The Latest: ACLU files lawsuit against Trump administration
The Latest on the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— ACLU files lawsuit against Trump administration regarding removal of protesters.
— Texas county GOP chairwoman pressured to resign after comments.
— Mourners at George Floyd’s memorial service stand for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and others have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging officials violated the civil rights of protesters who were forcefully removed from a park near the White House by police using chemical agents before President Donald Trump walked to a nearby church to take a photo.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington. It argues that Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials “unlawfully conspired to violate” the protesters’ rights when clearing Lafayette Park on Monday.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Monday, law enforcement officers began aggressively forcing back the peaceful protesters, firing smoke bombs and pepper balls into the crowd to disperse them from the park.
The ACLU called it a “coordinated and unprovoked charge into the crowd of demonstrators.”
Barr said Thursday that he ordered the protesters to be dispersed because officials were supposed to extend a security perimeter around the White House earlier in the day. He said he arrived there later in the afternoon and discovered it hadn’t been done.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Black Lives Matter D.C., and individual protesters who were in Lafayette Park on Monday evening.
Seattle’s police chief said Thursday that officers’ badge numbers will be “prominently displayed” following complaints by people protesting the death of George Floyd that black bands over the shields obscured the digits.
Chief Carmen Best said officers sometimes wear bands over badges to honor colleagues who have been killed while on duty. Best said she would issue a directive ensuring the numbers are visible while also trying to find a way for police to mourn.
“We’ve heard people, we understand,” Best said at a news conference Thursday with Mayor Jenny Durkan following the first peaceful night of protests in the Northwest’s largest city since rallies began last week.
“It was a good night in the city,” Best said.
Durkan said authorities continue to speak to community leaders about ways to reduce tensions and improve communication and police policies. Wednesday’s protests were among the largest Seattle has seen in years, but authorities reported no problems following days of unrest. Durkan abruptly Wednesday night ended a city-wide curfew in place for days amid the massive demonstrations over the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
SAN ANTONIO — The GOP chairwoman of one of Texas’ largest counties faced widespread pressure from her party to resign Thursday over a conspiracy theory on social media suggesting that George Floyd’s death was staged.
Cynthia Brehm is head of the Bexar County Republican Party in San Antonio. She also drew attention and condemnation last month for suggesting the coronavirus pandemic was a hoax intended to hurt President Donald Trump.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on her to step down after a San Antonio Express-News columnist Wednesday tweeted an image of Brehm suggesting in a Facebook post that Floyd’s death was staged. The post is no longer on Brehm’s page. She has not publicly addressed calls for her resignation and did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
“The comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,” Abbott spokesman said John Wittman said.
Both Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also called on her to resign, as did Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s funeral will be held next week in Houston, where he grew up.
BARCELONA, Spain — More than a thousand people gathered in a central square in Barcelona, Spain, to protest against the death of American George Floyd and police brutality against African Americans.
The protesters held a minute of silence at the candlelight vigil on Thursday. A recording of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech” was played and people set up a shrine in memory of Floyd.
“I am hopeful that people are standing up now and they’ve said ‘enough is enough’,” said Jonathan Courtney, a 31-year-old American resident who organized the event. “If you go back in history when people did make change, they did go to the streets.”
FARGO, N.D. — Black leaders in North Dakota’s largest city pleaded for calm in the face of violent threats to disrupt a gathering in memory of George Floyd. They advertised the event as a celebration and not a protest.
The OneFargo event is scheduled Friday afternoon at a downtown Fargo park. Organizers had planned to march from the park to City Hall for a sit-in. They have scrapped that idea after social media threats surfaced to burn down the city offices and commit other violent acts.
Organizer Wess Philome says anyone who is looking to destroy the “positive energy” from Friday’s event should stay home.
The pledge to tone down the dissent comes after a violent protest in downtown Fargo last weekend resulted in damaged property, a dozen arrests and minor injuries to four police officers.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Police say well-coordinated criminals are capitalizing on the chaos around protests to stage widespread store thefts.
They travel by caravan and use messaging apps or social media to communicate or distract and throw police off their trail.
The wave of crime that has followed largely peaceful demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd has happened in big and small cities and in rural areas. Thieves have targeted high-value goods as officers are assigned to prevent protests from becoming unruly and enforce curfews. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a band of thieves stole nearly 75 vehicles from a dealership.
MINNEAPOLIS — Mourners at George Floyd’s memorial service are standing for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, a span that has become a potent symbol of police brutality.
The Rev. Al Sharpton exhorted Floyd’s family, civil rights leaders, politicians, athletes and celebrities at the service Thursday to stand as a commitment to justice in Floyd’s name. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in New York City in 2014, stood on stage with Sharpton and comedian Tiffany Haddish.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on May 25 as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring his cries and bystander shouts until Floyd eventually stopped moving.
In the days since his death, protesters have seized on 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the time given in a criminal complaint that the officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck — as a way to honor Floyd.
Sharpton says Floyd’s story has been the story of black people in America, and that he died not from common health conditions, but from a malfunction of the criminal justice system.
Sharpton says the reason black people couldn’t be who they dreamed of being is because “you had your knee on our necks.” He added: “Get your knee off of our necks!”
He also commented about the protests that have occurred across the country and the world since Floyd’s death, saying that this time is different. Sharpton said he saw white people outnumbering black people in some marches and calling for justice.
Sharpton also called out President Donald Trump for walking from the White House across the street as protests were going on in Washington so he could pose with a bible.
“We cannot use bibles as a prop,” Sharpton said. “For those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.”
VIENNA — Thousands of people have participated in an anti-racism demonstration in Vienna.
The Austria Press Agency reported police said about 50,000 people gathered in downtown Vienna.
Protesters carrying signs with the Black Lives Matter slogan marched to the Karlsplatz square. Many argued racism is just as present in Austria as the United States.
Diedo Ladstaetter, a 27-year-old student from Vienna, says his dark-skinned Latino friend “is affected by everyday racism. And therefore, I don’t see why it would be somehow different in Austria compared to America. You have to protest here, too.”
Some protesters also carried Antifa signs and were heard shouting “fight the police.”
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools will discontinue use of school resource officers from the Portland Police Bureau. Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero says Oregon’s largest school district needed to “re-examine our relationship” with the police after the nationwide upheaval over the death of George Floyd.
The news came after thousands of protesters gathered Wednesday for the sixth consecutive night in Portland and remained peaceful. Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday ordered all flags flown at half-staff to honor Floyd.
LOS ANGELES — The mayor of Los Angeles says he will end the curfew starting Thursday night.
Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement after the curfews were put in place since last week as a precaution against looting and violence.
Earlier, the Los Angeles County sheriff said he will not enforce a curfew in areas his deputies patrol. Curfews also ended in San Francisco and San Jose. The decisions follow generally peaceful demonstrations.
Oakland and Sacramento plan to maintain curfews for now.
LOCUST GROVE, Va. — Deputies in Virginia say a white man who called to report an assault turned out to be the aggressor and has been charged with attacking three African Americans because of their race.
Authorities responding to a call from Edward Halstead in Locust Grove on Tuesday night “interviewed several people and determined that the caller was in fact the perpetrator of assault and battery on three individuals,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
Halstead, 53, was charged with attempted strangulation and three counts of felonious assault and battery due to the victim’s race.
It was not immediately clear if Halstead had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says U.S. society is “very polarized” while sidestepping questions whether President Donald Trump bears a share of the responsibility.
Merkel told ZDF television the killing of George Floyd “is something really, really terrible, racism is something terrible and society in the United States is very polarized.”
Merkel say her approach to politics is always to try to bring people together. She deflected questions about Trump’s role, saying she hopes the U.S. will unify and she’s “happy that many are making their contribution to that.”
Pressed again about Trump, she replied: “I think the political style is a very controversial one, that is clear.”
Regarding racism, she says “unfortunately we have it here, too. So let’s put our own house in order and hope there are also enough people in the United States who carry forward peaceful demonstrations.”
ROME — The highest-ranking American at the Vatican will lead a prayer service on Friday in Rome to pray for “peaceful coexistence” following the death of George Floyd and protests that erupted across the U.S.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, an Irish-born naturalized U.S. citizen, is the prefect of the Vatican’s family and laity office.
The Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity close to Pope Francis, is organizing the evening prayer at its Santa Maria in Trastevere church. Francis this week decried Floyd’s death and the “sin of racism” while denouncing violence as “self-destructive and self-defeating.” He’s appealed for national reconciliation and peace.
Farrell was bishop in Dallas, Texas, and an auxiliary bishop of Washington D.C. before taking his current job in 2016.
MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry urged the U.S. authorities to respect Americans’ right for peaceful protest amid the wave of demonstrations sparked by George Floyd’s death.
The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, says Moscow has taken note of the use of tear gas to disperse rallies and massive arrests of protesters in the U.S. She also pointed out numerous journalists, including Russian reporters, were hurt while covering the protests.
Moscow long has bristled at Washington’s criticism of its human rights record amid Russia-U.S. tensions. Zakharova sought to turn the tables on the U.S. by pointing to the authorities forceful response to protests.
She says “it’s time for the U.S. to drop the mentor’s tone and look in the mirror,” challenging the U.S. authorities to “start respecting peoples’ rights and observing democratic standards at home.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Police in San Francisco have filed criminal charges against more than 100 people accused of looting and violence.
Police in Vallejo say they shot and killed a 22-year-old looting suspect on Tuesday after mistaking his hammer for a gun.
The San Francisco figures were announced on the sixth day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. California authorities are generally praising thousands of peaceful protesters, with an estimated 10,000 gathering in San Francisco.
The violence has dwindled and some cities and counties have announced plans to shorten or cancel curfews.
WARSAW, Poland — A large crowd gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw with signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” in Poland’s second anti-racist protest in two days in response to the death of George Floyd
Some laid face down on the ground in solidarity with the handcuffed Floyd, who was pleading for air as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, says the violent scenes of protest in the U.S. are an “anomaly” and not a true picture of the Americans.
“We can and will heal and learn from this tragedy — and justice will prevail,” Mosbacher’s statement said.
A small protest march was held Wednesday in Poland’s western city of Poznan.
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Three men who were charged with murder months after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery appeared Thursday by a video link from jail for their probable cause hearing following a week of angry protests in the U.S. over law enforcement biases against black victims.
Jesse Evans, appointed as a special prosecutor in the case, says Arbery “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed” based on the evidence his team would present.
Glynn County Magistrate Judge Wallace E. Harrell scheduled the hearing to determine whether authorities have enough evidence of murder in Arbery’s killing to send the case to trial.
Arbery was killed Feb. 23 after a white father and son armed themselves and gave chase when they spotted the 25-year-old black man jogging in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick.
It wasn’t until May 7 that Greg McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34 were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels’ arrests came two days after cellphone video of the shooting leaked online and stirred a national outcry.
The neighbor who filmed the video, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan, was also arrested and charged with felony murder and illegally using a vehicle to try to confine and detain Arbery.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Walz is sending Minnesota National Guard troops to state’s western border because of what he says are credible threats of violence during demonstrations planned in neighboring North Dakota.
The city of Moorhead, Minnesota, lies just across the border from Fargo, North Dakota.
Walz’s order didn’t say how many guard members are being deployed in Clay County. The governor didn’t provide details on what he perceives is a credible threat.
“The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to provide protection for all Minnesotans,” said Walz in a statement. “While Minnesotans turn their attention to rebuilding our communities and re-examining racial inequities in the wake of George Floyd’s death, our administration is committed to providing protection for our neighborhoods, businesses, and families in order for those meaningful conversations to happen.”
The National Guard adjutant general will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment and facilities as needed, Walz said.
SARASOTA, Fla. — A bystander video showing a Sarasota police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed black man a week before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has prompted an investigation and promises of transparency.
Two Sarasota officers are seen on video holding down Patrick Carroll, 27, during a domestic violence call on May 18. A third officer was standing nearby.
The department told news outlets it wasn’t aware the officer placed a knee on Carroll’s neck until it was tagged in the video on social media on Monday.
Aerial video posted by the department Tuesday shows the officers speaking with Carroll for several minutes before placing him in handcuffs. He then resists being put in the patrol car, and officers force him to the ground.
Carroll said he was trying to ask officers why he was being detained. He said he has asthma and scoliosis in his back and was having trouble breathing.
The officer who placed his knee on Carroll’s neck has been placed on administrative leave, the department said. He hasn’t been identified. The two other officers are on “desk duty” while the arrest is being investigated, news outlets reported.
Carroll faces charges of domestic battery, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and resisting arrest.