The Minneapolis City Council took a major step Sunday toward making radical changes in the city’s beleaguered police department, as a super majority publicly expressed support for disbanding the force.
Earlier Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled New York’s curfew following a day when cities across the nation saw massive, peaceful demonstrations against racism and police brutality.
“We are lifting the curfew, effective immediately,” de Blasio tweeted. “Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city.”
Also Sunday, President Donald Trump pulled the National Guard out of Washington, saying they were no longer needed. Thousands of protesters marched downtown in the city Saturday for the ninth – and by far the largest – day of demonstrations demanding justice for black victims of police misconduct.
The protests began after the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, the African-American man who passed away after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The latest in a series of memorial services for Floyd is Monday in Houston. His remains will be buried there Tuesday.
Some recent developments:
The editor of the New York Times’ editorial page resigned under pressure Sunday, a day after The Philadelphia Inquirer’s top editor stepped down. Both were embroiled in controversies related to protest coverage.
The U.S. Marine Corps ordered all public displays of the Confederate flag removed from its installations, a ban that extends to bumper stickers, clothing, mugs, posters and more.
George Floyd protests reached small cities as the nation struggles with systemic racism.
Minneapolis City Council vows to break up police
A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has committed to dismantling the city’s police department, breaking with Mayor Jacob Frey’s desire to make reforms but not break up the embattled police force.
Nine of the council’s 12 current members appeared Sunday on a city park stage behind the words “Defund police’’ and expressed their support for disbanding the department, which has drawn intense criticism since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody. Four officers have been charged, including one with second-degree murder.
“It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe,” council president Lisa Bender said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
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 the coming months, although it’s not clear what would replace the police force.
Frey was jeered Saturday outside his home by protesters seeking the department’s defunding when he expressed his opposition, saying, “I do not support the full abolition of the police department.’’
Trump orders National Guard out of Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that he had ordered the National Guard out Washington, D.C., after mobilizing them in response to protests that at times triggered vandalism, looting and clashes with police. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had objected to the deployment. Trump, however, called for a tough response to protests across the nation in order to “dominate the streets,” threatening to call in active-duty troops to quell unrest where local authorities were unable to do so.
Tensions on U.S. streets have eased somewhat in recent days, and protests Saturday were overwhelmingly peaceful.
“Everything is under perfect control,” Trump tweeted. “They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!”
Washington, D.C., authorities said the protesting crowds were the biggest to date.
– William Cummings
Top editors at New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer out amid controversy
The New York Times said editorial page editor James Bennett has resigned, four days after the newspaper printed an op-ed from a U.S. senator calling for military intervention to quell rioters in protests against police brutality. The essay by Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton, with the headline “Send in the Troops,’’ drew vehement criticism by Times staffers and readers, and two days later the newspaper said it should not have been published.
Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said the publication of the op-ed reflected “a significant breakdown in our editing processes,’’ and that Bennett was not the right person to shepherd needed changes. Jim Dao, who oversaw the op-eds, also stepped down from that position but remained with the paper.
The Times moves come a day after Stan Wischnowski, the top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, announced his resignation amid fallout from a controversial headline about the impact of the recent civil unrest. The headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” appeared over a column in Tuesday’s newspaper exploring the damage and looting that accompanied some of the nationwide protests over police violence. Wischnowski and other editors later apologized for the headline, describing it as “deeply offensive.”
Stars lend voices, financial support to protest movement
Singing celebrities are not standing quietly on the sidelines as the nation rises up to confront inequality and police brutality. Paul McCartney released a statement in support of racial equality. K-pop superstars BTS have donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, and Michael B. Jordan showed his support for the BLM movement at a recent protest in Los Angeles. Justin Bieber weighed in Saturday in support of the movement, saying he has been “inspired by… (and) benefited from black culture.”
“My style, how I sing, dance, perform, and my fashion have all been influenced by black culture,” Bieber posted on Twitter. “I am committed to using my platform from this day forward to learn, to speak up about racial injustice and systemic oppression, and to identify ways to be a part of much needed change.”
– Kim Willis and Rasha Ali
Barr: Justice system not systematically racist; no need to tap Insurrection Act
Racism remains an issue in the U.S., but the nation’s justice system is not systematically racist, Attorney General William Barr said Sunday. Barr, speaking on “Face the Nation,” said that “instances” of bad cops do not mean the entire “organization is rotten.” He also said he understands the distrust in the African American community.
“I think we have to realize that for most of our history our institutions were explicitly racist,” Barr said. “Since the 1960s we have been in a phase of reforming our institutions and making sure they are in sync with our laws.”
Barr also acknowledged that invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy military troops on American streets was considered. He, President Donald Trump and other administration officials were “on the same page” in determining that military troops would be deployed only “as a last resort and that we didn’t think we would need them.”
NYC drops curfew, prepares to being reopening after COVID lockdown
New York City’s first curfew in more than a half century was lifted a day early Sunday, hours after thousands of protesters across the city peacefully marched and chanted for an end to racial injustice. Mayor Bill de Blasio was under intense pressure to end the nightly curfew, imposed after looting broke out early last week. Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta are among other cities that have lifted their curfews.
New York’s 8 p.m. curfew had been scheduled to continue until 5 a.m. Monday – also the day the city begins Phase One of its reopening from the coronavirus shutdowns. Construction and other manufacturing-type facilities will be operational for the first time since being shuttered March 22.
“Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart,” de Blasio tweeted. “Keep staying safe. Keep looking out for each other.”
At the same time, de Blasio took issue with police officers not wearing masks while doing crowd control during the protests. “It’s painful to people because it feels like they’re flouting the rules,” de Blasio said, adding that, “It frustrates me to no end.”
Statue of British slave trader toppled, tossed into harbor
The statue of a 17th-century merchant and slave trader in the British city of Bristol was toppled and dumped into a harbor by protesters Sunday as part of anti-racism demonstrations in the United Kingdom.
The BBC reported the statue of Edward Colston had been covered with canvas during the protest stemming from the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At one point demonstrators removed the covering, then tied ropes around the statue’s head to bring it down. Soon after stomping on the fallen monument, the crowd dragged it to nearby Bristol Harbor and tossed it in.
Colston, whose name is attached to streets and buildings in the city — located about 100 miles west of London — owned ships that sent an estimated 80,000 Africans to the Americas between 1672 and 1689.
Residents of smaller cities and towns join chorus for change
Protests in big cities such as New York, Washington and Los Angeles have grabbed the headlines, but residents of smaller cities are also making their voices heard. The conversations are typically driven by black citizens who say conditions are untenable.
During a peaceful protest in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a white man confronted a crowd of black men about their “Black Lives Matter” sign, telling them, “It should say ‘All Lives Matter!’” The Rev. Joseph Parks was nearby and stepped in, saying, “All of my bones matter. But if my wrist is broken, the only bone that matters at that moment is the one that’s broken.”
– Dustin Wyatt, Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Member of Naval Academy alumni board member resigns after his slurs are broadcast
A member of the Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees who lives near Jacksonville, Florida, has resigned after a private conversation that included racial slurs became public.
Scott Bethmann, 63, and his wife, Nancy, were watching the news when they started discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, making racist comments and using slurs in a video that was accidentally streamed on Facebook Live. “Somehow I clicked onto some live event,” Scott Bethmann can be heard saying in the video.
— Emily Bloch, Florida Times-Union
Iowa football assistant placed on leave amid complaints of racism
Iowa football strength and condition coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave after dozens of social-media posts from black former athletes described a culture of systemic racism within the Hawkeyes’ football program. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz also announced the creation of an advisory committee to address “a call for a cultural shift.” Doyle has been Iowa’s strength and conditioning coach since Ferentz’s first year of 1999.
Ferentz said he has lifted his team’s longstanding ban on social media at the request of players who want to “participate in the national discussion” concerning injustice, racism and inequality.
– Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Fox News sorry for graphic linking deaths of black men to stock prices
Fox News apologized Saturday after showing a graphic depicting the impact of the killings of black men including George Floyd on stock prices. The graph aired on Friday during Fox’s live news coverage and showed positive stock market changes one week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the police killings of Michael Brown and George Floyd, who were both unarmed when they lost their lives to white officers.
“The infographic used on FOX News Channel’s Special Report to illustrate market reactions to historic periods of civil unrest should have never aired on television without full context. We apologize for the insensitivity of the image and take this issue seriously,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.
– Dalvin Brown
Marines ban display of Confederate flag
The Marines have banned display of the Confederate Battle Flag from military installations, saying it is divisive and has “too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups.” The directive orders commanders to ban the flag or its depiction within work places, common-access areas and public areas on their installations. Posters, bumper stickers, clothing and coffee mugs are specifically called out. The directive and a statement released by the Corps make reference to “current events” and specifically mentions a 2017 demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a protester.
“Our history as a nation, and events like the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, highlight the divisiveness the use of the Confederate battle flag has had on our society,” the directive says.
Police, protesters square off in Portland
A clash between police in Portland, Oregon, and protesters at the Justice Center overnight resulted in more than 50 arrests. Police Chief Jami Resch said early Sunday that several thousand people marched peacefully, but that a smaller group of protesters attempted to cut through a security fence and threw balloons full of paint and full beverage cans. Two officers were injured by lit fireworks, she said.
Protests have taken place daily in the city for more than a week, and police have come under scrutiny for their use of force against demonstrators. The advocacy group Don’t Shoot Portland has filed suit against the city, accusing police of “indiscriminate use” of tear gas. The city’s police oversight panel, the Citizen Review Committee, has issued a statement citing “a troubling pattern of police violence against protesters that interferes with public safety and freedom of speech.”
Survey: Americans’ perceptions of police drop significantly in one week
The perception of police among white Americans has dropped by double digits in just one week, as police have targeted peaceful protesters, bystanders and journalists amid nationwide demonstrations focusing on systemic racism facing black Americans. Perceptions also have declined across all racial groups following the death of George Floyd in police custody, according to a new survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.
Among white Americans – a group where President Donald Trump saw broad support in the 2016 election – those who have a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression of police officers totaled 61% in the survey conducted May 28 to June 3. That’s down from 72% the previous week, according to an analysis from Nationscape Insights, Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY. Among black Americans, only 38% view the police very or somewhat favorably. That number dropped 9 percentage points from the previous week.
“These changes were striking,” said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. “At a time when so much in American politics feels deadlocked, this is the kind of major event that can reshape how Americans think.”
– Rebecca Morin
More on protests, George Floyd:
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd protests: Minneapolis defund police; New York lifts curfew