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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

June 13, 2020 - 8:05 PM

Atlanta police chief resigns after fatal police shooting

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta's police chief resigned Saturday hours after a black man was fatally shot by an officer in a struggle following a field sobriety test. Authorities said the slain man had grabbed an officer's Taser, but was running away when he was shot.

Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down as the killing of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta after turbulent demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis had simmered down.

Protesters on Saturday night set fire to the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was fatally shot the night before and blocked traffic on a nearby highway.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief's resignation at a Saturday afternoon news conference. The mayor also called for the immediate firing of the unidentified officer who opened fire at Brooks.

“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer," Bottoms said.

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Protesters call attention to deaths of two more black men

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Anti-racism protesters on Saturday sought to call attention to the deaths of two more black men — one who was found hanging from a tree in California and another who was fatally shot by police outside an Atlanta restaurant. The Atlanta police chief resigned hours later.

Meanwhile in Europe, far-right activists scuffled with police in London and Paris as more Black Lives Matter demonstrations unfolded nearly three weeks after George Floyd, another black man, died at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed a knee to his neck.

Atlanta police were called late Friday about a man said to be sleeping in a car blocking a Wendy’s restaurant drive-thru. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was investigating reports that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks failed a sobriety test and was shot in a struggle over a police Taser.

By Saturday evening, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she had accepted the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields. The announcement came as roughly 150 protesters marched outside the restaurant. The mayor also called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire on Brooks.

“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said.

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As US seethes over race, Trump calls out 'evil of slavery'

WEST POINT. N.Y. (AP) — As the nation continues to grapple with its racial past, President Donald Trump urged West Point's graduating class Saturday to “never forget” the legacy of soldiers before them who fought a bloody war to “extinguish the evil of slavery.”

Trump's appeal to remember history came as his own relationship with the military is under strain from the unrelenting criticism he and Pentagon leaders have faced over their response to protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

It also came hours after Trump made what amounted to a rare concession for him: He rescheduled a campaign rally planned for Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. The day marks the end of slavery in the U.S., and Tulsa was the scene of a fiery white-on-black attack in 1921.

“What has historically made America unique is the durability of its institutions against the passions and prejudices of the moment,” Trump told more than 1,100 graduates at an unusual outdoor ceremony held during a pandemic. “When times are turbulent, when the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal.”

In the past two weeks, Trump has yelled at Defence Secretary Mark Esper for publicly opposing his call to deploy active-duty troops to quell the protests stemming from the killing of Floyd, who was black, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

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Baseball players say talks futile, tell MLB to order return

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players told Major League Baseball additional talks to start the season during the coronavirus pandemic are pointless and said owners should order a return to work, which likely would spark lengthy litigation and a renewal of the sport's labour wars.

The union's action Saturday night in the bitter dispute over pay could lead to a season of about 50 games rather than the 82 initially proposed by MLB. The Major League Baseball Players Association could respond by filing a grievance that would be heard by arbitrator Mark Irvings, arguing players are owed hundreds of millions of dollars in damages due to a shorter season.

“It unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”

MLB responded with a statement accusing the union of not negotiating in good faith and cited the March agreement that called for prorated salaries but did not obligate teams to play in empty ballparks.

“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season,” the commissioner's office said in a statement. "We will evaluate the union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”

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Mississippi faces reckoning on Confederate emblem in flag

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The young activists who launched a protest movement after George Floyd’s death are bringing fresh energy to a long-simmering debate about the Confederate battle emblem that white supremacists embedded within the Mississippi state flag more than 125 years ago.

Anti-racism protests have toppled Confederate statues and monuments across the United States in recent days, and even NASCAR banned the display of the rebel flag. But Mississippi has been a holdout for years in displaying the emblem in the upper-left corner of its banner.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves rejects the idea of a legislative vote on erasing the symbol. If the flag is to be redesigned, "it should be the people who make that decision, not some backroom deal by a bunch of politicians in Jackson,” Reeves said this week.

The mere mention of removing the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi flag stirs anger in its defenders, who tell people to leave the state if they don’t like it.

The issue has gained new momentum since Floyd was killed last month by Minneapolis police. Thousands of people turned out June 6 in downtown Jackson for a protest organized by Black Lives Matter. One of the organizers, 18-year-old Maisie Brown, read a list of demands that started with “the removal of all Confederate symbols and memorabilia.”

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Kim Jong Un's sister threatens S. Korea with military action

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened military action against South Korea as she bashed Seoul on Saturday over declining bilateral relations and its inability to stop activists from floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

Describing South Korea as an “enemy,” Kim Yo Jong repeated an earlier threat she had made by saying Seoul will soon witness the collapse of a “useless” inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong.

Kim, who is first vice department director of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, said she would leave it to North Korea’s military leaders to carry out the next step of retaliation against the South.

“By exercising my power authorized by the supreme leader, our party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” she said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“If I drop a hint of our next plan the (South Korean) authorities are anxious about, the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the General Staff of our army,” she said. “Our army, too, will determine something for cooling down our people’s resentment and surely carry out it, I believe.”

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Venezuela demands release of businessman connected to Maduro

MIAMI (AP) — Venezuela on Saturday demanded the release of a government-connected businessman who was detained in Cape Verde on U.S. corruption charges, calling his arrest an illegal act of aggression by the Trump administration aimed at piling new hardships on the crisis-wracked oil nation.

Alex Saab's arrest Friday while en route to Iran was a major blow to President Nicolás Maduro's government. U.S. officials believe he holds many secrets about how the socialist leader, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.

It was unclear how American authorities, who had been targeting the Colombian businessman for years, finally caught up with him. The Justice Department declined to comment as did Saab’s American lawyer, Maria Dominguez.

A person familiar with the situation said the 48-year-old Saab was detained in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago when his San Marino-registered jet made a refuelling stop on a flight to Tehran, where he was believed to be negotiating deals to exchange Venezuelan gold for Iranian gasoline. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Flight tracking data shows the aircraft, which the once globe-trotting Saab had used in the past, departed Friday from Venezuela's capital, Caracas.

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Bars reopening in New Orleans. Will tourists come?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bar owners in New Orleans prepared for a soft opening, and an uncertain one, as they began letting customers in Saturday for the first time in months. Capacity is limited to 25 per cent, live music remains prohibited, and nobody knows how many tourists will show on Bourbon Street in the age of COVID-19.

Pam Fortner, owner of six French Quarter venues, is opening only two of them, both on Bourbon, where the customary blocks-long frat party atmosphere ended in an abrupt shutdown in mid-March.

Now, she's not sure what to expect. She sat at a sidewalk table at Royal and St. Ann on Thursday, eating a Caesar salad and deriving hope from the occasional out-of-state license plate she saw amid sparse traffic.

“I think Saturday will be busy,” she said in an interview.

Cherie Boos, manager of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, in an authentically rustic, creaky floored 18th-century Creole cottage, said she's hoping locals will help keep the bar financially afloat as Bourbon Street revives. But she adds, “We’re hoping that, you know, we can start generating some tourists in the city, too, now that the bars are going to be open.”

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Dear white people: Being an ally isn't always what you think

NEW YORK (AP) — In one video clip, a black man kneels in front of a line of police, then one by one young white men move in as shields, human barriers between him and the law.

In another, a black woman yells at two white women spray-painting a Starbucks shop with “BLM,” — Black Lives Matter — telling them to stop, that vandalism isn’t helping.

Variations of both scenes have played out around the country many times in the more than two weeks of protests following the killing of George Floyd by police. They raise the issue: For white people wanting to be part of an anti-racist movement, what does it mean to be an ally?

As a new generation steps up, activists and historians believe there’s important work to be done for white people: Listening to black voices and following rather than trying to lead, for one, and undertaking the deep introspection required to confront unconscious bias and the perks of privilege that come just from being white.

White people have played necessary roles in racial justice movements through time, from abolition to the civil rights era of the 1950s and ’60s, said Mark Warren, a professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

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Officer charged in Floyd's death eligible for pension money

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is eligible to receive pension benefits during his retirement years even if he's convicted of killing George Floyd, according to the Minnesota agency that represents retired public workers.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of George. Video of the arrest shows Chauvin, who is white, using his knee to pin down the neck of George, who was black and handcuffed, for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. George's death has sparked protests around the world.

The Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association said in a statement that former employees who meet length-of-service requirements qualify for benefits regardless of whether they quit or are fired. Those payments are not affected by criminal charges or convictions, the agency said, citing state law.

A review of police payroll, salary and contract information obtained by CNN estimates that Chauvin's annual payments would be around $50,000 or more if he elected to begin receiving distributions at age 55. Chauvin was a member of the Minneapolis police force for 19 years.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, did not immediately return an email request seeking comment.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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