The Latest: Trump says his actions made Juneteenth ‘famous’

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Ethan Murray bales hay using an American flag net wrap for the 1,500-pound bales of hay to help spread some patriotic spirit on Wednesday in a 20-acre field on the Field Farm that is next to Owensboro Community & Technical College in Owensboro, Ky., on June 17, 2020. (Alan Warren/Messenger-Inquirer via AP)/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)


— Lawsuit: Oregon boy, 12, pinned to ground by deputies with knee to his neck.

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— Denver officer won't be prosecuted in fatal shooting of black man.

— Utah lawmakers vote to ban knee-to-neck chokeholds by police.

University of Florida ending “gator bait” sports cheer over its racial connotations.


CLACKAMAS, Ore. — The mother of an African American boy filed a $300,000 lawsuit Thursday, saying three sheriff’s deputies near Portland pinned him to the ground — one by pressing a knee on his neck — outside a suburban mall after the 12-year-old witnessed a fight and was walking away.

The incident happened last August, more than nine months before widespread national outrage over the killing of George Floyd after he was put in a similar hold by Minneapolis police.

The boy, Ka’Mar Benbo, is now 13 but was 12 at the time and the friends he was with repeatedly told Clackamas County deputies his age, the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday from the Associated Press.

Chris Owen, spokesman for the Clackamas County District Attorney, said nothing had been submitted to prosecutors on the incident.

“If we get presented the necessary information, we will certainly evaluate it,” he said.

Clackamas County is a suburban area southeast of Portland.


DENVER — Denver’s district attorney says a police officer who fatally shot a black man who allegedly pulled a gun on the officer during a chase will not be prosecuted.

District Attorney Beth McCann said Thursday that Cpl. Ethan Antonson shot William Debose on May 1 to defend himself from the imminent use of deadly force, which is allowed by state law.

Protesters marched last week in Denver to call for justice for Debose, with some demonstrating outside McCann’s home. McCann said she supports the calls for justice and the examination of law enforcement actions and systemic racism in the criminal justice system following the death of George Floyd.


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers have voted during a special session to ban knee-to-neck chokeholds similar to the one used in the death of George Floyd.

The measure approved Thursday stops short of criminalizing the use of all chokehold methods.

Several police departments have banned the use of chokeholds amid nationwide protests against police brutality. New York state has passed legislation banning the practice.

The Utah bill would prohibit officers from placing their knees on the necks of people being detained and bar law enforcement agencies from teaching officers how to use chokeholds and carotid restraints. Officers who use knee-to-neck holds could face up to a first-degree felony if the violation leads to someone’s death.

Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.


WASHINGTON — Ahead of Juneteenth, first lady Melania Trump on Thursday visited the National Archives to view the Emancipation Proclamation and other founding documents.

Mrs. Trump was accompanied for the visit by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. She also viewed General Order Number 3, the proclamation from June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that announced all slaves were freed. That announcement is commemorated on Juneteenth.

The first lady and Carson also visited exhibits on the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the 19th Amendment, which established women’s right to vote, as well as the 1965 Act that created the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson is the highest-ranking African-American member of the Trump administration.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s police chiefs on Thursday endorsed a plan to more aggressively weed out bad cops who break the law or have a history of complaints.

The California Police Chiefs Association also called for periodic checks to make sure officers are mentally stable, part of a package of reforms they offered after weeks of protests over the slayings of black people by police.

Officers could lose their training certifications, after due process hearings, if they are convicted of any felonies or certain misdemeanors or have “a history of egregious misconduct” with repeated and sustained complaints or policy violations, the chiefs said.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday backed a similar idea. The chiefs also supported having Becerra’s office investigate deadly force incidents, but only at the request of local officials.


PENDLETON, Ore. — Lawmakers in a rural county in eastern Oregon have unanimously adopted an order that expresses support for local police officers and says that recent protests against police brutality and racial injustice “disregard and disrespect” members of law enforcement.

The order adopted Wednesday by the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners references a “horrific” event in Minneapolis but does not mention George Floyd by name, the East Oregonian reported.

“The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners strongly objects to the horrific act that took place in the City of Minneapolis ... at the same time, we are also troubled by a movement across the country to disregard and disrespect the 800,000 sworn officers who have taken an oath to protect the citizenry and preserve the peace,” the order stated.

Umatilla County has about 80,000 residents and is located about 210 miles (337 kilometers) east of Portland, which has seen nightly protests over racial injustice for more than three weeks.


PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler is urging city workers who will have a paid holiday on Friday to honor Juneteenth to do something meaningful with the day and “dig deep in the discomfort” of racism.

The Portland City Commission made June 19 a paid city holiday earlier this week to honor Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas were told by Union soldiers that they were free.

“If you are off work on Friday, please make it matter. We are calling on all city employees to commemorate Juneteenth in a way that is meaningful to you — and, if you are white, in a way that is challenging for you,” Wheeler said. “Anti-racism work is not about one action, it’s a lifelong journey.”

Public safety employees who must work will being their shift with an “all call” that includes 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. That's the amount of time George Floyd was widely believed to have been pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer before Floyd died. Minneapolis prosecutors revealed this week that the officer had his knee on Floyd's neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds.


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The University of Florida is ending its “gator bait” cheer at football games and other sports events because of its racial connotations.

University President Kent Fuchs announced in a letter on Thursday that ending the cheer would be one of several changes on campus.

Fuchs says the “gator bait” cheer has “horrific historic racist imagery” involving black people being used as alligator bait.

Fuchs also says task forces will look into the university’s history with racial issues and whether any Confederate names are on campus buildings. The university will also stop using prison and jail inmates in agricultural programs.


STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State University’s governing board plans to vote Friday to remove the name Murray from a building at the school’s Stillwater campus.

The move ends the school's affiliation with a governor who advocated for segregation and pushed to advance Jim Crow laws.

University President Burns Hargis sent a letter to the board of regents on Wednesday recommending that the school rename the building that pays homage to Oklahoma’s ninth governor, William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. The vote will likely be a formality as the regents chairman, Tucker Link, joined Hargis in condemning the “Murray Hall” name. Link said Murray’s racist ideology was a reflection of the time period.

The vote comes after a controversy involving the school’s football team. Running back Chuba Hubbard, who is black, suggested Monday that he may boycott the program after head coach Mike Gundy was photographed wearing a T-shirt promoting One America News Network, a cable channel and website that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and praised by President Donald Trump. Gundy, who is white, apologized to his team on Tuesday.


COLUMBUS, Ohio — A statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed from the Ohio city named after him.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the removal on Thursday.

The statue located by City Hall will be taken away immediately and placed in storage. The move comes as monuments to Confederates and other historical figures who repressed or oppressed other people are being dismantled across the country. Columbus is the largest U.S. city named for the explorer.

“For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness.” Ginther said in a statement. “That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past.”


DETROIT — Assembly lines at factories run by Detroit automakers will come to a halt Friday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. and to support protests after the death of George Floyd.

Work will halt at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler factories for nearly nine minutes at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. in demonstrations organized by the United Auto Workers union.

“We do this in support of the millions who are demanding an end to racism and hate and calling for real reforms,” union President Rory Gamble wrote in a note to the UAW’s 400,000 members.

Floyd, who is black, died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes. Minnesota prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that the officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes, 46 seconds — not the 8:46 that has become a global symbol of police brutality.

All three automakers have agreed to shut down lines for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on each shift Friday. In addition, all employees at the companies are being asked to be silent for 8:46.

Friday is Juneteenth, considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he learned about the importance of Juneteenth from a black Secret Service agent and is taking credit for making the unofficial holiday “very famous.”

Trump made the comments in a Wall Street Journal interview published Thursday.

The president had planned to hold his first campaign rally since early March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. Those plans were changed after the date and location were criticized as insensitive to the country's history of racist violence.

June 19, known as Juneteenth, is an unofficial holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers brought word of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in Texas.

Trump's indoor rally in Tulsa was moved to Saturday instead.

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the newspaper.

Tulsa was also the site of one of most notorious incidents of racist violence in U.S. history. In 1921, a mob of white residents attacked and killed black community members, destroying a thriving black business district.


PORTLAND, Ore. — Police in Portland, Oregon, say they cleared an area in the city’s Pearl District early Thursday when demonstrators tried to set up an “autonomous zone” similar to what protesters have enacted in Seattle.

Police declared a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly at 5:30 a.m. after hundreds of demonstrators tried to gather and camp.

Once the declaration was announced, police said the approximately 50 people remaining in the area left. Authorities say one person was arrested.

In Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, protesters have cordoned off several blocks near a police station. Police have largely retreated from the area and city officials say they continue to communicate with protest leaders, who say they are maintaining the space peacefully.

The “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone has been criticized by President Donald Trump and others. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he didn’t want any similar protest zone to happen in Oregon’s largest city.

“I do not want an autonomous zone set up in Portland,” he told reporters. “I want to state unequivocally — I absolutely do not support that.”


More news about the death of George Floyd at