendo continued to softly play. Did we sound and look silly? But while other stations suspended traffic reporting or just had news anchors quickly voice over traffic maps, WSB Radio and TV pressed on. We eliminated some reports during drive times, because there were no longer dozens of miles-long, predictive traffic delays. But we still stayed on the air and present digitally. And, as noted multiple times in this column, there have been just enough bad crashes and extended construction zones to make driving around town extremely unpredictable. The best tool any driver can bring to their commute is preparedness. Triple Team Traffic was and is still relevant! But we, too, have also had to conform to work-at-home orders and the effects, both good and bad, that they have. The WSB Traffic Center usually has three people in it at drive time on weekdays. COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines reduced that to two. “Quarantine life is a challenge,” 95.5 WSB and KISS 104.1 morning reporter Veronica Harrell said. She and afternoon reporter Mike Shields each work their weekday shifts at home, only coming into our Midtown studios for their solo weekend shifts. “Although I love the comfort of being at home, I do miss the technical assurance I have when I'm inside of the Traffic Center.”  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Harrell is referring to the multiple computers and monitors we have to effectively watch multiple problems on the WSB Jam Cams (which are harder to access on the bulky intranet site remotely) and the multiple police scanners we have to listen to emergency dispatches about wrecks and other problems. Morning reporter Ashley Frasca and I have been gung-ho about those police scanners and the good nuggets of news we can hear on them and nowhere else. Frasca’s keen ears have heard multiple fatal wrecks in recent mornings and even a police chase and carjacking of a news van. With fewer people out on the roads calling in info to us, we and the rest of the Traffic Team have had to beef up our scanner listening and “detective work” around traffic incidents. I have actually called businesses near the scenes of road closures to see if they are still blocked. The cameras nearby weren’t working and the police the GDOT didn’t have straight answers. The devil is in the details and that is especially so these days in traffic reporting. Our on-air strategy has shifted from adhering to a geographical rotation in our rush-hour reports, to taking an approach more apropos for midday and weekend traffic. That is, we simply rotate covering the worst traffic problems. So a listener or viewer will not hear us spending time saying a bunch of interstates are clear as much as they will hear us repeating the few problems we do have. And with regulations around the state easing and more people taking to the streets, traffic volume is slowly on the rise, as are the number of wrecks. Conditions are nowhere as bad as they were pre-pandemic, but we’re starting to see daily PM drive delays where I-285 hits I-20 on both sides of town and the busy I-75/85 at I-20 intersection. AM drive WSB Skycopter anchor Smilin’ Mark McKay keeps relaying, however, that the mornings are still a lot less busy than the afternoons. This is likely because people are running errands in the afternoons and sleeping-in in the mornings, since many commutes are just from the bed to the home office. That remote-working environment has been a blessing for Shields and Harrell. They each save hours per week in commuting and have fashioned up multiple devices to be able to gather traffic information and report for 95.5 WSB and our music stations. They can remotely upload reports for KISS 104.1, 97.1 The River, and B98.5FM almost as seamlessly as they could from the studio. But those reports and their live ones on WSB Radio do have a bit less audio quality than before. It’s all still very impressive, considering they didn’t work at home as much before. Another drawback for them, just like many of you, is the people they do not get to see. “The work-at-home life can also make it difficult to contact my co-workers. Overall, I do miss the energy that being on-air at the radio station brings,” Harrell, who arguably is the biggest social butterfly on our Traffic Team, said. So as we all look ahead to what life looks like in the second half of 2020, know that WSB Triple Team Traffic has stayed full bore in our defense of your commute. But we also have experienced some of the fears and strangeness that you have in this major cultural adjustment. Traffic will be lighter than before the virus for a long time, but some of it is and is continuing to return. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • My initial reaction to the viral video of a large group of people blocking off I-285 to do burnouts and celebrate the ill-thought pop-up party might have mirrored yours. I was stark-raving mad at the sight of a bunch of young men stopping their cars on I-285 and then creating their own perimeter in the eastbound lanes. The footage on the “Everything Georgia” / @GAFollowers Twitter account shows a crowd of a couple of dozen people out of their cars and filming a Dodge Charger doing a smoky doughnut under the Airport Tunnel bridge, just east of Riverdale Road. The clip shows vehicles not involved in this careless stunt helplessly coming to a stop behind the throng during the 11 p.m. hour on Saturday, Feb. 29. This kind of grassroots horsepower and traffic-snarling strut has become more commonplace in recent years. But no matter how talented and precise these drivers are, threading the needle between an unprotected crowd and someone taking video, these stunts are absolutely dangerous and inconsiderate. » RELATED: WATCH: Traffic stops on I-285 as drivers do burnouts, doughnuts in tunnel I get angry at any time we have unforced errors on the roads. When cars barely wreck and stay blocking a travel lane, it’s unacceptable. When GDOT crews stay out in a lane past the cutoff time, it’s maddening and annoying. When people drive the wrong way on shoulders to dangerously get out of a backup, I point it out on 95.5 WSB and in this column.  When the dangers and responsibility of driving are taken so lightly as these men took them that frustrating Saturday night, that needs saying. To those that applaud pop-up traffic RED ALERTS (shutting down interstates), one must also endorse several things. Shutting down a freeway or road terribly inconveniences those who have no part in the endeavor. The I-285 video showed a tractor trailer that could have been made late making a delivery; their or someone else’s livelihood hangs in that balance. Stopping in the middle of any road, but particularly an interstate, creates danger for not only those choosing to shut it down, but for those rolling up on it unexpectedly. Not a day goes by in Atlanta where an initial wreck doesn’t cause a chain reaction crash in the backup. Stopping on a dime for no reason (doing so to block off roads for burnouts qualifies as “no reason”) creates even further unnecessary risk. » RELATED: National traffic data shows I-285 deadliest highway This doesn’t include the risk those in the burnout assume on themselves when smoking out an intersection or freeway. What if someone plows into them or if the circling driver loses his handle and hits an innocent person or someone else in the crowd around them? Live roadways simply are not the place for these showcases. But before we all get high and mighty and virtue-signal about these dangers, let’s not pick sawdust out of the eyes of those that have blinded themselves to these externalities. We have planks in our own sockets. Before we call out these young men, do we call out our own spouses and kids when they are holding their phones and driving, something blatantly illegal and dangerous? Have we felt guilty about tailgating someone or cutting across three lanes to make a turn at the last second? These things happen at the hands of far more people, far more often and we, the indignant, are guilty. We, the guilty, also need to be careful in how we describe things we don’t like from people we don’t know. Comments on social media called the selfish participants “thugs” and made implications that the City of Atlanta is letting this behavior slide because of the race of the participants. This is misguided and hurtful. For one, the I-285 blockage and drifting was in College Park, not Atlanta, and that city’s own police department is investigating it. And assuming that all of the people involved are involved in other criminal activity, by calling them thugs, isn’t warranted. The same reaction likely wouldn’t occur if this gathering consisted of frat bros in their dad’s Wranglers. That same traffic interruption and risk should be just as maddening, absent of racial and cultural overtones. The plans to block off city roads not just in Atlanta, but elsewhere will continue. The Instagram account @_slideshowTV has an invitation up for the “ATL Ride Out” on Sunday, March 15. The organizer on the account is inviting cars and bikes to descend on Atlanta, but to not do burnouts. Considering that other posts on the account glorify burnouts, this seems like a bit of posterior-covering and not a real thought to the effect on other people. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice We seem to accept some other events that block traffic. The Georgia State Patrol often escorts sports teams to Atlanta venues. The annual Georgia Police Memorial Ride, in which I participate, shuts down parts of I-285 and I-75/85 (the Downtown Connector) for extended periods on a Saturday morning. Funeral processions stop traffic, too. The latter two of these examples may cause jams, but they are done in remembrance of those lost. Traffic delays should make us mad, and stupid behavior should also. But we have to remember that we are careless, too. Two dozen people texting and driving could be every bit as dangerous as these “Fast and Furious” wannabees were on I-285. Whether it’s this egregious behavior or the more common, insidious things we do every day, we need the police to step up and enforce the law. Fixing broken windows and graffiti in New York City helped decrease the crime rate, because of the message it sent. Applying that same concept on the roads could galvanize more safety and civility. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • Autonomous vehicle technology is mind-blowing. The fact that cameras, mapping, lasers and computers affixed to traveling vessels can see road lines and other vehicles and then drive is absolutely remarkable. The fact that these revolutionary cars can speed up and slow down on their own and follow inputted navigational directions is a transcendent breakthrough. But this technology is little more than an aid right now — we cannot count on it to be responsible for us. » RELATED: Traffic technology spreads, saving opioid victims An Apple engineer in Mountain View, California, lost his life as a byproduct of this false comfort two years ago. Walter Huang, 38, had repeatedly noticed his Tesla Model X kept darting toward a damaged median barrier on U.S. Highway 101, when the car was in self-drive mode. Huang had expressed this to some family members, but he was prepared for it and corrected the maneuver any time he passed that fateful spot. Huang also took his sleek SUV to his Tesla dealer, but they could not replicate the defect. On March 23, 2018, Huang had switched to the auto-pilot system. He presumably had forgotten he was on the approach to this trouble zone on Highway 101, between San Jose and San Francisco. Records show that his phone was streaming a video game. Disaster struck. Huang’s Tesla steered into and then hit the compromised wall. The impact was dashboard-deep. Game over. Huang paid the price for the complacency that brilliant technology causes. » RELATED: Why I-285 flooded in the same place — twice Tesla said that the crash was so severe because the median wall — designed to diminish such an impact — had damage from an earlier crash. The California Department of Transportation said that maintenance on that wall had been scheduled, but not completed. The automaker did not account for why the Model X decided to steer into the wall in the first place. A self-driving Uber hit and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzeberg in Tempe, Arizona — this was also in March 2018. The U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) ruled this crash, too, happened because the vehicle’s operator was distracted and because Uber’s corporate governance of this autonomous project was lacking. In a flavor of mea culpa, the NTSB said that even the government did not oversee such endeavors enough. A March 2019 crash took the life of 50-year-old Jeremy Baren Banner when his Tesla drove under a tractor trailer, shearing Banner’s Model 3’s roof off. Banner had just taken his hands off the wheel six seconds before the impact, and the NTSB said Banner entered autopilot mode just ten seconds beforehand. Tesla’s system did not detect that Banner had let go of the wheel. He was driving 68 miles per hour in a 55 speed zone. We don’t know why all three of these fatal instances happened to take place in the third month of the year. But we can safely assume we need to beware behind the wheel on more days than just the Ides of March. In a hearing on Capitol Hill last Tuesday, a bipartisan cadre of lawmakers urged that the United States needs to fund autonomous vehicles more steadfastly. The fear is that the U.S. will fall behind China and other countries in this realm. More funding and emphasis are not bad things, but hasty implementation can produce awful results. » RELATED: Setting an extremely attainable commuting bar for 2020 Many tragedies result from a series of errors, not just one idiot proverbially sitting on the candy-red button. Huang should have been watching where he was driving. The Uber driver should have also. Banner might have picked the wrong time to test his Tesla’s autopilot system at that speed. Tesla needs to beef up the flaws in its miraculous vehicles. Uber and other outfits need to not let convenience breed malfeasance. And the government needs to better balance innovation with safety — and the DOT needs to repair the roads fully. As we have said in this space many times, including in last week’s post about the forgotten dangers of driving: We all help each other in this community on the roads. Despite the aids of technology, we cannot lessen our vigilance and responsibility behind the wheel. Partially autonomous cars are here and could be a Godsend. Fully autonomous vehicles are still en route, and we shouldn’t act as if they have arrived. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com 

News

  • Protests and demonstrations have led to violence in at least 30 cities across the United States in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Floyd, 46, died after he was detained for questioning regarding a possible forgery in progress. Video of his death caught by bystanders showed a Minneapolis police officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than five minutes as Floyd pleaded for air, sparking outrage.  As of Tuesday morning, at least 40 cities across 16 states have imposed curfews.  Live updates for Tuesday, June 2 continue below:  Denver police arrest man suspected of driving car into officers during weekend protest Update 7:36 a.m. EDT June 2: Denver police have arrested a man they believe drove his vehicle into three fellow officers during Saturday night protests. Anthony Knapp, 37, was arrested Sunday after the officers suffered serious injuries. According to CNN, Knapp is being held for first-degree assault and attempted first-degree assault.  According to the police department’s Statement of Probable Cause, officers were in full uniform standing next to a fully marked Denver Police vehicle when a dark sedan traveling at a 'high rate of speed swerved toward the officers and, as a result, struck three of the officers with the car,” the network reported. Rep. Seth Moulton implores military to ‘lay down your arms’ if ordered to face protesters Update 6:36 a.m. EDT June 2: Rep. Seth Moulton, a Marine veteran, is calling upon military members to “lay down your arms” if ordered by the U.S. government to confront protesters in cities across the country. The Massachusetts Democrat took to Twitter shortly after President Donald Trump vowed Monday night to deploy active-duty forces on American soil to quell nationwide protests since the death of George Floyd while in police custody. “We must therefore, with every ounce of conviction, every commitment to peace, and every glimmer of hope, join in lawful protest to overcome (Trump’s) tyranny. And if he chooses to abuse the military as a tyrant would do — to stifle dissent, suppress freedom, & cement inequality — then I call on all our proud young men & women in uniform, as a veteran & a patriot, to lay down your arms, uphold your oath, & join this new march for freedom,” Moulton tweeted. Moulton joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001, served four tours in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star. See the full Twitter thread here. NY state senator pepper sprayed, handcuffed at peaceful Monday protest, he says Update 6:06 a.m. EDT June 2: New York state Sen. Zellnor Myrie told CNN he had been protesting peacefully when police handcuffed and pepper sprayed him late Monday. “I am from Brooklyn. I happen to represent a huge swath of central Brooklyn, and when I heard there was a group of folks protesting police brutality I decided to make my way down,” Myrie told the network. Willing to offer his services as liaison between protesters and police, Myrie said he identified himself to authorities upon arriving, but none of that mattered once things escalated. “As I was obeying orders, they were telling us to back up, I was backing up. Trying to protect some of the protesters behind me. Being compliant. I started getting hit in my back by bicycles wielded by the police officers. I was pushed. I was shoved. Ultimately pepper-sprayed, and subsequently handcuffed. Simply because I was there to forcefully protest,” he told CNN, adding, “Had I not had the luxury of my title, I would have been in the system and processed, much like any of the other protesters.' Hit-and-run driver strikes NYPD sergeant Update 5:30 a.m. EDT June 2: A sergeant with the New York Police Department is in serious but stable condition Tuesday morning after being struck by a black sedan that sped away, CNN reported. NYPD Detective Adam Navarro told the network the sergeant was responding to a break-in at a Bronx pawn shop when the vehicular assault occurred. NYPD Lt. Thomas Antonetti told CNN the sergeant has suffered leg and head injuries. Indianapolis protesters, police hug, march together; BLM calls foul Update 5:03 a.m. EDT June 2: Hundreds of demonstrators squared off briefly with police in Indianapolis near the Indiana governor’s mansion after Monday night before finding common ground and marching forward together, The Washington Post reported. Although officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department did, at one point, fire a pepper-spray projectile toward the protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowd for violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, the standoff deescalated when protesters began introducing themselves to the officers, the Post reported. Within a short period, the crowd and officers began walking toward downtown, with some law enforcement personnel hugging and linking arms with demonstrators. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter Indianapolis took exception to the display, offering its own analysis of the exchange via Twitter. Boxing great Floyd Mayweather to pay for George Floyd’s funeral Update 4:42 a.m. EDT June 2: Funeral arrangements for George Floyd in Houston will be handled by boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, ESPN reported. Family attorney Ben Crump confirmed to CNN that Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for June 9. Mayweather’s involvement was confirmed by Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Productions. “He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that, but yes, (Mayweather) is definitely paying for the funeral,” Ellerbe told ESPN in an emailed response. Las Vegas officer shot, 2nd involved in separate shooting as unrest envelops city Update 4:29 a.m. EDT June 2: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has confirmed one officer has been shot in the area of the Strip and another has been involved in a shooting in the downtown area, The Associated Press reported. The department said both shootings occurred on Las Vegas Boulevard. The condition of neither officer has been reported. 4 St. Louis police officers shot Update 3:18 a.m. EDT June 2: St. Louis police confirmed four of their own were shot early Tuesday morning after peaceful protests ended and social unrest escalated. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, most of the peaceable protesters dispersed on their own, but police did fire tear gas into the remaining crowd just before 9 p.m. Within one hour, looting and pillaging began with at least one 7-Eleven set ablaze and raided, while heavy gunfire rang through downtown after midnight, the newspaper reported. St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden, during an early-morning news conference, said two officers were shot in the leg, one was shot in the arm and one was shot in the foot. Minnesota officials: No evidence tanker driver plowed into protesters intentionally Update 2:26 a.m. EDT June 2: Bogdan Vechirko was arrested Monday and charged with assault for driving his tanker truck toward protesters in Minneapolis Sunday. By early Tuesday morning, however, Minnesota investigators walked back the initial belief that Vechirko purposefully incited a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. “We don’t have any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington told CNN. “He saw the crowd, and from what it looked like, panicked.” According to jail records, Vechirko remains in police custody without bail. US military helicopter buzzes downtown DC protesters Published 2 a.m. EDT June 2: A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter flew just above rooftops in a downtown Washington D.C. neighborhood Monday night, employing a military tactic typically reserved for combat zones, The Washington Post reported. The helicopter flew just above rooftop level, snapping branches off trees and shattering some storefront window, the Post reported, noting the low-flying maneuver is normally performed to scare off insurgents.
  • More than 6.2 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.8 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, June 2, continue below:  US air travel sees slight uptick as coronavirus restrictions ease Update 7:04 a.m. EDT June 2: Air travel in the United States began crawling out of its coronavirus-imposed gridlock in May, but the road to recovery will be a long one. According to the Transportation Security Administration, nearly 949,000 passengers were screened during the past weekend, compared with only 476,000 during the first weekend of May, CNN reported. Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar stepping down Update 6:37 a.m. EDT June 2: Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar, announced Monday he will step down from the post June 30. Giroir, who assumed the role in March, said during a Monday meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he will return to his prior role as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, an HHS spokesperson confirmed to NPR a testing czar successor will not be named for Giroir. US coronavirus cases eclipse 1.8M, deaths top 105K Published 12:41 a.m. EDT June 2: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States climbed past 1.8 million early Tuesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,811,357 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 105,160 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 371,711 cases and 29,917 deaths and New Jersey with 160,918 cases and 11,723 deaths. Massachusetts, with 100,805 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 7,035, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 121,234. Only 15 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 5,000 cases each. Six other states have now confirmed at least 53,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: · California: 114,733 cases, resulting in 4,217 deaths · Pennsylvania: 76,646 cases, resulting in 5,567 deaths · Texas: 65,593 cases, resulting in 1,683 deaths · Michigan: 57,532 cases, resulting in 5,516 deaths · Florida: 56,830 cases, resulting in 2,460 deaths · Maryland: 53,327 cases, resulting in 2,552 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut and Louisiana each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 34,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Washington and Arizona each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 19,699; Alabama and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 18,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 15,752; Rhode Island and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases, followed by Missouri with 13,724, South Carolina with 12,148 and Kentucky with 10,046; Utah, Kansas and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; New Mexico and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases, followed by Oklahoma with 6,913 and South Dakota with 5,034.. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Two Atlanta police officers have been fired for using a stun gun on two college students during this weekend’s protests in Atlanta. A video of officers Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter using the stun gun on the students as they sat in a vehicle led to action by Atlanta’s mayor and police chief. The Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he’s investigating and looking at criminal charges against the officers. Still shaken, the Morehouse and Spelman students spoke for the first time Monday about what happened Saturday night. “We felt like we were going to die in that car,” said Taniyah Pilgrim, a student at Spelman College. The Atlanta Police Department provided WSB-TV with body camera video from seven different officers showing Messiah Young, a senior from Morehouse College, and Pilgrim, his girlfriend, tased and dragged from their car. “I’m sorry you guys had to even see something like that occur. It’s disgusting,” Pilgrim said Monday. Moments before they were tased, the video shows Young taking a video of the police and protesters from his car. The couple said they were not part of the protests, but were going out to eat and got stuck in the traffic. “At the end of the day, it’s a blessing that I’m alive and here to talk with you,” Young said. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Ericka Shields said the videos left them no choice but to terminate officers Streeter and Gardner. “I knew that I had only one option, and that was to terminate the employees,” Shields said. WSB-TV dug into the history of the two men. Both were longtime veterans of the force and investigators in APD’s fugitive unit. Both men, according to state peace officer records, had just gone through use-of-force and de-escalation training in the last two months. Streeter completed his de-escalation training just last week. Vince Champion, Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told WSB-TV that he thinks the officers should have been placed on leave while they were investigated. “We just don’t know the facts. Making an arrest on video as a police officer, almost all of them are going to be ugly,” Champion said. Young has a fractured arm and 20 stitches from the incident. He also spent the night in jail. The couple and their attorneys want more disciplinary action taken against the officers involved. “This is a long, long fight. This isn’t just about me. This is an entire generation that has to deal with brutality and injustice and wrongdoing for nothing because of the color of their skin,” Young said. WSB-TV remained in contact with Howard’s office throughout Monday. Howard was said to be speaking with the families, the police chief, and then will make a determination on any possible criminal charges against the officers.
  • President Donald Trump said Monday night that he will invoke an 1807 federal law that would allow him to deploy active-duty U.S. troops in response to protests in the wake of the death of a black man by a white police officer in Minnesota. “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans,” Trump said in an address from the White House Rose Garden. 'We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,' he said. 'If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,' Trump said. He said he had already dispatched 'thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers' to Washington D.C. following a night that saw riots, the defacing of the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial and a fire in the church across the street from the White House. The law – called the Insurrection Act – would allow the president to send active-duty troops to a state where he believes it is necessary to quell an “insurrection” that threatens the state or its residents. Here’s what we know about the Insurrection Act: What does the act say? “If there is an insurrection in a State, the President, at the request of the State’s legislature, or Governor if the legislature cannot be convened, may call National Guards of other States into Federal service as well as use the Federal military to suppress the insurrection.” The act goes on to authorize the president to deploy the military (federal or state) whenever he believes it necessary “to suppress an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.” “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages or rebellion against authority of the United States makes it impracticable to enforce the law of the United States in any State or territory by judicial proceedings, the President may call into Federal service the militia of any State and use the Federal military to enforce the laws or suppress the rebellion,” the act reads. The law also states the president can use the armed forces when there is an interference with federal or state law. The law may be used when an “insurrection:” “(a) … so hinders the execution of law of that State and of the United States and it deprives citizens of constitutional rights (e.g. due process); or (b) it opposes or obstructs the execution of laws or impedes the course of justice. In the event of the deprivation of rights, the State is deemed to have denied its citizens equal protection of laws.” Prior to invoking the Insurrection Act, the attorney general crafts and the president must issue a “proclamation to disperse.” The proclamation to disperse will “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time,” according to the legislation. What does that mean? The Insurrection Act allows the president, at the request of the governor of a state or a state legislature, to federalize that state’s National Guard and to use the active-duty military in order to suppress an “insurrection” against that state's government. The act also allows a president to federalize the National Guard and send in active-duty troops, even if the governor or legislature does not ask for help, if it becomes impracticable to enforce federal laws through ordinary proceedings or if states are unable to safeguard its citizens’ civil rights. Has it been used before? Yes, but not very often, according to the Congressional Research Service. Some examples of when it was used include: Several times during the 1960s civil rights era by both President Dwight Eisenhower and President John Kennedy. By President George H.W. Bush following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, as business and homes were looted and during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
  • Police are investigating after the body of a man who had been shot was found in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.  Officers were sent to the Baker-Highland Connector at Piedmont Avenue about 1:40 p.m. Monday, according to Atlanta police spokesman Officer Steve Avery. There, they found the man dead, he said.  When police moved the man’s body, they discovered that he had been shot.  Witnesses told police the man occasionally sleeps under the overpass near the area. It is not clear what led to the man’s death.  An investigation is ongoing.  You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: 
  • A man was killed Monday afternoon after gunfire erupted inside a DeKalb County Walmart, officials said.  The victim, a man in his late to mid-60s, died on the way to a hospital, according to DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent. His name was not released.  DeKalb police detained a man in his late 50s in connection with the incident, which happened at the store on Gresham Road. Officers were sent to the shopping center about 2 p.m. after someone reported gunshots, Vincent said. Investigators determined the incident began as a dispute between two men, she said. It is not clear what led to the dispute.  An investigation is ongoing.  Please return to AJC.com for updates. You may find this story and more at AJC.com. In other news: