The Latest: Minneapolis and St. Paul no longer under curfew
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Minneapolis-St. Paul curfew over as troopers, National Guard to be sent home
— Seattle mayor bans police use of tear gas for 30 days.
— Phoenix woman says her brother’s death three years ago was similar to Floyd’s.
— California governor orders end to holds by police that block blood flow to brain.
— Man charged with shooting officer during Las Vegas protest.
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.
VALDOSTA, Ga. — A protester in south Georgia has been arrested because a sheriff says she was displaying an obscene sign.
Local news outlets report that 31-year-old Sydney Caitlin Smith was arrested Thursday by Lowndes County sheriff’s deputies. Smith was attending a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said Smith is charged with violating a state law that forbids displaying obscenity where children 14 or younger can see it. Smith is free on bail.
Witnesses tell WALB-TV that Smith’s sign criticized Paulk and President Donald Trump. The arrest came after Paulk personally took away another sign with profanity from a protester on Wednesday.
A University of Georgia law professor says a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case found profanity can’t be banned when it’s part of a political message.
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.
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.
PHOENIX — A woman whose brother was killed as Phoenix police were trying to arrest him three years ago is drawing parallels between his death and George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Mussallina Muhaymin says Floyd’s death brought back the pain from her brother Muhammad’s death while handcuffed and held down by Phoenix officers.
Video shows an officer pressing his knee on Muhaymin’s head during his arrest. Earlier, Muhaymin complained he couldn’t breathe as four officers tried to hold him down. None of the officers were charged or faced discipline for their actions during the arrest.
Phoenix police declined to comment Friday on Muhaymin’s death.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered the state police training program to stop teaching officers how to use a hold that can block the flow of blood to the brain.
Newsom, a Democrat, took the action after two weeks of protests across the country prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd died on Memorial Day after a police officer put his knee on his neck for several minutes.
Since then, some police departments have moved to end the use of carotid holds that stop or slow the flow of blood to the brain. Newsom said that hold has no place in the 21st Century.
LAS VEGAS — A prosecutor says a 20-year-old Las Vegas man deliberately shot and gravely wounded a police officer during a Las Vegas Strip protest of the death of a man in police custody in Minneapolis.
A judge set bail at $1 million for suspect Edgar Samaniego on Friday, saying police video that hasn’t been made public shows the shooting.
Authorities say officer Shay Mikalonis remains hospitalized in critical condition after surgery for a head wound.
Samaniego is due again in court July 30. His public defender says he will plead not guilty to attempted murder and other charges.
SALEM, Ore. — The police chief in Salem, Oregon, has apologized after video showed one of the city’s police officers speaking with armed men about curfews that critics say shows authorities treated the men with weapons differently than other protesters.
Like other cities, Oregon’s capital instituted evening curfews during protests over the killing of George Floyd.
In the video, a Salem police officer tells the armed group to get off the sidewalks before police start enforcing the curfew. He said they needed to leave the sidewalk but could be inside a business or inside their vehicles so “it doesn’t look like we are playing favorites.”
Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore said in a video address to citizens this week that this was the first time a curfew has been instituted in the city. As for the video, Moore said he understands that some people feel authorities were holding certain groups to different standards.
“For that I tell you I am sorry,” Moore said, adding that the officer had not been “fully briefed” in how to enforce curfews during the demonstrations.
Moore said that in the future all police who enforce curfews will be fully briefed before going on patrol.
“We understand the feelings of fear that large groups of people openly carrying firearms in our city can create,” the chief said. “Though they gather under the guise of protecting the city, that is our responsibility, not theirs.”
ATLANTA — An Emory University infectious disease specialist says he has serious concerns that police could be spreading the coronavirus by spraying tear gas on demonstrators.
Mass arrests and confining people in small spaces dramatically increases the risk of infecting others with the coronavirus, Dr. Jay Varkey said Friday.
Tear gas and other chemical agents causes people to rub their eyes, putting demonstrators at risk of being infected, Varkey said.
“When I see the wide use of things like tear gas or pepper bombs that by its nature cause people to immediately rub their eyes, that causes me tremendous consternation in terms of the risk of what that could cause in terms of infection transmission during a pandemic,” Varkey said.
“From a public health standpoint, I don’t know whether law enforcement is actively looking at agents other than tear gas or pepper bombs,” he said. “As a physician, do I think they should? Yes, absolutely.”
ATLANTA — Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has donated $500,000 to launch a fundraiser he says is designed “to help improve the community for people of color in the city of Atlanta.”
Ryan opened the GoFundMe page because, he says, “I see my city hurting.” In an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter protests in Atlanta and across the country, he said in a statement he was motivated to take action after he committed last week to “listening and learning.”
“For far too long I have reacted to social injustice with empathy and silent support but failed to follow through with active support,” Ryan said. “I feel the time has come to RESPOND. For ALL of us to respond.”
Ryan said said over the next weeks and months he will be “really listening to the needs of the community and working with black business leaders, sports figures, activists and local grassroots organizations to get guidance on how these donations can be most impactful.”
Borrowing from the Falcons’ slogan, Ryan challenged others in Atlanta to “rise up as a community” and donate to the fund. The goal is to raise $2 million.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president is noting the “naked racism in the United States” and says he firmly believes “this is a moment we should regard as a turning point with regard to tackling racism around the world.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke as the ruling African National Congress launched a Black Friday event in response to the “heinous murder” of George Floyd and “institutionalized racism” in the U.S., at home and “wherever it rears its ugly head.”
Ramaphosa said human dignity is a universal aspiration and respect for it is “the only guarantee of any nation’s prosperity.” He pointed out South Africa’s enduring racial inequality a quarter-century after the end of the racist system of apartheid, and he expressed his “deepest regret” at the death of nearly a dozen South Africans allegedly at the hands of security forces during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown.
While he said the deaths “do not have the obvious racial dimensions of the murder of George Floyd, they do rely on a similar contempt for the intrinsic human worth of the victim” and must be condemned “just as vehemently.” The cases are under investigation.
SEATTLE — The Seattle area’s largest labor group says it will expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild later this month unless the union admits that racism is a problem in law enforcement and agrees to address that problem in negotiating its next contract with the city.
The Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council passed a resolution Thursday as protests continue in Seattle and nationally over the killing of George Floyd. The resolution attributes policing problems to systemic racism.
It called on the Seattle police union to acknowledge that or be thrown out of the umbrella group of more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers that wields tremendous power in greater Seattle politics. SPOG President Mike Solan declined to comment to The Seattle Times.
In tweets Thursday, the police union thanked people for increasingly peaceful protests and said officers and protesters are part of the same community “and there are people with loved ones, frustrations and hope for the future on both sides of the line.”
The labor council’s resolution specifically mentioned contracts between police and the city. It said the police union must participate in an effort “dedicated to promoting safety within our community and within law enforcement by addressing racism within SPOG … and ensuring that contracts do not evade legitimate accountability.”
NICOSIA, Cyprus — About 250 people demonstrated peacefully outside the U.S. embassy in the Cypriot capital Nicosia to denounce what they said were the “social and racial inequalities” at the root of protests triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Demonstrators wore masks and kept several feet apart in line with social distancing rules. They held placards reading, “We say no to racism, solidarity is our weapon,” and chanted slogans including “Power to the people, united we breathe.”
Police observed Friday’s hour-long protest from a distance as demonstrators knelt and held out clenched fists in a show of solidarity with protesters in the U.S.
The protest was organized by EDON, the youth wing of Cyprus’ communist-rooted party AKEL. EDON Central Committee member Christoforos Pittara decried what he called the endemic racial inequality that still plagues the U.S. and criticized President Donald Trump for resorting to racist rhetoric.
Pittara said justice for George Floyd isn’t enough and must be served for a “chain of murders” whose victims were not only African Americans, but the poor and dispossessed irrespective of race, creed or color.
TACOMA, Wash. — The mayor of Tacoma, Washington, has told the city manager to fire four police officers following the death of a black man after police restrained him in March.
Mayor Victoria Woodards on Thursday night directed City Manager Elizabeth Pauli to fire the officers involved in the restraint of 33-year-old Manuel Ellis.
Her order comes as the country has been roiled by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four Minneapolis officers have been criminally charged. Woodards said the Tacoma officers should also be prosecuted in the death of Ellis.
“The officers who committed this crime should be fired and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Woodards said in a statement aired live on Tacoma TV and Facebook. “I am demanding tonight that the Pierce County Sheriff review and confirm every action taken by each officer.”
The News Tribune reports the Pierce County medical examiner’s office ruled Ellis’ March 3 death a homicide caused by a lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. The newspaper reports methamphetamine intoxication and a heart disease were contributing factors.
Authorities have said Ellis appeared to be suffering from some sort of breakdown when they approached him. They said he attacked officers who were trying to calm him down.
MINNEAPOLIS — Negotiators for the city of Minneapolis have agreed with the state to ban the use of chokeholds by police, and to require police to report and intervene any time they see an unauthorized use of force by another officer.
The moves are part of a stipulation between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which launched a civil rights investigation this week in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody. The City Council is expected to approve the agreement Friday.
The agreement, which will be enforceable in court, would require any officer, regardless of tenure or rank, to immediately report the use of any neck restraint or chokehold from the scene to their commander or their commander’s superiors.
Similarly, any officer who sees another officer commit any unauthorized use of force, including any chokehold or neck restraint, must try to intervene verbally and even physically. If they don’t, they’d be subject to discipline as severe as if they themselves had used the prohibited 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.
Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd