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

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to bar police from using tear gas, pepper spray and several other crowd control devices after officers repeatedly used them on mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting racism and police brutality.

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People walk near tents that make up the “No Cop Co-op” Monday inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Associated Press/Ted S. Warren

The 9-0 vote Monday came amid frustration with the Seattle Police Department, which used tear gas to disperse protesters in the city’s densest neighborhood, Capitol Hill, just days after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best promised not to. The council heard repeated complaints from residents forced out of their homes by the gas even though they weren’t protesting; one resident said his wife doused their child’s eyes with breast milk.

A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary order banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray, foam-tipped projectiles or other force against protesters, finding that the department had used less-lethal weapons “disproportionately and without provocation,” chilling free speech in the process.

Socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant, who sponsored the legislation, said the police department had demonstrated it could not be trusted with the weapons.

“Many of us have witnessed it; many of us have experienced it,” Sawant said. “They falsely claimed that the protesters were violent rioters and that they had no alternative. … They even attempted to maintain those lies in the face of videos showing the police were the source – and the sole source – of the violence.”

Read the full story on the Seattle council’s action here.

‘When does it stop?’ Slain man’s family makes tearful plea

ATLANTA — Pleading through tears Monday, the family of a black man killed by Atlanta police outside a drive-thru demanded changes in the criminal justice system and called on protesters to refrain from violence amid heightened tensions across the U.S. three weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

An autopsy found that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him at a fast food restaurant for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers and grabbing a stun gun from one of them.

“Not only are we hurt, we are angry,” said Chassidy Evans, Brooks’ niece. “When does it stop? We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change.”

About 20 of Brooks’ children, siblings, cousins and other family members sobbed at a news conference as more than 1,000 people gathered not far away at an NAACP-led protest outside the Georgia Capitol.

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Family members of Rayshard Brooks attend a news conference on Monday in Atlanta. Tomika Miller, Brooks’ widow, asked those demonstrating to “keep the protesting peaceful,” saying: “We want to keep his name positive and great.” Ron Harris/Associated Press

Floyd’s death May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into the black man’s neck touched off demonstrations and scattered violence across the U.S., and Brooks’ killing rekindled those protests in Atlanta. The Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot was burned down over the weekend.

Evans said there was no reason for her uncle “to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive-thru.”

“Rayshard has a family who loves him who would have gladly come and got him so he would be here with us today,” she said.

Relatives described Brooks as a loving father of three daughters and a stepson who had a bright smile and a big heart and loved to dance. His oldest daughter learned her father was slain while celebrating her eighth birthday with cupcakes and friends, wearing a special dress as she waited for Brooks to take her skating, said Justin Miller, an attorney for the family.

“There’s no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what’s been done,” said Tomika Miller, Brooks’ widow. “I can never get my husband back. … I can never tell my daughter he’s coming to take you skating or for swimming lessons.”

Read the full story about the Atlanta killing of Rayshard Brooks here.

Protesters make their point with viral video clips

Citizen footage has played a role in previous protest movements: Rodney King’s violent arrest in Los Angeles in 1991 was filmed by a man on his nearby balcony with a camcorder, and images posted to social media were crucial to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.

But the Black Lives Matter movement has been different. Bystander video sparked it, with cellphone-bearing citizens capturing the killings of Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, George Floyd and others. While those high-profile clips showed the extremes of police brutality, the ubiquity of smart phones during nationwide protests in recent weeks has provided a window into protesters’ interactions with officers unimaginable to past generations of Americans.

Some of the weeks’ most jarring videos have been shot by traditional news media, like two Buffalo police officers shoving peace activist Martin Gugino. Many non-TV journalists have used the camera apps on their smart phones, too.

But for every encounter captured by reporters, dozens more have been uploaded to social media by protesters and onlookers themselves. Among the most notable: a Philadelphia police officer striking a Temple University student in the head and neck with a metal baton, and a New York City officer shoving a woman to the ground and cursing at her. Both officers are facing charges only after recordings filmed by citizens went viral.

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People record speakers and the crowd during a Caribbean-led Black Lives Matter rally at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza on Sunday in New York. Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Camera phones are allowing protesters to tell their own stories, whether it be through photos or videos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or via livestreaming apps like Periscope. Every demonstration in the world is being documented, from New York and London all the way to Holland, Arkansas — population roughly 550. Documentary filmmakers have been out collecting footage, too.

Yet, what is resonating most now are videos that offer evidence of police aggression that’s helping to disprove police claims and show some Americans a side of law enforcement that black communities have been complaining about for decades.

“The only way those folks are ever going to change their mind is to just be overwhelmed with so much evidence that they can’t really deny it anymore,” said criminal defense and First Amendment lawyer T. Greg Doucette.

Read the full story about the role of video and audio clips here.

Vehicles hitting protesters raise disturbing echoes of 2017 Charlottesville killing

Emily Bloom said she barely had time to dive to safety before a gray Kia with its engine revving was driven through the intersection where she had stood moments earlier in downtown Gainesville, Fla., protesting police brutality.

While marching with fellow protesters in the Richmond, Va., suburb of Lakeside, Rachel Kurtz said she, her husband and her 11-year-old son had to leap to the sidewalk and out of the path of a blue pickup truck.

In the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Dan Gregory fell to the ground, shot in the shoulder, after he said he attempted to stop a black Honda Civic headed toward a group of protesters. And in front of the Bakersfield Police Department in California, Lexi Colebrook said she watched in horror as an SUV hit her friend, who managed to stumble toward the sidewalk and escape serious injury.

The incidents are among at least 19 cases in the past few weeks in which witnesses or police say civilian vehicles were driven through massive demonstrations after the May 25 death of George Floyd, who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes.

In at least eight of the events, a driver faces charges for what prosecutors described as a deliberate act, according to arrest and court filings.

Dan Gregory, 27, was shot as he tried to stop the driver of a car headed toward protesters on June 7 in Seattle, according to prosecutors. The driver has been charged with assault, court files show. Photo by Stuart Isett for The Washington Post.

That includes the event in Richmond, where prosecutors say the driver sought to intimidate protesters with his truck and hit one demonstrator’s bicycle, running over the cyclist’s foot. According to court documents, the driver told police he is a high-ranking official of the Ku Klux Klan.

In Illinois, a motorcyclist was charged with hate crimes and aggravated battery after police said he plowed into a demonstration in Bloomington.

The accusations echo the 2017 vehicle attack at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that killed Heather Heyer, a counterprotester. And they occur amid a resurgence of internet memes featuring messages such as “All lives splatter” and “Run them over” and pictures of bloodied trucks.

“To me, this is a pattern beyond coincidence,” said Jacob Stoil, an expert on military history and irregular warfare who is an assistant professor at the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. “We’ve now seen a pretty steady stream of it.” Stoil, who emphasized he was speaking about his personal research and not on behalf of the Army or any institution, added, “My research would suggest that this is a cluster, and a growing cluster.”

Shared in numerous instances by right-wing activists and some members of law enforcement, the social media messages at times seem to encourage attacks, using phrases such as “Run ’em all over” and “Get the protester plow.” Others put the onus on protesters to get out of the way, such as when commentator Steven Crowder recently tweeted: “Charge or block a vehicle and break the windshield with the driver still in it? Congratulations! You are now a speed bump!”

Read the full story here.

Police fire tear gas, pepper spray in standoff with Richmond protesters

RICHMOND – Police fired tear gas at protesters in Virginia’s state capital early Monday after an hours-long standoff sparked by an incident in which a city police vehicle struck several demonstrators on Saturday night.

At least one person was thought to have been taken into custody during the standoff.

The confrontation began Sunday, shortly before 10 p.m. outside Richmond police headquarters on Grace Street. A crowd of some 300 protesters, many dressed in black with black head and face coverings, converged in a parking lot across the street from the building.

They confronted several dozen officers in riot gear, standing in a line along the block and holding clear shields. An armored vehicle was behind the police in the entrance to the building’s parking garage. Several officers looked down from the roof. City dump trucks had been stationed at either end of the block to seal it off to traffic.

Almost immediately, the officers put on gas masks. Soon a helicopter was circling overhead, aiming a spotlight onto the crowd.

The protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “no justice, no peace,” while several stood close to the officers yelling profanities and shining lights in their faces. Some protesters carried knives on their hips; one had a samurai sword in a sheath.

The police wore body armor, carried rifles and kept their hands on what appeared to be cans of pepper spray. They were from both city and state police, joined later by Henrico County police.

One protester, a recent law school graduate, said she was pepper-sprayed for trying to record the badge numbers of officers.

UK’s Johnson creates anti-racism panel; critics want more

LONDON  — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will establish a commission to look at racial equality in the U.K., a move that comes after two weeks of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Opponents accused the Conservative government of opting for talk rather than action.

Writing in Monday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said the body would look at “all aspects of inequality — in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life.”

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Protesters gather in Leeds, England, Sunday June 14, during a protest by Black Voices Matter. Danny Lawson/PA via AP

“What I really want to do as prime minister is change the narrative, so we stop the sense of victimization and discrimination,” he wrote. “We stamp out racism and we start to have a real sense of expectation of success. That’s where I want to get to but it won’t be easy.”

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in hundreds of demonstrations across the U.K. since Floyd was killed on May 25, demanding that Britain confront its own history of imperialism and racial inequality.

Johnson has repeatedly been accused over the years of making racist or offensive statements for which he has declined to apologize. 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.”

Johnson said the new body would investigate “discrimination in the education system, in health, in the criminal justice system,“ but gave few other details.

Read the full story here.

Interfaith group holds vigil outside St. John’s

A group of interfaith leaders held a prayer vigil Sunday outside St. John’s Church near the White House, where President Donald Trump held a June 1 appearance that sparked criticism after protesters were forcibly cleared from the area.

The faith leaders, representing multiple Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths, addressed a crowd of several dozen at the edge of the recently named Black Lives Matter Plaza with a message of racial justice.

“The government stands under God’s judgment, and must therefore be held accountable for protecting the innocent, guaranteeing basic freedoms and liberties, and establishing justice and equality,” said Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Among the speakers at St. John’s was Rev. William Barber, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign movement on behalf of lower-income Americans, who also addressed Sunday services at the Washington National Cathedral.

Mother of Trayvon Martin joins hundreds of demonstrators at Miami rally

MIAMI — The mother of Trayvon Martin joined hundreds of demonstrators at a rally in downtown Miami on Sunday, demanding racial equality following the death of George Floyd last month at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota.

Sybrina Fulton joined the demonstrators who carried signs that read “Stop Killing Us” and “We Are All Equal” at the Torch of Friendship, a 60-year-old monument erected as a welcoming beacon to the city’s Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. The protest organized by several churches was one of several across Florida on Sunday.

Fulton’s unarmed son, Trayon Martin, was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, while walking back from a central Florida convenience store in 2012. The teen’s killing helped plant the seeds of the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.

Fulton is currently running for a seat on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

At one point, demonstrators lined up U.S. flags that spelled out “RESIST” on a blocked-off downtown street.

Nearby at a separate protest, dozens of police supporters waved flags and chanted “We support the police!” at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. At one point, about three dozen officers on bikes rode by the protesters and gave high-fives to supporters who applauded and took photos.

Statues, Atlanta shooting new focal point of U.S. protests

A makeshift memorial popped up Sunday at a fast-food restaurant where a black man was fatally shot by a white Atlanta police officer, one of the latest deaths of black men that have ignited a new wave of anti-racism protests across the country.

Early Sunday, Atlanta police announced that an officer, Garrett Rolfe, had been fired following the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks, 27, on Friday night, and another officer, Devin Brosnan, had been placed on administrative duty.

Roughly 150 protesters marched outside the Wendy’s restaurant outside where Brooks was shot, reigniting demonstrations that had largely simmered in the Georgia capital nearly three weeks after George Floyd, another black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck. Both Rolfe and Brosnan are white.

Atlanta police said Sunday that 36 people had been arrested in connection with the protests, but gave no further details.

Meanwhile, the rapidly unfolding movement to take down Confederate statues in the U.S. grew over the weekend.

Read the story here.

At least 7 Minneapolis police officers have quit, 7 in process of resigning

At least seven Minneapolis police officers have quit and another seven are in the process of resigning, citing a lack of support from department and city leaders as protests over George Floyd’s death escalated.

Current and former officers told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that officers are upset with Mayor Jacob Frey’s decision to abandon the Third Precinct station during the protests.

Demonstrators set the building on fire after officers left. Protesters also have hurled bricks and insults at officers, numerous officers and protesters have been injured and the state has launched a civil rights investigation into the department.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar told CNN on Sunday that the department is “rotten to the root.”

Mylan Masson, a retired Minneapolis officer and use-of-force expert, says officers don’t feel appreciated.

Thousands join in Sunday prayer and protest in front of White House

WASHINGTON – Black Lives Matter Plaza was turned into a church Sunday morning, with thousands of mostly African American churchgoers praying, protesting and dancing near the White House after marching from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The prayer march, vigil and rally were organized by regional NAACP branches and Alexandria’s historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, which has roots in the time of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

It was one of the largest faith-based events in the more than two weeks of protests that have consumed the nation’s capital since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May, and it was the first big public event organized by black clergy. Organizers said that was due to extra caution in the African American community, which has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds march from the National Museum of African American History & Culture to Black Lives Matter Plaza across the street from the White House as part of, Prayer Walk for Peace & Justice, organized by Alfred Street Baptist Church and the NAACP on June 14. Photo for The Washington Post by Oliver Contreras

 

“Mask Required! Safe Social Distancing Enforced,” organizers instructed beforehand, and the march and rally were patrolled by marshals monitoring safety. Demonstrators were spaced out in rows, and organizers frequently paused the flow of marchers to keep buffers between them. People bunched up in places, but for the most part wore masks, including many with African-style patterns.

Alfred Street Pastor Howard-John Wesley said he and other clergy were also waiting for an event infused with prayer – and safety. The Trump administration forcibly removed protesters from the area near Lafayette Square on June 1, ahead of President Donald Trump’s photo opportunity at a historic church. On Sunday, that show of federal force was replaced with prayer.

“We were waiting for a call for something not just incensed with anger but something that integrated our faith,” Wesley said. “We wanted to carve out something safe for teens – I was scared to let them come downtown. We wanted to teach them about protesting peacefully.”

And on Sunday that is what they found.

“It’s not rage or anger. God is here and that’s hopeful,” he said.

Many marchers taking part in what was organized as a “prayer walk” emphasized the need for activism steeped in prayer. They cited the famous scripture from the Book of James: “Faith without works is dead.”

Walking up 15th Street NW, they paused at stations where people could pause to pray – for “affordable health care,” for “victims of police brutality,” for “the courage to speak truth to power.” They also chanted the names of people killed by police and spoke of daily affronts.


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