June 19 Black Lives Matter protest news

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Helen Regan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 1:04 AM ET, Sat June 20, 2020
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8:59 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth demonstrations are happening across the US today

A woman prays during an event hosted by OneRace Movement at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park to commemorate Juneteenth, the date of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the US, on June 19. OneRace Movement, a religious organization, hosted the event in an effort to call for change and unity across races, classes, denominations and culture.
A woman prays during an event hosted by OneRace Movement at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park to commemorate Juneteenth, the date of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the US, on June 19. OneRace Movement, a religious organization, hosted the event in an effort to call for change and unity across races, classes, denominations and culture. John Bazemore/AP

Demonstrations, rallies and gatherings to mark Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery, are taking place in several US cities today, including Chicago, New York, Tulsa, Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Washington, DC.

Protesters march in a Black Lives Matter demonstration organized by the Dallas Black Firefighters Association on Juneteenth 2020 in Dallas.
Protesters march in a Black Lives Matter demonstration organized by the Dallas Black Firefighters Association on Juneteenth 2020 in Dallas. LM Otero/AP

In the nation's capital, CNN correspondent Pete Muntean described the scene: There's a march being led by pro-athletes from the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics that is underway and is headed to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

"They want to use their platform to try to effect real substantive change against racial injustice, racial inequity, police violence here in the country. In front of the group there is Natasha Cloud. She is a Mystics player, a national championship team, and here in Washington, these players are heroes. They are revered. And she says they are people first and players second," Muntean described.

WATCH:

12:29 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Kansas governor signs proclamation marking Juneteenth National Freedom Day

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a proclamation today declaring June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

"Juneteenth is not just a day to celebrate the end of slavery," Kelly said during the news conference. "It's an opportunity to recognize a nation's conflicting history, reflect on our struggle to realize true freedom for all Americans, and pledge to continue fighting to end systemic racism." 

Kelly said she is committed to making Kansas a more equitable place to live. 

The governor also announced that she is convening a commission to find and present policy actions that her administration can take to tackle issues of racial equity and justice in Kansas.

Kelly said she will have more details to announce next week regarding the commission, adding that it will first focus on law enforcement and then expand to other systemic problems that impact communities in Kansas.

CNN's Rachel Webb contributed to this post.

12:11 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Officer involved in Breonna Taylor's death will be fired, Louisville mayor says

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks to a group gathered for a vigil in memory of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 6.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks to a group gathered for a vigil in memory of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 6. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer is initiating termination procedures against Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison, an officer involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, the mayor said in a statement without providing any additional details.

“Unfortunately, due to a provision in state law that I very much would like to see changed, both the Chief and I are precluded from talking about what brought us to this moment, or even the timing of this decision,” the mayor said 

Taylor was killed after officers forced their way inside her home and exchanged shots with her boyfriend just before 1 a.m. on March 13.

12:07 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Black soccer players form coalition to address racial inequalities

From CNN's Jabari Jackson

Toronto FC Defender Justin Morrow applauds during the 2017 MLS Cup Final.
Toronto FC Defender Justin Morrow applauds during the 2017 MLS Cup Final. Jeff Chevrier/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

To commemorate Juneteenth, a group of Black Major League Soccer players have announced the formation of the Black Players Coalition of MLS to “address the racial inequalities” in the league and North America.

“Beyond addressing these overlooked systemic issues around soccer in this country, the BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have prevented black people from having an equitable stake in society,” said the organization in a statement via Twitter. “Among the many goals we will strive to achieve in our black communities, some will include targeted spending, educational advancement initiatives, and mentorship programs.”

Justin Morrow, a defender for Toronto FC, will serve as executive director of the group’s board, which includes 11 other Black players in the league.

More than 70 MLS players have sign on to join the coalition, according to the group.  

“As we celebrate Juneteenth and the coming together of our coalition, we must remind ourselves that such progressivism was once met with vehement backlash,” the organization added within the statement. “May this reminder serve as a warning to us all that confronting systemic racism head-on will never be a smooth, constantly upward trending path, but rather a timeless battle that will force us to reinvent the very essence of our institutions.”

 Read the full statement:  

11:33 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Massachusetts governor issues proclamation marking "Juneteenth Independence Day"

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to reporters in Boston on May 27.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to reporters in Boston on May 27. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images/File

Massachusetts will begin observing “Juneteenth Independence Day” each year to recognize the end of slavery in United States “as well as the significant contributions individuals of African descent have made to the Commonwealth and to the United States,” Gov. Charlie Baker announced in a press statement Friday.

Juneteenth Independence Day will be observed on the Sunday closest to June 19 each year, the statement says.

12:03 p.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Statue of Washington Redskins founder removed from DC stadium

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Lindy Royce-Bartlett

The George Preston Marshall Monument is removed from outside RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, on Friday.
The George Preston Marshall Monument is removed from outside RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, on Friday. Courtesy Denise Rucker Krepp

This morning, the George Preston Marshall Monument was removed from just outside RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

Marshall was the founder and original owner of the Washington Redskins — a team that used to play at the Stadium before moving to Fedex Field in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Marshall was well-known for opposing integration in the NFL and didn't sign a Black American to the Redskin roster until 1962 — 16 years after the league began signing Black players.

"This morning, Events DC removed the George Preston Marshall memorial statue that stood out front of RFK Stadium. 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. 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," Events DC, which oversees operations of the stadium, said in a statement.

"Removing this statue is a small and an overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice," the statement continued.

The words "change the name" had been spray painted onto the monument before being taken down this morning.

The removal of this statue comes as other contentious statues and monuments have been removed across the country following the death of George Floyd.

10:52 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

The Juneteenth flag is flying across the US

The Juneteenth flag flies over Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday.
The Juneteenth flag flies over Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Juneteenth flag is flying in cities across the US today, as Americans mark the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery.

The flag — which is a red, white and blue banner with a bursting star in the middle — includes multiple symbols to represent the end of slavery.

The Boston Red Sox tweeted an image of the flag flying over Fenway Park this morning:

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also announced the flag would fly over City Hall.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the flag would fly over the state capitol for the first time in history:

10:32 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth will be an official holiday for New York City and schools, mayor says

From CNN's Sheena Jones

Starting next year, Juneteenth will be an official holiday for New York City and schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday during the city’s daily news conference.

“The city is engaging its municipal labor unions to implement the change next year across all public schools, uniformed agencies and city workers,” de Blasio said.

Juneteenth commemorates the date that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told slaves of their emancipation. The holiday is the oldest regular US celebration of the end of slavery. 

9:57 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020

Nancy Pelosi on Juneteenth: "We must insist on real, meaningful action to achieve justice"

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Clare Foran

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference in Washington on May 20.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference in Washington on May 20. Michael Brochstein/Sipa/AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement commemorating Juneteenth that today should be a day for reflection and that Americans must "insist on real, meaningful action to achieve justice and save lives.”

“This Juneteenth must be a day of reflection that moves our nation to finally confront and combat its long and shameful history of systemic racial injustice targeted at communities of color," Pelosi said.

Pelosi noted in her statement that she has ordered the removal of portraits of Confederate leaders from the US Capitol.

"The halls of Congress are the heart of our democracy and should reflect our highest ideals, not memorialize men who embody racism, bigotry and hatred," Pelosi.

Pelosi sent a letter to the House Clerk on Thursday asking for the removal of portraits of four former speakers of the House who served in the Confederacy, the latest effort by Congress to reexamine Capitol Hill's relationship to Confederate leaders and symbols.

Pelosi originally said at her news conference that the clerk would oversee removal of the portraits on Friday, but later her office announced plans to remove the portraits Thursday afternoon. The portraits were removed later in the day on Thursday.

Today marks Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the date that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told slaves of their emancipation. The holiday is the oldest regular US celebration of the end of slavery.