One twin dead, another injured over alleged child abuse, Whitmer calls on Congress for aid as teachers debate

"This is the worst I've ever seen." 

That's what Inspector Timothy Sassak of the Ecorse police said following the discovery made in an apartment on 7th Street in the city. Sassak, who had worked with the department for 32 years, was looking into the apparent beating death of a 1-year-old boy and injuries on his twin brother that required emergency surgery.

Ecorse Police received a report of an unresponsive child and were called to the apartment at 4 a.m. When they arrived, they could not revive him. That was when they found out that the boy's brother also showed signs of abuse. Police placed the brother's mom in custody and after an extensive manhunt over the following 12 hours, also arrested her boyfriend. Both are accused of having a role in the boy's injuries.

For the past three months, twin brothers Zyaire and Zion lived with their mother Lisa Reed, and her boyfriend James Gibson. Gibson has a criminal history that includes child abuse. He had just been parole for a separate child abuse case in Traverse City in early May during the height of the pandemic. Some feel he never should have been released in the first place.

"Two very innocent boys, happy loving children," said Ricky Tanner, the boy's uncle. He received the phone call from police early Tuesday morning.

"To realize what happened in that home to those boys. It angered me and brought me to a level I never thought I would understand."

Police did not mention the injuries that Zyaire had sustained before he died. Tanner however said Zion, who received emergency surgery at Detroit Children's Hospital of Michigan had a broken hip, a broken nose, and bleeding of the brain.

Prior to arresting their mother, Sassak said the live-in boyfriend decided to leave, taking the family vehicle with him and not returning. The Fugitive Apprehension Task Force found Gibson in Sumpter Township where he was hiding out at his uncle's house. 

"I want him to know what he did to this family," Tanner said. "I want him to know the suffering."

Both are expected to be charged in connection to the abuse while they await the autopsy of Zyaire. 

Whitmer urges Washington lawmakers to reach COVID-19 recovery deal

During a Tuesday press conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer targeted Washington lawmakers in a direct plea for them to pass a plan for more stimulus money for residents and businesses. 

With funding drying up for people out of work and businesses still suffering from pandemic-related restrictions, failing to come to an agreement could cause economic catastrophe for the country.

"We need a strong recovery plan from the federal government to help small businesses, owners, first responders, state government, and local government so we can all recover from this," she said.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill earlier this month. However, a GOP-sponsored bill in the Senate introduced on Monday offers only $1 trillion in economic recovery. Under the plan proposed by Republicans, a second stimulus payment is likely that will include a one-time payment of $1,200 for each individual and a onetime payment of $500 for dependents with no age restrictions. But that's where much of the consensus between parties ends

While Democrats have advocated for another round of $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits, Republicans have argued that's too high. Instead, they've offered a $200 payment plan. Democrats also included approximately $1 trillion in aid for state and city governments. Republicans didn't, instead offering more flexibility in using existing federal assistance. A similar tune is played for schools and student loan forgiveness.

It's unclear how long it will take to reach a deal. However, it appears Whitmer and others are growing concerned that without more financial aid from the federal government, a faltering economy will only sputter more. 

That and the rate of new cases are the best determinants that the governor is using for deciding how schools will approach the fall start of the year. 

At this point in coronavirus pandemic in Michigan, schools are not ready to reopen per Whitmer's perspective. The state reported almost 670 new cases and 16 deaths. That raises the state's total to almost 80,000 total infections and 6,170 deaths.

Tensions over pandemic-related concerns have shifted from immediate financial need to educational plans for the last couple of weeks. As officials like President Donald Trump have called on schools to reopen, many teachers and parents have made it clear they do not approve of in-person learning at the moment.

During a Zoom call Tuesday, teachers from the state's largest teacher union caucus in Michigan called on every other educational union to speak up and put safety first in districts. 

"I am extremely anxious, nervous about stepping back into the classroom and putting myself at risk, my daughter, my son," said Kathy Bommarito, a teacher in Avondale.

"Our colleagues, our colleagues' family members, our student family members and likely some of our students will die. We refuse to sacrifice the public health of our communities," said Ingrid Pylvainen, a teacher in Traverse City.

Unfortunately, the role that schools fill for parents who work is an important one. And if school doesn't return to the classroom by fall, it could mean adults already balancing parenting and working in the summer might need to make even tougher decisions about the family's future.

In what could be a window into the future for parents and students, Detroit Public Schools have wrestled with protesters from before the first day of summer classes in July. Demonstrators blocking buses and suing the district have forced DPSCD to the courtroom to argue their case for remaining open. 

A judge sided with the district but mandated COVID-19 testing for students who were attending in-person class. So far, three students have tested positive for the virus. 

Harper Woods mayor under fire for comments made during closed-door meeting

Mayor Kenneth Poynter allegedly told public officials during a closed-door meeting 'Well, I can see why white people can become white supremacists'. The comments were made following the mayor telling the group a protester in the city had made crude gestures and inappropriate remarks about his wife.

The comments are sitting well with many in the public and some are calling on Poynter to resign.

"We're troubled by the alleged comments and we're troubled by the death of Ms. Slater as well," said John Gillooly, the city attorney. "We can't make comments like that. We cannot suggest how anyone understands how a white person may be a white supremacist or a racist."

"I can't say what a man did when I wasn't there, okay?" said Michael Reeves, a black resident. "Does it sound like him to me? No. God's honest truth? I think everybody has a streak of prejudice and racism in them. Me, you, no one's excluded. No one."

Attending the meeting was Public Safety Director Vince Smith and Jaye Hill, a community leader and resident. The group was discussing race relations and working with protesters who had been demonstrating over the death of 37-year-old Priscilla Slater, who died in police custody.

"I had some words for him and saying, 'Look I understand where you felt what was done to you, was incorrect, which I agree, and to your wife. But for what you just said, there is something in your heart, '" Hill said.

Poynter declined to comment on the incident.

Daily Forecast

Some showers on the way for a slightly-less hot Wednesday.

CDC: 40% of US adults have at least 1 condition that puts them at risk of developing severe COVID-19

According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of all U.S. adults have at least one underlying health condition that put them at risk of developing severe illness if they were to contract the novel coronavirus.

The CDC’s report indicated that the Southeast, which has become one of the hardest-hit regions of the country as the coronavirus rapidly spreads through states like Florida and South Carolina, has a high prevalence of preexisting conditions — as does the virus-besieged state of Texas.

“Counties with the highest prevalences of any condition were concentrated in Southeastern states, particularly in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as some counties in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and northern Michigan, among others,” the CDC’s report read.