The Latest: Washington mayor mulls legal challenge to Trump
The Latest on the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Washington mayor preparing for legal challenge to President Trump over security operations in District of Columbia.
— Oregon police chief pleads for a stop to the violence during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
— UN human rights chief says US must face racial issues.
— National Guard probes low-flying helicopter during DC protests.
WASHINGTON — Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser says her administration is preparing for a potential legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s authority over security operations in the District of Columbia.
Trump directed what he characterized as a full-scale federal response on Monday night to quell protests over the death of George Floyd. That included forces from a variety of federal agencies and the entire 1,700-strong contingent of the DC National Guard. Military helicopters repeatedly buzzed low over protesters, kicking up clouds of debris, and guardsmen armed with long guns were stationed throughout the city.
Bowser said Wednesday that she had had consulted with Washington Attorney General Karl Racine on the issue, adding that her administration had only requested about 100 unarmed guardsmen.
LIBERTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of “fanning the flames” of violence amid days of unrest across the nation after the death of George Floyd.
Although protests Tuesday night in St. Louis County were calm, Page’s comments came after four St. Louis police officers were shot and a retired city police captain was killed during violence Monday night and early Tuesday,
Page said at a news conference “the president has fanned the flames, treating this unrest as if it were a reality show.” He said criminals have “hijacked” peaceful protests that rightly denounce decades of law enforcement mistreatment of minorities.
St. Louis police said more than 70 businesses in the city were ransacked or broken into, including a pawn shop where former police Capt. David Dorn was fatally shot during a break-in.
On Wednesday, Trump posted a message on Twitter praising Dorn, who served 38 years on the force.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Members of the Minnesota People of Color and Indigenous Caucus along with Democratic leaders of the Minnesota House are calling for policing reform during the upcoming special legislative session.
The proposals by state lawmakers include bolstering the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s independence in police killing investigations, citizen oversight of law enforcement, and removing a state ban on local residency requirements by officers.
Caucus members are calling for immediate access to legislative funding to help rebuild Minneapolis and St. Paul communities damaged by riots following the death of George Floyd. The caucus also called for the arrests of all officers involved in Floyd’s death.
The Minnesota Legislature is expected to convene for a special session by June 12 to extend the emergency declared by Gov. Tim Walz in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The police chief in Portland, Oregon issued a plea Wednesday to the city’s residents to help its leaders stop the violence that has engulfed the city for five consecutive nights in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
Chief Jami Resch said at a news conference that a peaceful march and rally Tuesday that attracted more than 10,000 people was marred when several hundred people broke off late and confronted police officers guarding a building that holds police headquarters and a sheriff’s detention center.
The repeated nights of mayhem have rattled even liberal Portland, which has such a storied history of protest that the late president George H. W. Bush dubbed it “Little Beirut.”
ATHENS — Greek police have fired tear gas to disperse youths who attacked them outside the U.S. Embassy in Athens during a protest over the killing of George Floyd.
Police said the violence Wednesday came towards the end of an otherwise peaceful demonstration by about 4,000 people that was organized by left-wing groups and anarchists. Protesters at the tail-end of the march threw petrol bombs and stones at police.
No injuries or arrests were reported.
A similar protest is scheduled in Athens on Thursday.
ROTTERDAM — A protest demonstration in the Netherlands had to be cut short because crowds became too big and would have made social distancing measures impossible.
Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb had already moved the protest over the death of George Floyd to a more open space instead of the city center. But as thousands sought to converge and the crowds swelled at the site near the Maas River, authorities first called on people to stay away and then moved in early to end the peaceful protest.
POZNAN, Poland — Dozens of young people walked in an anti-racist march on Wednesday in Poland’s western city of Poznan in response to the death of George Floyd.
Mostly clad in black, the protesters carried signs with “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” written on them. They walked to the U.S. Consulate and then to a downtown square where they lay face down on the ground, just like the handcuffed Floyd lay pleading for air as a police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Also Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, apologized on Twitter to Warsaw residents whose flowers and candles placed before the embassy in Floyd’s memory had been removed. Mosbacher called it a “misunderstanding.”
BERLIN — The U.N.‘s top human rights official called for grievances to be heard on “endemic and structural racism” at the heart of the protests in the United States.
Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, says addressing those grievances is necessary for the U.S. to “move on from its tragic history of racism and violence.”
While calling for protesters to express their views peacefully, she also urged U.S. leaders to unequivocally condemn racism and “reflect on what has driven people to boiling point.”
Bachelet’s office also cited “at least 200 reported incidents of journalists covering the protests being physically attacked, intimidated or arbitrarily arrested, despite their press credentials being clearly visible.”
SEATTLE — Large crowds marched through Seattle and demonstrations were mostly peaceful until late in the night, when Seattle police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse a crowd near a police precinct.
Seattle police say some people in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood began throwing objects at officers. There were no immediate reports of arrests.
On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan addressed hundreds of demonstrators and encouraged them to keep marching and keep it peaceful.
“Your voices holding me accountable are important and you should continue to raise them,” Durkan told those assembled outside the city’s Emergency Operations Center downtown. Durkan and protest leaders planned to meet Wednesday.
ATLANTA — Large, peaceful protests in Atlanta were marked by pockets of confrontation between protesters and police ahead of the curfew on Tuesday night.
Hundreds lingered on the streets of downtown ahead of the 9 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Authorities used armored vehicles to form a cordon at the state capitol.
Near Centennial Olympic Park, where much of the protests and unrest have centered, National Guard troops fired tear gas and moved in on a group shortly after curfew fell. The crowd quickly dispersed, and television footage showed police leading some people away in zip ties.
Police say 52 arrests were made Tuesday, bringing the total arrests in Atlanta to 439 over five days of protests since Friday.
PHOENIX — Thousands of people participated in peaceful protests on Tuesday night with no arrests, according to police.
One crowd marched in the heart of downtown and another gathered at the state capitol about a mile to the west.
The protests ended early in the evening, with most participants leaving by the 8 p.m. start of a statewide curfew ordered Sunday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
It was the sixth consecutive night of protests, with no reported arrests in Phoenix for the second straight night.
MADRID — Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has called the response of the U.S. government to the outcry over police brutality and injustice against African Americans “authoritarian.”
Sánchez referred to the wave of demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25 in Minneapolis when he spoke during debate on the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak at the Spanish parliament’s Lower House.
Sánchez, who leads a left-wing coalition, says “I share and stand in solidarity with the demonstrations that are taking place in the United States."
WASHINGTON — The Washington D.C. National Guard says it will investigate the use of one of its helicopters to make an aggressive “show of force” against protesters near the White House on Monday.
The commanding general of the D.C. Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, says in a brief written statement Wednesday that he directed the investigation. The helicopter, normally designated for use in medical evacuations, hovered low enough to create a deafening noise and spray protesters with rotor wash from the aircraft.
Williams says the Guard is dedicated to the safety of its fellow citizens and their right to peacefully protest.
He says, “This is our home, and we are dedicated to the safety and security of our fellow citizens of the District and their right to safely and peacefully protest.”
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Minneapolis Police and the Minnesota State Patrol, alleging police have violated the rights of journalists covering the protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Minnesota on Wednesday, alleges a “pattern and practice of conduct by law enforcement,” which the organization says, “tramples on the Constitution.”
The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff is Jared Goyette, a freelance journalist who says he was shot in the face by a rubber bullet fired by police. The suit outlines the number of journalists who have been arrested or injured by police since the demonstrations began last week.
The lawsuit also alleges police have interfered with news coverage and have continued to “target and intimidate the press by firing less-lethal ballistics designed for riot control directly at members of the media.”
The ACLU has also vowed to bring lawsuits against police departments across the U.S. who arrest, target or attack journalists.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Mostly peaceful rallies in Tampa and St. Petersburg took a turn late Tuesday when police used smoke grenades, nonlethal rounds, pepper canisters and other measures to disperse crowds.
Protesters fled, screaming and angry, and police made dozens of arrests. They briefly detained two Tampa Bay Times reporters who were covering the events, the newspaper reported.
In St. Petersburg, a group of protesters went to police headquarters late Tuesday, where tensions heightened.
Officers told the crowd to leave the area, and then launched smoke and what appeared to be flash bangs at the crowd, the Times reported. Police and Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies closed in on the crowd, arresting several. A reporter was briefly detained.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the death of George Floyd was “inexcusable” and he understands why people are protesting.
In his first public comments on the turmoil roiling the U.S., Johnson told lawmakers “what happened in the United States was appalling, it was inexcusable, we all saw it on our screens and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place.”
He added “protest should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”
Johnson, who has sought to nurture close ties with President Donald Trump as he leads the U.K. out of the European union, deflected calls from the opposition to suspend exports of tear gas and rubber bullets to the United States.
Johnson says all British arms exports complied with the country’s human rights obligations, “and the U.K. is possibly the most scrupulous country in that respect in the world.”
Most British police officers do not carry guns, though armed units have been involved in several fatal shootings in recent years.
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Police have denied accusations an officer spit on a detained protester after a video showing the alleged incident was shared on social media.
The incident “did not happen as the activists have claimed” and a slow-motion analysis of the video “shows the officers spitting on the grass and not on the detainee,” the Richmond Police Department says in multiple Twitter posts Tuesday night.
A version of the slow-motion video obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch focuses on the officer closest to the handcuffed detainee and follows the spit’s trajectory.
Police say officers were frequently coughing and spitting due to “exposure to tear gas,” amid demonstrations in the city.