The Latest: Police union critical of Minneapolis leadership

The Latest on the 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:

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MINNEAPOLIS — The head of the Minneapolis police union is speaking out about what he says is a lack of city leadership during a week of protests that turned violent after the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer pressed a knee against his neck.

Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and is in custody in a state prison. He and the three other officers on the scene were fired. Floyd’s May 25 death sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and other cities, some of which turned violent.

Union president Lt. Bob Kroll said in a letter to union members that they have lacked support at the top, and that the “terrorist movement” occurring in Minneapolis was years in the making, starting with a minimized police force.

Messages seeking comment from the police department and mayor were not immediately returned.

Kroll also said that Floyd’s criminal history is not being told. The AP has reported last week that Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.

Kroll said all four officers are represented by defense attorneys, and labor attorneys are fighting for their jobs. He said the officers were fired without due process.

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Curfews expired early Monday as California cities assessed widespread damage following a weekend of violence, vandalism and arson amid passionate protests against the death of George Floyd.

National Guard soldiers deployed in Los Angeles and other cities to back up police forces who faced an uncertain day after Sunday’s turmoil quieted down overnight.

Thieves smashed their way in more than 20 cities into stores — carrying away armloads of sneakers, clothes and electronics.

Armed members of the Guard protected Los Angeles City Hall on Sunday after upheaval in the nation’s second-largest city and then rolled into suburban Santa Monica and Long Beach as throngs savaged businesses there.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti denounced the mayhem as having nothing to do with protests by those outraged by the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man seen in a video pleading for air as a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck.

“Criminals are wrong to think that they can hijack this message, undermine this movement and divide us — they will not,” Garcetti said.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is telling the nation’s governors that most of them are “weak” and calling for tougher crackdowns on violence as protests rage across the nation.

Trump is speaking to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials.

He’s telling them they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses, saying: “Most of you are weak.”

And he’s chastising them for failing to use the National Guard more aggressively, saying they’re making themselves “look like fools.”

Attorney General Bill Barr is also on the call and telling governors they have to “dominate” the streets and control, not react to crowds. He’s calling on them to “go after troublemaker” and use “adequate force.”

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WASHINGTON — Joe Biden will hold a roundtable with several mayors whose cities have been affected by unrest over the weekend.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will hold a virtual event Monday with the leaders of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Biden began his day meeting with community leaders at a predominantly African American church in Delaware.

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A Fort Lauderdale police officer has been suspended after video showed him pushing a kneeling woman to the ground Sunday.

Others on the force quickly pushed the officer away from the woman and then down the street as bottles were thrown.

Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters that the officer, who has not been named, is suspended pending an investigation.

“If it’s turned out that he acted inappropriately, then we will have swift discipline in response to what he did,” Trantalis said. “We do not appreciate that kind of conduct, nobody in the department wants to be disrespected, and we feel this should never have happened.”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A man who set fire to a historic courthouse in Tennessee during weekend protests has been arrested.

Wesley Somers, 25, is charged with felony arson, vandalism and disorderly conduct. He is accused of setting fire to Nashville’s Historic Courthouse on Saturday night.

Metro Nashville Police said Somers was among 29 people arrested after protesters in Tennessee’s capital set fires inside and outside the courthouse and toppled a statue of a former state lawmaker and newspaper publisher who espoused racist views.

Protesters damaged 30 businesses. In addition to the courthouse, the Ryman Auditorium, known as the mother church of country music, was damaged, police said.

Others who were arrested face charges that include assaulting police officers, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, police said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Somers has an attorney.

Separate demonstrations were held in Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Memphis, where protesters made it onto Interstate 55, circumventing officers in riot gear.

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BERLIN — Protests against the death of George Floyd continued for a third day in Berlin, though the gathering outside the U.S. embassy Monday was significantly smaller than earlier rallies.

Police said about 1,500 people took part in a march Sunday in the German capital’s hip Kreuzberg district, after about 2,000 people staged a protest in front of the embassy Saturday.

Paul Schreiner, 69 and originally from Wisconsin, was among a dozen people holding a vigil outside the embassy Monday.

“It’s my duty, I feel, to be here,” he said. “There’s a very interesting phrase that ‘white silence is violence,’ and that moved me to make sure I came today.”

Holding a sign with the names of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and others, American citizen Carmen Osorio Rodrigues said she was concerned about the direction the United States is heading. “We have to confront these social injustices,” she said, adding: “We need clear leadership on how to act.”

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WASHINGTON — Evidence of the chaos that erupted around the White House was visible as people streamed to work Monday morning.

Plywood covered the windows of several shuttered businesses along one heavily traveled street leading to the White House, but a McDonald’s that Bill Clinton frequented as president remained open, albeit with plywood structures reinforcing its street-facing windows.

Blocks away, the windows of a major bank branch had been shattered and its exterior scrawled with expletive-filled graffiti expressing displeasure with such institutions.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Authorities say the driver of a semitrailer who rolled into the midst of thousands of people marching on a closed Minneapolis freeway over the death of George Floyd has been arrested on suspicion of assault.

Authorities had said it appeared no one was hurt Sunday but some witnesses said a handful of people who were on Interstate 35W near downtown Minneapolis sought medical attention on their own. Authorities said they could not confirm that.

The freeway was among many shut down in the Minneapolis area for the second night in a row as officials imposed an 8 p.m. curfew and sought to make it more difficult for protesters to move around.

Bystander video showed the crowd parting seconds before the semi rolled through, then the tanker truck gradually slowed and demonstrators swarmed the truck.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Sunday that it initially appeared from traffic camera footage that the semitrailer was already on the freeway before barricades were set up at 5 p.m.

State Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said at a later briefing, however, that the truck went around a traffic barrier to stay on the road.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman says arrests and assaults on journalists covering protests in the United States are “very concerning.”

James Slack said Monday that “journalists all around the world must be free to do their job and to hold authorities to account without fear of arrest or violence.”

He said the violence of the past few nights was “very alarming. People must be allowed to protest peacefully.”

Slack said “the footage of George Floyd’s death was deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.”

Noting that a police officer has been charged with murder, he said “we would hope and expect justice to be done.”