Bail reform laws take effect in New York State making changes to the cash bail system for criminal defendants. Judges must release anyone charged with a misdemeanor on their own recognizance and most non-violent offenders have to be released. Nick Gordon, the boyfriend of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, who is the daughter of late singer Whitney Houston, dies from a heroin overdose at age 30. In the middle of winter, NYCHA reports that 5,000 residents in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens don’t have heat and hot water. White former NYPD officer Michael Reynolds resigns from the force after it’s reported that in 2018 he broke into the home of a Black woman and her two children in Tennessee and made racist threats. Reynolds was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three year probation. Lifetime airs the five-part miniseries Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning about the various women accusing the R&B singer of sexual assault. Kelly denies the accusations and is in jail in Chicago awaiting trial on sex crimes. A U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport kills Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The Department of Housing and Urban Development rolls back several measures intended to prevent housing segregation. Yolanda Carr, the mother of 2019 Texas police shooting victim Atatiana Jefferson, dies. New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker announces he’s ending his 2020 presidential campaign. New York Attorney General Letitia James launches an investigation into whether the NYPD has been targeting communities of color through its enforcement of the MTA. Rysheim Smith is found guilty in the 2016 beating death of his girlfriend’s son, 6-year-old Zymere Perkins of Harlem. The House of Representatives sends articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate over allegations that Trump withheld U.S. funds from the Ukraine in exchange for an investigation on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Several events take place across the city to celebrate the 34th Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Several anti-violence organizations celebrated the 10th annual Peace Week. Neighborhood basketball coach John “Butch” Purcell dies of a heart attack at age 74. He’s known by his neighbors as the Mayor of Stuyvesant Town. The historically-Black Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. celebrates its centennial. The sorority was founded at Howard University by five women at Howard University in 1920. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hits Puerto Rico leaving thousands without electricity. While serving a three to ten-year prison sentence for sexual assault, comedian Bill Cosby files a petition in Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking a review of his 2018 conviction. Dr. James Holloway is named the first African American president of Rutgers University in New Jersey and assumes the position in July. Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Julie Menin and other elected officials launch a citywide campaign to get people to participate in the 2020 Census. The first case of the COVID-19 in the U.S. is confirmed by the CDC. The World Health Organization declares the outbreak of the disease as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath dies at age 93. The world mourns the death of professional basketball legend Kobe Bryant after he is killed in a helicopter crash Calabasas, Calif. at the age of 41. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also on board and killed in the crash along with seven others. A public memorial is held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the two in February. At the Grammy Awards, Lizzo receives eight nominations winning for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album. Rapper Lil Nas X wins for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. A report reveals that about 90% of all jaywalking tickets in the city are issued to Black and Latino pedestrians. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announces he’s ending his run for mayor and leaving politics after 22 years when his term ends in 2021. Diaz previously served in the New York State Assembly. The 86th season of Amateur Night kicks off at the Apollo Theater. Beloved Brooklyn resident great great great-grandmother Hyacinth Bourne dies at the age of 103. Andy Byford resigns as MTA Chief after two years on the job. The CDC confirms the first case of human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States. President Trump imposes travel restrictions preventing foreign nationals from entering the U.S. if they visited China, where the virus originated.
Black History Month begins with the theme “African Americans and the Vote.” The 60th anniversary of the Sit-In Movement is commemorated honoring the four African American freshmen from North Carolina A&T State College (now University) in Greensboro, NC who sparked the non-violent and student-led wave of protests resulting in desegregation. At Super Bowl LIV the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31–20. At the 51st NAACP Image Awards singer Rihanna receives the President’s Award for her charity work. President Trump delivers his third State of the Union address. The City Planning Commission approves a massive expansion to Harlem’s Lenox Terrace apartment complex. Former Congressman J. C. Watts launches the Black News Channel. The U.S. Senate votes 52-48 to acquit President Trump on impeachment charges. Organizers announce the launch of the Harlem Renaissance 100, a multi-year celebration and tourism initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. At the 92nd Academy Awards, Hair Love wins Best Animated Short Film. The film tells the story of a young Black girl’s pride in her natural hair. Over 15,000 people attend Oprah Winfrey’s 20/20 Vision Tour at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Political consultant Roger Stone is sentenced to 40 months in prison after being found guilty of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office looks into reopening the 1965 murder case of Malcolm X after Netflix releases the docuseries “Who Killed Malcolm X?” The founder of South African music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, dies at age 78. Organizers mark 55 years since the signing of Voting Rights Act of 1965. Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologizes after an audio recording of him justifying stop-and-frisk policies surfaces. Brooklyn-born rapper Pop Smoke is fatally shot during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills, Calif. at age 20; he is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Unarmed, Black 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery is fatally shot in Glynn County, Ga. by two white men, father and son Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, while jogging. The two white men are not arrested until May when they are charged with felony murder. The incident is caught on cellphone video by William “Roddie” Bryan, who is also arrested and charged with murder. Robert Williams walks into the 41st Precinct in the Bronx and opens fire on officers striking Lt. Jose Gautreaux. Williams also ambushes two cops sitting in a marked police van in the Mott Haven section shooting Officer Paul Stroffolino in the neck. Both officers survived. Author Grace F. Edwards dies at 87. Mathematician and “hidden figure” Katherine Johnson dies at age 101; her calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial to NASA. A fire destroys the 140-year-old Shiloh Baptist Church in Elizabeth, N.J. Child actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies at 15; she is best known for her role in Disney’s “Queen of Katwe.” Mayor Bill de Blasio announces he’s endorsing Bernie Sanders for U.S. President. Former filmmaker Harvey Weinstein is found guilty on rape charges and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Actress Ja’Net DuBois dies at age 74; she is best known for her role as Willona Woods on the 1970s sitcom “Good Times.” Restaurateur, chef, model and business owner Barbara Smith (better known as B. Smith) dies at age 70 from Alzheimer’s disease. The first death from COVID-19 in the U.S. is reported in Washington state. Joe Biden wins the South Carolina primaries.
The city’s Plastic Bag Ban takes effect, requiring retailers to cease giving away plastic bags and charge for reusable bags. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg drops out of the presidential race. Women’s History Month commemorates 100 years since the adoption of the 19th Amendment––it gave women the right to vote in 1920. While campaigning at a Black church in Alabama, former NYC mayor and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks at a commemoration for Bloody Sunday. Black congregants turn their back on him during his speech because of his previous support for stop-and-frisk. On Super Tuesday, 14 states and American Samoa vote in primaries giving Joe Biden 726 delegates. Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren suspend their presidential campaigns. The World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The first case of COVID-19 is confirmed in New York City. The patient is a 39-year-old health care worker who returned home to Manhattan from Iran. The first recorded case of person-to-person spread in New York is confirmed in New Rochelle. Mayor Bill de Blasio announces that there are 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, MTA employees begin disinfecting subways and buses every 72 hours. Rev. Jesse Jackson postpones his annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit in the city over COVID-19 concerns. The stock market crashes as share prices fall sharply, in response to economic concerns and the impact of COVID-19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunges more than 2,000 points. President Trump announces a 30-day ban on incoming travel from Europe. The corner of East Tremont Avenue and Unionport Road in the Bronx is renamed after civil rights leader and local resident Claudette Colvin, who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. before Rosa Parks. Filmmaker Spike Lee is named the first Black jury president at the Cannes Film Festival. The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College cancels its annual National Black Writers Conference due to COVID-19. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, is fatally shot eight times by Louisville police during a no-knock warrant as part of a narcotics investigation. Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner dies at age 81. The Tri-State area experiences its first COVID-19 death in New Jersey, the victim is a 60-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Gov. Phil Murphy declares a state of emergency in the state. Filmmaker Sabria Bushra dies at age 66. Rory Gamble is named first African American president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. Assemblyman Charles Barron announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized. Weeks later, his wife, Councilwoman Inez Barron also tests positive for the virus. As COVID-19 cases rise in the city, Mayor de Blasio announces that restaurants and bars must do takeout and delivery-only and nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues must close. Broadway theaters also close. Gov. Cuomo announces restrictions on gatherings of 500 people or more. The city’s nearly 1.1 million students in the city are homebound when de Blasio announces that public schools are closing for the rest of the academic year due to the pandemic. President Trump declares a national emergency response due to COVID-19. Actor Idris Elba announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. The American Red Cross says they have a severe blood shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Civil rights organization leaders, including National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, request a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response. Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Criminal justice advocates call on the city and state to suspend broken windows arrests and similar criminal penalty enforcement policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations. Critics say city jails are overcrowded, unsanitary and harbor unsafe conditions. Brooklyn Nets’ player Kevin Durant announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Dozens of Black organizers from across New York State call on Black elected officials to “Save Black Lives” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Island Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre tests positive for coronavirus. Gov. Cuomo orders all hair salons and barbershops to close in the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He also orders all non-essential business employees to work from home. In response to the hunger crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rev. Al Sharpton turns his headquarters in Harlem into a community kitchen to feed those in need. As students across the city are required to participate in remote learning from home after schools close, the city provides laptops and tablets for students to continue their education. However, some students in low-income areas don’t get devices and don’t have adequate internet access. Suffering from low ridership because of the pandemic, the MTA asks for a $4 billion bailout from the federal government. With nearly 80 million people left unemployed due to the pandemic because of businesses closing, mass numbers of people apply for unemployment benefits. The New York Labor Department’s website crashes from so many people trying to submit unemployment claims. The Supreme Court unanimously decides to send media mogul Byron Allen’s $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against media company Comcast back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California. President Trump and Congress agree to distribute $2 trillion in aid to businesses, workers and the health care system impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in its 86-year history, the Apollo Theater announces that its Amateur Night auditions will be conducted exclusively through online submissions for its summer and fall 2020-21 season. Mayor de Blasio releases 40 inmates from city jails as COVID-19 spreads. Jails reportedly deal with a lack of hand sanitizers, soap and medical care and people living extremely close together. Emmett Till’s cousin, the activist Airicka Gordon-Taylor, dies. Nearly 83,000 people on probation and parole in New Jersey are able to register to vote when legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy goes into effect. As houses of worship are ordered to limit capacity and go virtual, the National Black Church Initiative urges all church leaders to encourage all members who are at least 60 years old and have underlying conditions to forgo services. Demonstrators fight to save the house located at 227 Abolitionist Place (formerly known as Duffield Street) from an impending demolition in Brooklyn. The house belonged to abolitionists Thomas and Harriet Lee-Truesdell who used the home as a station on the Underground Railroad. The pastor of Harlem’s Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. Isaac Graham dies from COVID-19. Lawyers for Bill Cosby petition the court for his release amid the coronavirus pandemic. Civil rights leader Rev. Joseph E. Lowery dies at age 98. Lowery helped the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination. Mayor de Blasio calls for a rent freeze for 2.3 million tenants in nearly 1 million rent-stabilized units across the City due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mass unemployment. The Black Business Empowerment Committee says the government’s allocation of emergency and recovery spending for COVID-19 relief isn’t being fairly distributed to Black-owned businesses. The International Olympic Committee and Japan suspend the 2020 Summer Olympics until 2021. The number of COVID-19 infections in the United States exceeds 82,000 becoming the nation with the highest number of cases in the world. The State Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel. City officials announced that people will be fined for violating social distancing rules. However, footage reveals that law enforcement are unfairly targeting Black and Latino people to enforce the policy. Beloved leader and activist Principal Dez-Ann Romain of the Brooklyn Democracy Academy passes away from COVID-19 complications at age 36. To handle the high number of COVID-19 patients in the city, the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives in New York Harbor and field hospitals are set up throughout the city. Soul and R&B singer Bill Withers dies at age 81. Choreographer and dancer Louis Johnson dies at age 90. Police in Rochester, N.Y. fatally shoot Black, unarmed 41-year-old Daniel Prude while he was suffering from a mental health crisis. The incident caught on police body cam shows officers holding him face down on the pavement for over two minutes before he stops breathing. He dies of complications from asphyxia after being taken off life support.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 passes 1 million worldwide with 100,000 dead. The CDC recommends all citizens consider wearing cloth or fabric face coverings in public when not social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. The NYC Department of Health unveils a map to show how COVID-19 is impacting different zip codes. Data reveals that cases are higher in low-income neighborhoods of color in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. More testing sites open in hard hit areas. The federal government deploys 1,000 additional federal medical soldiers to the city. Nearly a month after the pandemic begins, officials appeal to landlords to suspend rent to the city’s tenants who are out of work. Gov. Andrew Cuomo implements a 90-day moratorium on evictions to keep people in their homes. As more COVID-19 patients pack local hospitals, nurses reveal horrendous conditions and treatment at medical facilities including a lack of PPE, little protection of patients with COVID-19 and other dangerous working conditions. Playgrounds and basketball courts and city parks are closed due to COVID-19. President Trump announces that the U.S. will suspend funding to the World Health Organization pending an investigation of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China. Dr. Cheryl A. Wall, literary scholar dies at 71. During the Easter holiday, churches are encouraged to not hold services due to the pandemic. Jazz pianist and the father of jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, dies at age 85 from COVID-19. As the city releases information about COVID-19 infections in the city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams demands a racial breakdown of infection rates. The first inmate on Rikers Island dies of COVID-19. The founder of Black Enterprise magazine Earl Graves Sr. dies at age 85 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The State Education Department cancels the June 2020 administration of Regents Exams. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign and endorses Joe Biden who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is killed in a car accident at age 37. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials stress the importance of filling out the 2020 U.S. Census, which citizens can fill out online or by mail. Health officials say that COVID-19 is impacting Black Americans at a higher rate than whites. One NYC doctor at an Urgent Care Facility reports that Black patients with classic COVID-19 symptoms were refused testing and treatment by city hospitals. Student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad dies from COVID-19 at age 56. Individual payments from the $2.3 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package begin to be distributed. Most Americans receive checks of up to $1,200. Mayor de Blasio announces the suspicion of the Summer Youth Employment Program. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka implements “Be Still Mondays” by requesting all non-essential businesses to close in the city to close on Mondays to slow the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Cuomo adds $200 million in emergency food assistance for more than 700,000 low-income households enrolled in SNAP. Cuomo signs an executive order requiring all New Yorkers to wear face coverings in public. Black Saturday Night Live star Michael Che pays rent for over 100 NYCHA apartments. An analysis reveals that one-third of those who have died from the coronavirus are African American. As a result of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan reports that crime is on the rise, most notably homicides, burglaries and car thefts. The owner of Paris Blues jazz club in Harlem, Samuel J. Hargress Jr, dies at age 85. The activist, author and Catholic priest Father Lawrence E. Lucas dies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announces that over 1.8 million New York workers have been directly impacted by COVID-19 as thousands of nonessential businesses close their doors. A report by the U.S. Department of Justice alleges sexual abuse at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, NJ. Zimbabwe celebrates 40 years since it declared its independence from Britain in 1980. Pulmonology specialist Dr. Wanda Huff dies at age 72.
The city launches free COVID-19 testing sites at six NYCHA developments. Gov. Cuomo’s office releases a report stating that as many as 1 in 5 New York City residents may have been exposed to COVID-19. City Hall announces that NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray is leading the new COVID-19 racial disparity task force. Mayor de Blasio calls on the MTA to close some subway stations overnight to curb the number of homeless people using stations and subways as a refuge. Data released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer reveals 75% of all frontline workers at risk for contracting COVID-19 are people of color. Gov. Cuomo announces that the MTA will shut down all subway service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States passes 1 million. Nigeria-born Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen dies at age 79. City officials ramp up their push to get New Yorkers to fill out the 2020 Census amid the COVID-19 pandemic after only 40% of the city fills it out.
The NYPD comes under fire over unequal aggressive policing while enforcing COVID-19 social distancing ordinances. In one incident, NYPD officer Francisco Garcia is seen on cellphone video violently enforcing social distancing rules on a couple in Manhattan when an unarmed Black male bystander comes on the scene. Garcia swears, slaps and punches the Black man before arresting him. Garcia later resigns from the force. The Department of Justice drops charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the Trump–Russia case. Beloved Paterson, N.J. principal of Eastside High School, Dr. Gerald Glisson dies from COVID-19 complications at age 46. Former President Barack Obama delivers three virtual commencement addresses for the nation’s students graduating in the Class of 2020, including one for students graduating from HBCUs. Several children around the country are hospitalized for Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) possibly linked to COVID-19. Several African nations file a $200 billion class-action lawsuit against the Chinese government over the COVID-19 outbreak. Gov. Cuomo extends the eviction moratorium to August to aid thousands of New Yorkers unable to pay rent due to the pandemic in their homes. The Trump administration announces the Operation Warp Speed plan to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Singer Betty Wright dies at age 66. Video of the February fatal shooting of unarmed Ahmaud Arbery by white father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael in Georgia is released on social media. In response, demonstrations take place across the nation. A grand jury charges Gregory and Travis with murder for Arbery’s death. Another white man who filmed the incident, William “Roddie” Bryan, is also charged in the murder. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Richard Penniman, known as “Little Richard,” dies at age 87 from bone cancer. Music executive and producer Andre Harrell dies at age 59 from heart problems. Nicholas Johnson is named Princeton University’s first Black valedictorian. The Broadway League announces that Broadway shows will be canceled through the summer. To combat the rise of COVID-19 in the Black community, the city opens several testing sites at Black churches. The annual Malcolm X Day Birthday Pilgrimage commemorating the civil rights leaders’ 95th birthday is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, revelers gather a vehicle caravan on 125th Street in Harlem and a virtual celebration on Zoom. A report released by the city’s Department of Health reveals that Black and Latino New Yorkers are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites. More than 900 NYCHA residents have died from the virus. Jonnel Doris is appointed to serve as the commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services. In response to the over-policing of Black residents during social distancing enforcement, hundreds rally at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Basketball legend Patrick Ewing is hospitalized with COVID-19. Harlem veterinarian Dr. Julie Butler dies from COVID-19 complications: Butler is best known for opening 145th Street Animal Hospital. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden comes under fire during a radio interview on “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne tha God where Biden said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Viral video shows a confrontation between Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper and white dog walker Amy Cooper (no relation) in Central Park where Christian requested Amy to leash her dog. Amy calls 911 falsely claiming that “There is an African American man—I am in Central Park—he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” Global outrage ensues after a video posted on social media shows white police officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on the neck of Black, unarmed 46-year-old George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest in Minneapolis, MN. Floyd was being arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money at a store. Four officers, including Chauvin are fired and charged with murder and manslaughter. Protests and civil unrest occur around the world in response to the killing: in 2,000 U.S. cities and 60 countries there are over 7,300 demonstrations. Many of the demonstrations are led by Black Lives Matter activists. In New York, demonstrators are arrested during protests with uprisings occurring across the city over several days. Mayor de Blasio enforces a curfew and Gov. Cuomo puts the National Guard on standby after looting and violence occurs. Floyd’s killing leads to a racial reckoning in America with proposed police reforms, the taking down of monuments, cultural changes to entertainment and companies showing support to Black causes. Organizers of the African American Day Parade in Harlem announce the 2020 parade will be virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 33 million Americans have filed jobless claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the 2014 police killing of Eric Garner, is released from prison early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orta was serving a four-year sentence on drug and weapons charges. John Hopkins University announces that 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and cases reach 6 million worldwide. Jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb dies at age 91.
Funeral services for George Floyd take place in Minneapolis. Rev. Al Sharpton delivers the eulogy and boxer Floyd Mayweather pays for the funeral. Services are also held in North Carolina and Houston. Floyd is buried in Pearland, Texas. Millions of people and companies participate in “Blackout Tuesday” on social media by posting black squares on their social media profiles to collectively protest against racism and police brutality. Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous is selected president of the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. Air Force General Charles Brown becomes the first African American military service chief and the first African American Air Force chief of staff. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy nominates Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the New Jersey Supreme Court and she is later confirmed as the first Black woman to serve on the court. Basketball legend Michael Jordan commits $100 million of his fortune to help with racial equality and justice. New York City begins Phase 1 reopening’s from the COVID-19 pandemic with retail stores reopening for curbside and limited in-store pickup and construction and manufacturing resuming with social distancing. In the wake of the George Floyd killing, former and current staff members in Mayor de Blasio’s administration demand he act on police reform. New Jersey Attorney General Attorney General Gurbir Grewal releases dashcam video of the police shooting death of Maurice Gordon, who was killed in May. Sgt. Randall Wetzel pulled Gordon over for alleged speeding on the Garden State Parkway. The two got into a scuffle with Wetzel firing his weapon killing Gordon. The shooting occurs out of the camera’s view. The state Senate and Assembly vote in favor of a repealing law 50-a, which permits police personnel and disciplinary records from being released publicly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later signs the bill. NBC News Social Media Strategist and former NABJ President Sarah Glover pens an op-ed urging news outlets to capitalize the “B” when using the word Black in news stories similar to the Amsterdam News. Several mainstream news outlets adopt the practice and The Associated Press makes the change. In a disturbing trend, Black men are found around the nation hanging from trees in what look like lynchings. Two Black men are found in the Tri-State area including 20-year-old Amanuel “Amani” Kildea, who was found in New Jersey and 27-year-old Bronx resident Dominique Alexander. The hangings are ruled suicides by police.
The Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act is signed into law criminalizing the use of chokeholds that result in injury or death by law enforcement. NYPD Officer David Afanador is suspended without pay after he’s caught on cellphone video placing a man in a chokehold in Queens. Early voting takes place in New York for the first time during the Primary Elections. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announces that the Department will phase 600 officers out of its plainclothes anti-crime unit and transition them to detectives neighborhood policing units. Police in Atlanta fatally shoot Black 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks. Officers Devin Brosnan Garrett Rolfe kill Brooks while placing him under arrest during a traffic check. Brooks tries to run away and points a Taser and Rolfe shoots Brooks three times killing him. Rolfe is charged with murder while Brosnan is charged with assault. In response to the killing, Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields resigns. Police and the city’s Parks & Recreation Department investigate after a noose is found in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. Mayor de Blasio announces that NYPD bodycam footage must be released after 30 days when officers use a firearm, stun gun or force resulting in death or injury. New York Attorney General Letitia James hears testimony from dozens of protesters about their negative interactions with police during the George Floyd protests. President Trump holds his first 2020 indoor campaign rally in months at the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Okla. amid the spread of COVID-19 ignoring CDC guidelines for indoor gatherings. As the summer season gets underway the city sees a sharp increase in complaints about illegal fireworks. Several street murals are painted on streets across the nation with the words “Black Lives Matter” in response to the recent police killings of unarmed African Americans. New York receives its first Black Lives Matter street mural in Brooklyn on Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue. The mural is painted by 30 visual artists joined by artists Cey Adams and Dawud West. Similar street murals are painted throughout the city including Downtown Brooklyn, Midtown Manhattan and Harlem. In the wake of the George Floyd police killing and nationwide racial reckoning, several companies close early in observance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of African slavery. New York State declares Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees and Mayor de Blasio makes Juneteenth a school holiday. New York City enters Phase 2 reopening’s as cases in the city go down. Hair salons and barbershops reopen with strict guidelines and restaurants are permitted to open for outdoor dining. Retail businesses reopen to shoppers at limited capacity. NASCAR announces that it will no longer permit Confederate flags to be displayed at its races. Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace finds a noose in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. After an investigation, the alleged noose is determined to be a pull-down for the garage door. In the Primary Elections, Joe Biden is elected as the Democratic Party nominee for president. In other races, Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres wins to run to represent the Bronx’s 15th District in Congress and school principal Jamaal Bowman wins to run for the Bronx’s 16th District seat in Congress. Councilperson Donovan Richards wins in the primary to be the next Queens borough president. NASA names its Washington, D.C. headquarters after its first Black female engineer, Mary W. Jackson. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 Gov. Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut require travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel from an area with high infection rates. Amid public outcry, Mayor de Blasio proposes to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion budget. As summer is in full swing, the city sees a sharp rise in the number of shootings with 8 shootings and 11 victims in a 24-hour period. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. reach 2.5 million COVID-19 cases. Jazz pianist Freddy Cole dies at age 88. The Franklin Avenue and President Street subway stations in Brooklyn are renamed after Medgar Evers College.
YEAR IN REVIEW CONTINUES NEXT WEEK.