US grapples with Confederate past after protests – Live updates | USA News

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    • The police killing of George Floyd has triggered anti-racism protests around the world. A number of monuments with links to colonialism and slavery have either been defaced or pulled down in Europe and the United States as protests continue for racial justice.

       

 

    • Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, testified before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, along with family lawyer Ben Crump and 10 others at the first congressional hearing to examine the social and political undercurrents that have fuelled weeks of protests nationwide and overseas.

       

 

    • The death of Floyd, who died after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked nationwide calls for policing reforms.

       

 

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Wednesday, June 10:

22:10 GMT – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demands statues of 11 men linked to the Confederacy removed from US Capitol

Pelosi sent a letter to the House-Senate panel in charge of the National Statuary Hall collection in the Capitol to take down the likenesses of 11 Confederate soldiers and officials that she said “pay homage to hate, not heritage”.

Calling the halls of Congress “the very heart of our democracy” ahd said the statues should embody Americans’ “highest ideals” not men “who avocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end”.

The letter is the latest move in the wake of global protests over racism, to remove statues of those associated with perpetrating it. Across the United States and internationally, statues have been toppled, removed or covered.

21:23 GMT – NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at events

US professional stock car racing league NASCAR announced it will ban Confederate flags at future events, the Washington Post has reported.

“The presence of the Confederate flag … runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said in a statement.

The decision comes two days after Bubba Wallace, the only African American driving in the NASCAR Cup Series, requested NASCAR ban the flag viewed as a symbol of hate for many.

Wallace used a #BlackLivesMatter livery on his Richard Petty Motorsport Chevrolet for a race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday.

“I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for, but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push”, Wallace said ahead of the decision.

19:15 GMT – White House says it is finalising proposals on police reform

The White House said it is putting the finishing touches on proposals to reform the police, and that reducing immunity for cops is a “non-starter.”

Speaking at a White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said administration plans to address protester concerns about police brutality are reaching “final edits,” and said the proposals could be made public in the “coming days.”

New White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany addressing a first press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

19:00 GMT – Trump rules out renaming US bases named for Confederate leaders

President Donald Trump rejected any proposal to rename US military bases that are named for Confederate leaders from the 1860s civil war.

As many as 10 bases carry the names of Confederate leaders, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina, one of the largest in the United States, and Fort Hood in Texas. Discussions about renaming them emerged as a way of racial reconciliation.

“The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations…” Trump wrotee in a tweet.

17:45 GMT – Boston to offer COVID-19 testing to protesters

Boston is offering those participated in street protests following the death of Floyd access to coronavirus testing.

Mayor Marty Walsh said in a news conference that his administration is reaching out to organisers of the demonstrations and is working to create a mobile pop-up testing site in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury that will be open to everyone, whether or not they are showing signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“There is no special screening or requirements,” Walsh said. “As people lift their voices to fight racism and injustice, we want to make sure that we keep them safe as well.”

16:35 GMT – Thousands attend Black Lives Matter demo in Amsterdam

Thousands of people demonstrated in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a park in Amsterdam named for South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

It was the latest in a series of protests in Dutch cities that have erupted in recent days.

“We are here to hold up a fist against the global pandemic of racism,” protester Mitchell Esajas told the crowd.

Amsterdam

Thousands of people demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a park in Amsterdam, the Netherlands [Peter Dejong/AP Photo]

Public debate about racism, discrimination and historical links to the slave trade have intensified in the Netherlands since Floyd’s death.

A Dutch human rights organization called on the government to appoint a coordinator to help tackle what it called “structural discrimination” in the Netherlands.

15:45 GMT – Minneapolis police chief takes on union, promises reform

The Minneapolis Police Department will withdraw from police union contract negotiations, Chief Medaria Arradondo said as he announced the first steps in what he said would be transformational reforms to the agency.

Arradondo said a thorough review of the contract is planned. He said the contract needs to be restructured to provide more transparency and flexibility for true reform. The review would look at matters such as critical incident protocols, use of force, and disciplinary protocols, including grievances and arbitration.

He said it is debilitating for a chief when there are grounds to terminate an officer and a third-party mechanism works to keep that person on the street.

Minnesota po-po

Security forces take position during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US [Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

“This work must be transformational, but I must do it right,” Arradondo said of changes to the department.

He also promised new research and strategies to spot and intervene with problem officers.

“We will have a police department that our communities view as legitimate, trusting and working with their best interests at heart,” he said, adding that the department has to address issues of racism head-on.

15:00 GMT – ‘Teach them what necessary force is’: George Floyd’s brother calls for police reforms

Lawmakers heard urgent pleas from George Floyd’s brother who called for reforms and better training for police officers.

“Teach them what necessary force is,” he said “Teach them that necessary force should be used rarely, and only when life is at risk.”

He also reminded the panel that police were called because his brother had allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill.

Philonise Floyd

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd giving his opening statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, [Michael Reynolds/Pool via Reuters] [Daylife]

“George wasn’t hurt anyone that day. He didn’t deserve to die, over $20. I’m asking you. Is that what is that what a black man is worth? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people watching in the streets are telling you enough is enough,” he said.

The Judiciary panel is preparing to shepherd a sweeping Democratic package of legislation aimed at combating police violence and racial injustice, to the House floor by July 4, and is expected to hold further hearings next week to prepare the bill for a full House vote.

14:40 GMT – ‘I’m tired, I’m tired of the pain,’ George Floyd’s brother says

George Floyd’s brother testified Wednesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on issues of racial profiling, police brutality and lost trust between police departments and the communities they serve.

“I’m tired. I’m tired of the pain I’m feeling now and I’m tired of the pain I feel every time another black person is killed for no reason,” Philonise Floyd said during his testimony.

“I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired,” Floyd said. “George’s calls for help were ignored. Please listen to the call I’m making to you now, to the calls of our family, and to the calls ringing out in the streets across the world.”

“If his death ends up changing the world for the better. And I think it will. I think it has. Then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain,” he said.

Read more here.

14:35 GMT – White House defends Trump’s conspiracy theory tweet on Buffalo protester

The White House on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s promotion of an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about a 75-year-old protester injured by police in Buffalo, saying it was Trump’s “prerogative” to raise questions about the incident.

The protester, Martin Gugino, was shoved by police and critically injured when he approached them during a march against racism and police brutality in an incident that was captured on video and led to criminal charges against the officers involved.

Trump, offering no evidence, tweeted on Tuesday that Gugino’s fall could be a “set up” with ties to the anti-fascist movement antifa.

“The president was just raising some questions, some legitimate ones, about that particular interaction. And it’s his prerogative to do so,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Gugino called Trump’s statement “dark, dangerous, and untrue,” according to media reports. Gugino told USA TODAY he had “no comment other than Black Lives Matter” and that he has been released from intensive care and “should recover eventually.”

Buffalo Police Officers Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, face felony assault charges over the incident.

14:30 GMT – Twitter, Square to make June 19 a holiday to support racial diversity

Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Square Inc and Twitter Inc, said June 19, popularly known as ‘Juneteenth’, would be a permanent company-wide holiday in the United States to show support for racial diversity.

June 19 commemorates the US abolition of slavery by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which was belatedly announced in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865, after the end of the Civil War.

14:25 GMT – US top doctor expresses concerns about protests spreading coronavirus

The US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci expressed concern that recent mass protests against police brutality and racism would spread the novel coronavirus because of a lack of social distancing.

Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he isn’t surprised that members of the Washington, DC, National Guard who mobilized in response to the protests had tested positive, but he called the development “disturbing.”

epa08310093 Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (R) speaks as US President Donald Trump (L) listens during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in t

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaking during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC [Al Drago/Pool via EPA]

“The issue of physical separation is important. Masks can help, but it’s masks plus physical separation, and when you get congregations like we saw with the demonstrations, like we have said – myself and other health officials – that’s taking a risk,” Fauci said. “Unfortunately, what we’re seeing now is just an example of the kinds of things we were concerned about.”

14:15 GMT – Netflix launches Black Lives Matter collection for viewers

Streaming service Netflix announced that it is promoting a new “Black Lives Matter” collection to US subscribers, featuring over 45 movies, television shows and documentaries about racial injustice and the experience of Black Americans.

The collection includes Da 5 Bloods, 13th, When They See Us, Mudbound, Orange Is the New Black, Dear White People, as well as Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning Moonlight.

“When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we also mean ‘Black storytelling matters,'” Netflix said in a tweet. “With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time – we’re starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience.”

12:50 GMT – George Floyd’s brother to address US House panel on police reforms

One of the brothers of George Floyd is due to speak to a Democratic-led congressional panel as lawmakers take on the twin issues of police violence and racial injustice.

Philonise Floyd

Philonise Floyd speaking during his brother’s funeral at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Texas, US [Godofredo A Vasquez/Pool via Reuters]

Philonise Floyd, 42, will testify before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, along with family lawyer Ben Crump and 10 others at the first congressional hearing to examine the social and political undercurrents that have fuelled weeks of protests nationwide and overseas.

The Judiciary panel is preparing to shepherd a sweeping package of legislation, aimed at combating police violence and racial injustice, to the House floor by July 4, and is expected to hold further hearings next week to prepare the bill for a full House vote.

12:45 GMT – Confederate monument in Virginia covered with rubbish bags

Protesters in Portsmouth, Virginia, covered a Confederate monument in the city with rubbish bags and sheets, several hours after the city’s council members had a meeting to figure out ways to relocate it.

A white sheet that read “BLM” – the acronym for Black Lives Matter – covered the fence in front of the monument hours after the Portsmouth city council met to discuss who owns the figure, a local TV channel reported. The question about who owns the monument has been the main roadblock in the city’s years-long quest to remove it.

In Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Christopher Columbus was torn down by protesters, set on fire and then thrown into a lake on Tuesday. The statue was toppled less than two hours after protesters gathered in the city’s Byrd Park chanted for the statue to be taken down, news outlets reported.

12:40 GMT – Corrections officer among group that mocked Floyd’s killing as protesters marched by

A white man seen in a video circulating on social media mocking George Floyd’s death included a corrections officer in South Jersey, local media reported.

The man – whose identity has not been verified – was filmed kneeling on another man, recreating how Floyd died on May 25, while Black Lives Matter protesters marched by.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections confirmed in a statement that the man in the video was a corrections officer at Bayside State Prison and that he has been suspended while the agency conducts an investigation.

“We have been made aware that one of our officers from Bayside State Prison participated in the filming of a hateful and disappointing video that mocked the killing of George Floyd,” an NJ Department of Corrections statement said.

Catch up on Tuesday’s updates here.

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