As a reckoning spurred by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis continued to grip the country, the city’s mayor pledged to pair new police officers with “the right individuals” for training, and a St. Louis prosecutor denounced by President Trump handily won her primary.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is seeking answers on a Secret Service encounter with two mothers near the World War II Memorial on the Mall.
  • Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired after he shot Rayshard Brooks in June, filed a lawsuit against the city’s interim police chief and the mayor.
  • Kim Gardner, the St. Louis prosecutor who has been attacked by political opponents, including Trump, easily won her primary on Tuesday as she campaigns for reelection in November.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive directive Wednesday declaring “racism is a public health crisis,” writing in the directive that the coronavirus pandemic “has revealed, confirmed, and highlighted … pre-existing inequities caused by systemic racism."
  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) said his city is working to pair new police officers with better role models.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is swapping out the military-style camouflage uniforms that U.S. border agents wore on the streets of Portland, Ore., last month.
August 5, 2020 at 8:46 PM EDT

Brooklyn protester charged with sabotage of NYPD vehicle was surveilled by undercover officer

The Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint Wednesday against a 24-year-old Brooklyn resident, charging him with sabotaging a New York City Police Department van.

Jeremy Trapp was arrested on July 17 after he allegedly cut the van’s brake lines.

The unsealed court document reveals that Trapp was the subject of a days-long undercover operation and cites a confidential informant for the NYPD.

According to the court document, Trapp met the informant at a protest near the Brooklyn criminal courthouse on July 13 and the two stayed in communication over the next few days. Trapp told the informant he wanted to harm police officers, according to the court document, and the informant accompanied Trapp when he allegedly cut the wires on a marked NYPD van four days later.

The document’s acknowledgment of a confidential informant spotlights the secretive tactics used by police departments to control and surveil protesters during a moment of cultural reckoning over the police killing George Floyd in May.

An analysis published Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law also found “solid evidence” that such an approach has been used by police departments nationwide.

“Trapp’s alleged actions had potentially life-threatening consequences for NYPD officers and members of the public, who could have been injured by the vehicle’s brake failure,” Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “This Office will ensure that anyone who targets police officers or acts with the intent to undermine public safety efforts will face justice.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea added, “No one should confuse this conduct with lawful protest.”

A message was left with Trapp’s attorney, a public defender, late Wednesday night.

By Jessica Wolfrom
August 5, 2020 at 8:11 PM EDT

Seattle City Council votes to trim police budget and reduce officer numbers

The Seattle City Council voted on a number of proposals Wednesday to reduce the city’s police force and trim the department budget.

Up to 32 police patrol positions were cut by unanimous vote. The council also removed funds for implicit bias training, eliminated $800,000 in recruitment and retention money, as well as $50,000 in travel costs. It set a cap on the salaries of high-ranking police officers.

Members of the city council voted to curb police participation in Seattle’s Navigation Team, a group of outreach workers and officers who aid the city’s homeless. Amendments passed Wednesday cut 14 police officers from the team and redirects $1.4 million in funds from policing to outreach efforts.

Overall, the approved amendments would shrink the department by as many as 100 police.

A proposal to slash the department’s budget by $54 million failed, and council member Teresa Mosqueda said earlier this week that smaller trims would set the stage for deeper cuts next year of more than 40 percent of the budget.

A crowd of protesters gathered Wednesday at the county’s juvenile detention center and planned to march to City Hall in support of the budget cuts, the Seattle Times reported.

Some demonstrators were collecting signatures to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), who on Tuesday said that “cuts of 100 officers between now and the end of the year is really not the way to proceed,” according to KOMO News.

The city’s police chief and the Seattle Police Officers Guild opposed the cuts. The union launched an online petition to “stop the defunding of the Seattle Police Department” ahead of the full city council vote on this legislation on Aug. 10.

By Ben Guarino
August 5, 2020 at 7:53 PM EDT

Minneapolis commission blocks plan to dismantle police from November ballot

A move to disband the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of George Floyd’s killing faced an uncertain future Wednesday after a commission blocked the city council from putting a necessary initiative on the November ballot.

The proposal would replace the police department with a new public safety agency, but the Minneapolis Charter Commission voted 10-5 to delay consideration of a ballot measure to eliminate the city charter requirement that the city maintains a certain number of police officers per capita.

The Commission, a court-appointed board of volunteers, passed a 90-day delay, which prevents the Minneapolis City Council from meeting an Aug. 21 deadline to get the proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot — a move that effectively kicks the issue to 2021.

The proposal, backed by a majority of the city council, would allow Minneapolis to replace the troubled department, which has long been accused of racism and use of excessive force against people of color, with a new agency focused on a “holistic, public health-oriented approach” to public safety.

City council members have said the proposed new agency, tentatively named the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, would include a division of armed law enforcement officers. Yet the proposal does not say many officers would be employed or what their specific role would be — uncertainty that was repeatedly cited by charter commission members who argued voters deserve more specifics.

“The council says, ‘Trust us. We’ll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us,’ ” Barry Clegg, a Minneapolis attorney who chairs the commission said ahead of Wednesday’s vote. “Well, I don’t. … We need more time to fill in these blanks so voters can make a decision based on an actual specific plan and not the promise of one.”

By Holly Bailey
August 5, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT

Confederate statue vandalized outside county courthouse in Alabama

A Confederate statue outside an Alabama courthouse was found vandalized Wednesday with what appeared to be red paint, the Associated Press reported.

The rebel statue has stood outside the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville since 1905, when a Confederate heritage group erected it. An inscription on its base dedicated the monument to the Confederate dead.

The monument recently became the locus of protests calling for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in May. Now, it is the latest of many Confederate statues to be vandalized, quietly moved off public land, or violently torn down as the country continues to grapple with its racist past.

City and county officials have passed resolutions to move the monument from the courthouse to a city cemetery, but that hasn’t happened, the AP reported.

A state law passed in 2017 to protect Confederate memorials penalizes moving or altering such monuments with a $25,000 fine.

By Jessica Wolfrom
August 5, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT

Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush defeats longtime House incumbent in Missouri primary

Cori Bush, a nurse, pastor and prominent figure in St. Louis’s Black Lives Matter movement, defeated longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, tallying another victory for the party’s left.

Bush, 44, looked to politics after fighting for racial justice on the front lines of protests in Ferguson following the death of the Black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a White police officer in 2014.

Her victory ended a 50-year political dynasty. Clay was elected in 2000, succeeding his father, who had served for 32 years. This was Bush’s second time facing Clay, to whom she lost in 2018.

“It is historic that this year, of all years, we’re sending a Black, working-class single mother, who has been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress,” she said in her victory speech.

Bush would be the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress.

“This is a huge upset and another groundbreaking win for our movement against a corporate-backed political dynasty,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, the organization that fundraised for Bush and is closely aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other female, minority members of Congress known as “the Squad.”

Bush’s win is the latest example of a liberal victory over the Democratic establishment, pushing the party further left on issues such as Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal and other racial justice policies.

“I’m just the protester — I’m just the activist with no name, no title and no real money,” Bush said. “That’s all they said that I was. But St. Louis showed up today.”

Bush was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and gained attention after the documentary “Knock Down the House,” which shadowed her 2018 bid.

“If you don’t know, now you know: The Squad is here to stay, and it’s growing,” said Rojas.

By Jessica Wolfrom
August 5, 2020 at 3:08 PM EDT

Fort Worth police captain bans Black Lives Matter attire from the workplace

Fort Worth Police Capt. Tyson Cheek barred employees from wearing clothes that support Black Lives Matter and suspended “themed dress days” at a 911 call center in late July. His action came after some employees had arrived to work in Black Lives Matter attire in protest of what they believe were insensitive emails sent by Cheek days before.

On weekends, 911 dispatchers and employees at the Fort Worth police department’s call center are allowed to swap their uniforms for sports jerseys and other attire, but in mid-July, as Major League Baseball was revving up for its delayed season opener, Cheek sent an email to employees regarding the dress code.

“I guess since baseball is starting this weekend we can do 'wear your baseball-themed stuff,'” Cheek wrote. “But the players kneeling during the national anthem even in baseball is depressing my sports appetite, so wear your baseball gear if you got it or first-responder stuff."

Several employees complained about Cheek’s memo and contacted local activist Kyev Tatum.

“Captain Cheek decided to politicize the department by making what we believe is offensive comments about the Black Lives Matter movement,” Tatum told NBC 5.

Although Cheek attempted to apologize for his comments, it only stoked further indignation among some employees, prompting at least three to file formal complaints with the city’s human resource department. Several employees wore clothing emblazoned with Black Lives Matter to work, NBC 5 reported.

“’I’m sorry but I’m not sorry’ does not count as an apology,” said Tatum, who supported the employees’ decision to wear Black Lives Matter clothing to work. “Baseball is political, basketball is political.”

On July 26, Cheek sent an email to employees banning Black Lives Matter attire from the workplace and has since met with a supervisor who “handled the incident,” according to a statement obtained by NBC 5.

By Jessica Wolfrom
August 5, 2020 at 2:48 PM EDT

Chicago officials recommend officer lose job after deadly 2014 shooting

Six years after a Black Chicago teen was shot and killed by police, officials have recommended that one of the officers accused of lying about the fatal encounter be fired.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) recommended this week that police officer Saharat Sampim be separated from the Chicago Police Department on multiple allegations of making false statements. The police department has agreed with COPA’s recommendation and findings.

According to numerous media reports, Sampim was present at the encounter but was not the officer who killed 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh in August 2014. That officer has not been charged.

After multiple investigations and what officials described as “an exhaustive review of all relevant videos, forensic data, witness statements (civilian and sworn), and documentary evidence,” COPA investigators concluded that Sampim knowingly provided false statements. Investigators said the statements could not be reasonably attributed to a mistake of perception, timing or memory, and recommended he lose his job.

“An officer’s credibility and integrity are fundamental to the performance of their sworn duty,” COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said in a statement. “We are in a critical time in our city and truthfulness must be evident when an officer is providing statements of what is witnessed, the officer’s actions and those actions taken by fellow officers.”

The matter is now before the Chicago Police Board. Max Caproni, the board’s executive director, told The Washington Post an initial status hearing took place this morning via audio conference. The officer was not present, but his attorney participated.

“We’re just in the initial stages of the case. There are no witnesses yet,” Caproni said.

A separate media query to the law firm reportedly representing Sampim was not immediately returned.

By Donna Owens
August 5, 2020 at 2:05 PM EDT

Former officer who shot Rayshard Brooks sues over firing

ATLANTA — The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks is suing the mayor and interim police chief, saying his firing violated his constitutional rights and the city code. Meanwhile, prosecutors have asked a judge to revoke his bond.

Garrett Rolfe was fired June 13, the day after he fatally shot Brooks outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, he says he was fired “without an investigation, without proper notice, without a disciplinary hearing, and in direct violation of the municipal code of the City of Atlanta.”

Rolfe, 27, faces 11 charges, including felony murder. He was granted bond June 30.

By Associated Press
August 5, 2020 at 1:51 PM EDT

Therapy llama ‘Caesar the No Drama Llama’ calms tensions at protests

Even during the intensity of the unrest in Portland, Ore., there were pockets of calm around Caesar McCool.

Caesar, better known as “Caesar the No Drama Llama,” is a retired 6-year-old Argentine grand champion show llama now working as a therapy llama and “llamactivist.” One of his best talents is offering emotional-support hugs, which people line up to give him at protests and other places where Caesar shows up.

He’s somewhat of a celebrity llama.

By Molly O'Brien
August 5, 2020 at 1:08 PM EDT

A WNBA owner dismissed players’ protests. Now they’re campaigning for her Senate opponent.

WNBA players are stepping up their opposition to Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler, a U.S. senator, by wearing “Vote Warnock” T-shirts this week to show support for the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), who is challenging the Republican from Georgia for her seat.

Players wearing the shirts include members of Loeffler’s team.

Loeffler, who was appointed to her Senate seat and faces a special election in November, alienated players last month when she objected to the league’s Black Lives Matter message on uniforms and on the court at IMG Academy in Florida, where the abbreviated season is being played under coronavirus-related restrictions.

In a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, Loeffler suggested players wear an American flag on their jerseys and keep fans’ focus on games rather than social justice messages.

By Cindy Boren
August 5, 2020 at 12:49 PM EDT

Portland declared riot Tuesday night after hundreds marched on police union building; pickup drove through protest

PORTLAND, Ore. — Protests continued for the 68th consecutive evening on Tuesday, with the center of the night’s action again occurring away from Portland’s battle-scarred downtown as police declared a riot in the city’s northwest.

There were multiple reports of gunfire near that protest, which began at Peninsula Park about 8 p.m. before moving on to the Portland Police Association Office. Late Tuesday, a pickup truck drove suddenly through the crowd.

There were no reports of injuries from the pickup incident or the gunfire. The Portland Police Bureau said in a statement that it declared a riot at 1:23 a.m. Pacific time in response to protesters breaking into the building. Police said they used crowd-control munitions and made several arrests but did not deploy tear gas.

The continued demonstrations away from Portland’s downtown mark a shift in the city’s protest movement. At the start of the protests in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, crowds had gathered at downtown’s Multnomah County Justice Center and the adjacent Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

But after federal officers pulled back from downtown on July 30 and their duties were taken over by Oregon State Police, the downtown protests shrank in size and intensity. State officers have taken a more hands-off approach, only rarely appearing outside the courthouse.

State officials and President Trump have declared victory even as protests still occur each night in other parts of the city. Although smaller, these demonstrations have recently been ending in violent clashes between protesters and city police.

On Tuesday evening, protesters gathered about 8 p.m. before marching to the union building. The night grew tense as the crowd assembled outside the building, which was defended by a fence and officers in riot gear.

After a pickup appeared at the protests at about 11:15 p.m. local time, the driver accelerated through the crowd. A man was later filmed exiting the vehicle with a gun and arguing with protesters who he said had thrown things at his truck.

“I don’t want to run nobody over,” the man said in the video. “I love Black people.”

Police said that the incident was being investigated and that the driver was cooperating with law enforcement.

Separately, there were two further incidents involving gunshots early Wednesday. Police said nobody was injured but that witnesses would not talk to officers.

By Adam Taylor
August 5, 2020 at 12:44 PM EDT

He got life for stealing hedge clippers. The Louisiana Supreme Court says it’s a fair sentence.

More than two decades ago, police in Shreveport, La., stopped Fair Wayne Bryant on the side of the road for allegedly stealing a pair of hedge clippers. His vehicle looked like one that had been used in a recent home burglary, they told the Black 38-year-old moments before arresting him.

Bryant insisted the clippers police found in the van belonged to his wife, but he did make a confession to the officers: After his vehicle had broken down on an unfamiliar road, he had entered a carport in search of a tank of gas.

That disclosure would eventually land Bryant life in prison, a sentence that has effectively been rubber-stamped by the state’s highest legal authority.

By Teo Armus
August 5, 2020 at 12:24 PM EDT

Group denounces ‘relentless attacks’ on Black women as Biden weighs running mate

Dozens of Black female leaders wrote an open letter denouncing what they describe as “relentless” racist and sexist attacks on African American women believed to be among the potential running mates being considered by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The one-page letter released Wednesday has more than 100 signatures from women who hold leadership roles in politics, civil and human rights, education, and business, including the Rev. Leah Daughtry, chief executive of the 2016 and 2008 Democratic National Convention Committees; Johnnetta B. Cole, National Chair of the National Council of Negro Women and former president of Spelman College; and Angela Rye, an attorney and CNN commentator.

The letter notes the rampant speculation around potential vice-presidential picks, with contenders believed to include Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.); Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.); former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; and former U.S. ambassador Susan E. Rice.

The letter laments that “highly credentialed” women have weathered harsh public critiques and been “disrespected in the media.”

“We are not your Aunt Jemimas,” the signatories wrote. “The use of the racist myth of a happy, Black servant portrayed as a happy domestic worker loyal to her White employer is not lost on us. While some of the relentless attacks on Black women and our leadership abilities have been more suggestive than others, make no mistake — we are qualified and ambitious without remorse.”

Jotaka Eaddy, a former Silicon Valley tech executive, and founder and chief executive of Full Circle Strategies, told The Washington Post she initiated the letter during a phone call that drew about 90 women over the weekend.

“We have come together out of concern for this narrative that attacks Black women,” Eaddy said, adding that no one is being paid or directed by any campaign or individual involved in the search.

By Donna Owens
August 5, 2020 at 12:21 PM EDT

Democrats introduce bill to give the Federal Reserve a new mission: Ending racial inequality

Congressional Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make reducing racial inequality in the U.S. economy an official part of the Federal Reserve’s mission.

The Federal Reserve Racial and Economic Equity Act requires the central bank to take action that “minimizes and eliminates racial disparities in employment, wages, wealth and access to affordable credit.”

It would be the first major change to the Fed’s mandate since 1977 and would significantly alter the central bank’s focus. The Fed’s current mandate from Congress is to keep prices stable and maximize the number of Americans with jobs.

By Heather Long