U.S. officials move to rein in police as protests continue

On knees, in solidarity: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kneeling during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa on Friday.

On knees, in solidarity: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kneeling during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa on Friday.   | Photo Credit: DAVE CHAN

Minneapolis leaders vote to end the use of knee restraints

Protesters were expected to gather in Washington for a huge demonstration on Saturday, its police chief said, as U.S. street marches over the killing of a black man in custody entered a 12th day and authorities moved to rein in policing tactics.

George Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes. The killing has sparked days of protests across the United States against racism and police brutality, and also demonstrations around the world.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered that all flags at state facilities be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday in honour of Floyd, who was originally from the State’s Fayetteville city.

On Friday, marches and gatherings took place in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, New York and Denver, among other places, while protesters massed again, in the rain, in front of the White House. The night-time protests were largely peaceful but tension remains high even as authorities in several places take steps to reform police procedures.

A federal judge in Denver ordered city police to stop using tear gas, plastic bullets and other “less-than-lethal” devices such as flash grenades, with his ruling citing examples of protesters and journalists being injured by police. “These are peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and medics who have been targeted with extreme tactics meant to suppress riots, not to suppress demonstrations,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote in the ruling.

In Minneapolis, Democratic city leaders voted to end the use of knee restraints and choke-holds, where pressure is applied to the neck, while California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would end state police training of carotid restraints similar to the technique used on Floyd.

Making records public

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said his State should lead the way in passing “Say Their Name” reforms, including making police disciplinary records publicly available as well as banning chokeholds. “Mr. Floyd’s murder was the breaking point,” Mr. Cuomo said. “People are saying enough is enough.”

Black Lives Matter activists have called for cities to defund police departments. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who in April proposed increasing law enforcement funding, this week reversed course and said he would seek some $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Trump’s comments

President Donald Trump sparked controversy on Friday, calling it a “great day” for George Floyd. “We all saw what happened last week. We can't let that happen,” Mr. Trump said of Floyd, who was killed as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. “Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country’.” The remarks during a televised White House briefing came eleven days after Floyd’s death and sparked confusion as to why Mr. Trump thought it was a great day for Floyd.

“This is a great, great day in terms of equality,” Mr. Trump added, even as he stands accused by many of having failed to respond to the racism, police brutality and inequalities that demonstrators are protesting.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 10:22:43 AM |

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