As racial justice demonstrations stretched into their third week, President Trump said Wednesday that he would “not even consider” growing calls to rename U.S. military bases that honor Confederate generals. “Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with,” Trump tweeted.

Civil rights activists and former military officials, including retired U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, have stepped up pressure to rename installations such as Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, saying they wrongfully glorify leaders who committed treason to defend slavery in the United States.

Earlier in the day, the brother of George Floyd made an emotional plea before the House Judiciary Committee for lawmakers to take action to prevent more deaths at the hands of police. “I’m tired,” Philonise Floyd said. “I’m tired of the pain. ... I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired.”

Here are some significant developments:

  • NASCAR announced Wednesday that it was banning displays of the Confederate flag at all its “events and properties.”
  • Amazon has banned police from using its controversial facial-recognition technology for a year amid ongoing nationwide protests over police brutality and racial profiling. Studies have shown that facial-recognition systems misidentify people of color more often than white people.
  • Statues honoring Christopher Columbus were toppled, destroyed and disfigured in St. Paul, Boston and Richmond on Wednesday — the latest in a wave of attacks on historic monuments by George Floyd protesters.
  • More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers on Wednesday signed a letter calling on the agency’s internal watchdog to investigate Attorney General William P. Barr’s involvement in law enforcement’s move last week to push a crowd of largely peaceful demonstrators back from Lafayette Square using horses and gas before Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
  • Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was withdrawing from contract negotiations with the local police union as he pursues reforms that would make it easier to terminate officers who act inappropriately.
  • Floyd’s family and the Rev. Al Sharpton are expecting 100,000 people to attend a new March on Washington in August to push for criminal justice reform on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s original March on Washington.
2:30 a.m.
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Ohio lawmaker criticized after asking if ‘colored population’ more at risk of covid-19 because of hygiene

A Republican Ohio state lawmaker is facing backlash after asking whether African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic because of their personal hygiene.

During a Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee hearing on Tuesday, State Sen. Steve Huffman seemed to shock Angela Dawson, the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, when he pressed her on why black people are at greater risk of infection.

“Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups or wear a mask or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation of the higher incidence?” asked Huffman, who is also a doctor.

“That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country,” Dawson responded.

Dawson said it was disparities in health-care access that has caused the virus to disproportionately affect black communities.

Residents of counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the virus as those in counties with above-average white populations, a Washington Post data analysis found.

Democratic State Rep. Stephanie Howse, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, attended the hearing and told the Dayton Daily News that Huffman’s question represented systemic racism.

“He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspective,” she said. “He’s a full legislator but beyond that, professionally, he’s a doctor.”

“When we talk about the health disparities that happen because black folks aren’t believed when they’re actually hurt, they aren’t given the treatment that they need. Do you think that someone who acknowledges the ‘coloreds’ is going to give the love and care that people need when they come through those doors?” Howse continued.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Huffman issued an apology.

“Regrettably, I asked a question in an unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful and was exactly the opposite of what I meant,” Huffman told the Dispatch. “I was trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate since we really do not know all the reasons.”

2:25 a.m.
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Protesters in Virginia deface and dismember Confederate monument

Protesters in Portsmouth, Va., defaced a Confederate monument at the center of town Wednesday, setting upon it with spray paint, ropes and bolt cutters as police officers and local officials watched from the sidelines.

Toward the end of the night, someone was injured when part of the structure came tumbling down, WAVY reported. Police came to assist the person, whose condition was not immediately clear. One protester told local media the injury appeared serious.

Outrage over the monument boiled over after city councilors earlier in the day postponed a decision over whether to remove it and two local NAACP leaders were arrested during an afternoon demonstration at the site, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The monument, finished in 1881, is a 35-foot granite obelisk that features four white bronze Confederate soldiers and several Confederate artifacts inside. It is in the town square in Portsmouth, a majority black city of 96,000. It was erected near a site where slaves used to be punished.

“It represents hate,” 18-year-old Nate Whitaker told the Virginian-Pilot.

At the beginning of the demonstration, protesters spray-painted George Floyd’s name and “Black Lives Matter” on the granite, along with the names of other African Americans killed by police. Later, they doused parts of it in bright yellow paint.

At one point, the crowd cheered as a man in shorts and a white tank top used bolt cutters to sever a rifle from one of the figures’ hands. Protesters also pried a sword from one of the statutes and removed a dedication plaque.

Eventually, they hacked the heads off the statues and set a small fire at the feet of one.

As the crowd swelled, a band started playing, according to video from the scene.

Police presence appeared minimal. Officers did not take action against the protesters, even as they tied ropes around the statues and tried to pull them down.

By 9:30 p.m., after police responded to the injured person, the demonstration started clearing out. Some protesters stayed behind to clean up trash.

1:51 a.m.
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‘Horrified’ Missouri newspaper owners resign over ‘racist’ police cartoon — published by their dad

Co-owners of the Washington Missourian in Franklin County, Mo., resigned in protest Wednesday over the newspaper’s decision to publish a syndicated cartoon that satirizes the defunding of police departments.

“We believe it was racist and in no circumstance should have been published,” Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood wrote about the cartoon in a message to readers. “We apologize to our readers and our staff for the obvious pain and offense it caused.”

That choice to publish it was made by their father.

In the cartoon, by Tom Stiglich of the Creators syndicate, a light-skinned woman screams, “Help!! Somebody call 911!” A darker-skinned man who is attempting to snatch her purse says: “Good luck with that, lady ... we defunded the police,” a reference to a proposal that some activists have put forward to reform law enforcement.

Bill Miller Sr., the paper’s editor and publisher, put the cartoon in the paper “without our knowledge,” the co-owners wrote. “We saw the cartoon at the same time as our readers and were just as outraged and horrified as our staff and community.

“Had we known we would have vehemently fought against publishing it,” they continued. “We believe this is the reason we were kept in the dark about its publication.”

Read more here.

1:37 a.m.
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Tom Brady, Drew Brees join hundreds of athletes calling for an end to qualified immunity for police

More than 1,400 current and former professional athletes and coaches, including stars such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Dak Prescott and CC Sabathia, have signed a petition asking that Congress pass a recently introduced bill that would end the legal doctrine known as “qualified immunity,” which often prevents U.S. citizens from collecting damages over wrongdoing by government officials such as police officers, even if they have violated the Constitution.

The Civil Rights Act of 1871 established the right of U.S. citizens to collect damages from government officials who violated their constitutional rights, but that act has been watered down by Supreme Court decisions that introduced the doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields government officials from civil lawsuits so long as they did not violate “clearly established” law. Critics say such a standard is nearly impossible to meet.

1:23 a.m.
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Siri and Alexa tell you black lives matter, but tech still has a diversity problem

Ask Alexa or Siri or Google if “black lives matter,” and the voice assistants of some of the most powerful companies in the world are quick to answer in the affirmative.“Black lives matter. I believe in racial equality,” says Amazon’s Alexa. “I stand in solidarity with the black community in the fight against system racism and injustice.”

Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant answer in similar ways, now trained to address that question and others raised by recent events. Chief executives at tech companies ranging from Uber to Facebook have posted public notes to express support for the black lives movement, while companies like Amazon and Twitter have plastered their platforms with banners or changed their profile pictures in support. Apple and Google moved to quickly update their maps to reflect changes to newly named streets in the District and elsewhere, too.

But many inside Silicon Valley have criticized the support from tech companies as just lip service and hypocritical given industry’s long history of employing a mostly white male workforce and selling products to law enforcement.

1:08 a.m.
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NBA star LeBron James announces new group aimed at protecting black voting rights

Basketball star LeBron James and other athletes are starting an organization aimed at protecting black voting rights, according to the New York Times.

The group, More Than a Vote, will seize on the national uproar following the police killing of George Floyd and other acts of racial injustice to get out the black vote in the 2020 presidential election, James announced in an interview with the Times. Comedian Kevin Hart and athletes including former NBA player Jalen Rose, Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and NFL running back Alvin Kamara will also join the efforts.

James, forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, said the focus will be on combating voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of racial minorities. The nonprofit organization will not endorse a specific candidate.

In the wake of Georgia’s chaotic primaries on Tuesday, James retweeted a thread by a Politico reporter about the inaccessibility of polling sites for black voters in Georgia. In his comment, he questioned whether the U.S. voting system itself is racist.

“Everyone talking about ‘how do we fix this?’” he wrote. “‘They say ‘go out and vote?’ What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?”

Since Floyd’s death, James has been vocal about racism, denouncing Fox News host Laura Ingraham on social media last week for treating a white athlete, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, differently than James when both men shared their political views.

James also hailed the significance of the June 2 election of Ella Jones, the first black mayor of Ferguson, Mo.

“A [rose] has bloomed from the cracked concrete state of nation we’re living in right now,” he wrote on Twitter. “Beautiful thing to see! Congrats Ella Jones!!”

“We must continue to keep going now up,” he added.

1:07 a.m.
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Trump praises Italian archbishop who urges him to fight ‘deep state’ protests

President Trump on Wednesday praised what he called an “incredible” letter to the president from a controversial Italian archbishop that said Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus quarantine are part of an orchestrated campaign by “the children of darkness” against “the children of light.”

“On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven," read the June 7 letter to Trump from Archbishop Carlo Vigano, a former Vatican diplomat to Washington. “On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family.”

“In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies,” he wrote.

Later in the letter, he wrote that “it is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state."

Trump tweeted a link to the letter, which was published by the anti-abortion LifeSiteNews, through which the ex-ambassador often distributes his statements.

“So honored by Archbishop Viganò’s incredible letter to me. I hope everyone, religious or not, reads it!” Trump tweeted Wednesday evening.

Read more here.

12:38 a.m.
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Southern Baptist president wants to retire famed gavel named for slave owner

J.D. Greear, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, on Wednesday called for the retirement of a gavel that carries the name of a 19th century Southern Baptist leader who was a slaveholder and led the convention in support of the Confederacy.

Greear said that he was “deeply conflicted” last year when he was handed the gavel named after John Broadus, who was the second president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the SBC’s flagship seminary. The SBC’s annual meeting, which takes place in a different city every year, was held in 2019 in Birmingham, Ala., the city where several significant events took place during the Civil Rights movement.

“Southern Baptists, I think it is time to retire the Broadus gavel,” Greear wrote in a forthcoming piece in the Baptist Press that was shared with The Washington Post. “While we do not want to, nor could we, erase our history, it is time for this gavel to go back into the display case at the Executive Committee offices.”

Read more here.

12:14 a.m.
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Thomas Lane, former officer charged in Floyd’s killing, released from jail after posting bail

Thomas Lane, one of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s killing, was released from jail Wednesday after posting $750,000 bail, jail records show.

Lane and two other former officers stood by as Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck on May 25 while the 46-year-old black man lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping for breath and pleading for help.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder without intent, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane and the other officers face charges of felony aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

A judge had set bail for Lane at $750,000 with conditions, or $1,000,000 without. Bail conditions included signing an extradition waiver, as well as surrendering firearms and concealed-carry permits.

As Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, Lane asked twice whether officers should roll Floyd onto his side, but Chauvin rebuffed him, according to charging documents.

“What is my client supposed to do but follow what the training officer says?” Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, said in court this week. “He did everything he was supposed to do as a police officer. . . . What was he supposed to do, let go of his feet and go grab Chauvin and shove him off?”

Lane is set to appear in court on June 29.

11:54 p.m.
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Analysis: What research says about police unions and police misconduct

Some of the most shocking images to emerge from the demonstrations that have dominated recent headlines stem from the violent interactions between law enforcement officers and peaceful protesters. They’ve also escalated calls for police reform.

But police unions tend to be resistant to such efforts, as their mandate is to protect the interests of their members — even in cases when those interests may be counter to democratic norms and values. Though an understudied topic of criminology, what research that does exist is unequivocal: “Virtually all of the published items that express an opinion on the impact of police unions regard them as having a negative effect, particularly on innovation, accountability, and police — community relations,” as a review in the journal Police Practice and Research put it.

Researchers say unionized officers draw more excessive force complaints and are more likely to kill civilians, particularly nonwhite ones.

Read some of their key findings here.

11:36 p.m.
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Christopher Columbus statue toppled at Minnesota Capitol

Protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul on Wednesday as demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody continued to take aim at monuments viewed by many as symbols of racism.

A group of protesters, some of them from a local Native American advocacy group, gathered in front of the towering bronze structure in the afternoon. According to Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Jessie Van Berkel, the group told a law enforcement officer on the scene what they planned to do.

“Is there any other resolution?” the officer asked, according to Van Berkel.

Around 5 p.m., the protesters tossed a rope around the statue and ripped it from its pedestal, according to Fox 9.

Video showed the moment after the statue toppled. Protesters cheered, and TV news crews rushed over to get footage.

“The time for being complacent is over," protester Mike Forcia told Fox 9.

Activists have pushed for years to remove the monument, which was given as a gift from Minnesota’s Italian American community in 1931. It stood several miles from where Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. A recent petition called for it to be replaced with a statue of Prince.

This is at least the third Columbus statue to be toppled or vandalized in a major U.S. city in recent days.

On Tuesday, protesters pulled down a bronze Columbus in Richmond’s Byrd Park and submerged it facedown in a lake. In Boston, someone removed the head from a Columbus statue in the city’s North End and left pieces of it scattered in the area.

10:43 p.m.
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Two more Atlanta police officers fired over incident in which students were pulled from car

Two more Atlanta police officers were fired Wednesday after video showed police pulling two college students from a car and shooting them with stun guns.

Sgt. Lonnie Hood and Officer Armon Jones were fired because of their involvement in the May 30 incident during protests against police brutality, Sgt. John Chafee, a police spokesman, said in an email to The Washington Post. Chafee said an investigation is ongoing.

Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim, who attends Spelman College, were stuck in traffic caused by the protests when live TV and body-cam footage captured six officers smashing Young’s car windows after the city’s 9 p.m. curfew. The officers used their stun guns on them.

Young suffered a fractured arm and a gash requiring 24 stitches.

Six officers face criminal charges stemming from incidents on May 30.

Hood is charged with aggravated assault and simple battery, the Associated Press reported. Jones is charged with aggravated assault and pointing a gun at Young.

Investigators Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter were also fired for their use of excessive force that day. Gardner and Streeter sued Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields on Monday, alleging they were fired without a proper investigation, according to court records.

The other two officers facing charges, Roland Claud and Willie Sauls, remain on administrative duty.

10:36 p.m.
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Amazon bans police use of its facial-recognition technology for a year

SEATTLE — Amazon has banned police from using its controversial facial-recognition technology for a year amid ongoing nationwide protests over police brutality and racial profiling.

Amazon made the announcement in a brief statement on its corporate blog, though it never mentioned the protests or the recent death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer dug his knee into his neck. But Amazon implied recent events drove its decision.

“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” the company wrote. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

(Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post)

Privacy critics have criticized Amazon for selling Rekognition to law-enforcement over concerns that it could lead to the wrongful arrest of innocent people who bear only a resemblance to a video image. And studies have shown that facial-recognition systems misidentify people of color more often than white people.

Read more here.

9:36 p.m.
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Trump’s first campaign rally since outbreak planned for Tulsa on June 19 — the holiday celebrating the end of slavery

President Trump plans to hold his first campaign rally in months on June 19 in Tulsa, he announced during a meeting with black supporters.

Trump did not mention that June 19, known as Juneteenth, is a holiday celebrating the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read to slaves in Texas. It is unclear whether the choice of that date was intentional.

The day is recognized in most states, and there have been calls to make the day a federal holiday, especially in light of recent events.

The Trump campaign’s choice of Tulsa on Juneteenth is curious given the city’s history. The worst single incident of racial violence in U.S. history occurred in Tulsa in 1921, when mobs of whites killed dozens of African Americans, injured hundreds and destroyed a black neighborhood. Trump’s announcement comes as thousands protest racial injustice across the United States.

Trump also mentioned plans to hold rallies in Texas, Arizona and North Carolina, among the dozen states that have seen an increase in covid-19 hospitalizations since Memorial Day when states began reopening.