The United Nations’s top human rights body agreed to a request from African countries to urgently debate racism and police brutality on Wednesday following unrest in the US and beyond over George Floyd’s death.
- The killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police on June 13 reignited a push for protest in the city. Atlanta initially saw heavy protests after the death of George Floyd, prompting calls from public officials and celebrities for peaceful demonstrations.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked calls across the US for policing reforms and triggered global protests.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, June 16
05:25 GMT – New York police officers sickened after drinking tainted milkshake
At least three police officers from New York fell ill and were hospitalised after dining at a popular restaurant chain in Lower Mahnattan, according to a news report.
The three officers reportedly found substance, “believed to be some sort of cleaning solution or disinfectant” mixed in their milkshake drink, NBC News reported.
“When New York City police officers cannot even take (a) meal without coming under attack, it is clear the environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level,” a statement from a police union said.
04:45 GMT – Black Lives Matter banner removed from US embassy in S Korea
A large Black Lives Matter banner has been removed from the US Embassy building in South Korea’s capital three days after it was raised there in solidarity with protesters back home.
The banner was put up Saturday, with Ambassador Harry Harris tweeting that his embassy “stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change.”
But the banner was removed Monday and another banner commemorating the Korean War was on display on Tuesday.
The embassy said the banner’s removal was meant to avoid any misperception that it aimed to encourage donations for certain unspecified organisations.
Harris “wanted to highlight the enduring American values of racial equality, freedom of speech, and the right to peacefully protest,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
“However, the Ambassador’s intent was not to support or encourage donations to any specific organisation. To avoid the misperception that American taxpayer dollars were spent to benefit such organisations, he directed that the banner be removed.”
03:28 GMT – Australia to probe arrest of Aboriginal man
An Aboriginal man, whose violent arrest by South Australian Police, was caught on video, has been released from custody with all charges dropped, reports said, as police launched an investigation on the incident.
Henry Noel, 28, has been released from the Port Adelaide Police Station, after a social media video appeared to show an officer striking him several times during an arrest on Monday night.
A person familiar with the case told NITV that Noel had “really bad injuries to his face, his arms, his legs.”
#Breaking – South Australian police launch investigation following a social media video appearing to show an officer striking an Aboriginal man several times during an arrest last night @SBSNews pic.twitter.com/PlLxIwt4Tb
— Jarni Blakkarly (@JarniBlakkarly) June 16, 2020
03:05 GMT – Trump to sign order creating police database
A senior administration official says an executive order that President Donald Trump is expected to sign on Tuesday would set up a database for tracking police officers who have complaints about excessive use of force in their records.
The official says the administration wants to keep officers with complaints in their record from moving from one police department to the next.
The president’s executive order comes as lawmakers work quickly in response to outrage over the death of George Floyd. Senate Republicans are also poised to unveil an extensive package of policing changes.
02:45 GMT – New York City to disband plainclothes anti-crime units
New York City’s police department is disbanding the type of plainclothes anti-crime units that were involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner and have long been criticized for aggressive tactics, Commissioner Dermot Shea announced.
The NYPD’s anti-crime units, which focused primarily on seizing illegal guns, were responsible for a disproportionate number of shootings and complaints, Shea told reporters after meeting with top deputies to discuss the move.
Garner died when an officer enforcing a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes used a chokehold to wrestle him to the ground.
About 600 officers working in the unit will be given new assignments.
02:21 GMT – Seattle City Council votes to bar tear gas, pepper spray
The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to bar police from using tear gas, pepper spray and several other crowd control devices after officers repeatedly used them on mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting racism and police brutality.
The 9-0 vote came amid frustration with the Seattle Police Department, which used tear gas to disperse protesters in the city’s densest neighborhood, Capitol Hill, just days after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best promised not to.
A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary order banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray, foam-tipped projectiles or other force against protesters, finding that the department had used less-lethal weapons “disproportionately and without provocation,” chilling free speech in the process.
01:54 GMT – Feds to review cases into hanging deaths of 2 Black men
Federal authorities will review local investigations into the hanging deaths of two Black men in southern California to determine whether federal law was violated, The Associated Press news agency reported quoting officials.
Local authorities have said there is no evidence of foul play in the deaths of Robert Fuller in Palmdale and Malcolm Harsch in Victorville and early indications point both to suicide, but sheriffs have pledged to continue to investigate the cases.
The announcement follows weekend protests, which were prompted by the initial determination of suicide as the likely cause of death for Fuller.
People who participated in a town hall hosted by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Monday also voiced concerns that Fuller and Harsch may have been lynched. The callers denounced what they described as a rush to judgment and urged investigators to look into the possibility that hate crimes were committed.
01:14 GMT – Family of Rayshard Brooks demands criminal justice reform
Pleading through tears Monday, the family of a Black man killed by Atlanta police outside a drive-thru demanded changes in the criminal justice system and called on protesters to refrain from violence amid heightened tensions across the US three weeks after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
An autopsy found that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back late Friday by a white officer who was trying to arrest him at a fast-food restaurant for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. Brooks tried to flee after wrestling with officers and grabbing a stun gun from one of them.
“Not only are we hurt, we are angry,” said Chassidy Evans, Brooks’ niece. “When does it stop? We’re not only pleading for justice. We’re pleading for change.”
Monday, June 15
20:50 GMT – Second man charged in death of retired St Louis police captain
A second man has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of retired St Louis police Captain David Dorn during a pawn shop break-in that followed a night of violent protests.
Dorn’s death on June 2 came on a violent night in St Louis, where four officers were shot, officers were pelted with rocks and fireworks, and dozens of businesses were damaged.
A man named Mark Jackson was charged with second-degree murder, robbery, burglary, stealing and three counts of armed criminal action.
Stephan Cannon was earlier charged with first-degree murder, robbery and other crimes. Both men are jailed without bond.
20:45 GMT – Activists create petition calling for justice for Rayshard Brooks
Activists created an online petition demanding justice for Rayshard Brooks. The petition has gathered over 52,000 signatures.
20:00 GMT – Atlanta mayor announces series of police reforms
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms announced immediate reforms within the police department, including orders requiring police officers to de-escalate situations and imposing a duty to intervene when officers see another officer using excessive force.
Bottoms said that when she saw the death of Rayshard Brooks, she said she could not wait for an advisory council to come up with recommendations to reform the police.
“It was clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour, to waste,” she said.
She said the police must find a better way to handle confrontations, and said she is heartbroken over Brooks’ death.
“It pissed me off, it makes me sad, it makes me frustrated, and there’s nothing I can say that will change what happened Friday.”
19:39 GMT – New Jersey police ordered to release names of disciplined officers
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S Grewal issued an order requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to begin publicly listing officers who commit serious disciplinary violations.
The order mandates “every state, county, and local law enforcement agency in New Jersey” to annually publish a list of officers “who were fired, demoted, or suspended for more than five days due to a disciplinary violation, with the first list to be published no later than December 31, 2020”, according to a release issued the attorney general’s office.
“Today, we end the practice of protecting the few to the detriment of the many. Today, we recommit ourselves to building a culture of transparency and accountability in law enforcement”, Grewal said in the release.
The order is meant to build public trust, according to Colonel Patrick J Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
“By releasing the names of State Troopers who committed serious disciplinary violations, we are continuing the long, hard work of earning and maintaining the trust of the communities we serve”, Callahan said.
17:28 GMT – Demonstration reaches Atlanta capital building, mayor says use of force needs review
The “March on Georgia”, organised by the state’s NAACP, reached the capital building in Atlanta on Monday. Demonstrators delivered a list of demands to the state legislature.
These demands included ending Citizen’s Arrest and Stand Your Ground laws, among other measures regarding voter disenfranchisement, which are “necessary to end systemic racism in the criminal justice system and voter suppression in Georgia”, the organisation said in a release.
— Billy Heath III (@BillyHeathFOX5) June 15, 2020
The march came as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms she would issue a series of administrative orders to accelerate a review of policing in the wake of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms, speaking at a city council meeting, said it was “abundantly clear” there was a “comprehensive need” to take a look at the police department’s use of force and the training of police officers.
16:08 GMT – Black Lives Matter banner in Seoul removed after Trump complaints
A large “Black Lives Matter” banner draped on the outside of the US embassy in Seoul was removed on Monday after President Donald Trump expressed his displeasure about it, two people familiar with the matter told the Reuters News Agency.
The banner was hung on the front of the mission building on Saturday as the embassy tweeted a message in support of the anti-racism campaign across the US and worldwide in response to the killing last month of Floyd.
The banner was seen as a rare show of open support for the Black Lives Matter movement by a Trump appointee, Ambassador Harry Harris.
Embassy spokesman William Coleman reiterated that Harris’s reason for putting it up was “to communicate a message of solidarity with Americans concerned with racism”.
Bloomberg News reported earlier that both Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were displeased about the banner.
The U.S. Embassy stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change. Our #BlackLivesMatter banner shows our support for the fight against racial injustice and police brutality as we strive to be a more inclusive & just society. pic.twitter.com/Y4Thr2MRdw
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) June 13, 2020
15:48 GMT – Family of Rayshard Brooks calls for reforms, ‘justice’
During a news conference on the killing of Rayshard Brooks, his family called for “drastic change” in the Atlanta Police Department.
“The trust that we have with the police force is broken,” Tiara Brooks, Rayshard’s cousin, said at the news conference.
“True justice will never prevail” because Rayshard will not come back, Tiara said, calling for demonstrations to continue in order to make sure another case like his will not occur.
Lawyer L Chris Stewart, who is representing the Brooks family, questioned whether there was an acceptable definition of justice. He presented what he said were photos of vehicles that had been shot by police during the fatal incident. “It should never have happened,” Stewart said.
Rayshard’s widow, Tomika Miller, said she wanted to thank everyone for their protests and support.
Miller called on protests to remain peaceful, as the family wants to “keep his name positive and great”.
The news conference ended suddenly as one of Brooks’s cousins broke down at the mention of his funeral. The man departed in tears, saying: “I want y’all to know, you took my cousin from me … you took the wrong person,” presumably speaking to the Atlanta police.
14:03 GMT – Supreme Court will not consider ‘qualified immunity’ case
The US Supreme Court declined to hear a number of cases involving a legal defence called qualified immunity that can be used to shield government officials from lawsuits including police officers accused of excessive force.
The justices rejecting appeals in cases that had been pending before the court for months involving qualified immunity including a dispute over whether officers in Tennessee can be sued for using a dog on a man who says he had surrendered.
The decision to reject the cases comes as a national spotlight is once again trained on the police’s use of force after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been pulling together their own versions of police reform legislation.
12:45 – Alabama to place removed Confederate statue in a museum
A Confederate statue removed from Alabama’s port city earlier this month has been relocated to a museum, the city’s mayor said.
The History Museum of Mobile has received the bronze likeness of Admiral Raphael Semmes, which stood in the middle of a downtown street near the Mobile waterfront for 120 years until June 5, and “will develop a plan to protect, preserve and display” the statue and “place it into the appropriate historic context”, the city’s mayor, Sandy Stimpson, said on Sunday in multiple Twitter posts.
The decision involved input from city council members and “involved conversations with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office”, Stimpson said on Twitter.
— John Bowles (@JPBowles) June 5, 2020
Attorney General Steve Marshall had sent a letter to the mayor after the statue’s removal saying the city could be subject to a $25,000 fine for permanently moving the statue, an action that would violate a state law protecting monuments more than 40 years old, AL.com reported.
The statue was dedicated in 1900, the year before Alabama ratified a Constitution that established white supremacy in the state by essentially disenfranchising Black people and poor white people.
12:35 GMT – British PM praises Black Lives Matter demonstrator who carried suspected far-right protester from danger
The instincts of the Black Lives Matter protester who emerged from chaotic scenes in London carrying an injured white man, suspected of being a far-right demonstrator, during scuffles with counterprotesters on Saturday represented the best of us, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
Patrick Hutchinson has been hailed a hero for carrying the injured man over his shoulder, an image that has gone viral on social media after it was taken by a Reuters photographer.
“Patrick Hutchinson’s instincts at that moment represent the best of us,” the spokesman told reporters.
10:40 GMT – Black Americans disproportionately die in police Taser confrontations: Reuters
As police confront protesters across the US, they are turning to rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and other weapons meant to minimise deaths.
But some are using a weapon that has the potential to kill: The Taser. When those encounters have turned fatal, Black people make up a disproportionate share of those who die, according to a Reuters analysis.
Reuters documented 1,081 cases through the end of 2018 in which people died after being shocked by police with a Taser. At least 32 percent of those who died were Black, and at least 29 percent were white. African Americans make up 14 percent of the US population, and non-Hispanic whites 60 percent
09:22 GMT – UN rights council agrees to debate on racism, police violence
The United Nations’s top human rights body will hold an urgent debate on allegations of “systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests” in the US on Wednesday, a statement said.
The decision by the UN Human Rights Co un cil followed a request last week by Burkina Faso on behalf of African countries, it said in a statement on Monday.
“The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident,” the letter said.
#HRC43 has opened & starts w/ GD on item 5. It was decided that an urgent debate on the current racially inspired #HumanRights violations, systematic #racism, #PoliceBrutality & violence against peaceful protests to take place Wednesday, 17 June at 3 p.m. https://t.co/wUEEG9n2Bg pic.twitter.com/8SYNTgRThD
— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) June 15, 2020
Catch up on previous updates here.