The latest on protests against racism and police brutality.

The rapidly unfolding movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death has extended to statues of slave traders, imperialists, conquerors and explorers around the world, including Christopher Columbus, Cecil Rhodes and Belgium’s King Leopold II.

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The statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis is splattered with paint after being toppled Wednesday night in Richmond, Va. Dylan Garner/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Protests and, in some cases, acts of vandalism have taken place in such cities as Boston; New York; Paris; Brussels; and Oxford, England, in an intense re-examination of racial injustices over the centuries. Scholars are divided over whether the campaign amounts to erasing history or updating it.

At the University of Oxford, protesters have stepped up their longtime push to remove a statue of Rhodes, the Victorian imperialist who served as prime minister of the Cape Colony in southern Africa. He made a fortune from gold and diamonds on the backs of miners who labored in brutal conditions.

Oxford’s vice chancellor Louise Richardson, in an interview with the BBC, balked at the idea.

“We need to confront our past,” she said. “My own view on this is that hiding our history is not the route to enlightenment.”

Near Santa Fe, New Mexico, activists are calling for the removal of a statue of Don Juan de Oñate, a 16th-century Spanish conquistador revered as a Hispanic founding father and reviled for brutality against Native Americans, including an order to cut off the feet of two dozen people. Vandals sawed off the statue’s right foot in the 1990s.

Read the full story about efforts to remove Confederate monuments here.

Senate Republicans ready policing bill after Floyd death, protests

WASHINGTON — Venturing into a new priority, Senate Republicans are quickly compiling a package of policing changes after George Floyd’s death that would create a national database of use-of-force incidents, encourage police body cameras and include a long-stalled effort to make lynching a federal hate crime.

Mitch McConnell, Roy Blunt, Cory Gardner

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican policy luncheon Wednesday, with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., center, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., behind him. Susan Walsh/Associated Press

The burst of political energy reflects how swiftly the national conversation over police and racial injustice is upturning business as usual in Washington. The emerging Republican bill doesn’t go as far as a sweeping new Democratic package, but it includes several similar provisions. What’s unclear is if President Trump will back any of the proposed changes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky faces unrest over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, indicated Thursday the legislation would be ready soon.

“The killing of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have accelerated important conversations,” McConnell said as he opened the Senate.

The party that has long favored a “law and order” approach – seen in Trump’s reaction to the nationwide demonstrations over Floyd’s death – finds itself trying to adapt to a fast-changing national dialogue on police and race as the Black Lives Matter movement gains worldwide prominence.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican senator, said Thursday on the “Today” show.

Read the full story on the Republicans’ bill here.

Breonna Taylor police report mostly blank, gives some wrong details

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An incident report released by Louisville police on the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor is mostly blank, with few details of the incident that spurred days of protests in the city.

The report dated March 13, the day of the shooting, cites a police-involved death investigation and identifies Taylor, 26, as the victim. But it provides few other details, and some are incorrect.

Taylor was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who had a warrant to enter her apartment. A man inside the home with her, Kenneth Walker, fired once and struck an officer. There is no mention of Walker in the incident report.

The report, released this week, also has a box to check for forced entry, which was checked “No,” and it also said “none” in a space for the victim’s injuries. In the notes/narrative section, it simply said “PIU investigation,” which is the department’s Public Integrity Unit.

Louisville Police did give more details about the shooting in a media briefing held on March 13, hours after the shooting. Officials said the officers knocked, announced themselves and then forced their way into Taylor’s apartment, where they were met with gunfire. They released details about the officer who was shot, Jon Mattingly. They also announced the arrest of Walker but did not give Taylor’s name, only saying at the time that a woman in the apartment was fatally shot.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called the released report “unacceptable.”

“It’s issues like this that erode public confidence in LMPD’s ability to do its job, and that’s why I’ve ordered an external top-to-bottom review of the department,” he said in an emailed statement. “I am sorry for the additional pain to the Taylor family and our community.”

The three officers involved in the shooting, Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, have been placed on administrative reassignment while the shooting is investigated. This week the detective who requested the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, also was reassigned.

Walker was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but that charge was dropped by prosecutors in May. Walker told police he didn’t know who was coming into the home and that he thought he was acting in self-defense. Mattingly was shot in the thigh and recovered.

The release of Walker’s 911 call on May 28 marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fueled by Taylor’s death and the death of a black man in police custdy in Minneapolis, George Floyd.

Republican-led Senate panel OKs removing Confederate names from bases

WASHINGTON — A GOP-led Senate panel has approved a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren to have the names of Confederate figures removed from military bases and other Pentagon assets, taking on President Donald Trump, who has vowed not to change names like Fort Bragg and Fort Hood.

The ban would be imposed within three years and was approved by a voice vote as a piece of the annual Pentagon policy bill. The provision is likely to be matched when the Democratic-controlled House takes up the measure in coming weeks.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding that statues of Confederate figures such as Jefferson Davis be removed from the U.S. Capitol.

Confederate monuments have reemerged as a national flashpoint since the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities, and some state officials are considering taking them down.

President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday that he would not rename military bases honoring Confederate generals, even as NASCAR announced it would ban displays of the Confederate flag at its races.

Warren’s amendment would force the Pentagon to remove the names of confederate generals from bases and other military assets such as ships within three years. A commission would be set up to oversee the process.

Read the full story here.

Head of Joint Chiefs of staff says he was wrong to accompany Trump on church walk

WASHINGTON — Army Gen. Mark Milley, the nation’s top military officer, said Thursday he was wrong to accompany President Donald Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square that ended in a photo op at a church. He said his presence “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

“I should not have been there,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said in remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

Trump’s June 1 walk through the park to pose with a Bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flash bangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters demonstrating in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota in police custody.

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President Donald Trump departs the White House to visit outside St. John’s Church, in Washington with, from left, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley says his presence “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” He called it “a mistake” that he has learned from. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Milley said his presence and the photographs compromised his commitment to a military divorced from politics.

“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley said. “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

His statement risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. It comes as Pentagon leaders’ relations with the White House are still tense after a disagreement last week over Trump’s threat to use federal troops to quell civil unrest triggered by Floyd’s death.

After protesters were cleared from the Lafayette Square area, Trump led an entourage that included Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he held up a Bible for photographers and then returned to the White House.

Esper had not said publicly that he erred by being with Trump at that moment. He told a news conference last week that when they left the White House he thought they were going to inspect damage in the Square and at the church and to mingle with National Guard troops in the area.

Milley’s comments at the National Defense University were his first public statements about the Lafayette Square event on June 1, which the White House has hailed as a “leadership moment” for Trump akin to Winston Churchill inspecting damage from German bombs in London during World War II.

Read the full story.

Long seen as radical, Black Lives Matter goes mainstream

For much of its seven-year existence, the Black Lives Matter movement has been seen by many Americans as a divisive, even radical force. Its very name enraged its foes, who countered with the slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.”

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A protester waves a city of Chicago flag emblazoned with the acronym BLM for Black Lives Matter, outside the Batavia, Ill., City Hall on June 3. Associated Press/Nam Y. Huh

Times have changed — dramatically so — as evidenced during the wave of protests sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Black Lives Matter has gone mainstream — and black activists are carefully assessing how they should respond.

A few examples of the changed landscape:

Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican stalwart, joined a Black Lives Matter march. Some NASCAR drivers, whose fan base includes legions of conservative whites, embraced the phrase. So did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The mayor of Washington ordered the words painted in large letters on a street near the White House. Now, Black Lives Matter Plaza turns up in driving directions from Google Maps.

Like many black activists, Sakira Cook is pleased by such developments but also cautious. She and others worry that businesses and politicians will hijack the slogan without any real commitment to doing the hard work needed to fight racism.

“Black Lives Matter is not just a rallying cry,” said Cook, director of the Justice Reform Program at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“It actually means you have to start to interrogate the systemic racism and inequalities that exist in our society and help to dismantle them. You must make sure you’re not co-opting this for your own purposes.”

The Black Lives Matter movement emerged amid anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.

As a slogan, “Black lives matter” soon became as widely heard at protests as “No justice, no peace.”

In letter, Pentagon leaders outline military role in recent unrest

National Guard troops remained in a supporting role during recent civil unrest in Washington and steps to prepare active-duty forces to deploy into the nation’s capital proved to be a precautionary measure, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.

The Pentagon leaders addressed questions from Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a letter on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Donald Trump

President Trump, followed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, leaves the White House on Monday to visit outside St. John’s Church in Washington, after having protesters cleared from nearby Lafayette Park. Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

The letter comes amid a showdown between Pentagon leadership and Democrats on the committee, who are pushing Esper and Milley to testify about the military’s role in responding to recent unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last month in Minnesota, and other instances of police brutality against African Americans.

It follows a scathing letter that Smith sent earlier in the day to Esper expressing his “profound frustration” that the Pentagon had not met a committee-imposed deadline to provide written answers to questions about Defense Department actions as thousands of law enforcement officers and National Guard fanned out across Washington.

The Pentagon leaders have come under intense scrutiny over the past week for appearing to back President Trump’s militarized response, including when they were seen in a photo op the president held near the White House on June 1 shortly after protesters were forcibly cleared from the area. High-profile retired military leaders also publicly chided Esper, Trump’s fourth defense secretary, for describing a need to “dominate the battlespace” in reference to cities experiencing unrest.

Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement earlier in the day that the department had already provided the House committee with answers to “most — if not all” of Smith’s questions during a briefing Monday by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Maj. Gen. William Walker, who commands the D.C. National Guard.

In their letter to Smith, Esper and Milley said that active-duty forces “are not currently present and were not ever in the District for purposes of civilian law enforcement.”

English city hauls toppled statue out of harbor

LONDON — A statue of a 17th-century slave trader that was toppled by anti-racism protesters in Bristol, England, has been fished out of the harbor by city authorities.

Bristol City Council says the bronze statue of Edward Colston was recovered early Thursday morning to avoid drawing a crowd. The council says it has been taken to a “secure location” and will end up in a museum.

Colston built a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic and left most of his money to charity. His name adorns streets and buildings in Bristol, which was once the U.K.’s biggest port for slave ships.

After years of debate about what should happen to his statue, Black Lives Matter protesters hauled it down on Sunday and dumped it into the harbor.

The act has reinvigorated calls for the removal of other statues from Britain’s imperial past.

Officials in Bournemouth, southern England, say they plan to remove a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell because it might become a target. Like many Englishmen of his time, Baden-Powell held racist views and he also expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler.

Council leader Vikki Slade said “we are removing the statue so that we can properly involve all relevant communities and groups in discussions about its future.”

Protesters tear down Jefferson Davis, Christopher Columbus statues

RICHMOND, Va. — A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was torn down along Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue on Wednesday night by protesters.

The statue in the former capital of the Confederacy was toppled shortly before 11 p.m. and was on the ground in the middle of an intersection, news outlets reported. Richmond police were on the scene.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last week ordered the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is four blocks away from where the Davis statue stood. A judge on Monday issued an injunction preventing officials from removing the monuments for the next 10 days.

About 80 miles away, protesters in Portsmouth beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument on Wednesday, according to media outlets.

Efforts to tear one of the statues down began around 8:20 p.m., but the rope they were using snapped, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The crowd was frustrated by the Portsmouth City Council’s decision to put off moving the monument. They switched to throwing bricks from the post that held the plaque they had pulled down as they initially worked to bring down the statue.

The Pilot reports that they then started to dismantle the monument one piece at a time as a marching band played in the streets and other protesters danced.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Protesters have pulled down a statute of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol.

A rope was thrown around the 10-foot bronze statue Wednesday afternoon and they pulled it off its stone pedestal.

The protesters, including Dakota and Ojibwe Indians, said they consider Columbus as a symbol of genocide against Native Americans. They said they had tried many times to remove it through the political process, but without success.

State Patrol troopers in helmets, who provide security in the Capitol complex, stood by at a distance but did not try to stop the protesters, who celebrated afterward with Native American singing and drumming.

The troopers eventually formed a line to protect the toppled statue so it could be taken away.

The protest followed a similar incident Tuesday night in Richmond, Virginia, and another in Boston.

One of the officers charged in the death of George Floyd posts bail

MINNEAPOLIS — One of four police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has posted bail and is out of jail.

According to online records, Thomas Lane, 37, posted bail of $750,000 and was released from the Hennepin County Jail, with conditions, shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Records show the other officers remained in custody.

Lane is charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in the arrest of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died Memorial Day after another officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe and became motionless.

Lane’s attorney Earl Gray did not immediately return a message seeking comment. But last week Gray said that Lane was a rookie, and that the only thing he did was hold Floyd’s feet so he couldn’t kick. The criminal complaint also says that Lane expressed concern about Floyd and asked Chauvin twice if they should roll Floyd to his side, but Chauvin said no. Gray said Lane also performed CPR in the ambulance.

Gray told the Star Tribune he plans to bring a motion to dismiss the charges.

Protests signs, posters saved

WASHINGTON — Volunteers on the scene in the nation’s capital are working to gather and preserve hundreds of items that were posted during days of protests over the death of George Floyd in police hands in Minnesota.

Hundreds of signs and posters that had been on the fence enclosing Lafayette Square near the White House have been moved across the street and taped to the walls of a construction site, or strung together and hung from trees lining the street.

At the volunteer medical tents on Wednesday, the call went out for more string to continue hanging up protest art.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Smithsonian have expressed an interest in preserving the artifacts. A spokesman for the National Museum of African American History and Culture says curators from three different parts of the Smithsonian network visited the scene Wednesday.

Washington to investigate death of man in Tacoma police custody

TACOMA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered an independent investigation into the death of a man in the custody of Tacoma police.

The move comes after new information emerged this week that at least one sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper were at the scene when the man, Manuel Ellis, was detained and died on March 3. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

Inslee said Wednesday that officials are working to determine who will conduct the investigation and who will make charging decisions. He said the goal is to make sure that the work is “done free of conflicts of interest.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department had been close to finishing an investigation, and a briefing with the prosecuting attorney was scheduled for Wednesday. It was canceled.

The police department has identified the four officers involved in restraining Ellis. They were put on administrative leave last week after the autopsy results were made public.

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and the victim’s family have called for those officers to be fired and arrested.

LAPD investigating allegations of misconduct during protests

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating 56 allegations of misconduct during protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Of the 56 investigations, 28 involve alleged uses of force, the LAPD said Wednesday in a statement. Seven officers have been taken out of the field.

The agency has tasked 40 investigators with looking into allegations of misconduct and excessive force, as well as violations of departmental policy, during the protests.

While most protests have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and businesses were vandalized.


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