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French police protest, insist they’re not racist

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TOP OF THE HOUR:

— French police protest in Paris, saying accusations of racism unfair

— UK police arrest over 100 after violent right-wing protest in London.

— Atlanta police officer fired after fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

— Clemson football team members lead demonstration on campus.

— Bust of slave owner torn down, thrown in river in New Orleans.

PARIS — French police officers held a small overnight protest at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris amid police anger over what they call unfair accusations of racism and brutality.

A few dozen officers lay their handcuffs on the ground and surrounded the landmark with patrol cars, blue lights flashing to call attention to their cause, in images broadcast on French media and shared on social networks. Police unions held similar protests last week.

The Arc de Triomphe action came hours after at least 15,000 people demonstrated across town against racial injustice and police violence targeting minorities. The protest was among many in France in recent weeks inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd’s death in the U.S.

In response to those protests, the French government on Monday banned police chokeholds and promised new efforts to root out racism in police ranks.

Police unions have pushed back, saying they need tools to apprehend unruly suspects and that painting the force as systemically racist risks worsening tensions in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. They also say they feel abandoned by a government they defended against violent yellow vest protesters.

The Arc de Triomphe was a flashpoint of tensions between police and protesters during the yellow vest anti-government movement for economic justice in 2018-2019.

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LONDON — British police say they have arrested more than 100 people after protesters, including far-right activists, clashed with officers in London.

Hundreds of right-wing activists turned out for demonstrations Saturday in London, with many saying they wanted to “protect” monuments and statues targeted recently by anti-racism protesters for links to slavery and British colonialism.

The protests, which were attended by far-right groups including Britain First, turned violent when some scuffled with riot police and others hurled bottles, flares and smoke grenades at officers. Six police officers suffered minor injuries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the violence, saying “racist thuggery has no place on our streets.”

An official Black Lives Matter protest, originally planned for Saturday, had been called off over fears of conflict with right-wing activists. Some anti-racism protesters demonstrated mostly peacefully in separate locations.

Police said a 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of outraging public decency after a protester was pictured apparently urinating on a London memorial dedicated to Keith Palmer, a policeman stabbed to death in a 2017 terror attack.

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ATLANTA — An Atlanta police officer has been fired following the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, and a second officer has been placed on administrative leave.

Atlanta police announced the termination of Garrett Rolfe early Sunday, a move that follows the Saturday resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had called for the officer who shot Brooks on Friday night to be fired, saying she didn’t think it was “justified use of deadly force.” The officer placed on administrative leave is Devin Brosnan.

The killing of Brooks sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta, where demonstrations following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had largely simmered down. The Wendy’s restaurant outside where Brooks was fatally shot was set ablaze Saturday night, although the fire was out by 11:30 p.m.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is handling the shooting probe and will turn over results to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office to decide if charges against Rolfe or Brosnan are warranted.

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Members of the Clemson University football team led hundreds of demonstrators on the school’s campus Saturday as they marched for equality and against police brutality.

The demonstration included a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time prosecutors say George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was pinned to the ground with his neck under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee before he died last month.

“This is a historic time, and a challenging time,” head football coach Dabo Swinney told the crowd. “But as I tell my team all the time, challenge is what creates change. … Black lives more than matter — black lives significantly matter and equally matter. For far too long that has not been the case for the black community.”

The protest was organized by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, linebacker Mike Jones Jr., wide receiver Cornell Powell and running back Darien Rencher, according to news outlets.

The march came a day after Clemson trustees voted to rename its honors college, stripping from the program the name of former vice president and slavery proponent John C. Calhoun.

Calhoun, who was born in South Carolina, declared slavery a “positive good” on the U.S. Senate floor in 1837.

Before the administrators’ vote, an online petition by students calling for the name to be changed drew more than 20,000 signatures. Clemson football alumni and one-time Houston Texans teammates DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson voiced support for the petition on social media.

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NEW ORLEANS — Protesters tore down a bust of a slave owner who left part of his fortune to New Orleans’ schools, and then they took the remains to the Mississippi River and rolled it down the banks into the water.

The destruction Saturday is part of a nationwide effort to remove monuments to the Confederacy or with links to slavery as the country grapples with widespread protests against police brutality toward African Americans.

Police said in a statement Saturday that demonstrators at Duncan Plaza, which is directly across the street from City Hall, dragged the bust into the streets, loaded it onto trucks and took it to the Mississippi River where they threw it in. Two people who were driving the trucks transporting the bust were apprehended by police and taken to police headquarters, authorities said. Their names were not given in the statement.

The police did not identify the bust, but local media identified it as one depicting John McDonogh. When he died, McDonogh left a large portion of his money to New Orleans and Baltimore for schools, and many schools in New Orleans are named after him.

Video on social media showed dozens surrounding the bust, which sat on a pedestal while some people pulled on a rope tied to the bust and another hit it. As the bust tilts and then crashes to the ground the crowd cheers. Another video posted on social media shows a crowd watching as the bust is rolled down the rocky banks of the Mississippi River and into the water.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a tweet that the city “rejects vandalism and destruction of City property. It is unlawful.”

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Follow all AP coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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