The Latest: George Floyd to be buried Tuesday in Houston
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— George Floyd to be buried Tuesday in Houston.
— Protesters heartened by swift reform, but vow broader change.
— Protesters in Portland walk onto Interstate, leading to temporary shutdown.
— Violence gives way to street fair vibe outside White House.
HOUSTON — The black man whose death has inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice will be buried Tuesday in Houston, carried home in a horse-drawn carriage.
George Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed, will be laid to rest next to his mother. On May 25, as a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, the dying man cried out for his mother.
His funeral will be private. A public memorial service was held Monday in Houston, where he grew up. Some 6,000 people attended.
Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — one of the other things he cried out repeatedly while pinned down by the police officer — waited for hours to pay their respects. Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-colored casket.
Shorty after the memorial ended, Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.
ATLANTA — In the two weeks since George Floyd was killed, police departments have banned chokeholds, Confederate monuments have fallen and officers have been arrested and charged amid large global protests against violence by police and racism.
The moves are far short of the overhaul of police, prosecutors’ offices, courts and other institutions that protesters seek. But some advocates and demonstrators say they are encouraged by the swiftness of the response to Floyd’s death — incremental as it may be.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Protesters walked onto Interstate 84 on Monday evening in Portland’s Lloyd District, which led to officials temporarily shutting it down in that area, news footage showed.
Earlier, protesters cheered when a speaker at the demonstration talked about the police chief’s resignation.
“Are we done yet?” he asked the crowd. “No,” the crowd shouted back.
Another crowd near the downtown jail after 9 p.m. was urged by police not to shake and climb a fence erected to keep protesters away.
“We are not here to police a fence,” Portland police said on Twitter. “We are here to protect the people who work in the Justice Center and the adults in custody who are living there.”
On the ground, police were staying farther away from the fence than they had during other nights. The crowd had grown to hundreds by around 9:40 p.m., The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
WASHINGTON — That massive fence erected around Lafayette Park has become a do-it-yourself gallery of protest art. Messages, posters and portraits, ranging from loving to enraged, almost blot out the view of the White House across the way.
One block away at the corner of 16th and I streets — a constant flash point for most of last week — the calliope version of “La Cucaracha” rang out from an ice cream truck parked just outside the police roadblock. In front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, it was so tranquil Monday afternoon you could hear the birds chirping while a white visitor paid for a $20 Black Lives Matter T-shirt with Venmo.
As the nation’s capital emerges from a violent and chaotic 10-day stretch of protests and street battles, a different mood is taking hold. The anger has given way to something closer to a street fair as community leaders, members of Congress and the D.C. government have rallied to the protesters’ cause.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who has met with and walked with demonstrators a number of times was involved in a scuffle Monday afternoon with protesters a day after he’d had another tense interaction.
Video shows CMPD Captain Brad Koch surrounded by chanting protesters Monday in front of the local government center before a white male protester approaches and shoves him. After being pushed, Koch took the man to the ground as more protesters were seen piling on. He was the only officer in the immediate vicinity.
No injuries were reported but in a tweet, CMPD said Koch was “assaulted in broad daylight” and is asking for the public’s help to identify those involved.
Koch has repeatedly walked with protesters through the city. He was pictured kneeling alongside them last week. The police department said in a tweet that he has walked more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) with protesters in recent days.
But his interactions haven’t been well-received by all protesters. Some say he isn’t welcome to march with them.
The lead attorney for George Floyd’s family said the grieving relatives met with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for an hour Monday in Houston.
Ben Crump said Biden’s “compassion meant the world to this grieving family,” and he described the visit as an example of “what will begin to heal America” as citizens around the country demand changes to police practices after Floyd’s death.
“Listening to one another is what will begin to heal America,” Crump said. “That’s just what Vice President Biden did with the family of George Floyd for more than an hour. He listened, he heard their pain and shared in their woe.”
Biden traveled to Houston for the visit ahead of Floyd’s funeral. Biden has called for substantial changes to police practices in the U.S., but he opposes some activists’ call to defund police and shift that taxpayers spending to other services.
Biden wants to expand spending on social services such as education and mental health care that can support police efforts, but also spend more on training existing police officers.
Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed, died after a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. The officer has since been fired, arrested and charged with second-degree murder, among other charges.
WASHINGTON — The National Park Service is calling a newly erected fence in front of a White House protest area temporary.
Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming said Monday that her agency and the Secret Service expect to reopen part of Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Wednesday.
Liming says some areas of the park will remain closed to allow workers to deal with damage and address safety hazards. Liming gave no details and no time for when the rest of the square would reopen.
Lafayette Park in front of the White House is one of the country’s most prominent sites for political protests and other free-speech events.
It’s been closed off since early last week, when law officers used chemical agents and other force to drive out protesters in the nationwide rallies against police brutality.
Authorities left a newly erected high black fence blocking the square, even though recent protests have been overwhelmingly calm.
Liming says the Washington Ellipse, Sherman Park and some other landmark areas also will reopen Wednesday.
GENEVA — The American Civil Liberties Union says relatives of George Floyd and three other black people who were killed by police have joined some 600 rights groups to demand the top U.N. human rights body “urgently” convene a special session to look into a rise of police violence and repression of protests in the United States.
A spokesman for the Human Rights Council in Geneva confirmed the council office received a letter on Monday from the groups outlining their call, as Black Lives Matter protests continue to gain traction well beyond the United States — notably in Europe.
At least one-third of the council’s 47 member states would have to back the call for a special session in order for one to be called.
The prospects of one being held swiftly remained uncertain. The council cut short its last session in March because of the coronavirus outbreak and has been grappling with ways to start it back up next Monday.
The efforts have been complicated because the government of Switzerland, which has seen the COVID-19 pandemic recede in recent weeks, is for now still restricting all public gatherings to no more than 300 people. Council sessions generally draw hundreds more than that.
The groups want an independent investigation into the recent killings of unarmed black people in the U.S. as well as one into “violent law enforcement responses to protests.” The call included relatives of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and Philando Castile.
The United States, like all U.N. member states, regularly has its human rights record examined by the council, a 47-member state body that is not part of the United Nations but is supported by it.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Black Democrats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives commandeered the podium for about 90 minutes at the start of voting session Monday, disrupting the day’s business in an effort to force action on police reform bills.
The dramatic takeover went on pause when the Republican House speaker said he would consider putting proposals up for votes and that he supports a special session to consider the legislation.
The protesters, including veteran black lawmakers from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, hung a “BLACK LIVES MATTER” banner from the speaker’s dais and vowed they would not leave without movement on the stalled proposals.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he was convening an advisory group of black leaders and law enforcement representatives to develop police reform proposals following days of huge protests in his state over the killing of George Floyd.
“My hope is to collaborate with this group to write meaningful legislation in our state,” the Democrat said.
He stated three areas of action: an independent investigative and prosecutorial process for allegations of officer-involved killings, which would involve the creation of a state investigative unit separate from any other law enforcement entity in the state; rethinking police use of force, including chokeholds; and creating a legally binding and enforceable obligation that officers report misconduct by fellow officers.
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans’ mayor said the Superdome would glow crimson and gold — the colors of George Floyd’s high school — Monday night as a tribute to him and a call for racial equality.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Superdome administrators agreed to her lighting request — which in turn was made at the request of Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, where Floyd grew up and where his funeral will be held Tuesday.
Floyd, who was black, choked out “I can’t breathe” many times before he died May 25 after what prosecutors said was 8 minutes and 46 seconds with his throat pinned under a white police officer’s knee in Minneapolis.
Crimson and gold are the colors of Houston’s Yates High School, where Floyd graduated.
“As we continue to mourn the loss of George Floyd, along with others who have been the victim of violence by police officers, we will seek to remember him and honor his memory,” Cantrell said.
“Last week, we showed the world that we can march, protest and be heard, and do so peacefully and respectfully. We will continue to demand justice and ensure that our police officers remain a positive presence in our own community.”
Earlier in the day, Police Chief Shaun Ferguson acknowledged that police fired rubber balls at protesters on a Mississippi River bridge last week and apologized for having said otherwise at a next-day news conference defending officers’ use of tear gas.
Other protests in New Orleans and around the state have been peaceful.
LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors say criminal charges will not be brought against thousands of Los Angeles protesters arrested for violating curfew and other police orders.
City Attorney Mike Feuer said Monday that his office will develop an alternative outside court without punishment for those cited for violating curfew or failing to obey orders to leave demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she won’t file charges in protest misdemeanor cases from other parts of Los Angeles County.
The city had the largest number of the 10,000 protest arrests in the U.S. tracked by The Associated Press.
Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested more than 3,000 people over days of mostly peaceful protests. The vast majority of citations were happened in Los Angeles for violating curfew or dispersal orders.
HOUSTON — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has paid his respects with hundreds of people mourning the death of George Floyd at a church in Houston, where Floyd grew up.
The Republican governor looked at Floyd’s body in a gold-colored casket at The Fountain of Praise church Monday for about 15 seconds, then lowered his head with his hands folded for several seconds more.
Abbott told reporters outside the church that he will include Floyd’s family in discussions about police reform and any related legislation.
“George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States. George Floyd has not died in vain. His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas responds to this tragedy,” Abbott said.
Abbott said he planned to meet privately with Floyd’s family and present them with a Texas flag that was flown over the state Capitol in Floyd’s honor. The governor wore a striped crimson and gold tie, which he said was in honor of Floyd as those are the colors of Floyd’s high school.
Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. Floyd’s death has inspired international protests.