USA

The Latest: Thousands again protesting near White House

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:

— Thousands gather again near White House to protest death of George Floyd.

— New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city has taken a step forward in restoring order.

— Minneapolis police officer to face charge of second-degree murder, other officers to be charged for first time.

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WASHINGTON -- Thousands of protesters in the nation’s capital knelt and sang “Amazing Grace” on Wednesday, the sixth night of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“We are not going anywhere,” the protesters chanted.

As the protesters sang and chanted, law enforcement officers in riot gear stood watching over the crowd, which stretched down 16th Street near the White House.

The crowd knelt silently as the time neared for a virtual town hall by former President Barack Obama to discuss Floyd’s death, policing and the protests that have engulfed the country.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed an 11 p.m. curfew after a peaceful night of protests. The curfew then had been 7 p.m.

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RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans for the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The governor will direct the statue to be moved off its pedestal and put into storage while his administration seeks input on a new location, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak before the governor’s announcement.

The announcement is expected Thursday and comes amid turmoil worldwide over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving.

Floyd’s death has sparked outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted a new wave of Confederate memorial removals.

The Lee statue is one of five Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy. It's been the target of vandalism during protests in recent days over Floyd’s death.

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NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city has taken a “step forward” in restoring order with the help of an early curfew.

There was much less widespread plundering of stores Tuesday night amid a huge police presence. The citywide curfew continues from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. this week, imposed to prevent the nighttime chaos and destruction that followed peaceful protests for several days in a row.

De Blasio condemned police for roughing up journalists covering the protests, including two from The Associated Press. Police say they arrested about 280 people on protest-related charges Tuesday, compared with 700 the previous night.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was critical of the prior police response, says the city was “much better” and officers were better equipped to keep the peace.

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ATLANTA — Former President Jimmy Carter called Wednesday for Americans in positions of power and influence to fight racial injustice, saying “silence can be as deadly as violence.”

The 95-year-old former president issued a statement through the Atlanta-based Carter Center to address the angry and sometimes violent protests that have roiled the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said his decades working to improve human rights worldwide have taught him that people of influence can’t remain silent.

Carter made no direct mention of President Donald Trump’s handling of the protests and the racial unrest that has fueled them. But he said: “We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”

Carter noted he had declared “the time for racial discrimination is over” during his 1971 inauguration speech as Georgia’s governor, and bemoaned that he’s repeating those words almost 50 years later.

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OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska prosecutor who declined to bring felony charges against a white business owner for fatally shooting an unarmed black man during recent civil unrest in downtown Omaha has decided to call for a grand jury review of the case.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said in a news conference Wednesday that he’ll petition the court to call a grand jury to determine whether bar owner Jake Gardner should face felony charges in the Saturday night shooting death of 22-year-old James Scurlock. Kleine said he would also turn the case over to a special prosecutor.

On Monday, Kleine announced he would not charge Gardner with a felony in the case after reviewing video of and witness statements regarding the altercation, saying he believed Gardner acted in self-defense.

Kleine said his call for a grand jury was made in the interest of transparency after meeting with community leaders.

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County has ordered another overnight curfew, but it will be four hours shorter.

The curfew will begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday and end at 5 a.m. Thursday. Previous curfews ran from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A county statement says officials are assessing public safety needs on a daily basis.

A few municipalities in the sprawling county continue to have stricter curfews. Huge demonstrations in Los Angeles on Tuesday were peaceful, and subsequent arrests were only for curfew violations.

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DETROIT — Another 127 people were arrested Tuesday night during protests in Detroit, Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday.

Most of the arrests were for violating the city’s curfew. At least one person was charged with misdemeanor resisting police or disturbing the peace. Of those arrested, Craig said 80 live outside the city and six show addresses in Maryland, California, Washington D.C., and New York.

Dozens of people have been arrested over five days of demonstrations, with police reporting that the majority of those charged were from outside the city.

Craig says many protesters have “another agenda, and it’s not to celebrate the life of Mr. Floyd.”

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LAS VEGAS -- A union president says a Las Vegas police officer gravely wounded when shot during a protest against George Floyd’s death successfully underwent surgery to remove a bullet from his neck.

The 29-year-old officer was shot Monday night as police tried to disperse protesters outside a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Protesters dispersed Tuesday night without major reported problems after a demonstration that lasted nearly five hours.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Prosecutors have charged a Minneapolis police officer with unintentional second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd and for the first time leveled charges against three other officers who were at the scene.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired May 26 and initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The new murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing third-degree assault.

Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday charged the other officers with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. The officers were also fired but weren’t initially charged.

All counts carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

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DETROIT — Leaders of Detroit’s automakers and other business executives are pledging to stand with the black community and support peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and police treatment of African Americans.

The group includes the heads of General Motors, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler North America, Quicken Loans and Ilitch Holdings. The statement Wednesday from the group follows demonstrations and unrest around the U.S. since Floyd’s May 25 death.

The group also said it “condemns the acts of injustice” in the Feb. 23 fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by a white father and son in Glynn County, Georgia, and the March 13 shooting death of Breonna Taylor by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment.

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STOCKHOLM — Thousands of people in the Nordic countries have gathered in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd.

With signs reading “I can’t breathe” or “Make racism bad again” more than a thousand Swedes met despite bans on gatherings of over 50 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Stockholm protest was mostly peaceful, but police have confirmed the use of pepper spray and one arrest, and that reports of isolated confrontations continue.

In Finland’s capital Helsinki, around 3,000 people attended a protest that dispersed an hour later as the number of participants exceeded the 500 maximum currently allowed under Finland’s coronavirus gathering restrictions.

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WASHINGTON — Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says her administration is preparing for a potential legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s authority over security operations in the District of Columbia.

Trump directed what he characterized as a full-scale federal response on Monday night to quell protests over the death of George Floyd. That included forces from a variety of federal agencies and the entire 1,700-strong contingent of the DC National Guard. Military helicopters repeatedly buzzed low over protesters, kicking up clouds of debris, and guardsmen armed with long guns were stationed throughout the city.

Bowser said Wednesday that she had had consulted with Washington Attorney General Karl Racine on the issue, adding that her administration had only requested about 100 unarmed guardsmen.

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LIBERTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of “fanning the flames” of violence amid days of unrest across the nation after the death of George Floyd.

Although protests Tuesday night in St. Louis County were calm, Page’s comments came after four St. Louis police officers were shot and a retired city police captain was killed during violence Monday night and early Tuesday,

Page said at a news conference “the president has fanned the flames, treating this unrest as if it were a reality show.” He said criminals have “hijacked” peaceful protests that rightly denounce decades of law enforcement mistreatment of minorities.

St. Louis police said more than 70 businesses in the city were ransacked or broken into, including a pawn shop where former police Capt. David Dorn was fatally shot during a break-in.

On Wednesday, Trump posted a message on Twitter praising Dorn, who served 38 years on the force.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Members of the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous Caucus along with Democratic leaders of the Minnesota House are calling for policing reform during the upcoming special legislative session.

The proposals by state lawmakers include bolstering the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s independence in police killing investigations, citizen oversight of law enforcement, and removing a state ban on local residency requirements by officers.

Caucus members are calling for immediate access to legislative funding to help rebuild Minneapolis and St. Paul communities damaged by riots following the death of George Floyd. The caucus also called for the arrests of all officers involved in Floyd’s death.

The Minnesota Legislature is expected to convene for a special session by June 12 to extend the emergency declared by Gov. Tim Walz in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — The police chief in Portland, Oregon issued a plea Wednesday to the city’s residents to help its leaders stop the violence that has engulfed the city for five consecutive nights in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

Chief Jami Resch said at a news conference that a peaceful march and rally Tuesday that attracted more than 10,000 people was marred when several hundred people broke off late and confronted police officers guarding a building that holds police headquarters and a sheriff’s detention center.

The repeated nights of mayhem have rattled even liberal Portland, which has such a storied history of protest that the late president George H. W. Bush dubbed it “Little Beirut.”

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ATHENS — Greek police have fired tear gas to disperse youths who attacked them outside the U.S. Embassy in Athens during a protest over the killing of George Floyd.

Police said the violence Wednesday came towards the end of an otherwise peaceful demonstration by about 4,000 people that was organized by left-wing groups and anarchists. Protesters at the tail-end of the march threw petrol bombs and stones at police.

No injuries or arrests were reported.

A similar protest is scheduled in Athens on Thursday.

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ROTTERDAM — A protest demonstration in the Netherlands had to be cut short because crowds became too big and would have made social distancing measures impossible.

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb had already moved the protest over the death of George Floyd to a more open space instead of the city center. But as thousands sought to converge and the crowds swelled at the site near the Maas River, authorities first called on people to stay away and then moved in early to end the peaceful protest.

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POZNAN, Poland — Dozens of young people walked in an anti-racist march on Wednesday in Poland’s western city of Poznan in response to the death of George Floyd.

Mostly clad in black, the protesters carried signs with “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” written on them. They walked to the U.S. Consulate and then to a downtown square where they lay face down on the ground, just like the handcuffed Floyd lay pleading for air as a police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, apologized on Twitter to Warsaw residents whose flowers and candles placed before the embassy in Floyd’s memory had been removed. Mosbacher called it a “misunderstanding.”

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BERLIN — The U.N.‘s top human rights official called for grievances to be heard on “endemic and structural racism” at the heart of the protests in the United States.

Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, says addressing those grievances is necessary for the U.S. to “move on from its tragic history of racism and violence.”

While calling for protesters to express their views peacefully, she also urged U.S. leaders to unequivocally condemn racism and “reflect on what has driven people to boiling point.”

Bachelet’s office also cited “at least 200 reported incidents of journalists covering the protests being physically attacked, intimidated or arbitrarily arrested, despite their press credentials being clearly visible.”

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SEATTLE — Large crowds marched through Seattle and demonstrations were mostly peaceful until late in the night, when Seattle police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse a crowd near a police precinct.

Seattle police say some people in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood began throwing objects at officers. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan addressed hundreds of demonstrators and encouraged them to keep marching and keep it peaceful.

“Your voices holding me accountable are important and you should continue to raise them,” Durkan told those assembled outside the city’s Emergency Operations Center downtown. Durkan and protest leaders planned to meet Wednesday.

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ATLANTA — Large, peaceful protests in Atlanta were marked by pockets of confrontation between protesters and police ahead of the curfew on Tuesday night.

Hundreds lingered on the streets of downtown ahead of the 9 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Authorities used armored vehicles to form a cordon at the state capitol.

Near Centennial Olympic Park, where much of the protests and unrest have centered, National Guard troops fired tear gas and moved in on a group shortly after curfew fell. The crowd quickly dispersed, and television footage showed police leading some people away in zip ties.

Police say 52 arrests were made Tuesday, bringing the total arrests in Atlanta to 439 over five days of protests since Friday.

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PHOENIX — Thousands of people participated in peaceful protests on Tuesday night with no arrests, according to police.

One crowd marched in the heart of downtown and another gathered at the state capitol about a mile to the west.

The protests ended early in the evening, with most participants leaving by the 8 p.m. start of a statewide curfew ordered Sunday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

It was the sixth consecutive night of protests, with no reported arrests in Phoenix for the second straight night.

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