The Latest: Seattle ends city-wide curfew ahead of schedule
The Latest on the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Seattle ends city-wide curfew ahead of schedule.
— Demonstrators march to U.S. Capitol during peaceful protests in Washington amid show of force from federal law enforcement agencies.
— Autopsy reveals George Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 in April.
— Civil rights organizations call for resignation of Kansas City police chief.
— Suspect fatally shot by officers in San Francisco Bay area.
SEATTLE — Leaders in Seattle seeking to address concerns raised by protesters have abruptly ended a city-wide curfew in place for days amid massive demonstrations against the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday evening on Twitter that she was ending the curfew, which had been scheduled to last until Saturday, after she and Police Chief Carmen Best met with community members.
“Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew,” Durkan said. “For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate. We want you to continue making your voice heard.”
Thousands of protesters remained in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood well after the abolished 9 p.m. curfew Wednesday. Demonstrators carried “Black Lives Matter” signs, called for cutting the police department’s budget and shifting the money to social programs, and chanted for officers to remove their riot gear.
Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted that he was pleased Seattle had listened and reversed course.
“Preemptive curfews were only making things worse. Other cities should do likewise,” he posted.
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators marched to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and demanding that laws be changed to prevent more like it.
Along their route from near the White House, there were troops in fatigues and officers from federal agencies keeping watch on the crowd. Barricades were put up around the Capitol, and the Capitol Police stood guard behind them.
“We came here because they make laws here and we want the laws to change,” said Mohammed Wagdy, 26, of nearby Prince George’s County.
As an 11 p.m. curfew in Washington neared, community activists urged the demonstrators to head home. Some did, but others said they were returning to the White House.
MINNEAPOLIS — A full autopsy of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police, provides several clinical details — including that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19.
The 20-page report released Wednesday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office came with the family’s permission and after the coroner’s office released summary findings Monday that Floyd had a heart attack while being restrained by officers, and classified his May 25 death as a homicide.
The report by Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker spelled out clinical details, including that Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3 but appeared asymptomatic. The report also noted Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy but he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart.
The county’s earlier summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.” The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.
WASHINGTON — As the National Guard and law enforcement officers stood guard near the White House, surveillance planes kept watch on protesters in the nation’s capital from the air.
At one point Wednesday night, an FBI plane, an Army surveillance plane and a Park Police helicopter were circling overhead.
The demonstrators broke up into two groups; one stayed at the White House, the other marched to the Capitol. Protesters held signs and chanted, but there were no indications of any confrontations with law enforcement.
Hundreds of protesters stood face to face with military and federal officers who had formed a perimeter around Lafayette Park across from the White House. Military vehicles were parked on nearby streets, also blocking access.
The demonstration was held to protest the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
Military police and law enforcement officers from a variety of federal agencies were out in force. A senior Defense official said at least 2,200 Guard members would be on the streets Wednesday.
The South Carolina and Utah National Guards had forces in place. Bureau of Prisons personnel wore blue uniforms. There were also agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI hostage rescue team and the Secret Service.
Washington’s mayor set an 11 p.m. curfew in the city after earlier restrictions the previous two nights.
LIBERTY, Mo. — Civil rights organizations on Wednesday called for the resignation of Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, hours after a group of mostly black pastors demanded changes to improve relations between police and the city’s minority community.
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the NAACP’s Kansas City, Missouri branch, and More2 said in a statement that Smith should resign because of his handling of excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings of black men.
“Since November 2019, our Civil Rights organizations, in collaboration with faith and community leaders, have become increasingly appalled and very much concerned about Chief Smith’s questionable leadership of the Kansas City Police Department,” the coalition said in a statement.
The group also criticized the city’s Board of Police Commissioners for allowing Smith to conduct internal investigations of officer-involved shootings and complaints of excessive force rather than calling in independent investigators.
The police department should be under local control, officers must be required to wear body cameras and the city must dismantle the Office of Community Complaints, which has been criticized as ineffectual, the coalition said.
A group of mostly black religious leaders made similar demands earlier Wednesday, but without calling for Smith’s resignation.
Emanual Cleaver III, pastor at St. James United Methodist Church, said the pastors believed it was necessary to seek change because: “What happened to George Floyd was nothing new.” He said pastors “will take action” if the city doesn’t respond, though he declined to elaborate.
Public relations officers for the department did not immediately respond to the demand that Smith resign.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office was reviewing video of Kansas City police officers who pepper-sprayed two protesters and arrested one who was yelling at police during protests Monday night.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said Tuesday that he reviewed videos that had been sent to him from people concerned about police actions, and asked the FBI and federal prosecutors to review any that might violate procedures or show misconduct.
Kansas City has endured five days of protests over Floyd’s death while in police custody May 25 in Minneapolis. Peaceful daytime demonstrations devolved into violence. Police used tear gas on protesters for the first four nights before relative calm returned Tuesday night.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister has urged Australians involved in George Floyd-related anti-racism protests around the world to be “extremely cautious.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was commenting Thursday after Australian journalists came under attack while covering protests in Washington and London.
“In terms of some of the violence ... that we’re seeing around the world today, for those Australians who find themselves in those situations, I would urge them to show great caution,” Morrison told reporters.
“I would urge people to be extremely cautious. These are dangerous situations, people should exercise great care in where they’re placing themselves,” he added.
Australia’s ambassador to the United States has complained about two police officers in riot gear lashing Channel 7 journalist Amelia Brace and camera operator Timothy Meyers with a shield and baton on Monday. The network’s news director, Craig McPherson, described the attack as “nothing short of wanton thuggery.”
The officers have been placed on administrative leave while their conduct is investigated.
Two Nine Network television crews also came under attack from crowd members while reporting Wednesday on protests in London, the network reported.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The police department in North Carolina’s largest city is coming under criticism after a video posted to social media appeared to show officers using chemical agents on demonstrators who were boxed in while protesting the death of George Floyd.
The video was recorded Tuesday night by Justin LaFrancois, co-founder and publisher of the alternative Charlotte newspaper Queen City Nerve. He said officers fired tear gas and flash-bangs from behind the protesters, and in front of them as well. He also said officers perched on top of buildings were firing pepper balls down on the crowd.
“We were completely trapped,” LaFrancois said. “There was one way to get out, and half of the group did go out that way through the tear gas and through the pepper balls. But for the rest of us, the only route of escape ... was to pull up a gate on the parking structure that we were pressed up against.”
LaFrancois said people tried to squeeze under the 6-inch opening in the gate and find safety. But as those people looked for an exit from the parking deck, he said officers began firing pepper balls after they entered the deck from the other side.
“They were relentless in not allowing us to leave the area that they were trying to get us to leave,” LaFrancois said. “It was the most extreme action that I had seen taken. It was the first time that I was actually in fear for my life.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said on Twitter they are looking into the incident.
“We are internally reviewing the circumstances that developed this evening on 4th Street to ensure policy and protocol were followed,” the police department tweeted Tuesday.
SAN FRANCISCO — A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers who thought a hammer he was carrying in his waistband was a firearm, police said Wednesday.
Details of the shooting were revealed even as some California counties and cities began plans to end curfews after days of largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco is the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement related to smash-and-grabs and protests in California since Floyd’s death. Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls of looting at a Walgreens early Tuesday when the shooting occurred.
Officers said Monterrosa began running toward a car when he suddenly stopped, got on his knees and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a firearm in his waistband. An officer shot five times through a car window, striking him once.
“The intent was to stop the looting and arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Williams said.
John Burris, an attorney for the family, said he is appalled police would shoot at a person who was on his knees with his hands raised.
OGDEN, Utah — A criminal justice professor who wrote an inflammatory series of tweets during the nationwide protests said Wednesday he has resigned.
Scott Senjo told The Associated Press in an email that he agrees his tweets were “simply wrong” and his resignation from Weber State University would be effective immediately.
Last weekend, he tweeted at a black reporter who said he had been hit by New York City police: “Excellent. If I was the cop, you wouldn’t be able to tweet.” He also expressed support for damage done to CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
In response to another tweet showing a New York City police car driving into people, Senjo commented: “That’s not how I would have driven the car into the crowd.”
Senjo said his posts were part of the “oftentimes vulgar, extreme back-and-forth that can occur on Twitter,” but he now realizes they were “far beyond the realm of acceptable university policy as well as acceptable social norms.”
Weber State University has condemned the messages as “abhorrent” and opened an investigation to determine if other measures would be taken to ensure campus safety. The school had placed him on paid leave Tuesday to conduct a review and did not ask him to resign, officials said in a statement.
Senjo had been a professor at the college in Ogden since 2000.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro railed against President Donald Trump while expressing solidarity with the family of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis has sparked protests and street violence across the United States.
Maduro on Wednesday accused Trump of turning the U.S. military against his own people. He spoke on state TV at a ceremony decorating Venezuelan soldiers credited with fending off a recent attack that the socialist leader blames on Trump.
Maduro also extended Venezuela’s solidarity with blacks and young people in the U.S. He says they are taking to the streets demanding an end to racism and police violence.
The White House has launched a campaign to oust Maduro. The U.S. and other nations as well as human rights groups condemn Maduro for employing brutal force and torture to silence Venezuelans who oppose the socialist government.
MINNEAPOLIS — The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has sent a national response team to Minneapolis and St. Paul to help investigate fires set during unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Local and state authorities requested the team’s help in investigating about 100 business fires in Minneapolis and about 35 in St. Paul.
Special Agent in Charge William Henderson of the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division said in a statement Wednesday “the cause of these fires is quite obvious. The task at hand now is to determine who is responsible.”
The team arrived earlier this week.