US police ‘woefully undertrained’ in use of force: Live updates

Experts say officers lack sufficient training, leaving them unprepared to handle tense situations.

Demonstrators pulled down the statue of Christopher Columbus from the Minnesota State Capitol grounds
  • A group of Minneapolis police officers has condemned the officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death and say they are ready to back the police chief’s promised overhaul of the department.

  • The police killing of  Floyd has triggered anti-racism protests around the world. A number of monuments with links to colonialism and slavery have been defaced or pulled down in Europe and the United States as demands for racial justice continue.

  • One of the four former Minneapolis police officers who was charged over the death of Floyd was released on $750,000 bail.

  • Floyd died on May 25 after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has sparked nationwide calls for policing reforms.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, June 12

12:30 GMT – London protest cancelled due to far-right activists

A Black Lives Matter group in London said it was calling off a planned protest on Saturday because the presence of far-right activists would make it unsafe, though some anti-racism demonstrators are still likely to gather. Another anti-racism protest on Friday looked set to go ahead.

Authorities have urged protesters not to gather because of the continued risk of spreading the coronavirus. Gatherings of more than six people are currently barred in England, though police have allowed previous demonstrations to take place.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading COVID-19, but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence”.

12:00 GMT – Palestinians know deadly US police tactics all too well

Following the killing of George Floyd, as US riot police fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas canisters, pepper spray and stun grenades at protesters, Palestinians shared tips on social media on how to best deal with the assaults.

Many in the Palestinian territories are well experienced with such tactics by security forces while living under a decades-long occupation by Israeli forces in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

Read Mersiha Gadzo’s story here

 Israeli security forces
Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian protester during clashes following a raid in the West Bank city of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, February 6, 2020 [Abed al-Hashlamoun/EPA-EFE]

11:00 GMT – Cricketer says nickname controversy opportunity to educate on racism

Former West Indies cricket captain Daren Sammy says he has accepted a former team-mate’s explanation of a potentially racist nickname he was given at the Sunrisers Hyderabad and hopes the issue can be used to educate players about racism. 

Earlier this week, the 36-year-old sought clarification from his former team-mates over the nickname “kallu” – Hindi slang for black – used for him when he was part of the Indian Premier League franchise during 2013-14.

“I’m please[d] to say that I’ve had a really interesting conversation with one of the guys and we are looking at ways to educate rather than focusing on the negatives,” Sammy wrote on Twitter. 

“My brother reassured me that he operated from a place of love and I believe him.”

10:30 GMT – PM Johnson says UK protests ‘hijacked by extremists’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the anti-racism protests in the United Kingdom had been “hijacked by extremists intent on violence” who were attacking national monuments in an effort to “censor our past”.

Police have boarded up prominent statues around London ahead of a new wave of demonstrations and rallies this weekend.

A famous statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill outside Parliament was defaced last weekend during “Black Lives Matter” rallies in London. 

Johnson said it was “absurd and shameful” that the statue was at risk of attack by protesters, some of whom daubed the words “was a racist” at an earlier anti-racism demonstration.

09:50 GMT – Churchill statue boarded up before London protests

A statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill opposite Parliament and the Cenotaph war memorial in central London were boarded up for protection before three days of demonstrations planned in the capital.

The World War II leader’s statue on Parliament Square was sprayed with graffiti declaring Churchill a racist during a fractious end to a mostly peaceful demonstration on Sunday over the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Boarding has also been placed around the foot of the Cenotaph on Whitehall, where the government and royal family attend Remembrance Sunday events each year commemorating those killed in World War I and conflicts since then.

Churchill's statue guarded before new anti-racist demonstrations
Churchill’s statue guarded before new anti-racist demonstrations [Hasan Esen/Anadolu] 

09:00 GMT – Australia urges protesters not to attend rallies

The Australian government has urged activists not to attend Black Lives Matter and other rallies planned for the weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic risk.

Demonstrations are planned in Australian cities this weekend over Floyd’s killing, the coronavirus risk posed to asylum-seekers held in crowded Australian immigration detention centres and the pandemic threat created by eating meat.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged police to charge protesters with breaching pandemic restrictions during the coming weekend.

“The very clear message is that people should not attend those events, because it is against the health advice to do so,” Morrison told reporters.

08:30 GMT – Row in Germany over ‘race’ in constitution

A row has broken out in Germany over the term “race” in the country’s constitution as the George Floyd killing in the US police custody spills over into national politics.

Paragraph three in Germany’s Basic Law states that “no person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith or religious or political opinions”.

But the Green party this week took aim at the word “race”, pushing for a change to the constitution in place since 1949 as a bulwark against dictatorships like the Nazi regime which championed racist politics more than 70 years ago.

Five changes proposed since George Floyd protests began

08:00 GMT – French police protest ban on chokehold

French police are protesting a new ban on chokehold and limits to what they can do during arrests, part of government efforts to stem police brutality and racism in the wake of global protests over George Floyd’s death in the US.

Police from the union Unite SGP Police FO lay their handcuffs on the ground outside some police stations around France on Thursday night in a symbolic protest, and another union plans an action in Paris on Friday.

Police unions are meeting on Thursday and Friday Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to discuss changes to police tactics after Castaner announced on Monday that police would no longer be taught to seize suspects by the neck or push on their necks.

Police officers demonstrate against French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner's reforms in Nice
A helmet is seen as police officers stand during a demonstration against French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner’s reforms, including ditching a controversial chokehold method of arrest [Eric Gaillard/Reuters]

07:45 GMT – Athletes to be allowed knee protest at Commonwealth Games

Athletes competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England will be allowed to take a knee in support of worldwide anti-racism movements, competition organisers said.

Commonwealth Games organisers said they would respect people’s rights to voice their opinions.

“The movement is challenging all institutions to really look introspectively at what we can do to be more fair, more free, have better equality. Sport is no different,” Commonwealth Games chief executive David Grevemberg told reporters.

“We are comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation and we need to embrace it.” 

AFL Rd 2 - Collingwood v Richmond
Players take a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement before an Australian Football League match in Melbourne on June 11 [Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images]

07:30 GMT – Police ‘woefully undertrained’ in use of force: Experts

With calls for police reforms across the US, instructors and researchers say officers lack sufficient training on how and when to use force, leaving them unprepared to handle tense situations.

Better training cannot fix all the issues facing the nation’s police departments, but experts believe it would have a big impact.

“The skills are not taught well enough to be retained and now the officer is scrambling to find something that works,” said William Lewinski, executive director at Minnesota-based Force Science Institute, which provides research, training and consulting to law enforcement agencies.

Its two-year study of three large US police academies says skills like using a baton or taking down an aggressive offender deteriorate dramatically within two weeks.

07:00 GMT – EPL player names to be replaced by ‘Black Lives Matter’

English Premier League players will pay tribute to worldwide anti-racism movements by wearing shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the back during the opening round of fixtures at the season’s restart next week, British media reported.

The words will replace player surnames on the back of the shirt and BLM logos will be embroidered on the players’ kits, the Guardian newspaper said.

The Premier League will resume on June 17 after a three-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

06:45 GMT – Why are so many Black Americans being killed by police?

The police killing of George Floyd triggered unprecedented anti-racism protests across the US and around the world.

#AJStartHere talks to the people on the front line of race issues and asks what does it mean to be Black in America?

06:30 GMT – Seattle mayor to Trump: ‘Go back to your bunker’

The mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, has told Donald Trump to “go back to your bunker”, escalating a spat after the president threatened to intervene over a police-free autonomous zone protesters have set up in the western US city.

Trump had threatened to intervene in the neighbourhood in Seattle dubbed “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”, or CHAZ, which was agreed upon by demonstrators and the city’s police department.

The reference to a “bunker” was a nod to reports Trump was rushed by Secret Service agents to a secure area in the White House as demonstrations against racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd reached the president’s residence.

Earlier on Thursday, Durkan, speaking at an afternoon news conference, said it would be unconstitutional and illegal for Trump to send military forces into the city to clear protesters, as he has suggested.

Read more here

05:18 GMT – New York’s Andrew Cuomo defends Columbus statues

New York should keep statues honouring Christopher Columbus even though the brutalisation of the West Indies inhabitants he encountered on his voyages to the New World is inexcusable, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Cuomo said Columbus was an important figure for Italian Americans, symbolising their contribution to New York, and for that reason, he opposes removal of the statues.

“I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support,” Cuomo, who is Italian-American, said at a briefing. “But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian-American contribution to New York.”

04:34 GMT – Another US city takes down Columbus statue

The city of Camden in New Jersey has taken down a statue of Columbus, calling the statue in Farnham Park a “controversial symbol” that has “long pained residents of the community”.

Video from local news outlets showed the statue coming down on Thursday night. The city’s statement says “a plan to reexamine these outdated symbols of racial division and injustices” is overdue.

The majority of Camden residents are people of colour.

Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalised in cities such as Miami; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota, and Boston, where one was decapitated.

03:25 GMT – New Zealand removes statue of colonist

The New Zealand city of Hamilton tore down a statue of the colonial military commander after whom it was named, after requests from local Maori and threats from anti-racism protesters to topple it.

A crane hoisted the bronze sculpture of Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton from the town square on Friday morning as a small group of cheering spectators looked on.

“I know many people – in fact, a growing number of people – find the statue personally and culturally offensive,” mayor Paula Southgate said.

“We can’t ignore what is happening all over the world and nor should we. At a time when we are trying to build tolerance and understanding… I don’t think the statue helps us to bridge those gaps.”

Hamilton was a naval commander who fought indigenous Maori defending their land against British colonial expansion in the 19th century.

New Zealand Hamilton
Workers remove a controversial statue of Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton from Civic Square in Hamilton on June 12, 2020 [Michael Bradley/ AFP]

03:04 GMT – Chicago investigating officers ‘lounging’ during unrest                

More than a dozen Chicago police officers and supervisors were captured on video “lounging” inside a burglarised congressional campaign office and even appeared to be making popcorn and brewing coffee as people vandalised and stole from nearby businesses, according to the city’s mayor

The footage was taken on May 31 and early June 1, as police received widespread reports of vandalism, theft and arson in neighbourhoods on the city’s South and West sides, officials said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who described herself as “angry” and “disgusted” by the actions shown on video, said the department’s Internal Affairs division and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability are investigating.

Shattered glass hangs from the doorway of a 7-Eleven store on May 31, 2020 in Chicago, after a night of unrest [Charles Rex Arbogast/ AP]

02:39 GMT – NFL to spend $250m on social justice initiatives

The National Football League (NFL) is committing $250m over 10 years to social justice initiatives, targeting what it calls “systemic racism” and supporting “the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans”.

The US league, which has raised $44m in donations through its Inspire Change program, announced the additional $206m commitment Thursday. It plans to “work collaboratively with NFL players to support programmes to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement”.

02:23 GMT – Louisville bans ‘no-knock’ warrants

The use of controversial “no-knock” warrants has been banned in Louisville, and the new ordinance named for Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot after officers burst into her home.

The city’s Metro Council unanimously voted on Thursday night to ban the controversial warrants after days of protests and calls for reform.

Taylor, who was studying to become a nurse, was shot eight times by officers conducting a narcotics investigation on March 13. No drugs were found at her home.

“I’m just going to say, Breonna, that’s all she wanted to do was save lives, so with this law she will continue to get to do that,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the law was passed. “She would be so happy.”

The law bans the use of the warrants by Louisville Metro officers. Police typically use them in drug cases over concern that evidence could be destroyed if they announce their arrival. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also introduced federal legislation on Thursday that would ban the use of no-knock warrants nationwide.

Thursday, June 11

23:40 GMT – Apple, YouTube unveil multi-million-dollar initiatives for Black business, artists

Apple says it will direct more business to its Black-owned suppliers under a $100 million racial and justice initiative, while Google-owned YouTube says it will spend $100 million to fund Black artists. 

22:15 GMT – In open letter, Minneapolis police officers back chief’s efforts to overhaul department

A group of Minneapolis police officers has condemned the officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death and say they are ready to back the police chief’s promised overhaul of the department.

Fourteen officers signed an open letter on Thursday addressed to “Dear Everyone – but especially Minneapolis citizens”.

The letter said Officer Derek Chauvin “failed as a human” and “stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life”.

“This is not who we are,” the officers wrote.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s death. The letter makes no mention of three other officers charged with aiding and abetting.

The officers signing the letter, which was obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said they represent “hundreds” of other officers.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo listens to a question at a press conference. [Jim Mone/AP Photo]

21:33 GMT – Trump: Military cut through protesters like ‘knife cutting butter’

Trump flew to Dallas on Thursday for a roundtable on law enforcement, meeting with officials there and causing further controversy.

“It’s not supposed to be a beautiful scene, but to me it was” Trump said at the event, referring to National Guard troops who went through protesters “like a knife cutting butter”. 

Trump said authorities managed to quell protests in Minneapolis, and “yes there was some tear gas“.

Trump has come under criticism for his handling of nonviolent protesters ahead of a photo-op at a church in Washington, DC, amid ongoing protests over Floyd’s death and police brutality. Demonstrators outside the White House were dispersed with pepper spray, which some authorities initially denied to be tear gas. 

Trump also said the US cannot move forward while  “decent Americans” are accused of being “racist or bigots”.  

US Congress, Trump contest police reforms after protests

The president also expressed his support for police, saying they need more funding, not less. “You have bad apples” wherever you go, Trump said, though there aren’t “too many of them” in the police. 

Trump’s visit was derided due to the exlcusion of three Black Dallas law enforcement leaders. 

Dallas Police Chief U Renee Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown and District Attorney John Creuzot were not invited. 

19:55 GMT – Celebrities ‘at it again’ with campaign urging white people to take responsibility for racism: report 

A new video campaign of white celebrities “taking responsibility” for not fighting racism emerged on social media to a chorus of critics, the Daily Beast reported.

Kristen Bell, Kesha, Aaron Paul, Stanley Tucci, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Debra Messing are all featured in the first video for the #ITakeResponsibility campaign, which encourages “white people to call out racism and support black lives through various causes”, the Daily Beast wrote it in its article, which called the video a “cringeworthy” public service announcement. 

The black and white video shows the actors speaking sombrely as they take turns reciting a script which reads in part: “I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke. Every unfair stereotype”. 

Others adopted the campaign’s slogan, admitting their shortcomings.

The campaign was launched by entertainment production company Confluential Content, in partnership with the NAACP, and aims to “to stand up for our Black friends and family in America. Our goal is to rally the white community, to provide education and encourage action”, according to its website. 

19:21 GMT – ‘Blank’ incident report detailing Breonna Taylor’s death decried

Benjamin Crump, attorney for the family of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two African Americans killed by police, said he was appalled by a “nearly blank” police report on Taylor’s killing released this week.  

The report, released by Louisville Police on the fatal shooting, is mostly blank, with few details of the incident that spurred days of protests in the city.

The report, dated March 13, the day of the shooting, cites a police-involved death investigation and identifies Taylor, 26, as the victim. But it provides few other details, and some are incorrect.

Taylor was shot eight times by narcotics detectives who had a warrant to enter her apartment. A man inside the home with her, Kenneth Walker, fired once and struck an officer. There is no mention of Walker in the incident report.

The report also has a box to check for forced entry, which was checked “No,” and it also said “none” in a space for the victim’s injuries.

In the notes/narrative section, it simply said “PIU investigation,” which is the department’s Public Integrity Unit. 

Taylor was not named in the report. 

18:26 GMT – Trump tweets ‘ugly’ anarchists in Seattle must be ‘stopped IMMEDIATELY’ 

Trump continued trading barbs with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, saying they’re being “taunted” by protesters who set up an “autonomous zone” in the city. 

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, was declared on June 8 as protests against police brutality swept the US. CHAZ covers about six square blocks in Seattle. Organisers have made it a haven for protest groups and others who seek an alternative to the US system. 

The politicians are being “played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will”, Trump said on Twitter. 

Durkan previously told Trump to “Make us all safe and go back to” his “bunker”, a reference to Trump’s brief stay in an underground bunker during Black Lives Matter protests outside the White House following Floyd’s killing. 

17:23 GMT – West Virginia court says police excessive force ‘has to stop’

A federal appeals court has vacated part of a finding that cleared five West Virginia police officers on qualified immunity grounds in an excessive force lawsuit, which was filed by the estate of a homeless Black man shot 22 times in 2013.

Protests in Louisville following the death of Breonna Taylor
A man kneels in front of a line of Kentucky State Troopers during a protest against the deaths of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police and George Floyd by Minneapolis police [Bryan Woolston/Reuters]

A three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled this week that shielding five Martinsburg police officers for their actions during the summary judgment stage of the lawsuit “would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept”.

The panel sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings.

Certain protesters are calling for an end to immunity for police in officer-involved shootings as part of wider reforms. 

“Although we recognise that our police officers are often asked to make split-second decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of Black lives,” the panel said. “This has to stop.”

16:11 GMT – Names of two Confederate leaders to be removed from US Naval Academy

The names of two members of the Confederacy should be removed from buildings at the US Naval Academy, the chairman of the academy’s Board of Visitors announced.

Representative CA Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, said the Pentagon should consider removing Confederate names from all military bases as people across the country protest against racial inequality and police brutality.

“There has been discussion of renaming these buildings since at least 2017,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “As the new Chairman, the time for discussion is over. It’s time for action.” 

Ruppersberger continued by saying those who qualified to study at the academy should not be forced to “see buildings named for men who fought to uphold slavery and promote white supremacy”.

The academy superintendent’s residence is named after Franklin Buchanan, the academy’s first superintendent who left to join the Confederate Navy at the start of the Civil War.

The academy’s Weapons and Systems Engineering division is housed in Maury Hall, named after Matthew Fontaine Maury. He headed the coast, harbour and river defences for the Confederate Navy.

The Republican-led US Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, setting up a clash with President Donald Trump, who opposes that change.

14:15 GMT – Pentagon chief says he was wrong to accompany Trump on church walk

Army General Mark Milley, the US’s top military officer, said he was wrong to have accompanied President Donald Trump on a walk to a church through Lafayette Square, where he was photographed in his combat uniform with the presidential entourage.

“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley said. “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

Covering the George Floyd protests as a Black journalist | Between Us

The statement by the Joint Chiefs chairman risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. Trump’s June 1 walk through the park to pose with a Bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flashbangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters.

Milley said his presence and the photographs compromised his commitment to a military divorced from politics.

“I should not have been there,” Milley said in prerecorded remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

14:00 GMT – Fitness company apologises for ‘I can’t breathe’ workout

A health club company has apologised on behalf of a franchisee who posted an “I can’t breathe” workout at its gym in Wisconsin.

Photos of the workout instructions drawn on a dry erase board at Anytime Fitness in the city of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin were shared widely on social media and drawn criticism.

The “I can’t breathe” workout included burpees, or squat thrusts, with the instructions “don’t you dare lay down”. It also showed a person in a kneeling position, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The company said it was “profoundly sorry” that the workout was posted.

“No matter what the intent, we absolutely do not condone the words, illustrations or actions this represents. One of our publicly-stated commitments to antiracism work is to bolster training efforts for our franchise owners to lead with empathy, love and respect. This incident makes it clear we have more work to do in this space,” a statement from the company read.

The workout instructions at the gym have since been removed.

13:00 GMT – One of four Minneapolis police charged over Floyd‘s death freed on bail

One of the four former Minneapolis police officers who was charged over the death of George Floyd was released on bail on Wednesday.

The former police officer released, Thomas Lane, 37, had been held on $750,000 bail and was freed from Hennepin County jail, sheriff’s office records showed.

All four officers have been fired from the Minneapolis police department.

Catch up on Wednesday’s updates here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies