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The Latest: Religious leader criticizes toppling of statue

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— San Francisco religious leader criticizes toppling of statue in Golden Gate Park.

— Trump tries to tie destruction of statues to Democrats, including Biden.

— Trump stages comeback rally in less-than-fun arena amid pandemic.

— Memorial to Black Wall Street in Tulsa covered by tarp near Trump rally.

— Trump campaign abruptly cancels outdoor campaign rally.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone criticized the pulling down of the Junipero Serra statue in Golden Gate Park.

“What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism,” he said in a statement Saturday night.

Serra was an 18th century Roman Catholic priest who founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions and is credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States.

Serra forced Native Americans to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment. His statues have been defaced in California for several years by people who said he destroyed tribes and their culture.

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TULSA, Okla. — President Donald Trump is seeking to tie the destruction of monuments and statues around the country to Democratic leaders, including his likely rival in the presidential election, Joe Biden.

Speaking to supporters in Tulsa, Trump says “the choice in 2020 is very simple. Do you want to bow before the left-wing mob or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?”

Statues have been destroyed in numerous cities amid continuing anti-racism demonstrations following the May 25 police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, the African-American man who died in police custody.

The statues targeted included a bust of Ulysses Grant, who was the U.S. president after he was the general who finally beat the Confederates and ended the Civil War. Also torn down in a San Francisco park was a statue of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the “Star Spangled Banner.” Key owned slaves.

Trump says: “Biden remains silent in his basement in the face of this brutal assault on our nation and the values of our nation. Joe Biden has surrendered to his party and to the left-wing mob.”

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TULSA, Okla. — President Donald Trump has returned to the rally stage Saturday night only to find the venue about two-thirds full, a surprising and undoubtedly disappointing turn of events for a politician who values crowd size.

Trump launched his first rally in 110 days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Empty seats could be seen throughout the upper deck as Trump seemingly blamed protesters, saying “we had some very bad people outside that were doing bad things.” The lower deck was full, except for an area behind the television cameras where the view of the stage was blocked.

The vast majority of those in attendance bucked the guidance of health care experts and did not wear a mask, following the lead of a president who has insisted on not wearing a mask in public.

Trump applauded those in attendance as warriors. His campaign has planned for Trump to also speak at an outdoor venue before going inside the arena, but that event was canceled.

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TULSA, Okla. — A memorial to Black Wall Street in the Greenwood District of Tulsa has been covered with tarp by residents who say they don’t want it used as a photo opportunity by the Trump administration as the president holds a campaign rally nearby.

The tarp was placed following a news conference that included Tiffany Crutcher, the twin sister of Terence Crutcher, a black man killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.

“This is not a photo op, that’s not what this is,” said Nehemiah Frank, editor of the online Black Wall Street Times in Tulsa, in a video posted following the news conference which called for the campaign rally to be canceled and for peaceful protests.

“This is a place to come pay respects to people that died a horrible murder from racism,” Frank said as the video showed signs attached to the blue tarp, including one reading “This is sacred ground, not a photo op.”

The Greenwood District was the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in which black-owned businesses were burned and an estimated 300 people were killed.

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TULSA, Okla. — President Donald Trump’s campaign has abruptly canceled an outdoor campaign rally that had been scheduled in downtown Tulsa.

The campaign said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence would only appear at the scheduled indoor event at the BOK Center. No reason was given for the cancellation of the outdoor rally right outside the venue. Images posted on social media showed few people in the outdoor area.

Thousands of Trump supporters and protesters gathered on the streets despite concerns about the coronavirus and fears that the politically charged environment could lead to violent conflicts. Many demonstrators appeared on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement to protest the recent deaths of Black men in police custody.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Police say a 17-year-old boy wanted for allegedly shooting at officers during riots in Sioux Falls over the death of George Floyd has been arrested in Kansas.

Police say the Sioux Falls teen was arrested Friday at a home in Holcomb, Kansas, without incident.

The teen was wanted on an arrest warrant for attempted murder, aggravated assault on law enforcement, and riot.

Police said they have a video of the teen throwing rocks at police, then pulling a handgun from his pants and firing in the direction of police officers during a riot in Sioux Falls on May 31 that developed from a protest over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.

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TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa police say they have arrested a woman who was inside a secure area outside an arena set to host President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally during the coronavirus pandemic.

The woman was seen Saturday on live video sitting cross-legged on the ground in peaceful protest when officers pulled her away by the arms and later put her in handcuffs. She said her name was Sheila Buck and that she was from Tulsa.

As officers put handcuffed her, Buck said they were hurting her and told them to stop. She was wearing a T-shirt that said “I Can’t Breathe” — the dying words of George Floyd, whose death has inspired a global push for racial justice.

Buck said she had a ticket to the Trump rally and was told she was being arrested for trespassing. She said she was not part of any organized group.

Police said in a news release the officers tried for several minutes to talk Buck into leaving and that she was taken into custody for obstruction after police were asked by the Trump campaign to remove her from the area.

“Ms. Buck was in an area that is considered a private event area and the event organizer, in this case the Trump campaign, can have people removed at their discretion,” according to the release, which said officers remove people “only at the direction of campaign staff.”

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SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Mayor London Breed acknowledged “the very real pain in this country rooted in our history of slavery and oppression, especially against African-Americans and Indigenous people,” but said she didn’t condone the damage done to Golden Gate Park by dozens of protesters who defaced and tore down statues.

“Every dollar we spend cleaning up this vandalism takes funding away from actually supporting our community, including our African-American community,” Breed, who is Black, said in a statement. “I say this not to defend any particular statue or what it represents, but to recognize that when people take action in the name of my community, they should actually involve us. And when they vandalize our public parks, that’s their agenda, not ours.”

Breed said city officials will work with community members to evaluate public art and make sure it reflects San Francisco’s values.

Besides the toppled bust and statues, the park’s old museum concourse was widely spray-painted, including commemorative benches, drinking fountains, pathways and balustrades. Heavy equipment operators and cleanup crews arrived late Friday and worked through the night to remove damaged statues, paint over the graffiti and power wash the area, the parks department said.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Crews have removed two Confederate statues outside the North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh on order of the governor.

The statues were taken away on Saturday, the morning after protesters toppled two nearby statues.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has long advocated removing the statues, said in a press release that removing the statues was a public-safety imperative.

“If the legislature had repealed their 2015 law that puts up legal roadblocks to removal, we could have avoided the dangerous incidents of last night,” Cooper said.

One of the statues is dedicated to the women of the Confederacy. The other was placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy honoring Henry Wyatt, the first North Carolinian killed in battle in the Civil War.

Both statues stood for over a century.

A 2015 law bars removal of the memorials without permission of a state historical commission. But Cooper said the law creates an exception for public-safety emergencies, and he is acting under that provision.

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico lawmakers are attempting to address longstanding problems of police accountability and craft new civil rights protections for minorities within the span of a three-day special legislative session.

The state House on Saturday began deliberations on a Senate-approved bill to ensure state agencies assess policies for preventing racism in hiring, employee retention, pay equity, community engagement and workplace participation.

Other bills under consideration by the Legislature would mandate police body cameras and allow special prosecutors to investigate excessive force by police.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has encouraged legislators to seize on the momentum of national civil rights demonstrations.

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TULSA, Okla. — Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet with Black leaders in Tulsa ahead of a campaign rally with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he will join Pence on Saturday to speak with leaders in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, which was the site of one of the worst racial massacres in U.S. history.

The Republican governor earlier in the week had invited Trump to join him, but later rescinded that request.

“We talked to the African American community and they said it would not be a good idea, so we asked the president not to do that,” Stitt said.

Black leaders in Tulsa say they fear the president’s visit could lead to violence.

Hundreds of Black people were killed during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when white mobs burned down the thriving commercial area known as Black Wall Street.

The district was the site Friday of Tulsa’s celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

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SAN FRANCISCO — In San Francisco, a group of about 400 people tore down statues of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the U.S., Spanish missionary Junipero Serra and Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The group of protesters arrived at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Friday night and after defacing the statues with red paint and writing “slave owner” on the platforms they were on, they toppled them using ropes and dragged them down grassy slopes amid cheers and applause.

Grant led the Union Army during the Civil War and thus was a key figure in the fight to end slavery. However, like Key, he once owned slaves. Serra, an 18th century Roman Catholic priest, founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions and is credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western United States. He is also blamed by many Native Americans for the destruction of their culture and the decimation of several tribes.

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BOSTON — Three members of the Boston City Council want to start diverting nonviolent 911 calls away from police.

The Boston Globe reported that the councilors have filed an ordinance that calls for “an alternative response from non-law enforcement agencies.”

They said Boston police often respond to nonviolent calls for service that include issues such as homelessness and substance abuse that are beyond the scope of their function.

The councilors are Michelle Wu, Lydia Edwards and Julia Mejia. They’ve proposed the changes in a time when calls for police reform are taking place all over the country in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

The Boston councilors want the city to create a crisis-response plan for nonviolent 911 calls within 90 days. They said the plan should connect people who need help to unarmed service providers such as healthcare professionals instead of police.

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SEATTLE — A shooting in Seattle’s protest zone has left one person dead and another critically injured.

Authorities say the shooting before dawn Saturday happened in the area known as CHOP, which stands for Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.

Seattle Police Sgt. Lauren Truscott told The Seattle Times that she didn’t know whether police had taken anyone into custody and said she had no immediate details about how the shooting unfolded.

Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Susan Gregg says two males with gunshot wounds arrived in a private vehicle at the hospital at at about 3 a.m. One died and the other was in critical condition.

Protesters have cordoned off several blocks near a police station in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in the wake of demonstrations against police violence since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis several weeks ago.

Police have largely retreated from the zone after clashes with protesters ended with people throwing things at police and police using tear gas and other crowd-control munitions. City officials have said they are still communicating with protest leaders, who had pledged to keep the peace in the zone.

The situation has drawn the continued ire of President Donald Trump. His tweets about possibly sending in the military have been met with condemnation from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Police in Amsterdam say they are investigating a threatening letter sent to a prominent Black activist.

Jerry Afriyie posted a photo of the letter on his Twitter feed Saturday.

He tweeted, “We are entering the next phase. My family is being threatened because I along with others fight against racism.”

Afriyie has long been a leader of efforts to eradicate the children’s character Black Pete, who is often portrayed by white people wearing blackface makeup at celebrations each December marking Sinterklaas, a Dutch celebration of St. Nicholas.

The letter, which contains racial epithets and insults, purports to come from the Northern division of the far-right anti-immigrant Pegida organization.

In a reaction posted to Instagram, the Dutch branch of Pegida denied involvement, saying that however much the disagree with Afriyie, “we will never send this sort of cowardly, threatening, racist letter to anybody.”

Police say in a tweet that they are investigating who sent the letter. The Amsterdam police tweet added, “as police we take this case extremely seriously.”

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A statue of the founder of Rochester, New York, has been vandalized.

Anti-racism messages were sprayed on the sculpture of Revolutionary War figure and slave owner Nathaniel Rochester.

The hands of the bronze statue of a seated Rochester were painted red, with “shame” written across the forehead. Other messages around the figure included “stole indigenous lands” and “abolish the police.”

Mayor Lovely Warren said Friday there’s a complexity to recognizing Rochester’s role in establishing what became the western New York city. She said the community should discuss “the best way to deal with those figures.”

The city’s new Commission on Racial and Structural Equity could decide. The sculpture was unveiled in 2008 as part of a neighborhood-revitalization effort led by volunteers.

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WASHINGTON — Protesters have toppled the only statue of a Confederate general in the nation’s capital and set it on fire.

It comes on Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, amid continuing anti-racism demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Cheering demonstrators jumped up and down as the 11-foot (3.4-meter) statue of Albert Pike — wrapped with chains — wobbled on its high granite pedestal before falling backward, landing in a pile of dust. Protesters then set a bonfire and stood around it in a circle as the statue burned, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!”

Eyewitness accounts and videos posted on social media indicated that police were on the scene, but didn’t intervene.

President Donald Trump quickly tweeted about the toppling, calling out D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and writing: “The DC police are not doing their job as they watched a statue be ripped down and burn.” After the statue fell, most protesters returned peacefully to Lafayette Park near the White House.

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More news about the death of George Floyd at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd