Live updates: DC protesters topple Confederate statue; coronavirus surges not linked to protests; Trump rallies in Tulsa after Juneteenth

President Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has become the latest flash point in the country’s ongoing reckoning with systemic racism after widespread criticism of the timing and location of the event.

Trump had initially planned a campaign rally in Tulsa on Friday but later rescheduled to Saturday after learning about the significance of Juneteenth. The city is also where a white mob destroyed the “Black Wall Street” in 1921.

“The president said he was coming on June 19,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said at a Tulsa event Friday to boos from the audience, saying Trump’s admission showed he was “not qualified” to represent the country as a head of state. Sharpton also called Trump “insensitive and isolated,” especially when “he was born and raised in New York, where two-thirds of New York is Black and Latino.”

Friday night also brought controversy over a curfew surrounding the event. Tulsa officials rescinded a curfew after Trump spoke with the city’s mayor. Instead a “secure zone” established by the U.S. Secret Service will be used.

A closer look at some recent developments:

  • Late Friday, protesters in Washington, D.C., and in Raleigh, North Carolina, topple Confederate statues. 
  • Ex-Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who faces 11 charges in the death of Rayshard Brooks, was reprimanded for firearm misuse among 12 incidents in his disciplinary records.
  • In Louisville, the police department is firing officer Brett Hankison, one of three officers to fire weapons at the apartment of Breonna Taylor, who died after being shot eight times. 

What we’re reading today: Eskimo Pie, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Cream of Wheat are changing. Are the Washington Redskins next?

And there’s this: When people talk about systemic racism, they mean systemic: impacting institutions, policies and outcomes across all aspects of Black Americans’ lives. Here are 12 charts that show how racial disparities persist across wealth, health, education and beyond.

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

Coronavirus surges aren’t linked to protests, USA TODAY analysis finds

The United States has seen new coronavirus cases climb from about 21,000 a day the last week of May to nearly 23,000 a day this week. Positive tests and, in some places, hospitalizations have spiked, too, leading many to wonder if a change in behavior caused outbreaks in states such as California, Arizona and Florida.

But neither protests or more people leaving home explain the surge of new COVID-19 cases, a USA TODAY analysis of counties with at least 100 cases has found. Residents of counties with growth of 25% or more over the previous two weeks left their homes at the same rate as people in counties without a surge of new infections, according to cell phone location data compiled by the company SafeGraph. 

And large protests were as common in counties without outbreaks as in others – although those events could have seeded the virus broadly, and could still lead to outbreaks. Read more here. 

– Matt Wynn and Jayme Fraser

Trump says feds ‘ready, willing, and able’ to take back Seattle from protesters

President Donald Trump says the federal government is “Ready, Willing & Able” to help Seattle if asked in “taking back” the city from protesters.

In a Friday night tweet, the president was apparently referring to protesters setting up the self-patrolled “Capitol Hill Organized Protests,” or CHOP, zone, in a Seattle neighborhood after police abandoned their east precinct during demonstrations.

“Waiting to hear from Dem run Washington State as to whether they want help in taking back Seattle,” he tweeted. “Ready to move quickly!” he said, adding that “damage” to the city, including the demolition of a statue, should not be allowed. “Ready to solve problem quickly! Federal Government is Ready, Willing & Able,” Trump added.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said earlier that that Trump does not have the power to activate the Guard in Washington and called such threats “more like rants of a very insecure man.” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has called Trump’s bid to bring in U.S. troops in local jurisdictions “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Authorities rule death of Malcolm Harsch, Black man found hanging in California, a suicide

The family of Malcolm Harsch, a Black man who was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, California, last month, says his death has been ruled a suicide after authorities released video showing what happened.  

The video evidence, captured May 31 from two surveillance cameras on buildings on Victor Street, was also shown to a group of reporters at San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department headquarters Friday afternoon.

Sgt. Steve Allen, with the Victorville’s Sheriff’s Station, said he hoped “to dispel some of the myths” surrounding Harsch’s death as protests against police violence and systemic bias continue worldwide after the death of George Floyd in police custody.

In response, Najee Ali, a spokesperson for the family, released a statement that read: “On behalf of the family of Malcolm Harsch unfortunately it seems he did take his own life.The Victorville Police Department officials released new video evidence to family members. The family wants to sincerely thank everyone for their support and prayers.”

— Martin Estacio, Victorville Daily Press

Second Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd killing freed on bail

J. Alexander Kueng, the second of four former Minneapolis police officers awaiting trial in the death of George Floyd, has been released on bail, according to media reports.

Kueng, along with former fellow officers Tou Thao, and Thomas Lane, are charged with aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death. Lane was released last week.

Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder in the case, which has sparked world protests against police misconduct.

All four officers have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. Kueng was ordered by the court not to perform any police or security work while awaiting trial,, KMSP reports, citing jail records.

Protesters topple Confederate statue in DC

Protesters on Friday night toppled the only statue of a Confederate general in the nation’s capital and set it on fire.

Cheering demonstrators jumped up and down as the 11-foot statue of Albert Pike — wrapped with chains — wobbled on its high granite pedestal before falling backward, landing in a pile of dust. Protesters then set a bonfire and stood around it in a circle as the statue burned, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!”

Eyewitness accounts and videos posted on social media indicated that police were on the scene, but didn’t intervene.

President Donald Trump quickly tweeted about the toppling, calling out D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and writing: “The DC police are not doing their job as they watched a statue be ripped down and burn.” After the statue fell, most protesters returned peacefully to Lafayette Park near the White House.

– Associated Press

Records show discipline history of ex-Atlanta officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks

Atlanta Police Department records list 12 incidents in former officer Garrett Rolfe’s discipline history, including a written reprimand for use of firearms in 2017.

Rolfe has been charged with multiple counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in connection with the death of Rayshard Brooks. Rolfe was previously cleared of wrongdoing in a 2015 shooting that punctured a man’s lung, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Police records generated June 14 date to 2014 and list multiple vehicle accidents and citizen complaints. In many cases, Rolfe was listed as exonerated in his conduct.

In a 2017 incident, Rolfe was reprimanded for pointing a gun out of a passenger side window toward a fleeing vehicle. The reprimand says officers were not to point their weapon at a person “unless the discharge of that firearm would be justifiable.”

The latest entry in the log is for a firearm discharge, dated soon after Brooks’ death.

– Joel Shannon

More on protests

Protesters topple part of Confederate monument in Raleigh, North Carolina

Protesters in North Carolina’s capital pulled down parts of a Confederate monument Friday night. Demonstrators used a strap to pull down two statues of Confederate soldiers that were part of a larger obelisk near the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, WNCN-TV reported.

Protesters then dragged at least one of the statues down a street and used the strap to hang the figure from a street light pole.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of demonstrators had marched through downtown Raleigh and Durham to protest police brutality and to celebrate Juneteenth.

Numerous Confederate statues have been vandalized or torn down across the South in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Tafeni English, left, and Lecia Brooks hug during the Juneteenth/Tulsa Riot Vigil held at the Civil Rights Memorial located at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., on Friday June 19, 2020.

John Legend, Gabrielle Union among artists supporting new Black Artists for Freedom

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.

The letter 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 Juneteenth.

The organization said the letter was inspired by recent protests against police brutality and systemic racism and included signatures from Black workers in film, television, music, publishing, theater, journalism and education.

“They are working in the spirit of the Black Radical Tradition to reclaim our freedoms,” the letter said. “Their courage and imagination have inspired us to build on their necessary demands including chiefly, the abolition of police and the complete dismantling of the racist prison-industrial system.”

Memorial to former owner of Washington Redskins who had named the team removed outside DC stadium

The memorial honoring former Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall was removed from its place outside of RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Although the team hasn’t played there since 1996, the memorial for Marshall — the man who re-named his team the Redskins and moved the franchise from Boston to Washington in 1937— remained until Events DC, the city’s sports and entertainment authority that oversees the site, announced its permanent removal. 

“This symbol of a person who didn’t believe all men and women were created equal and who actually worked against integration is counter to all that we as people, a city, and nation represent,” Events DC chairman Max Brown and CEO Greg O’Dell said in a joint statement. “We believe that injustice and inequality of all forms is reprehensible and we are firmly committed to confronting unequal treatment and working together toward healing our city and country.” 

— Chris Bumbaca

Opinion: Time for NFL team to extinguish racist name, writes Jarrett Bell.

Louisville police to fire officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Friday that Louisville Metro Police is terminating officer Brett Hankison, one of three officers who fired weapons at Breonna Taylor’s apartment, killing her.

Taylor was shot March 13 as the officers entered to serve a no-knock warrant. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot as officers entered, thinking they were intruders, and Taylor was hit eight times in the ensuing gunfire from officers.

Hankison is accused by the department’s interim chief, Robert Schroeder, of “blindly” firing 10 rounds into the apartment, creating a substantial danger of death and serious injury. 

“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Schroeder wrote in a Friday letter to Hankison laying out the charges against him. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion.” 

Sam Aguiar, a Louisville-based attorney for Taylor’s family, said of the impending firing: “It’s about damn time.”

The other two officers have been placed on administrative reassignment.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has not indicated when his office will conclude its probe into the case.

– Darcy Costello, Louisville Courier Journal

Trump warns ‘protesters, anarchists, agitators’ to stay away from Tulsa; mayor lifts emergency curfew

While President Donald Trump warned “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” Friday not to come to Oklahoma during his weekend campaign rally in Tulsa, the mayor of the city lifted a “civil emergency” curfew saying the Secret Service said it was no longer necessary.

The president, who has charged that some cities and states led by Democrats have not cracked down on protest violence, tweeted that demonstrators headed for Oklahoma will find “a much different scene!.” He did not elaborate.

“Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” he tweeted.

Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum had declared a “civil emergency” and imposed the curfew, citing expected crowds of more than 100,000, planned protests and civil unrest, including a warning of organized, violent gangs heading for the city.

Trump, however, announced the lifting of the curfew on Twitter  after speaking with the mayor., who said it was “no longer necessary.”

Meanwhile, another potential rally stumbling block fell Friday after the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a request for a temporary injunction to block the event over health concerns.

On Thursday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, told the president that the state is ready to host the rally, dismissing warnings from health officials about hosting a large gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. 

– John Fritze, David Jackson and Nicholas Wu

Contributing: The Associated Press

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