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Statues of Confederate figures, slave owners come down amid protests

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iStock/traveler1116By: MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — After years of civil rights activists calling for the removal of Confederate monuments, they’re falling like dominoes amid nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Politicians on Thursday announced Confederate monuments will be removed from Indianapolis and from Richmond, Virginia. The news follows removals earlier this week in Alexandria, Virginia, and Birmingham, Alabama.

The statues, which honor soldiers and leaders on the losing side of the Civil War, are seen by many as symbols of racism and oppression.

That’s why the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, will be removed, Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday.

“The legacy of racism continues, not just in isolated incidents,” Northam said. “The legacy of racism also continues as part of a system that touches every person and every aspect of our lives.”

Those protesting Floyd’s death and police brutality had gathered at the statue this week, chanting, “Tear it down!”

Mayor Joe Hogsett also acknowledged the current protests in the decision to remove a monument dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died at a prison camp in Indianapolis.

“Our streets are filled with voices of anger and anguish, testament to centuries of racism directed at Black Americans,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday. “We must name these instances of discrimination and never forget our past — but we should not honor them.”

The grave monument was commissioned in 1912 and relocated to Garfield Park in 1928 following efforts by public officials active in the Ku Klux Klan to make it more visible, Hogsett said.

“Whatever original purpose this grave marker might once have had, for far too long it has served as nothing more than a painful reminder of our state’s horrific embrace of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago,” the mayor said. “For some time, we have urged that this grave monument belongs in a museum, not in a park, but no organization has stepped forward to assume that responsibility. Time is up, and this grave marker will come down.”

Northam acknowledged that many residents won’t support removing the Robert E. Lee statue, which was erected in 1890.

“I believe in a Virginia that studies its past in an honest way,” said Northam, who signed legislation authorizing localities to remove Confederate statues in April. “When we learn more, when we take that honest look at our past, we must do more than just talk about the future — we must take action.”

The Rev. Robert Wright Lee, a descendent of Robert E. Lee, said he fully supports the monument’s removal.

“We have a chance here today … to say this will indeed not be our final moment and our final stand,” Lee said at a press conference Thursday. “There are more important things to address than just a statue, but this statue is a symbol of oppression.”

Northam said the monument will be removed as soon as possible and go into storage, with the community involved in determining its future.

The Richmond monument will join the fate of an Alexandria monument honoring Confederate soldiers that came down earlier this week.

“Some said this day would never come,” Alexandria City Councilman John Chapman said on Facebook Tuesday. “The confederate statue at Appomattox is starting to be taken down. We, our community made this happen.”

Also this week, a Confederate monument damaged in weekend protests was removed from a Birmingham park, local ABC News affiliate WBMA-TV reported.

Confederate monuments in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, also will be taken down, it was reported this week.

It was not just in the United States that statues that symbolized racism were taken down. In Bristol, United Kingdom, protesters tore down a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston. The protesters dragged the statue through the streets and then threw it into the river.

In Philadelphia, a target of protesters also came down this week. The controversial statue of former mayor Pete Rizzo near City Hall was removed on Wednesday, following vandalism. Many saw the statue of the former police commissioner as a symbol of police brutality.

“The statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on Twitter Wednesday. “It is finally gone.”

ABC News’ Dee Carden and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

US Marine Corps issues details on ban of Confederate battle flags

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iStock/mariusz_prusaczykBy: ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Marine Corps has issued details on its ban of public depictions of the Confederate battle flag on Marine installations.

The depictions that are banned include clothing, a flag, poster, bumper stickers and mugs.

“The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps,” a statement from the Marine Corps on Friday read. “Our history as a nation, and events like the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, highlight the divisiveness the use of the Confederate battle flag has had on our society.”

The ban was first announced in February 2020 after Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered all Confederate-related paraphernalia to be removed from Marine Corps installations, according to Task & Purpose. However, it was not clear exactly what the paraphernalia was and the statement issued Friday is the first detailing of that.

Marine Corps commanders will identify and remove the display of the flag or its depictions within work spaces, common-access areas and public areas on Marine installations, according to a Marine administrative message. Work spaces and common-access areas include office buildings, facilities, naval vessels, aircraft, government vehicles, cubicles, break rooms and more.

The ban does not apply to works of art, education materials or historical displays of the Civil War where the flag is present, but not the main focus of the work. State flags that include the Confederate battle flag, like Mississippi, are also not included in the ban.

Commanders are authorized to conduct inspections of installations to see if there is any depiction of the flag, according to a Marine administrative message.

The ban was enacted “to support our core values, ensure unit cohesion and security, and preserve good order and discipline.”

The details on the ban come amidst nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States. Protesters have at times damaged numerous symbols of the Confederacy, which are seen by many as a symbol of racism and oppression. Some states, such as Virginia and Indiana, have taken steps to remove those symbols.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tracking Tropical Storm Cristobal as it heads toward the US coast

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(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Tropical Storm Cristobal is about 140 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and is headed north towards the U.S. coastline at 12 mph. The maximum sustained winds with Cristobal are currently 50 mph.

Tropical storm force winds are reaching parts of southern Louisiana this morning and conditions will continue to deteriorate through the day. A National Ocean Service station at the Southwest Pass to the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana recorded a wind gust of 62 mph this morning.

Cristobal brought seven reported tornadoes in central Florida yesterday including several visuals of a confirmed tornado moving through downtown Orlando.

A National Weather Service survey team will head to the Orlando metro area today to do surveys and determine exactly how many and how intense the tornadoes were.

On the current forecast track, Cristobal will approach the Louisiana coastline today with landfall likely later this evening, moving inland overnight into Monday and it is expected to make landfall as a tropical storm.

Tropical storm force winds extend up to 205 miles east of the center. Radar this morning is showing a large swath of rain currently falling from southern Louisiana to southeast Georgia.

Tropical Storm force winds are expected to overspread the northern Gulf Coast this morning and last through the day.

Additionally, just like Saturday, a few tornadoes will be possible in Cristobal’s bands through the day. The threat for tornadoes will be from eastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

High resolution forecast models are showing Cristobal likely coming ashore and making landfall sometime in the evening hours of Sunday in extreme southern Louisiana.

Locally, up to five feet of storm surge will be possible in Louisiana as Cristobal approaches today and moves inland early Monday. The peak surge for a given region will occur during the high tide cycles. The area most affected by the surge will be the regions immediately next to the coastline.

On Monday as the storm moves inland, Cristobal will likely weaken into a depression. The system will eventually track into Arkansas and Missouri bringing very heavy rainfall to that region.

Locally, up to a foot of rain is possible along the northern Gulf Coast, especially in extreme Southern Louisiana and Mississippi. It is important to note that a good portion of this region is swampland and can handle a good amount of rainfall.

However, excessive rainfall is still likely in parts of the more developed areas and therefore flash flooding could be a major concern in the next 24 to 36 hours.

As Cristobal moves inland, additionally heavy rain will spread into parts of Arkansas and Missouri on Monday and Tuesday. Locally 4 to 6 inches of rain will be possible in that time period, and widespread inland flash flooding will be possible. Additionally, this entire region could see river flooding due to the excessive rainfall.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

George Floyd protest updates: Cop arrested after video shows him use stun gun on downed man

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iStock/ChiccoDodiFCBy: JON HAWORTH, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Memorial Day after he was pinned down by a white Minnesota police officer, has sparked outrage and protests in Minneapolis, across the United States and across the world.

Second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter charges have been filed against Derek Chauvin, the ex-officer who prosecutors say held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter. All four officers have been fired.

Governors in 32 states and Washington, D.C., have activated more than 32,400 members of the National Guard.

Today’s biggest developments:
– Minneapolis mayor booed after saying he does not support abolishing police
– Virginia officer charged with 3 counts of misdemeanor assault and battery involving man in crisis
– St. Louis-area officer suspended after video shows him hitting man with unmarked patrol car
– Several officers injured due to improvised explosives in Seattle

This story is being updated throughout the day. Please check back for updates. All times Eastern.

8:03 a.m.: Portland Police Department arrest 50 protesters in late night demonstrations

Portland, Oregon, experienced another evening of protests and demonstrations that began much the same as the last several nights with separate groups of demonstrators taking to the streets.

“At about 10:50 p.m. an unlawful assembly was declared,” the Portland Police Department said in a statement. “The crowd was given ample opportunity to disperse and were warned if they did not do so, they were subject to arrest or force. Officers began dispersing the crowd just after 11:30 p.m. Portland Police, assisted by outside agency mutual aid partners, arrested at least 50 subjects for criminal activity.”

Information on arrests is still being compiled and an updated release will be published when this information becomes available.

7:13 a.m.: Mayor de Blasio lifts NYC curfew

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has lifted the curfew that had been imposed on New York City amid the protests and demonstrations after the death of George Floyd.

“We are lifting the curfew, effective immediately. Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city,” the mayor said in a tweet. “Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart. Keep staying safe. Keep looking out for each other.”

4:21 a.m.: Virginia officer charged with 3 counts of misdemeanor assault and battery involving man in crisis

The Fairfax County Police Department called a late press conference Saturday night to release details surrounding the arrest of one of the department’s own officers.

The white officer, Tyler Timberlake, faces three counts of assault and battery related to an on-duty incident that happened Friday.

Body camera video played at the press conference shows an officer deploying his stun gun on a Black man, who was walking away from him at the time. The man seems in the footage to be suffering from some kind of medical episode.

The man falls to the ground, where the officer proceeds lean on his back with his knees. The officer appears to deploy the stun gun on him again, this time while he’s already face down on the ground. At this point, other officers join the initial officer in pushing the man into the ground, where they force handcuffs onto him.

At one point, the victim yells: “I can’t breathe.”

The county’s Chief of Police, Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., says the man “is alive and resting at home with his family.”

Roessler also says Timberlake, an eight-year veteran of the department, has been relieved of duty. Other officers who were present have also been relieved of duty pending the result of both criminal and administrative investigations.

Timberlake faces up to 36 months of incarceration.

2:57 a.m.: St. Louis-area officer suspended after video shows him hitting man with unmarked patrol car

An officer was suspended and two others were placed on leave after a Ring video camera caught an officer driving into a man and then struggling with him on the ground multiple times.

Florissant Police Chief Timothy Fagan said the incident happened on June 2 but he only learned about it and saw the video on Saturday. The chief said the FBI and the St. Louis County Police Department are investigating the incident.

“My gut reaction was I talked to three different agencies to take a look at it because I do have some concerns about it,” Fagan said.

The man seen hit in the video was approached because he was in a vehicle matching the description of another car in connection with shots fired outside the Ferguson Police Department.

Police said no weapons were found on the man and he is facing pending charges for carrying drugs and resisting arrest.

The man suffered an ankle injury.

“I’ll tell you what I believe I see in the video which is that the male then gets up and tries to run and then officer tries to take the male into custody and from my view looks like he struck the individual at least two times, he looks like he kicks him and then hits him with a forearm,” Fagan said.

The incident happened on June 2 around 11:30 p.m. in the 9800 block of Eastdell Drive in the City of Dellwood.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell will not be looking into the case as his spokesperson’s son, an officer, was in the backseat of the car the detective was driving when he hit the man, creating a conflict of interest for Bell.

The case was turned over to St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lomar as a result.

Fagan said there is no body or dash camera footage to review.

The officer that was suspended had been with the department for nine years.

12:42 a.m.: Several officers injured due to improvised explosives in Seattle

The Seattle Police Department confirmed that several of their officers were injured after people at a demonstration began throwing rocks and bottles at officers and by setting off improvised explosives.

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. according to the Seattle Police Department, when demonstrators outside the East Precinct began moving barricades without permission and the police asked them multiple times to stop.

The condition of the officers is not currently known.

11:14 p.m.: Minneapolis mayor booed after saying he does not support abolishing police

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was booed out of a protest after he said he did not support abolishing the police department.

A protester asked Frey if he supported defunding the police department, however, he did not answer that question and instead said he “did not support the full abolition of the police.”

Boos quickly permeated through the crowd and protesters chanted, “Go home Jacob! Go home!”

Activists have called for defunding police departments in the U.S., often meaning taking money out of the police budget and putting it toward the community. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced such a measure earlier this week.

ABC News’ Courtney Pomeroy, Alexis Zotos, Abigail Shalawylo, Ahmad Hemingway and Alexandra Faul contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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