The Latest: President Trump, Senate GOP seek police changes

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— President Trump, Senate GOP seek police changes.

— Maryland panel votes to remove Civil War plaque from Capitol.

— Man shot as protesters in New Mexico try to tear down statue.

— Black Lives Matter banner removed from U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

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WASHINGTON — Embracing a new priority, President Donald Trump is set to announce executive actions on police procedures and Senate Republicans are preparing a package of policing changes as the GOP rushes to respond to mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans.

It’s a sudden shift for the Republican Party, one Democrats are watching warily, and a crush of activity that shows how quickly the mass protests over police violence and racial prejudice are transforming national politics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared that Republicans are developing “a serious proposal to reform law enforcement.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee will gavel in Tuesday afternoon for an extensive hearing on “Police Use of Force and Community Relations,” drawing testimony from the nation’s leading civil rights and law enforcement leaders.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A panel has voted to remove a plaque from Maryland’s Capitol that honors the Civil War’s Union and Confederate soldiers and until recently showed the U.S. flag and Confederate flag crossed.

The four members of the State House Trust, which oversees the Maryland State House and its grounds voted to remove the plaque after Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones renewed her push to get rid of it — after the panel decided last year to cover the flags with an image of Maryland’s state flag. Jones continued pushing for complete removal because of the sign’s language.

“I want to thank the State House Trust for this important vote today to remove this confederate-sympathizing plaque,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “We have made great strides to reflect the importance of African-Americans in our State’s history over the past year.”

In February, Maryland unveiled bronze statues of famed abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, both of whom were born slaves on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Those statues are now in the Capitol’s Old House Chamber, the room where slavery was abolished in the state in 1864.

Jones, a Democrat who is Maryland’s first black and first female House speaker, renewed her push to remove the Civil War plaque last week.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man was shot Monday night as protesters in New Mexico’s largest city tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside the Albuquerque Museum.

The man was taken to a hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition late Monday, said Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.

A confrontation broke out between protesters and a group of armed men who were trying to protect the statue of Juan de Oñate before protesters wrapped a chain around the statue and began tugging on it while chanting, “Tear it down.” One protester repeatedly swung a pickax at the base of the statue.

Moments later a few gunshots could be heard down the street and people started yelling that someone had been shot.

Gallegos said officers used tear gas and flash bangs to protect officers and detain those involved in the shooting. He said they were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning as police worked to secure the scene. Gallegos said detectives were investigating with the help of the FBI but he did not immediately release any other information.

The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us. Our hearts go out to the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight. This sculpture has now become an urgent matter of public safety.”

The violence came just hours after activists in northern New Mexico celebrated the removal of another likeness of Oñate that was on public display at a cultural center in the community of Alcalde. Rio Arriba County officials removed it to safeguard it from possible damage and to avoid civil unrest ahead of a scheduled protest.

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SEOUL, South Korea — A large Black Lives Matter banner has been quietly removed from the U.S. Embassy building in South Korea’s capital three days after it was raised there in solidarity with protesters back home.

The banner was put up Saturday, with Ambassador Harry Harris tweeting that his embassy “stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change.” But the banner was removed Monday and another banner commemorating the Korean War was on display Tuesday.

The embassy said the banner’s removal was meant to avoid any perception that it aimed to encourage donations for certain unspecified organizations.

Harris “wanted to highlight the enduring American values of racial equality, freedom of speech, and the right to peacefully protest,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. “However, the Ambassador’s intent was not to support or encourage donations to any specific organization. To avoid the misperception that American taxpayer dollars were spent to benefit such organizations, he directed that the banner be removed.”

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Follow all AP coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

Categories: National & International News