TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Miami-Dade County school board OKs anti-racism instruction.
— Lexington police probe slurs at online city council meeting on police reform.
— President Trump says police ‘have not been treated fairly.’
MIAMI — The Miami-Dade County school board has approved anti-racism instruction as part of the curriculum in one of the nation’s largest school districts.
Board members voted 8-1 late Wednesday, saying Miami-Dade schools need to firmly combat racism.
“It is hard to take a stance that talks about the wrongs of 400-plus years, and I know what people are going to say ‘Well, I didn’t do it. It wasn’t my fault.’ But what is it that we do? What do we tell our children?” said Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, one of two black board members.
Some members said they fielded hundreds of calls and emails over the proposal, apparently prompted by a misinformation campaign accusing them of trying to indoctrinate children.
Marta Perez, the only member who voted against it, said she received angry calls because of her opposition to the curriculum change. She says the district should focus instead on academics and existing initiatives that already emphasize inclusion.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Commissioners in the West Virginia county, where Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was born, have voted to keep his statue outside the courthouse.
The Harrison County Commission voted 2-1 Wednesday against a motion to return the equestrian statue to the Daughters of Confederacy, which gifted it to the county in 1953, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported.
Commissioner David Hinkle voted in favor of removing it, saying he was “very ashamed of the backbone” of the commission following the vote.
Nearly 20 people asked commissioners to let the statue stand or have voters decide its fate. About a dozen others called for its removal, including two speakers who said they were Jackson’s relatives, The Exponent Telegram reported.
Colin Grant Jackson joined the virtual meeting from Illinois, saying he’s a Civil War buff.
“But I also believe that a heroic statue of his cause in front of the courthouse sends a very specific message of white supremacy against the black population of the county.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A virtual city council meeting in Kentucky was interrupted Wednesday night by people making racial and homophobic slurs.
The Zoom meeting with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County council members was an open forum for the public to discuss police reform.
“As offensive as these comments are, I think there are a lot of our community members who hear them more often than we do,” Council member Mark Swanson, who is white, said during the meeting. “I think it’s a painful lesson for those of us who look like me on the council.”
One participant in the meeting, AJ Vaughn, said it was “disheartening” that “people can say such things and not have their faces shown.”
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported it was an open forum after a six-hour council meeting Tuesday to discuss police accountability didn’t leave time for public comment. Lexington Vice Mayor Steve Kay said the council was unable to screen the calls Wednesday.
Lexington police say they were investigating the calls.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump weighed in on the shooting of Rayshard Brooks and the Atlanta police officer charged Wednesday with felony murder during an interview on Fox News.
Trump said “you can’t resist a police officer” and said he heard an explanation from Garrett Rolfe’s lawyer that the officer heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a flash in front of him.
“I don’t know that I would have necessarily believed that, but I will tell you, that’s a very interesting thing and maybe that’s so,” Trump said. “They are going to have to find out. It’s up to Justice right now. It’s going to be up to Justice. I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country. They have not been treated fairly.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that a police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds — not the 8:46 that has become a global symbol of police brutality.
The initial complaint alleges Derek Chauvin “had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive.” But timestamps cited in the document’s description of the incident, much of which was caught on video, showed Chauvin had his knee on Floyd for 7 minutes, 46 seconds, including 1 minute, 53 seconds after Floyd appeared to stop breathing.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office said in a statement that “these kinds of technical matters” can be handled in a future amendment to the criminal case if it becomes necessary.
The Associated Press began asking about the error the day after the initial charges were filed, but prosecutors had repeatedly declined to address it as their 8 minutes and 46 seconds began to be used by protesters around the globe for its symbolism.
SEATTLE — Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says his lawyers will review all the misdemeanor cases referred to his office involving peaceful protesters and some could be dismissed or referred to a restorative-justice program.
The Seattle Times reports Holmes said Wednesday that after weeks of anguished demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the killing of other black people around the country, it is plain to him that peaceful protesters should not be prosecuted despite having been arrested during events that have sometimes devolved into violent and destructive confrontations with Seattle police and supporting law enforcement agencies.
Thirty-seven misdemeanor cases have been referred to Holmes’ office for offenses such as obstructing police, failure to disperse and resisting arrest. Most of the arrests came in the week after the first Seattle protest on May 29, four days after Floyd died after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for air.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A private college in West Virginia said Wednesday it is removing the name of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd from its health center, saying his name had caused “divisiveness and pain” without explicitly noting his complicated past on racial matters.
Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s but subsequently denounced the organization. He served in the Senate for 51 years and died in 2010 at age 92.
Bethany College President Tamara Rodenberg said on the school’s website that Byrd’s name will be removed from the college’s Robert C. Byrd Health Center “to demonstrate Bethany College’s capacity to change, to listen, and to learn.”
Bethany’s statement did not specifically mention Byrd’s past ties to the Klan.
“Our lives are marked by decisions, by actions, and by grace, and today we embrace all three in a tangible, visible way at our beloved Bethany College,” Rodenberg wrote.
Bethany College’s statement said the college recognized in the past few weeks that Byrd’s name attached to the health center “created divisiveness and pain for members of Bethany community, both past and present.”
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Little Rock is banning police from using neck restraints following nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Mayor Frank Scott said Wednesday.
Scott signed an executive order banning use of the restraints or officers being trained on them, and also requiring officers to intervene to stop their use if they witness it. Scott’s order also requires the city to create and maintain a database on the restraints’ use and any corrective actions taken against officers for using them.
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey said the department had already banned chokeholds but had allowed a technique known as a “vascular neck restraint.”
The order doesn’t prohibit an officer from using “any reasonable force” if because of actual physical contact they face immediate threat of death or serious injury to themselves or anyone in their immediate vicinity.