By Shannon Stapleton BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Mourners gathered at a Baltimore funeral home on Sunday to remember a 25-year-old black man who died a week ago while in police custody, an unexplained death that has brought thousands to the city's downtown to protest police violence. The wake for Freddie Gray on Sunday afternoon came the day after the largest demonstration yet since he died on April 19 and two weeks after a foot chase with patrol officers, his eventual arrest and his ride in a police transport van. Anthony Batts, the city's police commissioner, said on Friday that officers who detained Gray failed to give him timely medical attention for a spinal injury he suffered while in custody. The head of the Baltimore police union called that assertion premature and said it was apparently "politically driven." Gray is one of a growing number of black men who have died under questionable circumstances during police encounters in recent months.
National Guard called up to deliver water in Minnesota bird flu fight
By P.J. Huffstutter CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Minnesota State Emergency Operations Center has called on the National Guard to deliver water for use in the effort to contain the rapidly spreading avian flu virus, the center said on Sunday. Starting Monday, 30 National Guard soldiers and 15 military water trucks from the Willmar, Minnesota-based 682nd Engineer Battalion and the Brooklyn Park-based A Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion will be used, the center said in a statement. The National Guard became available to be activated for such efforts last week, after Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency over the spread of the strain of avian flu, which has lead to the extermination of more than 7.3 million birds in the United States so far. Minnesota's action followed a similar move by neighboring Wisconsin a few days earlier.
By Joan Biskupic WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's arguments on Tuesday over same-sex marriage will cap more than two decades of litigation and a transformation in public attitudes. Based on the court's actions during the past two years, a sense of inevitability is in the air: That a majority is on the verge of declaring gay marriage legal nationwide. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's pivotal member on gay rights, has been marching in this direction with opinions dating to 1996. In his most recent gay rights decision for the court in 2013, rejecting a legal definition of marriage limited to a man and woman for purposes of federal benefits, Kennedy deplored that U.S. law for making gay marriages "unequal." That 5-4 decision did not address a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but lower court judges interpreted the ruling as an endorsement of it and began invalidating state bans.
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