The Latest: U.S. ambassador: Nation addresses 'shortcomings'

Jun 17, 2020

A U.S. ambassador says the United States is committed to addressing its “shortcomings,” ahead of the U.N. human rights body’s discussion of systemic racism and police brutality

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— U.S. ambassador: Nation addressing ‘shortcomings' on race, injustice.

— A slave-owner's bust missing in New Orleans; another statue topples in Virginia.

— Two Portland reporters injured by police at protests.

— FBI director visits Minneapolis, briefed on Floyd investigation.

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GENEVA – A U.S. ambassador says the United States is committed to addressing its “shortcomings,” ahead of the U.N. human rights body's discussion of systemic racism and police brutality.

Andrew Bremberg, the U.S. ambassador in Geneva, noted President Donald Trump has condemned the actions of Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. Trump signed an executive order on police reform on Tuesday.

“The United States recognizes and is committed to addressing its shortcomings, including racial discrimination, and injustices that stem from such discrimination, that persist in our society,” Bremberg said in a statement. “Every democracy faces challenges — the difference is how we deal with them.”

Bremberg says the executive order was “an example of how transparent and responsive our government leaders are in holding violators accountable for their actions and reforming our own system.”

The Human Rights Council in Geneva, following a call by African nations, will discuss “racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality and the violence against peaceful protests.”

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NEW ORLEANS — The whereabouts of a statue of a slave owner toppled by protesters in New Orleans and thrown into the Mississippi River remain unknown after a group of men fished the bust out of the water.

A video shows the group using ropes and a plank to carry the paint-splattered bust of John McDonogh out of the river and onto a pickup truck Sunday.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate the bust is “considered stolen property,” and whoever has it should contact the city regarding its return.

McDonogh left much of his money to New Orleans and Baltimore for schools, and many schools in New Orleans are named after him.

On McDonogh Day each year, schoolchildren from across the city lined up to lay flowers in a racially segregated ceremony. It was boycotted in the 1950s when African-American children would have to wait for hours for white children to lay their flowers first.

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RICHMOND, Va. — Demonstrators in Richmond tore down another Confederate statue on Tuesday night.

The Howitzers Monument located near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus was toppled after protesters spent the night marching in the rain and used a rope to pull it down from its pedestal.

A video from the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows the paint-splattered statue on the ground as the rain continued overnight in Virginia’s capital city.

It’s the third Confederate statue, and the fourth monument, to be torn down in Virginia since international protests erupted following the death of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.

Statues of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham as well as Christopher Columbus were toppled.

The protesters in Richmond started their march Tuesday night advocating for the removal of all Confederate statues, establishing a civilian policing review board and defunding the police, among other things.

The Howitzers Monument, showed a Confederate artilleryman standing in front of a gun, was erected in 1892 to memorialize the city’s Civil War artillery unit, according to the Encyclopedia of Virginia.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — At least two Portland-based reporters have been hurt in recent days while covering protests against police brutality.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Oregonian journalist Beth Nakamura recounted being slammed by a baton. Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling said he was shoved into a wall by a police officer and hit by a crowd control munition.

The reporters say they identified themselves to police as press. In both incidents, the reporters were told by police, in what the journalists described as profanity-laced responses, that their press credentials did not matter.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Twitter they were alarming incidents that need to be addressed.

Police spokesperson Lt. Tina Jones says they continue to work with media partners about the importance of following lawful orders so they can stay safe and avoid arrest or altercation.

However, the media has a fundamental right to do their jobs during demonstrations.

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MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota board that licenses and set training standards for all peace officers in the state plans to review the death of George Floyd.

The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) is required to review all misconduct complaints against licensed police officers. If the complaint is ruled justified, the board can revoke any officer’s license, the Star Tribune reported.

All four Minneapolis police officers who have been charged in the May 25 death of Floyd were fired from the department, but they are still licensed Minnesota peace officers.

The POST Board has asked the court for copies of the criminal complaints against former officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, as well as former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng, who are all charged with aiding and abetting. A witness video captured Chauvin, who is white, pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck before the handcuffed black man died in Minneapolis.

In a statement, the board said Chauvin’s actions do not reflect any training that officers receive.

“The video is troubling and disturbing and it is the Board’s position that sanctity of life must be the guiding principle for all law enforcement officers,” the statement said.

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BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — FBI Director Christopher Wray visited the bureau's Minneapolis field office on Tuesday to check in on employees and get briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the officers involved in the death of George Floyd.

Minneapolis FBI spokesman Kevin Smith said Wray came to the local office on Tuesday morning for a quick “welfare check” on employees who have been working on the civil rights investigation, as well as investigations into violent protests and civil unrest. Smith said Wray offered his support and acknowledged the office’s hard work.

Smith said Wray also got a thorough briefing on the civil rights investigation, and underscored that investigators need to move swiftly but correctly as they determine whether to charge former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao with violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, even after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and stopped moving.

Chauvin has been charged in state court with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. The other three men are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.

The federal investigation is ongoing.

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Follow all AP coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

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