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UPDATES: Hundreds pay respects at George Floyd’s memorial in Houston

Democrats introduce Justice in Policing Act in response to black Americans killed by law enforcement

Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

Following a weekend of rallies and unifying calls for change in American policing international protests continue Monday in the wake of recent deaths of black people killed during law enforcement officer encounters.

Two weeks ago, George Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis after a white officer pressed a knee on his neck for more than 8 minutes.

Mourners will honor Floyd during a memorial in his hometown of Houston, the third and final in series of memorials to honor the father who died May 25.

On Monday, House Democrats unveiled the Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures in response to the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, according to The Associated Press.

In Orlando, the downtown 8 p.m. curfew was lifted Sunday after more than a week of protests and demonstrations. Orange County remains under a 10 p.m. curfew until further notice.

Follow updates throughout the day from around the world below:

WASHINGTON The National Park Service is calling a newly erected fence in front of a White House protest area temporary.

Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming said Monday that her agency and the Secret Service expect to reopen part of Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Wednesday.

Liming says some areas of the park will remain closed to allow workers to deal with damage and address safety hazards. Liming gave no details and no time for when the rest of the square would reopen.

Lafayette Park in front of the White House is one of the country’s most prominent sites for political protests and other free-speech events.

It’s been closed off since early last week, when law officers used chemical agents and other force to drive out protesters in the nationwide rallies against police brutality.

Authorities left a newly erected high black fence blocking the square, even though recent protests have been overwhelmingly calm.

Liming says the Washington Ellipse, Sherman Park and some other landmark areas also will reopen Wednesday.

GENEVA The American Civil Liberties Union says relatives of George Floyd and three other black people who were killed by police have joined some 600 rights groups to demand the top U.N. human rights body “urgently” convene a special session to look into a rise of police violence and repression of protests in the United States.

A spokesman for the Human Rights Council in Geneva confirmed the council office received a letter on Monday from the groups outlining their call, as Black Lives Matter protests continue to gain traction well beyond the United States -- notably in Europe.

At least one-third of the council’s 47 member states would have to back the call for a special session in order for one to be called.

The prospects of one being held swiftly remained uncertain. The council cut short its last session in March because of the coronavirus outbreak and has been grappling with ways to start it back up next Monday.

The efforts have been complicated because the government of Switzerland, which has seen the COVID-19 pandemic recede in recent weeks, is for now still restricting all public gatherings to no more than 300 people. Council sessions generally draw hundreds more than that.

The groups want an independent investigation into the recent killings of unarmed black people in the U.S. as well as one into “violent law enforcement responses to protests.” The call included relatives of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and Philando Castile.

The United States, like all U.N. member states, regularly has its human rights record examined by the council, a 47-member state body that is not part of the United Nations but is supported by it.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Black Democrats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives commandeered the podium for about 90 minutes at the start of voting session Monday, disrupting the day’s business in an effort to force action on police reform bills.

The dramatic takeover went on pause when the Republican House speaker said he would consider putting proposals up for votes and that he supports a special session to consider the legislation.

The protesters, including veteran black lawmakers from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, hung a "BLACK LIVES MATTER" banner from the speaker's dais and vowed they would not leave without movement on the stalled proposals.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans’ mayor said the Superdome would glow crimson and gold -- the colors of George Floyd’s high school -- Monday night as a tribute to him and a call for racial equality.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Superdome administrators agreed to her lighting request -- which in turn was made at the request of Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, where Floyd grew up and where his funeral will be held Tuesday.

Floyd, who was black, choked out “I can’t breathe” many times before he died May 25 after what prosecutors said was 8 minutes and 46 seconds with his throat pinned under a white police officer’s knee in Minneapolis.

Crimson and gold are the colors of Houston’s Yates High School, where Floyd graduated.

“As we continue to mourn the loss of George Floyd, along with others who have been the victim of violence by police officers, we will seek to remember him and honor his memory,” Cantrell said.

“Last week, we showed the world that we can march, protest and be heard, and do so peacefully and respectfully. We will continue to demand justice and ensure that our police officers remain a positive presence in our own community.”

Earlier in the day, Police Chief Shaun Ferguson acknowledged that police fired rubber balls at protesters on a Mississippi River bridge last week and apologized for having said otherwise at a next-day news conference defending officers’ use of tear gas.

Other protests in New Orleans and around the state have been peaceful.

LOS ANGELES Prosecutors say criminal charges will not be brought against thousands of Los Angeles protesters arrested for violating curfew and other police orders.

City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday that his office will develop an alternative outside court without punishment for those cited for violating curfew or failing to obey orders to leave demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she won’t file charges in protest misdemeanor cases from other parts of Los Angeles County.

The city had the largest number of the 10,000 protest arrests in the U.S. tracked by The Associated Press.

Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested more than 3,000 people over days of mostly peaceful protests. The vast majority of citations were happened in Los Angeles for violating curfew or dispersal orders.

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge on Monday set $1 million bail for a Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd’s death.

Derek Chauvin, 44, said almost nothing during an 11-minute hearing in which he appeared before Hennepin County Judge Denise Reilly on closed-circuit television from the state’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights. His attorney, Eric Nelson, did not contest the bail — raised from the $500,000 initially set in the case — and didn’t address the substance of the charges, which also include third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Nelson did not speak with reporters afterward.

Chauvin’s next appearance was set for June 29 at 1:30 p.m.

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HOUSTON — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has paid his respects with hundreds of people mourning the death of George Floyd at a church in Houston, where Floyd grew up.

The Republican governor looked at Floyd’s body in a gold-colored casket at The Fountain of Praise church Monday for about 15 seconds, then lowered his head with his hands folded for several seconds more.

Abbott told reporters outside the church that he will include Floyd’s family in discussions about police reform and any related legislation.

“George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States. George Floyd has not died in vain. His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas responds to this tragedy,” Abbott said.

Abbott said he planned to meet privately with Floyd’s family and present them with a Texas flag that was flown over the state Capitol in Floyd’s honor. The governor wore a striped crimson and gold tie, which he said was in honor of Floyd as those are the colors of Floyd’s high school.

Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests.

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SEATTLE — Just days after Seattle’s mayor and police chief promised a month-long moratorium on using a type of tear gas to disperse protesters, the department used it again during an overnight protest -- bringing severe criticism Monday from City Council members, vows to overhaul the department and an additional call for the mayor’s resignation.

“How many people need to write in about being gassed in their own homes? How many people have to be sprayed in the street every night or experience getting hit with flash bombs or rubber bullets?” Council Member Teresa Mosqueda said during a council briefing.

“The mayor should ... ask herself if she is the right leader and resign.”

Council President Lorena Gonzalez and others also expressed their frustration with Mayor Jenny Durkan and the police, signaling radical change is on the way.

Durkan’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The developments in Seattle came soon after Minneapolis City Council members said they intend to disband the city’s police department following the killing of George Floyd and protests against police brutality and racism that have erupted around the globe.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Not yet six months into her job, the chief of the Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau is stepping down as protests roil the city.

Jami Resch on Monday announced that she asked Charlie Lovell, an African American lieutenant, to serve as the next chief of police of Oregon’s largest city.

“He’s the exact right person at the exact right moment,” she said at a news conference.

Demonstrators held two peaceful protests in Portland but a third one that lasted until the early hours of Monday resulted in at least 20 arrests, with some demonstrators throwing objects at police, who fired tear gas and sponge-tipped projectiles.

Full beverage containers, glass bottles, hard-boiled eggs and rocks were thrown or fired at officers using slingshots, police said in a statement Monday. A medic who was working with the officers was hit in the stomach with a rock.

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LOS ANGELES — Funeral-style auto processions in memory of George Floyd are winding through Southern California.

The processions are expected to culminate Monday with a downtown Los Angeles memorial service for Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police two weeks ago continues to draw nationwide protests.

The processions coincide with a final public viewing for Floyd at a Houston church. His funeral will be Tuesday, followed by burial next to his mother.

California demonstrations have been largely peaceful for days, after initially being marred by violence and looting.

Officials announced Sunday that California National Guard troops are being pulled out of California cities that had requested them.

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WASHINGTON -- Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures Monday, a potentially far-reaching legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans in the hands of law enforcement.

Before unveiling the package, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol's Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — now a symbol of police brutality and violence — the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died.

“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drawing on the nation's history of slavery.

The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes, according to an early draft. It is the most ambitious change to law enforcement sought by Congress in years.

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RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia prosecutor said Monday she is investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate against an “admitted” Ku Klux Klan leader who authorities say revved his vehicle’s engine and drove through peaceful protesters occupying a Richmond-area roadway.

There were no reports of serious injuries from the incident late Sunday afternoon. Harry H. Rogers was arrested and charged with assault and battery, attempted malicious wounding and felony vandalism, Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement.

“The accused, by his own admission and by a cursory glance at social media, is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology. We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate,” Taylor said in the statement.

Rogers, 36, of Hanover County, made an initial court appearance Monday morning where he agreed to accept a court-appointed attorney and was denied bond, Richmond TV station WTVR reported.

The attorney listed for him in court records, George Townsend, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Taylor’s statement said Rogers was driving recklessly in the vicinity of the protest, drove up to the protesters, revved the engine and drove into the group.

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RICHMOND, Va. — Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House’s virus task force, says she’s worried about the potential impact the widespread protests against police violence may have on curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

Birx said Monday she’s concerned shouting protesters may have spread the disease and that high-risk individuals attended some protests. She also said that some urban testing sites were destroyed in the protests.

Birx made the comments on a private White House call with governors, the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Birx said she saw many protesters not wearing masks and some who wore masks were shouting. She said that while the masks may work at stopping to spread the disease when an infected person wearing one is talking, “we don’t know the efficacy of masks with shouting.”

She said she’s also concerned about some of the age groups she saw at the protests, particularly as they became more peaceful.

“I saw more and more higher risk groups on the streets,” Birx said.

Birx said about 70 testing sites nationwide, including pharmacies, that were serving inner city residents were destroyed during the protests.

Vice President Mike Pence urged governors to make sure masks were distributed at protests and that protesters distance themselves from potentially vulnerable family members. He noted that hasn’t been a spike in cases after large crowds gathered during Memorial Day Weekend, which was before the protests began.

“Sunlight, humidity, heat are all our allies in all of this,” Pence said.

HOUSTON — The casket carrying the body of George Floyd has arrived at a church in his native Houston as the series of memorials in his honor reach their final stop.

A six-hour public viewing will be held Monday at a Houston church. Visitors must wear a mask and gloves to comply with coronavirus-related guidelines. Floyd’s funeral and burial will be Tuesday.

Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police.

Previous memorials were held for Floyd in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born.

Floyd was raised in Houston’s Third Ward and was a well-known former high school football player who rapped with local legend DJ Screw. He moved to Minneapolis several years ago to seek work and a fresh start.

BERLIN — The German government is calling on people attending anti-racism protests to stick to coronavirus distancing rules.

At least 15,000 people demonstrated in Berlin and 25,000 protested in Munich on Saturday and there were protests in other German cities as part of the global demonstrations against racism and police brutality that have followed the May 25 death of American George Floyd.

In some cases, protesters were closely packed together despite German requirements for people to stay 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday “it is good if people take to the streets in Germany as well with a clear statement against racism.”

But he added: “the pictures that in some cases emerged over the weekend were not good. Both things must be possible: to demonstrate peacefully, which is a fundamental right, and keep to the (social distancing) rules."

He said many demonstrators "created a big risk for themselves and others.”

Germany has been widely praised for its adroit handling of the pandemic.

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian media say lawmakers in parliament chanted “Death to America” during a session the previous day, allegedly in a show of support for protesters in the U.S. over the killing of George Floyd.

The report on Monday says the chants followed a request by lawmaker Ahmad Naderi for a moment of silence over deaths of protesters.

Iran makes a point of daily criticizing Washington in the wake of the ongoing turmoil in America and protests over police killings of African Americans.

State television in Iran, which in November put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access to the outside world, has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest.

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LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says anti-racism demonstrations have been “subverted by thuggery” after protesters tore down a statue of a slave trader in the city of Bristol and scrawled graffiti on a statue of Winston Churchill in London.

London’s Metropolitan police say a dozen people were arrested and eight officers injured after demonstrators clashed Sunday with police in central London.

Johnson says while people have a right to peacefully protest, they have no right to attack the police. He says “these demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.’’

Crime, Policing and Justice Minister Kit Malthouse called Monday for those responsible for toppling the bronze memorial to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol to be prosecuted.

But Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees told the BBC that while he doesn’t condone criminal damage, he felt no “sense of loss” for the statue.

PARIS — France’s government is scrambling to address growing concerns about police violence and racism within the police force, as protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in the U.S. stir up anger around the world.

The country’s top security official, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, is holding a news conference Monday after Floyd-related demonstrations in cities around France. He promised last week to be “unforgiving” with violations by police, but pressure is growing on the government to act.

French President Emmanuel Macron has stayed unusually silent so far both about Floyd’s death and what’s happening in France.

French activists say tensions in low-income neighborhoods with large minority populations grew worse amid virus confinement measures, because they further empowered the police.

Some people are tracking cases of alleged violence by police via an app and collecting testimonies via social media.

At least 23,000 people protested around France on Saturday against racial injustice and police brutality, and more French protests are planned for Tuesday, when Floyd is being buried.

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STOCKHOLM — In connection with a George Floyd anti-racism demonstration in Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, police said Monday that five people had been arrested and 35 cases — ranging from rioting and vandalism to causing injuries, refusal to follow law enforcement orders and resisting arrest — had been reported.

Part of the otherwise peaceful rally turned against the police. Rocks were thrown at their vehicles and protesters tried to break storefronts in a downtown shopping mall.

“This is ridiculous. This is not Black Lives Matter for me,” Yaneneh Jatta, who took part in the demonstration, told Swedish broadcaster SVT, speaking about the unrest.

Later, a dozen cars were torched in a Goteborg suburb with a predominantly low-income population.

In Copenhagen, 15,000 people marched peacefully Sunday from the U.S. Embassy to the Danish Parliament with signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

Authorities in Denmark say freedom of speech, a cornerstone of the Danish Constitution, is more important than a current coronavirus health directive that limits gatherings to 10 people.

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SEATTLE — Authorities say a man drove a car at George Floyd protesters in Seattle Sunday night, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol.

At least one person was injured. The Seattle Fire Department said the victim was a 27-year-old male who was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Video taken by a reporter for The Seattle Times showed part of the scene in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where demonstrators have gathered for days near a police precinct.

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SEATTLE -- Seattle City Council members sharply criticized Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best after police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters a day after Durkan and Best said they were trying to de-escalate tensions.

Authorities said rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Saturday night. Police said via Twitter that several officers were injured by “improvised explosives.”

The mayhem in the Capitol Hill neighborhood came on the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city. It followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier.

It also came a day after Durkan and Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.

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PHOENIX -- Demonstrators have marched through the streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale in two separate protests for social justice in memory of a black man who was killed by an Arizona police officer.

The Arizona Republic reports organizers in Phoenix say a line of demonstrators stretched nearly a mile Sunday. Protesters kneeled outside of the Arizona Department of Public Safety headquarters to denounce the deaths of black men and women at the hands of police nationwide, including Dion Johnson in Phoenix.

In Scottsdale, up to 1,000 protesters demonstrated, with Police Chief Alan Rodbell marching in uniform near the front.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Add North Carolina’s capital city to those sporting a bold message denouncing racism painted in large yellow letters on a city street.

Artists on Sunday painted the words “End Racism Now” on a downtown street, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The message was added days after the mayor of Washington, D.C., had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on a street leading to the White House amid days of demonstrations in the nation’s capital and all over the country in response to George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

Floyd died May 25 after a white officer pressed his knee into the unarmed black man's neck, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries and holding it there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Charman Driver, former chair of the Contemporary Art Museum on Martin Street, where the painting is located, called it “a very painful totem.” The street leads to Confederate monuments on State Capitol grounds, which have been spotlighted as offensive during protests.

The painting was applied Sunday morning when a city engineer met the artists and brought barricades to block off the street.

“We did it. And it’s wonderful. And we feel really good about it. Our voices are being heard, but it’s not enough,” Driver said.

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CANBERRA, Australia — An indigenous academic has used an award to urge Australians to address black deaths in custody,

Melbourne University professor Marcia Langton was given an Order of Australia award on Monday for her distinguished service to tertiary education and as an advocate for indigenous Australians.

Langton defied government leaders’ pandemic warnings by attending a rally in Melbourne on Saturday protesting the death in Minnesota of George Floyd and the high rate of indigenous incarceration in Australia.

Langton said Australian politicians did not acknowledge that the disproportion rate of indigenous people being sent to prison was a problem and police were not trained to prevent indigenous deaths in custody.

“I would have thought it is pretty straightforward -- do not kill Aborigines. How hard is that?” Langton told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous person to serve in the role, said Langton made a poignant point. He said he would work with state agencies to address the large number of indigenous prisoners receiving hospital treatment.

There have been 434 indigenous deaths in police custody and prisons in Australia since 1991 when a government inquiry reported on the problem of black deaths in custody, The Guardian reported.

Indigenous Australians account for 2% of Australia’s adult population and 27% of Australia’s prison population.

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WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney marched in a protest against police mistreatment of minorities in the nation’s capital, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

Romney, who represents Utah, posted a tweet showing him wearing a mask as he walked with Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington on Sunday. Äbove the photo he wrote: Black Lives Matter.

Romney, who was walking with a Christian group, told NBC News that he needed to be there.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” he said.

On Saturday, Romney tweeted a photo of his father, George, who was the governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, marching with civil rights protesters in the 1960s in a Detroit suburb.

Above the photo, Mitt Romney wrote: “This is my father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the Detroit suburbs during the late 1960s — “Force alone will not eliminate riots,” he said. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”

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LOS ANGELES — National Guard troops will be pulled out of California cities where they’ve been deployed for a week after rampant violence and thievery marred the first days of protests over the death of George Floyd, officials announced Sunday.

The announcement came as peaceful demonstrations again popped up across the state, including one on horseback and another on wheels, as protesters continue to call for police reforms.

“After nearly a week assisting civil authorities on the streets of California, soldiers with the California National Guard will begin transitioning back to their home armories,” the Cal Guard said in a statement. A timeline for the pullout was not provided.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said some troops would begin departing Sunday evening.

“A small number of units will be stationed nearby until June 10 to provide emergency support if needed,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he’d encourage local leaders to end their use of the Guard “in an expeditious manner, but a very thoughtful manner.”

More than 7,000 National Guard troops were deployed to LA, San Francisco, Sacramento and other cities to assist local law enforcement, Cal Guard said.

While the vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and hundreds of businesses were vandalized.


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