National Protests : Show of force from law enforcement in Washington
WASHINGTON — Military police and law enforcement officers from a variety of federal agencies were out in force as demonstrators in the nation’s capital protested the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
A senior Defense official said at least 2,200 Guard members would be on the streets Wednesday.
The law enforcement officers formed a ring around the perimeter of Lafayette Park across from the White House. Military vehicles were parked on nearby streets, also blocking access.
The South Carolina and Utah National Guards had forces there. Bureau of Prisons personnel wore blue uniforms. There were also agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI hostage rescue team and the Secret Service.
Washington’s mayor set an 11 p.m. curfew in the city after earlier restrictions the previous two nights.
LIBERTY, Mo. — Civil rights organizations on Wednesday called for the resignation of Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, hours after a group of mostly black pastors demanded changes to improve relations between police and the city’s minority community.
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the NAACP’s Kansas City, Missouri branch, and More2 said in a statement that Smith should resign because of his handling of excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings of black men.
"Since November 2019, our Civil Rights organizations, in collaboration with faith and community leaders, have become increasingly appalled and very much concerned about Chief Smith’s questionable leadership of the Kansas City Police Department," the coalition said in a statement.
The group also criticized the city’s Board of Police Commissioners for allowing Smith to conduct internal investigations of officer-involved shootings and complaints of excessive force rather than calling in independent investigators.
The police department should be under local control, officers must be required to wear body cameras and the city must dismantle the Office of Community Complaints, which has been criticized as ineffectual, the coalition said.
A group of mostly black religious leaders made similar demands earlier Wednesday, but without calling for Smith’s resignation.
Emanual Cleaver III, pastor at St. James United Methodist Church, said the pastors believed it was necessary to seek change because: "What happened to George Floyd was nothing new." He said pastors "will take action" if the city doesn’t respond, though he declined to elaborate.
Public relations officers for the department did not immediately respond to the demand that Smith resign.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office was reviewing video of Kansas City police officers who pepper-sprayed two protesters and arrested one who was yelling at police during protests Monday night.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said Tuesday that he reviewed videos that had been sent to him from people concerned about police actions, and asked the FBI and federal prosecutors to review any that might violate procedures or show misconduct.
Kansas City has endured five days of protests over Floyd’s death while in police custody May 25 in Minneapolis. Peaceful daytime demonstrations devolved into violence. Police used tear gas on protesters for the first four nights before relative calm returned Tuesday night.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The police department in North Carolina’s largest city is coming under criticism after a video posted to social media appeared to show officers using chemical agents on demonstrators who were boxed in while protesting the death of George Floyd.
The video was recorded Tuesday night by Justin LaFrancois, co-founder and publisher of the alternative Charlotte newspaper Queen City Nerve. He said officers fired tear gas and flash-bangs from behind the protesters, and in front of them as well. He also said officers perched on top of buildings were firing pepper balls down on the crowd.
"We were completely trapped," LaFrancois said. "There was one way to get out, and half of the group did go out that way through the tear gas and through the pepper balls. But for the rest of us, the only route of escape … was to pull up a gate on the parking structure that we were pressed up against."
LaFrancois said people tried to squeeze under the 6-inch opening in the gate and find safety. But as those people looked for an exit from the parking deck, he said officers began firing pepper balls after they entered the deck from the other side.
"They were relentless in not allowing us to leave the area that they were trying to get us to leave," LaFrancois said. "It was the most extreme action that I had seen taken. It was the first time that I was actually in fear for my life."
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said on Twitter they are looking into the incident.
"We are internally reviewing the circumstances that developed this evening on 4th Street to ensure policy and protocol were followed," the police department tweeted Tuesday.
SAN FRANCISCO — A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers who thought a hammer he was carrying in his waistband was a firearm, police said Wednesday.
Details of the shooting were revealed even as some California counties and cities began plans to end curfews after days of largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco is the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement related to smash-and-grabs and protests in California since Floyd’s death. Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls of looting at a Walgreens early Tuesday when the shooting occurred.
Officers said Monterrosa began running toward a car when he suddenly stopped, got on his knees and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a firearm in his waistband. An officer shot five times through a car window, striking him once.
"The intent was to stop the looting and arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat," Williams said.
John Burris, an attorney for the family, said he is appalled police would shoot at a person who was on his knees with his hands raised.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro railed against President Donald Trump while expressing solidarity with the family of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis has sparked protests and street violence across the United States.
Maduro on Wednesday accused Trump of turning the U.S. military against his own people. He spoke on state TV at a ceremony decorating Venezuelan soldiers credited with fending off a recent attack that the socialist leader blames on Trump.
Maduro also extended Venezuela’s solidarity with blacks and young people in the U.S. He says they are taking to the streets demanding an end to racism and police violence.
The White House has launched a campaign to oust Maduro. The U.S. and other nations as well as human rights groups condemn Maduro for employing brutal force and torture to silence Venezuelans who oppose the socialist government.
MINNEAPOLIS — The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sent a national response team to Minneapolis and St. Paul to help investigate fires set during unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Local and state authorities requested the team’s help in investigating about 100 business fires in Minneapolis and about 35 in St. Paul.
Special Agent in Charge William Henderson of the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division said in a statement Wednesday "the cause of these fires is quite obvious. The task at hand now is to determine who is responsible."
The team arrived earlier this week.
SEATTLE — A sea of protesters packed streets in Seattle on Wednesday in a sixth straight day of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd.
By mid-afternoon thousands had descended upon City Hall, where police holding batons formed lines behind metal barricades. The demonstrators carried "Black Lives Matter" signs and called for cutting the police department’s budget and shifting the money to social programs. They chanted for officers to remove their riot gear and knelt or sat together as they surrounded the building.
There’s been increasing criticism of the repeated use of tear gas and flash-bangs by Seattle police to disperse mostly peaceful crowds.
Mayor Jenny Durkan met with protest leaders in City Hall before meeting with demonstrators outside for a second straight day. City Attorney Peter Holmes noted that citizens had filed some 12,000 complaints over the police department’s handling of the protests.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters are marching in the nation’s capital, unswayed by the additional charges lodged against Minneapolis police officers in connection with the death of George Floyd.
They passed block after block of storefronts covered in plywood and side streets blocked by police, soldiers and federal agents. As they marched, protesters chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets.” and “No justice, no peace.”
People ferried supplies of water and free snacks to demonstrators, who included people with young kids in strollers but were mostly young adults.
Some tried to engage troops blocking the streets around the White House, calling out to them and telling them to quit their jobs. The troops stayed silent..
PARIS, Texas — A member of a Texas city council has resigned under fire over a social media response he made to a protest of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
Paris City Council member Benny Plata submitted his resignation at a special meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Steve Clifford called the meeting to censure Plata after the council member messaged a protester, “Why don’t you leave America if it’s so bad,” The Paris News reported.
Plata said he really cares about the city and was responding to one person berating America.
Paris is a city of about 25,000 residents about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Dallas.
PHILADELPHIA — Explosions have hit 50 cash machines in and near Philadelphia since the weekend in a coordinated effort to steal them or take the money inside, authorities said Wednesday.
A 25-year-old who’s accused of selling homemade dynamite on the streets with instructions on how to use it on ATMs has been arrested, though authorities aren’t yet sure whether the man is connected to the coordinated effort, the state attorney general said.
One theft resulted in the death of a 24-year-old man hours after he tried to break into an ATM early Tuesday, authorities said.
More than a thousand people demonstrated peacefully for several hours on Tuesday night in Philadelphia to protest the killing of George Floyd. Cash machines in other cities also have been stolen from or damaged since civil unrest struck the nation after Floyd died on Memorial Day.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday thanked the people of his state for holding peaceful demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, avoiding the violence and property damage seen in other parts of the country.
Edwards said "almost without exception, every single person who’s shown up to protest and demonstrated has done so in a way that is an appropriate expression of their concerns about this."
The Democratic governor said he doesn’t expect to use the Louisiana National Guard to assist local and state police in their response to the future Floyd protests.
BLACKDUCK, Minn. — The mayor of a small northern Minnesota town has resigned after a Facebook post appearing to support running over protesters.
The Star Tribune reports Blackduck, Minnesota, Mayor Rudy Patch resigned Monday and deleted his post.
Patch had shared a meme showing an apparently bloody Jeep with the caption, "I don’t know what you mean by protesters on the freeway. I came through no problem."
Patch said in his resignation letter he was making a misguided attempt to show how dangerous protesting on a highway could be. He wrote it was never his intention to support running over protesters.
A tanker truck drove into a large crowd of marchers protesting the death of George Floyd near downtown Minneapolis on Sunday night. Nobody was seriously injured and the driver was not charged.
WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters in the nation’s capital knelt and sang "Amazing Grace" on Wednesday, the sixth night of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
"We are not going anywhere," the protesters chanted.
As the protesters sang and chanted, law enforcement officers in riot gear stood watching over the crowd, which stretched down 16th Street near the White House.
The crowd knelt silently as the time neared for a virtual town hall by former President Barack Obama to discuss Floyd’s death, policing and the protests that have engulfed the country.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed an 11 p.m. curfew after a peaceful night of protests. The curfew then had been 7 p.m.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans for the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The governor will direct the statue to be moved off its pedestal and put into storage while his administration seeks input on a new location, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak before the governor’s announcement.
The announcement is expected Thursday and comes amid turmoil worldwide over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving.
Floyd’s death has sparked outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted a new wave of Confederate memorial removals.
The Lee statue is one of five Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. It’s been the target of vandalism during protests in recent days over Floyd’s death.
NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city has taken a "step forward" in restoring order with the help of an early curfew.
There was much less widespread plundering of stores Tuesday night amid a huge police presence. The citywide curfew continues from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. this week, imposed to prevent the nighttime chaos and destruction that followed peaceful protests for several days in a row.
De Blasio condemned police for roughing up journalists covering the protests, including two from The Associated Press. Police say they arrested about 280 people on protest-related charges Tuesday, compared with 700 the previous night.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was critical of the prior police response, says the city was "much better" and officers were better equipped to keep the peace.
ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter called Wednesday for Americans in positions of power and influence to fight racial injustice, saying "silence can be as deadly as violence."
The 95-year-old former president issued a statement through the Atlanta-based Carter Center to address the angry and sometimes violent protests that have roiled the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said his decades working to improve human rights worldwide have taught him that people of influence can’t remain silent.
Carter made no direct mention of President Donald Trump’s handling of the protests and the racial unrest that has fueled them. But he said: "We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this."
Carter noted he had declared "the time for racial discrimination is over" during his 1971 inauguration speech as Georgia’s governor, and bemoaned that he’s repeating those words almost 50 years later.
OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska prosecutor who declined to bring felony charges against a white business owner for fatally shooting an unarmed black man during recent civil unrest in downtown Omaha has decided to call for a grand jury review of the case.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said in a news conference Wednesday that he’ll petition the court to call a grand jury to determine whether bar owner Jake Gardner should face felony charges in the Saturday night shooting death of 22-year-old James Scurlock. Kleine said he would also turn the case over to a special prosecutor.
On Monday, Kleine announced he would not charge Gardner with a felony in the case after reviewing video of and witness statements regarding the altercation, saying he believed Gardner acted in self-defense.
Kleine said his call for a grand jury was made in the interest of transparency after meeting with community leaders.
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County has ordered another overnight curfew, but it will be four hours shorter.
The curfew will begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday and end at 5 a.m. Thursday. Previous curfews ran from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
A county statement says officials are assessing public safety needs on a daily basis.
A few municipalities in the sprawling county continue to have stricter curfews. Huge demonstrations in Los Angeles on Tuesday were peaceful, and subsequent arrests were only for curfew violations.
DETROIT — Another 127 people were arrested Tuesday night during protests in Detroit, Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday.
Most of the arrests were for violating the city’s curfew. At least one person was charged with misdemeanor resisting police or disturbing the peace. Of those arrested, Craig said 80 live outside the city and six show addresses in Maryland, California, Washington D.C., and New York.
Dozens of people have been arrested over five days of demonstrations, with police reporting that the majority of those charged were from outside the city.
Craig says many protesters have "another agenda, and it’s not to celebrate the life of Mr. Floyd."
LAS VEGAS — A union president says a Las Vegas police officer gravely wounded when shot during a protest against George Floyd’s death successfully underwent surgery to remove a bullet from his neck.
The 29-year-old officer was shot Monday night as police tried to disperse protesters outside a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Protesters dispersed Tuesday night without major reported problems after a demonstration that lasted nearly five hours.
MINNEAPOLIS — Prosecutors have charged a Minneapolis police officer with unintentional second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd and for the first time leveled charges against three other officers who were at the scene.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The new murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing third-degree assault.
Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday charged the other officers with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. The officers were also fired but weren’t initially charged.
All counts carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
DETROIT — Leaders of Detroit’s automakers and other business executives are pledging to stand with the black community and support peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and police treatment of African Americans.
The group includes the heads of General Motors, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler North America, Quicken Loans and Ilitch Holdings. The statement Wednesday from the group follows demonstrations and unrest around the U.S. since Floyd’s May 25 death.
The group also said it "condemns the acts of injustice" in the Feb. 23 fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by a white father and son in Glynn County, Georgia, and the March 13 shooting death of Breonna Taylor by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment.
STOCKHOLM — Thousands of people in the Nordic countries have gathered in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd.
With signs reading "I can’t breathe" or "Make racism bad again" more than a thousand Swedes met despite bans on gatherings of over 50 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Stockholm protest was mostly peaceful, but police have confirmed the use of pepper spray and one arrest, and that reports of isolated confrontations continue.
In Finland’s capital Helsinki, around 3,000 people attended a protest that dispersed an hour later as the number of participants exceeded the 500 maximum currently allowed under Finland’s coronavirus gathering restrictions.
WASHINGTON — Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says her administration is preparing for a potential legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s authority over security operations in the District of Columbia.
Trump directed what he characterized as a full-scale federal response on Monday night to quell protests over the death of George Floyd. That included forces from a variety of federal agencies and the entire 1,700-strong contingent of the DC National Guard. Military helicopters repeatedly buzzed low over protesters, kicking up clouds of debris, and guardsmen armed with long guns were stationed throughout the city.
Bowser said Wednesday that she had had consulted with Washington Attorney General Karl Racine on the issue, adding that her administration had only requested about 100 unarmed guardsmen.
LIBERTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of "fanning the flames" of violence amid days of unrest across the nation after the death of George Floyd.
Although protests Tuesday night in St. Louis County were calm, Page’s comments came after four St. Louis police officers were shot and a retired city police captain was killed during violence Monday night and early Tuesday,
Page said at a news conference "the president has fanned the flames, treating this unrest as if it were a reality show." He said criminals have "hijacked" peaceful protests that rightly denounce decades of law enforcement mistreatment of minorities.
St. Louis police said more than 70 businesses in the city were ransacked or broken into, including a pawn shop where former police Capt. David Dorn was fatally shot during a break-in.
On Wednesday, Trump posted a message on Twitter praising Dorn, who served 38 years on the force.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Members of the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous Caucus along with Democratic leaders of the Minnesota House are calling for policing reform during the upcoming special legislative session.
The proposals by state lawmakers include bolstering the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s independence in police killing investigations, citizen oversight of law enforcement, and removing a state ban on local residency requirements by officers.
Caucus members are calling for immediate access to legislative funding to help rebuild Minneapolis and St. Paul communities damaged by riots following the death of George Floyd. The caucus also called for the arrests of all officers involved in Floyd’s death.
The Minnesota Legislature is expected to convene for a special session by June 12 to extend the emergency declared by Gov. Tim Walz in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.