Statues fall as global anti-racism protests spread: Live updates

The protests that started in the US have spread, leading to the removal of statues with racist legacies.

US protest - outside image - statues
  • The police killing of George Floyd has triggered anti-racism protests around the world. A number of monuments with links to colonialism and slavery have either been defaced or pulled down in Europe and the US as protests continue for racial justice.

  • New York’s state legislature is moving forward with police reform measures as the US Army, Navy as well as a number of other states look at measures they can take to address racial inequality.

  • Floyd’s death, after an officer who has now been charged with second-degree murder knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, has triggered a US-wide debate on the future of law enforcement.

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13:00 GMT – US protests spur calls for India to wake up to anti-Dalit discrimination

Spurred on by US anti-racism protests, lower-caste Dalits have called on India to acknowledge centuries of oppression they have endured and recognise that “every life matters”.

Dalits are at the bottom of India’s ancient caste hierarchy, whose membership was determined at birth, and have historically faced violence, segregation and been barred from even having their shadows touch those of people from higher castes.

“We extend our solidarity because we feel them and we have faced discrimination ourselves,” said Omprakash Mahato, president of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association, a Dalit organisation at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

12:00 GMT – Reddit names Michael Seibel to board after Ohanian’s call for black candidate

Social network company Reddit has named venture capital investor Michael Seibel to its board, days after co-founder and former director Alexis Ohanian resigned and called for the company to replace him with a black candidate.

Ohanian’s resignation came as the death of Floyd reignited the debate of diversity in America’s corporate boardrooms.

Responding to Ohanian’s request, Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman said on Friday, “the unacceptable gap” between Reddit’s content policy and values has reduced the company’s effectiveness in combating hate and racism, and slowed down its response to problems.

Michael Seibel
Social network company Reddit has named venture capital investor Michael Seibel to its board [File: AFP]

11:15 GMT – Adidas pledges to hire more black and Latino staff

German sportswear brand Adidas has pledged to invest $20m in the black community in the US and make sure that at least 30 percent of all new US jobs are filled with black and Latino people at its Adidas and Reebok brands.

The Adidas managing board said in a statement it recognised the contribution of the black community to its success, but admitted the company must do more to fight racism and improve company culture to ensure equity, diversity and opportunity.

“While we have talked about the importance of inclusion, we must do more to create an environment in which all of our employees feel safe, heard and have equal opportunity to advance their careers,” Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted said.

 Adidas said it would spend $20m in the next four years on initiatives including a grassroots basketball programme, a school for footwear design and a scheme supporting sport in the black community [File:AFP]

10:15 GMT – Tunisian parliament rejects bid for French colonial apology

After a heated, 14-hour debate, Tunisia’s parliament has rejected a motion calling on France to apologise for crimes permitted during the colonial era and pay reparations.

Opponents argued that such a move would spell economic disaster, given that France is Tunisia’s top trade partner and foreign investor. It is also home to one million Tunisians.

But proponents of the motion said an apology is necessary to “turn the page on this dark period” in the history of the two countries and put their relations on a more equal footing.

The debate came amid renewed anger in some European countries about colonialism’s crimes, stemming from protests in the US Floyd’s death.

09:10 GMT – North Carolina city passes resolution to remove Confederate monuments: Report 

A city in North Carolina has unanimously passed a resolution to begin a removal process for its confederate monuments, news outlets reported.

The joint action by the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County would establish a task force to recommend steps to remove or repurpose the monuments at the county courthouse and in the city’s Pack Square Park, WLOS-TV reported.

The move comes amid national protests that has seen Confederate monuments toppled and taken down all across the South.

08:30 GMT – Lewis Hamilton on battle against racism: ‘only the beginning’

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said the recent global protests against racism “is only the beginning and there is so much change to come.”

The British Mercedes driver wrote on social media that “these past few weeks, we’ve seen the world open its eyes to the realities of racism today.”

While a lot remains to be done, Hamilton said, he wanted to “appreciate the positive steps that have been taken so far.”

08:00 GMT – US dictionary to change its definition of racism

The American reference dictionary Merriam-Webster will change its definition of the word racism at the suggestion of a young black woman, who wanted it to better reflect the oppression of people of color.

Kennedy Mitchum, a recent graduate of Drake University in Iowa, contacted Merriam-Webster, which has published its dictionaries since 1847, to propose updating the term.

“I basically told them that they need to include that there’s a systematic oppression upon a group of people,” she told the local CBS affiliate KMOV. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, I don’t like someone.'”

Merriam-Webster’s editorial manager Peter Sokolowski confirmed to AFP that the definition would be modified after Mitchum’s request.

The dictionary currently offers three definitions of racism, and Sokolowski said that the second definition touches on Mitchum’s point – but that “we will make that even more clear in our next release.” [File: Getty Images]

07:50 GMT – ‘Cops,’ on air for 33 seasons, dropped 

After 33 seasons on the air, the police documentary series Cops has been dropped by the Paramount Network as protests against police proliferate around the world.

“Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a spokesperson for the cable channel said in a statement. 

The show had been pulled temporarily from the air in late May, when protests aimed at police over the death of Floyd began to gain momentum.

07:20 GMT – ‘Gone with the Wind’ removed from HBO Max

“Gone with the Wind” has been removed from the HBO Max streaming platform, as mass protests against racism and police brutality prompt television networks to reassess their offerings.

The multiple Oscar-winning US Civil War epic released in 1939 remains the highest-grossing movie of all time adjusted for inflation, but its depiction of contented slaves and heroic slaveholders has garnered criticism.

“‘Gone With The Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement to AFP. 

“These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.”

07:05 GMT – Tennis-Osaka in no mood to back down on support for Black Lives Matter

Naomi Osaka, the world’s highest paid sportswoman, says the voices of prominent athletes can be more influential than those of politicians and is determined that hers will be heard on the subject of racial injustice.

The two-times Grand Slam champion has faced a backlash on social media after throwing her support behind the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of Floyd. 

“I’m vocal because I believe in the movement and want to try to use my platform to facilitate change,” Osaka told Reuters via email. “Being silent is never the answer. Everyone should have a voice in the matter and use it.”

06:50 GMT – Richmond protesters topple Columbus statue

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond was torn down by protesters, set on fire and then thrown into a lake.

The figure was toppled less than two hours after protesters gathered in the city’s Byrd Park were chanting for the statue to be taken down, news outlets reported.

After the figure was removed from its pedestal by protesters using several ropes, a sign that reads, “Columbus represents genocide” was placed on the spray-painted foundation that once held the statue.

03:45 GMT (Wednesday) – New York legislature votes to scrap police disciplinary secrecy

The legislature in New York has voted to scrap a decades-old law that stops the public from seeing police disciplinary records.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will sign the bill into law this week.

03:30 GMT (Wednesday) – CrossFit founder steps down after Floyd tweet criticism

Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of CrossFit, has stepped down days after he apologised for a tweet about George Floyd’s killing that drew widespread criticism.

Glassman said he had “created a rift” in the CrossFit community and “unintentionally hurt many of its members”.

The tweet which equated Floyd’s death with the coronavirus led to Reebok ending its decade-long partnership with CrossFit.

22:32 GMT – Florida police union official who offered jobs to officers accused of using excessive force suspended by his department

The president of a Fraternal Order of Police chapter in Florida has been suspended by a sheriff’s office as it investigates him for a social media post that encouraged officers from departments accused of using excessive force during recent protests to move to Florida.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said at a news conference Tuesday that Lieutenant Bert Gamin had been suspended from his agency as an internal investigation is conducted.

Earlier in the week, Gamin, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Brevard County, Florida, had called his post “in poor taste” in a statement sent to local media.

The message posted over the weekend on the Brevard FOP Facebook page said, “Hey Buffalo 57 … and Atlanta 6 … we are hiring in Florida. Lower taxes, no spineless leadership or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences … Plus … we got your back!” It ended with the hashtags “lawandorderflorida” and “movetowhereyouare.”

In Atlanta, Georgia, two officers were fired and face criminal charges after video showed them using stun guns on two college students pulled from a car that was in traffic during a large protest. Four other officers were placed on desk duty.

In Buffalo, New York, dozens of police officers stepped down from the department’s crowd control unit last week, objecting to the suspensions of two fellow officers in the shoving of a 75-year-old protester who fell and injured his head.

22:08 GMT – Women in the US voice support for Floyd protests with #IAmASuburbanMom hashtag

Women in the US are pushing back against a Republican state representative in Minnesota who suggested that “moms out in the suburbs are scared to death” of the protests against racism and police brutality.

After Paul Gazelka demanded that Minnesota’s Democratic governor apologise for allowing the protests to continue, Jamie Becker-Finn, a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives and a mother from the Minneapolis suburb of Roseville, responded, saying she did not need an apology.

“I need the GOP Senate to be more than just sad and sorry that George Floyd was killed by police,” Becker-Finn said, adding the hashtag #IAmASuburbanMom.

Tens of thousands of people have since taken to Twitter with the hashtag, saying they are suburban women standing with protesters over the death of Floyd. As of Monday, it had appeared in more than 40,000 tweets.

21:45 GMT – US Navy to ban Confederate flags on bases, ships and aircraft

The US Navy is working to ban the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces on Navy installations, ships and aircraft, the Navy said on Tuesday, as the military and the country as a whole grapple with questions of racial inequality.

“The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy’s core values of honour, courage and commitment,” the Navy said in a statement.

The move follows the Marine Corps ordering the removal of the Confederate flag from all its installations, including prohibiting depicting the flag on mugs and car bumpers, and word on Tuesday that Army officials were “open” to the idea of renaming 10 Army bases named for Confederate icons of the Civil War era.

20:47 GMT – Grammy winner Ne-Yo: Floyd ‘changed the world for the better’

Grammy-winning singer Ne-Yo said George Floyd’s death was a sacrifice that “changed the world” before performing during his memorial service.

Ne-Yo shed tears on Tuesday while singing a rendition of GC Cameron’s It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday. The singer paused on a few occasions to collect himself during his performance.

“Fifty states are protesting at the same time,” he said. “This man changed the world. He changed the world for the better. I would like to personally thank George Floyd for his sacrifice, so that my kids could be all right later on. I appreciate the sacrifice. I genuinely do.”

20:30 GMT – Al Sharpton promises to return for trial of officers involved in Floyd death

The Reverend Al Sharpton told mourners at the funeral for George Floyd that he and other supporters of the slain Minneapolis man will return to the city where he died when those responsible face judgment in court.

“We will be back in Minneapolis, when the trial starts,” Sharpton said, “because you have the police union on one side, but the righteous is gonna be on the other side of that court.”

Delivering the main eulogy at the funeral, the New York civil rights activist called Floyd’s death more than a tragedy. It was, he said, a crime.

“Until these people pay for what they did, we will be there with them because lives like George Floyd will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives.”

20:09 GMT – Mississippi legislators renew effort to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

A bipartisan group of legislators in the southern state of Mississippi on Monday began drafting a resolution to change the state’s flag – the last in the US that incorporates the Confederate battle emblem.

The effort, which enjoys the support of the speaker of the state house, Philip Gunn, is the first attempt by the legislature to change the flag since the state voted in 2001 by a nearly 2-to-1 margin to keep the current flag, according to a report on the Mississippi Today news service.

If such a bill were to pass both chambers of the state house, it would need to be signed by Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who has said he wants voters, not legislators, to decide the fate of the flag.

Mississippi state flag confederate
A spectator waves his Mississippi state flag during speeches at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi. [File: Rogelio V Solis/AP Photo]

19:34 GMT – Hundreds line streets, brave sweltering heat in Houston suburb where Floyd will be buried

Hundreds have lined up in the Texas heat along a road leading to the cemetery where George Floyd will be buried.

Many arrived hours ahead of time in Pearland, Texas, to get a spot Tuesday as they waited for the procession to come by after Floyd’s funeral ends at a church in Houston.

Marcus Brooks and a group of friends and graduates of Jack Yates High School, where Floyd graduated, set up a tent by the grassy side of the road. The 47-year-old Brooks said he had the tent specially created in crimson and gold, the colours of Yates High School, where Floyd played tight end. Past and present members of the football team signed the tent.

19:22 GMT – Texas congresswoman signals support for Floyd protesters

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says George Floyd’s death has ignited a movement that “will not sit down” until there is justice for Floyd.

“I want to acknowledge those young marchers in the streets,” Jackson Lee said at Floyd’s memorial service on Tuesday. “Many of them could not be in this place. They are Black and brown, they are Asian. They are white. They are protesting and marching. And I’m saying, as a momma, ‘I hear your cry.’ That is what George Floyd wanted us to know.”

Lee said she could not forget Floyd’s last words: “I can’t breathe.” But, she said, his death served a purpose “heard around the world. There are people rising up that will never sit down until you get justice.”

19:15 GMT – IBM to exit facial recognition business, joins call for police reforms

IBM says it is getting out of the facial recognition business over concerns about how it can be used for mass surveillance and racial profiling.

A letter to US legislators on Monday from new IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the tech giant “firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling” and human rights violations.

Krishna was addressing Democrats who have been working on police reform legislation in Congress in response to the death of George Floyd. The sweeping reform package could include restrictions on police use of facial recognition.

18:19 GMT – Pentagon officials open to ‘starting a discussion’ about renaming Army bases named for Confederate icons

Officials at the US Pentagon said on Tuesday they were open to starting a discussion about changing the names of 10 military bases named for Confederate generals from the US Civil War era.

According to Stars and Stripes, both Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy want to have a “bipartisan discussion” about the topic.

The turnabout would mark a substantial change in the Army’s position on the naming of the 10 Army posts – Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort AP Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard, all are located in Southern states, and most were named during the south’s Jim Crow era which lasted until the 1960s.

In a statement issued by, a former commanding general at Fort Benning in Georgia, retired Major General Paul D Eaton, said he could not fathom how Black soldiers feel serving on bases named for a “traitor to the United States, a racist and an incompetent warfighter”, likening it to Jewish soldiers serving at bases named after Nazis.

17:56 GMT – Joe Biden: ‘Now is the time for racial justice’

In a pre-recorded video testimonial aired at George Floyd’s funeral in Houston, Texas, former Vice President Joe Biden reached out to the surviving children of George Floyd with a heartfelt plea for their future and said, “Now is the time for racial justice.”

“I know you have a lot of questions, honey,” he said, addressing Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was in attendance at The Fountain of Praise church. “No child should have to ask questions that too many Black children have had to ask for generations. Why? Why is Daddy gone?”

Biden added, “Little Gianna, as I said to you when I saw you yesterday, you’re so brave. Daddy’s looking down, and he’s so proud of you.”

“When there’s justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”

17:05 GMT – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ‘disgusted’ by Trump tweet about Buffalo protester

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that he was “disgusted” by President Donald Trump’s claim that a 75-year-old man seen in a video being pushed by a Buffalo police officer during a protest “fell harder than (he) was pushed”.

“President Trump did a tweet today that surprises me even after all the tweets he has done,” Cuomo said at his daily news briefing.

Trump suggested that the protestor, Martin Gugino, had staged his fall at the hands of an officer during a protest last Thursday, and that he could be “an ANTIFA provocateur” who appeared to be trying to electronically black-out police communications.

Two Buffalo officers were arraigned on assault charges on Saturday over the incident, which left Gugino hospitalised.

16:45 GMT – New York Stock Exchange observes 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence

The New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday observed an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence in honour of George Floyd. The moment of silence at the NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc, began at noon, to coincide with the beginning of Floyd’s funeral.

16:33 GMT – Floyd funeral begins in Houston, Texas

The funeral service for George Floyd began in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, with family members and invited dignitaries filing into The Fountain of Praise church to pay their respects. The funeral caps off six days of mourning for the Black man whose death inspired a global reckoning over police brutality and racial injustice.

Guests at the service will include Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Reverend Al Sharpton, Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump, Slim Thug, Leela James, Paul Wall, Floyd Mayweather, Congressman Al Green, Bishop James Dixon, and others. Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.

Mourners pause by the casket during a funeral service for George Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church, Houston, Texas, USA, 09 June 2020. A bystander's video posted online on 25 May, appeared to sho
Mourners pause by the casket during Floyd’s funeral service [David J. Phillip / POOL/EPA]

In a burial following the service, Floyd will be laid to rest next to his mother in the Houston suburb of Pearland.

About 6,000 people attended a public memorial on Monday, many waiting for hours in the searing Texas heat to pay their respects.

15:45 GMT – NYC officer caught violently pushing protester charged with assault

A New York City police officer who was caught on video violently pushing a female protester to the ground was charged on Tuesday with assault and other counts, prosecutors announced.

Officer Vincent D’Andraia is also being charged with criminal mischief, harassment and menacing in the May 29 altercation in Brooklyn in which protester Dounya Zayer says her head hit the pavement, resulting in a concussion, a seizure and a trip to the hospital, according to a news release from prosecutors.

D’Andraia, 28, is expected to be arraigned Tuesday, according to District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

The Police Department suspended D’Andraia last week without pay. He had been assigned to Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct.

The head of D’Andraia’s union, the Police Benevolent Association, said the mayor and police leaders were “sacrificing cops to save their own skin” by sending officers out to protests with “no support and no clear plan”.

15:35 GMT – New York state moves forward with sweeping police reform legislation

A sweeping package of police reform measures has started to move toward passage by the New York state legislature in the wake of the protests set off by the death of George Floyd.

The state Assembly and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, on Monday passed a ban on police officers using chokeholds on suspects and a bill requiring law enforcement to disclose racial disparities in policing.

New York legislators will discuss other bills, including the repeal of “section 50-a” of the civil rights law that shields officers from having their disciplinary records disclosed.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he supported the reforms and would sign the bills into law.

Police unions, including New York City’s powerful Police Benevolent Association, however, have pushed back against the state’s legislative agenda, which they said amounted to an “attack on law enforcement”.

13:55 GMT – Hearse carrying George Floyd’s body arrives at Fountain of Praise church in Houston 

Flowers outside the church bear messages including “Justice for George Floyd”; a church official says the focus of the funeral service will be how Floyd lived.

“We celebrate a life that had its ups and downs, as many lives do, but also a life that was connected to God and one that all people around the world have now connected to because of the tragedy and the trauma by which he passed,” church co-pastor Mia K Wright told CNN.

The funeral is private but will be live-streamed; following the service, he will be laid to rest alongside his mother, Larcenia Floyd.

The hearse carrying the coffin arrives at the church for the funeral for George Floyd on June 9, 2020, at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Texas. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapo

13:40 GMT – Trump tweet about protester pushed down by Buffalo police sparks online condemnation

US President Donald Trump tweeted that a 75-year-old demonstrator pushed to the ground by two police officers in Buffalo, New York, and suffering severe head injuries may have been a member of an amorphous movement, Antifa, that Trump has threatened to designate a “terrorist” group.

Trump claimed, with no evidence, that Martin Gugino was “appearing to scan police equipment”. Trump has repeatedly characterised those clashing with police as organised, radical-left thugs engaging in domestic terrorism, though there is little evidence. His tweet about Gugino has sparked a backlash.

The two Buffalo officers have been suspended, prompting 57 other officers to quit the force’s emergency response team.

13:05 GMT – London’s mayor announces that more statues of controversial figures could be removed from Britain’s streets

Following the unauthorised felling of a slave-trader’s monument, as the killing of George Floyd continued to spark protests and drive change around the world, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was setting up a commission to ensure the British capital’s monuments reflected its diversity.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm will review statues, murals, street art, street names and other memorials and consider which legacies should be celebrated, the mayor’s office said.

“It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade, and while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been willfully ignored,” Khan said.