NEW YORK, Jun 06 (APP):Protests across the United States entered their second week on Saturday over the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man whose death in police custody was captured on a video that horrified much of America and peoples around the world.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced what he calls his “Say Their Name” agenda to reform policing in New York State that includes:
— Making police disciplinary records transparent;
— Banning chokeholds, and,
— Attorney General to act as independent prosecutor for any police murder case.
“Mr. [George] Floyd’s murder was the breaking point of a long list of deaths that were unnecessary and which were abusive,” the governor said. “That is a fact, and people are saying ‘enough is enough’.”
Meanwhile, as President Donald Trump touted the latest unemployment numbers and an improved economy as “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations,” the streets outside the White House were painted with the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” and the city’s mayor renamed the block “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
It was the latest move in the tense relationship between Mayor Muriel Bowser and federal authorities, including President Trump, as protests demanding justice for George Floyd continued.
On Friday, officials in Minneapolis voted on the first changes to the police department since Floyd was killed on May 25 as a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. City Council President Lisa Bender said that the council would “dismantle” the agency and “replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”
Students at Harvard University and elsewhere also called for their colleges to divest from police forces and study new methods of campus security, according to media reports.
A second memorial service for Floyd is scheduled for later today in Raeford, North Carolina, before a viewing Monday and private funeral Tuesday in Houston.
A federal judge in Denver, Colorado, handed down a ruling Friday night that barred the Denver Police Department from “employing chemical weapons or projectiles of any kind against persons engaging in peaceful protests or demonstrations.”
The 11-page decision came with a detailed list of requirements instructing law enforcement personnel how they must act during protests. These included: keeping their body-worn cameras recording at all times, giving warning before using tear gas or pepper spray, and not shooting projectiles at anyone’s head, pelvis or back.
The decision came only one day after four Denver residents submitted a complaint against alleged excessive use of force by police. Relying on video evidence from a week of protests, Judge Brooke Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said he weighed the constitutional rights of protesters against police officers’ ability to protect themselves.
“However, the time is past to rely solely on the good faith and discretion of the Denver Police Department and its colleagues from other jurisdictions,” Jackson wrote.
A coalition of activist groups on Friday filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in a federal district court, alleging excessive use of force by the police department.
The litigation — which is proposed as a class action — requests the court hand down an injunction restraining the city “from engaging in the unlawful and unconstitutional actions” displayed in their handling of crowd control during recent protests. Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Community Action Network and others filed the legal action, and they are represented by the human rights-focused National Lawyers Guild.
In an open letter, students at Harvard University on Friday demanded that the school’s president make major changes to fight racism, inequality and injustice on campus in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
More than 20 student groups called on the university to divest from organizations that perpetuate racism and to rebuild the policing structure that provides security at the school. The students also demanded the university increase the hiring of black faculty and establish a campus reporting system for incidents of racial discrimination.
A public opinion poll released Friday found 50 percent of respondents either somewhat or strongly supported the protests against the death of George Floyd. Just 28 percent opposed the ongoing demonstrations.
The survey was compiled by YouGov, a research and data analytics firm, on behalf of the publication HuffPost. It compiled online responses from nearly 3,000 people from May 27 through June 3.
The poll also surveyed Americans on their views of law enforcement personnel, police brutality and discrimination, finding divisions among demographic groups.
While 67 percent of white people polled had a somewhat or very favorable view of police, only 29 percent of black people did. Black and Hispanic people were also much more likely to be afraid of police than white people.
Similar gaps persisted among voters, as 45 percent of Democrats had a somewhat or very favourable opinion of police, while 84 percent of Republicans did. Democrats unsurprisingly held an overwhelmingly negative view of President Donald Trump’s response to the protests, with Republicans supporting him. But, the majority of independents who responded disapproved of Trump’s handling of the unrest.
Minneapolis’ city council approved an agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that bans the use of chokeholds by police and requires that officers report and intervene when they see another officer use unauthorized force.
The agreement is enforceable in court and requires all officers, regardless of rank, to report the use of neck restraint or chokehold to their superior or their commander’s superiors. Officers also have the duty to intervene, verbally or physically, if they see another officer use unauthorized force.
The agreement also requires authorization from the police chief or a designated deputy chief to use crowd control weapons, including chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds. And it requires more timely decisions on disciplining officers.
Charlotte Hornets owner and Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and his Jordan Brand have pledged $100 million over 10 years to organizations “dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education,” Jordan Brand announced in a statement Friday afternoon.
“The Jordan Brand is us, the Black Community,” the statement reads. “It’s 2020, and our family now includes anyone who aspires to our way of life. Yet as much as things have changed, the worst remains the same.
“Black lives matter. This isn’t a controversial statement. Until the ingrained racism that allow our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of Black people.”
Jordan, who remained mostly silent on social issues during his days as a player, spoke out this week about George Floyd’s death.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and other civil rights groups have sued President Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials over the clearing of Lafayette Square with force and chemical irritants, which the groups allege was “the manifestation of the very despotism against which the First Amendment was intended to protect.”
The suit was filed in federal court in Washington on Thursday and says that federal park police, secret service, military police and national guardsmen fired “tear gas, pepper spray capsules, rubber bullets and flash bombs into the crowd to shatter the peaceful gathering, forcing demonstrators to flee the area.”
“Defendants had no legitimate basis to destroy the peaceable gathering,” the lawsuit says. Trump has faced sharp criticism, including from Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, over his handling of the incident that ended with his photo-op in front of St. John’s Church.