The Latest: Georgia police chief on leave amid investigation
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Georgia police chief investigated after saying he doesn’t support Black Lives Matter.
— Chicago aldermen propose removing police officers from city public schools.
— Seattle’s police chief says officers will protect safety in occupied zone.
— Trump meets with families who’ve lost loved ones to police violence.
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — An Atlanta-area police chief who was criticized for saying on social media that he doesn’t support the Black Lives Matter movement has been placed on leave while his city investigates him.
Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers wrote on his personal Facebook page that religious leaders have failed to give enough support to police and that Black Lives Matter as a movement “seems to glorify the killing of my brothers and sisters.”
Since then, Johns Creek City Manager Ed Densmore said he began gathering information from residents, police officers and city employees.
But Densmore said the investigation now focuses on other issues related to the chief. Densmore said he opened an internal investigation into allegations against the chief “unrelated to his social media post.” He did not specify what those allegations are.
In his Facebook post, Byers said he is supportive of demonstrations for justice and that he supports the lives of all people.
“But I do not support the Black Lives Matter as a movement as it seems to glorify the killing of my brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “It is not what you pastors and religious leaders think it is.”
ALAMOSA, Colo. — An attorney is accused of shooting a man who drove close to protesters in the street during a demonstration over the killing of George Floyd in southern Colorado.
Twenty-seven-year-old James Marshall was charged with attempted second-degree murder and other crimes Monday. He’s accused of shooting Danny Von Pruitt Jr. in the back of the head.
Citing police documents, KCNC-TV reported Pruitt came to an almost complete stop before inching forward toward protesters and then continued through the intersection as they parted before being shot. Marshall allegedly told police he thought his wife was going to be run over.
CHICAGO — Chicago aldermen are pitching a plan to remove police officers from the city’s public schools amid outcry from activists who want reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The proposal to end the city’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department will be introduced Wednesday. Minneapolis and Seattle have taken similar action.
Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposes the move. She says the additional security is needed and the district strikes a good balance with how it uses police in schools. A vote is expected next month.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s two biggest universities want to change names of campus buildings that honor racists from more than a century ago.
But any changes face an uphill battle. A state law passed in 2000 mostly to protect Civil War monuments requires a two-thirds vote from the state Legislature, which is dominated by conservative Republicans.
University of South Carolina trustees will vote Friday on a proposal from the president to remove the name of J. Marion Sims from a women’s residence hall on campus.
Sims, who is white, has been honored as the father of modern gynecology, but he did experimental work without anesthesia on black women who were slaves.
University President Bob Caslen said Sims’ experiments, while advancing medical knowledge, were “incompatible with respect for human dignity.”
Last week, Clemson University trustees voted to ask lawmakers for permission to change the name of Tillman Hall, named after “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, a white man who was a South Carolina governor and a U.S. senator.
Tillman came to prominence leading a mob that attacked and killed four black men in 1876 in a successful effort to remove the political power African Americans gained after the Civil War.
Along with their names on the colleges, Sims and Tillman have statues on the lawn of South Carolina’s capitol that also are protected under the 2000 law.
SEATTLE — Seattle’s police chief says officers will go into the several-block area being occupied by protesters if there are threats to public safety.
Police pulled back from a part of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood after recent clashes with protesters occurred.
A festival-like atmosphere has emerged in the area, now called the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” with participants painting a Black Lives Matter mural on the street and planting a community garden.
Police Chief Carmen Best spoke after a business owner near the protest area complained that police didn’t respond when he called 911 to report a break-in and vandalism.
“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Best said Monday.
Best said officers have written multiple police reports for crimes reported in that area in the past 48 hours. She said dispatchers and officers are coordinating with crime victims or callers to meet police on the edges of the CHOP boundaries. She added that officers will go in if there’s an urgent situation.
MANCHESTER, Conn. — Protesters in Connecticut are calling attention to police misconduct against Latinos.
At rallies in Manchester, signs calling for “Justice for Jay” have joined the more familiar Black Lives Matter banners.
Jose “Jay” Soto, 27, a convicted robber, was shot to death by a SWAT team on April 2 as he left his mother’s home in Manchester following a standoff that began when authorities say he refused to surrender to a parole officer. Authorities said Soto was acting erratically and had threatened to shoot anyone who tried to take him out of his house.
But his family says he was not carrying a weapon and was putting his hands in the air. Relatives say they also told authorities Soto had mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Do you think this would have happened if he was white?” said Soto’s stepfather, Anthony Vazquez.
The four officers who fired at Soto have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he met with several families who have lost loved ones in deadly encounters with police officers.
Trump says of the families that “your loved ones will not have died in vain.” He also says “I can never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish, but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people.”
Trump spoke before he signed an executive order that the White House says is aimed at promoting accountability in law enforcement. It includes a provision that establishes a database for tracking officers with excessive use of force complaints. Police departments would be able to check the database before hiring someone from another department.
The executive order follows the death on May 25 of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis officer and large protests in cities throughout the country.
Trump also used the ceremony to criticize what he describes as “radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments.”
O’FALLON, Mo. — A statue of Christopher Columbus that stood in a St. Louis park for 134 years was removed Tuesday amid a growing national outcry against monuments to the 15th-century explorer.
The commissioners who oversee Tower Grove Park recently voted to remove the statue. It was loaded onto a truck Tuesday, but it wasn’t clear what will become of it. Park officials didn’t immediately reply to a phone message seeking comment.
Several Columbus statues have been targeted during the widespread protests over the death of George Floyd and racial inequality. Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
A Columbus statue in Richmond, Virginia, was toppled last week. Seven people were arrested for vandalizing a statue of the explorer in Miami. And a statue of Columbus in Boston was beheaded.
In a statement on Tower Grove Park’s Facebook page, the park board said the statue was originally placed in the park to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to the St. Louis region.
“But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities,” it said.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Commissioners in the West Virginia county where Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was born are set to discuss a request to remove his statue.
The Harrison County Commission meets Wednesday and will discuss a community member’s request to remove the statue from the courthouse plaza in Clarksburg, news outlets reported.
Stonewall Jackson was born in Clarksburg in 1824 and the United Daughters of Confederacy built the statue of him in 1953.
“I know there’s a lot of people that are concerned over why it’s on the agenda,” Commissioner David Hinkle said. “As a governing body, when people make requests, we have to take a look at it.”
Hinkle said he wants to get public input before making a decision.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nine people were arrested during protests on Monday night in Louisville.
One person was arrested in connection with vandalism to a police vehicle and eight others were charged with unlawful assembly. No arrests were made in connection to the damage to a news vehicle, police said.
Some demonstrators in Louisville blocked traffic and threw a brick into a news station’s car while police deployed pepper balls, the city’s interim police chief said in a joint news conference with the city’s mayor on Monday night.
The statements from Chief Robert Schroeder came after police warned residents to avoid the city’s downtown area, and after a video posted on social media showed a brick hurled into the window of a WLKY-TV camera crew’s car.
BALTIMORE — The city council has approved more than $22 million in cuts to the Baltimore Police Department’s $550 million budget for 2021.
The council voted 13-2 on Monday to approve a $3 billion operating budget.
The proposal now heads to the mayor’s office, where Bernard Young is likely to block it, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Baltimore’s charter gives the mayor control of spending in the budget process and the city council can only identify cuts. Young is the outgoing mayor, while city council president Brandon Scott is the Democratic nominee to become mayor in November.
Those proposed cuts by the city council include about $7 million in police overtime pay across five different departments, the police marine unit would be disbanded to save a total of about $2 million and the department’s mounted unit would also be dissolved, freeing up about $550,000, The Baltimore Sun reported. Other cuts are to “unallocated” funds.
Patrol officers and detectives wouldn’t be affected by the overtime cuts.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police say they have made an arrest in a shooting when protesters tried to tear down a bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador outside a museum.
Police say 31-year-old Stephen Ray Baca was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery in the shooting Monday night that left another man critically wounded. The shooting happened near a confrontation between protesters and a group of armed men trying to protect the statue of Juan de Oñate.
Online court records don’t list an attorney who could comment on Baca’s behalf.
PARIS — Vandals targeted a statue of French military commander Joseph Gallieni in central Paris.
“Down With the Official Version” and “The State is Responsible” was scrawled on the monument’s base.
Gallieni began a colonial career in the late 19th century and during World War I was a military governor of Paris. He used brutal methods to quell rebellion in French colonies, including as a governor of Madagascar, where he abolished the island’s 350-year-old monarchy.
Statues of World War II French Resistance leader and former President Charles de Gaulle also have been targeted by vandals in recent days. De Gaulle led France at the end of its colonial era in the 1950s and 1960s but is widely revered for helping free France from Nazi occupation. The vandalism prompted outcry from many politicians.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that France would not take down any statues of colonial-era figures.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The statue of a former newspaper publisher, U.S. Navy secretary and lifelong white supremacist has been taken down in North Carolina. The Raleigh News & Observer reported the statue of Josephus Daniels was removed from Raleigh’s Nash Square.
“The time is right,” said Frank Daniels III, a former executive editor of the newspaper who watched the monument to his great-grandfather come down. “I don’t think anyone would say that it’s not the appropriate time to move the statue of Josephus to a more appropriate location.”
The monument will be put into storage, he said. The statue came down in the wake of protests after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died during a police arrest in Minneapolis.
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd early Tuesday during a second consecutive night of unrest in the central Minnesota town of 68,000.
About 100 people demonstrated in St. Cloud with some protesters chanting some of George Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” before he died on a Minneapolis street.
A dumpster was set on fire and pushed into the middle of a street, the St. Cloud Times reported.
Officers used their patrol cars to cordon off a liquor store, which appeared to have been broken into with glass and bottles strewn about.
A similar crowd had gathered early Monday after a rumor spread on social media that police had shot two black men. Actually, a police officer was shot in the hand while struggling to make an arrest, Police Chief Blair Anderson said. No officers returned fire while struggling with the man, who was black, officials said.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia is changing the logos for its athletics teams just two months after they were unveiled, following criticism a design element referred to the school’s history with slavery.
Fans raised objections to the serpentine curves on the handles of the sabers below the V for Virginia and on the Cavalier shield. They were meant to mimic “the design of the serpentine walls” that long stood on the campus, according to a statement from the school’s athletics department on Monday. The school unveiled new images of the logos without the serpentine grooves on the handles.
Athletic Director Carla Williams said she decided to change the logos after she was “made aware of the negative connotation between the serpentine walls and slavery.” Historians pointed out that former President Thomas Jefferson designed the original eight-foot-high walls on campus to muffle the sounds of slaves and hide them from public view.
“There was no intent to cause harm, but we did, and for that I apologize to those who bear the pain of slavery in our history,” Williams said.
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