Protest updates: Minneapolis council to vote on abolishing police; Elijah McClain’s death investigation reopened

The Minneapolis city council took a first step Friday toward abolishing the city’s police department, a move protesters have repeatedly called for during the month since George Floyd was killed as one of the city’s officers knelt on his neck.

Nationally, the House passed its own police reform package that would end certain legal protections for officers accused of misconduct and ban chokeholds. The legislation now moves to the Senate.

Meanwhile, protests continue around the U.S., including in Kentucky where social justice groups continue to demand the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death be arrested. In Seattle, some protesters in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or Capitol Hill Organized Protest said they will stay despite the mayor’s plan to wind down the zone.

There was also a standoff between protesters and authorities at the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Protesters had vowed to tear down the statue, but law enforcement responded with police presence and fences to protect the statue featuring Abraham Lincoln.

Minneapolis City Council votes to dismantle police department

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday unanimously approved a radical proposal to change the city charter that would allow the police department to be dismantled, following mass public criticism of law enforcement over the killing of George Floyd.

The 12-0 vote is just the first step in a process that faces significant bureaucratic obstacles to make the November ballot, where the city’s voters will have the final say.

Doing so would first require amending the city charter. Draft language of the amendment posted online would replace the department with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.” It also provides for a division of licensed peace officers, who would answer to the department’s director.

“It is time to make structural change,” Council Member Steve Fletcher said. “It is time to start from scratch and reinvent what public safety looks like.”

The amendment now goes to a policy committee and to the city’s Charter Commission for formal review.

– Associated Press

‘Justice for Breonna’ rally in Kentucky demands officers be charged with murder

Activist and cousin of the late Muhammad Ali, Sean Ali Waddell Jr., joined more than 500 protesters, including hip-hop star Common, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and rapper Rapsody, at a Kentucky Capitol rally Thursday calling for racial justice in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death. Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville police in her own apartment in March.

“I will stand up for and with Black women ’til my last breath,” Common said in a poem he wrote about Taylor.

Meanwhile, Waddell warned the Kentucky attorney general to avoid being “on the wrong side of history.” Attorney General Daniel Cameron has been charged with investigating the officers involved in Taylor’s shooting.

“A whole bunch of people, white folks, people that don’t stand up for us, love to treat us like items, love to put us in cases on the wall.” Waddell said. If Ali was alive, Wadell proclaimed he would tell McConnell, ‘Take my damn name off the wall if you’re not gonna stand for my people!’”

– Mandy McLaren, Tessa Duvall and Emma Austin

Elijah McClain’s death investigation reopened after millions sign petition

After an online petition gained more than 3 million signatures, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order appointing Attorney General Phil Weiser to re-examine the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody last year.

The news comes after Polis signed a sweeping police accountability bill last week that bars the use of chokeholds and carotid holds.

McClain, a massage therapist who enjoyed playing the violin, was walking home from a convenience store in 2019 when he was apprehended by Aurora police officers after they received a call reporting “suspicious man” wearing a ski mask, according to a release. Officers said McClain was “actively resisting” arrest and trying to grab one of their guns when they wrestled him to the ground and performed a carotid hold. McClain was later injected with ketamine to sedate him.

In the more than three hours of body camera footage of the arrest, McClain can be seen being held down on the ground, briefly unconscious, vomiting, sobbing and saying, “I can’t breathe.” At one point, an officer tells McClain: “If you keep messing around, I’m going to bring my dog out and he’s going to dog bite you.”

McClain was loaded into the ambulance where the paramedic determined he was not breathing and did not have a pulse. He was declared brain dead three days later and was removed from life support on Aug. 30.

– N’dea Yancey-Bragg

Tuscon rejects police chief’s resignation after video released showing man’s death in police custody

The Tuscon city manager rejected Police Chief Chris Magnus’ offer to resign during a press conference Wednesday after a video of a man’s death in police custody in April was released to the public.

“All facets of the case have been, and continue to be investigated,” councilmember Steve Kozachik said in the statement supporting the decision. “The reality is that Chief Magnus has both supported, and in fact initiated those internal reviews. He is to be commended for that transparency and willingness to hold police accountable.”

The video released Wednesday showed Tucson resident Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez restrained by police, laying face-down and wheezing for 12 minutes until he was no longer responsive on April 21.

“In this moment, my focus is on the fact that the life of a fellow Tucsonan, Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez, was needlessly lost,” Mayor Regina Romero said in the statement, who also said Thursday that she does not believe Magnus should resign.

– Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic

Jenna Marbles quits YouTube, apologizes for racist videos

Jenna Marbles, a longtime YouTuber with more than 20 million subscribers, says she is quitting YouTube.

In a video posted Thursday, Marbles (whose real name is Jenna Mourey), 33, said she has made many of her old videos private and that she is going to “move on” from her channel.

Marbles apologized for a 2011 video in which she impersonated Nicki Minaj, saying it was not her “intention to do blackface.” She continued, “It’s shameful, it’s awful, I wish it wasn’t part of my past.” She addressed another 2011 video in which she makes a joke about Asians, which she calls “awful” and “inexcusable,” and an additional 2012 video that “came across unbelievably slut-shame-y,” she said. She also apologized for past videos in which she makes jokes about gender stereotypes, making the videos private.

Marbles said she is unsure if she will be stepping down temporarily or permanently. “I just want to make sure that the things I’m putting into the world are not hurting anyone. I’m just going to stop, for now or forever,” she said. “I don’t know.”

– Sara Moniuszko

Minneapolis city council to vote on move toward abolishing police

The Minneapolis City Council is expected to approve a proposal Friday that could lead to amending the city’s charter and the elimination of the its police department, a radical move coming in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

While a majority of the council supports abolishing the department, the vote Friday is the first step in a longer bureaucratic process, and the decision would ultimately need to be OK’ed by voters in November. Other city officials, including Mayor Jacob Frey, have pushed back against the proposal.

Draft language of the proposed amendment posted online would replace police with a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, “which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”

Floyd died on Memorial Day when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death was ruled a homicide, and the four officers involved in his arrest have been charged.

Ex-Florida officer charged for pressing knee on Black woman’s neck

A former Miami Gardens police officer is facing battery and misconduct charges after video surfaced of him putting his knee into a Black woman’s neck and tasing her stomach, local media reported.

Jordy Yanes Martel, who was fired last week along with another officer, was arrested Thursday, the Miami Herald reported. In January, the officer was off-duty and working security at a strip club when Safiya Satchell got into an argument with the manager and was asked to leave, the newspaper reported.

Martel and another security guard then approached Satchell and a friend, who were in their car, and Martel told her to get out of the vehicle so he could issue her a trespassing warning, the Herald reported. Satchell asked if she could drive to Martel’s car because she wasn’t wearing shoes, but Martel told her to, “Get your shoes on and come with me,” the newspaper reported.

Authorities said at a press conference that Martel then forcibly reached into the woman’s car, pulled her out, knelt on her neck and tased her twice in the stomach, CBS Miami reported. Martel allegedly filed a police report with false information, too, saying that the woman was resisting arrest, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.

Black leaders at Seattle’s CHOP say protesters ‘will stay here’

During a press conference Thursday, a new group of Black leaders at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone said protesters will decide how long to stay in the area despite the mayor’s plan to dismantle the zone, The Seattle Times reported.

“If the people of Seattle choose to hold the space at CHOP, Black Collective Voices will stay here,” said Naudia Miller, leader of Black Collective Voices.

On Monday, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city will wind down the blocks-long area in the wake of several shootings this past weekend. “It’s time for people to go home,” Durkan said. Activists have occupied the area since June 8.

Miller said that even if protesters are forced out of the area, “it will not stop us or this movement,” she said. “We will not be bought off, we will not attend meetings where the goal is to buy us off, we are here to dismantle systemic racism.”

Emancipation Memorial remains after protesters meet authorities

Protesters in Washington, D.C., vowed to take down the Emancipation Memorial on Thursday, but an increased police presence resulted in a standoff between the sides.

The statue in Lincoln Park shows President Abraham Lincoln kneeling over a freed slave to illustrate the Emancipation Proclamation. The memorial was paid for by former slaves and dedicated by Frederick Douglass.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is among those who say the statue should come down, saying that those who designed it “didn’t take into account the views of African Americans. It shows.”

House police reform bill passes, but future is uncertain

The House passed a sweeping police reform package on Thursday that would end certain legal protections for officers accused of misconduct and ban chokeholds in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.

The 236-181 vote, largely along party lines, comes one day after Democrats blocked the Senate from moving forward on a competing bill due to arguments the legislation did not go far enough to enacting meaningful changes demanded by protesters in dozens of cities across the country. Three Republicans, Reps. Will Hurd, Brian Fitzpatrick and Fred Upton, joined Democrats in voting in favor of the measure.

The House bill, which was crafted by the Congressional Black Caucus, aims to bolster police accountability and end the practice of aggressive officers moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records. It also would end certain police practices, such as the use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds, which have been under scrutiny after the recent deaths of Black Americans.

– Christal Hayes

Disney’s Splash Mountain to get new theme amid calls to ditch racist history

Amid a national push to rethink racist stereotypes in popular culture, Disney is giving its Splash Mountain attraction a new theme based on its 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog” and centered on Disney’s first Black princess.

The move follows a Change.org petition calling for Disney to drop the original inspiration for Splash Mountain, the 1946 film “Song of the South.” According to Disney, the company has been working on the change since last year.

The film was controversial from the beginning for what its critics, including the NAACP, considered a glossed-over portrayal of slavery. Its live-action narrator, an elderly Black man named Uncle Remus, was played by James Baskett, who was the second African American to win an Oscar. Baskett did not attend the film’s premiere at an Atlanta theater where Blacks had to sit separately in the balcony.

– Curtis Tate

Philadelphia council adopts police reforms

The Philadelphia City Council Thursday adopted a series of police reform bills add oversight in the police department, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The bill requires police officers to have lived in Philadelphia for at least one year prior to hiring. The bill is aimed at increasing diversity among the police force, Councilmember Cherelle L. Parker said to the Inquirer.

“The people policing the city of Philadelphia should look like the city of Philadelphia,” she said.

Also at the meeting, the city council approved a budget reducing funding to the police department by $33 million.

The budget also called for increasing body-worn cameras and engaging mental health professionals for police-assisted diversion, according to the Inquirer.

The passage of the bills comes after Philadelphia police used tear gas on protesters in the early days of the protest, and after they detained at least 20 protesters occupying a government building Tuesday.

– Elinor Aspegren

Senator’s bill would deny federal funds to cities, states allowing autonomous zones

City and state governments that allow autonomous zones such as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest in Seattle would lose federal funding under a bill put forth by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Her bill comes after a North Carolina Republican introduced a similar proposal in the House of Representatives earlier this week.

“Mayors and city leaders are letting this chaos and anarchy continue in their streets, and in some cases preventing law enforcement from doing their job,” Ernst said Thursday morning on a conference call with Iowa reporters. “That’s not the America I know or fought for.”

Ernst’s bill is primarily a response to the Seattle autonomous zone formed in early June after police abandoned a local precinct following nights of protests. After police left, protesters sectioned off several city blocks and named the area the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or “CHAZ,” saying it would be free of police. They have since renamed the zone as “CHOP,” for Capitol Hill Organized Protest.

– Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register

NASCAR shares picture of noose from Bubba Wallace’s garage

While an FBI investigation concluded on Tuesday that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, it did not dispute that there was a noose in the No. 4 garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

Pictures of the noose, released by NASCAR on Thursday, further confirm that conclusion.

In a conference call with reporters, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said it conducted a thorough sweep of all 1,684 garage stalls at the 29 tracks the league uses.

“They found only 11 total ropes that had a pulldown rope tied in a knot,” he said, “and just one noose: The one in Bubba Wallace’s garage.”

– Chris Bumbaca

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