TOP OF THE HOUR:
– Minnesota considers changes to police-involved deaths.
– European Union lawmakers concerned about US racism, leadership.
– Paris police ban protests because of coronavirus concerns.
– Twitter blocks Trump campaign video featuring George Floyd.
MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesotaâ€™s county attorneys want to give the state attorney general the authority to handle all cases of police-involved deaths.
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association voted Thursday in transferring that power during an emergency meeting, which included Attorney General Keith Ellison. The attorney general is leading the stateâ€™s case against the four police officers involved in George Floydâ€™s death instead of the Hennepin County Attorneyâ€™s Office.
State lawmakers would need to pass legislation during this monthâ€™s special session to give the attorney general the ongoing authority.
The county attorneys are also calling on the Legislature to provide additional funding to the state Attorney Generalâ€™s Office and create a unit within Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate police killings of civilians.
â€œIf this is the path the Legislature and governor choose to take, my office will accept the responsibility,â€ Ellison said. â€œBut it must come with resources sufficient to do the job thoroughly and to do justice in the way Minnesotans have a right to expect.â€
Ellison is one of 18 Democratic attorneys general who are asking Congress to grant their offices â€œclear statutory authority under federal lawâ€ to investigate â€œunconstitutional policing by local police departmentsâ€ in their respective states, the Star Tribune reported.
MINNEAPOLIS – The Minneapolis City Council is preparing to vote on changes to the cityâ€™s police department in response to the death of George Floyd.
City leaders and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights are working out an agreement for a temporary restraining order to force some immediate changes and set a timeline for the stateâ€™s civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
The council meets Friday afternoon. If the council approves the agreement, the order would require court approval.
The state human rights department opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by the police department on Tuesday. The investigation into policies, procedures and practices seeks to determine if the force has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices toward people of color and ensure that any such practices are stopped.
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – A 176-year-old slave auction block has been removed from a Virginia cityâ€™s downtown and will be displayed in a museum.
The 800-pound stone was pulled from the ground at a Fredericksburg street corner early Friday after its removal was delayed for months by lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic, The Free Lance-Star reported.
The weathered stone was sprayed with graffiti twice and chants of â€œmove the blockâ€ erupted this week during local demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city officials said in a statement announcing the removal.
A local chapter of the NAACP called for the stoneâ€™s removal in 2017, saying it was a relic of â€œa time of hatred and degradation.â€
In 2019, the City Council voted for its removal and relocation to the Fredericksburg Area Museum. A judge upheld that decision in February after two businesses near the auction block sued to stop the relocation.
The museum plans to display the knee-high stone in an exhibit chronicling the â€œmovement from slavery to accomplishments by the local African American community.â€
BRUSSELS – European Union lawmakers are expressing concern about U.S. police action linked to the death of George Floyd.
The incidents were debated by the EU parliamentâ€™s Subcommittee on Human Rights as the protest movement since Floydâ€™s death gathered pace in Europe and around the world.
Finnish Greens lawmaker Heidi Hautala says â€œthe police should not be there to shoot when some loot. The police should be there to protect, and it is clear that widespread reforms in the law enforcement in the United States are needed.â€
Irish EU lawmaker Sean Kelly says some of the problem is due to a failure of leadership. He says what happened in the United States is â€œchilling in the extreme. I think it indicates what can happen when you have poor leadership.
“Leaders can either divide or unite. Good unite. Bad divide. Thatâ€™s what we see unfortunately in America at the moment.â€
Swedish liberal parliamentarian Karin Karlsbro says â€œAmerica has a long and tragic history on police brutality. At the heart of this lies racism and segregation based on history. This is a systematic problem that needs to be addressed at all levels in the U.S.â€
MOBILE, Ala. – The city of Mobile removed a Confederate statue early Friday.
The bronze figure of Admiral Raphael Semmes had become a flashpoint for protests. It was removed from its pedestal after being vandalized this week and before demonstrations announced for Sunday calling for it to be taken down.
The removal of the 120-year-old figure follows days of protests in Alabama and across the nation over killings by police of African Americans.
Semmes was a Confederate commerce raider, sinking Union-allied ships during the Civil War. He later became a â€œLost Causeâ€ hero to Southerners who lamented the end of the Confederacy.
The city of Semmes, Alabama, outside Mobile, was incorporated in 2010 and named for him.
TUSKEGEE, Ala. – Police are investigating a cross burning on a bridge in Macon County.
Macon County Sherriff Andre Brunson says the burning cross was seen on top of a bridge over Interstate 85 on Thursday night. Brunson says deputies arrived and helped extinguish the fire.
John Bolton, a motorist who called 911, told WRBL-TV there was a cross, burning tire and fuel canister.
The sheriff says there are no suspects so far.
PARIS – Police have banned a planned protest against police violence in Paris on Saturday because of health measures restricting gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
A protest decrying systemic racism and calling for justice for Floyd and other victims of police brutality was planned to take place outside the U.S. Embassy.
But on Friday, Police Prefect Didier Lallement said such protests â€œare not authorizedâ€ because virus safety measures â€œprohibit any gathering, in the public space, of more than 10 people.â€ He issued an order banning the Floyd demonstration and another protest planned for the same day.
Lallement said â€œin addition to the disturbances to public order that these rallies can generate … the health risks they could cause remain significant.â€
France has had over 29,000 people die in the pandemic.
BEIRUT – The Islamic State group says protests across the United States and the repercussions of the coronavirus on Western countries will weaken these nations and divert their attention from Muslim countries.
The comments published Friday in an editorial in the extremist group’s online weekly newspaper al-Nabaa were its first on protests in America after last weekâ€™s death of African American George Floyd while a policeman put a knee to his neck.
Al-Nabaa said protests have been occurring in the U.S. since it was founded, but this year â€œcoincide with the negative effects of the pandemic on the countryâ€™s economy.â€ Al-Nabaa said the pandemic will weaken â€œinfidel states.â€
In recent weeks, the militants have taken advantage of the pandemic to launch deadly attacks in their former self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The group that once controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria used these territories to launch attacks worldwide that killed hundreds of people since declaring their so-called caliphate in 2014.
Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users.
The company put a label on a video posted by the @TeamTrump account that said, â€œThis media has been disabled in response to a claim by the copyright owner.â€ The video was still up on President Donald Trumpâ€™s YouTube channel and includes pictures of Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests, at the start.
â€œPer our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,â€ Twitter said in a statement.
The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking.
Itâ€™s the latest action that Twitter has taken against Trump, who has threatened to retaliate against social media companies.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – A member of Finlandâ€™s populist party has been expelled from the its parliamentary group in response to a series of racist social media posts by the lawmaker – the latest one was on George Floyd.
The opposition Finns Party decided Thursday to expel Ano Turtiainen from the group. He has since conceded it was racist, deleted the tweet and apologized to the party that was formerly known as the True Finns, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.
â€œThis time that was not enough. The decision was unanimous,â€ spokesman Ville Tavio said of the apology and the decision to expel Turtiainen, according to YLE.
Parliament speaker Matti Vanhanen described the tweet, showing a doctored image of Floyd being arrested with a pink head and the words â€œPink Floyd,â€ as â€œshocking and simply wrong from the standpoint from universal human values.â€
Turtiainenâ€™s exit means meant the Finns Party is no longer the largest group in the country’s parliament.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africaâ€™s ruling party says it is launching a â€œBlack Fridayâ€ campaign in response to the â€œheinous murderâ€ of George Floyd and â€œinstitutionalized racismâ€ in the U.S., at home, in China and â€œwherever it rears its ugly head.â€
A statement by the African National Congress says President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday evening will address the launch of the campaign that calls on people to wear black on Fridays in solidarity.
The campaign is also meant to highlight â€œdeaths by citizens at the hands of security forcesâ€ in South Africa, which remains one of the worldâ€™s most unequal countries a quarter century after the end of the racist system of apartheid.
â€œThe demon of racism remains a blight on the soul of our nation,â€ the ANC statement says.
SYDNEY – Thousands gathered in Australiaâ€™s capital to remind Australians the racial inequality underscored by George Floydâ€™s death was not unique to the United States.
The Canberra rally that attracted 2,000 demonstrators comes before larger rallies are planned for Australiaâ€™s most populous cities on Saturday, with authorities concerned about maintaining social distancing.
Police were seeking a court order banning a rally in Australiaâ€™s largest city, Sydney, because of the pandemic risk. A state government leader urged demonstrators not to attend a rally in Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city.
Matilda House, an elder of the Ngambri-Ngunnawal family group who are the traditional owners of the Canberra region, said: â€œAustralians have to understand that whatâ€™s been going on the United States has been happening here for a long time.â€
Australia had to move beyond a colonial attitude â€œthat blacks are only here to be walked on, trodden on and murdered,â€ House said in the first speech of the rally.
NEW YORK – Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who participated in a video message to the public and the league about racial inequality.
The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.
Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: â€œItâ€™s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.â€ The players then take turns asking the question, â€œWhat if I was George Floyd?â€
The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.
The video closes with the players insisting they â€œwill not be silenced.â€ They also demand the NFL state that it condemns â€œracism and the systemic oppression of black people. … We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. … We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.â€
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A police commissioner has suspended two officers following video that shows a Buffalo officer appearing to shove a man who walked up to police.
Video from WBFO shows the man appearing to hit his head on the pavement, with blood leaking out as officers walk past to clear Niagara Square on Thursday night.
The station reports two medics treated the unidentified man. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted the man was hospitalized and stable, but his exact condition wasnâ€™t immediately known.
WIVB-TV reports that Buffalo police initially said in a statement a person â€œwas injured when he tripped & fell.â€ But Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later told the TV station that an internal affairs investigation was opened. Later Thursday, news outlets reported that Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended two officers without pay.
New York Attorney General Letitia Jamesâ€™s office has tweeted that she’s aware of the video.
NEW YORK – Protesters stayed on the streets of New York City after curfew for another day Thursday, spurred by the death of George Floyd.
Actions by the protesters included gathering at Brooklynâ€™s Cadman Plaza, the site where police used batons against demonstrators who were out past the city-imposed curfew a night earlier.
Protesters continued past the 8 p.m. curfew, even after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to deflect criticism over harsh tactics from police enforcing it.
At some locations, officials watched, but didnâ€™t immediately move in. At other spots, they made orderly arrests without batons and riot gear.
Follow more AP stories on the George Floyd protests and reaction at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd