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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Metro police department has fired one of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, more than three months after the 26-year-old black woman was killed in her home.

A termination letter sent to Officer Brett Hankison released by the city’s police department Tuesday said Hankinson violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment in March. The letter also said Hankison, who is white, violated the rule against using deadly force.

Taylor, who was Black, was shot eight times by officers who burst into her Louisville home using a no-knock warrant during a March 13 narcotics investigation. The warrant to search her home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

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Kevin Peterson, center, founder and executive director of the New Democracy Coalition, displays a placard showing Breonna Taylor as he addresses a rally in Boston on June 9. Brett Hankison, one of the three Louisville officers involved in the shooting, was fired Tuesday. Steven Senne/Associated Press

The no-knock search warrant that allows police to enter without first announcing their presence was recently banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.

The letter said Hankison fired the rounds “without supporting facts” that the deadly force was directed at a person posing an immediate threat.

“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said in the letter. “Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department.”

Read the full story about the firing here.

Rhode Island may change official name to remove slavery connotation

The state of Rhode Island is moving toward changing its official name to remove a portion that connotes slavery.

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Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order that could lead to “and Providence Plantations” being removed from the state’s official name (Rhode Island and Providence Plantations). Kris Craig/Providence Journal via Associated Press

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order that could lead to “and Providence Plantations” being removed from the state’s official name (Rhode Island and Providence Plantations). The official name has come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of global protests over racial injustice spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Under Raimondo’s executive order, the issue will be put on the ballot for the November election.

“I urge the voters to approve the name change in November but will take all measures now that are within my control to eliminate the name from my official communications and those of my executive agencies,” Raimondo said.

The state’s full name will also be removed from state-operated websites, official documents, stationary and other executive orders.

The state seal may also be replaced or redesigned.

The state senate has also passed a resolution to remove “and Providence Plantations” from the official name, but it is unclear when the issue will be put to a vote.

Harold Metts, the state’s only Black senator, introduced the bill.

“Whatever the meaning of the term ‘plantations’ in the context of Rhode Island’s history, it carries a horrific connotation when considering the tragic and racist history of our nation,” Metts told the Providence Journal last week.

Nearly 78 percent of the state’s voters opposed removing the phrase in 2010 when a similar resolution was made a ballot measure, according to the Providence Journal.

Congress stalls on policing overhaul, despite public outcry

WASHINGTON — Congress is hitting an impasse on policing legislation, as Senate Democrats on Tuesday opposed a Republican proposal as inadequate, leaving the parties to decide whether to take on the hard job of negotiating a compromise or walk away despite public outcry over the killings of Black Americans.

The standoff threatens to turn the nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others into another moment that galvanizes the nation but leaves lawmakers unable to act. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows almost all Americans support some degree of criminal justice changes.

“This is a profound moment, it is a moral moment,” said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a co-author of the Democrats’ proposal. “The call is for us to act.”

Yet Congress, as it has so many times before when confronted with crisis — on gun control or immigration changes supported by broad segments of the population — is expected to stall out, for now. Lawmakers are hesitant to make moves upsetting to voters as they campaign for election. And President Donald Trump, facing his own reelection, is an uneven partner with shifting positions on the types of changes he would accept from Capitol Hill.

Ahead of a test vote Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged it may fall short. If so, he vowed to try again, hoping to pass legislation before a July 4 holiday recess.

“It’s sad that this is falling along party lines,” said Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. “I hope that that changes.”

The GOP’s Justice Act would create a national database of police use-of-force incidents, restrict police chokeholds and set up new training procedures. It is not as sweeping as a Democratic proposal, which mandates many of the changes and would hold police liable to damages in lawsuits. The White House says an immunity provision is off the table.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and top Democrats signaled they would oppose the Republican bill as “not salvageable,” as they demand negotiations on a new, bipartisan package with more extensive law enforcement changes and accountability aligned with their own Democratic bill.

The Democratic opposition is being backed by the nation’s leading civil rights organizations and the lawyer, Benjamin Crump, representing the families of Floyd and Taylor, two African Americans whose deaths in police interactions sparked worldwide protests over racial bias in policing.

“The Black community is tired of the lip service,” Crump said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

Mourners bid farewell to Rayshard Brooks at MLK Jr.’s church

ATLANTA — Scores of mourners, some dressed all in white and others wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, filed into the historic Atlanta church that was once the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit for a funeral Tuesday for the Black man whose killing by police in a fast-food parking lot stoked protests across the U.S. against racial injustice.

King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, planned to deliver remarks at the private service, along with a friend of Brooks, his mother-in-law and the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

“Rayshard Brooks wasn’t just running from the police. He was running from a system that makes slaves out of people. A system that doesn’t give ordinary people who’ve made mistakes a second chance, a real shot at redemption,” Warnock, a Democratic candidate for Senate, said in an excerpt of his eulogy released ahead of the service.

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Tomika Miller, wife of Rayshard Brooks, holds their 2-year-old daughter Memory while pausing with her children during the family processional at his funeral in Ebenezer Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 23 in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool

Among those arriving was Stacey Abrams, the former state lawmaker who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive who broke fundraising records during an unsuccessful 2017 run for Congress, was also seen. Some mourners wore T-shirts with Brooks’ picture.

Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back June 12 by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Video showed Brooks snatching a police Taser and firing it at the white officer while running away.

Rolfe, 27, was charged with murder and jailed without bail. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was charged with aggravated assault, accused of stepping on Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying on the pavement. Lawyers for both men said their clients’ actions were justified.

The killing unfolded amid protests and scattered violence set off around the country by the case of George Floyd, the Black man who was pronounced dead May 25 after a white Minneapolis put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.

Atlanta’s police chief stepped down less than 24 hours after Brooks’ death, and the Wendy’s was burned by protesters.

While Brooks was not a member of Ebenezer Baptist, the church where King preached is a “sanctuary for those who suffer,” Warnock said in a statement announcing the funeral plans. Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry offered financial help for the service, according to the statement.

Trump says he’ll issue executive order to protect monuments

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’ll issue an executive order to protect monuments that are coming under new scrutiny as America wrestles with racism during the unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

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The White House is visible behind a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Washington, with the word “Killer” spray painted on its base. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Trump has been clear that he opposes the removal of monuments of leaders of the Confederacy or other distasteful aspects of American history.

Commenting as he departed the White House for a trip to Arizona, Trump said, “I will have an executive order very shortly, and all it’s really going to do is reinforce what’s already there, but in a more uniform way.”

At a time of nationwide protests over racial injustice and inequality, Trump has aligned himself squarely on the side of those who argue that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of eliminating reminders of hated aspects of American history.

Trump had tweeted late Monday that those who tried to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House faced 10 years in prison under the Veterans Memorial Preservation Act.

“Beware,” he tweeted.

Jackson is one of Trump’s favorite presidents.

The federal statute Trump cites subjects anyone who willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States to fines, up to 10 years imprisonment or both.

Minneapolis police union leader says members scapegoated

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll called the bystander video of the death of George Floyd “horrific” while cautioning the public not to rush to judgment.

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In this July 30, 2018 file photo, Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll speaks during a news conference in Minneapolis. Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP

The union has been mostly silent about Floyd’s death since issuing a statement soon after he died on May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes. Kroll said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” he thinks union members are being scapegoated for incompetent department leadership.

Kroll says the union has been denied its right to review officer body-camera video. Union director Rich Walker says “any human being” watching the video knows Floyd’s arrest “should not have ended the way it did.” But Walker questioned statements that Floyd didn’t resist officers because the union hasn’t seen footage of the minutes leading up to the bystander video showed.

Police chief Medaria Arradondo said after Floyd’s death that he’s pausing contract negotiations with the union to consider major changes. Anna Hedberg, another union director, says the union had been having “great conversations” with city leaders and Arradondo before Floyd’s death.

She says it’s “dumbfounding to me that one incident, we become the scapegoat to having a bad officer.”

Ex-officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene are charged with aiding and abetting.

Nearly everyone in U.S. backs criminal justice reform, poll finds

WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly want clear standards for police on when officers may use force and consequences imposed on officers who do so excessively.

That’s according to a new poll from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds Americans favor significant changes to the country’s criminal justice system. Americans are largely united behind the idea that action is required: 40% say it needs “major changes;” 29% think the criminal justice system needs “a complete overhaul” and 25% say it needs “minor changes.” Just 5% believe no changes are necessary.

The poll also finds there is strong support for penalizing officers who engage in racially biased policing. Americans are more likely now than five years ago to say that police violence against the public is a very serious problem and that officers who cause injury or death on the job are treated too leniently.

The survey of American adults took place after weeks of mass demonstrations against police violence and calls from some politicians and activists to “defund” police departments in response to the death of George Floyd.

Read the full story here.

Iowa council unanimously approves anti-profiling ordinance

DES MOINES, Iowa —The Des Moines City Council unanimously approved an anti-racial profiling ordinance that prohibits biased policing and requires city employees to report violations by officers.

Some supporters say the vote Monday night was only a first step and officials need to take additional actions.

The ordinance prohibits discriminatory pretextual stops, in which drivers are stopped for one infraction but charged with a different infraction. Many residents who spoke before the council voted wanted all pretextual stops banned.

The ordinance also mandates additional officer training, requires city employees to report incidents of biased policing they witness and creates a board with community members that helps the city manager review data and make policy recommendations.

Daniel Zeno, policy and advocacy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, says passage of the measure was a good step. He’d also like to see a citizen oversight committee.

For years, advocates have been calling for the council to approve such an ordinance. Officials began working on the new rules following protests of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Another wounded at Seattle protest zone

SEATTLE — Police in Seattle say one person has been wounded in the second shooting in Seattle’s protest zone in less than 48 hours.

The shooting happened late Sunday night in the area near Seattle’s downtown area known as CHOP, for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.” Police tweeted that one person was at a hospital with a gunshot wound. A hospital spokesperson says the person was in serious condition.

A pre-dawn shooting Saturday had left a 19-year-old man dead and another person critically injured. No arrests in that shooting had been made as of Sunday.

The CHOP zone is a several-block area cordoned off by protesters near a police station in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood that evolved after weeks of protests in the city over police brutality and racism, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

NYC officer suspended without pay for chokehold

NEW YORK — A New York City police officer was suspended without pay Sunday after he was recorded putting his arm around a man’s neck in what the police commissioner called an “apparent chokehold.”

The department’s action to suspend the officer was stunning in its swiftness, occurring just hours after the morning confrontation on a beach boardwalk in the Rockaway section of Queens.

A video shot by one of the men involved showed a group of officers tackling a Black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk.

In the video, someone yells, “Stop choking him, bro!” The officer relaxes his grip after a fellow officer taps him and pulls on his shirt.

It was unclear whether the man who was tackled suffered more than superficial injuries. He stood under his own power after he got off the ground and refused to let medics examine him after the incident.

The NYPD has long banned chokeholds. Their use has been especially fraught since the 2014 death of Eric Garner after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd’s killing.

 

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