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.

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.

Protests over a police shooting of a Black father in Kenosha, Wis., continued for a fourth straight night on Wednesday. Though the gatherings again defied the county-imposed curfew, the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful.

The crowds were smaller than on previous nights, and the relative calm was a stark contrast to the scene that unfolded during the third night of protests, which turned chaotic and deadly.

Updated 6:30 p.m. ET

Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot multiple times at close range by police in Kenosha, Wis., over the weekend, is currently paralyzed from the waist down, according to the family's attorney.

"Praying it's not permanent," civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a plan that would permanently block cities from raising property taxes if local governments pass measures that defund local law enforcement agencies.

Abbott, appearing with other Republican state leaders on Tuesday, specifically pointed to the city of Austin, which last week voted to divert millions from its police department budget.

The white St. Louis couple who attracted national attention for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June will be back in the spotlight next week, this time as speakers at the Republican National Convention.

Joel Schwartz, one of the lawyers for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, confirmed to NPR Tuesday the couple has been invited to take part, but it remains unclear on what day, as final details are still being worked out.

A coronavirus outbreak has been discovered at the Georgia high school that drew national attention last week after photos and videos of crowded hallways and unmasked students went viral on social media.

Nine people at North Paulding High School tested positive for the coronavirus after the first week of in-person instruction, according to officials in Paulding County, an outer suburb of Atlanta.

David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, was a beloved fixture in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., remembered as a pillar of the community and known to give out his food free of charge, even to local police officers.

His death at the hands of law enforcement has come as a shock to those who knew him.

McAtee, a chef, was killed early Monday morning at his barbecue business when Louisville Metro Police Department officers and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathered after the city's 9 p.m. curfew near the corner of 26th Street and Broadway.

Louisville Metro Police officials released security footage Tuesday of what they said appears to show a black businessman firing a weapon at law enforcement officers before they return fire, killing him.

Police said David McAtee, owner of Yaya's BBQ, began to shoot "outside his business door" early Monday morning as officers worked to clear a parking lot at a nearby establishment and then began moving toward his business.

Voters in Ferguson, Mo., made history Tuesday by electing Ella Jones as the city's first black mayor.

The election took place as protesters filled the streets of many U.S. cities, rallying against systemic racism and police brutality faced by many black communities.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is defending his decision to secure half a million coronavirus test kits from South Korea instead of waiting for assistance from the federal government.

The decision to lean on a foreign government has drawn a rebuke from President Trump, who said of Hogan, "I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful."

For days, Hogan, a Republican, has expressed frustration with the Trump administration over his state's struggle to obtain more testing equipment.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a nationwide state of emergency, expanding the one put in place less than two weeks ago that covered Tokyo and six other prefectures as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread.

The prime minister also announced plans to give stimulus funds of 100,000 yen, the equivalent of about $930, to each of Japan's 120 million citizens to lessen the economic hardship of the faltering Japanese economy.

Officials at Wimbledon, the prestigious tennis tournament that is part of the sport's annual Grand Slam events, have announced it will not be held this summer. It's the latest sporting event to be sidelined because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

The All England Club announced Wednesday that the London-based tournament will now run the 134th Championships from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department now says that gun shops are essential business and can remain open during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a reversal of an effort to shutter firearms and accessories stores during the "Safer at Home" order enacted by county and state officials.

It also comes days after the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines labeling those that work in the firearms industry as essential critical infrastructure workers.

State officials in Maryland announced that as a result of the continued spread of the coronavirus, schools will remain closed for an additional four weeks, as the number of confirmed cases statewide has topped 400, including four COVID-19-related deaths.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that a significant number of the state's confirmed cases, which stands at 423 as of Wednesday, are people in their 40s. In one case, an infant contracted the disease.

As odd as it may seem, it became reality Friday: Tom Brady is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The man who quarterbacked the New England Patriots for the past 20 seasons and brought the franchise six Super Bowl championships posted to his Instagram on Friday: "I'm starting a new football journey."

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the daily routines of millions of Americans as many settle into their new self-isolation realities.

Some are finding ways to pass the time by streaming television shows, movies and classic sports (and, of course, listening to NPR).

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the state's first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 60s, and also confirmed a 5-year-old girl has COVID-19, making her the youngest known person in the state to contract the disease.

Hogan said there are a total of 107 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, adding it was an "88% increase in the last 48 hours."

"Unfortunately we are only at the beginning of this crisis," Hogan said at a press conference outside the state capitol in Annapolis.

When San Francisco announced its "shelter in place" order this week, it said only "essential businesses" could remain open to support the public's needs, such as grocery stores and gas stations. Missing from that list were marijuana dispensaries.

But a day after residents were told to stay home, the city revised its position and deemed cannabis "an essential medicine," allowing stores to open.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect nearly every facet of life, including some governors moving to temporarily shutter movie theaters, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a potentially industry-altering change: It will allow customers to view new films at home through video on demand the same day as their theatrical release.

Trolls World Tour, slated to open in the U.S. on April 10, will be the first to kick off the new initiative.

A scheduled joint European-Russia launch of a planetary rover to Mars this summer has been scrubbed, for now. The European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos space agency said the ExoMars mission, planned for July, won't happen now until at least the latter part of 2022.

Updated 6:18 p.m. ET

A federal court on Thursday ordered Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who has jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, must be released.

Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in court documents it was discharging the grand jury.

Two Wells Fargo board members have resigned, including chairwoman Elizabeth Duke, the bank announced Monday. The departures come days after a House committee report found the bank has been too slow to reform itself in the wake of a series of scandals — including widespread fraud in the consumer banking business tied to overly aggressive sales goals.

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET

Tornadoes gashed through central Tennessee early Tuesday, with the worst damage concentrated in and around Nashville. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says at least 24 people were killed across four counties, and there are fears the death toll could climb as first responders continue to search for victims.

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET

At least five people were killed at the Molson Coors Beverage Co. in Milwaukee in a shooting rampage Wednesday afternoon that authorities say was carried out by an employee of the brewery.

Authorities believe the gunman, who was identified only as a 51-year-old Milwaukee man, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday.

It was just months ago that she pleaded guilty to federal fraud, tax and conspiracy charges over a scheme involving sales of her self-published Healthy Holly children's books.

Updated 12:34 p.m. ET

Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion and former No.1-ranked women's tennis player in the world, has called it quits.

The 32-year-old made the announcement not at a press conference, but in an essay she wrote for Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her choice of venue shouldn't exactly come as a surprise. Off the court, Sharapova has built a successful career in business and modeling.

U.S. authorities have seized the domain name of a website that allegedly sold access to billions of usernames, email addresses, passwords and other sensitive information stolen in data breaches.

Now, visitors to the not-so-subtle website – weleakinfo.com — are greeted with a homepage that reads, "This Domain Has Been Seized."

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Former Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin drew widespread condemnation last week when reports highlighted that he had pardoned more than 400 convicted criminals in his final days in office. Bevin justified his actions by telling The Washington Post, "I'm a believer in second chances."

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor's mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.

Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.

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