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

SEATTLE — A U.S. judge ordered Seattle police Friday to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bang devices to break up largely peaceful protests, a victory for groups that say authorities have overreacted to recent demonstrations over police brutality and racial injustice.

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A protester holds a sign Friday during a “Silent March” against racial inequality and police brutality that was organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. A federal judge ordered Seattle police Friday to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bang devices to break up largely peaceful protests. Associated Press/Ted S. Warren

The liberal city with a long history of massive, frequent protests has taken hits from all sides — from demonstrators, some city officials, the president and now a judge — over the way it has responded to crowds taking to the streets since George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Those on the right say the mayor and police chief aren’t being tough enough on protesters who have taken over part of a neighborhood near downtown Seattle, while those on the left say police tactics have been far too harsh.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones sided with a Black Lives Matter group that sued the Seattle Police Department this week to halt the violent tactics it has used to break up protests.

Last weekend, officers used tear gas, pepper spray and other force against crowds of protesters. Jones’ order halts those tactics for two weeks, though demonstrations this week have been calm.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best have apologized to peaceful protesters who were subjected to chemical weapons. But Best has said some demonstrators violently targeted police, throwing objects and ignoring orders to disperse. Both have faced calls to resign, which they have rejected.

The judge said those objecting to the police tactics make a strong case that the indiscriminate use of force is unconstitutional. Jones said weapons like tear gas and pepper spray fail to target “any single agitator or criminal” and they are especially problematic during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story about the judge’s order here.

Police video of aboriginal chief’s arrest shocking, Trudeau says

TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that black and indigenous people in Canada do not feel safe around police after a police dashcam video emerged of the violent arrest of a Canadian aboriginal chief.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in an anti-racism protest June 5 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

The arrest has received attention in Canada as a backlash against racism grows worldwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck.

The 12-minute police video shows an officer charging at Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam with his arm and elbow up as he tackles him to the ground. It also shows the officer punching him in the head.

Trudeau called the video “shocking.”

“I have serious questions about what happened,” Trudeau said. “The independent investigation must be transparent and be carried out so that we get answers. At the same time, though, we also know that this is not an isolated incident. Far too many black Canadians and indigenous people do not feel safe around police. It’s unacceptable. And as governments, we have to change that.”

Pictures show Adam was left bloodied with his face swollen. Alberta’s police watchdog agency is investigating. Police charged Adam with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

Read the full story about the arrest of Allan Adam here.

Minnesota pardons black man in century-old lynching case

A black man imprisoned in Minnesota a century ago in a case that included the infamous lynchings of three other black man for the alleged rape of a white woman received a posthumous pardon Friday, with Gov. Tim Walz connecting the historic injustice to the death of George Floyd.

Minnesota’s pardons board voted 3-0 to pardon Max Mason, one of several traveling circus workers accused in the 1920 case. Walz, a member of the board, called it “100 years overdue” and said Minnesota for too long believed that lynchings “happened (only) in the Southern states.”

“There is a direct line between what happened with Max Mason … to what happened to George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis,” the Democratic governor said, referring to the May 25 death that has become a flashpoint in a national movement against police brutality and racism.

Attorney General Keith Ellison and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Skjerven Gildea also voted to grant the pardon.

“(Mason’s) criminal justice process, from his first encounter with the police all the way through to his parole, was tainted and fairly characterized as racist and racially biased,” Jerry Blackwell, the attorney who wrote the pardon application, told the board. “With nothing but the accusation and claim of innocence by a white woman and her boyfriend.”

The allegation came from a young man who attended the circus with 19-year-old Irene Tusken in June 1920 and who said six workers forced the couple at gunpoint into a ravine and raped Tusken, according to a case summary prepared for the board.

The man did not mention any attack when dropping off Tusken at her parents’ house but related the story to his father the next morning, the summary said.

Several workers, including Mason, were arrested, but neither Tusken nor the young man could identify any of them as alleged attackers, and a family doctor found no evidence of sexual assault of Tusken, the summary said. Mason was allowed to travel to the circus’ next city, but was re-arrested the next day, and eventually identified as an attacker by Tusken and the young man.

Thirteen other men had been jailed, and three — Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie — were dragged from their cells and lynched by a white mob the night of June 15.

Statues boarded up in London as more protests expected

LONDON — Authorities in London boarded up monuments including a war memorial and a statue of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in anticipation of rival demonstrations by anti-racism and far-right protesters, as the city’s mayor urged protesters Friday to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Monuments have become major focuses of contention in demonstrations against racism and police violence after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck.

A statue of slave trader Edward Colston was hauled from its plinth by protesters in the English port city of Bristol on Sunday and dumped in the harbor.

Several other statues have been defaced during mass protests around the country, including Churchill’s, which was daubed with the words “was a racist.” Police now fear far-right groups plan to seek confrontation with anti-racism protesters under the guise of protecting statues.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who cites Churchill as a personal hero, said it was “absurd and shameful” that his statue was “at risk of attack by violent protesters.”

Churchill, who was Britain’s prime minister during World War II and again during 1951-55, is revered by many in the U.K. as the man who led the country to victory against Nazi Germany. But he was also a staunch defender of the British Empire and expressed racist views.

In a series of tweets, Johnson said that Churchill “sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial.”

He said tearing down statues would be to “censor our past” and “lie about our history.”

Johnson also claimed that anti-racism demonstrations had been “hijacked” by “a growing minority” of extremists who wanted to cause violence.

Johnson has repeatedly declined to apologize for his own past offensive statements. He has called Papua New Guineans cannibals, used the derogatory term “piccaninnies” to refer to members of the Commonwealth and compared Muslim women who wear face-covering veils to “letter boxes.”

Read the full story here.

Denver school board votes to remove police from schools

DENVER — Denver Public Schools will phase out its use of police officers in school buildings by the end of the next school year because of concerns about how minority students are treated by the police.

The school board voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of a resolution that requires the number of school resource officers to be reduced by 25 percent by the end of 2020 and completely gone by June 4, 2021. School guards will still provide security t and the money saved by not paying police will be spent on hiring counselors, social workers and staff who specialize in alternative ways of dealing with disciplinary problems.

Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through on a march to call for more oversight of the police on June 7. Associated Press/David Zalubowski

The resolution noted that about 4,500 students were ticketed or arrested by police officers in the district between the 2014-5 and 2018-19 school years in the district, the vast majority of them black or Latino between the ages of 10 and 15. It said most of those cases could have been handled by school officials or community resources instead.

Opponents defended school resource officers who have tried to work with students and said the decision was rushed. The resolution was introduced last week amid police protests but advocates have been pushing for the change for years.

Louisville bans ‘no-knock’ warrants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The use of controversial “no-knock” warrants has been banned in Louisville, and the new ordinance named for Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot after officers burst into her home.

The city’s Metro Council unanimously voted Thursday night to ban the controversial warrants after days of protests and calls for reform.

Taylor, who was studying to become a nurse, was shot eight times by officers conducting a narcotics investigation on March 13. No drugs were found at her home.

“I’m just going to say, Breonna, that’s all she wanted to do was save lives, so with this law she will continue to get to do that,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the law was passed. “She would be so happy.”

The law bans the use of the warrants by Louisville Metro officers. Police typically use them in drug cases over concern that evidence could be destroyed if they announce their arrival. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also introduced federal legislation Thursday that would ban the use of no-knock warrants nationwide.

Columbus statue taken down in Camden, New Jersey

CAMDEN, N.J. — A New Jersey city near Philadelphia has taken down a statue of Christopher Columbus, joining others across the country.

The city of Camden released a statement Thursday evening calling the statue in Farnham Park a “controversial symbol” that has “long pained residents of the community.”

Protesters mobilized by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have called for the removal of statues of Columbus. They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.

Video from local news outlets showed the statue coming down Thursday night. The city’s statement says “a plan to reexamine these outdated symbols of racial division and injustices” is overdue. The majority of Camden residents are people of color.

Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalized in cities such as Miami; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota, and Boston, where one was decapitated.

Charges upgraded for man accused of hitting officers

ATLANTA — Charges have been upgraded against a 42-year-old man accused of deliberately running his ATV into an Atlanta police officer during a protest of police brutality and the death of George Floyd.

In a statement Thursday, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said Avery Goggans, of Stone Mountain, faces new charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Campos said the new charges were filed because Goggans had tried to hit two other officers at different intersections before he rammed into Officer Maximilian Brewer in downtown Atlanta on the night of May 30. Brewer suffered significant injuries to his legs.

Goggans was initially charged with DUI, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and other traffic offenses including serious injury by vehicle, Campos said.

Confederate statues to be removed

HOUSTON — Two statues that pay tribute to the Confederacy will be removed from Houston city parks, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Thursday.

The statue of a Confederate soldier called “Spirit of The Confederacy” will be moved from Sam Houston Park to the Houston Museum of African American Culture. Ann Stern, president of a museum benefactor, says the statue will be able to be interpreted in a way that promotes an inclusive and anti-racist community,

A statue of a Confederate artillery commander prominent in the naval victory against two Union vessels in the Battle of Sabine Pass will be moved from Hermann Park to the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Site near Port Arthur, Texas.

The relocations were recommended by a city task force Turner appointed to consider the issue.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky’s governor has asked a state commission to vote to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol’s Rotunda, a day after another statue of the Confederate president was toppled by protesters in Virginia.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s request comes amid a rapidly unfolding protest movement to pull down Confederate monuments around the U.S. after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minnesota.

The Davis statue is one of several in the Rotunda and is located not far from a bronze likeness of Abraham Lincoln. Both Civil War adversaries were born in Kentucky.

The Democratic governor calls the statue a divisive symbol, saying it has to go, and expects a vote Friday in favor of moving it.

Police chief defends use of tear gas

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans police chief steadfastly defended his department’s use of tear gas against protesters last week and said tried to forcefully cross a police line and cross a Mississippi River bridge.

Under sharp questioning Thursday from New Orleans City Council members, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said from 100 to 200 protesters had tried to force the issue when police blocked passage on an approach to the bridge.

Ferguson said during an online meeting that violence erupted after the protesters tried to break the front line.

The virtual meeting was held as about 300 people gathered outside City Hall for a “Defund the Police” rally.

Police abuse has long resounded in New Orleans, where the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 led to federal investigations and court-ordered reforms.

Chain link fence being removed near White House

WASHINGTON — Workers on Thursday began removing the tall black chain-link fence from the north side of Lafayette Park, allowing access to the historic protest space directly in front of the White House.

A senior member of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s staff tweeted video Thursday afternoon showing the fence being removed in sections. Bowser’s government has repeatedly requested the removal.

The fence was erected late at night on June 1, a few hours after U.S. Park Police and other security forces used smoke bombs, pepper pellets and officers on horseback to violently clear peaceful protesters so President Donald Trump could stage a brief photo opportunity in front of St. John’s, a historic church that had been damaged in the protests.

The fence instantly became a forum for hundreds of signs, portraits and pieces of protest art. Earlier this week volunteers began removing and preserving the artwork and signs.

The National Park Service confirmed the removal of the fencing around the park’s perimeter but said some temporary fencing would remain until damaged areas can be repaired.

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SEATTLE — Police have largely withdrawn from an area of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle that has been transformed into a festival-like scene of murals, street merchants and a rotating group of public speakers.

The “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone” sprung up after police on Monday removed barricades near the East Precinct and basically abandoned the structure after officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bangs over the weekend to disperse demonstrators they said were assaulting them with projectiles during demonstrations in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Across several blocks, dozens of people now show up to listen to speakers calling for police reform, racial justice and compensation for Native American groups on whose land the city was founded.

Boston mayor would consider changing name of Faneuil Hall

BOSTON — Statues and historic sites in Boston that are seen as symbols of oppression are being targeted for change.

Mahtowin Munro, a spokeswoman for United American Indians of New England, said in a statement Thursday that a park with a statue of Christopher Columbus “should be a public place that feels welcoming to everyone in Boston, not a place that is a tribute to a genocidal monster.”

Mayor Marty Walsh told protesters he’s open to at least considering a name change for Faneuil Hall, where rebellious colonists plotted independence from Britain. The meeting hall and its marketplace are major tourist draws and were built with financing from merchant Peter Faneuil, who owned and traded slaves.

Activists are lobbying to have the site renamed to honor Crispus Attucks, a black man widely considered to be the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War. Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition that’s pushing for the name change, calls the building “a symbol of white supremacy.”

Cuomo favors keeping Columbus statue in NYC

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he supports the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands in the middle of Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

Cuomo, who is Italian-American., says he understands “the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support.”

But Cuomo says the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” and for that reason he supports it.

Miami police will stop using chokeholds

MIAMI — The head of Florida’s largest police department says his agency will stop using chokeholds.

Alfredo Ramirez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, says the applied carotid triangle restraint won’t be used, and the decision was based on feedback from the community and policing professionals.

He says: “As a progressive agency, we must remain in a constant state of review and open to emerging best practices and community feedback.”

Demonstrators around the U.S. have been calling for police reforms following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In 2014, Eric Garner died in New York City after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer.

 


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