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July 12, 2018
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A sudden surge in violent crime in Baltimore coincided with one particular event — the death of Freddie Gray.

Police in Baltimore faced heavy criticism and protests after Freddie Gray, a black man, suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in 2015, and have been reporting fewer crimes in the city ever since, USA Today reported Thursday.

While law enforcement is still responding to everyday 911 calls, they are seemingly turning a blind eye to crimes that they previously reported. In recent years, the murder rate and number of shootings has skyrocketed, making Baltimore the deadliest big city in the U.S. Experts say that the rioting in 2015 changed the Baltimore police force, making officers less likely to act on suspected crime they witness on a daily basis, like drug deals and traffic violations. The number of instances in which an officer approached a Baltimore resident for questioning dropped 70 percent between 2014 and 2017, USA Today found.

Backlash over Gray's death forced Baltimore law enforcement to examine its use of force and potential biases against minorities, but officers say it also made them reluctant to engage in some situations. "They realize that if they do something wrong, they're going to get their head bit off," said a former Baltimore lieutenant. "There's no feeling that anybody's behind them anymore."

But critics say it doesn't have to be one or the other, and that police should be able to protect the city while still protecting individuals' rights. "What it says is that if you complain about the way the police do our job, maybe we'll just lay back and not do it as hard," said an ACLU advocate. Around 150 people have been killed in Baltimore so far this year. Read more at USA Today. Summer Meza

11:00 p.m. ET

Florence Wisniewski isn't going to let a hurricane sully her good name.

Wisniewski, 4, lives in Chicago, far from where Hurricane Florence caused so much devastation. Her mother, Tricia Wisniewski, told WLS-TV that she explained to her daughter what was going on in the Carolinas, and showed her video of the flooding and houses underwater. "She wanted to help," Tricia Wisniewski said. So Florence, who goes by Flo, helped her mother set up a donation bin on their porch.

They took a map of the hurricane's path and covered it with photos of Flo, and then shared the image on Facebook, asking for donations. Since then, the family has collected food, diapers, toiletries, and money for people affected by Hurricane Florence, which "speaks volumes of the neighborhood," Tricia Wisniewski said. Flo told WLS-TV it was important for her to give back because "it's right to do, to help people." Catherine Garcia

9:53 p.m. ET
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Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor and registered Republican, will question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) confirmed Tuesday night.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. All 11 Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are men, and they've decided to bring a woman in to ask Ford and Kavanaugh questions while they are under oath during Thursday's hearing.

The Washington Post was the first to report that Mitchell was the leading candidate. Mitchell is a 26-year veteran of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and is the sex crimes bureau chief.

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout. Catherine Garcia

9:34 p.m. ET
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The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

On Thursday, the panel will hear testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who said she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they were teenagers. Under committee rules, a vote must be scheduled three days in advance, and Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said a vote might not take place. "If we're ready to vote, we will vote," he tweeted. "If we aren't ready, we won't."

The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said it's "outrageous" for a vote to be scheduled "two days before Dr. Blasey Ford has had a chance to tell her story." Catherine Garcia

5:18 p.m. ET
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Snapchat is getting political. Well, kind of.

The short-term messaging app is partnering with TurboVote to encourage its young users to register to vote in time for the U.S. midterm elections, it announced Tuesday. Anyone over the age of 18 will now receive a voter registration link when they click into their profile, reports The Verge. Snapchat will also deploy in-app alerts, messages, relevant news stories linked through Snapchat's registration page, and a filter to promote National Voter Registration Day on Oct. 2.

In its latest move, the tech giant is following behind Instagram, which also partnered with TurboVote recently to mobilize its users. Historically, young voters have shied away from political participation, but Snapchat is hoping to reverse that by providing resources to its 100 million American users. Come November, Snapchat will be able to judge whether its efforts paid off. Read more at The Verge. Amari Pollard

5:02 p.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to at least three years in prison, a decision that was welcomed by many of the women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.

After Cosby was sentenced as result of his conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, at least one woman in the courtroom raised her fist in the air and said "Yes!" reports The Associated Press. Janice Dickinson, a former model who testified that Cosby assaulted her, threw back her head and laughed in the courtroom upon hearing the sentence, reports HuffPost. She reportedly looked at Cosby and said "See, I got the last laugh, pal."

The former comedian, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 60 women, was denied bail. Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said that "equal justice under the law" meant that Cosby should not be treated differently based on "who he is or who he was," reports BuzzFeed News' Julia Reinstein. O'Neill spoke directly to Cosby in announcing his sentence: "You claimed her silence was consent," he said. "That is not the law."

In a press conference following the sentencing, women who have come forward with allegations said they were glad to have achieved "justice." Chelan Lasha, who also testified during Cosby's trial, said she has "waited 32 years for this day, hoping my nightmare will go away." Representatives for Cosby maintained that he was wrongfully convicted, and said he was the victim of "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States."

Cosby left the courtroom in handcuffs for his three- to 10-year sentence, which will begin immediately. Summer Meza

4:36 p.m. ET
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Although Disney dramatically fired writer-director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the film will still tell the story he had planned.

The company has "every intention" of using Gunn's script for the upcoming movie, actor Sean Gunn, James' brother, recently told Tulsa World. Disney fired James Gunn from the project in July after offensive tweets he'd sent years ago, which included jokes about pedophilia, resurfaced. Disney said at the time that it was severing their relationship with him because his tweets were "indefensible," though critics who disagreed with Disney's decision pointed to the fact that Gunn had addressed the controversial tweets in the past, and that they were resurfaced in the first place by alt-right troll Mike Cernovich.

Either way, Gunn was fired from the project. But he had already fully completed his screenplay, leaving open the question of whether Disney would still make the movie using that script or start from scratch. The stars of the multi-billion dollar franchise were strongly in favor of Disney keeping Gunn's script, with Drax actor Dave Bautista saying he'd ask to be released from his contract if Disney didn't do so. The actors also put out a statement in July saying Gunn should be re-instated as director, though that door appears to be closed after Disney CEO Bob Iger recently doubled down on the decision to boot him in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Gunn will need to receive a writing credit if his script is retained. For now, production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on hold, and while nobody is quite sure when it will resume, Sean Gunn says Marvel has assured him that it still plans to make the film at some point. Needless to say, though, the previously-anticipated May 2020 release is now out of the question. Read more at Tulsa World. Brendan Morrow

3:33 p.m. ET
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After threatening to change its name for about a year and a half, Dunkin' Donuts has finally pulled the trigger.

The company announced Tuesday that starting in January, it will officially be known as just Dunkin'. A tweet posted to the official Dunkin' Donuts Twitter account said that "after 68 years of America running on Dunkin', we're moving to a first-name basis." Per CNN, this reflects the chain's efforts to re-brand itself as being "beverage-led," although the donuts are still staying on the menu. CEO David Hoffmann said the move is part of an effort to "modernize the Dunkin' experience for our customers," Business Insider reports.

This idea was first floated in April 2017, when a single location opened that was just called Dunkin', CBS News reported. Earlier this year, that name was applied to more locations, though the company clarified at the time that it would make a final decision about whether to roll the abridged name out nationwide at a later date, per Business Insider.

The decision has now been made, and you can expect the logo to start changing on signs across the country in a few months. And unlike that time IHOP briefly started calling itself IHOB, this decision appears to be permanent. Brendan Morrow

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