June 11 Black Lives Matter protests

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Joshua Berlinger, Steve George, Laura Smith-Spark and Peter Wilkinson, CNN

Updated 12:41 AM ET, Fri June 12, 2020
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2:32 p.m. ET, June 11, 2020

House Republican leader says he supports banning chokeholds

From CNN's Haley Byrd and Clare Foran

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 11.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 11. Susan Walsh/AP

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday told reporters he supports banning chokeholds, a key priority Democrats have brought forward in their police reform proposal. 

His comments were a departure from other congressional Republicans, who have raised concerns about federalizing policing practices. 

“There should be severe consequences,” he added of officers who perform chokeholds on people who have already been handcuffed.

But during his news conference, McCarthy also hit Democrats for announcing their policing plan without collaborating with Republicans on it first. 

“Democratic leadership has kept Republicans shut out of those discussions and in turn left millions of Americans voices left out of this important conversation,” he said. McCarthy refused to detail what policy disagreements he has with the Democratic legislation, however.

“Let’s put all ideas up front, and let’s work together to produce law, not politics,” he said.

He also criticized Democrats for the “defund the police” rallying cry, which top congressional Democrats have publicly pushed back on this week. He said Republicans “stand by and support our police officers.”

Asked about renaming military bases named after confederate soldiers, McCarthy said he isn’t opposed to the idea and thinks “it would be appropriate to change some.” He said he will wait to see what legislation comes out of annual national defense authorization act negotiations. 

Watch here:

12:05 p.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Cuomo says he supports New York's Christopher Columbus statue

State of New York
State of New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he supports New York City's statue of Christopher Columbus because it represents the "Italian-American contribution in New York."

Anti-racist and Black Lives Matter protests have prompted the removal of some statues of Confederate leaders — and now statues of Christopher Columbus, another controversial figure in US history, are also being taken down.

Columbus has long been a contentious figure in history for his treatment of the Indigenous communities he encountered and for his role in the violent colonization at their expense.

Asked today if the Columbus statue in Central Park should be removed, Cuomo said he understands "the dialogue that's been going on for a number of years," but ultimately supports the statue.

"The statue has come to represent and signify appreciation of the Italian-American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it," he said.

The governor added that some of Columbus' acts are ones that "nobody would support."

10:56 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

House lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to remove Confederate names from military bases 

From CNN's Phil Mattingly 

Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images
Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images

A bipartisan House bill to remove the names of Confederate generals from military installations has been introduced by Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Maryland, and a Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska. 

“The symbols and individuals that our military honors matter. It matters to the Black soldier serving at an installation honoring the name of a leader who fought to preserve slavery and oppression. It matters to the culture of inclusivity and unity needed for our military to get the job done,” Brown said in a news release. “Removing these names will be another step in an honest accounting of our history and an expression that we continue to strive to form a more perfect union.”

This bill comes after the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment behind closed doors for the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate generals from military assets within three years, just as President Donald Trump vowed to fight any such effort.

The amendment was added to the annual defense authorization bill, and it could still be stripped out as it makes its way through the legislative process.

10:30 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

NASCAR driver on confederate flag: "There’s just no good that comes from that flag"

Bubba Wallace speaks on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia.
Bubba Wallace speaks on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Following NASCAR's decision to ban the confederate flag at its events, driver Bubba Wallace said "there’s just no good that comes from that flag."

Speaking on "Good Morning America" today, Wallace — who is NASCAR's only full-time black driver — detailed his experience at last's night's race in Martinsville, Virginia. Wallace, who was driving a special Black Lives Matter paint scheme on his #43 car, finished in 11th-place at Martinsville Speedway.  

"I sincerely thought it was the biggest race of my career with everything going on in the world and how we are standing up and making a positive message out of it, trying to create a new image for the sport of NASCAR," he said of the race.

On NASCAR's decision on the confederate flag, Wallace said this:

"This is about so much more than ourselves. This is about our brothers and sisters that are suffering through a lot. And you look at the Confederate flag and how… Yes, it may mean heritage to most, but to a group that is in a lot of pain right now -- the African-American community is in a lot of pain – that is a symbol of hate. It brings back so many bad memories, signs of oppression from way back when. There’s just no good that comes from that flag."

10:28 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

NYPD commissioner: “Difficult conversations” need to be had about race within the department

NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea speaks in January.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea speaks in January. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

In a social media address to the New York City Police Department, commissioner Dermot Shea addressed morale within the ranks, protests, the role of the media and police reform.

Shea thanked the department for working around the clock, away from their families for the last two weeks as protests have been continuous in the city. He acknowledged that the protests have been largely peaceful and asked the department to “hang in there” to allow everyone to “have a voice at this difficult time.”

Shea's address comes after New York legislators passed a package of bills providing for comprehensive police reform, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he intended to sign them all quickly.

Here's what Shea said:

On police reform: With so much discussion about police reform across the country and in an effort to boost morale within the ranks, Shea said, “I think we are the best police department in this country. We’re a police department that the whole world looks up to, never forget that.” Later on adding, “You are that thin line that keeps this society functioning, period.” 

He continued addressing what the department has done to improve relations within the community like neighborhood policing, using data and technology to target where most crime happens and applauding the fact that crime has been down in NYC for years.

“Nobody is mentioning that we have been reforming for the past six years,” mentioning policies and tools that already exist in the NYPD, like body cameras, de-escalation training and a no chokehold policy.

Shea acknowledged that “we’re far from perfect” and said “difficult conversations” need to be had about race within the department — not just among uniformed officers, but civilian members as well. 

On NYPD incidents: In reaction to the “bad incidents” that the NYPD has faced the last few weeks, Shea said, “I won’t allow people in this noble profession to stain that shield you wear on your chest… we can’t have people acting inappropriately.” 

He said that there may be a few more disciplinary actions taken against officers, “not a lot more, but there may be more” and says he will hold people accountable.

On protests: Shea said they will continue to allow them to happen and he mentioned the media at these protests saying the department needs to make sure the press has the ability to do their jobs.

10:15 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Juneteenth is "meaningful" to Trump and his rally will share progress for black Americans, White House says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks on June 10.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks on June 10. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Thursday that President Trump will resume rallies on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the emancipation of slaves, in Tulsa, a city with a history of a deadly racial massacre in order to “share some of the progress that has been made” for the African American community.

Asked what Juneteenth means to the President, she said, “The African American community is very near and dear to his heart. At these rallies he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities,” citing criminal justice reform and HBCU funding.

She continued, “He’s working on rectifying injustices… So it’s a meaningful day to him and it’s a day where wants to share some of the progress that’s been made as we look forward and more that needs to be done.”

Past controversies: As President, Trump has faced blistering criticism over his public and private statements, like in 2017, when he blamed "both sides" after violence sparked by a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He also privately referred to some African nations as "s***hole countries" and lambasted the protests led overwhelmingly by black NFL players.

Last year, the US House of Representatives voted to condemn the President's comments when he told four congresswomen of color to "go back" to where they came from. And before taking office, he stoked racial tensions – taking out a full page ad calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five and being one of the leading voices for the birther movement. 

10:07 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Top general says appearing with Trump after protesters were forcibly removed was a "mistake"

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on May 15.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on May 15. Alex Brandon/AP

The top general in the United States military acknowledged that his controversial appearance with President Trump and other administration officials that was taken last week after law enforcement officers forcibly cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square was a “mistake,” in a pre-recorded video. 

“As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune. As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week. That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society,” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said in a pre-recorded speech to a group of graduates from the National Defense University.

“I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” he added.
Gen. Mark Milley, right, walks with President Donald Trump, left, as Trump departs the White House to take a photo outside St. John's Church in Washington on June 1.
Gen. Mark Milley, right, walks with President Donald Trump, left, as Trump departs the White House to take a photo outside St. John's Church in Washington on June 1. Patrick Semansky/AP

Milley’s military fatigues-clad appearance in the photographs and video, along with that of Defense Secretary Mark Esper, drew criticism from lawmakers and several senior former military officials who said the image risked dragging the traditionally apolitical military into a contentious domestic political situation.

The imagery showed Milley and Esper accompanying Trump to Lafayette Square and was taken shortly after seemingly peaceful protesters were cleared from the area by law enforcement.

WATCH:

9:39 a.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Scotland plans to build museum about history of slavery to address and fight racism

From Niamh Kennedy in Dublin

Scotland plans to establish a museum devoted to the history of slavery as a show of solidarity towards anti-racism. The measure is part of a motion which passed in the Scottish Parliament Wednesday which calls for a slavery museum to “address our historic links to the slave trade.”

The motion states Scotland “understands and shares the deep concern and horror that many feel about racism and racial injustice and police brutality across the world.”

To that end urges the UK to suspend all export licenses for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US because of police tactics against protesters.” The motion also expresses regret “that so many monuments and street names still celebrate the perpetrators and profiteers of slavery”, calling on all levels of government to “address this toxic legacy.”

The motion was passed with 52 votes for and 0 votes against.

Moments from the debate: Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf gave an impassioned speech during the parliamentary debate in which he called on Scotland to “hold a mirror up to ourselves and to confront the racism that exists here”.

Yousaf spoke of his own experiences of racism as a Scottish Pakistani person saying he didn’t have to cast his mind far back to someone calling him a “Paki," branding his Twitter timeline as “cesspit of racism”.

Yousaf also drew attention to the lack of diversity in Scottish politics, highlighting the fact that there has not been a single black Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) during the twenty year history of the devolved government.

According to Yousef, the only non-white MSP’s have all been Asian Scottish men decrying the lack of minority women representation. Yousef also proceeded to list all of the white personnel of the Scottish justice system to highlight the lack of diversity.

“I hope we are sitting uncomfortably because these should be uncomfortable truths. So don’t just tweet Black Lives Matter, don’t just post a hashtag, because people of color don’t need your gestures. Yes solidarity is helpful, but we need for you is action and to be anti-racist by your deeds” he added.

Yousef finished his speech by reciting to Parliament the last words of George Floyd telling the officers “please sir, please sir, I cannot breathe."

12:26 p.m. ET, June 11, 2020

Pennsylvania governor: "We must do better. Change starts now."

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with the media in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on May 29.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with the media in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on May 29. Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News/AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a tweet this morning that he is taking executive action on police reform.

“We can’t go on without acknowledging that our system was built on a foundation of racism,” he posted, adding, “We can do better. We must do better. Change starts now.”

CNN is reaching out to Wolf’s office for details.

Wolf's post comes as other states and cities across the country are weighing measures to ban neck restraints in the aftermath of George Floyd's death and the widespread protests that followed.

Read his tweet: