Democrats to unveil sweeping US police reform plan: Live updates

Proposal is expected to ban police chokeholds, racial profiling, require nationwide use of body cameras, and more.

  • US congressional Democrats plan to unveil sweeping package of legislation to combat police violence and racial injustice, after two weeks of protests across the nation sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
  • The Minneapolis city council has said it wants to disband the city’s police department, after days of protests over the killing Floyd, who died after a city police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25. 
  • US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops from the streets of Washington, DC. 

Monday, June 8:

12:50 GMT – PM Johnson would not agree that Britain is a racist country, says his spokesman

Prime Minister Boris Johnson would not agree that Britain is a racist country but acknowledges there is still more to do to combat cases of discrimination and racism, his spokesman said.

“The PM doesn’t doubt that there continues to be discrimination and racism but would not agree that this is a racist country. We have made very significant progress on this issue but there remains more to do,” the spokesman told reporters.

“The PM is absolutely committed to continuing efforts to stamp out racism and discrimination.” 

12:38 GMT – George Floyd’s family calls for UN intervention in case

George Floyd’s family has appealed to the United Nations to intervene in his case and to send recommendations for systemic police reform in the US, CNN reported.

According to a press release, a June 3 letter to the UN Working Group on the Rights of People of African Descent, the family urged the UN to investigate Floyd’s death.

It also encouraged the US government to press federal criminal charges against the officers involved, and make reforms including de-escalating techniques, independent prosecutions and autopsies for every police killing, reported CNN.

12:29 GMT – ‘Defund the police’: What the protest chant means

Protesters are pushing to “defund the police” over the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by law enforcement.

Their chant has become a rallying cry – but what does “defund the police” mean? The answer is not necessarily about gutting police department budgets.

Read more here.

12:03 GMT – New York Times op-ed editor resigns amid backlash over column

The editorial page head of the New York Times has resigned after his decision to publish an op-ed – by a US senator who called for military force against anti-racism protesters – drew online fury and criticism from many of the paper’s staffers.

James Bennet, the editorial page editor since May 2016, faced intense backlash after initially defending the column headlined Send in The Military by Republican US Senator Tom Cotton.

Read more here.

11:42 GMT – Congressional Democrats to unveil sweeping US police reform proposal after Floyd death

US congressional Democrats plan to unveil a sweeping package of legislation to combat police violence and racial injustice, after two weeks of protests across the nation sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.

The proposal is expected to ban police chokeholds and racial profiling, require nationwide use of body cameras, subject police to civilian review boards and abolish the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which protects police from civil litigation, according to congressional sources.

“It is time for police culture in many departments to change,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Representative Karen Bass, told CNN on Sunday.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kamala Harris along with Bass are expected to discuss the bill at a 10:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT) briefing.

11:06 GMT – ABBA’s Bjorn speaks out in support of Black Lives Matter protests

“The world is full of idiots,” said ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus, as he condemned critics of the Black Lives Matter movement and voiced his support of the worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.

“The solidarity that we see in the streets of the cities around the world now should give us hope,” the musician said in a phone-recorded video given to Reuters..

The musician condemned those without “the imagination or will to put themselves in the place of a coloured woman or man”, adding that he believes such people to be in the minority.

10:35 GMT – Ex-police officer who pressed knee on Floyd’s neck to appear in court 

Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the man begged for his life, will make his first court appearance Monday afternoon, CNN reported.

Chauvin was arrested last month and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors also added a second-degree murder charge.

The other three officers involved in Floyd’s death – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

10:02 GMT – Felling of British slave trader statue heats up simmering debate

The toppling by anti-racism protesters of a statue of a slave trader Edward Colston in the English port city of Bristol has given new urgency to a debate about how Britain should confront some of the darkest chapters of its history.

Statues of figures from Britain’s imperialist past have in recent years become the subject of controversies between those who argue that such monuments merely reflect history and those who say they glorify racism.

Many people criticised the government for its reactions to the incident.

UK interior minister Priti Patel called the felling of the statue an “utterly disgraceful” distraction from the protesters’ cause, while policing minister Kit Malthouse denounced “mobs just turning up and deciding to do whatever they like”.

09:11 GMT – Retired US navy captain uses racial slurs streamed on Facebook

A retired US Navy captain used derogatory language and racial slurs during a conversation with his wife that was accidentally live streamed on Facebook, reported CNN.

Scott Bethmann said he was “mortified” after the leak and was working to be a better person and resigned from the US Naval Academy Alumni Association board after the incident, according to a statement from the alumni association and a family spokesperson.

Bethmann and his wife Nancy were live on Facebook for more than 30 minutes, discussing recent events around the country, according to audio obtained by CNN affiliate WJXT. 

08:03 GMT – French minister denounces violence against protesters, journalists 

Violence against peaceful protesters and journalists is unacceptable, whether in the United States or elsewhere, France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a newspaper interview published.

Asked about protests and rioting that have swept across US cities since the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Le Drian told Le Telegramme that it was necessary to let people demonstrate freely.

“Any act of violence committed against peaceful protesters or journalists is unacceptable, in the United States or elsewhere,” he told the Brittany regional newspaper.

07:56 GMT – National Guard troops begin pull-out from California cities

National Guard troops will be pulled out of California cities where they’ve been deployed for a week of protests over the death of George Floyd, officials announced.

The announcement came as peaceful demonstrations again popped up across the state, including one on horseback and another on wheels, as protesters continue to call for police reforms.

“After nearly a week assisting civil authorities on the streets of California, soldiers with the California National Guard will begin transitioning back to their home armories,” the Cal Guard said in a statement. A timeline for the pullout was not provided.

07:33 GMT – Romney becomes first known Republican senator to march in protest

Mitt Romney marched in a protest against police mistreatment of minorities in the nation’s capital, making him the first known Republican senator to do so.

Romney, who represents Utah, posted a tweet showing him wearing a mask as he walked with Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington. Above the photo he wrote: Black Lives Matter.

Romney, who was walking with a Christian group, told NBC News that he needed to be there.

“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” he said.

18:50 GMT – Serbian president gives Trump rare European support

Offering rare open support by a leader in Europe, Serbia’s president says US President Donald Trump faces “a serious and tough enemy” as he tries to quell massive protests over the violent death of George Floyd.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told local Pancevo TV on Sunday, “I hope the US will come out of the crisis.” He also said he wishes Trump “the best of luck.”

Vucic, a populist and former ultra-nationalist, also addressed the release of Serbian soccer player Aleksandar Katai by the LA Galaxy soccer club after a series of social media posts by his wife in which she urged police to “kill” protesters and referred to protesters as “disgusting cattle.”

Vucic says the team’s decision “only speaks about the chase and chaos that has been conducted against President Trump.”

18:20 GMT – ‘You need to step in’: George Floyd police failed to intervene

Minneapolis was among several cities that had policies on the books requiring police officers to intervene to stop colleagues from using unreasonable force, but that could not save George Floyd.

Law enforcement experts say such rules will always run up against entrenched police culture and the fear of being ostracised and branded a “rat”.

Read more here. 

17:50 GMT- Chicago lifts 9 PM curfew

Chicago has lifted its 9 PM curfew, according to a tweet by the city’s mayor. 

The curfew was put in place on June 1 as protests began to sweep the country. 

“The curfew is lifted effective immediately and going forward,” Mayor Lori Lightfood wrote. “I know this time in our city and our country has been difficult for us all, and I’m grateful to our residents for working together to navigate this challenging time.”

17:15 GMT – Officials urge Floyd protesters to get coronavirus tests

 As New York City prepared to reopen after a more than two-month coronavirus shutdown, officials lifted a curfew that was put in place amid protests of police brutality and racial injustice – and urged demonstrators get tested for COVID-19.

“Get a test. Get a test,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged.

He said the state planned to open 15 testing sites dedicated to protesters so they can get results quickly.

“I would act as if you were exposed, and I would tell people you are interacting with, assume I am positive for the virus,” Cuomo added.

16:40 GMT – Protesters in England throw slave trader statue into harbour

Anti-racism protesters in the southwestern England port city of Bristol have toppled the statue of a prominent slave trader and dumped it into the harbour.

Footage from local broadcaster ITV News West Country shows demonstrators attach ropes to the statue of Edward Colston before pulling it down on Sunday and eventually dumping it into the harbor. Images on social media show protesters appearing to kneel on the statue’s neck, recalling how a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down George Floyd’s neck before his death. 

Colston, who was born in 1636, has been a controversial figure in Bristol. Among efforts to “decolonise” the city have been calls to remove his name from its biggest music venue, Colston Hall.

15:15 GMT – Trump orders National Guard’s withdrawal from Washington

US President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops from the streets of Washington after days of protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, DC, now that everything is under perfect control,” he tweeted.     

“They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!”     

14:30 GMT – Trump has drifted from constitution, former military chief warns     

Colin Powell, who served as America’s top military officer and top diplomat under Republican presidents, has said he will vote for Democrat Joe Biden, accusing Donald Trump of drifting from the US constitution.     

In a scathing indictment of Trump on CNN, Powell denounced the US president as a danger to democracy whose lies and insults have diminished America in the eyes of the world.     

“We have a constitution. We have to follow that constitution. And the president’s drifted away from it,” Powell said.

A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell was the latest in a series of retired top military officers to publicly criticise Trump’s handling of the protests.

13:45 GMT – Protests continue across Europe

Thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona, Madrid and Rome in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has drawn large protests against racism and police brutality around the world.

The rally in Rome’s sprawling People’s Square was noisy but peaceful, with the majority of protesters wearing masks to protect against coronavirus.

More demonstrations were being held Sunday across the United Kingdom, including one outside the US Embassy in London.

13:15 GMT – Thailand holds Zoom protest 

Some 300 Thais and foreigners in Thailand and elsewhere joined an online protest against racism on Sunday, adding their voices to global calls for justice for Floyd.

With coronavirus restrictions, protesters with “I Can’t Breathe” messages on their arms and placards gathered on the video-meeting platform Zoom to emphasize the call in Thailand as they watched the video clip of Floyd’s last moments.

12:50 GMT – Dozens attend protest at US embassy in Hong Kong

A Black Lives Matter protest was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions in Hong Kong, but a group of demonstrators showed up in front of US embassy on Sunday.

“It’s a global issue,” Quinland Anderson, a 28-year-old UK citizen living in Hong Kong who was at the protest told The Associated Press news agency.

Hong Kong resident and protester Max Percy, 24, said no human should have “suffered” as Floyd did.

Protesters gathered in a group of eight, which is in accordance with the limit of people who are allowed to meet under current coronavirus restrictions, and took turns to give speeches outside of the embassy.

12:25 GMT – New York: Curfew lifted early after peace protests

New York City is lifting its curfew spurred by protests against police brutality ahead of schedule, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday morning.

The 8pm citywide curfew, New York’s first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through to at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus.

“Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” de Blasio tweeted in his announcement of the curfew’s end “effective immediately”. “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart.”

The move followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew on Saturday as thousands took to the streets and parks to protest police brutality, sparked by Floyd’s death.

New York City: We are lifting the curfew, effective immediately. Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city.

Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart. Keep staying safe. Keep looking out for each other.

See the updates from Saturday here.

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