The Latest: Floyd cousin speaks at Lee monument in Virginia

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Protesters gather at Lee monument in Virginia’s capital.

— Authorities investigating death of black man found hanging from tree in California.

— French court says protests can’t be banned over virus concerns.

— Police in Paris use tear gas to disperse crowds; thousands rally against excessive force.

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RICHMOND, Va. — Thousands of people gathered in Virginia’s capital on Saturday for a demonstration against racism known as the “5,000 Man March.”

The protest in Richmond included a speech by a cousin of George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of police has prompted weeks of protests around the world.

The demonstrators gathered at the city’s famed monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee before making a loop around the downtown. They returned to the monument about two hours later to hear speakers, including a relative of Floyd, the man who died last month after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air.

Tavares Floyd, George Floyd’s cousin, stepped onto the Lee monument and was welcomed by applause from the surrounding crowd of demonstrators in the former capital of the Confederacy.

WRIC-TV reports that Floyd spoke about many different racial inequalities that the black community faces in Virginia and throughout the nation.

The Lee statue, erected in 1890, has become a focal point of protests in Richmond since Floyd’s death. After years of calls by activists to remove Confederate statues in Virginia, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has pledged to take down the Lee statue, while Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, also a Democrat, has vowed to remove other Confederate statues on the same street.

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PALMDALE, Calif. — Authorities in the Southern California city of Palmdale are investigating the death of a 24-year-old black man found hanging from a tree near City Hall, which they originally described as an apparent suicide, prompting outrage in the community.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the high desert city of 150,000 on Saturday, marching from the park where Robert Fuller’s body was found to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s station demanding a full investigation into his death. Community members confronted city officials at a contentious news briefing Friday, asking why they were quick to label his death a suicide and demanding an independent autopsy.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Shaffer said homicide detectives were investigating the circumstances leading to Fuller’s death to determine if foul play was involved. Investigators have been in contact with Fuller’s family, Palmdale officials said.

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PARIS — France’s highest administrative court ruled Saturday night that virus concerns no longer justify banning public protests.

In a country that sees thousands of protests annually, the decision by the Council of State allows for the resumption of demonstrations and marches as long as health protections are respected, and events are declared in advance to local authorities and not deemed a risk to public order.

The Council ruled that “the ban on protesting is not justified by the current health situation.” It said the right to protest is a “fundamental freedom.”

The ruling came just as an unauthorized protest against police violence and racial injustice wound down in Paris. Police had stopped the at least 15,000 protesters from a planned march through the city Saturday, citing the virus-related restrictions on any gathering of more than 10 people. France has seen several unauthorized protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the U.S.

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PARIS — Police fired tear gas and blocked demonstrators from marching through Paris to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

The tear gas began just as a group of extreme-right counter demonstrators were dislodged from the roof of a building overlooking the protest.

Protesters set off firecrackers and shouted at police but were otherwise peaceful. Families and others trying to leave the protest struggled to get out because police had blocked off most exit routes. The remaining crowd took a knee.

Police decided to bar the crowd from marching from the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris toward the city’s main opera house. A police official told The Associated Press the decision was made because of a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The counter demonstrators had earlier unfurled a banner about “anti-white racism” and lit flares in the blue-white-red colors of the French flag.

Residents reached out their windows to tear down the banner. Activists later confronted the far-right activists on the roof, throwing their bags and ropes to the pavement below.

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PRAGUE — Hundreds rallied in Prague for the second straight Saturday in support of the protests in the United States against police violence and racism.

In a noisy but peaceful rally amid occasional showers, the protesters were marching through the Little Quarter district of the Czech capital, chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice No Peace” and “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist U.S.A.”

Many protesters condemned all forms of racism in the U.S., the Czech Republic and elsewhere.

They displayed banners that read “Together Against Racism,” “Stop Police Violence” and “All Lives Don’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.”

The rally was organized by an informal group of Americans living in Prague, along with several Czech groups. At the end, they observed a minute of silence in front of the U.S. Embassy.

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PARIS — Thousands gathered in Paris to denounce police brutality and discrimination.

Shouts rose from the largely black crowd as a group of white extreme-right activists climbed a building and unfurled a huge banner denouncing “anti-white racism.” Others tried to tear it down.

Police surrounded the area, bracing for potential violence. There’s been scattered clashes at largely peaceful demonstrations around France, inspired by Black Lives Matter and global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The march in Paris was led by supporters of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old French black man who died in 2016. Traore didn’t have his identity card on him and reportedly ran as the police approached.

A huge portrait showed a face of half Traore, half Floyd. Traore’s sister Assa told the crowd, “We are all demanding the same thing — fair justice for everyone.” She says her brother was also handcuffed and held down by police before he died.

A final report released last month cleared three officers of wrongdoing, triggering renewed protests. This week, the government banned chokeholds in France.

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PARIS — Police have ordered the closure of newly reopened restaurants and shops along the route of a march in Paris against police brutality and racism, fearing possible violence.

The march between the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris and the city’s main opera house is expected to be the biggest of several demonstrations Saturday inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.

The Paris police chief ordered merchants and city officials to clear sidewalks along the route of anything that could be set on fire or used by troublemakers against police. Any gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned in France because of virus containment measures.

The Paris march was organized by supporters of Adama Traore, a French black man who died in police custody in 2016 in circumstances that remain unclear despite four years of back-and-forth autopsies. They’re demanding “justice for Adama and all victims of police.”

France has seen several similar demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the U.S. They’ve been overwhelmingly peaceful, though some have seen scattered clashes between police and protesters.

Protests are also expected Saturday in Marseille, Lyon and other French cities.

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LONDON — British police have imposed strict restrictions on groups planning to protest in London Saturday in a bid to avoid violent clashes.

Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as far-right groups, have said they plan to gather for demonstrations in central London.

Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that statues in the capital — in particular a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square — could become flash points for violence. He said officials have intelligence that extreme far-right activists want to gather in London “ostensibly, they say, to protect the statues.”

Commander Bas Javid urged people not to gather in large groups at all because of the coronavirus. But if they must, he said activists have to stick to the planned route and be off the streets by 5 p.m.

He said that while protesters last weekend were largely peaceful, a minority was “intent on disorder” that resulted in assaults on police and violent behavior.

Dozens were arrested last weekend and a police horse was pictured bolting past the crowds amid the chaos.

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Ten members of a South Florida police department’s SWAT team have resigned from the team, citing safety concerns and local officials’ “disdain” for the unit.

The eight officers and two sergeants resigned from the team, but did not resign from the Hallandale Beach Police Department.

Police Chief Sonia Quinones received a memo from the SWAT team Friday morning, City Manager Greg Chavarria said in a statement, according to news outlets.

The officers said they were “minimally equipped” and had been “disrespected” by city officials who refused to address equipment and training concerns.

“The risk of carrying out our duties in this capacity is no longer acceptable to us and our families,” the officers wrote in the memo, dated June 9. “The anguish and stress of knowing that what we may be lawfully called upon to do in today’s political climate combined with the team’s current situation and several recent local events, leave us in a position that is untenable.”

The officers also said they were outraged that command staff had recently joined protesters and other officials in taking a knee as demonstrators called for the case of Howard Bowe to be reopened.

“This lack of support by members of the Command Staff is crippling to the agency and its rank and file,” the memo said.

Bowe, a 34-year-old black man, was killed in 2014 by Hallandale Beach’s SWAT team as it carried out a search warrant and raided his home. The officers wrote that investigators never found that any misconduct had been committed by the officers involved in Bowe’s death. The case later resulted in a $425,000 settlement between Bowe’s family and the city.

DALLAS — Dallas officials have agreed to a 90-day ban on the use of tear gas and other less-lethal police crowd-control weapons against demonstrators.

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay approved late Thursday a consent decree in which Dallas police agree not to use against peaceful demonstrators smoke bombs, flashbangs, pepperballs, Mace or other chemical agents. They also agree to not fire such impact projectiles as rubber bullets, bean bags or sponges.

The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until Sept. 9 unless extended, amended or dissolved by the judge.

Tasia Williams and Vincent Doyle sued the city and police after rubber bullets injured them during two separate Black Lives Matter marches in Dallas.

The demonstrations are a reaction to the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer.

SEATTLE — A federal judge has ordered Seattle to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang devices to break up peaceful protests.

The 14-day edict is a victory for groups who say authorities overreacted to demonstrations in the city after the death of George Floyd. A Black Lives Matter group sued the Seattle Police Department this week to halt the violent tactics police have used to break up largely peaceful protests in recent days.

Officers used tear gas, pepper spray and other less-lethal weapons against crowds that have demonstrated against racism and police brutality following the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best apologized to peaceful protesters who were subjected to chemical weapons. However, Best has said some demonstrators had violently targeted police, throwing projectiles and ignoring orders to disperse.

Categories: National & International News