Freddie O’Connell, a progressive member of Nashville’s metro council, has resoundingly won the race to become the next mayor of the Democratic-leaning city, according to unofficial results.
Results from the Davidson County Election Commission show O’Connell defeated conservative candidate Alice Rolli in Thursday’s runoff election by a wide margin, with all precincts reporting. Candidates in the race do not run with party affiliations.
Since 2015, O’Connell has served on the combined city-county government’s council, representing a district that covers downtown Nashville. He succeeds Mayor John Cooper, who decided not to seek reelection.
O’Connell, whose campaign touted him as the “only truly progressive candidate running for mayor,” said he wants to make the city “more ’ville and less Vegas,” a reference to the “Nashvegas” moniker sometimes used to liken the huge boom in tourism in the city to Las Vegas.
“Every part of this city deserves the public resources that bind neighborhoods and neighbors together — schools, parks and libraries,” O’Connell said in a victory speech. “And when we do that, our interactions with our local government should leave us feeling satisfied that a real person worked to solve our issue.”
Down the ballot, Olivia Hill won an at-large metro council seat to make history as the first transgender candidate to be elected to office in Tennessee, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. Hill’s victory stands in contrast to Tennessee’s Republican leadership in state government, where lawmakers have passed a series of restrictions on the rights of transgender people.
Five former Memphis police officers were charged Tuesday with federal civil rights violations in the beating death of Tyre Nichols as they continue to fight second-degree murder charges in state courts arising from the killing.
Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin and Justin Smith were indicted in U.S. District Court in Memphis. The four-count indictment charges them with deprivation of rights under the color of law through excessive force and failure to intervene, and through deliberate indifference; conspiracy to witness tampering; and obstruction of justice through witness tampering.
The charges come nine months after the violent beating during a Jan. 7 traffic stop near Nichols’ Memphis home, in which they punched, kicked and slugged the 29-year-old with a baton as he yelled for his mother. Nichols died at a hospital three days later. The five former officers, all Black like Nichols, have pleaded not guilty to state charges of second-degree murder and other alleged offenses in the case.
“We all heard Mr. Nichols cry out for his mother and say ‘I’m just trying to go home,’” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a video statement after the indictment. “Tyre Nichols should be alive today.”
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz in West Tennessee said at an afternoon news briefing that the state and federal cases are on separate tracks. Ritz declined to predict how quickly they would proceed.
Kristen Clarke, who leads the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division, said at the appearance that the five former officers used excessive force, failed to advise medical personnel about Nichols’ injuries and conspired to cover up their misconduct.
“In our country, no one is above the law,” she said, adding she met earlier Tuesday with Nichols’ mother and stepfather. Caught on police video, the Nichols beating was one in a string of violent encounters between police and Black people that sparked protests and renewed debate about police brutality and police reform in the U.S.
Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said she was surprised that the federal charges “happened so quickly.” The investigation that led to the indictment was announced in the weeks after the Jan. 7 beating death.
The initial online search of a state website that led a central Kansas police chief to raid a local weekly newspaper was legal, a spokesperson for the agency that maintains the site said Monday, as the newspaper remains under investigation.
Earlier this month, after a local restaurant owner accused the Marion County Record of illegally accessing information about her, the Marion police chief obtained warrants to search the newspaper’s offices and the home of its publisher, as well as the home of a City Council member who also accessed the driver’s license database.
The police chief led the Aug. 11 raids and said in the affidavits used to obtain the warrants that he had probable cause to believe that the newspaper and the City Council member had violated state laws against identity theft or computer crimes.
Both the City Council member and the newspaper have said they received a copy of the document about the status of the restaurant owner’s license without soliciting it. The document disclosed the restaurant’s license number and her date of birth, information required to check the status of a person’s license online and gain access to a more complete driving record. The police chief maintains they broke state laws to do that, while the newspaper and Herbel’s attorneys say they didn’t.
The raid on the Record put it and its hometown of about 1,900 residents in the center of a debate about press freedoms protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Kansas’ Bill of Rights. It also exposed divisions in the town over local politics and the newspaper’s coverage of the community and put an intense spotlight on Police Chief Gideon Cody.
Department of Revenue spokesperson Zack Denney said it’s legal to access the driver’s license database online using information obtained independently. The department’s Division of Vehicles issues licenses.
“That’s legal,” he said. “The website is public facing, and anyone can use it.”
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation continues to probe the newspaper’s actions. The KBI reports to state Attorney General Kris Kobach, a Republican, while the Department of Revenue is under Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s authority.
Groups opposed to Maine’s new law expanding abortion access won’t attempt to nullify the statute through a so-called People’s Veto referendum.
Republican Rep. Laurel Libby, leader of the Speak Up for LIFE group, said Wednesday that allies have decided to focus their resources on electing candidates who are opposed to abortions instead of collecting signatures and running a referendum campaign.
“At the end of the day, we want to put our effort into the most effective place possible,” Libby, a Republican from Auburn, told The Associated Press. That means flipping legislative seats, she said, particularly in the Maine House.
Wednesday marked the deadline to notify state officials of a People’s Veto, a constitutional provision allowing citizens to repeal legislation through a statewide vote. To move forward, more than 67,000 signatures would have been needed.
Mills presented the bill expanding abortion access after a Yarmouth woman came forward with her story about having to travel to Colorado for an abortion after learning at week 32 of her pregnancy that her unborn son had a fatal condition that would not allow him to survive.
Critics said the law’s language was broader than necessary if the goal was simply to allow abortions in instances of a fatal fetal anomaly later in a pregnancy. They also said the bill put too much power in the hands of doctors.
Passage was considered a foregone conclusion in the Legislature where Democrats controlled both chambers, and there were enough co-sponsors to ensure passage. But the vote was close in the House after emotional testimony.
Beside Maine, six states leave the decision to get an abortion to doctors and their patients, without restrictions. They are Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont, plus Washington, D.C.