As the U.S. continues to grapple with a reckoning spurred by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, New York City police are facing new questions, and activists nationwide are highlighting a spate of vehicle attacks on marchers.

Here are some significant developments:

  • President Trump threatened to mobilize the National Guard in response to unrest in Portland “if they don’t solve that problem locally very soon.”
  • The governor of Oregon and the Trump administration announced an agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions outside the federal courthouse in Portland, where federal agents have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators during nightly unrest.
  • The New York Police Department is facing questions about a viral video showing officers pulling a protester into a vehicle.
  • After a wave of vehicle attacks on protesters, activists are pushing authorities to do more.
  • Militia-type groups are mobilizing in local politics and pushing back against stay-at-home orders and protests alike.
July 29, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT

Eight in Pittsburgh charged over ‘criminal activity’ during protests

Eight Pittsburgh-area residents were indicted on criminal charges connected to the protests in downtown Pittsburgh on May 30 after the death of George Floyd in police custody, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady announced Wednesday.

Prosecutors say the crimes were committed as Pittsburgh police were responding to large demonstrations that started peacefully but turned violent and destructive.

“Throwing IEDs and bricks at police officers, throwing projectiles at and striking police horses, and setting police cruisers on fire are not the protected First Amendment activities of a peaceful protest; they are criminal acts that violate federal law,” Brady, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “We will continue to identify and prosecute these agitators, whose acts of violence hijacked a lawful protest and undermined a message of equality with one of destruction.”

The charges include throwing projectiles at police cars and destroying police vehicles by hitting, kicking, stomping on them or setting them on fire. The charges also include throwing projectiles at police officers, including one instance of a potentially explosive device, and bank burglary.

“The FBI respects the rights of people to peacefully exercise their First Amendment freedoms but will not stand by and let those with a violent agenda take over peaceful protests,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman.

For now, these indictments are only accusations, he said.

By Jessica Wolfrom
July 29, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT

Latinos transformed Arizona. Do campaigns see them?

Growing up, Dora Chavez Anaya sometimes felt like the only dark-skinned girl in all of Mesa. As the Mexican American daughter of a copper miner, she recalled, the Anglo children on her block were forbidden by their parents from playing with her. Peers at school sometimes called her the n-word.

She felt powerless. She was powerless.

But from her quaint suburban street in Maricopa County, Ariz., where she has lived all of her 60 years, Chavez has witnessed a dramatic change.

Gone are the desert-defying agricultural fields of the East Salt River Valley, replaced by the boom of housing developments. Gone, too, is her sense of being a lone Latina in a White world. Most of her neighbors today are Mexican Americans like her.

Now, Chavez hopes that the changes will translate to more political power for Arizona Latinos, many of whom have felt alienated by the Republican Party’s rhetoric on racial justice and immigration.

By Jose Del Real
July 29, 2020 at 9:06 PM EDT

Chicago Blackhawks ban headdresses but keep their name

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Wednesday that fans can no longer wear headdresses at team games and events.

“These symbols are sacred, traditionally reserved for leaders who have earned a place of great respect in their Tribe, and should not be generalized or used as a costume or for everyday wear,” the team said in a statement.

The National Hockey League team is the latest major sports team to reevaluate its name and mascot in a moment of cultural reckoning with race and identity.

“We have always maintained an expectation that our fans uphold an atmosphere of respect, and after extensive and meaningful conversations with our Native American partners, we have decided to formalize those expectations,” the team said. “Moving forward, headdresses will be prohibited for fans entering Blackhawks-sanctioned events or the United Center when Blackhawks home games resume.”

But the team stopped short of changing its name altogether. Earlier this month, the Blackhawks said that the name was symbolic of an important historic figure, Black Hawk of the Sac & Fox Nation in Illinois, and said that they would continue to serve as stewards of that name and identity.

“We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups,” the team said, as the Washington Football Team (formerly Redskins) and Cleveland Indians have moved to change or reconsider their names under mounting public pressure.

By Jessica Wolfrom
July 29, 2020 at 9:03 PM EDT

Senate Democrats urge withdrawal of federal agents from Portland

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and 13 other Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday told the Homeland Security and Justice departments to remove federal officers from Portland and cooperate with state and local officials, citing “excessive force” from officers who have not identified themselves.

“These tactics are not consistent with our Constitution or the rule of law. We therefore demand that you remove these forces from Portland, as has been requested by state and local officials,” the senators wrote.

“We also urge you to coordinate closely in advance with state and local officials and honor their requests and denials related to deployment of DHS, DOJ or other federal law enforcement personnel in their jurisdictions.”

The letter comes as the governor of Oregon and the Trump administration announced an agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions outside the federal courthouse in Portland, where federal agents have clashed with demonstrators during nightly unrest.

As part of the agreement, officials said, most Department of Homeland Security agents will leave the front lines around the courthouse and withdraw from Portland entirely if what they have deemed nightly rioting ceases.

Officials differed on the timeline. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said the agents would pull out of downtown Thursday and depart the city soon thereafter. But acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said the withdrawal was still a question of if, not when.

By Alex Horton
July 29, 2020 at 8:07 PM EDT

Louisville will declare racism a public health emergency in aftermath of killing of Breonna Taylor

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) said Wednesday that the city will declare racism a public health emergency, months after Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of police fueled unrest there.

The stain of racial injustice for centuries has led to systemic inequities, Fischer told The Washington Post, including worse health outcomes for Black Americans compared with Whites and vast differences in access to wealth and education.

The declaration, he said, would usher in resources — such as greater access to housing, health care, tutoring and other services — paired with a conversation about inequality.

“The moment is right to learn more about these things, especially White America,” Fischer said.

Louisville has been rocked since the March death of Taylor, a Black woman, when officers fatally shot her in bed after executing a search warrant for a man who was already in police custody. Taylor’s name electrified protests of police brutality nationwide, echoing with the name of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May.

Taylor’s killing opened the aperture of discussion about racism in the city, Fischer said.

“People are much more ready to listen and learn about the history of our country in terms of institutional racism and racism as a public health emergency,” he said.

Louisville would join dozens of cities and counties that have made similar declarations. Fischer said the formal plan would be unveiled in the coming weeks in a joint effort with the Louisville Metro Council.

“The time has come for a community-wide discussion about how we could correct racism as a public health problem. All of us have come in contact with some form of discrimination in our lives,” council member Barbara Shanklin said in a statement. “For many people, it causes stress and worry as you try to work, raise a family or just try to get ahead in life.”

By Alex Horton
July 29, 2020 at 6:44 PM EDT

Trump threatens National Guard mobilization in Portland

President Trump said Wednesday that he would send the National Guard into Portland if the violence doesn’t subside.

The president’s remarks come as federal officials are preparing to pull out of the city and de-escalate the fevered tensions between police and protesters. Just hours earlier, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that the federal government had agreed to pull federal officers out of the city.

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland,” Brown tweeted.

But Trump took the podium at an energy conference in Midland, Tex., and redoubled his threats to activate the National Guard, calling the protesters anarchists.

“And I told my people a little while ago, if they don’t solve that problem locally very soon, we’re going to send in the National Guard and get it solved very quickly, just like we did in Minneapolis and just like we will do in other places,” he said. “They want to solve their problem. They’ve got a very short time to do it. But they’ll either solve that problem or we’ll send in the National Guard.”

By Jessica Wolfrom
July 29, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT

Justice Department to send more federal agents to major cities

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it will send additional federal officers into major cities including Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit to address violent crime.

Dubbed “Operation Legend,” the program will direct agents from the FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and U.S. Marshals Service to join local task forces and work with cities to reduce rising crime rates.

“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s assets will supplement local law enforcement efforts, as we work together to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off of our streets.”

The department said it plans to send 42 agents to Detroit and more than 25 each to Cleveland and Milwaukee.

The announcement comes at a time of growing anxiety over the presence of federal agents in U.S. cities. After weeks of violent clashes between federal troops and protesters erupted on the streets of Portland, Ore., city officials are expressing mixed reactions to the decision to expand the federal government’s footprint.

“Federal agents who are here in Chicago have been here for decades … they know their city, and they live here,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said at a news conference in the past week. “They will be plugged into the existing infrastructure of the agencies, manage and supervise existing cases and investigations.”

But others have been more critical, such as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D).

“There’s no place for Trump’s secret police in our city,” Keller said in a statement.

By Jessica Wolfrom
July 29, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT

Trump reassures suburbanites they won’t be ‘bothered’ by low-income housing

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted an announcement widely interpreted by critics as a dog whistle to racist supporters.

“I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” Trump tweeted. “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”

The 1968 Fair Housing Act requires cities and states use federal funding to end segregation in U.S. neighborhoods, but it was never rigorously enforced. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, promulgated by the Obama administration in 2015, sought to strengthen it by requiring local governments receiving federal money to draft plans to desegregate their communities.

Trump moved last week to repeal that rule, with language that appeared to hark back to an era of Whites distancing themselves from Black Americans — although the AFFH rule applied to cities, suburbs and rural communities alike.

Trump again touted the decision at a Wednesday event in Texas. "It’s been hell for suburbia, he said.

Critics quickly condemned Trump’s Wednesday tweets.

“This is the president at his core," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) wrote. "It’s how he conducted his real estate business; it’s how he wants to run this country.”

Trump, who owns residential buildings, hotels and golf courses, among other properties, has battled accusations of racism since long before he took office. The federal government in 1973 filed a civil rights case against the Trump family firm, alleging that it was violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968, by refusing to rent apartments to Black people. Trump has consistently insisted he is not racist.

By Abigail Hauslohner and Tracy Jan
July 29, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT

Denver school official injured during police standoff

Tay Anderson, a Denver Public Schools board member and prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter protests, was injured in a standoff between police and protesters at a homeless camp in Denver’s Lincoln Park on Wednesday, the Denver Post reported.

Colorado police and state troopers swept a tent encampment in the early morning, constructing a fence around the park, the paper reported, but within hours, the exercise devolved into a tense standoff between protesters and officers.

Anderson said he was pushed to the ground by police, according to the paper, and video posted by a local CBS reporter shows him holding his head.

Denver police spokesperson Christine Downs dismissed Anderson’s account.

“It appears that law enforcement was trying to close the gate and there was a bit of a scuffle and someone lost their footing,” Downs told the Denver Post.

Anderson was transported to a hospital and has since posted a picture of himself on Twitter with the caption, “My body hurts all over … I will be okay! STILL I RISE.”

At 21, Anderson is the youngest African American ever elected to public office in Colorado. He has also become the de facto leader of protests in Denver after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

By Jessica Wolfrom
July 29, 2020 at 2:16 PM EDT

Pittsburgh council moves to ban police chokeholds, approves other reform measures

The Pittsburgh City Council voted this week to ban police from using chokeholds and approved some other measures, the latest response from local officials to the protests that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

The council approved a measure banning Pittsburgh police from using chokeholds and outlawed any neck restraint meant “to control or disable a subject by applying pressure against the windpipe, or the frontal area of the neck.” The measure formally banning officers from using them headed to the mayor; his office indicated to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he plans to sign them.

The Pittsburgh police bureau’s use-of-force policy says officers “are not authorized to use neck restraints or similar control techniques which have the potential for serious injury unless involved in a deadly force encounter.” According to a report from the police bureau, its officers used neck restraints five times last year — three times “to retrieve narcotics.”

Other bills approved by the council this week included one requiring officers to intervene when they see another “applying inappropriate force or knowingly depriving any person of any constitutionally or statutorily-guaranteed right,” a measure prohibiting the Pittsburgh police from acquiring military-type equipment such as certain armored vehicles, and a resolution moving $250,000 in police recruiting money to a violence-prevention fund.

By Mark Berman
July 29, 2020 at 1:42 PM EDT

Is any protest a threat to public safety? Yes, said this small N.C. city.

GRAHAM, N.C. — On Saturday morning, as 100 demonstrators stood in a small downtown plaza chanting racial justice slogans, Barrett Brown decided to raise the stakes.

Brown, the president of the NAACP’s area branch, grabbed a cardboard poster and slipped across the line of orange cones that demarcated the legal protest zone. He crossed a traffic circle and stood silently next to the Confederate monument in front of the Alamance County Courthouse.

One of the 12 deputy sheriffs guarding the 30-foot-tall monument, a marble statue of a Confederate soldier atop a granite column, directed Brown to leave. When he refused, the deputy handcuffed him and charged him with resisting an officer and impeding traffic. Three more protesters, including a member of the Alamance County Board of Elections, were arrested a few minutes later on the same charges.

By Barry Yeoman
July 29, 2020 at 1:42 PM EDT

Trump administration and Oregon governor reach agreement on deescalation of Portland protests

The governor of Oregon and the Trump administration announced Wednesday an agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions outside the federal courthouse in Portland, where federal agents have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators during nightly unrest.

As part of the agreement, officials said most Department of Homeland Security agents would move away from what have become the front lines around the courthouse and then withdraw from Portland entirely if the nightly rioting ceases.

But the specific timing of how this would play out remained unclear. Gov. Kate Brown (D) said the agents would leave downtown Thursday and the city soon thereafter, while acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf said that federal officials would pull back from Portland “should circumstances on the ground significantly improve” as state troopers move to protect the courthouse.

The uncertainty came as intense showdowns have continued between protesters and federal agents in Oregon’s biggest city, drawing criticism from local officials and scrutiny from two inspectors general. The Trump administration has defended its response as a necessary move to keep people from attacking the courthouse.

By Mark Berman and Nick Miroff
July 29, 2020 at 11:10 AM EDT

Racial equality statements begin to unfold amid NHL restart

Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins players lined up shoulder to shoulder during the U.S. and Canadian anthems before the first exhibition game of the NHL’s restarted season, while members of the Boston Bruins plan to lock arms during the anthems to promote racial equality.

The league said it would feature Black Lives Matter and other social justice issues during opening ceremonies this weekend in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. NHL executive Steve Mayer expects other demonstrations to happen organically.

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July 29, 2020 at 10:34 AM EDT

As Black Lives Matter street art spreads across U.S. cities, Trump supporters push for their own

“Black Lives Matter” street slogans that have sprung up in U.S. cities from Washington, D.C., to Tulsa and Oakland, Calif., are beginning to draw pushback from supporters of President Trump and conservative groups who want to see their own political views reflected in street art.

The painted slogans, commissioned in some places by activists and in others by Democratic-led city governments, originated June 9 with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s initiative to have “Black Lives Matter” painted in large yellow letters on a street leading to the White House. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio later grabbed a paint roller to help reproduce the massive words on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower.

Now conservative groups that oppose the civil rights slogan say they deserve to have their own messages illustrated — or have the “Black Lives Matter” street slogans eliminated. Their demands have been acted upon through vandalism, protests and lawsuits.

A small, pro-Trump women’s group last week sued New York City, arguing that it should be allowed to paint “Engaging, Inspiring and Empowering Women to Make a Difference!” on a city street. The conservative group Judicial Watch in Washington is suing Bowser for allegedly denying it a permit to paint its own message. And in Tulsa, the county Republican Party is pushing for counter street slogans that would read, “Back the Blue” and “Baby Lives Matter.”

The legal challenges appear likely to compel some local governments to more closely examine their laws on street painting; Tulsa’s city councilors plan to do just that on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at least one jurisdiction — Redwood City, Calif. — recently reversed course in the face of such opposition. It first permitted a resident to paint “Black Lives Matter” in Redwood City’s Courthouse Square, then power-washed the words away after another resident asked to paint a “MAGA 2020” slogan as well.

By Abigail Hauslohner