The Latest: Italy protests peaceful in solidarity with Floyd

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Thousands in London protest police violence, racial injustice.

— DC officials expect city’s largest protest against police brutality since Floyd’s death

— DC rally for Aug. 28 anniversary of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

— Minneapolis-St. Paul curfew ends; troopers, National Guard sent home.

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ROME — Several hundred people protested peacefully in front of the U.S. consulate in Naples, shouting “I can’t breathe” to denounce the police killing of George Floyd.

In English and Italian, protesters chanted “Freedom!” and “No Justice, No Peace” and carried handmade signs. It’s one of the first protests in Italy in solidarity with Floyd and anti-racism efforts.

Police in riot gear enforced the perimeter around the protest, which was held along the seafront promenade opposite the U.S. consulate. There were no immediate signs of clashes. Most protesters wore facemasks and organizers urged them to keep their distance from each other because of the coronavirus.

There’s been an influx of migrants from Africa in recent years and racial incidents have been on the rise in Italy. Derogatory slurs directed at black soccer players make headlines, resulting in fines and sanctions for clubs.

More protests are planned this weekend in other cities.

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PARIS — French security forces have sealed off the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the surrounding streets to prevent a banned protest against police abuses in France and the United States.

The demonstration planned for Saturday and others this week in the French capital were in support of U.S. protests following the death of George Floyd. Police banned protests in Paris, citing the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus and concerns about public unrest.

Organizers of the weekend protest were among those turned around by riot police as they tried to gather in front of the embassy. Police stopped Egountchi Behanzin, a founder of the Black African Defense League, before he got close to the diplomatic building. Officers checked his papers and sent him away

Behanzin told the officers: “You can fine me 10,000 or 20,000 times, the revolt will happen anyway. … It is because of you that we are here.”

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BERLIN — Thousands of mostly young people, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Berlin’s Alexander Square.

Some held up placards with slogans such as “Be the change,” I can’t breathe” and “Germany is not innocent.”

Amina Koss of Berlin says she’d taken part in Black Lives Matters protests before George Floyd’s death. She says she’s concerned some politicians, including in Germany, are making racism acceptable again.

Koss says, “we as a society don’t tolerate racism.”

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LONDON — Thousands of demonstrators protested in rainy central London against police violence and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd.

Gathering in Parliament Square, a traditional venue for protests, the demonstrators “took the knee” in silence and then chanted Floyd’s name before applauding his memory.

The demonstrators have ignored advice from the government and police to avoid attending because of the coronavirus. In England, gatherings are limited to groups of six, provided people observe the social distancing guidelines to remain 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.

Though social distancing was not possible given the numbers attending, many protesters wore face coverings.

Many held banners aloft, including one that read “Racism is a Pandemic.”

Demonstrations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement also are taking place in Manchester, Cardiff in Wales and other U.K. cities. A rally is scheduled for Sunday in front of the U.S. Embassy in London.

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PARIS —Police have banned a third protest in Paris that had been planned for Saturday to condemn alleged police abuses in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Police cited a risk of spreading COVID-19 and fears of public unrest. The police decree noted that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people.

Online posts called for people to gather Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Paris police had previously also banned two other planned gatherings Saturday outside the US Embassy.

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WASHINGTON — Authorities in the nation’s capital are expecting Saturday to be the largest demonstration against police brutality in the city since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Washington has featured daily protests for the past week and they have largely been peaceful, with people marching back and forth from the White House to the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

Those numbers are expected to swell. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters Friday that local officials were projecting between 100,000 and 200,000 protesters.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham wouldn’t commit to a number but predicted it would be smaller than the 1 million people who attended the Women’s March in 2017.

It comes as authorities have sought to reduce tensions by having National Guard troops not carry weapons.

There were zero arrests during demonstrations on Thursday and Friday and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser canceled the curfew that had been in place since Monday. She said she will decide on Saturday morning if it will be reinstated.

A number of D.C. churches and theaters have said they will open their lobbies so people can cool off.

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Rev. Al Sharpton said the Washington rally he announced this week was being planned for Aug. 28, the anniversary of the day MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

He said the August event would be a way of maintaining momentum as the legal process against the men charged in Floyd’s death is underway.

“It’s going to be months, if not a year before you even go to trial. So you can’t let this peter out … otherwise you’ll end up in a year and people will go on to another story, and you will not have the public notice and pressure that you need.”

And from August, he said, “It gives you a push into November, not in a partisan way, in a protecting the vote, because we’ve got to educate people on mail-in voting. We’ve got to educate people in terms of turnout.”

He said, “One of the things King’s dream was about was voting rights and gives us like 90 days before the election and a great emphasis on that, which you’re going to, in order to change laws, you’ve got to impact lawmakers and they get elected in November. … Otherwise it’s for nothing.”

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MINNEAPOLIS — Residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul were no longer under a curfew Friday night and the state is planning to start sending state troopers and National Guard members back home.

Minneapolis and St. Paul saw violent protests and store break-ins late last week following George Floyd’s death after being arrested by Minneapolis police. The city has seen peaceful protests for nearly a week, including some 1,000 protesters in St. Paul on Friday and hundreds more near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Gov. Tim Walz credited peaceful protests for helping achieve rapid change on Minneapolis Police Department policy. On Friday, the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints as a civil rights investigation of the department begins.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries even after Floyd eventually grew still. Bystander video sparked outrage over Floyd’s death and protests, some violent, that spread across the U.S. and beyond.

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PHOENIX — The family of an unarmed man shot and killed by an Arizona state trooper the same day George Floyd died want a federal investigation.

Dion Johnson’s mother, Erma, said Friday she has not heard from Phoenix Police, who are overseeing the investigation of the Memorial Day shooting. Family members expressed growing frustration that the trooper, who is on paid administrative leave, has not been identified to them.

Democratic state Rep. Reginald Bolding said he has sent a letter requesting the U.S. Justice Department review the case for possible civil rights violations.

The family is particularly bothered that Johnson, 28, was deprived of emergency medical aid for several minutes after he was shot and cuffed.

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SEATTLE — Seattle’s mayor has banned the police use of one type of tear gas as protests continue over the killing of George Floyd.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a news conference Friday that the ban on CS gas would last for 30 days.

The move came hours after three civilian police watchdog groups urged city leaders to do so. Police Chief Carmen Best says officials will review police crowd control policies.

Local health officials had also expressed concerns over the use of the gas and other respiratory irritants based on the potential to increase spread of the coronavirus.

The groups said the move would build public trust and should remain in place until the department adopts policies and training for use of the chemical agent.

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Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

Categories: National & International News