The Latest: Michigan mayor resigns after racial remark
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Michigan mayor resigns after making racial remark.
— Minneapolis union president says members scapegoated.
— University of Cincinnati to remove Marge Schott’s name from stadium.
YPSILANTI, Mich. — A Michigan mayor resigned Tuesday, a week after she said she supported the appointment of a human relations commissioner only because she would be “crucified” if she voted against a Black person.
Former Ypsilanti Mayor Beth Bashert said she was “deeply sorry” to have her tenure end on that note. She said as a result of her actions “there is healing to do to ensure that all residents, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color, enjoy full equity” in the city.
The controversy began last week when the city council was voting on the reappointment of Ka’Ron Gaines to a commission that advises the council on eliminating prejudice and discrimination. Gaines’ inconsistent attendance record was raised by some council members. Bashert, who is white, voted in favor of his appointment but the others voted no, including three who are Black.
Basher said that “since I will be crucified if I vote against any Black person on any commission, I’m going to vote ‘yes.’”
Bashert subsequently apologized and said she was “deeply ashamed and saddened” by her remarks.
CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati is removing Marge Schott’s name from its baseball stadium and a library archive in light of her racist comments while owner of the Cincinnati Reds.
The school’s board of trustees unanimously approved the move Tuesday. It comes 12 days after a Catholic high school also decided to remove references to Schott from its facilities.
Schott’s history of racist and other offensive comments has prompted local organizations to reconsider using her name on facilities funded through her philanthropic foundation. The foundation is encouraging the discussions and decisions.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — An Indiana county councilman has resigned days after he sparked outrage by saying during a council meeting that Black Lives Matter protesters were “uneducated” and lamented that they “breed.”
Republican Allen County councilman Larry Brown resigned Monday, according to the county party chairman.
Numerous groups had demanded Brown’s resignation after he made the comments last Thursday during a council meeting where members discussed whether they should issue a statement regarding the protests. His remarks were captured on video cameras and broadcast on Facebook.
Brown later apologized for his remarks, but he declined an email request for comment from The Associated Press on Tuesday, stating, “Everything I say is being taken out of context and used against my family and me.”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The St. Augustine City Commission will relocate a Confederate memorial that’s been in its central plaza for 140 years.
The commission voted 3-2 Monday night. The decision came after weeks of demonstrations across the country against police brutality and racism.
“I don’t think that memorial represents who we are as a community we aspire to be,” said Mayor Tracy Upchurch, a former state legislator who also teaches law and history.
The memorial obelisk bears the names of Confederate soldiers. It’s been a focus of protests in St. Augustine, a city of 15,000 that traces its origins to 1565, when Spanish explorers established an outpost along the northern Atlantic coast of what is now Florida.
Upchurch says George Floyd’s death is more than a conversation about police misconduct and Confederate monuments.
“It is a call to us to face with open hearts the racism that’s existed in our country since its founding. African slaves have been here from the very beginning, and we’re still struggling with these issues,” she said. “The plaza is literally our heart and soul — and that’s where this obelisk stands — in the center of our community.”
The monument is located in the Plaza de la Constitucion, near the Catholic cathedral and a government building.
SEATTLE — Police in Seattle are investigating another shooting near the city’s “occupied” protest zone.
A spokesperson at Harborview Medical Center says the man’s wounds were not life-threatening. The shooting happened around 5 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol Hill neighborhood east of downtown.
It’s the third recent shooting near the protest zone. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday the city will move to wind down the protest zone. The mayor said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality.
Durkan also said police will soon return to a police station that the department largely abandoned in the area after clashes with protesters following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Petitioners have called for the removal of a statue in Alaska of the U.S. cabinet secretary who arranged the purchase of the state’s land from Russia.
The Juneau Empire reports Jennifer LaRoe launched the Change.org petition to remove the William H. Seward statue. So far, it has 1,300 signatures.
The $250,000 statue unveiled in 2017 shows Seward holding the 1867 Treaty of Cession authorizing the Alaska Territory sale to the U.S. from the Russian Empire.
LaRoe acknowledged Seward’s role as an abolitionist in President Abraham Lincoln’s administration but says the statue is a symbol of white, patriarchal authority and the disenfranchisement of Alaska Natives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities in North Carolina say a shooting at an impromptu block party has left two people dead and seven others wounded.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Deputy Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters early Monday the shooting happened around midnight at a block party that was a continuation of Juneteenth celebrations. Jennings said police responding to a pedestrian call found hundreds of people in the streets.
After authorities arrived, several shots were fired and the crowd scattered. Jennings said five people were hit by cars while running away from the shooting. He said there was evidence of multiple shooters.
Further details weren’t immediately available.
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.
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.