Protesters toppled the statue of Francis Scott Key in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Friday, June 19. Historical figures tainted by racism continues.
One of two Atlanta police officers charged in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks said he “didn’t do anything wrong” during an interview about the June 12 incident. Devin Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault and two counts of violating his oath.
Eight correctional officers in Minneapolis have filed racial discrimination charges with the state’s Department of Human Rights alleging that they weren’t allowed to be in close contact with Derek Chauvin, the white officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Meanwhile, in Thousand Oaks, California, three men were arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign. Two of the men worked for local law enforcement agencies.
A closer look at some recent developments:
- The statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York will be removed. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the statue shows Black and Indigenous people as “subjugated and racially inferior.”
- Statues of Catholic priest Junipero Serra were toppled in San Francisco and Los Angeles over the weekend. Serra founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions.
- A noose was found in the garage stall of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Wallace is the only full-time Black driver in NASCAR’s elite Cup series.
- Three men, two who worked for local law enforcement agencies in California, were arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign in the city of Westlake Village.
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What does ‘defund the police’ mean? And why some say ‘reform’ is not enough
Seattle mayor seeks peaceful shutdown of activists’ ‘police-free zone’
Seattle officials have decided to dismantle a six-block “police-free zone” held by demonstrators in the heart of the city for more than two weeks.
In the aftermath of two shootings – one of them fatal — Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday that the so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest will be displaced and police will return to a precinct house they abandoned.
Durkan declined to say exactly how the area will be cleared if occupants resist, but stressed that a transition will be “peaceful and in the near future.”
Hundreds of demonstrators have occupied the area, sharing food, music and political activism, but also causing damage and closing businesses. Now, said Durkan, “It’s time for people to go home.”
Georgia officer charged in Wendy’s case: ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’
An Atlanta police officer facing criminal charges in connection with a June 12 fatal shooting outside a Wendy’s restaurant says he did nothing wrong and expects truth to prevail.
Officer Devin Brosnan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Rayshard Brooks, the 41-year-old Black man who was killed, had grabbed his Taser while being arrested. During a tussle, Brosnan said, he was shocked with the weapon and his head was slammed against the pavement.
As Brooks ran away with the Taser – a scene captured on video – he was pursued by a second officer, Garrett Rolf, who shot Brooks. Rolf faces 11 felony counts, including murder.
Brosnan, charged with placing his foot on Brooks’ back after the shooting, said he was disoriented and fearful until he realized the suspect was no longer a threat. “In no way, shape or form was I trying to hurt this man,” he told the Atlanta newspaper. “People will see this for what it is. They will understand I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Police cars vanish from Fortnite video game
In the virtual world, things can appear and disappear unexpectedly. Things like police cars.
And that’s apparently what happened in the action video game “Fortnite,” which featured law enforcement vehicles as decorative props until a new version premiered last week.
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials at Epic Games Inc. did not respond to inquiries, however, the publication citing a person familiar with Fortnite’s development said patrol cars were removed not as a political statement, but out of sensitivity to the national controversy over law enforcement abuses.
The disappearance was first noted on social media, including Reddit, where one post exclaimed, “Yikes. The anti-cop sentiment is reaching everything” and another observed, “Fortnite has de-funded the police.”
Public viewing for Rayshard Brooks held Monday
A public viewing was held Monday for Rayshard Brooks, the man Atlanta police fatally shot responding to a call that he had fallen asleep in a fast-food drive-through.
The event took place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was Martin Luther King Jr.’s church. Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. became pastor in 1931 and was joined by his oldest son in 1960.
A private funeral will be will be held Tuesday afternoon at the church.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has ruled Brooks’ death a homicide. Brooks, who is Black, failed a sobriety test and was being handcuffed when he struggled to get away from police. Video from the scene shows Brooks fleeing with an officer’s Taser when an officer shoots him from behind.
– Cara Kelly
Defund police? Some cities have already started, investing in mental health instead
As calls to “defund the police” echo around the country at Black Lives Matter protests, a handful of communities already know what that looks like as they invest millions of dollars into mental health resources and response teams instead of just traditional policing. These crisis intervention teams typically do not include an armed, uniformed officer but do feature counselors, social workers and paramedics.
Eugene, Oregon’s 30-year-old program CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, is the model other cities are looking to as they form their own programs.
Co-response teams, which often pair a cop with a social worker, have grown in popularity across the country in recent years, especially in areas crippled by the opioid crisis. But as outrage grows over the number of Black men who have died in interactions with police in recent years – including George Floyd, whose death in Minnesota on May 25 spurred the most recent wave of protests – communities are demanding a system other than traditional policing.
Advocates say programs such as CAHOOTS offer a better, safer alternative.
– Lindsay Schnell
Noose found in garage stall of Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway
A noose was found in the garage stall of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR said in a statement released Sunday night.
NASCAR said it was opening an investigation hoping to identify the person responsible and “eliminate them from the sport.” “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all,” the statement says.
Wallace is the only Black driver in the Cup Series and has been integral in leading the sport’s recent commitment to fighting racism and injustice. His largest impact so far was calling for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from all events, which the governing body did on June 10.
– Michelle R. Martinelli
NYPD officer suspended for ‘apparent chokehold’
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Sunday that an officer has been suspended without pay after video surfaced of him putting a Black man in an “apparent chokehold.”
The suspension came just hours after the incident on a beach boardwalk in Queens. Video shot by a man involved in the incident shows a group of officers tackling a Black man as one officer puts his arm around the man’s neck as he is lying face down. The group around the officers shouts for the officer to release his arm from the man’s neck, and another officer restraining the man on the ground taps the officer on his back and pulls his shirt before the officer releases the chokehold.
“The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night. “I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers.”
Shea said a full investigation was underway. The NYPD has long banned chokeholds, and their use has come under increased scrutiny since the death of Eric Garner in 2014 after an officer used a chokehold on him.
A New York police officer has been suspended without pay after an “apparent chokehold incident” at a beach in Queens.
2 shootings in Seattle’s protest zone over the weekend
Police in Seattle say two shootings occurred over the weekend in the city’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone.
A shooting late Sunday left at least one person injured with a gunshot wound. The person arrived at the hospital in a private vehicle and was in serious condition, Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Susan Gregg said in a statement.
On Saturday, a 19-year-old man died at a hospital after being treated for wounds from a shooting, and another sustained “life-threatening injuries,” police said in a statement.
Police said they responded to a call about shots fired at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning inside the protest zone. No arrests have been made.
Formerly known as CHAZ, or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, the area stretches several city blocks and has been cordoned off by protesters where artists paint murals, speakers discuss topics of racial equity and snacks are handed out for free.
Lawmakers, protesters want answers in shooting death of Andres Guardado by LA deputy
Two Democratic lawmakers in California have called on their state’s attorney general to investigate the death of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy last week.
Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragán called for an independent investigation as hundreds of people gathered Sunday near the site where Guardado was fatally shot.
“Another day, and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,” said the representatives for Southern California districts. “These killings must stop.”
Authorities say the sheriff’s deputy who shot Guardado spotted him with a gun in front of a business near Gardena but do not believe Guardado fired the weapon. Capt. Kent Wegener said the gun had no serial number and was pieced together with various firearm parts. Wegener also said investigators are reviewing footage from multiple cameras near the scene.
The shooting took place in the back of the building, Wegener said. Guardado was shot in the torso, he said, adding that the medical examiner will perform an autopsy.
Roosevelt statue to be removed from Natural History museum
The American Museum of Natural History in New York will remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
The statue that has stood at the museum’s entrance since 1940 depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and a Black man standing next to the horse.
“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a written statement.
President Donald Trump objected to the statue’s removal, calling it “ridiculous” on Twitter. The museum’s president, Ellen Futter, told the New York Times that the museum’s “community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd.”
3 men arrested for allegedly vandalizing BLM sign in California
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign in the city of Westlake Village, authorities said.
One of the men is a civilian employee of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, and another is a non-sworn investigative assistant at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
The misdemeanor arrests were announced Saturday night by Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub’s office. The announcement covered multiple incidents over the last three weeks.
“I’m deeply disappointed that one of our employees involved himself in this type of illegal activity, especially when this is an infringement on someone’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” Ayub said in a statement. “We will not tolerate unlawful or unethical behavior by anyone employed by our agency. We hold our employees to the highest standards, and there will be consequences for this.”
The sign, described as a tarp with the letters BLM painted on it, has been displayed on a fence for the past three weeks, officials said, and has been damaged or removed on several occasions.
– Gretchen Wenner, Ventura (Calif.) County Star
Minnesota officers of color allege discrimination at jail that housed Derek Chauvin
Eight Minnesota correctional officers at the facility where fired police officer Derek Chauvin was held following his arrest for the murder of George Floyd say they were forbidden from coming into contact with him and have reportedly filed a complaint with the state’s Department of Human Rights.
The officers – all people of color – say they were told they would be a “liability” around Chauvin because of their race, The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported. According to a copy of charges obtained by the newspaper, once Chauvin arrived at the Ramsey County Jail, officers of color were ordered to a separate floor. The only officers left to guard Chauvin were white, and minority employees were prohibited from having contact with Chauvin, the Star Tribune reported.
– Jordan Culver
Statues of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra toppled in Los Angeles, San Francisco
Demonstrators in California toppled statues of a Spanish Catholic missionary over the weekend amid ongoing protests against racism sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Statues of Father Junipero Serra, who founded the state’s 21 Spanish missions, were brought down in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Demonstrators in Ventura County called for the removal of the statue outside of the city hall building on Saturday.
In downtown Los Angeles, Indigenous activists shouted and drummed as the statue was toppled Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported. No police were present at the demonstration.
In San Francisco, the Serra statue at Golden Gate Park was yanked with ropes on Friday. San Francisco Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone criticized protesters in a statement: “A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed asked for public art to be reviewed after protesters vandalized and tore down statues.
Breed decried the vandalism, saying “the damage done … went far beyond” the removal of the statues.
Other statues targeted included those of Ulysses Grant, the 18th U.S. president, and Francis Scott Key, who wrote the U.S. national anthem “Star Spangled Banner.”
Breed said she will ask the Arts Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Recreation and Parks Department and its Commission “to evaluate our public art and its intersection with our country’s racist history” to determine the status of other murals and monuments across the city.
– Lorenzo Reyes
More on protests
Contributing: The Associated Press
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