The latest on protests against racism and police brutality around the world

SEATTLE — The Seattle mayor has banned the police use of tear gas as protests continue in the city and nationally over the killing of George Floyd.

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A Seattle police officer yells out orders at Seattle City Hall as protesters march toward them Wednesday, June 3, 2020, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Associated Press/Elaine Thompson

Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a news conference Friday afternoon that the ban would continue for 30 days.

The move came hours after three civilian police watchdog groups urged city leaders to do so to build public trust and until the department adopts policies and training for the use of the chemical agent, The Seattle Times reported.

“After hearing concerns about the use of CS gas for crowd control purposes earlier this week … we decided we were going to suspend its use for 30 days,” Best said.

During the 30 days, officials will review police crowd control policies, she said.

The Seattle area’s largest labor group also said this week it will expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild later this month unless the union admits that racism is a problem in law enforcement and agrees to address that problem in negotiating its next contract with the city.

Read the full story about Seattle’s action here.

Twitter disables Trump campaign’s George Floyd video tribute

Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users.

The company put a label on a video posted by the @TeamTrump account that said, “This media has been disabled in response to a claim by the copyright owner.” The video was still up on President Trump’s YouTube channel and includes pictures of Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests, at the start.

“Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” Twitter said in a statement. It did not say who made the complaint.

The Burbank, California, lawyer who requested the takedown, Sam Koolaq, declined to identify his client or the copyright violation in the video. He said in an email that he also submitted takedown notices to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, took the video down later on Friday. “We received a copyright complaint from the creator under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have removed the post,” Facebook said in a statement. YouTube did not respond to a request for comment.

The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking.

Read the full story about Twitter’s action here.

Kanye West attends Chicago protest, donates $2 million to victims

Kanye West has donated $2 million to support the families and legal teams for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

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Kanye West marched with protesters in his hometown of Chicago on Thursday night. Associated Press/Michael Wyke

A representative for the rapper confirmed that some of the money donated would fully cover college tuition costs for Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna. Floyd died last month after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes as he pleaded for air.

Donations were also made to the legal teams of Arbery, who was gunned down while jogging in Georgia in February, and Taylor, who was killed in her home in Louisville in March. Friday would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.

West marched with protesters in his hometown of Chicago on Thursday night.

Largely peaceful protests following the deaths of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery have led to outbreaks of violence in many larger cities.

Minneapolis bans police chokeholds in wake of George Floyd’s death

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis agreed Friday to ban chokeholds by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force, in the first concrete steps to remake the city’s police department since George Floyd’s death.

The changes are part of a stipulation between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which launched a civil rights investigation this week in response to the death of Floyd. The City Council approved the agreement 12-0.

Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said the changes are necessary to stop ongoing harm to people of color “who have suffered generational pain and trauma as a result of systemic and institutional racism.”

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A graffiti by artist EME Freethinker that expresses support of U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, and others are pictured in the public park ‘Mauerpark’ in Berlin, Germany, on Friday. Michael Sohn/Associated Press

“This is just a start,” Lucero said. “There is a lot more work to do here, and that work must and will be done with speed and community engagement.”

The agreement requires court approval and would become enforceable in court, unlike the department’s current policies on the use of force and duties to intervene. It would require officers to immediately report to their superiors when they see use of any neck restraint or chokehold.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on his neck, ignoring Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” cries and bystander shouts even after Floyd stopped moving. His death has set off protests around the world.

Chauvin is charged with 2nd-degree murder. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting. All have been fired.

Lucero said the changes go further than the department’s current policies. Any officer who doesn’t try to stop improper use of force would face the same discipline as if they themselves used improper force.

The agreement also would require authorization from the police chief or a deputy chief to use crowd control weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades. Such tactics were used in Minneapolis and other cities in the past week to disperse protesters.

The stipulation also sets a process for the city and state to negotiate longer-term changes, such as changing state laws that make it difficult to fire problem officers.

Buffalo officers suspended after shoving 75-year-old man, leaving him bleeding

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Prosecutors investigated Friday after a television crew captured a police officer in Buffalo shoving a 75-year-old man who then falls and cracks his head, a confrontation that resulted in the suspension of two officers.

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In this image from video provided by WBFO, a Buffalo police officer appears to shove a man who walked up to police Thursday, June 4, in Buffalo, N.Y. Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP

The video from WFBO of Thursday night’s encounter, which happened near the conclusion of race protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, quickly sparked outrage.

It showed an officer pushing a man who approached a line of officers clearing demonstrators from Niagara Square around the time of an 8 p.m. curfew. The man falls backward and hits his head on the pavement. Blood leaks out as officers walk past.

The mayor, Byron Brown, said in a statement that the man, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was in serious condition. A hospital official said he was “alert and oriented,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted Friday morning.

“Let’s hope he fully recovers,” Poloncarz said.

The video immediately generated outrage, including among elected officials, despite lacking the racial element that made the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes, such a flashpoint.

Read the full story here.

Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change

ATLANTA — The tenor of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police has taken a turn from the explosive anger that has fueled the setting of fires, breaking of windows and other violence to a quiet, yet more forceful, grassroots call for more to be done to address racial injustice.

Many of the protests were more subdued for a second night as marches Thursday turned into memorials for Floyd, who was the focus of a heartfelt tribute Thursday in Minneapolis that drew family members, celebrities, politicians and civil rights advocates. At his service, strong calls were made for meaningful changes in policing and the criminal justice system.

At demonstration sites around the country, protesters said the quieter mood is the result of several factors: the new and upgraded criminal charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest; a more conciliatory approach by police who have marched with them or taken a knee to recognize their message; and the realization that the burst of rage after Floyd’s death is not sustainable.

“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.

Despite the shift in tone, protesters have shown no sign that they are going away and, if anything, are emboldened to stay on the streets to push for police reforms.

In New York City, Miguel Fernandes said there were “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted. And Floyd’s brother Terrence appeared in Brooklyn to carry on the fight for change, declaring “power to the people, all of us.”

Read the full story here.

Mobile, Alabama removes Confederate statue without warning

MOBILE, Ala. — The city of Mobile, Alabama removed a Confederate statue early Friday without making any public announcements beforehand.

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The pedestal where the statue of Admiral Raphael Semmes stands empty, early Friday, June 5, 2020 in Mobile, Ala. WMPI-TV via AP

The bronze figure of Admiral Raphael Semmes had become a flash point for protest in the city. George Talbot, a spokesman for the city, confirmed Friday morning that the statue was removed by the city.

The removal of the 120-year-old figure follows days of protests in Alabama and across the nation over killings by police of African Americans. Other Confederate symbols are coming down around the South. The city of Birmingham removed a towering obelisk after another statue was toppled by protesters. Virginia’s governor has decided to remove a huge statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, after city authorities said they’ll remove other Confederate monuments from Monument Avenue.

Semmes was a Confederate commerce raider, sinking Union-allied ships during the Civil War. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, he was jailed on treason charges in New York City before returning South after the war, and was later prohibited by U.S. authorities from taking office as an elected judge in Mobile. He devoted his later years to writing his memoirs and became a “Lost Cause” hero to Southerners who lamented the end of the Confederacy.

Semmes, a city of several thousand people outside Mobile, was incorporated in 2010 and named in his honor.


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