The Latest: France backs off ban on chokeholds

By The Associated Press 16 June 2020, 12:00AM


— Under pressure from police, the French government has backed away from a ban on chokeholds during arrests.

— Walz marks 100th anniversary of Duluth lynching.

— New Jersey police will have to divulge names of law enforcement officers who commit serious disciplinary violations.

— Florida state attorney won't prosecute peaceful protesters.

— Detroit removes a bust of Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years.


PARIS — Under pressure from police, the French government has backed away from a ban on chokeholds during arrests.

France’s interior minister announced a week ago that the maneuver would be abandoned, in the face of growing French protests over police brutality and racial injustice unleashed by George Floyd’s death in the U.S.

But French police responded with five straight days of counterprotests, arguing that the ban deprived them of a key tool to subdue unruly suspects.

On Monday, the national police director sent a letter to police, obtained by The Associated Press, saying chokeholds will no longer be taught in police schools but can continue to be used “with discernment” until alternatives are found.

Police unions hailed the reversal.


DULUTH, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz marked the 100th anniversary of a painful chapter in Duluth history by visiting a memorial to three black men lynched by a white mob.

Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie were traveling circus workers accused of raping a white woman, though her doctor later found no evidence of assault.

Walz gestured Monday to the corner where the men were lynched, and said Minnesota’s “inability to deal with that led to what happened down there,” pointing southward toward Minneapolis, where George Floyd died after being arrested by police.

Walz made the same connection on Friday, when he and two other members of the state pardons board granted a posthumous pardon to Max Mason, a fourth circus worker convicted in the case despite what a prosecutor at the time called weak evidence.

Walz is now pressing for major policing reforms in a special session of the state Legislature. The Star Tribune reports that Walz said his goal is to change law in ways that activists say will make a difference in their lives. Walz said the state will “be defined either by the murder of George Floyd or by how we respond to the murder of George Floyd.”


New Jersey police must divulge the names of law enforcement officers who commit serious disciplinary violations, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal ordered Monday.

The state’s top law enforcement official said in a statement that the order would apply going forward to all state, county and local law enforcement agencies.

Agencies must publicly identify officers who were fired, demoted or suspended for more than five days because of a disciplinary violation, Grewal said. The first lists must be published by Dec. 31.

Officers’ identities previously were not disclosed publicly unless they faced criminal charges, the attorney general said.

Grewal announced more stringent disclosures affecting the state police.

The names of troopers who have been disciplined in about 430 cases going back to 2000 will be published by July 15, Grewal said.


DENVER — Former Colorado Gov. and current Senate hopeful John Hickenlooper on Monday apologized for jokingly comparing politicians to slaves being whipped to row “an ancient slave ship.”

Hickenlooper’s apology came after Tay Anderson, a black Denver school board member who has been instrumental in organizing protests after the death of George Floyd, tweeted a video of Hickenlooper making the quip Monday morning.

Anderson has endorsed Hickenlooper’s rival, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, in the Democratic Senate primary.

Hickenlooper’s campaign said the video Anderson tweeted was from 2014 but did not specify the event at which the then-governor was speaking.

The video shows a silhouetted Hickenlooper speaking at some sort of gathering with a microphone in his hand about political schedulers. “Imagine an ancient slave ship,” he tells the audience. He says the schedulers are the people who lashed slaves to keep them rowing the ship. “We elected officials are the ones rowing,” Hickenlooper said.

In a statement released through his campaign, Hickenlooper said: “Taking a look at this video from six years ago, I recognize that my comments were painful. I did not intend them to be. I offer my deepest apologies.”


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The mayor of New Mexico’s most populous city said Monday he wants to create a new department to focus on community safety as political pressure mounts for elected leaders to defund the police department amid the latest national wave of protests over use of force.

Albuquerque’s new department will be designed to provide another option besides dispatching police or firefighters and paramedics whenever someone calls 911.

It would be made up of social workers and other civilian professionals who would focus on violence prevention, mental health and homelessness, for example.

“It is fascinating that given all the challenges in America over the last 100 years on a number of fronts, when it comes to public safety we still just think there’s two departments — police and fire — in every city. I think fundamentally this could be a new model for how we look at public safety response in cities across the country,” Mayor Tim Keller said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Civil rights and mental health advocates expressed some hope that the new system could reduce interactions with armed officers, but there were still many details to be worked out.

The plan calls for “reallocating millions of dollars” but city officials haven’t said exactly how the money will be shuffled.

Keller’s administration promised not take money away from core police work or court-mandated reforms already under way as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.


A Detroit suburb has placed six people on leave while state police investigate the death of a black woman at a jail.

Priscilla Slater, 37, died last Wednesday, a day after her arrest at a Harper Woods hotel on a drug charge, authorities said.

“The well-being of all detainees is of the highest priority,” Harper Woods said in a statement.

No other details were released. Two supervisors and four civilian public safety employees were placed on leave.

“I will find out why she was left lying on the floor of a jail cell with no medical care,” attorney Geoffrey Fieger said.

Family members and protesters confronted Mayor Ken Poynter outside city hall on Friday, chanting, “We want justice!”

Poynter said “outside agitators” had made a “really good peacefully integrated community look extremely bad.”

Police were called to the Parkcrest Inn on June 9 after shots were fired. A man with a gun was arrested.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As protests continue to pop up across the nation over George Floyd’s death, Tennessee’s House is seeking to significantly increase penalties against demonstrators who violate certain state laws.

The legislation is backed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a top Republican in the GOP-dominant Statehouse.

Sexton promised to bring the bill after a handful of protesters announced they would gather outside the state Capitol over the weekend and claim the area as an “autonomous zone.”

The group echoed similar sentiments of a much bigger action in a Seattle neighborhood that’s become a protest center against police brutality and racial injustice.

As of Monday, none of the Tennessee protesters that have remained peacefully outside the Capitol since Friday have been arrested.

Under the proposal, individuals would face a class E felony and mandatory 30-day jail sentence for intentionally damaging or defacing state property, this would include the use of graffiti or chalk.


ST. CLOUD, Minn. — A central Minnesota police chief expressed frustration at social media after rumors that two black men had been shot by police drew protesters to police headquarters and prompted officers to use tear gas to disperse them.

St. Cloud Chief Blair Anderson spoke Monday, a few hours after an officer was shot in the hand while trying to stop an 18-year-old man suspected of having a gun. Police said the man resisted arrest, drew a handgun and fired a shot that wounded an officer.

The officer was hospitalized. Police said no officers returned fire while struggling with the man. About 100 protesters gathered outside the downtown police station and threw rocks, damaging the station. Four people were arrested.

Anderson called rumors that circulated on social media “very dangerous” and said it caused anger “that could have escalated.”


TAMPA, Fla. — More than five dozen peaceful protesters in Florida who were arrested earlier this month for unlawful assembly while demonstrating against police abuse following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota won’t be prosecuted, a State Attorney said Monday.

State Attorney Andrew Warren in Tampa said that his office won’t be filing charges against 67 protesters who were arrested two weeks ago in downtown Tampa.

The prosecutor’s office will also work to expunge the arrest records of the protesters who were taken into custody, he said.

“In these unlawful assembly cases, there is no value in filing charges,” Warren said at a news conference. “Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights creates problems rather than solving them. It can weaken the bonds between law enforcement and the community, while undermining faith in our system.”

Warren warned, though, that his office would prosecute anybody who takes advantage of the protests to cause destruction or commit crimes. He said his office is still reviewing another 133 arrests starting from the night of May 30, including cases of arson and vandalism from that night when a gas station was set ablaze and store windows were smashed.

Under Florida law, an “unlawful assembly” is a gathering of three or more people with a “common unlawful purpose” that must have an “intent to do an unlawful act which threatens the peace.”

“There was no evidence that anyone was intending to commit a crime,” Warren said. “They were just there to protest.”


The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years.

Mayor Mike Duggan “decided it ought to be placed in storage to give us time to evaluate the appropriate long-term disposition of the statue,” spokesman John Roach said Monday.

The move in Detroit comes while other cities and states have removed Confederate Civil War statues and other public monuments to people with a racist past.

The bust, which was unveiled in 1910, was a gift from the readers of the Italian newspaper La Tribuna Italiana d’America, according to

The inscription reads, “Christopher Columbus, a great son of Italy. Born 1435 — Died 1506. Discovered America October 12, 1492.”


CHICAGO — A 20-member panel will review the Chicago Police Department’s policy governing when officers can use force, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

The panel held its first meeting last week and plans to meet virtually for the next eight weeks before making recommendations to the police superintendent and other leaders, officials said. Residents, activists and one high-ranking police official are among the group’s members.

Lightfoot has said Chicago needs to speed up its police reform timeline following the death of George Floyd. On Monday, Lightfoot said the new working group was part of that effort.

The U.S. Justice Department investigated the city’s police department following the 2015 release of video showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. That video was made public more than a year after McDonald’s death.

The city negotiated an extensive agreement for court-supervised reforms within the police department, which include opportunities for community input on its use of force policy. Van Dyke was later convicted of murder and sent to prison.


LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will establish a commission to look at racial equality in Britain, after two weeks of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said the body would look at “all aspects of inequality — in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life.”

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in hundreds of demonstrations across the U.K. since Floyd died on May 25, demanding the U.K. confront its own history of imperialism and racial inequality.

Opposition politicians accused the government of opting for words rather than action. Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy said “the time for review is over and the time for action is now.”


Follow all AP coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at

By The Associated Press 16 June 2020, 12:00AM

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