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Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

There are major escalations in student protests against the war in Gaza at college campuses across the country, despite the risk of arrest, academic suspension and police force.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Free, free Palestine.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

That's the sound of chanting early this morning on Columbia University's campus. Student protesters received a deadline yesterday to leave their encampment by 2 p.m. Those who did not faced suspension. Now dozens of students have entered at least one of the buildings on campus.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Brian Mann joins us now outside the gates of Columbia University. Brian, you reported to us yesterday that both the university and protesters seemed to be working to deescalate the tensions. What changed?

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Yeah, A, after we talked, things changed fast. What we know now is that around 1 a.m., some demonstrators left the encampment here and moved into Hamilton Hall. And that followed an increasingly tense day. University officials held a press conference where they said students who refused to leave would be suspended. They cited safety concerns. That sparked a major demonstration on campus. Students here say they're just not going to leave until the college agrees to divest from investments in companies operating in Israel. Here's Sueda Polat, a spokesperson for the encampment. She spoke yesterday, saying they are prepared if campus officials called in the NYPD again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SUEDA POLAT: Students are aware of the risk of law enforcement. They faced that risk once before, and they know how to come together again in the face of that risk. And we stand in solidarity with other student movements across this nation that are being brutalized in ways worse than Columbia.

MANN: And again, Polat was speaking yesterday, A. There's no sign right now at this hour that police are planning to intervene. I'm seeing no police presence on the streets right now.

MARTÍNEZ: How are things inside the campus right now?

MANN: So students are still maintaining that core encampment on the campus green, and they're inside Hamilton Hall, dozens of students right now. What appears clear, A, is that this effort by Columbia University to try to end this by pressuring students with the threat of discipline - so far, that appears to have backfired.

MARTÍNEZ: Brian, that group that's in Hamilton Hall, are they part of the larger group of protesters?

MANN: One of the major groups that's organized this protest, calling itself Columbia University Apartheid Divest, says this is actually an autonomous group of activists, but they say this action is justified. Their own encampment, they say, is peaceful, and they say it remains separate from that action.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, so that's what's going on at Columbia. What can you tell us about what's happening around the country in other campuses?

MANN: Yeah, universities across the country, A, are grappling with how to clear out these encampments. These sites are usually the main locations for commencement ceremonies, which are around the corner now. At the University of Texas, Austin, dozens of demonstrators were arrested Monday on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, some of them by officers in riot gear who dragged students and carried them out amid screams. Virginia Tech said Monday, 82 arrests were made there as a result of weekend protests. At the University of Utah, dozens of officers in riot gear tried to clear an encampment outside the university president's office, 17 people arrested in that incident. So these protests don't seem to be going anywhere, and universities are really struggling right now to find a way to put an end to them without resorting to this kind of police force.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Brian Mann reporting from just outside the Columbia University gates. Brian, thank you.

MANN: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: Charlotte, N.C., is mourning one of the deadliest days for law enforcement in the city's history and one of the deadliest nationally in recent memory.

FADEL: Three U.S. marshals and a local police officer were shot and killed yesterday. Another marshal and three Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers were wounded. They were serving a warrant at a house for weapons charges. The suspect who would have been served the warrant also was killed.

MARTÍNEZ: Kenneth Lee with member station WFAE in Charlotte was at the scene yesterday. Kenneth, what do we know about how the shooting happened?

KENNETH LEE, BYLINE: Hi, good morning. Well, we know officers were serving a warrant at a home in East Charlotte on Monday afternoon, around 1:30. They were looking for a suspect wanted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The operation was led by a U.S. Marshal Service regional fugitive task force. It's one of many such task forces across the country that bring together federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate and apprehend fugitives. According to the police, things took a wrong turn when the suspect opened fire from their yard. The officers returned fire and killed the suspect, but then a second person started shooting at them from the inside of the house. An hourslong standoff ended when SWAT team members were able to go inside. They took two other people into custody, one juvenile and one adult woman.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. OK, now, four law enforcement members were killed, four more wounded. What can you tell us about those officers?

LEE: Well, one of the slain officers is Joshua Eyer, a six-year veteran with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The chief, Johnny Jennings, described recently awarding Eyer as the officer of the month, and he choked up describing the loss.

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JOHNNY JENNINGS: He's survived by his wife, Ashley, and his 3-year-old son, Andrew. We'll always be indebted to Officer Eyer for his bravery and his sacrifice for this profession.

LEE: The North Carolina Department of Adult Correction also said that two of its officers assigned to the task force have died.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. Kenneth, how does this compare to other fatal law enforcement incidents in the city?

LEE: During the press conference, Chief Jennings said he couldn't recall a time where so many multiple officers were shot at once in Charlotte. In the last three decades, there have only been two incidents where multiple officers were killed here. The most recent was in 2007 when two CMPD officers were shot and killed. And it also appears to be one of the worst law enforcement days nationally in recent history.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. What do we know about the people inside the house?

LEE: Well, police haven't released much. They identified the suspect who was killed as 39-year-old Terry Hughes, who was wanted for multiple charges. The two other juveniles who were taken into custody have not been identified. We don't know what their relationship is to Hughes or if they lived in the house. So far, they're being questioned, but it's unclear if they're under arrest or if one of them is believed to be the second shooter. The chief said there's still a lot of unanswered questions. Right now, they're really just trying to put together what happened and why.

MARTÍNEZ: That's WFAE reporter Kenneth Lee in Charlotte. Kenneth, thanks.

LEE: Thank you, guys.

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MARTÍNEZ: As Ukraine awaits for badly needed military aid approved by Congress earlier this month, its troops are struggling to keep Russians from advancing.

FADEL: Yeah, and it's not just weapons and ammunition in short supply. Ukraine also desperately needs more soldiers and is pressing military-age Ukrainian men living abroad to register for service.

MARTÍNEZ: Joining us to discuss all of this is NPR's Ukraine correspondent Joanna Kakissis, who's in the capital of Kyiv. Joanna, so let's start with that military aid. When is that aid arriving, and what will it include?

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Well, the U.S. has said that the first weapon should be arriving in Ukraine any day, but it will likely take weeks for most of the aid to arrive. The package includes missiles for air defense so Ukraine can shoot down the missiles and drones Russia launches at the country every day. These are missiles that kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure such as power plants. There are also Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that can be used to bring down Russian helicopters, low-flying aircraft and cruise missiles. There have also been reports that there are long-range missiles in the package like ATACMS. And crucially, there is more ammunition, and Ukrainians cannot emphasize enough how important that is. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said repeatedly that Russian troops are firing 10 times more artillery rounds than Ukrainian soldiers are.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, Joanna, so then are you hearing then that these weapons will help Ukraine maybe turn the tide on the battlefield? I mean, and what is the latest on the front lines?

KAKISSIS: So Ukrainian military leaders and analysts are saying that Russia is trying to take advantage of these weeks before most of the weapons get here. The Russians have stepped up attacks, especially on the eastern front line. Ukraine's armed forces commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said that the outlook there is very bleak. He said Ukrainian troops had to abandon positions and retreat from three villages in the Eastern Donetsk region. He also said that Russians are trying to occupy Ukrainian logistical hubs. One of those is a railway hub. It is the main supply point for Ukrainian forces along the eastern front.

MARTÍNEZ: Ukrainians, though, need more than just weapons. They're short...

KAKISSIS: Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: ...On soldiers, right?

KAKISSIS: Yeah, that's right. Ukraine says it needs hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and that's why Zelenskyy signed new laws lowering the draft age to 25 and requiring something like 800,000 military-age men living abroad to sign up for a military registry. We spoke to a 46-year-old veteran. His name is Andriy Furman. He was so badly injured in combat that he can no longer fight, and he says that there is a catastrophic shortage of fighters.

ANDRIY FURMAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FURMAN: (Non-English language spoken).

KAKISSIS: He's saying the soldiers who have been fighting since Day 1 are saying, look, we simply don't have the strength anymore to go on. And to relieve them, Ukraine says it wants military-age men living abroad to return home. But Oleksii Rudenko - he's an investment banker we spoke to - he says he doesn't think this is going to work out.

OLEKSII RUDENKO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAKISSIS: He's saying, I don't think these men, if they are dragged back to Ukraine, will be adequate, motivated fighters. He says they are not a resource Ukraine should count on.

MARTÍNEZ: Joanna, you've been reporting on this for a while. In Kyiv, I mean, where are people's fatigue level right now? It's got to be almost at the end.

KAKISSIS: Yeah, people are very tired, and they're very - they're not optimistic like they were at the beginning of the war, when there were some victories. Right now, people are absolutely exhausted. They see the shortages on the battlefield of soldiers. They see that the ammunition and the weapons are taking time to come. And so you see there's just this very strong air of depression around the capital and, frankly, around the country. So with that in mind, you know, this is why the government is trying so hard to get some momentum going. If it's not the weapons, let's try to get more soldiers on the field so we can turn the tide around and not only help us on the battlefield, but also help improve the mood on the ground.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's NPR's Joanna Kakissis in Kyiv. Joanna, thank you very much for your reporting on this.

KAKISSIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Adriana Morga
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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