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The Latest: Seattle police use of pepper spray criticized

Mitt Romney
Posted at 1:02 AM, Jun 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 23:02:00-04


— Seattle mayor, police chief criticized for police use of flash bangs, pepper spray

— Artists paint ‘End Racism Now’ on street in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

— Romney becomes first known Republican senator to march in protest

— National Guard troops set to leave California cities.

— Minneapolis City Council members discussing support of radical changes in their city’s police department.

— NBA's Bucks lead thousands of fans in public protest march through downtown Milwaukee.


SEATTLE -- Seattle City Council members sharply criticized Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best after police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters a day after Durkan and Best said they were trying to de-escalate tensions.

Authorities said rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Saturday night. Police said via Twitter that several officers were injured by “improvised explosives.”

The mayhem in the Capitol Hill neighborhood came on the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city. It followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier.

It also came a day after Durkan and Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.


PHOENIX -- Demonstrators have marched through the streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale in two separate protests for social justice in memory of a black man who was killed by an Arizona police officer.

The Arizona Republic reports organizers in Phoenix say a line of demonstrators stretched nearly a mile Sunday. Protesters kneeled outside of the Arizona Department of Public Safety headquarters to denounce the deaths of black men and women at the hands of police nationwide, including Dion Johnson in Phoenix.

In Scottsdale, up to 1,000 protesters demonstrated, with Police Chief Alan Rodbell marching in uniform near the front.___

RALEIGH, N.C. — Add North Carolina’s capital city to those sporting a bold message denouncing racism painted in large yellow letters on a city street.

Artists on Sunday painted the words “End Racism Now” on a downtown street, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The message was added days after the mayor of Washington, D.C., had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on a street leading to the White House amid days of demonstrations in the nation’s capital and all over the country in response to George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Floyd died May 25 after a white officer pressed his knee into the unarmed black man's neck, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries and holding it there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Charman Driver, former chair of the Contemporary Art Museum on Martin Street, where the painting is located, called it “a very painful totem.” The street leads to Confederate monuments on State Capitol grounds, which have been spotlighted as offensive during protests.

The painting was applied Sunday morning when a city engineer met the artists and brought barricades to block off the street.

“We did it. And it’s wonderful. And we feel really good about it. Our voices are being heard, but it’s not enough,” Driver said.


CANBERRA, Australia — An indigenous academic has used an award to urge Australians to address black deaths in custody,

Melbourne University professor Marcia Langton was given an Order of Australia award on Monday for her distinguished service to tertiary education and as an advocate for indigenous Australians.

Langton defied government leaders’ pandemic warnings by attending a rally in Melbourne on Saturday protesting the death in Minnesota of George Floyd and the high rate of indigenous incarceration in Australia.

Langton said Australian politicians did not acknowledge that the disproportion rate of indigenous people being sent to prison was a problem and police were not trained to prevent indigenous deaths in custody.

“I would have thought it is pretty straightforward -- do not kill Aborigines. How hard is that?” Langton told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous person to serve in the role, said Langton made a poignant point. He said he would work with state agencies to address the large number of indigenous prisoners receiving hospital treatment.

There have been 434 indigenous deaths in police custody and prisons in Australia since 1991 when a government inquiry reported on the problem of black deaths in custody, The Guardian reported.

Indigenous Australians account for 2% of Australia’s adult population and 27% of Australia’s prison population.


WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney marched in a protest against police mistreatment of minorities in the nation’s capital, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

Romney, who represents Utah, posted a tweet showing him wearing a mask as he walked with Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington on Sunday. Äbove the photo he wrote: Black Lives Matter.

Romney, who was walking with a Christian group, told NBC News that he needed to be there.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” he said.

On Saturday, Romney tweeted a photo of his father, George, who was the governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, marching with civil rights protesters in the 1960s in a Detroit suburb.

Above the photo, Mitt Romney wrote: “This is my father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the Detroit suburbs during the late 1960s — “Force alone will not eliminate riots,” he said. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”


LOS ANGELES — National Guard troops will be pulled out of California cities where they’ve been deployed for a week after rampant violence and thievery marred the first days of protests over the death of George Floyd, officials announced Sunday.

The announcement came as peaceful demonstrations again popped up across the state, including one on horseback and another on wheels, as protesters continue to call for police reforms.

“After nearly a week assisting civil authorities on the streets of California, soldiers with the California National Guard will begin transitioning back to their home armories,” the Cal Guard said in a statement. A timeline for the pullout was not provided.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said some troops would begin departing Sunday evening.

“A small number of units will be stationed nearby until June 10 to provide emergency support if needed,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he’d encourage local leaders to end their use of the Guard “in an expeditious manner, but a very thoughtful manner.”

More than 7,000 National Guard troops were deployed to LA, San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities to assist local law enforcement, Cal Guard said.

While the vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and hundreds of businesses were vandalized.


MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis City Council members are speaking up in support of radical changes in their city’s police department.

Nine of the council’s 12 members appeared at a rally in a city park Sunday afternoon and vowed to end policing as the city currently knows it. Council Member Jeremiah Ellison promised that the council would “dismantle” the department.

Minneapolis was the center of both violent and peaceful protests following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man in handcuffs, died after a white officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, ignoring Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” cries and holding it there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Community activists have criticized the department for years for what they say is a racist and brutal culture that resists change.

The state of Minnesota launched a civil rights investigation of the department last week, and the first concrete changes came Friday when the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. A more complete remaking of the department is likely to unfold in coming months.


For a second straight day, the city of Atlanta lifted a curfew it had set for 8 p.m.

The decision to revoke the weekend curfews came after days of peaceful demonstrations and two nights without any arrests.

Atlanta had been under a nightly curfew since the previous Friday, when vandals smashed windows and looted stores after a peaceful demonstration attended by thousands of people.

Protesters again rallied in the city on Sunday. A group of African American pastors walked down Auburn Avenue — the street Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on — singing a protest song from the civil rights era with the lyrics, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round.”


The Milwaukee Bucks led thousands of fans on what the team described as a public protest march through downtown Milwaukee in support of social justice.

Bucks officials estimated that 7,500 people participated.

Before the march, Bucks guard Sterling Brown led the crowd in 9 seconds of silence to honor George Floyd.

Brown has a pending lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee, saying that police used excessive force and targeted him because he is black when they used a stun gun on him on Jan. 26, 2018.

“It’s great to see everybody out here standing as one, standing for equality, standing for George Floyd and his family and everybody who’s been a victim to police brutality,” Brown told the crowd before the march.

Brown was at the front row with many of his Bucks teammates and led the crowd in various chants that included “black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace” and “We will be seen, we will be heard.”

Several of the Bucks players also had participated in a local march against police brutality on Saturday night.

“We’re here as one,” Brown told the crowd beforehand. “We’re making something great happen. We’re making something positive happen, something that’s heard around the world.”


NEW YORK — Peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd have continued in New York City with thousands of demonstrators, most of them wearing masks, walking through Manhattan without a looming curfew.

The city had been scheduled to leave its 8 p.m. curfew in place through at least Sunday night. But Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in the morning that it would be nixed, saying, “Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city.”

New York City police pulled back on enforcing the curfew Saturday night, as thousands took to the streets for another day of marches and rallies sparked by the May 25 death of Floyd.

The citywide curfew was the first in decades.


BRUSSELS — Police in Brussels detained 150 people and fired a water cannon to quell unrest after a Black Lives Matter protest that drew thousands of people on Sunday.

The city mayor, Philippe Close, blamed the violence on “delinquents” and noted that the 10,000 people who demonstrated earlier in the day did so calmly. Video on social media showed youths smashing shop windows.

The multiracial crowd that demonstrated earlier filled a large square in front of the city’s main courthouse.

Protesters held up white roses and placards decrying racism. “You think you are tired of hearing about racism? We are tired of experiencing it” read a cardboard placard held up by a young black woman.

Belgium media RTBF reported that people 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 to the ground under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee.


CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has lifted Chicago's curfew and the city has reopened downtown train stations and allowed full bus service to resume following days of protests that largely remained peaceful.

Lightfoot imposed the 9 p.m. curfew on May 30 during a night of unrest that included widespread vandalism and break-ins that followed peaceful protests earlier that day over the death of George Floyd.

Access to the Loop was limited to essential workers for days, with bridges over the Chicago River raised and streets blocked. Several hundred Illinois National Guard were brought into Chicago to enforce the limited access. The mayor announced the lifting of the curfew Sunday on Twitter.

Meanwhile, demonstrations over Floyd's death and police brutality continued on Sunday, with hundreds gathering at an intersection on the city's South Side.

Community activist Jahmal Cole says that since many stores boarded their windows and shut down because of the protests, parts of the South Side have become food and pharmacy deserts, with residents having to travel 15 to 20 minutes for milk or their medications.


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.”


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.


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.