TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Utah lawmakers vote to ban knee-to-neck chokeholds by police.
— California police chiefs endorse plan to weed out officers for repeated misconduct.
— University of Florida ending “gator bait” sports cheer over its racial connotations.
Insight by Zoom: Experts from NASA and the Pacific Northwest National Lab will explore how the culture change brought on by the pandemic will continue in the hybrid workforce in this free webinar.
— Oklahoma State U. removing name of ex-governor who advanced Jim Crow.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers have voted during a special session to ban knee-to-neck chokeholds similar to the one used in the death of George Floyd.
The measure approved Thursday stops short of criminalizing the use of all chokehold methods.
Several police departments have banned the use of chokeholds amid nationwide protests against police brutality. New York state has passed legislation banning the practice.
The Utah bill would prohibit officers from placing their knees on the necks of people being detained and bar law enforcement agencies from teaching officers how to use chokeholds and carotid restraints. Officers who use knee-to-neck holds could face up to a first-degree felony if the violation leads to someone’s death.
Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
WASHINGTON — Ahead of Juneteenth, first lady Melania Trump on Thursday visited the National Archives to view the Emancipation Proclamation and other founding documents.
Mrs. Trump was accompanied for the visit by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. She also viewed General Order Number 3, the proclamation from June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that announced all slaves were freed. That announcement is commemorated on Juneteenth.
The first lady and Carson also visited exhibits on the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the 19th Amendment, which established women’s right to vote, as well as the 1965 Act that created the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson is the highest-ranking African-American member of the Trump administration.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s police chiefs on Thursday endorsed a plan to more aggressively weed out bad cops who break the law or have a history of complaints.
The California Police Chiefs Association also called for periodic checks to make sure officers are mentally stable, part of a package of reforms they offered after weeks of protests over the slayings of black people by police.
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Officers could lose their training certifications, after due process hearings, if they are convicted of any felonies or certain misdemeanors or have “a history of egregious misconduct” with repeated and sustained complaints or policy violations, the chiefs said.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday backed a similar idea. The chiefs also supported having Becerra’s office investigate deadly force incidents, but only at the request of local officials.
PENDLETON, Ore. — Lawmakers in a rural county in eastern Oregon have unanimously adopted an order that expresses support for local police officers and says that recent protests against police brutality and racial injustice “disregard and disrespect” members of law enforcement.
The order adopted Wednesday by the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners references a “horrific” event in Minneapolis but does not mention George Floyd by name, the East Oregonian reported.
“The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners strongly objects to the horrific act that took place in the City of Minneapolis … at the same time, we are also troubled by a movement across the country to disregard and disrespect the 800,000 sworn officers who have taken an oath to protect the citizenry and preserve the peace,” the order stated.
Umatilla County has about 80,000 residents and is located about 210 miles (337 kilometers) east of Portland, which has seen nightly protests over racial injustice for more than three weeks.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler is urging city workers who will have a paid holiday on Friday to honor Juneteenth to do something meaningful with the day and “dig deep in the discomfort” of racism.
The Portland City Commission made June 19 a paid city holiday earlier this week to honor Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas were told by Union soldiers that they were free.
“If you are off work on Friday, please make it matter. We are calling on all city employees to commemorate Juneteenth in a way that is meaningful to you — and, if you are white, in a way that is challenging for you,” Wheeler said. “Anti-racism work is not about one action, it’s a lifelong journey.”
Public safety employees who must work will being their shift with an “all call” that includes 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. That’s the amount of time George Floyd was widely believed to have been pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer before Floyd died. Minneapolis prosecutors revealed this week that the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The University of Florida is ending its “gator bait” cheer at football games and other sports events because of its racial connotations.
University President Kent Fuchs announced in a letter on Thursday that ending the cheer would be one of several changes on campus.
Fuchs says the “gator bait” cheer has “horrific historic racist imagery” involving black people being used as alligator bait.
Fuchs also says task forces will look into the university’s history with racial issues and whether any Confederate names are on campus buildings. The university will also stop using prison and jail inmates in agricultural programs.
STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State University’s governing board plans to vote Friday to remove the name Murray from a building at the school’s Stillwater campus.
The move ends the school’s affiliation with a governor who advocated for segregation and pushed to advance Jim Crow laws.
University President Burns Hargis sent a letter to the board of regents on Wednesday recommending that the school rename the building that pays homage to Oklahoma’s ninth governor, William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. The vote will likely be a formality as the regents chairman, Tucker Link, joined Hargis in condemning the “Murray Hall” name. Link said Murray’s racist ideology was a reflection of the time period.
The vote comes after a controversy involving the school’s football team. Running back Chuba Hubbard, who is black, suggested Monday that he may boycott the program after head coach Mike Gundy was photographed wearing a T-shirt promoting One America News Network, a cable channel and website that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and praised by President Donald Trump. Gundy, who is white, apologized to his team on Tuesday.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed from the Ohio city named after him.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the removal on Thursday.
The statue located by City Hall will be taken away immediately and placed in storage. The move comes as monuments to Confederates and other historical figures who repressed or oppressed other people are being dismantled across the country. Columbus is the largest U.S. city named for the explorer.
“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness.” Ginther said in a statement. “That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past.”
DETROIT — Assembly lines at factories run by Detroit automakers will come to a halt Friday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. and to support protests after the death of George Floyd.
Work will halt at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler factories for nearly nine minutes at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. in demonstrations organized by the United Auto Workers union.
“We do this in support of the millions who are demanding an end to racism and hate and calling for real reforms,” union President Rory Gamble wrote in a note to the UAW’s 400,000 members.
Floyd, who is black, died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes. Minnesota prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds — not the 8:46 that has become a global symbol of police brutality.
All three automakers have agreed to shut down lines for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on each shift Friday. In addition, all employees at the companies are being asked to be silent for 8:46.
Friday is Juneteenth, considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he learned about the importance of Juneteenth from a black Secret Service agent and is taking credit for making the unofficial holiday “very famous.”
Trump made the comments in a Wall Street Journal interview published Thursday.
The president had planned to hold his first campaign rally since early March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. Those plans were changed after the date and location were criticized as insensitive to the country’s history of racist violence.
June 19, known as Juneteenth, is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers brought word of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in Texas.
Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa was moved to Saturday instead.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the newspaper.
Tulsa was also the site of one of most notorious incidents of racist violence in U.S. history. In 1921, a mob of white residents attacked and killed black community members, destroying a thriving black business district.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Police in Portland, Oregon, say they cleared an area in the city’s Pearl District early Thursday when demonstrators tried to set up an “autonomous zone” similar to what protesters have enacted in Seattle.
Police declared a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly at 5:30 a.m. after hundreds of demonstrators tried to gather and camp.
Once the declaration was announced, police said the approximately 50 people remaining in the area left. Authorities say one person was arrested.
In Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, protesters have cordoned off several blocks near a police station. Police have largely retreated from the area and city officials say they continue to communicate with protest leaders, who say they are maintaining the space peacefully.
The “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone has been criticized by President Donald Trump and others. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he didn’t want any similar protest zone to happen in Oregon’s largest city.
“I do not want an autonomous zone set up in Portland,” he told reporters. “I want to state unequivocally — I absolutely do not support that.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The police chief of Tennessee’s capital city has announced he will retire amid calls for his resignation.
Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson will step down after a national search for a new chief is completed, Mayor John Cooper said in a statement Thursday. Cooper said Anderson, who took over as chief in 2010, intended to retire after serving 10 years in the role.
“Over the next several months, my office will organize input from the entire community as we find the right leader for this next chapter of community safety in Nashville,” Cooper said.
The announcement comes days after more than a dozen city officials signed a resolution seeking to oust Anderson.
Anderson has been criticized in recent years, with activists and some city leaders saying he has resisted change and transparency. Calls for his resignation have intensified amid a wave of protests calling for police reforms.
NEW YORK – A growing number of banks have announced they will close early on Friday in observance of Juneteenth.
It’s the latest example of corporate America moving toward recognizing the unofficial holiday.
JPMorgan Chase, along with PNC, Santander and others, will close their branches and call centers to observe the holiday. Employees at the bank will be paid in full for the half-day off.
“Closing the branches enables many of our colleagues to join in the celebration and reflect on not only America’s achievements, but also its enduring effort to acknowledge its flaws and become a better nation,” said JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, in a note to employees Wednesday.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the Union army brought word of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in Texas. It is celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States. Many states recognize the holiday, but it has never been a federal holiday.
Banks have typically followed federal government guidelines on when to keep branches open or not. But the nationwide protests since the death of George Floyd have led to several companies to reexamine previously held positions.
More news about the death of George Floyd at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd
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