ADVERTISEMENT

The Latest: Houston mayor to ban chokeholds in the city

TOP OF THE HOUR:

George Floyd, whose death energized a movement, to be buried in Houston.

— U.N. Secretary-General urges global fight against racism and discrimination.

— Houston increases audits of tasers, body cameras.

— Minnesota troopers reportedly punctured car tires during protests.

___

HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced that he will sign an executive order that bans chokeholds in the city.

Turner’s announcement Tuesday came during the funeral for George Floyd at a church in Houston, the city where he lived most of his life.

“In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot,” Turner said. “In this city you have a duty to intervene.”

The sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, earlier in the day said his office will immediately implement a new “duty to report” policy for deputies and increase audits of use of tasers and body cameras. Sheriff Ed Gonzales announced the directives in a series of tweets.

Gonzalez said his office already prohibits the use of chokeholds

___

HOUSTON — Joe Biden called for racial justice in a message to mourners at the funeral of George Floyd.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee spoke via video at Floyd’s funeral on Tuesday, a day after he met privately with Floyd’s family.

Biden said in his recorded remarks that “when we get justice for George Floyd we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,” adding a message to Floyd’s daughter by saying, “Then, Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”

More than 500 mourners gathered for the service at Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where Floyd was raised.

___

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The police department in St. Petersburg has updated its conduct policy to require officers to speak up and intervene when a colleague violates laws and policies.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway announced at a press conference that he changed the policy after conferring with community members.

“If they see someone violating the law, an ordinance or a policy or procedure they will intervene,” Holloway said. “They’ll go over and say ‘Hey stop doing this.’”

Miami-Dade commissioners are considering reviving an oversight panel for their police department.

In the Orlando area, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office now have a duty to intervene “if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force,” according to the agency’s recently updated use of force policy.

___

PARIS — Thousands of people gathered Tuesday on Republic Plaza in Paris to pay tribute to George Floyd and show solidarity toward American protesters.

Demonstrators observed 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence in homage to Floyd, whose funeral was being held Tuesday in Houston. Most kneeled in the black man’s honor.

French singer Camelia Jordana and others sang a poignant a cappella version of the classic civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

Demonstrators denounced brutality and racism within the police force, waving a variety of banners and signs, including “Black Lives Matter” “I can’t breathe” and “Racism kills.”

French authorities allowed the event to take place despite a ban on public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Similar gatherings were organized Tuesday in other French cities.

___

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations secretary-general is urging a global fight against racism and discrimination following the “murderous act of police brutality” against George Floyd that has led to widespread protests in the United States and cities around the world.

António Guterres said in a letter to staff "the position of the United Nations on racism is crystal clear: this scourge violates the United Nations Charter and debases our core values.”

Guterres said “the primacy of reason, tolerance, mutual respect” in the world is now being called “dramatically” into question by nationalism, irrationality, populism, xenophobia, racism, white supremacism, and different forms of Neo-Nazism. He said a central problem is not only police brutality but “the difficulty of many authorities to deal with diversity,” starting with so-called profiling.

The secretary-general called for all police forces to be fully trained on human rights, adding that “many times police brutality is the expression of the frustrations of the police officers themselves, as well as of the lack of adequate psycho-social support to them.”

___

MIAMI — The chief prosecutor in Miami-Dade County says curfew violation charges will not be pursued against most people involved in recent protests over police brutality against African Americans.

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Tuesday that she saw little value in prosecuting curfew violations. The charge is a misdemeanor that typically would not involve any jail sentence. There have been dozens of such arrests in protests that began after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Most Miami-area protests have been peaceful, but there were over 100 curfew violation arrests.

___

NAIROBI, Kenya — Dozens of protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Kenya’s capital to protest the killing of George Floyd and police violence in the U.S. and Kenya.

Others outside Parliament presented mock coffins to symbolize Kenyans killed by police.

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority this month said 15 deaths have been directly linked to police actions during COVID-19 curfew enforcement and it is investigating another six.

Hadija Hussein says her 13-year-old son was shot dead while standing on the family's balcony in March as police enforced the curfew. Police at first said he was hit by a stray bullet.

Hussein says her son’s death was very similar to Floyd’s.

___

HOUSTON — The sheriff of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, says his office will immediately implement increased audits on the use of tasers and body cameras.

Sheriff Ed Gonzales announced the directives in a series of tweets as Houston prepared for the funeral of George Floyd.

Gonzalez says his office already prohibits the use of chokeholds, but he’d make it clearer in policy. Gonzales says he supports law enforcement reform, but disagrees with “defunding,” which calls for some police resources to be spent on social services.

The sheriff says he’d advocate for better pay for law enforcement to attract better candidates.

“Mr. Floyd’s death reminds us that much work remains to be done,” Gonzalez tweeted. “We must build momentum toward a more effective, equitable and thoughtful approach to law enforcement.”

___

INDIANAPOLIS — A driver of a minivan is cooperating with police after reportedly striking several people on Monument Circle in Indianapolis during a protest of the death of George Floyd.

Indianapolis police officer Genae Cook tells The Indianapolis Star that no one was believed to be seriously injured in the collision on Monday night. Cook says the driver was located and other people were detained for questioning in the ongoing investigation.

“There was damage done to the vehicle and the vehicle attempted to leave the area,” according to Cook.

A witness told the newspaper the minivan pulled from behind a truck that was blocked by some protesters. The truck was attempting to back up.

Bystander video shows what appears to be at least three people bouncing off the hood of the car as it drives away.

___

MILWAUKEE — A state representative is calling for the disbarment of a lawyer who spat on a high school student during an anti-racism rally and march in a Milwaukee suburb.

State Rep. David Bowen attended the protest Saturday and wants lawyer Stephanie Rapkin disbarred, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Rapkin, who is white, arrived at the protest in Shorewood and parked her car in the street, blocking the march.

When protesters approached to urge her to move her car, video shows Rapkin spitting on a black teen, Eric Lucas, a junior at Shorewood High School. The 17-year-old helped organize and lead the march.

“I continue to be mentally and physically shaken. To be assaulted by an adult in my own community during a pandemic was traumatic,” Lucas told the newspaper. “Again and again, I am viewed not as a child but as a color.”

Superintendent Bryan Davis says it “exposed the horrific, overt racism that still exists in our community” and was an “appalling display of racial hatred.”

Davis called on the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office to include a hate crime penalty enhancement for any upcoming charges against Rapkin.

Rapkin did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and the phone to her law office rang busy.

___

MINNEAPOLIS — Law enforcement agencies have acknowledged officers punctured the tires of numerous unoccupied vehicles parked during the height of recent unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon says troopers deflated tires to stop vehicles from “driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement.”

Troopers also targeted vehicles “that contained items used to cause harm during violent protests” such as rocks, concrete and sticks, Gordon said Monday, according to the Star Tribune.

Deputies from Anoka County also deflated tires on vehicles during the protests connected to Floyd’s death, according to Anoka County Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Knotz. Deputies were following orders from the state-led Multiagency Command Center, which was coordinating law enforcement during the protests, Knotz said.

All four tires on the car of a Star Tribune reporter were slashed in a Kmart parking lot while he was on foot covering the protests and unrest, the newspaper reported.

Protesters nationwide are calling for police reforms in response to Floyd’s death.

___

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte City Council voted 9-2 to stop funding chemical agents for police use after officers boxed in and gassed demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd.

After a demonstrator documented the use of gas last Tuesday in a widely shared video, the mayor condemned it and the police chief called it “disturbing.”

The city’s police department has spent $103,000 on chemical agents in 2020, City Budget Director Ryan Bergman said. Taking them away is “one step toward defunding the entire police department,” Tin Nguyen, an organizer and attorney, told the Charlotte Observer.

Council member Ed Driggs, who voted against the ban, called it a “gratuitous dig at police.”

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday its deputies would stop using tear gas in protests, citing tensions with the community. A local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police slammed the city council’s decision as “dangerous” following the vote.

___

BERLIN — Germany’s official anti-discrimination watchdog says it received significantly more complaints about racism in 2019 than the year before.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency said Tuesday that it received 1,176 complaints about racism last year, an increase of 10% compared to 2018.

This represented about a third of all 3,580 complaints received by the agency. Others concerned discrimination based on gender, disability, age, religion, sexual identity and world view.

The number of complaints about racism has more than doubled since 2015.

Bernhard Franke, the head of the agency, called for changes in the law to improve the legal standing of those affected by discrimination, saying that “Germany needs to do more in the fight against racist discrimination.”

He noted that the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated some forms of discrimination, with his office receiving numerous reports of racist abuse suffered by people of Asian background in recent months.

___

PARIS — The relationship between police and residents of France’s low-income neighborhoods, many of whom are Arab or black and trace their roots to former French colonies, has long been tense.

Safety measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 further empowered police — but also empowered community activists using apps or online sleuthing to track and challenge what they see as an abuse of police power.

George Floyd’s death in the U.S. has resonated especially loudly in places like Villeneuve, one of many banlieues, or suburbs, where poverty and minority populations are concentrated in France. Floyd-related protests against police violence and racial injustice have been held around France, and more are planned for Tuesday evening.

___

HOUSTON — The black man whose death has inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice will be buried Tuesday in Houston, carried home in a horse-drawn carriage.

George Floyd, 46, will be laid to rest next to his mother. As a white police officer pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes on May 25 in Minneapolis, the dying man cried out for his mother.

His funeral will be private. A public memorial service was held Monday in Houston, where he grew up. Some 6,000 people attended.

Under a blazing Texas sun, several mourners waiting to pay their respects wore T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — which he cried out repeatedly while pinned down by the police officer. Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-colored casket.

Shorty after the memorial ended, Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.

Bg pattern light

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM

Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?