It’s Thursday, July 15th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - The message Wednesday night seems to be more concise. All week, it’s been about solidarity and letting the world know what's happening in Cuba.
Now, there are calls for action and demands for President Joe Biden and the U.S. to intervene. Wednesday night’s rally was one of the largest in three consecutive days featuring activists and artists Like Gente de Zona and Yotuel. It’s been days of protests, rallies and demonstrations on the streets of South Florida, and raw emotions are amplified as Cuban-Americans call on the United States to aid the Cuban people and squash the current regime. For the latest on the protests in South Florida, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Jamie Guirola.
No. 2 - Some Black Lives Matters activists say a double standard is being used as protesters in Florida block busy roadways this week in support of Cubans demonstrating for regime change, with limited action taken by law enforcement despite a new law that enhances penalties against disruptions by protesters.
Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year signed into law a measure that enhances penalties against demonstrators who turn violent and creates new criminal penalties for those who organize demonstrations that get out of hand. The bill was introduced after last summer's protests for racial justice during which some Black Lives Matter protesters were met by police with tear gas and arrests when they took to the streets for days at a time. During a visit to Miami on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the demonstrations in South Florida were “fundamentally different than what we saw last summer." To hear why some activists disagree, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Steve Litz.
No. 3 - As cries for change and U.S. intervention for Cuba grow louder, the Coast Guard is keeping a watchful eye out in the Florida Straits for any attempt at what it called “unsafe and illegal” boat crossings toward Cuba by those sympathetic to the island protesters.
Since Monday night, groups of Cuban immigrants said they planned to travel in boats filled with supplies to Cuba to show support for the Cuban protesters. On Wednesday, the Coast Guard gave NBC 6 access to its operators from the sky and the sea who are looking out for people who might want to go to Cuba and for any Cubans who are trying to leave the island. In the sky Wednesday, pilots Karl Alejandre and Landon Elliott, along with their five-member crew, headed for the Florida Straits, an area that is closely being watched due to the demonstrations in Cuba. For an inside look, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporters Willard Shepard and Carlos Suarez.
No. 4 - Recordings of 911 calls after an oceanfront Surfside condominium building collapsed in the middle of the night show disbelief, panic and confusion as people tried to comprehend the disaster.
"Oh my God! The whole building collapsed!" one caller told a dispatcher at the Miami-Dade Police Department, which released the recordings Wednesday from the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside. The names of the callers were not released. The death toll from the collapse rose to 97 Wednesday, after two more bodies were found in the rubble of the collapse, officials said. Another eight people are still potentially unaccounted for. To hear the emotional calls, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Julie Leonardi.
No. 5 - If Cassondra Stratton had a second home, it was Reforming Pilates in Bay Harbor Islands, where she worked out nearly every day, sometimes taught the classes, and was beloved by everyone.
Friends said Stratton had the “it” factor -- gorgeous with a magnetic personality. Cassondra’s husband, Mike Stratton, was out of town and on the phone with her just before calamity struck, as she described something terribly wrong. Nelly Triana grew especially close to Cassondra and because Mike Stratton is often away on business, Nelly would sometimes spend nights at Cassondra’s apartment. On the night of the collapse, Triana was supposed to be there. To hear how she’s coping with the grief of her loss, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Ari Odzer.
No. 6 - It's nothing but net for WNBA legend Sylvia Fowles. The center with the Minnesota Lynx is on her way to the Tokyo Olympics with USA Basketball.
Donning number 13, Fowles is dominating on the court. The six-foot-six star aimed high and quickly rose to the top in her career. In 2020, she became the reigning WNBA career rebound leader and was named league MVP in 2017. Fowles started playing ball on small courts in Miami. She hails from Liberty City, went to Gulliver Prep for high school and then Louisiana State University before going pro. She will be doing a full court press with her team to hopefully get another gold medal in her fourth Olympics. She had some advice for the newcomers on her team. To hear that advice, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Amanda Plasencia.