Minneapolis police officers: 'this is not who we are'

7 months ago 54
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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 been defaced or pulled down in Europe and the United States as demands for racial justice continue.

One of the four former Minneapolis police officers who was charged over the death of Floyd was released on a $750,000 bail.

Floyd died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has sparked nationwide calls for policing reforms.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo listens to a question at a press conference. [Jim Mone/AP Photo]

22:15 GMT - In open letter, Minneapolis police officers back chief's efforts to overhaul department

A group of Minneapolis police officers is condemning the officer charged with murder in George Floyd's death and say they are ready to back the police chief’s promised overhaul of the department.

Fourteen officers signed an open letter Thursday addressed to "Dear Everyone — but especially Minneapolis citizens".

The letter said Officer Derek Chauvin "failed as a human" and "stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life".

"This is not who we are," the letter said.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s May 25 death for pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he lay handcuffed. The letter makes no mention of three other officers charged with aiding and abetting.

The officers signing the letter, which was obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said they represent "hundreds" of other officers.

21:33 GMT - Trump: Military cut through protesters like 'knife cutting butter'

Trump flew to Dallas on Thursday for a roundtable on law enforcement, meeting with officials there and causing further controversy.

"It's not supposed to be a beautiful scene, but to me it was" Trump said at the event, referring to National Guard troops who went through protesters "like a knife cutting butter". 

Trump said authorities managed to quell protests in Minneapolis, and "yes there was some tear gas".

Trump has come under criticism for his handling of nonviolent protesters ahead of a photo-op at a church in Washington, DC, amid ongoing protests over Floyd's death and police brutality. Demonstrators outside the White House were dispersed with peppery spray, which some authorities initially denied to be tear gas. 

Trump also said the US cannot move forward while  "decent Americans" are accused of being "racist or bigots".  

US Congress, Trump contest police reforms after protests

The president also expressed his support for police, saying they need more funding, not less. "You have bad apples" wherever you go, Trump said, though there aren't "too many of them" in the police. 

Trump's visit was derided due to the exlcusion of three Black Dallas law enforcement leaders. 

Dallas Police Chief U Renee Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown and District Attorney John Creuzot were not invited. 

19:55 GMT - Celebrities 'at it again' with campaign urging white people to take responsibility for racism: report 

A new video campaign of white celebrities "taking responsibility" for not fighting racism emerged on social media to a chorus of critics, the Daily Beast reported.

regret to inform you the celebs are at it again pic.twitter.com/pfORBiqvrX

— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) June 11, 2020

Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing are all featured in the first video for the #ITakeResponsibility campaign, which encourages "white people to call out racism and support black lives through various causes", the Daily Beast wrote it in its article, which called the video a "cringeworthy" public service announcement. 

The black and white video shows the actors speaking sombrely as they take turns reciting a script which reads in part: "I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype". 

Others adopted the campaign's slogan, admitting their shortcomings. 

I take responsibility for thinking not being a racist was doing enough. #ITakeResponsibility pic.twitter.com/hDC3AiKY0M

— Jay Campbell 🇺🇸🏳️‍🌈 (@JCampbellVA75) June 11, 2020

The campaign was launched by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP, and aims to "to stand up for our Black friends and family in America. Our goal is to rally the white community, to provide education and encourage action", according to its website. 

19:21 GMT - 'Blank' incident report detailing Breonna Taylor's death decried

Benjamin Crump, attorney for the family of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two African Americans kill by police, said he was appalled by a "nearly blank" police report on Taylor's killing released this week.  

I'm appalled by LMPD's nearly BLANK incident report from the investigation of #BreonnaTaylor's murder. It lists "NONE" under Breonna's injuries... She was SHOT 8 TIMES!! It took 3 months to produce and release this report publicly – and THIS is what we get?! #JusticeForBre pic.twitter.com/9vEKmpBtCi

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 11, 2020

The report, released by Louisville Police on the fatal shooting, is mostly blank, with few details of the incident that spurred days of protests in the city.

The report, dated March 13, the day of the shooting, cites a police-involved death investigation and identifies Taylor, 26, as the victim. But it provides few other details, and some are incorrect.

Taylor was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who had a warrant to enter her apartment. A man inside the home with her, Kenneth Walker, fired once and struck an officer. There is no mention of Walker in the incident report.

The report also has a box to check for forced entry, which was checked "No," and it also said "none" in a space for the victim's injuries.

In the notes/narrative section, it simply said "PIU investigation," which is the department's Public Integrity Unit. 

Taylor was not named in the report. 

18:26 GMT - Trump tweets 'ugly' anarchists in Seattle must be 'stopped IMMEDIATELY' 

Trump continued trading barbs with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, saying they're being "taunted" by protesters who set up an "autonomous zone" in the city. 

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, was declared on June 8 as protests against police brutality swept the US. CHAZ covers about six square blocks in Seattle. Organisers have made it a haven for protest groups and others who seek an alternative to the US system. 

Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2020

The politicians are being "played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will", Trump said on Twitter. 

Durkan previously told Trump to "Make us all safe and go back to" his "bunker", a reference to Trump's brief stay in an underground bunker during Black Lives Matter protests outside the White House following Floyd's killing. 

17:23 GMT - West Virginia court says police excessive force 'has to stop'

A federal appeals court has vacated part of a finding that cleared five West Virginia police officers on qualified immunity grounds in an excessive force lawsuit, which was filed by the estate of a homeless black man shot 22 times in 2013.

Protests in Louisville following the death of Breonna Taylor

A man kneels in front of a line of Kentucky State Troopers during a protest against the deaths of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police and George Floyd by Minneapolis police [Bryan Woolston/Reuters]

A three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled this week that shielding five Martinsburg police officers for their actions during the summary judgment stage of the lawsuit "would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept."

The panel sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings.

Certain protesters are calling for an end to immunity for police in officer-involved shootings as part of wider reforms. 

"Although we recognise that our police officers are often asked to make split-second decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of black lives," the panel said. "This has to stop."

16:11 GMT - Names of two Confederate leaders to be removed from US Naval Academy

The names of two members of the Confederacy should be removed from buildings at the US Naval Academy, the chairman of the academy's Board of Visitors announced.

Representative CA Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, said the Pentagon should consider removing Confederate names from all military bases as people across the country protest against racial inequality and police brutality.

"There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017," Ruppersberger said in a statement. "As the new Chairman, the time for discussion is over. It's time for action." 

Ruppersberger continued by saying those who qualified to study at the academy should not be forced to "see buildings named for men who fought to uphold slavery and promote white supremacy".

The academy superintendent's residence is named after Franklin Buchanan, the academy's first superintendent who left to join the Confederate Navy at the start of the Civil War.

The academy's Weapons and Systems Engineering division is housed in Maury Hall, named after Matthew Fontaine Maury. He headed the coast, harbour and river defences for the Confederate Navy.

The Republican-led US Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, setting up a clash with President Donald Trump, who opposes that change.

14:15 GMT - Pentagon chief says he was wrong to accompany Trump on church walk

Army General Mark Milley, the US's top military officer, said he was wrong to have accompanied President Donald Trump on a walk to a church through Lafayette Square, where he was photographed in his combat uniform with the presidential entourage.

"My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics," Milley said. "As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it."

Covering the George Floyd protests as a Black journalist | Between Us

The statement by the Joint Chiefs chairman risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. Trump's June 1 walk through the park to pose with a Bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flashbangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters.

Milley said his presence and the photographs compromised his commitment to a military divorced from politics.

"I should not have been there," Milley said in prerecorded remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

14:00 GMT - Fitness company apologises for 'I can't breathe' workout

A health club company has apologised on behalf of a franchisee who posted an "I can't breathe" workout at its gym in Wisconsin.

Photos of the workout instructions drawn on a dry erase board at Anytime Fitness in the city of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin were shared widely on social media and drawn criticism.

The "I can't breathe" workout included burpees, or squat thrusts, with the instructions "don't you dare lay down". It also showed a person in a kneeling position, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Anytime Fitness apologizes for franchisee's 'I can't breathe' workout, says they will share with other locations as an example of "what not to do."https://t.co/qXV9935Bbm pic.twitter.com/lb4sDDPnV3

— KARE 11 (@kare11) June 11, 2020

The company said it was "profoundly sorry" that the workout was posted.

"No matter what the intent, we absolutely do not condone the words, illustrations or actions this represents. One of our publicly-stated commitments to antiracism work is to bolster training efforts for our franchise owners to lead with empathy, love and respect. This incident makes it clear we have more work to do in this space," a statement from the company read.

The workout instructions at the gym have since been removed.

13:00 GMT - One of four Minneapolis police charged over Floyd's death freed on bail

One of the four former Minneapolis police officers who was charged over the death of George Floyd was released on bail on Wednesday.

The former police officer released, Thomas Lane, 37, had been held on $750,000 bail and was freed from Hennepin County jail, sheriff's office records showed.

All four officers have been fired from the Minneapolis police department.

Catch up on Wednesday's updates here.

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