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

WASHINGTON — The House passed an expansive Democratic-led measure Thursday that would revamp law enforcement practices following the public clamor for change after the death of George Floyd.

The largely party-line vote of 236 to 181 epitomized the polarized debate in recent weeks, despite public polling showing broad support for some restrictions on law enforcement after the high-profile deaths of Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of police. Maine’s Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden voted in favor of the bill.

With the Trump administration threatening a veto, most House Republicans lined up against the Democratic proposal and instead indicated support for a narrower proposal offered by Senate Republicans. Only three Republicans – Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, the lone black GOP House member; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Fred Upton of Michigan – broke ranks and joined Democrats in backing the House bill.

The narrower Republican proposal hit a procedural roadblock Wednesday when Senate Democrats opposed it, leaving Congress at a standstill on an issue that has dominated the public mind-set for the past month. The partisan outcome underscored the election-year struggle in Congress to find consensus despite a national crisis over race and policing that has sparked protests nationwide.

Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, joined by House Democrats spaced for social distancing, speaks during a news conference on the House East Front Steps on Capitol Hill on Thursday, before a House vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

The House bill is named for Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose killing in Minneapolis police custody last month sparked a nationwide outcry and sweeping demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality. Three parents of victims in other cases of police violence that have drawn national attention also threw their support behind the bill Thursday.

The House legislation would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among other initiatives. The bill, which has more than 200 Democratic co-sponsors, contains several provisions that would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct in civil and criminal court.

Read the full story on the passage of the House bill here.

Army is taking limited steps to counter racial divisiveness

WASHINGTON — The Army will take a few limited steps to counter racial divisiveness among its force, but is delaying a number of more contentious decisions, including recommendations on banning Confederate symbols and changing the names of bases.

Ryan McCarthy

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy announced Thursday that beginning in August the service will no longer include soldiers’ photos when soldiers are being considered for promotion. Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced Thursday that beginning in August the service will no longer include soldiers’ photos when soldiers are being considered for promotion. McCarthy and Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, said that they are still reviewing whether to redact the box on the form that identifies a person’s race. Some bits of personal information, such as religion and marital status, are currently redacted.

They said the Army will wait for broader guidance from Defense Secretary Mark Esper on whether to ban the Confederate flag and other symbols. They declined to detail their own recommendations on whether bases named after Confederate leaders should be renamed. McCarthy noted that President Trump has made known his objection to renaming, and the issue is now in Congress’ hands.

The Marine Corps has banned display of the Confederate flag and other similar symbols, saying they can inflame division and weaken unit cohesion.

McCarthy said he has ordered a study into how military justice is meted out, and whether there are disparities based on race. McCarthy said he want a report back in 60 days.

The Navy, which had begun steps to direct the removal of Confederate symbols, has not finalized or put in place the plan. But on Thursday, Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, announced the creation of a task force to examine service policies and “identify and remove racial barriers and improve inclusion within the Navy.”

Army Col. Carl Wojtaszek, who is in the office of manpower analysis, said a study last year showed that promotion boards, which can include between nine and 17 members, show differing results when photos of candidates are available. He said that when the photo is not included, the board members’ scores are more closely aligned, it took them less time to vote on each soldier and “the outcomes for minorities and women improved.”

Calls intensify to remove statues of slave kneeling before Lincoln

Calls are intensifying for the removal of twin Emancipation memorials in Washington, D.C., and Boston that depict a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet — optics that jar and offend many in a nation confronting racial injustice through a fresh lens.

The Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial, was erected in Washington’s Lincoln Park in 1876. Three years later, a copy was installed in Boston, home to the statue’s white creator, Thomas Ball.

Protesters gathered this week to demand the removal of the original in Washington, where the Army activated about 400 unarmed National Guard personnel ahead of calls circulating on social media to tear it down Thursday evening.

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A statue in Boston depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln’s feet. It’s a copy of the Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman’s Memorial, that was erected in Lincoln Park, in Washington, D.C., in 1876. Calls are intensifying to remove the statues. Steven Senne/Associated Press

And in Boston, where a petition is circulating for the copy to be taken down, the city’s arts commission is holding public hearings Thursday and next Tuesday to discuss its fate.

What originally was intended in 1876 to celebrate liberation, critics contend, looks more like subservience and supremacy in 2020.

“I’ve been watching this man on his knees since I was a kid,” said Tory Bullock, a Black actor and activist leading the campaign to get the Boston memorial removed.

“It’s supposed to represent freedom but instead represents us still beneath someone else. I would always ask myself, “If he’s free, why is he still on his knees?’” Bullock said.

The memorial has been on Boston’s radar at least since 2018, when it launched a comprehensive review of whether public sculptures, monuments and other artworks reflected the city’s diversity and didn’t offend communities of color. The Boston Art Commission said it was paying extra attention to works with “problematic histories.”

Black donors paid for the original in Washington; white politician and circus showman Moses Kimball financed the copy on a downtown square a block away from Boston Common. The inscription on both reads: “A race set free and the country at peace. Lincoln rests from his labors.”

But Black residents weren’t part of the design process, and the memorial’s central visual takeaway — a Black man with broken shackles kneeling before his white savior, with a whipping post and chains in the background — has had people cringing for years.

“How can you say you care about Black lives and then leave a statue up for decades that actually promotes a disgusting and demeaning image of those very lives?” asked Lilian McCarthy, among more than 12,000 people who signed Bullock’s petition.

NYPD officer charged with using banned chokehold

NEW YORK — Moving swiftly amid a global furor over police misconduct, New York City prosecutors on Thursday filed criminal charges against an officer caught on video putting a Black man in what they said was a banned chokehold.

Officer David Afanador, 39, was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on strangulation and attempted strangulation charges stemming from the confrontation Sunday on a Queens beach boardwalk.

It is the second time Afanador has faced criminal charges for alleged brutality in 15 years on the police force. In 2016, he was acquitted on charges he pistol-whipped a teen suspect and broke two of his teeth.

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Photo taken from police body cam video showing NYPD officers arrest a man on a boardwalk on June 21. The NYPD says officer David Afanador was arrested Thursday on charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation over the incident last weekend on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk. NYPD via Associated Press

Afanador’s lawyer said his client was facing a rush to judgment in the wake of protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and public pressure to hold police officers accountable for alleged misconduct. Floyd was killed a month to the day before Afanador’s arrest.

“It’s become fashionable for prosecutors to make summary arrests of police officers without a full and thorough investigation,” lawyer Stephen Worth said in an email. “The concept of due process seems to go out the window.”

The NYPD suspended Afanador without pay after cellphone video surfaced showing officers tackling 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue and Afanador putting his arm around Bellevue’s neck as he lay face down on the boardwalk.

Body camera footage released Sunday night by police showed that for at least 11 minutes before Bellevue was tackled, he and two other men — one of whom shot the cellphone video — were shouting insults at officers, who implored them to walk away.

After suspending Afanador, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Monday that the officers had acted with “extreme restraint” and that the men taunting with sometimes foul language should also be condemned.

“But at the end of that story, an officer, put his hand around a person’s neck, and that (officer) was dealt with swiftly and was suspended,” Shea said.

Black Americans say racism, policing top issues for November, poll finds

Black Americans say racism and police conduct are the most important issues in their choice of candidates for president, are sharply critical of President Donald Trump on both matters and see increasingly high stakes in the outcome of November’s election, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll finds.

Former vice president Joe Biden currently leads Trump by a not-unexpectedly lopsided margin among Black registered voters, 92% to 5%. His supporters are about evenly split on whether they are casting an affirmative or negative vote, with roughly half saying they mainly “support Biden” and the other half saying they mainly “oppose Trump.”

Despite the overwhelming support he enjoys, Biden faces clear challenges in mobilizing younger Black adults. This is a group that strongly disapproves of Trump but is also notably less enthusiastic about voting at all and is generally more critical of Biden than are older Black adults. While 87% of black seniors say Biden is sympathetic to the problems of Black people in America, that drops to 66% among those under age 40.

Black Americans are evenly divided on the question of whether Biden, who has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate, should take an extra step and select a Black woman. The poll finds that 50% say it is very or fairly important to them that he do so, while 49% say it is not. The choice of a black female running mate matters more to Black women under age 40 than to those 40 and older.

“Joe Biden is cool but it would be great to have someone who can counter his perspectives on a lot of things,” said Willa Ivory, a 31-year-old social worker who lives in New York City and who mentioned former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as a possibility.

“In order for Biden to get the Black vote, he needs to pick somebody Black because I think a lot of people are going to sit the election out if they don’t like the vice president,” said C Northern, a 39-year-old training analyst in Sacramento, who asked that her first name not be used.

The Post-Ipsos poll finds strong interest in the election among Black adults overall, with nearly 3 in 4 saying they are “absolutely certain to vote.” That is on par with voting interest among whites and ahead of Hispanics. Separately, 71% of Black Americans say the outcome of the balloting matters “a great deal” to them, up sharply from 60% who said this in January in a previous Post-Ipsos poll.

Enthusiasm to vote in November is less strong among Black adults under age 40. Among this group, 61% say they are certain to vote, while 59% say the election result matters “a great deal.”

Read the full story here.

Racial equality groups grapple with surge in donations

NEW YORK — A flood of donations following the death of George Floyd has left racial equality and social justice groups in a position they might never have expected to be in: figuring out what to do with a surplus of cash.

Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes, has spurred global protests and a wider reckoning of police brutality and racism in the U.S., as well as a public clamoring to offer financial support to address those issues.

The donations have come from all corners of the U.S. and the globe, including from prominent celebrities and huge companies as well as individual donors putting up anywhere between a few dollars to hundreds of millions.

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People raise their fists during a rally June 5 in Las Vegas against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd. A flood of donations during the surge of global protests following the death of Floyd have left racial equality and social justice groups in a position they might never have expected: figuring out what to do with a surplus of cash. Associated Press/John Locher

“Both individuals like Michael Jordan and corporations like Google across America are making much bigger commitments than they have in the past,” said Melissa Berman, President & CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “They are also increasingly willing to name the problem as racism and not use euphemisms.”

At the same time, GoFundMe sites have generated millions in donations, mostly made up of very small dollar amounts from a large number of people. A GoFundMe for the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot while jogging, has raised nearly $2 million from more than 60,000 donors. A fund for Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her home by police, has raised more than $6 million from more than 200,000 donors. And Floyd’s GoFundMe site had raised $14.5 million from more than 500,000 donations from 140 countries.

There have been $2 billion in racial equity pledges and commitments since May 25, 2020. By contrast for the whole calendar year 2019, donations in the same category totaled $166.4 million. That’s according to Candid, a nonprofit which tracks donations.

Read the full story on donations to racial equality groups here.

Three men indicted on murder charges in killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia

ATLANTA — A prosecutor on Wednesday announced that three men have been indicted on murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia.

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A recently painted mural of Ahmaud Arbery is on display in Brunswick, Ga., where the 25-year-old man was shot and killed in February. It was painted by Miami artist Marvin Weeks. Sarah Blake Morgan/Associated Press

Speaking to reporters outside the Glynn County courthouse, prosecutor Joyette Holmes said a grand jury has indicted Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. on charges including malice and felony murder in the death of the African American man.

“This is another positive step, another great step for finding justice for Ahmaud, for finding justice for this family and the community beyond,” Holmes said during the news conference, which was streamed online by news outlets.

Lawyers for the McMichaels have cautioned against a rush to judgment and have said the full story will come out in court. A lawyer for Bryan has maintained that his client was merely a witness.

Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when the Greg and Travis McMichael, a white father and son, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Arbery attacked his son before being shot.

Bryan lives in the same subdivision, just outside the port city of Brunswick. Bryan said he saw the McMichaels driving by and joined the chase, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified earlier this month.

It wasn’t until May 7 — two days after Bryan’s cellphone video leaked online and stirred a national outcry — that the McMichaels were arrested. Bryan was arrested on May 22, and an arrest warrant said he tried “to confine and detain” Arbery without legal authority by “utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions” before Arbery was shot.

In addition to malice murder and felony murder charges, the McMichaels and Bryan each are charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Read the full story about the indictments here.

Boston approves ban on facial recognition technology

BOSTON — The Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a ban on the use of facial recognition technology by city government.

The move makes Boston the second-largest U.S. city after San Francisco to enact a ban. The city joins several other Massachusetts communities that passed similar bans, including Cambridge, Springfield, Northampton, Brookline and Somerville.

“Boston should not use racially discriminatory technology that threatens the privacy and basic rights of our residents,” At-Large Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “Community trust is the foundation for public safety and public health.”

The push against the technology is being driven both by privacy concerns and after several studies have shown current face-recognition systems are more likely to err when identifying people with darker skin.

“While face surveillance is a danger to all people, no matter the color of their skin, the technology is a particularly serious threat to Black and brown people,” Councilor Ricardo Arroyo said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Massachusetts has been pushing a bill on Beacon Hill that aims to establish a statewide moratorium on the government use of facial surveillance and other remote biometric screening technologies until the Legislature imposes checks and balances to protect the public’s interest.

The Boston measure is now sent to Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh’s desk. If he takes no action in 15 days, it will automatically become law.


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