Thu, 16 Jul 2020

Minneapolis Expected to Bar Police Use of Controversial Chokehold

Voice of America
06 Jun 2020, 07:35 GMT+10

The U.S. city of Minneapolis is expected to approve an agreement Friday to ban the police use of chokeholds after an African American man died in police custody, triggering nearly two weeks of protests across America.

City negotiators agreed with the state of Minnesota to ban chokeholds and require police to intervene and report any unauthorized use of force by another officer.

The agreement, expected to be approved Friday by the Minneapolis City Council, came after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights began a civil rights investigation this week in response to the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died May 25 after a white policeman pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd pleaded he could not breathe, the latest of many deaths of black Americans during or after encounters with white officers.

Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests demanding justice and systemic reforms. Thousands of protesters have also taken to the streets in large cities throughout the world, including London, Paris and Sydney.

In the United States, Washington is bracing for a large protest Saturday.

Protests in the city have been largely peaceful in recent days, prompting Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to lift a 7 p.m. curfew Thursday for the first time this week.

Bowser sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday asking him to "withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C."

The Trump administration has deployed federal military personnel and the National Guard to respond to the protests in the city, triggering widespread criticism from city officials and activists that their actions are escalating tensions.

"Obviously, the very first thing is we want the military, we want troops from out of state, out of Washington, D.C.," Bowser said.

Officials said about 700 members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division were being sent back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They were positioned in Virginia just outside Washington and did not enter the city during the protests.

Protests across the United States were largely peaceful Thursday evening with fewer incidents of violence reported.

The mayors of several big U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, have lifted nightly curfews.

On Friday, Bowser formally renamed part of a street leading to the White House "Black Lives Matter Plaza" after authorizing city workers to paint the slogan in large yellow letters on the street.

Black Lives Matter DC criticized the mayor's action as a "distraction from real policy changes." The group said on Twitter, "Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history," and called for city officials to defund the police.

On Thursday, Floyd was remembered as a devoted father and family man in Minneapolis, in the first of several memorial services, where civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton made an appeal to all Americans, with a reference to the white police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck as he cried out that he could not breathe.

George Floyd Remembered as Good Father and Family Man Civil rights leader Al Sharpton leads public memorial for African American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, setting off nationwide protests

Thursday's service in Minneapolis included civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, several members of Congress, and celebrities, including Ludacris, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and T.I.

At one point, the audience at the sanctuary at North Central University stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds - the length of time white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck.

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