The Latest: NYC officer suspended for ‘apparent chokehold’

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— NYC officer suspended without pay for ‘apparent chokehold’

— No arrests in shooting in Seattle protest zone that killed 1.

— A statue of a Spanish missionary in downtown Los Angeles has been toppled by demonstrators.

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— George Washington memorial vandalized in Baltimore.

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NEW YORK — A New York City police officer was suspended without pay Sunday after he was recorded putting his arm around a man’s neck in what the police commissioner called an “apparent chokehold.”

The department’s action to suspend the officer was stunning in its swiftness, occurring just hours after the morning confrontation on a beach boardwalk in the Rockaway section of Queens.

A video shot by one of the men involved showed a group of officers tackling a Black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk.

In the video, someone yells, “Stop choking him, bro!” The officer relaxes his grip after a fellow officer taps him and pulls on his shirt.

It was unclear whether the man who was tackled suffered more than superficial injuries. He stood under his own power after he got off the ground and refused to let medics examine him after the incident.

The NYPD has long banned chokeholds. Their use has been especially fraught since the 2014 death of Eric Garner after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd’s killing.

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GARDENA, Calif.– Two Democratic lawmakers called Sunday for California’s Attorney General to investigate the fatal shooting of a young man by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragán said in a statement there’s a need for an independent investigation into the death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado so the public will trust the findings.

Messages seeking comment were sent to the state Attorney General’s office and the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department. Guardado was shot Thursday after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies spotted him with a gun in front of a business near Gardena. Several hundred people gathered Sunday to protest the shooting.

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NEW YORK — The American Museum of Natural History will remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

The bronze statue that has stood at the museum’s Central Park West entrance since 1940 depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing next to the horse.

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue.”

The museum’s president, Ellen Futter, told the New York Times that the museum’s “community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd.”

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Seattle police on Sunday pursued their investigation into a weekend shooting in a park in the city’s protest zone that killed a 19-year-old man and critically injured another person.

No arrests had been made.

An “active and ongoing” investigation was under way into the shooting, which occurred about 2:30 a.m. Saturday in an area near downtown known as CHOP, for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone, said Detective Mark Jamieson. The suspect or suspects fled the scene, and police asked the public for any information that could identify them.

The zone evolved after weeks of protests in the city over police brutality and racism following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Officers responding to the shooting said they had trouble getting to the scene because they were “were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims,” according to a police blog.

Video released later Saturday by police appears to show officers arriving at the protest zone saying they want to get to the victim and entering as people yell at them that the victim is already gone. Police mostly retreated from the zone after clashes with protesters, KIRO-TV reported.

Private vehicles took two males with gunshot wounds to Harborview Medical Center, where the 19-year-old man died. A 33-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, remained in critical condition Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg told KOMO-TV.

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ROME — Premier Giuseppe Conte says Italy is watching closely, and with concern, as Black Lives Matter protests sweep across American cities, particularly as the U.S. is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Conte was asked at a news conference Sunday to comment on the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman and the protests that have occurred in the aftermath.

Conte said the protests had “touched the raw nerve of racial discrimination in American society,” while reflecting problems of inequality, suffering and marginalization among certain facets of the population.

He said violent protests “are never admissible” and that Italy respected the internal matters of its longtime ally. But he said Italy was following “closely, and with concern what is happening in the U.S., at a time when our American friends are dealing with a pandemic that is causing so many victims.” Italy has had a handful of peaceful rallies in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — A peaceful protest in Portland against racial injustice turned violent early Sunday after baton-wielding police used flash-bang grenades to disperse demonstrators throwing bottles, cans and rocks at sheriff’s deputies near downtown’s Justice Center, police said.

Portland police and Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies arrested several people after a group of protesters pulled down a fence cordoning off the center, tossed objects including fireworks at officers and ignored repeated warnings to disperse, police said in a statement. It said some people shined lasers into the eyes of deputies.

Officers used “crowd control munitions” to clear an area west of the center, which has been a flashpoint for conflicts between demonstrators and police.

The confrontation occurred after protesters demonstrated peacefully for several hours late Saturday in Chapman Square on the Justice Center’s west side. Some protesters tried to re-erect parts of the fence torn down by others.

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LOS ANGELES — A statue of a Spanish missionary in downtown Los Angeles has been toppled by demonstrators.

The Los Angeles Times reports the statue of Father Junipero Serra in Father Serra Park was brought down Saturday by Indigenous activists who shouted and drummed as it flew off its pedestal.

No police were present.

The 18th century Roman Catholic priest founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions. Native Americans were forced to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment. A statue of Serra was also toppled in San Francisco on Friday while statues on the East Coast honoring Confederates have been pulled down. ___

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A Confederate statue has been removed from outside the Jefferson County courthouse in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and will be moved to a Confederate cemetery in the city about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock.

The 20-foot statue of a Confederate infantryman that was first placed outside Pine Bluff High School in 1910 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and moved to the courthouse in 1974 was taken down Saturday.

The statue owned by the Confederacy group is being moved as demonstrators have defaced and toppled statues and busts of former U.S. presidents, a Spanish missionary and Confederate figures as protests against police brutality and racism continued across the country.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In America’s oldest city, a debate over history is looming, as residents and elected officials join the anguished reckoning over race that is now gripping much of the country.

At the center of the debate in St. Augustine, Florida, is a monument, located in the city’s historic central plaza, memorializing dozens of the city’s sons who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The towering structure, which was built in 1879, takes the form of an obelisk jutting into a canopy of oak trees. Inscribed on it are the names of the fallen soldiers.

The Rev. Ron Rawls, a pastor at St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, calls the monument disrespectful and wants it removed. The City Commission is expected to decide whether to heed that call on Monday.

“You might call it a memorial, but you’re honoring and glorifying people who fought to preserve slavery when our country wanted to go into a better and humane direction,” Rawls said. “The Confederacy should not be glorified.”

Mayor Tracy Upchurch agrees that it is time for the memorial to go, in the wake of demonstrations across the country to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“The world changed the day George Floyd died. We’re at a pivot point in our nation,” said Upchurch, a former state legislator who teaches law and history at Flagler College.

In the weeks after Floyd’s death, protesters by the hundreds have swarmed the historic city. The memorial has been a key focus of the outrage.

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WILMINGTON, N.C. — The mayor of a North Carolina city has imposed a curfew in the narrow area surrounding two Confederate monuments to try to thwart any vandalism or destruction.

The curfew in the city of Wilmington applies from 7:30 p.m. through 7 a.m. in the immediate area around two Confederate statues in the city.

The curfew began Saturday night and lasts five nights.

City officials were reacting to the toppling of two Confederate statues Friday night in Raleigh.

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More news about the death of George Floyd at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

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