What you missed in Columbus for April 25

Masonique Saunders shot and killed in Mount Vernon; final arguments begin in latest Henry Green trial; James McBride wins Thurber Prize; and more from the weekend

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Protesters march for the release of Masonique Saunders on April 7, 2019, in downtown Columbus.

According to social media reports from family members, since confirmed by news organizations, Masonique Saunders was shot and killed during a cookout at Saunders Park in Mount Vernon on Saturday.

Saunders, 20, had recently completed a three-year sentence stemming from a plea deal reached in the wake of the 2018 police shooting death of Saunders’ then-boyfriend Julius Tate, Jr. Officials initially charged Saunders with felony murder in Tate’s death, whose case quickly became a flashpoint for local activists, shining a light on the controversial murder felony rule.

More:The case of Masonique Saunders

“I think there's a particular violence that happens to Black women and girls in our country, especially as it's related to policing and the mentality of policing. It's really striking to me because, of course, she didn't pull the trigger that killed her boyfriend. It was Columbus police who did that,” BQIC co-founder Dkéama Alexis said at the time. “Pinning the murder on her is just an extension of how far they'll go to evade accountability.”

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Final arguments are scheduled to take place this morning in the most recent trial stemming from the death of Henry Green, 23, who was shot and killed by Columbus police officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare in 2016. A previous wrongful death lawsuit brought against Rosen and Bare by Green’s family ended in a November mistrial when a federal judge said the jury couldn’t reach a verdict in the case. 

More:Henry Green and the slow, fitful march toward healing

According to family attorney Sean Walton, the case against Rosen and Bare now hinges entirely on the few seconds when witnesses said the officers continued to shoot after Green could no longer be considered a threat.

“I believe there are 10 witnesses, where once the shooting started, they turned around or had some vantage point where they saw officers Bare and Rosen continue to shoot Henry when he was on the ground, no gun in his hand,” Walton said earlier this year in an interview with Alive. “They fired 22 times that day, and had they stopped firing Henry would still be here.”

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Former president Donald Trump, who lost to current president Joe Biden in a free and fair election, visited Delaware on Saturday to stump for senatorial candidate J.D. Vance.

Vance, currently jockeying with the likes of Josh Mandel for the Republication nomination, received the coveted Trump endorsement despite a past roommate of his sharing screenshots from a 2016 conversation in which the Hillbilly Elegy author wondered if Trump might be "America's Hitler."

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Author James McBride was announced as the winner of the 21st Thurber Prize for American Humor during a ceremony in Columbus on Friday for his novel Deacon King Kong.

In Deacon King Kong, McBride crafted a dense, sprawling epic that unfolds largely within a late-1960s Brooklyn public housing project — a setting so rich with memorable characters that it forced McBride to create visual charts to keep them all straight.

“I get these big white sheets of paper from the stationery store, the kind you have on a painter’s easel, and then I draw a big circle and I place the characters’ names around the circle,” McBride said in a March 2020 interview with Alive. “And then I draw arrows connecting all of the different characters. It’s a reminder that this one has to connect with this one, and that one has to connect with that one. … There has to be some sort of connective tissue between each.”

Other finalists for this year’s prize, awarded for the best humor writing published over the past year, included Mike Birbiglia (The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad) and Alexandra Petri (Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why). 

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On Earth Day (Friday, April 22), Colorado climate activist Wynn Bruce, 50, set himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Bruce was airlifted to the hospital following the incident, but died on Saturday from injuries sustained.

Kritee Kanko, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, described the act as one of planned protest. “This guy was my friend. He meditated with our sangha. This act is not suicide,” Kanko wrote on Twitter. “This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to [the] climate crisis. We are piecing together info but he had been planning it for at least one year.”

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Russia’s war on Ukraine continued over the weekend, with Russia striking rail and fuel facilities deep inside of the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. announced it would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition to Ukraine.

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French president Emmanuel Macron won a second term, defeating far right challenger Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s closely contested run-off election.

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The good news? The Columbus Crew finally ended a winless streak. The bad news? The team’s scoring woes continued in playing Sporting Kansas City to a 0-0 draw on Saturday. Columbus now has a four-game scoreless streak and has three losses and two ties in its past five games. Additionally, the team dealt Gyasi Zardes to the Colorado Rapids for general allocation money up to $1.4 million. Zardes scored 54 goals in 110 games for the crew, and was a key figure on the 2020 MLS Cup championship team.