France seeks to tackle police brutality, racism

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TOP OF THE HOUR:

— France struggles to address concerns about police brutality, racism

— Denmark says freedom to protest is more important than coronavirus rules

— A man leads Floyd protesters in Seattle, shoots a person

— Mayor of Seattle, police chief criticized for police use of flash bangs, pepper spray

— Romney becomes the first known Republican senator to march in protest

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PARIS – The French government is scrambling to address growing concerns about police violence and racism in the police, as protests over the death of George Floyd in the United States are fuelling anger around the world.

The country’s top security official, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, holds a press conference on Monday after Floyd-related protests in French cities. He promised last week to be “ruthless” with police violations, but pressure is mounting on the government to act.

French President Emmanuel Macron has remained unusually silent so far on both Floyd’s death and what is happening in France.

French activists say tensions in low-income neighborhoods with large minority populations have escalated amid measures to contain the virus, because they have further empowered the police.

Some people track cases of alleged police violence via an app and collect testimonies via social media.

At least 23,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday against racial injustice and police brutality, and more French protests are planned for Tuesday when Floyd is buried.

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STOCKHOLM – In an anti-racist demonstration by George Floyd in Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, police said Monday that five people had been arrested and 35 cases – ranging from riots and vandalism to injury, failure to follow law enforcement orders and resist arrest – had been reported.

Part of the otherwise peaceful rally turned against the police. Stones were thrown at their vehicles and protesters tried to break the windows of a downtown shopping centre.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s not Black Lives Matter for me,” Yaneneh Jatta, who took part in the protest, told Swedish broadcaster SVT, referring to the unrest.

Later, a dozen cars were set on fire in a Goteborg suburb with a low-income population.

In Copenhagen, 15,000 people marched peacefully Sunday from the U.S. Embassy to the Danish Parliament with signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

The Danish authorities claim that freedom of expression, a cornerstone of the Danish Constitution, is more important than a current coronavirus health directive that limits gatherings to 10 people.

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SEATTLE – Authorities say a man drove a car over George Floyd protesters in Seattle Sunday night, hit a barricade and then got out of the vehicle brandishing a gun.

At least one person was injured. The Seattle Fire Department said the victim was a 27-year-old man who was shot and taken to hospital in a stable condition.

A video taken by a Seattle Times reporter showed part of the scene in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where protesters gathered for days near a police station.

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SEATTLE — Seattle City Council members have sharply criticized Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best after police used flash bangs and pepper spray to disperse protesters a day after Durkan and Best said they were trying to defuse tensions.

Authorities said stones, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Saturday night. Police said via Twitter that several officers were injured by “improvised explosives.”

The chaos in the Capitol Hill neighborhood came on the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city. It followed a large peaceful demonstration earlier.

It also came a day after Durkan and Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the use of a type of tear gas ministry.

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PHOENIX — Protesters marched through the streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale during two separate social justice protests in memory of a black man who was killed by an Arizona police officer.

The Arizona Republic reports organizers in Phoenix say a line of protesters stretched nearly a mile Sunday. Protesters knelt outside Arizona Department of Public Safety headquarters to denounce the deaths of black men and women at the hands of police nationwide, including Dion Johnson in Phoenix.

In Scottsdale, up to 1,000 protesters demonstrated, with Police Chief Alan Rodbell marching in uniform near the front.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Add the capital of North Carolina to those who carried a bold message denouncing racism painted in big yellow letters on a city street.

The artists painted the words “End Racism Now” on a downtown street on Sunday, the Raleigh News and Observer reported. The message was added a few days after the mayor of Washington, D.C., had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on a street leading to the White House amid days of protests in the nation’s capital and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd died on May 25 after a white officer pressed his knee into the unarmed black man’s neck, ignoring his cries “I can’t breathe” and holding him there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Charman Driver, former president of the Martin Street Museum of Contemporary Art, where the painting is located, called it a “very painful totem pole.” The street leads to Confederate monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol, which were highlighted as offensive during the protests.

The painting was applied Sunday morning when a city engineer met the artists and brought barricades to block the street.

We did it. And it’s wonderful. And we feel really good about it. Our voices are heard, but it’s not enough,” Driver said.

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CANBERRA, Australia – An Aboriginal academic used an award to urge Australians to tackle the deaths of black people in custody,

Marcia Langton, a professor at the University of Melbourne, received an Award from the Order of Australia on Monday for her distinguished service to higher education and as an advocate for Aboriginal Australians.

Langton defied the warnings of government leaders in the event of a pandemic by attending a rally in Melbourne on Saturday to protest the death in Minnesota of George Floyd and the high rate of incarceration of indigenous people in Australia.

Mr Langton said Australian politicians did not recognise that the disproportion rate of aboriginal people sent to prison was a problem and that police had not received training to prevent deaths of indigenous peoples in custody.

“I would have thought it was pretty simple – don’t kill the Aborigines. Is it hard? Langton told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Aboriginal Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal person to take on this role, said Mr. Langton made a poignant point. He said he would work with state agencies to address the large number of Indigenous prisoners receiving hospital care.

There have been 434 deaths of indigenous people in police custody and prisons in Australia since 1991, when a government investigation raised the issue of deaths of blacks in custody, The Guardian reported.

Aboriginal Australians make up 2% of Australia’s adult population and 27% of australia’s prison population.

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WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney marched in a protest against the mistreatment of minority police in the nation’s capital, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

Romney, who represents Utah, tweeted him wearing a mask as he walked with Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington on Sunday. The photo he wrote: Black Lives Matter.

Romney, who was walking with a Christian group, told NBC News that he needed to be there.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and brutality,” he said.

On Saturday, Romney tweeted a photo of his father, George, who was governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, walking with civil rights protesters in the 1960s in a Detroit suburb.

Above the photo, Mitt Romneit wrote, “It’s my father, George Romney, participating in a civil rights march in suburban Detroit in the late 1960s — “Force alone won’t eliminate riots,” he said. We need to eliminate the problems that come with them.

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LOS ANGELES – National Guard troops will be withdrawn from California cities where they were deployed for a week after endemic violence and the robbery marred the first days of protests over the death of George Floyd, officials announced Sunday.

The announcement came as peaceful protests erupted across the state, including one on horseback and another on wheels, as protesters continued to call for police reforms.

“After nearly a week of assistance to civilian authorities on the streets of California, California National Guard soldiers will begin the transition to their home armory,” Cal Guard said in a statement. No timetable was provided for the withdrawal.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said some troops would start starting Sunday night.

“A small number of units will be stationed nearby until June 10 to provide emergency support if necessary,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he would encourage local leaders to end their use of the Guard “in a quick, but very thoughtful way.”

More than 7,000 National Guard soldiers have been deployed to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and others to help local law enforcement, Cal Guard said.

While the vast majority of protesters were peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and hundreds of businesses were vandalized.

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