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Marchers block I-94 in St. Paul after grand jury decides not to charge police officers for Breonna Taylor’s death

Plus: COVID outbreak prompts warnings from Minnesota health officials about Halloween; Metro Transit workers authorize union to call potential strike; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to make election day paid holiday; and more.

For the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes: “Several hundred peaceful demonstrators rallied Wednesday evening on the state Capitol Mall in St. Paul before marching onto Interstate 94 to protest a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge three Louisville police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor. Taylor … was shot and killed in her apartment during a March drug raid after her boyfriend shot and wounded one of the officers, all of whom then returned fire. But the no-knock warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. One of the officers involved was charged Wednesday with wanton endangerment for shooting into neighboring units, but not for killing Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson, “A COVID-19 outbreak at a Martin County funeral offered new evidence of infection risks at large gatherings, particularly indoors, and a warning before the granddaddy of American group events — Halloween. State health officials on Wednesday encouraged Minnesotans to follow new CDC guidance for Halloween next month that discourages parties and candy handouts, permits no-contact goody bag giveaways and encourages alternatives such as virtual costume parties.”

The Pioneer Press also reports: “Metro Transit workers have voted to reject a contract offer and authorized their union to call a potential strike, union officials said Wednesday. The workers, represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, include more than 2,350 employees, including bus and rail operators, mechanics, clerks and cleaners. Union officials said Metro Transit management has refused to hold meaningful talks with workers.… In a statement of their own on Wednesday, Metropolitan Council officials disagreed with the union’s characterization of contract issues.”

Says Alex Jokich for KSTP-TV, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced Wednesday that it will make Election Day a paid company holiday, starting this year. ‘We want our folks to be able to vote safely without any barriers or restrictions’,  said President and CEO Craig Samitt. ‘This isn’t just a one-year deal for us. We’ll be doing this in even-numbered years to coincide with federal and state elections’. The decision impacts the entire workforce of 3,500 workers across the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota system.”

Liz Navratil and David Chanen write for the Star Tribune: “Minneapolis would operate with about 100 fewer police officers than it has planned for in recent years and would increase property taxes for some under a new budget proposal released this week. The specifics of Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget plan, posted online late Tuesday, provide a fresh glimpse into how the city expects to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic and a wave of officer departures following George Floyd’s death. … Frey said Wednesday that he is concerned about officer staffing levels.”

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At Talking Points Memo, Zoe Richards writes, “Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) hit back at President Donald Trump following his racist attack on her Somali roots at his Pennsylvania campaign rally Tuesday night. … Omar, noting that she fled civil war as an 8-year-old replied on Twitter: ‘An 8-year-old doesn’t run a country even though you run our country like one.’ The comments came after Trump followed a predictable formula of race-baiting to a jeering crowd in the Pittsburgh suburb that he has used many times before.”

This from WCCO-TV,Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump are bringing President Donald Trump’s law-and-order campaign message to Minneapolis on Thursday, showing support for law enforcement in the city where George Floyd’s death sparked angry and sometimes violent protests that spread around the world. Pence and President Trump’s daughter planned to host a listening session with a ‘Cops for Trump’ group, as well as with residents who the Trump reelection campaign says have been ‘negatively impacted by crime and violent extremism.’”

A BBC story says, “The head of US bank Wells Fargo has apologised for remarks that attributed the lack of diversity in the bank’s top ranks to a shortage of qualified minority candidates. The comments, made in a June call with employees and reiterated in a memo, had drawn widespread criticism after being reported on Tuesday. Bank chief Charles Scharf said he had made an ‘insensitive comment reflecting my own unconscious bias.’”

For Fox News, Michael Ruiz reports, “A Minnesota man who hung a ‘Trump 2020’ flag on his truck awoke early Wednesday to find his family’s garage and three vehicles in flames, local police said. The fire destroyed a detached garage and three vehicles, according to the Brooklyn Center Police Department, but the house itself sustained only minor damage and the family escaped without injuries.”

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