TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Push in Boston to rename historic sites.
— Miami-Dade Police Department to stop using chokeholds.
— Baltimore police commissioner to lead reform group organized by U.S. mayors.
— Museums interested in preserving artifacts from DC protests.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota town where George Floyd’s uncle lives is seeing a renewed controversy over its police department logo amid calls for the removal of the Confederate flag across the country.
Floyd’s uncle Selwyn Jones tells the Rapid City Journal that he’d like his hometown of Gettysburg to change the logo that adorns police cars and officer patches. It’s been in place since 2009 and features an American flag alongside a Confederate flag.
Mayor Bill Wuttke says he will not remove the flag from the logo and maintains it represents history. He says the reason it was put on had nothing to do with racism.
SEATTLE — Police have largely withdrawn from an area of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle that has been transformed into a festival-like scene of murals, street merchants and a rotating group of public speakers.
The “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone” sprung up after police on Monday removed barricades near the East Precinct and basically abandoned the structure after officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flash bangs over the weekend to disperse demonstrators they said were assaulting them with projectiles during demonstrations in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Across several blocks, dozens of people now show up to listen to speakers calling for police reform, racial justice and compensation for Native American groups on whose land the city was founded.
BOSTON — Statues and historic sites in Boston that are seen as symbols of oppression are being targeted for change.
Mahtowin Munro, a spokeswoman for United American Indians of New England, said in a statement Thursday that a park with a statue of Christopher Columbus “should be a public place that feels welcoming to everyone in Boston, not a place that is a tribute to a genocidal monster.”
Mayor Marty Walsh told protesters he’s open to at least considering a name change for Faneuil Hall, where rebellious colonists plotted independence from Britain. The meeting hall and its marketplace are major tourist draws and were built with financing from merchant Peter Faneuil, who owned and traded slaves.
Activists are lobbying to have the site renamed to honor Crispus Attucks, a black man widely considered to be the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War. Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition that’s pushing for the name change, calls the building “a symbol of white supremacy.”
NEW YORK — Democratic lawmakers are again calling on the military to rename two streets at a base in Brooklyn.
A letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper says soldiers “deserve to serve on bases that honor their ancestors’ contributions to our nation, not those who fought to hold those same ancestors in bondage.”
The streets are General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive at Fort Hamilton, the city’s last remaining active-duty military base.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that “nothing should be named after Robert E. Lee at this point in history.”
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he supports the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands in the middle of Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
Cuomo, who is Italian-American., says he understands “the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support.”
But Cuomo says the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York,” and for that reason he supports it.
MADISON, Wis. — The mayor of Madison has apologized for a private message to the city’s police force in which she sympathized with officers dealing with civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The private video was made public Tuesday when it was posted on Facebook and drew criticism from social justice advocates.
On Wednesday, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway apologized publicly saying she failed to make it clear in her message to police that black lives matter, the State Journal reported.
Peaceful protests in Madison following Floyd’s death May 25 were marred by several nights of looting and break-ins near the Capitol.
MIAMI — The head of Florida’s largest police department says his agency will stop using chokeholds.
Alfredo Ramirez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, says the applied carotid triangle restraint won’t be used, and the decision was based on feedback from the community and policing professionals.
He says: “As a progressive agency, we must remain in a constant state of review and open to emerging best practices and community feedback.”
Demonstrators around the U.S. have been calling for police reforms following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In 2014, Eric Garner died in New York City after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer.
MIAMI — Miami police say seven people have been arrested for vandalizing statues of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León.
The arrests happened Wednesday when several police cars pulled up and had a confrontation with protesters, the Miami Herald reported. Some demonstrators in Bayfront Park had spray painted statues of Columbus and Ponce de León with “George Floyd,” “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) and a hammer and sickle.
Miami police say officers who responded to the scene were assaulted and a car was damaged. Video from the Herald shows police chasing protesters and several being shoved by police, some to the ground.
Police say in a new release there’s “zero tolerance” for property damage or hurting the public or officers.
Richard Dombroff, a demonstrator, told officers with a bullhorn, “We’ve been peaceful all week long and you just broke that peace.”
The rally was held to honor 18-year-old Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, who died after police used a stun gun on him in 2013.
BALTIMORE — The police commissioner in Maryland’s largest city has been appointed to a police reform work group created by an organization of U.S. mayors.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison will be one of three law enforcement leaders on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group, the organization announced this week.
The task force’s assembly follows two weeks of nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The group includes the mayors of Chicago, Cincinnati and Tampa, Florida, as well as police chiefs from Phoenix and Columbia, South Carolina. It will develop reforms that could be adopted by police departments nationwide to address police violence and patterns of racial discrimination, according to the Conference of Mayors’ statement.
LONDON — A statue of a 17th-century slave trader toppled by anti-racism protesters in Bristol, England, has been fished out of the harbor by city authorities.
Bristol City Council says the bronze statue of Edward Colston was recovered Thursday morning to avoid drawing a crowd. The council says it has been taken to a “secure location” and will end up in a museum.
Colston built a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic and left most of his money to charity. His name marks streets and buildings in Bristol, which was once the U.K.’s biggest port for slave ships.
After years of debate about what should happen to his statue, Black Lives Matter protesters hauled it down Sunday and dumped it into the harbor.
The act has reinvigorated calls for the removal of other statues from Britain’s imperial past.
Officials in Bournemouth, southern England, say they plan to remove a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell because it might become a target. Like many Englishmen of his time, Baden-Powell held racist views and he also expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler.
Council leader Vikki Slade says “we are removing the statue so that we can properly involve all relevant communities and groups in discussions about its future.”
RICHMOND, Va. — A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was torn down along Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue on Wednesday night by protesters.
The statue in the former capital of the Confederacy was toppled shortly before 11 p.m. and was on the ground in the middle of an intersection, news outlets reported. Richmond police were on the scene.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last week ordered the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is four blocks away from where the Davis statue stood. A judge on Monday issued an injunction preventing officials from removing the monuments for the next 10 days.
About 80 miles (130 kilometers) away, protesters in Portsmouth beheaded and then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument on Wednesday, according to media outlets.
Efforts to tear one of the statues down began around 8:20 p.m., but the rope they were using snapped, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The crowd was frustrated by the Portsmouth City Council’s decision to put off moving the monument. The Pilot says they started to dismantle the monument one piece at a time as a marching band played in the streets and other protesters danced.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Protesters have pulled down a statute of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol.
A rope was thrown around the 10-foot bronze statue Wednesday afternoon and they pulled it off its stone pedestal.
The protesters, including Dakota and Ojibwe Indians, say they consider Columbus a symbol of genocide against Native Americans. They say they had tried many times to remove it through the political process, but without success.
State Patrol troopers in helmets, who provide security in the Capitol complex, stood by at a distance but didn’t try to stop the protesters, who celebrated afterward with Native American singing and drumming.
The troopers eventually formed a line by the toppled statue so it could be taken away.
The protest followed a similar incident Tuesday night in Richmond, Virginia,and another in Boston.
SEATTLE — Seattle police say they’re looking to reopen a precinct shuttered during ongoing George Floyd protests.
Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette says barriers were removed from the front of the precinct after it became a flashpoint between officers and protesters.
Nollette says the precinct was boarded up because of credible threats that it would be vandalized or burned. She says police want to discuss reopening the precinct and noted officers are responding to 911 calls in the area.
Nollette says protesters have set up their own barricades, which are intimidating to some residents.
MINNEAPOLIS — One of four police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has posted bail and is out of jail.
According to online records, Thomas Lane, 37, posted bail of $750,000 and was released from the Hennepin County Jail, with conditions, shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Records show the other officers remained in custody.
Lane is charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in the arrest of Floyd. The handcuffed man died Memorial Day after officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck.
Lane’s attorney Earl Gray didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. But last week Gray said Lane was a rookie, and only held Floyd’s feet so he couldn’t kick. The criminal complaint also says Lane expressed concern about Floyd and asked Chauvin twice if they should roll Floyd to his side, but Chauvin said no. Gray said Lane also performed CPR in the ambulance.
Gray told the Star Tribune he plans to bring a motion to dismiss the charges.
WASHINGTON — Volunteers in the nation’s capital are working to gather and preserve hundreds of items posted during days of protests over the death of George Floyd.
Hundreds of signs and posters on the fence enclosing Lafayette Square near the White House have been moved across the street. They’ve been taped to the walls of a construction site or strung together and hung from trees lining the street.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Smithsonian have expressed an interest in preserving the artifacts. A spokesman for the National Museum of African American History and Culture says curators from three different parts of the Smithsonian network visited the scene Wednesday.
TACOMA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered an independent investigation into the death of a man in the custody of Tacoma police.
The move comes after new information emerged this week that at least one sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper were at the scene when the man, Manuel Ellis, was detained and died on March 3. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
Inslee said Wednesday that officials are working to determine who will conduct the investigation and who will make charging decisions. He said the goal is to make sure that the work is “done free of conflicts of interest.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department had been close to finishing an investigation, and a briefing with the prosecuting attorney was scheduled for Wednesday. It was canceled.
The police department has identified the four officers involved in restraining Ellis. They were put on administrative leave last week after the autopsy results were made public. It reported respiratory arrest due to hypoxia caused by physical restraint.
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and the victim’s family have called for those officers to be fired and arrested.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating 56 allegations of misconduct during protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Of the 56 investigations, 28 involve alleged uses of force, the LAPD said Wednesday in a statement. Seven officers have been taken out of the field.
The agency has tasked 40 investigators with looking into allegations of misconduct and excessive force, as well as violations of departmental policy, during the protests.
While most protests have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and businesses were vandalized.