Michele McPhee for ABC News(SOMERVILLE, Mass.) — Controversy over a Black Lives Matter banner affixed to the front of City Hall in the blue collar suburb of Somerville, Massachusetts, continued to rage Thursday as Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced that the sign would stay despite a request from the police union’s president to replace it with a banner that says “All Lives Matter.” Curtatone’s decision has prompted both outrage and praise in the community.

“The mayor has clearly chosen a side, and it’s not to support law enforcement,” Somerville Police Employees Association President Michael McGrath told ABC News.

The Black Lives Matter banner has hung near the entrance of Somerville City Hall since last August after Curtatone met with Black Lives Matter members who were upset at the arrests of protesters after they blocked a major Boston area highway during a Black Lives Matter protest in January, 2015. Those arrested became known as “the Somerville 18.” Most of them avoided jail time, instead receiving sentences of 60 hours of community service.

The public controversy about the banner began this week when McGrath sent a letter to Curtatone that said police officers were “deeply troubled” and found it “demoralizing” that the city had allowed the sign to remain hanging in support of this movement “while standing silent over the seemingly daily protest assassinations of innocent police officers around the country.”

“The Association is opposed to the misuse of excessive force, including deadly force, as are the well-intentioned members of BLM,” McGrath wrote.

Curtatone released a statement Wednesday that said while he supported his officers, the city will continue to take a stand against what he called “systemic racism in our nation.”

“The City of Somerville stands against all violence and all injustice, which is why a Black Lives Matter banner hangs at City Hall and why a banner in honor of the slain officers is hanging at Somerville Police Headquarters where it would provide the most moral support to our officers — both on my order. Both banners will remain hanging,” Curtatone’s statement read.

Curtatone’s decision was applauded outside of Somerville City Hall Thursday and supported by Somerville Police Chief David Fallon who said that he recognizes that “there is a problem” if anyone in his community feels excluded.

“When I hear the hashtag or see the banner ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it just brings to my mind personally that we have to be inclusive,” he told reporters.

Somerville resident Buddy Keenan, 60, told ABC News that Curtatone “works for the everyday people. Here we are pretty peaceful…but I can understand how the black people feel they are being killed off in other parts of the country by the police.”

But others, like retired police officer Bob DeNapoli, called the Black Lives Matter banner “reprehensible.” DeNapoli was shot six times during a 2011 burglary in nearby Woburn, suffering permanent injuries that forced him off the job.

“Why not hang a banner that reads ‘We All Matter?'” DeNapoli told ABC News.

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Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — The NBA is exploring alternative host cities for its 2017 All-Star Game now that it has decided to remove the game from North Carolina, ESPN reports.

The league announced its decision not to hold the event in North Carolina Thursday. It had been considering the move over its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections in the state. Sources told ESPN that cities including New York, Brooklyn and Chicago “have become options” for the All-Star Game.

In a statement Thursday, the NBA noted that the league and the Charlotte Hornets “have been working diligently [since March] to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change.” The league says it hopes to reschedule an All-Star Game in Charlotte for 2019, though it is not clear if that would require changes to the current law.

“We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league,” the NBA statement reads. “These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”

After the owners’ meetings earlier in July, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league was considering its options. The league had requested changes to the law, but with the North Carolina legislature on summer hiatus, time for such changes is short.

Yahoo’s The Vertical reported Thursday that the league was on the verge of pulling the game from Charlotte, and that New Orleans could be a frontrunner to play host.

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Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — The NBA is exploring alternative host cities for its 2017 All-Star Game if it decides to remove the game from North Carolina, ESPN reports.

The league had not yet made a decision on whether or not the event would be held in North Carolina, but was considering the move over its objection to North Carolina House Bill 2, which limited anti-discrimination protections in the state. Sources told ESPN that cities including New York, Brooklyn and Chicago “have become options” if the league decides not to hold its event in the Tarheel State.

After the owners’ meetings earlier in July, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league was considering its options. The league had request changes to the law, but with the North Carolina legislature on summer hiatus, time for such changes is short.

Yahoo’s The Vertical reported Thursday that the league was on the verge of pulling the game from Charlotte, and that New Orleans could be a frontrunner to play host.

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Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — George Washington University basketball coach Mike Lonergan routinely abused players verbally and emotionally, a report in the Washington Post detailed Thursday.

The report cites interviews with former athletes and staff members, as well as a complaint logged to a campus Title IX coordinator after this past season. In those complaints, Lonergan is alleged to have created an “offensive, intolerable environment.” The player who filed the complaint noted that he had heard of previous issues under Lonergan before.

A follow-up email to the Title IX coordinator, Rory Muhammad, was obtained by the Washington Post. In it, the player writes that the issues brought up concern him and his teammates “because it seems as if nothing was taken seriously. This worries me because if I (and others) choose to leave the University, word of Coach Lonergan’s verbal and emotional abuse, as well as player mistreatment would eventually be known among the greater community.”

Three players have transferred out of the GW basketball program each of the last four years, and 13 total have transferred since Lonergan took over five season ago.

The Post quotes one former player who says that he doesn’t believe Lonergan should be in sports. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”

Lonergan responded to the story, the Post says, with an emailed statement vowing not to respond to “anonymous, unfounded allegations.”

“These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless,” he added.

One former player, according to the Post, said he needed therapy to cope after his time playing for Lonergan.

One former member of the George Washington basketball staff said, “A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur. Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated him. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”

The Post reported that allegations of abuse against Lonergan during the 2014-15 season prompted a meeting between the coach and administrators, who requested practice film to examine Lonergan’s actions. After associate athletics director Ed Scott began to travel with George Washington last season, Lonergan began to target athletic director Patrick Nero, according to one former player who spoke to the Post and expanded on his comments to ESPN.

“The stuff (Lonergan) has said about the athletic director made everybody uncomfortable,” the player told ESPN.

The player said Lonergan routinely accused players of engaging in sexual relationships with Nero.

“It was very odd,” the former player said. “He had this weird obsession.”

In early April, the former player met with Nero to discuss a variety of concerns, including inappropriate comments Lonergan allegedly made on a recruit’s visit in October and during private conversations. He and other former players who spoke to the Post said Lonergan created an awkward and intimidating environment.

That resulted in a Title IX investigation since Title IX refers to sexual harassment of any kind.

In an email the former player shared with ESPN, Nero said, “I appreciate you stopping in today to let me know of your conversation with Coach Lonergan in the fall and your concerns with this conversation. Obviously, this was not something that was easy to share.”

According to the email, Nero told the former player he would confidentially share their exchange with Rory Muhammad, the school’s Title IX coordinator. A week after his meeting with Nero, the former player emailed Muhammad afterward to express concerns that “it seems as if nothing was taken seriously.”

The former player said Muhammad ultimately told him the program had handled everything internally, which he viewed as a failure to take action against the coach who signed an extension through the 2020-21 season after a successful 2013-14 campaign.

The player then left the school.

“One day, I said I have to do something,” the former player told ESPN of his decision to publicize the accusations against Lonergan. “I don’t think it’s fair that people have to leave the school they love. The Title IX coordinator didn’t protect athletes.”

George Washington President Steven Knapp responded to the Post story in a statement, saying, “Whenever and wherever we receive an allegation of misconduct, we conduct a fair and thorough investigation, and we take action as appropriate on the basis of what that investigation reveals. Investigations take time, and I don’t think anyone ever benefits from a rush to judgment in advance of the facts.”

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Commissioner Rob Manfred prior to a regular season Sunday Night Baseball game (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)(NEW YORK) — Major League Baseball could soon restrict the number of different pitchers teams use per game.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was a guest on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike Thursday morning, and listened to nine suggestions from the hosts on how to potentially improve the sport. One of those suggestions included a restriction on relief pitchers allowed either per inning or per game.

“I am in favor of something like that,” the commissioner said, adding that the league has spent “a ton of time on this issue in the last few months.”

Manfred also said that relief pitchers have become too dominant in the modern game. “The pitching changes themselves slow the game down,” he said, “and our relief pitchers have become so dominant at the back end that they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game.”

The average length of a Major League Baseball game this season has been three hours and four minutes. In 2005, the average game was just two hours and 49 minutes.

Manfred said earlier this year that he was unhappy with the pace of games, and would entertain “creative ways” to improve the sport.

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Zoonar RF/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) — A fuel leak at Palm Beach International Airport prompted one flight to be evacuated via emergency slides on Thursday afternoon.

According to the airport, an American Airlines plane was on a taxiway when fuel leaked from the bottom of the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration says that no one was injured in the incident, and that passengers were being taken back to the terminal by bus.

The flight was scheduled to leave Palm Beach for Philadelphia International Airport at 3:10pm ET. It was not clear when it would be rescheduled.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Video was released Thursday of a deadly police-involved shooting of a black man in Houston.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he wanted to release the videos to show that the man was armed and “debunk” social media reports that he was unarmed.

“The videos speak for themselves,” Turner said. “The facts are what they are.”

Houston police said Alva Braziel, 38, was armed when he was fatally shot by Houston police officers on July 9.

“This was not a case of an unarmed person that was shot down by the police,” Turner said Thursday.

Braziel’s family has seen some of the videos, Turner said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The deadly encounter began when two officers saw Braziel standing in an intersection in moving lanes of traffic, police said. The officers saw Braziel wave his hands in the air and then point a gun “directly at the officers,” police said.

The officers took cover behind the open doors of their patrol car and told Braziel to put the gun on the ground, police said.

“Braziel ignored repeated commands and instead raised his arms up, pointed the pistol upward and moved into different aggressive stances, as if getting ready for a fight,” the Houston Police Department said in a statement on July 11. “Braziel then lowered his weapon and again pointed it directly” at the officers, police said.

The officers discharged their duty weapons, “fearing for their lives,” police said.

Braziel died at the scene, police said.

The officers were identified by police as L. Lopez and E. Macias. The case is being investigated by the HPD Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, ABC’s Houston station KTRK reported.

Turner said he contacted Braziel’s family to let them know that video would be released Wednesday — to give them an opportunity to see it first — but the family never did, KTRK said.

The mayor said the family hired an attorney, who then contacted the city on Wednesday, “saying it would be insensitive to release the video before the family saw it,” KTRK reported. The mayor then said the video would be released Thursday, KTRK said.

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Suffolk County Police(NEW YORK) — A New York woman was ticketed after police pulled her over for driving with a “phony passenger” in the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway Thursday morning, according to Suffolk County Police.

Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Spina became suspicious of the front seat passenger in a Subaru Outback cruising in the HOV lane while on patrol.

“When Officer Spina pulled over the vehicle, he observed that the driver, Candice Breen-Warren, had piled clothing, topped by a baseball hat, and a briefcase in the passenger seat in an attempt to resemble a person,” Suffolk County Police said in a statement.

HOV lanes are reserved for buses and vehicles with two or more occupants during early morning and evening hours, according to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.

Breen-Warren, 61, was issued summonses for HOV occupancy violation as well as driving an unregistered and uninspected vehicle, according to Suffolk County Police.

Breen-Warren did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Hilton Napoleon(MIAMI, Fla.) — An unarmed black man was shot and injured by police in Florida while he had his hands in the air — a shooting that had “no justification,” the injured man’s attorney said Thursday.

The attorney released video of the Monday incident showing Charles Kinsey, 47, a behavioral therapist at an assisted living facility, on his back, lying on the ground with his hands in the air. The man at his feet in the video is a man with autism who ran away from the home, Kinsey’s attorney said.

In the video, Kinsey tells police “all he has is a toy truck in his hand.”

“I am a behavior therapist,” Kinsey says in the video. Kinsey also tells the man with autism, “Please be still.”

Hilton Napoleon, Kinsey’s attorney, said Thursday morning, “The video clearly shows him laying on his back. The video clearly shows him with his hands as high in the air as he can possibly get them.”

“And he also explains to the police that the instrument in the autistic guy’s hand is a toy truck,” Napoleon said. “When you look at the video, there is no argument that can be made that that is a gun. The appearance of it is rectangular, it’s white, it’s not shiny, it’s not painted, and it’s not even shaped like a gun.”

North Miami Police said they had received a 911 call of a man with a gun threatening to commit suicide.

“At some point during the on-scene negotiation” with the two men, one of the officers fired, striking Kinsey, police said. Video of the shooting was not released by the attorney. He was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

No gun was recovered, police said Thursday.

Napoleon said Thursday Kinsey is physically “doing OK.”

“I think one of the biggest hurdles that’s going to be tough for him in the long run is the mental aspect of it because he feels he really did everything he could do to cooperate and go over and beyond to show police that he’s not armed and that he’s trying to help de-escalate a situation with a mental health individual,” Napoleon said. “It’s going to be a long haul to make sure that he gets over that fear.”

“There is no justification for shooting an unarmed person who is talking to you and telling you that they don’t have a gun and that they’re a mental health counselor,” Napoleon said. “I just don’t understand it.”

The North Miami Police Department said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation. The state attorney’s office is also looking into the case, police said.

The officer involved was placed on administrative leave, police said.

When ABC News asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the shooting Thursday morning, she said, “I am aware of it, and we’re trying to gather all the facts about it so we can determine essentially how that matter will be handled or reviewed.”

“We obviously want to gather as much information as we can so that we can make informed decisions,” Lynch said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A small aircraft has crashed into a house in a Chicago suburb, the Federal Aviation Administration and Joliet Fire Department confirmed on Thursday.

According to the FAA, there are no reports of injuries to anyone on the ground. It’s unclear what happened to the passengers and pilot in the aircraft.

Photos posted on Twitter appear to show the house engulfed in flames.

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