The Latest: 10 resign from SWAT team amid safety concerns

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Minnesota State Troopers surrounded the statue of Christopher Columbus after it was toppled in front of the Minnesota State Capitol, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. The statue was later towed away. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Dallas officials agree to 90-day ban on use of tear gas against demonstrators.

— Judge orders pause on use of tear gas against protesters in Seattle.

— Minneapolis council takes step toward abolishing police department.

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Ten members of a South Florida police department’s SWAT team have resigned from the team, citing safety concerns and local officials’ “disdain” for the unit.

The eight officers and two sergeants resigned from the team, but did not resign from the Hallandale Beach Police Department.

Police Chief Sonia Quinones received a memo from the SWAT team Friday morning, City Manager Greg Chavarria said in a statement, according to news outlets.

The officers said they were “minimally equipped” and had been “disrespected” by city officials who refused to address equipment and training concerns.

“The risk of carrying out our duties in this capacity is no longer acceptable to us and our families,” the officers wrote in the memo, dated June 9. “The anguish and stress of knowing that what we may be lawfully called upon to do in today’s political climate combined with the team’s current situation and several recent local events, leave us in a position that is untenable.”

The officers also said they were outraged that command staff had recently joined protesters and other officials in taking a knee as demonstrators called for the case of Howard Bowe to be reopened.

“This lack of support by members of the Command Staff is crippling to the agency and its rank and file,” the memo said.

Bowe, a 34-year-old black man, was killed in 2014 by Hallandale Beach’s SWAT team as it carried out a search warrant and raided his home. The officers wrote that investigators never found that any misconduct had been committed by the officers involved in Bowe’s death. The case later resulted in a $425,000 settlement between Bowe’s family and the city.

DALLAS — Dallas officials have agreed to a 90-day ban on the use of tear gas and other less-lethal police crowd-control weapons against demonstrators.

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay approved late Thursday a consent decree in which Dallas police agree not to use against peaceful demonstrators smoke bombs, flashbangs, pepperballs, Mace or other chemical agents. They also agree to not fire such impact projectiles as rubber bullets, bean bags or sponges.

The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until Sept. 9 unless extended, amended or dissolved by the judge.

Tasia Williams and Vincent Doyle sued the city and police after rubber bullets injured them during two separate Black Lives Matter marches in Dallas.

The demonstrations are a reaction to the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer.

SEATTLE — A federal judge has ordered Seattle to temporarily stop using tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang devices to break up peaceful protests.

The 14-day edict is a victory for groups who say authorities overreacted to demonstrations in the city after the death of George Floyd. A Black Lives Matter group sued the Seattle Police Department this week to halt the violent tactics police have used to break up largely peaceful protests in recent days.

Officers used tear gas, pepper spray and other less-lethal weapons against crowds that have demonstrated against racism and police brutality following the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best apologized to peaceful protesters who were subjected to chemical weapons. However, Best has said some demonstrators had violently targeted police, throwing projectiles and ignoring orders to disperse.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis City Council members took a first step Friday toward changing the City Charter to allow for abolishing the police department and replacing it with something else.

Five of the 12 council members said Friday that they’ll formally introduce a proposal later this month to remove the charter’s requirement that the city maintain a police department and fund a minimum number of officers. Voters would have to approve the change if the proposal makes it onto the November ballot.

The Star Tribune reports the announcement came as council members face increased pressure to further define what they meant when a majority of them pledged to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department following George Floyd’s death.

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said he still expects to spend a year seeking feedback from the community about how to change the department, but he fears that if they don’t remove that charter provision, it will hamper those efforts. He said removing the language alone won’t eliminate the department.

Some business groups and Mayor Jacob Frey have said they prefer changing the department over eliminating it completely.

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ATLANTA — A protest organizer says a woman arrested Thursday at the Georgia State Capitol for defacing the statue of a Confederate general only wrote “tear down” on it in chalk.

Organizer J.J. Nicole questions whether the action merited any criminal charges, much less the felony charges filed by the Georgia State Patrol.

State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings says 55-year-old Jamie Loughner of Atlanta was arrested Thursday. Loughner is charged with felony interference with government property and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Loughner remained in the Fulton County jail Friday. Bail was set at $1,500.

Stallings says the statue of John Brown Gordon was “defaced,” according to the the Georgia Capitol Police. Protesters have been gathering at the statue of Gordon for daily protests demanding that it and other monuments be removed, saying they were white supremacists and that Georgia shouldn’t honor them.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky commission voted Friday to take down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol, adding its voice to a global push to remove symbols of racism and slavery.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission met remotely through video teleconferencing at the request of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. It voted 11-1 to move the 15-foot (4.5-meter) marble statue of Davis to a state historic site in southern Kentucky where the Confederate leader was born. The commission is responsible for statues in the state Capitol.

Relocating the Davis statue means it will no longer share space in the ornate Capitol Rotunda with a statue of Abraham Lincoln, his Civil War adversary and the president who freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Both were Kentucky natives.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The first city in the United States named for Christopher Columbus has removed a statue of the explorer and placed it in storage for safekeeping.

Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, said the statue had been vandalized with paint several times over the past week.

The mayor said he would rather have citizens and the City Council decide the statue’s fate than protesters in the middle of the night.

Workers dismembered the Columbus statue early Friday, and by mid-morning only the feet were attached to the pedestal at Riverfront Park.

Benjamin didn’t say where the statue was being stored.

Statues of Columbus, who came to North America in 1492, have been torn down by protesters in other cities who said the explorer started European colonization which exploited and led to the deaths of millions of native people on the continent.

Columbia was named in 1786 for the female representation of Columbus. It won an 11-7 vote over the name Washington in the South Carolina Senate.

South Carolina has a law protecting historic monuments from being taken down or altered without a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly.

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’d like to see an end to the police use of choke holds, except in limited circumstances.

Trump made the comments in an interview with Fox News Channel that aired Friday.

Trump said he doesn’t like choke holds and thinks that, “generally speaking” the practice “should be ended.”

But Trump also talked at length about a scenario in which a police officer is alone and fighting one-on-one and might need to use the tactic.

The White House has been working to craft an executive order on policing in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody, which has sparked protests across the nation and around the world demanding justice and racial equality.

Congress also has been working to craft legislation in response.

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PARIS — Activists dislodged a 19th century African funeral pole from its perch in a Paris museum Friday, saying they wanted to return it to Africa in a protest against colonial-era abuses.

The incident in the Quai Branly Museum came amid growing anger at symbols of colonialism and slavery in the United States and Europe in the wake of George Floyd’s death and ensuing global protests against racial injustice.

The five protesters were stopped before they could leave the museum with the artwork, and an investigation was opened, according to a statement from France’s culture minister. The work did not suffer serious damage.

The activists posted live video of the protest online, in which Congo-born Mwazulu Diyabanza accused European museums of making millions from artworks taken from now-impoverished African countries.

“It’s wealth that belongs to us, and deserves to be brought back,” he said. “I will bring to Africa what was taken.”

Culture Minister Franck Riester condemned the move, saying: “While the debate on the restitution of works from the African continent is perfectly legitimate, it can in no way justify this type of action.”

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BOSTON — Boston’s mayor declared racism a public health crisis on Friday, outlining a series of police reforms in response to the nationwide reckoning sparked by the police killing of a black man in Minneapolis.

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh said he would propose transferring $12 million from the police department, or roughly 20% of its overtime budget, to fund a range of social services, including mental health counseling, housing and homelessness programs, and new public health commission efforts to address racial disparities in health care.

Protesters have called on Walsh to “defund” police, and redirecting money from police to other social services is one of the goals of that movement. Activists have also asked Walsh to remove or rename city landmarks in recent days.

The mayor also announced the creation of the Boston Police Reform Task Force to review the department’s use of force policies and suggest ways to improve officer training, its body camera program and the city’s police review board.

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Some political leaders in Washington’s second-largest city are criticizing people who have shown up armed to silently watch protesters participating in Spokane’s recent weekend Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

The Spokesman-Review reports the politicians have labeled the demonstrators as “armed vigilantes.”

Officials who signed the statement include Mayor Nadine Woodward, the entire Spokane City Council, state legislators and some members of the city’s school board. The protests were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

There have been no confrontations in Spokane between the armed people and the protesters. Another protest is scheduled for Sunday.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The smallest U.S. state has the longest name, and it’s not sitting well with some in the George Floyd era.

Officially, Rhode Island was incorporated as The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations when it declared statehood in 1790. Now, opponents have revived an effort to lop off the plantations reference, saying it evokes the legacy of slavery.

An online petition aims to ask the state to shorten the name to just Rhode Island, a nonbinding campaign intended to generate momentum toward an eventual ballot question this November.

“In no way am I trying to erase history. But we shouldn’t glorify our shameful past,” Tyson Pianka, a University of Rhode Island sophomore who organized the petition drive, said in an interview.

Name alterations have been attempted before — most recently in 2010, when nearly eight in 10 voters rejected the shorter name in a referendum. But supporters say they’re feeling a fresh sense of urgency and determination as the nation reckons with Floyd’s death. About 60% of all slave-trading voyages launched from North America came from Rhode Island, researchers say.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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