Jun 16, 2020
At least two Portland-based reporters have been hurt in recent days while covering protests against police brutality
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Two Portland reporters injured by police at protests against police brutality
— FBI director visits Minneapolis, is briefed on Floyd investigation.
— Man charged in Colorado in connection with Minneapolis fires.
— Richmond, Virginia, police chief ousted after repeated clashes with protesters.
— Seattle's police chief says officers will protect safety in occupied zone.
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 while 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.
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.
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.
DENVER — A Minnesota man arrested in Colorado has been charged on suspicion of setting some of the fires that destroyed a Minneapolis police station on a night when protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent.
Twenty-two-year-old Dylan Shakespeare Robinson appeared briefly in federal court in Denver by video on Tuesday to be advised of the aiding and abetting of arson charge filed against him.
He was arrested Sunday in the ski resort community of Breckenridge by federal investigators who initially traced him to Denver.
Robinson is represented by a federal public defender whose office doesn’t comment on cases.
MINNEAPOLIS — Federal prosecutors have charged a Rochester, Minnesota, man with arson for a fire at a Minneapolis pawn shop during the unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Montez Terrill Lee, 25, made his first appearance in U.S. District Court Tuesday and was ordered temporarily detained. A formal detention hearing is scheduled Thursday.
According to the complaint, investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received video from an anonymous source of an arson that took place May 28 at the pawn shop. The video shows a masked man, later identified as Lee, pouring liquid from a metal container throughout the pawn shop. A second video shows Lee standing in front of the burning pawn shop saying “We’re going to burn this.”
Rioting and arson fires broke out in Minneapolis following the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who was pinned by a white Minneapolis police officer with a knee against Floyd’s neck.
Lee’s federal public defender did not immediately return a phone call for comment on his behalf Tuesday.
FLINT, Mich. — A Michigan prosecutor said Tuesday that his office will no longer authorize criminal charges in cases that begin with a police officer stopping someone for simply walking in the street.
The tactic can lead to a gun or drug charge or be perceived as harassment. It’s more often used in urban areas where minorities live instead of suburban communities, said Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton.
“This is an unfair practice. It’s likely unconstitutional,” Leyton said.
Genesee County’s black population is estimated at 20%. Blacks make up 53% of Flint, the county’s largest city.
The new policy comes while officials across the U.S. talk about how minorities have been treated in the justice system. Vigorous protests have followed the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, whose neck was pinned to the ground by police.
“There is no better time than the present,” Leyton said.
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond’s mayor said Tuesday that he has asked for and accepted the resignation of the city’s police chief, saying Virginia’s capital needs “a new approach” to public safety.
Mayor Levar Stoney announced Chief William Smith’s departure at a news conference and said a police major will serve as the interim chief.
The announcement came after repeated clashes between Richmond police and protesters during more than two weeks of protests over the police killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded for air.
Police have been criticized for using tear gas and pepper spray on protesters, including one incident on June 1, when police lobbed tear gas at a peaceful group of protesters about 30 minutes before a curfew went into effect.
Stoney, a Democrat, praised Smith as a “good man” who has served the city “with grace” but said it was necessary to move in a new direction. He outlined a number of police oversight and accountability reforms he would work to implement.
Earlier this week, Stoney said he had asked a prosecutor to investigate an incident in which a police SUV was seen on video driving through a crowd of protesters who were blocking its path. No serious injuries were reported, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — An Atlanta-area police chief who was criticized for saying on social media that he doesn’t support the Black Lives Matter movement has been placed on leave while his city investigates him.
Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers wrote on his personal Facebook page that religious leaders have failed to give enough support to police and that Black Lives Matter as a movement “seems to glorify the killing of my brothers and sisters.”
Since then, Johns Creek City Manager Ed Densmore said he began gathering information from residents, police officers and city employees.
But Densmore said the investigation now focuses on other issues related to the chief. Densmore said he opened an internal investigation into allegations against the chief “unrelated to his social media post.” He did not specify what those allegations are.
In his Facebook post, Byers said he is supportive of demonstrations for justice and that he supports the lives of all people.
“But I do not support the Black Lives Matter as a movement as it seems to glorify the killing of my brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “It is not what you pastors and religious leaders think it is.”
ALAMOSA, Colo. — An attorney is accused of shooting a man who drove close to protesters in the street during a demonstration over the killing of George Floyd in southern Colorado.
Twenty-seven-year-old James Marshall was charged with attempted second-degree murder and other crimes Monday. He's accused of shooting Danny Von Pruitt Jr. in the back of the head.
Citing police documents, KCNC-TV reported Pruitt came to an almost complete stop before inching forward toward protesters and then continued through the intersection as they parted before being shot. Marshall allegedly told police he thought his wife was going to be run over.
CHICAGO — Chicago aldermen are pitching a plan to remove police officers from the city’s public schools amid outcry from activists who want reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The proposal to end the city’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department will be introduced Wednesday. Minneapolis and Seattle have taken similar action.
Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposes the move. She says the additional security is needed and the district strikes a good balance with how it uses police in schools. A vote is expected next month.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s two biggest universities want to change names of campus buildings that honor racists from more than a century ago.
But any changes face an uphill battle. A state law passed in 2000 mostly to protect Civil War monuments requires a two-thirds vote from the state Legislature, which is dominated by conservative Republicans.
University of South Carolina trustees will vote Friday on a proposal from the president to remove the name of J. Marion Sims from a women’s residence hall on campus.
Sims, who is white, has been honored as the father of modern gynecology, but he did experimental work without anesthesia on black women who were slaves.
University President Bob Caslen said Sims’ experiments, while advancing medical knowledge, were “incompatible with respect for human dignity.”
Last week, Clemson University trustees voted to ask lawmakers for permission to change the name of Tillman Hall, named after “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, a white man who was a South Carolina governor and a U.S. senator.
Tillman came to prominence leading a mob that attacked and killed four black men in 1876 in a successful effort to remove the political power African Americans gained after the Civil War.
Along with their names on the colleges, Sims and Tillman have statues on the lawn of South Carolina’s capitol that also are protected under the 2000 law.
SEATTLE — Seattle's police chief says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety.
Police pulled back from a part of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood after recent clashes with protesters occurred.
A festival-like atmosphere has emerged in the area, now called the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” with participants painting a Black Lives Matter mural on the street and planting a community garden.
Police Chief Carmen Best spoke after a business owner near the protest area complained that police didn’t respond when he called 911 to report a break-in and vandalism.
“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Best said Monday.
Best said officers have written multiple police reports for crimes reported in that area in the past 48 hours. She said dispatchers and officers are coordinating with crime victims or callers to meet police on the edges of the CHOP boundaries. She added that officers will go in if there’s an urgent situation.
MANCHESTER, Conn. — Protesters in Connecticut are calling attention to police misconduct against Latinos.
At rallies in Manchester, signs calling for “Justice for Jay” have joined the more familiar Black Lives Matter banners.
Jose “Jay” Soto, 27, a convicted robber, was shot to death by a SWAT team on April 2 as he left his mother’s home in Manchester following a standoff that began when authorities say he refused to surrender to a parole officer. Authorities said Soto was acting erratically and had threatened to shoot anyone who tried to take him out of his house.
But his family says he was not carrying a weapon and was putting his hands in the air. Relatives say they also told authorities Soto had mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Do you think this would have happened if he was white?” said Soto’s stepfather, Anthony Vazquez.
The four officers who fired at Soto have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he met with several families who have lost loved ones in deadly encounters with police officers.
Trump says of the families that “your loved ones will not have died in vain.” He also says “I can never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish, but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people.”
Trump spoke before he signed an executive order that the White House says is aimed at promoting accountability in law enforcement. It includes a provision that establishes a database for tracking officers with excessive use of force complaints. Police departments would be able to check the database before hiring someone from another department.
The executive order follows the death on May 25 of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis officer and large protests in cities throughout the country.
Trump also used the ceremony to criticize what he describes as “radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments.”
Follow all AP coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd