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Chippewa Falls Farmers Market has returned through mid-October

A community favorite event is back for the summer.

The Chippewa Falls Farmers Market held its opening event Thursday to signal the beginning of months worth of community events. Every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. through mid-October, local and regional vendors will flock to Allen Park, 1 S. Bridge St., in downtown Chippewa Falls to sell a wide variety of goods such as vegetables, flowers, nuts and many other locally produced products.

The Farmers Market was not canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the same cannot be said for many other events in the region.

“Being a craft person myself, I attended quite a few events and now there isn’t the opportunity to go,” said Randy Rykal, co-owner of local vendor R Honey. “It affects sales, and you don’t have the opportunity to show your product to somebody. This entire COVID situation has had a great effect on us.”

A few changes were made at the 2020 edition of the Farmers Market to ensure the best scenario for patrons. All vendors were set up in an oval formation with a coned off path placed through the location. Each attendee was asked to follow the path and visit each vendor in the same order and then exit the location once completing the path. Attendees and vendors were also heavily encouraged to wear face masks and social distance themselves to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Rykal said even though the first wave of COVID-19 is still active in the area, residents of the Chippewa Valley still need to come together and do their best to support each other in this trying time.

“You don’t have to change your complete lifestyle; you just need to make some adjustments for the safety of yourself and the public,” Rykal said. “People still need to support each other and their community, and supporting events like this is a great way to do that.”

With the cancellation of other farmers markets, craft shows, festivals and other large scale events, the importance of events like the one Thursday in downtown Chippewa Falls is being heightened. Barb Fritsch, co-owner of R Honey, said people in a tough financial position due to COVID-19 have a great opportunity presented to them should they choose to buy some of their food at local farmers markets.

“It’s important for people to come to the farmers market because of the vegetables,” Fritsch said. “The vegetables here are a lot cheaper than they are in the stores right now, so if people take advantage of it, then it will have a big impact on families this year. I’m always impressed with the quality of food here, and the fact it only costs what it does is amazing.”

AP featured
`Stop fighting!' Atlanta sobriety test quickly turned deadly

ATLANTA — One minute, Rayshard Brooks was chatting cooperatively with Atlanta police, saying he’d had a couple of drinks to celebrate his daughter’s birthday and agreeing to a breath test. The next, they were wrestling on the ground and grappling over a Taser before Brooks took the weapon and ran.

Seconds later, three gunshots sounded and Brooks fell mortally wounded.

Atlanta police video released Sunday showing a seemingly routine sobriety check outside a Wendy’s restaurant that quickly spun out of control, ending in gunfire. The killing of the 27-year-old black man in an encounter with two white officers late Friday rekindled fiery protests in Atlanta and prompted the police chief’s resignation.

Police said Sunday the department terminated Officer Garrett Rolfe, who fired the fatal shots, and Officer Devin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty. Rolfe had worked for the department since October 2013, and Brosnan since September 2018.

Meanwhile, authorities announced a $10,000 reward for information finding those responsible for setting fire to the Wendy’s restaurant at the shooting scene. Flames gutted the restaurant late Saturday after demonstrations grew turbulent. The protests prompted 36 arrests.

The two officers’ body cameras and the dash-mounted cameras in their patrol cars showed they spent more than 40 minutes peacefully questioning Brooks. The fighting erupted when they tried to handcuff Brooks.

Andy Harvey, chief of police of Ennis, Texas, who has written books and developed training on community policing, said such moments can turn in a split second.

“The moment you put your hands on someone is when someone will decide whether to comply or resist,” Harvey said. “That’s what happened in Atlanta.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will present the findings of its investigation to prosecutors. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a statement Sunday he hopes to reach a decision by midweek on whether to bring charges against the officers.

The officers were called late Friday over complaints of a car blocking the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. Brosnan arrived first and found Brooks alone in the car, apparently asleep. Brooks agreed to move the car, showed his license, and Rolfe arrived minutes later to conduct a sobriety check.

“I know you’re just doing your job,” Brooks says on video after consenting to a breath test. He mentions celebrating his daughter’s birthday and says: ”I just had a few drinks, that’s all.”

Rolfe doesn’t tell Brooks the results though his body camera recorded a digital readout of 0.108 — higher than the 0.08-gram blood alcohol level considered too intoxicated to drive in Georgia.

“All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving,” Rolfe tells Brooks. “Put your hands behind your back.”

The video shows each officer take hold of one of Brooks’ wrists as Rolfe tries to handcuff him. Brooks tries to run and the officers take him to the ground.

“Stop fighting!” one officers yells.

One of the dash cameras recorded the brawl. As Brooks fights to stand, Brosnan presses a Taser to his leg and threatens to stun him. Brooks grabs the Taser and pulls it away. He struggles to his feet, the Taser in his hand, and starts running.

Rolfe fires his Taser and a yelp can be heard above the weapon’s electric crackle. Rolfe runs after Brooks, and seconds later three gunshots sound.

Both officers’ body cameras were knocked to the ground in the struggle, and none of the four police cameras captured the shooting. Footage released from a Wendy’s security camera showed Brooks turn and point an object in his hand at one of the officers steps behind him. The officer draws his gun and fires.

“As I pursued him, he turned and started firing the Taser at me,” Rolfe told a supervisor after the shooting in a videotaped conversation. “...He definitely did shoot it at me at least once.”

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said Sunday she could not confirm whether Brooks fired the Taser.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday she doesn’t believe the shooting was justified. Police Chief Erika Shields, who joined the department as a beat officer in 1995, resigned.

Brooks’ death inflamed raw emotions in Atlanta and across the U.S. following the May 25 police custody killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Some public officials questioned whether shooting of Brooks was as clearly an abuse as Floyd’s death after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck.

“The question is when the suspect turned to fire the Taser, what should the officer have done?” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, said Brooks’s death “is certainly a far less clear one than the ones that we saw with George Floyd and several other ones.”

Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic lawmaker who gained national prominence while running for governor in 2018, said “there’s a legitimacy to this outrage” over Brooks’ death.

L. Chris Stewart, a Brooks family attorney, said the officer who shot him should be charged for “an unjustified use of deadly force, which equals murder.”

Stewart said that Brooks, a father of four, on Friday had celebrated the eighth birthday of one of his daughters.

Allies: Trump unaware of rally date's significance

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump didn’t know the significance to black Americans of the date and location he chose for his first campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic more than three months ago, key Republican supporters of the president in Congress said Sunday.

Trump had scheduled the rally for June 19, known as Juneteenth because it marks the end of slavery in the United States. Tulsa, Okla., the location for the rally, was the scene in 1921 of one of the most severe white-on-black attacks in American history.

Black community and political leaders denounced the move and called on Trump to reschedule. He resisted until late Friday when, in a rare turnabout, Trump tweeted that he had moved the rally to Saturday, June 20, out of respect for the view of supporters and others who had asked him to.

“There’s special sensitivities there in Tulsa, but Juneteenth is a very significant day, so my encouragement to the president was to be able to pick a day around it,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said Sunday. Lankford said he was among several people who had spoken with Trump.

Lankford said he had called Trump on an unrelated matter and that Trump broached the issue. He said Trump told him he was thinking about rescheduling and asked Lankford’s opinion.

“I suggested, ‘Yes, I think that would be a great idea. It would be very, very respectful to the community,’” Lankford said. He said Trump immediately said he didn’t want to do anything that would show disrespect to the black community.

“He didn’t see it as disrespectful to be able to do it on Juneteenth,” Lankford said. “Other people interpreted it differently and so he moved the rally date.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said he was “thankful” that Trump rescheduled the rally.

“The president moving the date by a day once he was informed on what the Juneteenth was, that was a good decision on his part,” said Scott, the only black Republican senator.

Housing Secretary Ben Carson said he was “pleasantly surprised” at how much Trump knew about Juneteenth by the time they talked about it. He said “it’s probably good” the rally was rescheduled.

Carson, who is black, suggested Trump was considering delivering remarks to “acknowledge what had happened there and why we don’t want that kind of situation to ever occur in this country again.”

Scott said it wasn’t clear to him that Trump’s planners understood the significance of June 19.

But Trump’s campaign was aware, according to two campaign officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.

When the date was discussed, it was noted that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had held a fundraiser in 2019 on Juneteenth. Although selecting June 19 was not meant to be incendiary, some push-back was expected, the Trump campaign officials said. But they were caught off guard by the intensity and, in particular, the link to the 1921 massacre.

Trump had been under pressure over his response to civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer at the time his return to campaign rallies was announced, including tweets that were interpreted as insensitive to African Americans.

Scott also said he’s open to making Juneteenth a federal holiday to help raise public awareness.

Trump and the Republican Party are also facing criticism for arranging for Trump to formally accept his party’s nomination for reelection in Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 27 — a day remembered as Ax Handle Saturday in the city.

On that day 60 years ago, a group of young black men and women had just dispersed from a peaceful protest in downtown Jacksonville when a mob of whites began indiscriminately clubbing African Americans.

The anniversary will be commemorated in a public square across from City Hall — on the same day as Trump’s televised address.

Lankford was interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Scott appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and Carson spoke on ABC’s “This Week.”