The Latest: Serbia’s president gives Trump rare support
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Serbian president gives Trump rare European nod of support
— Michigan city removes statue of racist former mayor
— National Guard troops leave U.S. capital in line with Trump order
— Protesters pack Belgian square to protest against racism
— Protesters dump slaver’s statue into harbor in England
— Milan protesters call for easing citizenship restrictions on migrants
BELGRADE, Serbia — Offering rare open support by a leader in Europe, Serbia’s president says U.S. President Donald Trump faces “a serious and tough enemy” as he tries to quell massive protests over the violent death of George Floyd.
Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for several minutes. His death has inspired international protests and drawn renewed scrutiny to the police treatment of African Americans.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told local Pancevo TV on Sunday, “I hope the U.S. will come out of the crisis.” He also said he wishes Trump “the best of luck.”
Vucic, a populist and former ultra-nationalist, also addressed the release of Serbian soccer player Aleksandar Katai by the LA Galaxy soccer club after a series of social media posts by his wife in which she urged police to “kill” protesters and referred to protesters as “disgusting cattle.” Vucic says the team’s decision “only speaks about the chase and chaos that has been conducted against President Trump.”
DEARBORN, Mich — Crews in Dearborn, Michigan, have removed a statue of the city’s longest-serving mayor, who favored segregationist policies and made racist comments over his 35-year tenure that ended in 1977.
The statue of Orville Hubbard had been on the grounds of the Dearborn Historical Museum for several years after it was removed from the former City Hall campus in 2015. It was taken down Friday.
A city spokeswoman says the statute had become a “divisive symbol rather than a unifying one.” Calls for the statue to be removed were renewed in light of the widespread protests over George Floyd’s death. Hubbard died in 1982.
Dearborn is next to Detroit and has the largest Muslim population in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — Newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House is full of peaceful protesters and has the communal feeling of a street fair.
Federal law enforcement officers and National Guard members who had been out in force for a week have largely withdrawn and have been replaced by city police in Washington, D.C., who have blocked off adjacent roads to give demonstrators space.
The jingles of ice cream trucks are mixing with protest chants. Protesters are posing with the new sign the city painted in big yellow block letters on 16th Street that reads “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
WASHINGTON — Dozens of National Guard troops from South Carolina were seen checking out of their Washington, D.C., hotel shortly before President Donald Trump tweeted he was giving the order to withdraw guard forces from the nation’s capital.
The troops sipped coffee from an adjacent Starbucks and smoked cigarettes Sunday morning as they awaited buses to take them to the airport for a flight home.
Trump ordered guard troops into D.C. to “dominate” the streets after some protests over the killing of George Floyd turned violent. The city’s mayor called on Trump last week to withdraw outside forces amid days of largely peaceful protests.
BRUSSELS — Several thousand people filled a large square in front of Brussels’ main courthouse to protest racism and the death of George Floyd.
The multiracial crowd that turned out for Sunday’s demonstration included many families with children. Many people wore masks, but it was too crowded for protesters to stick to social distancing guidance.
Protesters held up white roses and placards decrying racism, including one held up by a young black woman that read, “You think you are tired of hearing about racism? We are tired of experiencing it.”
Belgium media outlet RTBF reports that as well as the estimated 10,000 people who rallied in Brussels, smaller crowds also gathered in the cities of Anvers and Gand, where demonstrators observed a silence of 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That corresponds to the length of time that prosecutors say George Floyd was pinned by the neck under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee before he died.
LONDON — Anti-racism protesters in the southwestern England port city of Bristol have toppled the statue of a prominent slave trader and dumped it into the harbor.
Footage from local broadcaster ITV News West Country shows demonstrators attach ropes to the statue of Edward Colston before pulling it down on Sunday and eventually dumping it into the harbor. Images on social media show protesters appearing to kneel on the statue’s neck, recalling how a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down George Floyd’s neck before the handcuffed black man died May 25.
Colston, who was born in 1636, has been a controversial figure in Bristol. Among efforts to “decolonize” the city have been calls to remove his name from its biggest music venue, Colston Hall.
In his 40s, Colston was prominently involved in Britain’s sole official slaving company at the time, the Royal African Company, which transported tens of thousands of Africans across the Atlantic Ocean, mainly to the Caribbean.
Bristol, an an international port, was a center of the slave trade and benefited hugely financially.
Britain formally abolished the slave trade in 1807.
SEOUL, South Korea — BTS’s label says the K-pop super group has donated $1 million to a Black Lives Matter campaign.
Big Hit Entertainment confirmed the band’s donation in an email Sunday. It comes after a Thursday tweet from the band in which it expressed its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and said the band opposes racial discrimination and violence.
BTS’s fans reacted with the hashtag #MatchAMillion on Twitter, vowing to match the group’s donation.
K-pop fans have been actively participating in the Black Lives Matter movement both online and offline, including by overwhelming police apps with their favorite K-pop memes and fancies.
MILAN — A few thousand people gathered outside the central train station in Italy’s financial capital, Milan, to protest racism and the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Many in the crowd Sunday were migrants or the children of migrants from Africa. Organizers told participants that in Italy, the Black Lives Matter slogan means avoiding “seeing black bodies as if they’re foreigners” and not as citizens. One said it means not delaying legislative reform to make it easier to receive citizenship.
Foreigners born in Italy aren’t automatically eligible for citizenship until they reach 18 after continuously living in the country. Efforts in recent years have failed to enact legislation to allow foreigners’ children born in Italy to become citizens while still minors if they’ve attended Italian schools. Such parents complain that their children are viewed as second-class citizens even though they identify as Italian and speak the language fluently.
Many protesters wore masks or disposable gloves, and one of the organizers used a loudspeaker to remind people not to share objects and to stay a safe distance apart. Italy has greatly eased its coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks as the rate of contagion steadily slowed.
HOUSTON — Houston’s police chief says the body of George Floyd has arrived in Texas for a final memorial service and funeral.
Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted early Sunday that Floyd’s family also arrived safely. A six-hour viewing for Floyd is planned for Monday in Houston, followed by funeral services and burial Tuesday in the suburb of Pearland.
Floyd, who was handcuffed and black, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd begged for air and eventually stopped moving. His death has inspired protests around the world and served as a rallying cry against institutional racism.
Previous memorials were held for Floyd in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, which is near where he was born.
LONDON — Protesters outside the U.S. embassy in London want to make it clear that their message is not just meant for American ears.
Thousands gathered Sunday for a second straight day of protests outside the gleaming glass building to protest against racial injustice following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
London-based student Darcy Bourne says she thinks everyone knows the protest is about more than just Floyd, but about racism around the world.
Another student, Steffi Cox, says racism is a global issue and that people need to “come together and make sure everyone is educated.”
Meanwhile in Bristol, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of London, protesters on Sunday toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston.
SEATTLE — Seattle City Council members have sharply criticized the mayor and police chief over the police use of flash-bang grenades and pepper spray to disperse protesters after the two said they were trying to deescalate tensions.
Authorities say rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Saturday night, and police tweeted that several officers were injured by “improvised explosives.
The unrest came on the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city and followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier in which medical workers demonstrated against racism and police brutality.
It also came a day after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.
City Council President Lorena Gonzalez tweeted Saturday night that she was “outraged” by the police response. And City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda urged Durkan and Best to “stop traumatizing protesters and neighbors.”
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hundreds of people have attended a peaceful rally outside the U.S. embassy in Budapest to express their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Speeches and songs like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” were heard on Liberty Square before the crowd knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That was the amount of time that a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on the the neck of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air before eventually going motionless during his May 25 arrest for suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a shop.
The demonstration was one of many held throughout the world this weekend over Floyd’s death and institutional racism.
Elizabeth Sadusky, a U.S. student in Hungary, said: “I think having these kinds of events around the world is really important to show solidarity and to show the rest of the world that the U.S. isn’t perfect.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’s given the order for National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation’s capital, saying everything now is “under perfect control.”
The District of Columbia government requested some Guard forces last week to assist law enforcement with managing protests after the death of George Floyd. But Trump ordered thousands more troops and federal law enforcement to the city to “dominate” the streets after some instances of looting and violence.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last week called on Trump to withdraw National Guard troops that some states sent to the city.
Trump tweeted Sunday that “They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed.” He also ordered more than 1,000 active duty troops to be flown to the D.C.-area in reserve, but they have begun returning to their home bases after days of peaceful protests.
MADRID — Several thousand people have gathered in Spain’s main cities to show their support for the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and to denounce racial discrimination in Europe.
A few thousand protesters gathered around the U.S. embassy in Madrid on Sunday. Many carried homemade signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Human rights for all” and “Silence is pro-racist.”
Protesters chanted “Police murderers!” and “No justice, no peace!” Police were present but the atmosphere remained peaceful. Social distancing was difficult, however everyone wore a mask.
Thimbo Samb, a spokesman for the group that organized the protest, says the demonstration was to protest the death of George Floyd but also to call attention to racism in Spain and elsewhere in Europe.
Thousands also filled a central square in Barcelona and there were other protests called for in smaller cities.
LONDON — Thousands of people are congregating around the U.S. embassy in London to protest against racial injustice in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd last month.
Protesters gathered Sunday for a second day running around the gleaming new glass building on Nine Elms Lane, just south of the River Thames.
There are concerns that Sunday’s demonstration could take a violent turn, following clashes on Saturday at another demonstration in central London that saw 14 police officers injured.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, says violence is “simply not acceptable” and has urged those protesting to do so lawfully while also maintaining social distancing of remaining 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.
Hundreds of people also formed a densely packed crowd in a square in central Manchester, kneeling in silence as a mark of respect for George Floyd.
In Rome’s sprawling People’s Square, thousands of demonstrators turned out for the city’s first major rally against racism.
With a great majority wearing masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus, participants listened to speeches for several hours and held up hand-made placards reading “Black Lives Matter” and “It’s a White Problem.” At one point the protesters, most of them young and some with children or young siblings, kneeled and raised their fists in solidarity with those fighting racism.
“It’s quite unfortunate, you know, in this current 21st century that people of color are being treated as if they are lepers,’’ said 26-year-old Ghanian Abdul Nassir, who was at the rally and is studying in Rome for a master’s degree in business management. He said he occasionally has felt racist attitudes, notably when riding the subway.
Migration of people of color to Italy, including from sub-Saharan Africa, was relatively infrequent until about 25 years ago, and there isn’t yet a vast first-generation population who have come of age.
The noisy, peaceful rally had many organizers, including the grassroots protest group Sardines, a women’s group, a U.S. expatriates organization, a group called Neri Italiani — Black Italians — and a 25-year-old Roman student, Denise Berhane.
Asked by SKYTG24 if Italy has a racism problem, Berhane said, “There are some problems in the country if all these people turned out.”
New York City’s mayor is lifting the city’s curfew ahead of schedule, spurred on by protests against police brutality.
The 8 p.m. citywide curfew, New York’s first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of a coronavirus shutdown.
But Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday morning in a tweet that the curfew will end “effective immediately.”
“Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio tweeted “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”
The move followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands took to the streets and parks to protest police brutality, sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
More than two hours after the curfew had passed Saturday night, groups of several hundred demonstrators continued to march in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while police monitored them but took a hands-off approach.
BERLIN — After a day of anti-racism protests across Europe, Berlin police said 93 people were detained in connection with a demonstration in the German capital — most of them after the main rally had ended.
More anti-racism demonstrations were planned for Sunday across the U.K., including one outside the U.S. Embassy, just south of the River Thames.
At least 15,000 people had rallied peacefully in Berlin on Saturday in response to the May 25 death of American George Floyd, which has triggered global protests against racism and police brutality.
Police said several officers and one press photographer were injured in Berlin when bottles and rocks were thrown from a crowd that had gathered despite police orders to clear the city’s Alexander Square an hour after the demonstration was over. Berlin police said 28 officers suffered minor injuries in the scuffles.
HONG KONG — About 20 people protested in Hong Kong to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement at a rally Sunday outside the U.S. consulate in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
“It’s a global issue,” said Quinland Anderson, a 28-year-old British citizen living in Hong Kong. “We have to remind ourselves, despite all we see going on in the U.S. and in the other parts of the world, black lives do indeed matter.”
Organizers called off the rally late Saturday because of the city’s coronavirus restrictions. Those that still showed up gathered in groups of eight, the limit on the size of public gatherings.