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Heard On Sundial: COVID-19 Spikes In Florida, Fort Lauderdale's New Top Cop, 'Names You Don't Know'

A new Instagram account called Names You Dont Know is bringing light to local stories of police violence.

On this Monday, July 13, episode of Sundial:

Florida COVID-19 Cases Break Records

Florida continues to shatter daily records for the number of coronavirus cases. The state reported 15,300 on Sunday, the most by any state in the country since the start of the pandemic and thousands more than New York’s peak back in April.

The record comes as parts of the economy continue to reopen. Over the weekend, Disney World began accepting patrons with facemask and social distancing requirements.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he doesn’t plan to roll back on reopening the economy further but is continuing with the shutdown on bars statewide. Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala is calling for a two-week statewide stay at home order.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez held a press conference Monday with public health leaders about the state of the pandemic here — and did not mince words. 

“The number one thing to reduce this virus and the level of contagion in this county, and probably in the country, is the way that we act and the precautions we take as individuals,” said Gimenez.

We spoke with the Miami Herald’s David J. Neal and Doug Hanks about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale’s New Interim Police Chief

Rick Maglione, who had been chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department since 2017, was removed from his position last week. He faced scrutiny for his officers’ actions during a protest in Fort Lauderdale back in May.

Protester Latoya Ratlieff was hit in the eye by a rubber foam bullet and required dozens of stitches on her face. Another protester was pushed to the ground while kneeling. 

Now Fort Lauderdale has a new leader, Assistant Police Chief Karen Dietrich, who has stepped into the role of interim chief.

“She’s got her own connections deeply rooted in the Broward County community. Both of her sons actually attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and they were there on campus the day of the 2018 shooting,” said WLRN’s Broward County reporter Caitie Switalski.

“She talks a lot bout that in her bio, in her profile with the police department as something that really really shaped her.”

We spoke with Switalski about the decision to make Dietrich the interim chief. 

Names You Don’t Know 

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin. Their stories have been covered extensively by the national media and fueled discussions and policy changes to curb police violence against Black communities. But what about Damain Martin, James Leatherwood, Latasha Walton and many others?

Do you know their stories? A new Instagram account called “Names You Don’t Know” is bringing those names to light by sharing local stories.

Damain Martin was a 16-year-old boy in Sunrise, Florida. He died last March after a Sunrise police officer deployed his taser near the canal where he drowned.

"I feel like no mother should have to go through what I went through. I feel like no sister, brother, grandmother should have to go through what I had to go through," said Martin’s mother, Tequila Waters. 

We spoke with Waters and journalist Jess Swanson, who created the “Names You Don’t Know” Instagram account.

The City of Sunrise Police ruled Damain Martin’s death an accidental drowning, maintaining that the electrified Taser probes never made contact with him. But an investigation by The Intercept and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting casts doubts on the official findings.

The police department provided the final internal affairs report regarding the circumstances of Martin’s death. Officer Luis Fernandez said they met with Mrs. Waters last year in April after the incident occurred along with members of the Broward County Black Lives Matter Organization. 

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.