Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

Researchers in Tulsa, Okla., have concluded their latest round of test excavations in the search for remains of Black victims killed during a race massacre nearly a century ago.

Tulsa officials said at least 11 coffins were discovered over four days of digging in specific areas of the city-owned Oaklawn Cemetery. It is one of the locations historians and researchers believe mass graves exist stemming from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Protesters in Waukegan, Ill., are calling for justice and urging federal authorities to open an investigation into the police killing earlier this week of Marcellis Stinnette, a young Black man.

Tafara Williams, the driver of the vehicle the pair was in at the time of the encounter, was also shot and is recovering from her injuries at a local hospital. Her relatives have told reporters that she was Stinette's girlfriend.

The men's basketball coach at Penn State University, Pat Chambers, has resigned following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Updated at 11:40 a.m. ET

A Minneapolis judge has dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin, one of the four former police officers facing criminal charges in the May killing of George Floyd.

Chauvin, who was captured on cellphone video kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes, still faces a higher charge of second-degree murder. Chauvin's legal team filed a motion to have both charges dropped, but the latter was denied.

One of the Louisville police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor seven months ago said while her death was tragic, it is different than other high-profile killings of Black Americans this year.

"It's not a race thing like people try to make it to be," said Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, one of the three officers who discharged their service weapons during the botched narcotics raid at Taylor's home in the early hours of March 13.

Health officials in Michigan issued a stay-in-place order for undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, effective immediately, as new confirmed coronavirus cases spike. One big exception: Football.

The public health directive does not apply to varsity student athletes, who are exempt and allowed to take part in practices and competitions.

Washtenaw County, which includes University of Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor, announced the order Tuesday. It is effective through 7 a.m. on Nov. 3.

The Department of Justice has set aside $3 million in grants and established a National Response Center aimed strengthening police reforms and reducing the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

Federal officials unveiled the initiative in Minnesota Tuesday and expressed hope the city of Minneapolis would be the first jurisdiction to take advantage of the program.

Six months after driver Kyle Larson was suspended for uttering a racial slur, NASCAR announced he's been reinstated and is eligible to return to the sport in January.

Larson, 28, was dropped from his racing team and quickly lost sponsors after saying the N-word in April while playing a video game that viewers could follow along. NASCAR moved to bar him indefinitely and ordered him to attend racial sensitivity training.

One of the top African American executives in Hollywood, Channing Dungey, was named chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group on Monday.

She will replace Peter Roth, who is stepping down early next year after running the television group for more than two decades.

Dungey previously served in executive roles at ABC and most recently Netflix where she was the streaming giant's Vice President Original Content and Head of Drama.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson unveiled new restrictions on Friday that curb where people can carry firearms in the state on Election Day.

Her office said guns will be prohibited at polling places, clerk's offices and places where absentee ballots will be tallied. She is ordering individuals openly carrying guns in public not to come within of 100 feet of buildings containing polling places.

A Minnesota judge in the case of four ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd ruled in favor of defense attorneys to allow video and transcripts of a previous police encounter with Floyd to be made public.

Amy Cooper, the white woman who was captured on cellphone video calling the police on a Black bird-watcher in Central Park this summer, also allegedly made a second 911 call. New York prosecutors say she falsely claimed the man "tried to assault her."

The second, previously unreported call was disclosed Wednesday, the same day she appeared at a hearing via video link to face a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.

A severed fiber optic line cable forced Virginia's online voter registration system to shut down for much of Tuesday, the last day for residents of the commonwealth to register for next month's general election.

The Virginia Department of Elections announced the issue on social media shortly before 10 a.m. local time. At about 3:30 p.m., it said the problem was resolved, nearly six hours after it began.

One of the nation's most prestigious universities has agreed to pay nearly $1 million in back pay to female professors following allegations of pay discrimination.

The Ivy League university will pay $925,000 in back pay and at least $250,000 in future wages, as part of an agreement announced by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Legendary New York Yankee Whitey Ford, the southpaw pitcher whose dominance during the 1950s and 1960s helped cement the Bronx Bombers as perennial champions, has died. He was 91.

The Yankees announced his death on their official Twitter page, calling Ford "one of the best lefties to ever toe the rubber."

The organization did not disclose the cause of death. It added that "he will be sorely missed."

Shaun Lucas, a white police officer facing a murder charge in the killing of a Black man in Wolfe City, Texas, has been fired.

Lucas is accused of killing Jonathan Price on Saturday after he responded to a call about a possible fight in the city, which is about 70 miles northeast of Dallas.

Police in Minneapolis say more than four dozen people were arrested during protests Wednesday night. Demonstrators descended on downtown streets following the release of a former Minneapolis police officer who faces murder charges in the killing of George Floyd in May.

One of country music's hottest stars says his invitation to appear this weekend on Saturday Night Live has been revoked.

Morgan Wallen, whose hits include "Whiskey Glasses" and "7 Summers," posted an emotional video to his Instagram page saying show executives nixed his appearance for violating coronavirus safety protocols.

A white Texas police officer has been arrested and charged with the murder of a Black man after a preliminary investigation determined the officer's actions "were not objectionably reasonable."

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement late Monday that Wolfe City police officer Shaun Lucas first used his Taser, then later discharged his service weapon, striking and killing Jonathan Price.

Updated 6:24 p.m. ET

The mayor of Rochester, N.Y., Lovely Warren entered a not guilty plea Monday afternoon to campaign finance fraud charges. If convicted, she could be removed from office and be disbarred.

The mayor was released under her own recognizance.

The court appearance comes three days after the second-term mayor and two political associates were indicted on charges they knowingly committed finance violations stemming from the 2017 reelection campaign.

Demonstrations in downtown Portland, Ore., turned violent as skirmishes broke out between protesters and law enforcement officials in the wake of a Kentucky grand jury decision not to directly charge police for the killing of Breonna Taylor. Police arrested 13 people in Portland.

Demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday night to voice anger over a Kentucky grand jury's decision not to charge three Louisville police officers directly in the killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in March.

Police said they arrested 11 people while dispersing crowds, according to NPR member station WABE in Atlanta.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Following months of outrage, activism and anticipation, a Kentucky grand jury has decided to indict one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March.

Brett Hankison, who was terminated in June, has been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment over shooting into neighboring apartments. Bond was set at $15,000.

Uncle Ben's will now be known as Ben's Original.

Food giant Mars, Incorporated said Wednesday that it is changing the rice brand's name, which has faced criticism for racial stereotyping. It said the change signals "the brand's ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world's best rice."

Mars also said it will remove the image of the elderly Black man in a bow tie from its packaging.

Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, Ky., said Tuesday he has declared a state of emergency for the city "due to the potential for civil unrest."

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is poised to announce whether his office will bring charges against the police officers who fatally shot 26-year-old Breonna Taylor during a botched narcotics raid at her home on March 13.

The mayor reiterated he has no insight about when Cameron's decision will be announced, but he said the city must be prepared.

NBA legend Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player and known for his elite competitiveness, is taking another big challenge: trying to make NASCAR more inclusive.

The hoops icon announced on Monday that he and NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin have teamed up to form a new racing team. They've recruited Bubba Wallace to be its driver.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

Hurricane season, like many other aspects of life, has reached peak 2020.

When Tropical Storm Wilfred and Subtropical Storm Alpha formed on Friday, they became the 21st and 22nd named storms of the season. Not long after them, weather forecasters spotted Tropical Storm Beta.

Put another way, this marks just the second time in history that forecasters have had to resort to the Greek alphabet because available storm names have been exhausted.

The mother of Breonna Taylor says that if the police reforms announced this week by officials in Louisville were in place six months ago, her daughter might still be alive.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency room technician, was fatally shot by Louisville police during a botched narcotics raid at her home during the early morning hours of March 13.

A decision on whether to bring charges against the three officers who carried out the raid is expected in the coming days.

A Salt Lake City police officer is facing a felony charge stemming from an April encounter in which he ordered a police dog to attack a Black man who was on his knees with his hands raised, seemingly complying with officer commands.

The top law enforcement official in South Dakota told officials that he believed he hit a deer on a rural stretch of road on Saturday night. It wasn't until the following day that it became clear Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg had fatally struck a man, and state authorities are investigating.

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