The Latest: Florida city to remove Confederate memorial
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Florida city of St. Augustine to remove Confederate memorial.
— Minneapolis union president says members scapegoated.
— Seattle police investigate another shooting near protest zone.
— AP Poll: Americans want clear standards, consequences for police excessive force.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The St. Augustine City Commission will relocate a Confederate memorial that’s been in its central plaza for 140 years.
The commission voted 3-2 Monday night. The decision came after weeks of demonstrations across the country against police brutality and racism.
“I don’t think that memorial represents who we are as a community we aspire to be,” said Mayor Tracy Upchurch, a former state legislator who also teaches law and history.
The memorial obelisk bears the names of Confederate soldiers. It’s been a focus of protests in St. Augustine, a city of 15,000 that traces its origins to 1565, when Spanish explorers established an outpost along the northern Atlantic coast of what is now Florida.
Upchurch says George Floyd’s death is more than a conversation about police misconduct and Confederate monuments.
“It is a call to us to face with open hearts the racism that’s existed in our country since its founding. African slaves have been here from the very beginning, and we’re still struggling with these issues,” she said. “The plaza is literally our heart and soul — and that’s where this obelisk stands — in the center of our community.”
The monument is located in the Plaza de la Constitucion, near the Catholic cathedral and a government building.
SEATTLE — Police in Seattle are investigating another shooting near the city’s “occupied” protest zone.
A spokesperson at Harborview Medical Center says the man’s wounds were not life-threatening. The shooting happened around 5 a.m. Tuesday in the Capitol Hill neighborhood east of downtown.
It’s the third recent shooting near the protest zone. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday the city will move to wind down the protest zone. The mayor said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality.
Durkan also said police will soon return to a police station that the department largely abandoned in the area after clashes with protesters following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Petitioners have called for the removal of a statue in Alaska of the U.S. cabinet secretary who arranged the purchase of the state’s land from Russia.
The Juneau Empire reports Jennifer LaRoe launched the Change.org petition to remove the William H. Seward statue. So far, it has 1,300 signatures.
The $250,000 statue unveiled in 2017 shows Seward holding the 1867 Treaty of Cession authorizing the Alaska Territory sale to the U.S. from the Russian Empire.
LaRoe acknowledged Seward’s role as an abolitionist in President Abraham Lincoln’s administration but says the statue is a symbol of white, patriarchal authority and the disenfranchisement of Alaska Natives.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll called the bystander video of the death of George Floyd “horrific” while cautioning the public not to rush to judgment.
The union has been mostly silent about Floyd’s death since issuing a statement soon after he died on May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes. Kroll said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” he thinks union members are being scapegoated for incompetent department leadership.
Kroll says the union has been denied its right to review officer body-camera video. Union director Rich Walker says “any human being” watching the video knows Floyd’s arrest “should not have ended the way it did.” But Walker questioned statements that Floyd didn’t resist officers because the union hasn’t seen footage of the minutes leading up to what the bystander video showed.
Police chief Medaria Arradondo said after Floyd’s death that he’s pausing contract negotiations with the union to consider major changes. Anna Hedberg, another union director, says the union had been having “great conversations” with city leaders and Arradondo before Floyd’s death.
She says it’s “dumbfounding to me that one incident, we become the scapegoat to having a bad officer.”
Ex-officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene are charged with aiding and abetting.
WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly want clear standards for police on when officers may use force and consequences imposed on officers who do so excessively.
That’s according to a new poll from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds Americans favor significant changes to the country’s criminal justice system. Americans are largely united behind the idea that action is required: 40% say it needs “major changes;” 29% think the criminal justice system needs “a complete overhaul” and 25% say it needs “minor changes.” Just 5% believe no changes are necessary.
The poll also finds there is strong support for penalizing officers who engage in racially biased policing. Americans are more likely now than five years ago to say police violence against the public is a very serious problem and officers who cause injury or death on the job are treated too leniently.
The survey of American adults took place after weeks of mass demonstrations against police violence and calls from some politicians and activists to “defund” police departments in response to the death of George Floyd.
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines City Council unanimously approved an anti-racial profiling ordinance that prohibits biased policing and requires city employees to report violations by officers.
Some supporters say the vote Monday night was only a first step and officials need to take more action.
The ordinance prohibits discriminatory pretextual stops, in which drivers are stopped for one infraction but charged with a different infraction. Many residents who spoke before the council voted wanted all pretextual stops banned.
The ordinance also mandates additional officer training, requires city employees to report incidents of biased policing they witness and creates a board with community members that helps the city manager review data and make policy recommendations.
Daniel Zeno, policy and advocacy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, says passage of the measure was a good first step. He’d also like to see a citizen oversight committee.
For years, advocates have been calling for the council to approve such an ordinance. Officials began working on the new rules following protests of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.