April 2015 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of April 2015.
Indiana and Arkansas Amend New Religious Freedom Laws (April 1): The day after the Arkansas Senate passes its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gov. Asa Hutchinson refuses to sign it, asking for changes to the law's language. (April 2): Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs an amendment that he says will "clarify" his state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amendment, which easily passes both Indiana's House and Senate, directly addresses sexual orientation and gender identity. In fact, the amendment is the first time any Indiana law mentions either term. After signing the amendment, Gov. Pence releases a statement, "There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, 'What is best for Indiana?' I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana." (April 3): Gov. Hutchinson signs the bill with his requested changes, changes similar to the amendment that has been added to Indiana's new law. Changes to the new laws in Arkansas and Indiana make them more similar to the federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, signed by President Bill Clinton. RFRA "ensures that interests in religious freedom" are protected and forbids businesses to use the federal law as a form of discrimination.
Rolling Stone Retracts UVA Rape Story (April 5): Another investigation into the University of Virginia rape case, first reported on by Rolling Stone, is release. This investigation is by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Commissioned by Rolling Stone, Columbia's investigation points to the magazine's many failures in the reporting and editing of the article, including not verifying Jackie's story with three of her friends and not going to the fraternity with the accusations before the article was published. On the same day that Columbia releases its report, Rolling Stone says that it is retracting the story. (April 6): Phi Kappa Psi, the UVA fraternity involved in the retracted story announces that it plans to sue the magazine for reckless reporting and for hurting the fraternity's reputation.
DUKE and UConn Extend Legacy with NCAA Championship Wins (April 6-7): Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke Blue Devils win their fifth NCCA Men's Basketball Championship in a thrilling victory over Wisconsin, 68-63. The fifth national title puts Krzyzewski in second place in Division I men's coaches, behind John Wooden. The University of Connecticut takes the Women's NCAA Basketball Championship for the third year in a row. UConn beats Notre Dame, 63-53, to win a record tenth title. With the tenth win, UConn coach Geno Auriemma ties Wooden for the most NCAA national championship wins. The Associated Press Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, UConn's Breanna Stewart is also named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player for a record third time. It is her third championship in her three years at UConn.
Jury Finds Tsarnaev Guilty in First Phase of Boston Marathon Bombing Trial (April 8): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is found guilty on all 30 charges in the first phase of his federal death penalty trial. The jury reaches its verdict after deliberating for 11 hours. The verdict is read in front of bombing survivors and families of the victims in a Boston courtroom. Because the verdict is guilty the trial now moves to phase two where the same jury will decide whether to sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison or death. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is the worst act of terrorism to take place in the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Hillary Clinton Announces Second Bid for President (April 12): After two years of sitting on the sidelines of elective or diplomatic office, Hillary Rodham Clinton announces her candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The announcement comes as no surprise. The only surprise is how long it took to make official what had been long assumed. In her second run for president, Clinton hopes to add another first to her long list of accomplishments, which include the first female partner at Arkansas's prestigious Rose Law firm, the first First Lady to hold a post-graduate degree, the first former First Lady to hold a seat in the U.S. Senate, the first former First Lady to hold a cabinet seat, and the first former First Lady to run for president. (April 13): U.S. Senator Marco Rubio announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He is the third Republican senator to join the 2016 race, his announcement coming after Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
Death in Baltimore Leads to Riots (April 12): Cellphone video reveals 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray being dragged into a police van, while screaming in pain, during his arrest in Baltimore. Soon after Gray arrives at the police station, he is rushed to the hospital. Police later admit that Gray should have received medical treatment at the site of his arrest. (April 19): Gray dies after suffering from multiple injuries, including his spinal cord being severed. Protests begin in Baltimore in reaction to his death. (April 25): After almost a week of peaceful protests, a demonstration turns violent when protestors fight with police officers at the city's baseball park, Camden Yards. (April 27): After Gray's funeral, angry residents take to the streets of northwest Baltimore to protest another death of a black man at the hands of police. Gov. Larry Hogan declares a state of emergency and sets a curfew as demonstrators throw rocks and cinder blocks at police and firefighters, loot stores, and set buildings and cars on fire. Fifteen police officers are injured in the rioting. It is not known how many protesters are injured, but two people are shot in separate incidents. (April 28): The National Guard arrives in Baltimore.
Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty of Murder (April 15): Once considered one of the best tight ends in the National Football League (NFL), former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez is found guilty of first-degree murder on April 15, 2015. Hernandez, age 25, is sentenced to life in prison. The jury deliberates for 36 hours before deciding that he is guilty of killing Odin Lloyd, a landscaper who dated the sister of Hernandez's fiancée. Hernandez is also found guilty on five firearm charges. He had been released from the New England Patriots since June 26, 2013, the day of his arrest. Hernandez's case is just one of many headlines surrounding the NFL in the last year.