June 12 Black Lives Matter protests

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Helen Regan and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Updated 12:08 AM ET, Sat June 13, 2020
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11:57 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

New York governor is about to sign police reform bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on June 12 in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on June 12 in New York. Pool

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will sign recently passed bills on police reform into law.

"We show the nation what it should do. We lead by example," he said. "Talking is not enough. Being angry is not enough. Being emotional is not enough."

Some background: Earlier this week, New York legislators passed a package of bills providing for comprehensive police reform.

One of the bills — which passed in the state assembly and senate bodies — mandates that a police officer who injures or kills somebody through the use of "a chokehold or similar restraint" can be charged with a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The bill is named for Eric Garner, an African American man who died as a result of a police chokehold during a 2014 arrest. The chokehold tactic was already prohibited by the NYPD at the time of the incident.

Another bill will designate the attorney general as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

Another action will allow disciplinary records for individual police officers, firefighters or corrections officers to be released without their written consent. It is the reversal of a 1976 statute known as Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law, which was originally enacted to exempt police officers from being cross-examined during criminal prosecutions, according to the bill.

WATCH:

11:25 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Minneapolis police officers condemn ex-officer Derek Chauvin in open letter

From CNN's Melissa Alonso and Josh Campbell 

Members of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) condemned Derek Chauvin's actions in an open letter, which was obtained by CNN's Josh Campbell. 

Chauvin — who pressed his knee on George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as the man begged for his life and was charged with second-degree murder — had his bail set at $1.25 million during a Monday hearing. Chauvin's actions and Floyd's death have prompted protests across the United States and the world.

 "Derek Chauvin failed as a human and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life. This is not who we are," said the letter, signed by fourteen MPD officers. "We’re not the union or the administration," the letter says. 

"We stand ready to listen and embrace the calls for change, reform and rebuilding," says the letter.

"There were many more willing to sign, but the group opted to showcase people from across the PD as well as male/female, black/white, straight/gay, leader/frontline, etc. Internally, this is sending a message" said Paul Omodt, a spokesperson for the officers who penned the open letter.  

All the officers hold ranks of lieutenant or sergeant, according to Omodt.  

11:22 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Virginia governor: "We still have black oppression in our society today"

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam answers a question during a press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam answers a question during a press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va., Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

The Civil War and Jim Crow laws may be in the past, but black oppression still exists today, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in an interview Friday with David Rubenstein at the Economic Club of Washington, DC,

“I think that if you look at our history, you know, we obviously had the Civil War. And that's behind us. And then we had Jim Crow, and now that's behind us, then we had massive resistance and then mass incarceration and I think what this episode in Minneapolis just displayed, brought into focus, was that we still have black oppression in our society today just in a different form,” the governor said.

He continued:

“And so there are a lot of what I would call other monuments of inequity. Inequities in access to health care, access to education, access to the voting booth, access to business opportunities. And so our administration has been working on a lot of those, but we obviously have a lot more work to do and we're committed to doing that.”

Northam, a Democrat, announced plans to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue, but a county circuit judge temporarily blocked the removal this week.

“We've actually been looking at this legally, talked with our council over the last year. We feel that we're on solid ground… We hope this process will go quickly, and at the end of the day this statute will come down,” Northam said Friday.

11:15 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Boston mayor diverts $3 million from police overtime budget to public health

From CNN's Deanna Hackney

A Boston Police officer stands beside a protest on June 4 in Boston, Massachusetts.
A Boston Police officer stands beside a protest on June 4 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is diverting $3 million from the police department overtime pay budget, he said during a news conference Friday.

Walsh declared racism to be a "public health crisis," adding that "the health impacts of systemic racism are clear in our Covid-19 numbers." 

The mayor said that he is backing the declaration with an initial investment of $3 million that's going to be transferred from the police overtime budget to the Boston Public Health Commission. 

Boston joins other cities such as Los Angeles and New York have said they will cut or reallocate millions of dollars in police funding.

President Trump said earlier this week that the United States has the finest police in the world and cutting budgets would be a mistake.

Read the mayor's tweet:

11:10 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Minnesota grants posthumous pardon in rape case that led to lynchings of three black men

From CNN’s Kay Jones and Faith Karimi

The bronze figures of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, three black circus workers who were lynched the night of June 15, 1920.
The bronze figures of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, three black circus workers who were lynched the night of June 15, 1920. Bob King/The Duluth News Tribune via AP

The Minnesota Board of Pardons posthumously pardoned Max Mason today by unanimous vote.

Mason was accused of raping a white woman, Irene Tusken, in 1920. There was no evidence to support the allegations, and the Minnesota Historical Society said that a family doctor who examined her found no signs of rape or assault.

In the pardon hearing, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, “This particular application is critical to the name of Max Mason, but also critical to our state.”

The pardon has been decades in the making, according to Gov. Tim Walz. It was added to the agenda over six months ago.

“I don’t believe anything happens by chance,” Walz told the board. “I believe we’ve been given this opportunity, and I would ask my fellow members of the pardon board to think deeply on this and understand the implications involved with clearing Max Mason’s name.”

In a letter to Walz in January, several pardon board members pleaded for posthumous pardon and listed the reason why they believed the Board of Pardons should grant one.

The application is supported by Mike Tusken, a family member of Irene. Mike is the Chief of Police in Duluth, the city where this alleged rape and the arrest occurred.

“Not only is the conviction unjust, but the facts lack the basis for an arrest in the first place," Tusken said during the hearing.

He also said his aunt spent the last years of her life in a nursing home, suffering from the effects of a stroke and unable to “reconcile the facts or tone for her role in the lynching or wrongful conviction of Max Mason”.

 “This is 100 years overdue,” Walz said. “The timing was for a reason. It was decades in the making.”

Some background: Three men who were arrested with Mason were beaten and lynched on the night of their arrests by an angry crowd on June 15, 1920.

The Minnesota National Guard later arrived and protected the three remaining suspects, including Mason.

The site of their deaths is now the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. It's inscribed with the words of author Edmund Burke: "An event has happened upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to remain silent."

Mason was convicted with very little evidence and sentenced to about 30 years in prison. He was paroled in 1925, less than five years after his sentence began, on condition he leave the state.

Mason lived the rest of his life in Alabama before his death.

10:56 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Starbucks reverses course and allows employees to wear Black Lives Matter items

From CNN’s Cristina Alesci

Starbucks released a T-shirt design supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Starbucks released a T-shirt design supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Starbucks

Starbucks, reversing guidance it previously provided employees, is now telling workers they can wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and pins, according to a company tweet

It also designed a T-shirt for its employees to wear, expressing “solidarity during this historic time.” 

“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt. We trust you to do what’s right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect,” said the company in the tweet. 

In an internal memo to employees obtained by BuzzFeed News, Starbucks previously said it prohibited employees from wearing paraphernalia, such as T-shirts or pins, supporting the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

 

9:51 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Trump downplays any tension with top general who apologized for appearing in photo-op

From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump departs the White House to take a photo outside St. John's Church in Washington on June 1. Walking behind Trump are Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right.
President Donald Trump departs the White House to take a photo outside St. John's Church in Washington on June 1. Walking behind Trump are Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right. Patrick Semansky/AP

In another clip of the Fox News interview taped yesterday with President Trump, he again defended his St. John’s photo op, downplaying any tension with Gen. Mark Milley, who spoke out about the situation Thursday, as well as Defense Sec. Mark Esper.

“I think it was a beautiful picture. And I’ll tell ya I think Christians think it was a beautiful picture,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner.

He said it was “fine” if Milley and Esper distanced themselves, going on to tout his military relationships.

“If that's the way they feel I think that's fine. I have good relationships with the military. I have rebuilt our military. I spent $2.5 trillion, nobody else did when we took it over from president Obama and Biden the military was a joke. The military was depleted. They had planes that were 50, 60 years old. They had old broken equipment. We had no ammunition. We had no ammunition. Now we have the greatest military we have ever had,” he said.

What this is all about: Milley apologized for appearing in a photo-op with President Trump following the forceful dispersal of peaceful protesters outside the White House last week, calling the move a "mistake" and saying his presence "created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics."

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a pre-recorded speech released on Thursday that he regrets accompanying Trump on the walk from the White House to St. John's Church last week where he was photographed wearing his combat uniform and moving with the President's entourage through Lafayette Square.

The images provoked a swift wave of criticism from lawmakers and several senior former military officials who said they risked dragging the traditionally apolitical military into a contentious domestic political situation.

10:39 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

Seattle mayor calls Trump's threats to intervene in the city "illegal and unconstitutional"

From CNN's Dakin Andone, Mallika Kallingal and Andy Rose

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference in Seattle on March 16.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference in Seattle on March 16. Elaine Thompson/Pool/Getty Images

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, fired back at President Trump in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo last night after Trump appeared to suggest in a tweet that he would intervene in the city's growing protests and called for law and order.

"There is no threat right now to the public, and we are looking and taking that very seriously. We are meeting with businesses and residents," Mayor Durkan told Cuomo. "But what the President threatened is illegal and unconstitutional. And the fact that he can think that he can just tweet that and not have ramifications is just wrong."

Durkan said the protest area around the East Precinct police station – known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone – was a "block party atmosphere."

“We’ve got four blocks in Seattle… that is more like a block party atmosphere,” Durkan told Cuomo. “It's not an armed takeover. It's not a military junta.”

The police building was boarded up and emptied, and Durkan says there is no timetable yet for officers to return. 

“I don't know. We could have the Summer of Love,” said Durkan.

Speaking Thursday during an event promoted as discussing "justice disparities" in Texas, Trump said "we have to dominate the streets."

Trump has also claimed that the protesters, who he called "domestic terrorists," have taken over Seattle. The President has threatened to use active military to tamp down protests and has encouraged governors to deploy the National Guard to help assist with demonstrations.

Durkan said in a news conference Thursday, that the city will not be accepting federal troops to move the protesters out.

"The threat to invade Seattle — to divide and incite violence in our city — is not only unwelcome, it would be illegal," Durkan said. She added that the majority of the protests have been peaceful.

Some background: Seattle police want to resume operations at a downtown precinct they left empty as protesters began occupying the area around it.

The area around the precinct is now occupied by protesters, some of whom are calling it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. According to CNN affiliate KOMO, police boarded up the East Precinct building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and left it unoccupied during protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Protesters have also hung signs on the East Precinct, KOMO reported, some of which read "Seattle People Department" and "The Property of the People."

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best expressed frustration Thursday that protesters demanded that police barricades by the East Precinct be taken down, only to erect their own. 

Watch the interview:

9:20 a.m. ET, June 12, 2020

US surgeon general on George Floyd: "That could have been me"

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams listens during a briefing at the White House on April 22.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams listens during a briefing at the White House on April 22. Alex Brandon/AP

As a black man in America, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said that what happened to George Floyd could have happened to him.

"George Floyd is the same age that I am, and I look at him and I really do think that could have been me," Adams told Politico's Dan Diamond during an episode of the podcast "Pulse Check" on Thursday.

"That could be me pulled over for speeding five miles over the speed limit. That could be me with a busted tail light. That could be me who is just seen as a black man and not as the surgeon general of the United States," Adams said. "That could be me on the side of a road with a knee in my neck."

Adams, who grew up poor in rural Maryland, added that he has been pulled over for "very minimal offenses" and has been questioned in stores for things that he did not do.

"Yes, I have dealt with these things," Adams said.

"I've dealt with institutional and structural racism at many points throughout my career and again it's something I deal with on a daily basis and I think about," Adams said. "I really do think whether or not that's impacted my risk for high blood pressure, which I have, my risk for diabetes -- and I follow my blood sugars closely because I have a family history, and I am actually in the category of pre-diabetic right now."