With help from Tyler Weyant
NO COKE, PEPSI — African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald T. Jackson and other Georgia faith leaders announced a national boycott today, starting April 7, of Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta — three Atlanta-based companies — over the state’s new voting law. The boycott could eventually extend to other companies including UPS, Aflac, Georgia Power and UBS.
President Joe Biden has called on Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the law, a move that Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp called “ridiculous.”
The new law, which limits early voting and requires ID for a mail ballot, is “inhumane,” Jackson told Nightly today. In addition to the boycotts, the AME church joined one of three lawsuits challenging the Georgia voting restrictions in federal courts.
Nightly spoke with Jackson today about the boycott and why he believes it’s necessary. This conversation has been edited.
Delta and Coca-Cola have already condemned the Georgia law, and the state’s legislative session is over, so the law can’t be reversed. What more can these companies do now?
The corporate community in Georgia is being irresponsible. Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola both came out publicly in opposition to the bill, which is frustrating because the bill has already passed. They initially praised these bills and said they were much better than they were. My conversations with state leaders is they claim that neither one of these companies spoke out in opposition to anything in the bill. So somebody is not telling the truth.
We need them to demonstrate their opposition to these bills. If we did not announce the boycott, I am not sure they would have made a public statement. We said to them there are four things they have to do in order for us not to have the boycott.
The first: Hold a press conference and speak in opposition to SB 202. The second thing — you have 361 bills and 47 states which in some way try to suppress the votes of Black and brown people — they have to speak out nationally against these bills in these other states. We expect them to use their lobbies and financial resources to fight these bills. The third thing: They have to publicly come out in support of H.R. 1 and H.R. 4, federal legislation that would counteract and nullify the bill passed in Georgia. Finally, we said to these corporations: You all have to help pay for this litigation.
In Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address, he talks about using boycotts over “Molotov cocktails” to achieve civil rights gains. Why is this strategy an important part of your fight against this Georgia bill?
The boycott is not something that I really want to do. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, I must have flown almost 100 times on Delta. I consider Delta my airline. So I really don’t want to boycott Delta. But if Delta can’t support me, there is no need for me to continue to support Delta.
I’m going to have to start flying United.
When we hold back our money from these corporations, it forces them to act. The Black community puts a ton of money in support of these corporations. I am convinced that if we start putting our dollars at Lowe’s or Pepsi or other airlines they will come around.
What are you going to do to get your congregation to the polls next November, given the new law?
We are going to make sure that people have the ID they need. We’re going to make sure they have transportation to get to the polls. We’re gonna to see that they know the candidates. We’re starting that now. We’re not waiting.
Blacks are a resilient people. One of the worst things you can do is get Black folk mad. If you get ’em mad they’re gonna turn out to vote no matter what. I almost wish that the ’22 election was now. Because Blacks are geared up and ready to vote. Republicans are gonna be stunned when they see how this effort has backfired.
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THE BLOOMBERG BATTLEFIELD — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg had a knack for attracting top-tier staff and commanding loyalty in the City Hall he ran for more than a decade as well as the campaigns he waged to get there. But as those staffers take up positions in opposing camps for this year’s Democratic mayoral primary, the Bloomberg alumni are lobbing grenades at one another, on the trail and online, as the candidates grow more restive by the day — referring to their former trenchmates as tone-deaf, disingenuous and one candidate’s supporters as a “clown car,” Erin Durkin writes.
For 12 years Bloomberg dominated city politics — a billionaire three-term mayor who first ran as a Republican but launched a public health push against tobacco and sugary drinks, and was a prominent gun control and environmental advocate. Since 2014, though, Mayor Bill de Blasio has largely repudiated Bloomberg’s legacy and exiled most of his loyalists from City Hall. Bloomberg’s former aides are now back in the mix, shaping the race to choose de Blasio’s successor.
Chris Coffey, who spent 12 years in Blomberg’s City Hall and mayoral campaigns, is the co-campaign manager for frontrunner Andrew Yang. The firm he works for, Tusk Strategies, is headed by Bradley Tusk, Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign manager. City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s campaign manager is Micah Lasher — Bloomberg’s director of state legislative affairs. The former mayor’s longtime press secretary Stu Loeser is working on former Wall Street exec Ray McGuire’s campaign, while Menashe Shapiro, who worked on Bloomberg’s mayoral and presidential campaigns, is a consultant to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
— McConnell predicts zero GOP support for Biden spending plan: The Senate Republican leader pilloried the $2.5 trillion infrastructure proposal as exacerbating the debt and raising taxes. McConnell said the bill would not get a single Senate GOP vote.
— Unions demand Biden cancel student debt for public service workers: Labor unions are making a new push to get the Education Department to use executive action to forgive the student loans of Americans working in public service jobs — the latest pressure from the left for the Biden administration to act more aggressively on student debt relief.
— White House knew more than a week ago of J&J contractor vaccine-supply problems: Senior Biden administration health officials, including some within the White House, knew two weeks ago that a Johnson & Johnson contractor’s production problems could delay delivery of a significant number of future vaccine doses, according to three senior administration officials.
— DOT halts Texas highway project in test of Biden’s promises on race: Biden’s Department of Transportation is invoking the Civil Rights Act to pause a highway project near Houston, a rare move that offers an early test of the administration’s willingness to wield federal power to address government-driven racial inequities.
FINDING THE SURGE PROTECTOR — We’re on the verge of a fourth Covid surge. And that has health officials freaked out about a nightmare scenario where cases outpace vaccinations, more new variants emerge and things get really bad. Health care reporter Erin Banco reports on the latest in a new POLITICO Dispatch.
Nightly asks you: We want to hear from people experiencing anxiety about heading into post-pandemic life. Maybe you’re an introvert nervous about returning to the office, or maybe you’re broadly concerned about large social situations. Or maybe you’ve never struggled with social anxiety before and are about to face a new challenge. Tell us what you’re thinking in our form. We’ll share a few responses in our Friday edition.
WARSAW’S BIG MISTAKE — Poland’s government-run coronavirus vaccination system spiraled into disarray today as it unexpectedly opened jab registrations for everyone over 40 before a minister rushed out to say it was all a mistake, Jan Cienski writes.
According to earlier announcements, only those older than 60 — as well as people at heightened medical risk plus selected professions — are currently eligible. The system was due to be opened to those 50 and older step-by-step over April, followed by a broader availability in May.
However, the online system started allowing registrations of everyone over 40 this morning. The government’s vaccination site even tweeted: “This is not April Fool’s.”
But within a few hours, Michał Dworczyk, the official responsible for the vaccination program, claimed there had been an “error.”
The chaotic situation around the vaccination program comes as political pressure rises on the government to show it is in control of the situation. Today saw 621 deaths and a record-high 35,251 new cases, according to the health ministry.
THE NIGHT BEFORE — Nightly’s Tyler Weyant emails Nightly:
These will be the last words you read from me as an unvaccinated person. I get my shot Friday morning.
I’ve had a lot of words with myself in the time before that shot comes. Should I lay out my clothes the night before? How early should I get there? Should I post my vaccine card on social media?
At least these are lighter than my thoughts at this time last year. My plans, lying in bed wide awake, for what I would do if I got Covid. Which room I would sequester myself in? Who would cover for me at work? Could my dog get Covid? What if I die? What if I die, and people have to go through my possessions, and they can’t have a funeral?
These thoughts started a year ago, and have ebbed and flowed for a year through a mind occasionally blocked by fear. I read news and stats and new studies by day, then at night help to craft some fresh new nightmare or scenario out of the day’s ingredients. But on Friday, I’m hoping they stop.
I’ll show up at my assigned time, in my best vaccine outfit (baggy T-shirt, good sweatpants), and make sure I repeat my mantras (practice patience, left arm, left arm, left arm).
Tonight, maybe I’ll dream of another episode I’ve thought about often in the dark hours: Not the second I get the shot, but the moment when the person ahead of me in line is called. I stand there, no one ahead of me. I got here. I’m excited to step out of line and into what comes next.
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