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Thursday December 3rd, 2020 1:00AM

The Latest: Black cultural leaders sign anti-racism letter

By The Associated Press
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TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Legend, Union among Black cultural leaders to sign letter to fight racism.

— Judge bars Charlotte police from certain actions against protesters.

— Wisconsin governor calls for police reform, but no special session.

___

LOS ANGELES — John Legend, Gabrielle Union and Ava DuVernay are some of the many Black cultural leaders who have signed a letter to fight against racism, promote equal pay and ask industries to disassociate from police.

It was released Friday by a new organization called the Black Artists for Freedom, which describes itself as a collective of Black workers in the culture industries.

The letter was published to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday that has long commemorated the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The organization said the letter was inspired by the recent protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

___

TULSA, Okla. -- The Juneteenth celebration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is happening in the city’s Greenwood district, a once thriving Black commercial district that never fully recovered after one of the country’s most destructive and deadly white attacks on Black communities.

Hundreds of people milled in blocked-off streets, listening to music playing, giving an ear to stages hosting political speakers and stopping at voter registration booths.

Ivonna Mims, a Tulsa registered nurse who attended Friday’s event with her 11-year-old daughter, said she noticed far more white visitors turned out for this year’s festivities than in past years. It reflects the racial makeup of protests that played out across the U.S. in recent weeks after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, even after he pleaded and said he couldn’t breathe.

Like several others at the Juneteenth celebration, Mims expressed gratitude that Trump had changed his rally to Saturday, after strong objections from Black leaders and others at its initial scheduling for Friday, Juneteenth.

“That rally is going to happen regardless, so I don’t want that to overshadow the significance of what we’re trying to build here, the unity,” Mims said.

Empty lawns and memorials to the destroyed neighborhood dominate the Greenwood district today. When the Tulsa race massacre happened in 1921, as many as 300 people were killed. Black community leaders said they still worry Saturday’s rally could spark violence.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina judge has prohibited Charlotte-Mecklenburg police from taking certain measures against people protesting in the street.

The judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday just hours after the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a lawsuit over actions taken by police during a June 2 protest over the death of George Floyd.

The order prohibits police from boxing in or “kettling” peaceful protesters. It also requires police to give “clear, loud, continuous and provable orders of dispersal” before threatening to use chemical or other munitions.

A video of the June 2 incident that was posted online appeared to show officers using chemical agents on demonstrators who were boxed in by police. The publisher of the Queen City Nerve, who posted the video, said police trapped protesters before pelting them with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades.

Police chief Kerr Putney said at the time there was nothing to indicate intentional abuse by police, but his department asked the State Bureau of Investigation to review the situation and determine whether the police actions were legal.

___

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers called on the Wisconsin Legislature to ban police chokeholds and limit the use of force in a package of criminal justice reforms unveiled Friday as the state celebrated Juneteenth.

However, the Democratic governor did not order a special session for the Republican-controlled Legislature to take up the proposals. Assembly Democrats and the Black Legislative Caucus have requested a special session. Evers has the power to call one, as do Republican lawmakers.

The call for reforms came as the Juneteenth holiday was being observed across Wisconsin with marches and calls for action. Evers unveiled his package of proposals in a joint statement with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor. They defended not calling a special legislative session, something they’ve done on other issues such as gun control. Republicans have simply convened and adjourned the sessions without taking action.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had no immediate comment on the governor's proposals.

___

DENVER — A Minnesota man arrested in Colorado on suspicion of setting some of the fires that destroyed a Minneapolis police station during protests over the death of George Floyd is returning to his 凯发k8地址home state to face prosecution.

Twenty-two-year-old Dylan Shakespeare Robinson waived his right to have procedural hearings in Denver federal court on Friday. He will be able to instead fight his detention in Minnesota federal court, where he is charged with aiding and abetting of arson.

Robinson was arrested Sunday in the ski resort community of Breckenridge after being initially tracked to Denver.

___

SEATTLE — Thousands of people gathered at a rally and march Friday in Seattle’s Central District, one of several events around the city and region to celebrate Juneteenth.

Speakers in the early afternoon included relatives of people who have been killed by police in recent years.

“My son had dreams and goals, he loved rapping part-time, but was a full-time fork lift driver,” Stephanie Butts said about 19-year-old Damarius Butts, who Seattle police shot and killed in 2017.

Police have said he stole doughnuts, beer and other items from a 7-Eleven store and then brandished a weapon at a clerk. Police soon after chased him on foot into a building where Officer Elizabeth Kennedy said he pulled a gun and she felt something hit her ballistic vest before she started firing at him.

Butts said in the years since she’s been back and forth to court and that police audio doesn’t match what police have said happened.

“Police somehow think it’s OK to kill and no punishment for it,” Butts told the crowd. “No officer has been charged here in 30 years? That is crazy as hell to me. I’m proud of the changes that have been made so far and I pray more change is coming.”

___

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Black police chiefs representing departments from across California on Friday called for changing state law so they can immediately fire officers for egregious behavior, with due-process appeals only after the fact.

California has some of the nation’s toughest police disciplinary rules and until last year it had the nation’s most secretive police privacy law.

Coupled with collective bargaining agreements, the chiefs said that prevents the rapid dismissal of officers, in contrast with recent cases in Atlanta and Minneapolis where officers were fired even before criminal charges were brought for the deaths of Black men.

Representatives for police unions and rank-and-file officers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

___

CLEVELAND — The team monitoring Cleveland police reforms under a court order will review the actions of officers and supervisors during recent protests over racial injustice.

Arlington, Virginia-based monitor Hassan Aden filed documents Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland requesting information from the city that documents planning for the protests, officer use of force and mass arrest policies.

The court filing says the review comes “amid reports alleging excessive/unnecessary force, lack of preparation, command and control, appropriate personal protection equipment for officers as well as other concerns."

Hassan did not respond to messages seeking comment on Friday. Cleveland did not provide a comment or any officials to respond.

A consent decree was put in place in June 2015 after an investigation and scathing report from the Justice Department that found a “pattern and practice of officers using excessive force and violating people’s civil rights.” It required numerous policy changes, including how and when force is used and how officers are trained and equipped.

Use-of-force incidents and officer injuries have fallen since new policies were implemented.

___

ST. LOUIS — A march commemorating Juneteenth in St. Louis began at the most appropriate of places — the Old Courthouse where Dred Scott’s lawsuit played out, a pivotal case that led to freeing the slaves.

A mixed-race crowd of several hundred people turned out on a hot day to mark Juneteenth, the traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. This year’s celebration is especially meaningful as protests continue over police brutality. St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs have been the site of dozens of marches in the nearly four weeks since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Brenda Ellis, a 55-year-old St. Louis County woman who works as an executive at Mastercard, said the recent unrest led her to march with her 22-year-old son, Brandon.

“As a mother of an African American son, I live with the sort of fear that some mothers don’t live with,” Ellis said. “It’s an opportunity to show my son that he is important, that he does matter, and to let the world know it’s time for change.”

Marchers walked through stifling heat to St. Louis City Hall, where they issued a list of demands that included defunding police and closing a notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary jail. A small African American boy, marching with his mom, held a sign that read, “Am I next?”

___

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum on Friday lifted a curfew that was issued a day earlier for the area where President Donald Trump plans a campaign rally.

A statement on the city’s website says the U.S. Secret Service had asked for the curfew near the BOK Center where Trump is to hold the rally Saturday night, then on Friday asked that the curfew be lifted.

Bynum issued the curfew prohibiting people in the area starting at 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and ending at 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from the end of the rally on Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, including those who had camped there.

“I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received,” Bynum said in the statement. “Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”

Trump tweeted earlier Friday that he had spoken to Bynum who told him there would be no curfew, after all.

Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said campers were removed from the curfew zone Thursday night with no trouble and no arrests.

___

NEW ORLEANS — Community and environmental groups held a Juneteenth ceremony at a Louisiana site archaeologists have described as probably a cemetery for enslaved Africans Americans when the land was a plantation.

“I felt like the ancestors were shouting for joy in heaven. We let them know they were not forgotten,” said organizer Sharon Lavigne of the St. James Parish community group Rise St. James. She said it was her first Juneteenth celebration.

It was held on a small part of the site where FG LA LLC, a local member of Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group, has begun construction on a $9.4 billion chemical complex.

A short video on Rise St. James’ Facebook page showed about a dozen people but Lavigne said about 50 attended the ceremony, held after state district and appeal courts rejected FG LA’s arguments.

___

More news about the death of George Floyd at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

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