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Bernie Sanders Sticks to the Script in Weekly News Roundup

Bernie Sanders greets supporters at a campaign stop on May 17. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made a campaign stop in Charlotte on Friday afternoon, speaking to a crowd of around 1,000 people in front of the Overcash Center at Central Piedmont Community College’s Central Campus.

Sanders stuck to many of the talking points from his 2016 campaign, stating that most Americans support a progressive agenda when it comes to issues like the minimum wage, healthcare for all, student debt, equal pay for equal work, criminal justice reform and immigration, but that the ruling minority was holding them back from seeing those changes happen.

“The agenda doesn’t mean anything unless we are able to implement that agenda, and we can’t implement that agenda, unless we elect people who are willing to stand up and fight the billionaire class in America,” Sanders said.

“This is a pivotal moment in American history,” he continued. “Either we move further into oligarchy and into authoritarian government under a president who either doesn’t know the Constitution or has disdain for the Constitution, or else — and we must do this — we make a political revolution and create an economy and create a government that works for all people and not just a few.”

Sanders also addressed the recent passage of laws in states like Alabama and Georgia that would ban abortion, calling them regressive and unconstitutional.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that banning abortion [will] quite literally kill women,” he said.

In South Carolina on Saturday, Sanders unveiled a new education plan that would set a minimum salary of $60,000 for teachers and limit federal funding for charter schools, among other policies.  He then went on to speak in the states where the above-mentioned abortion laws has passed through state legislatures, holding rallies in Augusta, Georgia, on Saturday and Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday.

An incident that occurred on Monday proved that Charlotteans would be willing to come together to solve the city’s recent crime wave if only they were offered beer to do so.

(Screenshot from Facebook)

After Unknown Brewing’s conspicuously branded van was stolen early Monday morning, the brewery took to social media to offer a free keg to anyone who could offer information leading to its recovery. Sure enough, within 42 minutes from the post being made, a woman named Caroline Faith was credited with finding the van parked near Frazier Park. Police believe the suspects used the van in a spree of car break-ins before abandoning it. Nobody has been arrested currently for the crime.

“A lot of tips came in from fans of the brewery who live in the area and saw the obvious neon van,” Unknown owner Brad Shell wrote in a Facebook post, “proving it was probably not a good idea to steal a brightly colored well known brewery vehicle.” 

Faith isn’t the only one being awarded for the quick find. In appreciation of the mass social media movement to find the van, Shell said his team is brewing a new beer called Van Theft Auto that will sell for 25 cents once its ready.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced charges against one of its own on Friday, holding a press conference after charging officer Robert Milton with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse related to him allegedly providing two small children with alcohol. Police say the 56-year-old man gave the alcohol to a 1-year-old and 6-year-old child. A press release stated that Milton was the father of one of the children and had previously been in a romantic relationship with the other child’s mother. Milton, who worked in the Airport Division and has been with the department since 2012, has been placed on administrative leave. 

In a statement included in the press release, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney referenced the fact that the crime came to the department’s attention during National Police Week. “I am disappointed by this incident. As we honor the men and women in law enforcement this week, it is important that the community understands the overwhelming majority of police officers serve with integrity. Officers who betray their oath and break the law will be held accountable for their actions,” Putney stated. 

Eric Henderson (Photo curtesy of CMPD)

Earlier in the week, the Crimes Against Children Unit, which also investigated Milton’s case, held a press conference in regards to a man who they say was targeting children throughout the city my exposing himself to them, often while they were standing alone at a bus stop. 

At a press conference on Monday, Sgt. Catina Odom said that they believed the same man was behind eight incidents of indecent exposure targeting children between the ages of 8 and 18 years old since February. On Thursday, investigators announced they had signed warrants against 37-year-old Eric Henderson, charging him with misdemeanor indecent exposure, felony indecent exposure and indecent liberties with a child in relation to the incidents. Later that day, police arrested Henderson. 

On Monday, the Women’s Impact Fund awarded Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT) with an $80,000 grant that will allow the organization to provide 100 women living near the poverty line with long-term birth control during a two-year program. 

“The ability to control one’s own fertility promotes economic security, educational attainment, and income mobility — all of which can help lift women and their children out of poverty,” a PPSAT spokesperson stated in a press release. 

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic board of directors chair Pamela Pearson (from left), PPSAT development grant and communications manager Elizabeth Irwin and PPSAT director of philanthropy Marcie Shealy accepted a grant from the Women’s Impact Fund on Monday.

The project is based on research that shows that when barriers like cost are reduced, women are more likely to opt for longer-acting forms of birth control. This includes a study at Washington University that provided women with education and access to all forms of birth control at no cost. According to the release, 75% of participants chose long-acting reversible contraceptive devices as their preferred method of contraception.

There is a widening class gap in rates of unintended pregnancies. A woman living below the federal poverty level is more than five times likelier to face unintended pregnancy as women making 200% or more above the federal poverty level. However, among single, childbearing-age women not trying to get pregnant, the share having sex is virtually identical regardless of income. The disparity exists because poor women are much less likely to use contraception, according to the release. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 63,670 women between 13-44 years old in Mecklenburg County are in need of access to publicly support contraceptive services and supplies, meaning they are under 18 or have incomes at or below 200% FPL. However, only 15% of those women were able to receive services at a publicly funded health center.

There was one homicide in Charlotte this week, putting the total for 2019 at 51. Just before 1:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, police responded to a Shell gas station at the intersection of South and East boulevards and found 32-year-old Andrew Allen suffering from multiple stab wounds in the parking lot. Allen was transported to the hospital, where he later died. Police took a person of interest into custody at the time of the incident, and later arrested 55-year-old Richard Grier and charged him with Allen’s murder.  

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