The Latest: Portland protest includes NBA star, some mayhem
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— NBA star Lillard protests in Portland, where some set fires.
— Trump invokes Floyd’s name in trumpeting jobs report.
— Friend at scene says Floyd didn’t resist arrest.
— Minnesota considers changes to legal process for police-involved deaths.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Thousands of protesters marched for the seventh consecutive night in Portland to decry the death of George Floyd.
Damian Lillard of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers walked at the front of the crowd arm-in-arm with young demonstrators as they crossed a bridge over the Willamette River and made their way to a large riverside park for a rally and speeches.
Hours later, several hundred people splintered off and set fires, engaged in street racing, threw projectiles and pointed lasers at officers’ eyes.
Police used a sound device that emits loud, high frequencies to deter those people. Twelve people were arrested.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump invoked George Floyd’s name as he delivered remarks trumpeting the latest unemployment numbers, which showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly adding 2.5 million jobs last month.
Trump mentioned equal justice under the law means everyone needs to receive fair treatment. He referenced Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked protests across the world.
Trump says, “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” adding: “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”
Trump is also calling an improving economy “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations” and the African American community.
MINNEAPOLIS — A man with George Floyd says his friend didn’t resist arrest and tried to defuse the situation when officers began screaming at Floyd.
Maurice Lester Hall, a longtime friend, was a passenger in Floyd’s car when police approached him on May 25 while responding to a call about a possible use of counterfeit money. Hall told the New York Times that Floyd was trying in his “humblest form to show he was not resisting arrest in no form or way.”
Hall, 42, was arrested Monday in Houston on outstanding warrants.
He has been interviewed by Minnesota authorities and is a key witness in the state’s investigation into the four officers who apprehended Floyd. All four officers were fired and charged, including Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.
Hall told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the situation escalated and police grabbed Floyd, put him in a squad car, dragged him back out and then “jumped on the back of the neck.”
Hall says Floyd was crying out for help because he was dying. He says he’ll always remember seeing the fear in his friend’s face.
Hall didn’t know Floyd had died until the next day, when he saw the bystander video.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Two state lawmakers say a Florida deputy used unnecessary force by smashing a woman’s window, causing a cut on her face, after she stopped alongside a group of demonstrators protesting police abuse and later refused orders to get out of her car.
Body-cam video released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando shows Wednesday’s incident, which caught the attention of protesters who shouted at deputies, “What did she do?”
The video shows the deputy pulling the woman over in a nearby parking lot, where he shouts “Get out of the car!”
When the woman asks why through her partially rolled-down driver’s side window, the deputy says “Do you want to go to jail? Seriously? Either get out of the car or you’re going to jail.”
The deputy later explains that she had committed a traffic violation by stopping next to demonstrators in the street. The woman says she wasn’t doing anything wrong.
“Your choice. I’m trying to be nice,” the deputy says, then reaches through her window to open the door. The woman tells him to stop and rolls up the window on his arm. He then smashes it with his baton, shattering the glass before handcuffing her and putting her in a squad car.
“I’m bleeding, I need an ambulance,” she later repeats, spitting blood from her mouth onto the pavement after he calls to get her medical help.
Sheriff John Mina described the incident as “troubling” at a news conference on Thursday, adding that an internal inquiry had been opened.
Two Democratic state lawmakers from Orlando, Rep. Carlos Smith and Rep. Anna Eskamani, criticized the deputy. Smith called it “disgusting behavior” in a tweet, saying the deputy “unnecessarily escalates the situation from 0 to 1000 in seconds over a stupid traffic violation.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s county attorneys want to give the state attorney general the authority to handle all cases of police-involved deaths.
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association voted Thursday in transferring that power during an emergency meeting, which included Attorney General Keith Ellison. The attorney general is leading the state’s case against the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death instead of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
State lawmakers would need to pass legislation during this month’s special session to give the attorney general the ongoing authority.
The county attorneys are also calling on the Legislature to provide additional funding to the state Attorney General’s Office and create a unit within Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate police killings of civilians.
“If this is the path the Legislature and governor choose to take, my office will accept the responsibility,” Ellison said. “But it must come with resources sufficient to do the job thoroughly and to do justice in the way Minnesotans have a right to expect.”
Ellison is one of 18 Democratic attorneys general who are asking Congress to grant their offices “clear statutory authority under federal law” to investigate “unconstitutional policing by local police departments” in their respective states, the Star Tribune reported.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis City Council is preparing to vote on changes to the city’s police department in response to the death of George Floyd.
City leaders and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights are working out an agreement for a temporary restraining order to force some immediate changes and set a timeline for the state’s civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
The council meets Friday afternoon. If the council approves the agreement, the order would require court approval.
The state human rights department opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by the police department on Tuesday. The investigation into policies, procedures and practices seeks to determine if the force has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices toward people of color and ensure that any such practices are stopped.
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — A 176-year-old slave auction block has been removed from a Virginia city’s downtown and will be displayed in a museum.
The 800-pound stone was pulled from the ground at a Fredericksburg street corner early Friday after its removal was delayed for months by lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic, The Free Lance-Star reported.
The weathered stone was sprayed with graffiti twice and chants of “move the block” erupted this week during local demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city officials said in a statement announcing the removal.
A local chapter of the NAACP called for the stone’s removal in 2017, saying it was a relic of “a time of hatred and degradation.”
In 2019, the City Council voted for its removal and relocation to the Fredericksburg Area Museum. A judge upheld that decision in February after two businesses near the auction block sued to stop the relocation.
The museum plans to display the knee-high stone in an exhibit chronicling the “movement from slavery to accomplishments by the local African American community.”
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers are expressing concern about U.S. police action linked to the death of George Floyd.
The incidents were debated by the EU parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights as the protest movement since Floyd’s death gathered pace in Europe and around the world.
Finnish Greens lawmaker Heidi Hautala says “the police should not be there to shoot when some loot. The police should be there to protect, and it is clear that widespread reforms in the law enforcement in the United States are needed.”
Irish EU lawmaker Sean Kelly says some of the problem is due to a failure of leadership. He says what happened in the United States is “chilling in the extreme. I think it indicates what can happen when you have poor leadership.
“Leaders can either divide or unite. Good unite. Bad divide. That’s what we see unfortunately in America at the moment.”
Swedish liberal parliamentarian Karin Karlsbro says “America has a long and tragic history on police brutality. At the heart of this lies racism and segregation based on history. This is a systematic problem that needs to be addressed at all levels in the U.S.”
MOBILE, Ala. — The city of Mobile removed a Confederate statue early Friday.
The bronze figure of Admiral Raphael Semmes had become a flashpoint for protests. It was removed from its pedestal after being vandalized this week and before demonstrations announced for Sunday calling for it to be taken down.
The removal of the 120-year-old figure follows days of protests in Alabama and across the nation over killings by police of African Americans.
Semmes was a Confederate commerce raider, sinking Union-allied ships during the Civil War. He later became a “Lost Cause” hero to Southerners who lamented the end of the Confederacy.
The city of Semmes, Alabama, outside Mobile, was incorporated in 2010 and named for him.
TUSKEGEE, Ala. — Police are investigating a cross burning on a bridge in Macon County.
Macon County Sherriff Andre Brunson says the burning cross was seen on top of a bridge over Interstate 85 on Thursday night. Brunson says deputies arrived and helped extinguish the fire.
John Bolton, a motorist who called 911, told WRBL-TV there was a cross, burning tire and fuel canister.
The sheriff says there are no suspects so far.
PARIS — Police have banned a planned protest against police violence in Paris on Saturday because of health measures restricting gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
A protest decrying systemic racism and calling for justice for Floyd and other victims of police brutality was planned to take place outside the U.S. Embassy.
But on Friday, Police Prefect Didier Lallement said such protests “are not authorized” because virus safety measures “prohibit any gathering, in the public space, of more than 10 people.” He issued an order banning the Floyd demonstration and another protest planned for the same day.
Lallement said “in addition to the disturbances to public order that these rallies can generate … the health risks they could cause remain significant.”
France has had over 29,000 people die in the pandemic.
BEIRUT — The Islamic State group says protests across the United States and the repercussions of the coronavirus on Western countries will weaken these nations and divert their attention from Muslim countries.
The comments published Friday in an editorial in the extremist group’s online weekly newspaper al-Nabaa were its first on protests in America after last week’s death of African American George Floyd while a policeman put a knee to his neck.
Al-Nabaa said protests have been occurring in the U.S. since it was founded, but this year “coincide with the negative effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy.” Al-Nabaa said the pandemic will weaken “infidel states.”
In recent weeks, the militants have taken advantage of the pandemic to launch deadly attacks in their former self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The group that once controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria used these territories to launch attacks worldwide that killed hundreds of people since declaring their so-called caliphate in 2014.
Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users.
The company put a label on a video posted by the @TeamTrump account that said, “This media has been disabled in response to a claim by the copyright owner.” The video was still up on President Donald Trump’s YouTube channel and includes pictures of Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests, at the start.
“Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” Twitter said in a statement.
The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking.
It’s the latest action that Twitter has taken against Trump, who has threatened to retaliate against social media companies.
Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd