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Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

Hurricane season, like many other aspects of life, has reached peak 2020.

When Tropical Storm Wilfred and Subtropical Storm Alpha formed on Friday, they became the 21st and 22nd named storms of the season. Not long after them, weather forecasters spotted Tropical Storm Beta.

The mother of Breonna Taylor says that if the police reforms announced this week by officials in Louisville were in place six months ago, her daughter might still be alive.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency room technician, was fatally shot by Louisville police during a botched narcotics raid at her home during the early morning hours of March 13.

A decision on whether to bring charges against the three officers who carried out the raid is expected in the coming days.

A Salt Lake City police officer is facing a felony charge stemming from an April encounter in which he ordered a police dog to attack a Black man who was on his knees with his hands raised, seemingly complying with officer commands.

Updated at 2:53 p.m. ET

The city of Louisville, Ky., announced a $12 million settlement Tuesday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Breonna Taylor.

The settlement also includes a series of police reforms to be adopted by the Louisville Metro Police Department, including establishing a housing incentive program to encourage officers to live in low-income neighborhoods within the city.

Other changes to police tactics include creating a clearer command structure when executing warrants at multiple locations.

The top law enforcement official in South Dakota told officials that he believed he hit a deer on a rural stretch of road on Saturday night. It wasn't until the following day that it became clear Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg had fatally struck a man, and state authorities are investigating.

Demonstrators gathered to protest the death of 27-year-old man who was shot and killed by a police officer in Lancaster, Pa., over the weekend.

The Lancaster District Attorney's office said in a statement that the investigation is ongoing, and that the man, identified as Ricardo Munoz, was armed with a knife when he was shot dead by an officer who has not been publicly identified.

Four Houston police officers have been terminated for their involvement in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Nicolas Chavez in April.

The Houston Police Department announced the firings Thursday and released body camera footage of the encounter.

Multiple officers were on the scene the night Chavez was shot to death. They fired a total of 24 shots at Chavez — only three of which were deemed "objectively reasonable," Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference.

It's been four long years, but Colin Kaepernick is finally getting the chance to take the field again — this time for any team of your choosing.

Developers at EA Sports, the maker of the ubiquitous Madden NFL franchise, announced Tuesday that gamers will now have the opportunity to add the former superstar quarterback to both its Play Now and Franchise modes. It's the latest update for Madden NFL 21, which was released last month.

The mayor of Louisville, Ky., has named Yvette Gentry as the city's new interim police chief, making her the first Black woman to lead the Louisville Metro Police Department when she starts on Oct. 1.

Gentry is not a new face at the department. She served more than 20 years with the Louisville Metro Police Department, including as its deputy chief starting in 2011, before retiring from the force in 2014.

A lawsuit filed by a group of Oklahomans is seeking reparations from the city of Tulsa and other local government entities for the ongoing devastation caused by one of the most heinous race massacres in U.S. history nearly 100 years ago.

Updated 4:13 p.m. ET

Thousands of demonstrators braved sweltering temperatures in the nation's capital on Friday to demand an overhaul of the country's criminal justice system and push for racial equality.

The event, called the Commitment March, was held at the Lincoln Memorial, the same site where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called for those same reforms decades ago in his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Protests over a police shooting of a Black father in Kenosha, Wis., continued for a fourth straight night on Wednesday. Though the gatherings again defied the county-imposed curfew, the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful.

The crowds were smaller than on previous nights, and the relative calm was a stark contrast to the scene that unfolded during the third night of protests, which turned chaotic and deadly.

Updated 6:30 p.m. ET

Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot multiple times at close range by police in Kenosha, Wis., over the weekend, is currently paralyzed from the waist down, according to the family's attorney.

"Praying it's not permanent," civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases linked to a wedding reception earlier this month in Maine continues to rise.

At least 53 people have been infected with the virus, officials with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported over the weekend, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The paper notes that state health investigators have traced both "secondary and tertiary transmission of the virus."

A prosecutor in Massachusetts says her office will review an investigation into a nearly decade-old case in which a Black man was killed by police during a drug raid that was targeting his stepson.

Eurie Stamps, 68, was fatally shot in January 2011 when a Framingham, Mass., SWAT team burst into his home.

The District Attorney of Middlesex County determined at the time the officer who fired the fatal round did so accidentally and he was never criminally charged. The officer is reportedly still with the Framingham Police Department.

Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET

Two of the most prominent figures in the college admissions scheme that the Justice Department uncovered last year are headed to prison.

Lori Loughlin, the actress best known as Aunt Becky on Full House, will serve two months in prison. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was sentenced on Friday to five months.

"I am truly and profoundly and deeply sorry," Loughlin said, choking up as she apologized to U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton, Reuters reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a plan that would permanently block cities from raising property taxes if local governments pass measures that defund local law enforcement agencies.

Abbott, appearing with other Republican state leaders on Tuesday, specifically pointed to the city of Austin, which last week voted to divert millions from its police department budget.

A group of Republicans on the Louisville, Ky., city council are calling for a vote of no-confidence in the city's Democratic Mayor Greg Fischer, citing his "actions and inactions" as it relates to the city's homicide rate and his handling of the Breonna Taylor case.

The Louisville Metro Council's Republican Caucus unveiled a resolution on Monday, that if passed, would seek the mayor's resignation.

The white St. Louis couple who attracted national attention for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June will be back in the spotlight next week, this time as speakers at the Republican National Convention.

Joel Schwartz, one of the lawyers for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, confirmed to NPR Tuesday the couple has been invited to take part, but it remains unclear on what day, as final details are still being worked out.

A former Georgia state trooper is facing felony murder and aggravated assault charges after he allegedly shot and killed a 60-year-old Black man during a traffic stop this month.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Friday that Jacob Gordon Thompson, 27, was to be booked in the Screven County Jail in connection with an officer-involved shooting on Aug. 7 that resulted in the death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis.

Newly released officer-worn body camera video is giving a fuller view of the tense scene in which George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. In it, bystanders clamor for officers to check Floyd's vital signs as Officer Derek Chauvin holds his knee on the man's neck.

The video, from former Officer Tou Thao, shows another vantage of Floyd's arrest as well as Thao's interactions with a crowd of bystanders. The recording was released by a judge's order in Hennepin County, Minn.

Breonna Taylor's mother says she hopes investigators will "come out with the right answer" about her daughter's death as Taylor's family renews their call for criminal charges against the Louisville police officers who shot and killed Taylor five months ago.

"One hundred and fifty days," Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother, said Thursday at a news conference in front of Louisville City Hall.

One of golf's most iconic tourneys, the Masters Tournament, will be played without spectators when the sport's best players tee up in Augusta, Ga., in the fall. The competition was already postponed from its usual slot in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tournament, now scheduled for Nov. 12-15, will be "conducted without patrons or guests," officials said.

The longtime Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney, who in recent weeks gained national attention for leading the prosecution of white police officers in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, was trounced in primary runoff on Tuesday by his former employee.

Updated 6:32 p.m. ET

Two major college conferences — the Big Ten and Pac-12 — each announced Tuesday they were sidelining college football and other fall sports because of the coronavirus, just weeks before schools were scheduled to play their first games.

The Big Ten, which includes universities with powerhouse sports programs, such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State, said it will look at holding some competitions in the spring.

Updated 5:32 p.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy Thursday at the funeral of civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta.

In his remarks, Obama issued a call to action for Americans to turn out to vote in the November election and linked Lewis' legacy to the modern-day civil rights movement sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd.

Updated 4:57 p.m. ET

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that U.S. agents who were sent to protect a federal courthouse in Portland from demonstrators will begin departing on Thursday.

The head of a powerful national teachers union told members Tuesday that its leadership would support "safety strikes" if health precautions are not met amid calls for schools to reopen as coronavirus cases surge.

Randi Weingarten, who leads the American Federation of Teachers, is leaving the final decision to local unions on whether to strike. The AFT — the nation's second-largest teachers union, with 1.7 million members — also unveiled several benchmarks that it said should be met before schools can fully welcome back students and staff.

Confrontations continued overnight Sunday between protesters and federal law enforcement in Portland, Ore., as hundreds gathered in the city's downtown for the 60th consecutive day of demonstrations following the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd. Tensions have continued to ratchet up due to the Trump administration's deployment of federal agents in the city.

A number of prominent NFL players raised concerns on social media about the league's coronavirus safety protocols as teams prepare to open for training camps in the coming days.

The NFL and the players' union are still negotiating the details of the league's protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

Players used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay in a coordinated social media blitz Sunday. It included marquee names such as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

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