TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Officer charged in George Floyd’s death posts bail.
— George Floyd’s brother gives emotional testimony on Capitol Hill.
— Museums interested in preserving artifacts from protests in nation’s capital.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Protesters have pulled down a statute of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol.
A rope was thrown around the 10-foot bronze statue Wednesday afternoon and they pulled it off its stone pedestal.
The protesters, including Dakota and Ojibwe Indians, said they consider Columbus as a symbol of genocide against Native Americans. They said they had tried many times to remove it through the political process, but without success.
State Patrol troopers in helmets, who provide security in the Capitol complex, stood by at a distance but did not try to stop the protesters, who celebrated afterward with Native American singing and drumming.
The troopers eventually formed a line to protect the toppled statue so it could be taken away.
The protest followed a similar incident Tuesday night in Richmond, Virginia,and another in Boston.
SEATTLE — Seattle Police say they’re looking to reopen a precinct that was shuttered during ongoing George Floyd protests.
At a news conference Wednesday, Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said barriers were removed from the front of the precinct after it became a flashpoint between officers and protesters.
Nollette said the precinct has been boarded up because of credible threats that it would be vandalized or burned. She said police want to discuss reopening the precinct and noted officers are responding to 911 calls in the area.
Nollette said protesters have set up their own barricades, which are intimidating to some residents.
MINNEAPOLIS — One of four police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has posted bail and is out of jail.
According to online records, Thomas Lane, 37, posted bail of $750,000 and was released from the Hennepin County Jail, with conditions, shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday. Records show the other officers remained in custody.
Lane is charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in the arrest of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died Memorial Day after another officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe and became motionless.
Lane’s attorney Earl Gray did not immediately return a message seeking comment. But last week Gray said that Lane was a rookie, and that the only thing he did was hold Floyd’s feet so he couldn’t kick. The criminal complaint also says that Lane expressed concern about Floyd and asked Chauvin twice if they should roll Floyd to his side, but Chauvin said no. Gray said Lane also performed CPR in the ambulance.
Gray told the Star Tribune he plans to bring a motion to dismiss the charges.
WASHINGTON — Volunteers on the scene in the nation’s capital are working to gather and preserve hundreds of items that were posted during days of protests over the death of George Floyd in police hands in Minnesota.
Hundreds of signs and posters that had been on the fence enclosing Lafayette Square near the White House have been moved across the street and taped to the walls of a construction site, or strung together and hung from trees lining the street.
At the volunteer medical tents on Wednesday, the call went out for more string to continue hanging up protest art.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Smithsonian have expressed an interest in preserving the artifacts. A spokesman for the National Museum of African American History and Culture says curators from three different parts of the Smithsonian network visited the scene Wednesday.
TACOMA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered an independent investigation into the death of a man in the custody of Tacoma police.
The move comes after new information emerged this week that at least one sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper were at the scene when the man, Manuel Ellis, was detained and died on March 3. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
Inslee said Wednesday that officials are working to determine who will conduct the investigation and who will make charging decisions. He said the goal is to make sure that the work is “done free of conflicts of interest.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department had been close to finishing an investigation, and a briefing with the prosecuting attorney was scheduled for Wednesday. It was canceled.
The police department has identified the four officers involved in restraining Ellis. They were put on administrative leave last week after the autopsy results were made public.
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and the victim’s family have called for those officers to be fired and arrested.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating 56 allegations of misconduct during protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Of the 56 investigations, 28 involve alleged uses of force, the LAPD said Wednesday in a statement. Seven officers have been taken out of the field.
The agency has tasked 40 investigators with looking into allegations of misconduct and excessive force, as well as violations of departmental policy, during the protests.
While most protests have been peaceful, there were violent clashes with police and businesses were vandalized.
SEATTLE — School leaders are booting officers off Seattle campuses for a year while the district re-evaluates its partnership with the Police Department.
Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau shared the decision Tuesday in a letter to families. It’s part of the fallout over the city’s handling of recent protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which have at times devolved into violence and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street. He died Memorial Day while in police custody.
There have been calls to defund the Seattle Police Department, which has been criticized for using tear gas, pepper spray and other force against demonstrators.
Schools spokesman Tim Robinson said Juneau made the decision after meeting with the police chief, though details of the plan are still being finalized.
DENVER — A fire chief in a small Colorado town has resigned after posting a comment on Facebook saying he would spray protesters with high pressure water hoses for fun.
Lyons Fire Chief J.J. Hoffman resigned Tuesday over the comment he made last month in response to someone else’s Facebook post that said Denver police should “wash all this human trash into the gutter.”
Hoffman said his comment was made in jest and issued aformal apology on June 1.
Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Singer said the apology was not enough and that Hoffman had lost credibility and the public’s trust. Singer asked the NAACP to investigate.
The Lyons Fire Protection District Board of Directors issued a formal reprimand for Hoffman a week ago and said they believed his apology was sincere.
BOSTON — The city will reassess the significance of a Christopher Columbus statue that was found beheaded Wednesday morning.
Mayor Marty Walsh says the statue will be taken down and placed in storage and there will be discussions about its future.
Police say the head of the statue located near the city’s traditionally Italian North End was found on the ground at about 12:30 a.m. Police are investigating and there’s no word yet on any arrests. The statue has been vandalized in the past.
Statues with racist connections have been targeted by protesters around the world speaking out against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis.
States have been pressed to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma man paralyzed from the waist down in a fall from a bridge when a truck drove through a crowd of protesters is in stable condition and improving, according to his brother.
Randy Knight said Wednesday that his brother, Ryan Knight, is regaining use of his hands and arms but still cannot move his legs.
Ryan Knight suffered broken bones in his neck and back when he fell at least 20 feet from an interstate overpass on May 31 as a truck drove through a Tulsa crowd protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
WASHINGTON — The brother of George Floyd asked lawmakers in emotional testimony Wednesday to ensure that his brother didn’t die in vain.
Philonise Floyd asked Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee “to make your names mean something.”
Floyd spoke as the House is considering a package of reforms that would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents, and ban police choke holds, among other changes.
Floyd told a silenced hearing room that he was there to ask Congress to “stop the pain” and make sure his brother is “more than another face on a t-shirt” and a name on a growing list of black men killed by police.
George Floyd died Memorial Day on a Minneapolis street while in police custody. Four police officers have been charged, one with second-degree murder.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville police are changing a policy on using tear gas after complaints about its use to disperse crowds during recent protests.
The department’s interim police chief, Robert Schroeder, said Wednesday the use of tear gas must now be approved by the police chief or his designee.
“I know several peaceful protesters got caught up in situations where tear gas had to be used, and I regret people had to experience that,” Schroeder said at a news conference with Mayor Greg Fischer.
Schroeder said Louisville officers “do not use tear gas casually.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Police Department is withdrawing from police union contract negotiations, the first step in what Chief Medaria Arradondo calls transformational reforms to the agency after the death of George Floyd.
Arradondo says a thorough review of the contract is planned. He says the contract needs to be restructured to provide more transparency and flexibility for true reform. The review would look at use of force and disciplinary protocols, including grievances and arbitration.
He says it’s debilitating for a chief when there are grounds to terminate an officer and a third-party mechanism works to keep that person on the street.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Protesters in Portsmouth, Virginia, covered statues at a Confederate monument in the city with sheets and bags Wednesday, several hours after the city’s council members had a meeting about relocating it.
A white sheet that read “BLM” covered the fence in front of the monument after the Portsmouth city council met Tuesday to discuss its removal, WVEC-TV reported. Mayor John Rowe proposed allocating $100,000 to remove the statue and possibly relocate it to a local cemetery.
The question about who owns the monument has been a roadblock in the city’s long quest to remove it. During the council’s meeting Tuesday, Rowe asked the city attorney if Portsmouth has the right to move the 127-year-old memorial. In 2018, a judge denied the city’s claim to own it because no one else had tried to claim it.
The local chapter of the NAACP and protesters have called for the 54-foot monument to be taken down.
A recent bill signed by Gov. Ralph Northam will allow cities to move or alter Confederate monuments they own starting July 1.
CAMDEN, Del. — A black journalist arrested while identifying himself as a reporter at a protest in Delaware has been released.
A video of the arrest was streamed live by the Dover Post reporter, Andre Lamar, on the news outlet’s Facebook page. It shows protesters lying on the ground with their hand behind their backs as Lamar questions officers about why the arrests are happening.
Police approach him and a struggle ensues as he shouts, “I’m with the press!” multiple times. Officers continue the arrest and pick up his camera gear as the altercation is broadcast live on the social media network.
Lamar was among more than 20 people arrested at the protests for obstructing traffic and blocking lanes on a highway in Camden, the Delaware State Police said in a statement Wednesday.
“Reporters have a fundamental right to cover the demonstrations we’re seeing in Delaware and across our country,” Delaware Gov. John Carney tweeted Tuesday night after Lamar’s arrest. “They should not be arrested for doing their jobs. That’s not acceptable.”