June 17 Black Lives Matter protests news

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner, Helen Regan and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020
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1:09 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Statues are coming down across the US. Here's what we know.

From CNN's Alisha Ebrahimji, Artemis Moshtaghian, Leah Asmelash and Jamie Ehrlich

People raise their fists as the statue of Juan de Oñate is hauled away from the grounds of the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 16.
People raise their fists as the statue of Juan de Oñate is hauled away from the grounds of the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 16. Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

People have been tearing down controversial statues and monuments across the US in response to nationwide protests and conversations surrounding racial inequality.

Many Confederate statues, which some consider racist symbols of America's dark legacy of slavery, have been removed. And statues of Christopher Columbus, another controversial figure in US history, are also being taken down.

Here's where statues are coming down:

  • Alabama: Demonstrators at Linn Park attempted to remove a 115-year-old monument during a protest on May 31. Mayor Randall Woodfin told demonstrators he would "finish the job" for them, though he did not specify when exactly the monument would come down. At the University of Alabama, the Board of Trustees and the university's president authorized the removal of three plaques on the campus that commemorate University of Alabama students who served in the Confederate army and members of the student cadet corps involved in defending the campus. The city of Mobile removed the statue of Confederate Adm. Raphael Semmes from downtown and took it to a secure location. In Montgomery, demonstrators tore down a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that stood in front of Lee High School in Montgomery on June 1, according to CNN affiliate WSFA.
  • California: A statue of Christopher Columbus will be removed from California's state capitol in Sacramento, lawmakers said. In Chula Vista, a different Columbus statue was moved by the city to storage, citing public safety concerns hours before a planned protest to push for its removal, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. And in Sacramento, a statue honoring John Sutter, the explorer and colonizer who spurred the California Gold Rush was removed from outside an eponymous local hospital.
  • Florida: Crews in Hemming Park in downtown Jacksonville took down a 122-year-old statue and plaque that honored fallen Confederate soldiers.
  • Kentucky: The John Breckenridge Castleman monument, a statue of a Confederate soldier in the heart of downtown, was removed in Louisville. In Frankfort, the Jefferson Davis statue that stood in the Kentucky Capitol rotunda was removed.
  • Massachusetts: Officials removed the Columbus statue located in the city's North End last week after it was beheaded.
  • Minnesota: At the State Capitol, a group of people at a rally tossed a rope around a statue of Columbus and tugged it to the ground, CNN affiliate KMSP reported.
  • New Mexico: Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller condemned the violence that led to a shooting at yesterday’s demonstration and announced at a news conference that the city will be removing the statue of Juan de Oñate that sparked the protest.
  • Tennessee: A controversial statue of Edward Carmack, a former US senator and newspaper owner known for attacking civil rights advocates like Ida B. Wells, was carried off the city's Capitol grounds, according to CNN affiliate WKRN.
  • Virginia: In Richmond, protesters vandalized the Columbus statue, tore it down, and threw it into a lake in the park. Protesters in Richmond also brought down the statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. A statue of a soldier known as Johnny Reb was lifted off its pedestal and taken away in Norfolk. Protesters in Portsmouth partially dismantled the town's Confederate monument. Crews in historic Old Town Alexandria removed a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier named "Appomattox."
12:39 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

FAA also investigating National Guard helicopter that flew low over DC demonstration

From CNN's Greg Wallace

Protesters look up as a military helicopter flies low overhead pushing a strong vertical down wash of air onto the crowd during a protest in Washington on June 1.
Protesters look up as a military helicopter flies low overhead pushing a strong vertical down wash of air onto the crowd during a protest in Washington on June 1. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the flight of a National Guard helicopter that hovered over a demonstration in the nation’s capital earlier this month.  

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told senators that the agency is reviewing “compliance with air traffic regulations in addition to the operation of the aircraft.”  

The DC National Guard said earlier this month it is also investigating the flight and has grounded the pilots.  

"We are looking into that, senator. I’m aware of the circumstances and we’re looking at this from compliance with air traffic regulations in addition to the operation of the aircraft. And it's an ongoing investigation. I believe what you’re referring to took place within the prohibited area which is not under active control but the pilot in command still is responsible for following the safety regulations," Dickson said.

12:27 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Michigan governor declares Juneteenth a celebration day

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared June 19 as Juneteenth Celebration Day in the state, she announced in a statement.

Juneteenth commemorates the "crucial day in our nation's history" when slavery was abolished in 1865, the statement said. 

“During a time when communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shone a light on the systemic racism Black Americans face every day, we must work together to build a more equitable and just Michigan. I’m proud to declare June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Celebration Day, and will continue to work tirelessly to create a state that is equal for all,” Whitmer said.

12:27 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

NJ AG says the public has a right to know if officers have had serious misconduct issues

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

CNN
CNN

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is ordering law enforcement agencies to publicly identify officers who have been seriously disciplined.

Grewal says the state has to “create a culture of accountability” within its 533 police departments. The state police department and some cities are going back through 20 years of reporting. 

“The time protecting the few to detriment of many must come to an end. The public has a right to know,” Grewal said to CNN’s John King.

Grewal said he has not been able to track if an officer is fired from one department for misconduct but moves to another one. 

“We've had officers move between nine departments and recently get arrested as soon as last week for major misconduct. We're trying to stop that behavior from continuing. We're trying to promote professionalism, transparency and accountability,” he said. 

12:11 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Connecticut governor on order that bans chokeholds in the state: "We're going to lead by example"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Gov. Ned Lamont in December 2019
Gov. Ned Lamont in December 2019 Bonnie Biess/Getty Images

After signing an executive order on Monday that prohibits Connecticut State Police from using chokeholds, Gov. Ned Lamont said the opportunity to make a difference drove him to this decision.

“One of the things about Covid is the motto was ‘We're all in this together.’ And then it became ‘I can't breathe,’” he said. “As governor, I have an opportunity to make a difference here. We’re going to lead by example. That's what we did with our criminal justice reform and that’s what we’re doing police accountability.”

The order requires the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to update a state police manual to require troopers to, when possible, deescalate situations, provide a verbal warning and exhaust "all other reasonable alternatives" before resorting to deadly force.

Troopers will also be required to intervene to stop and report another officer's excessive force.

“Right now, it's just for our state police. Our legislature’s going to come forward with a bill that follows that for all of our local police as well. But really, policing is about trust and trust means involving the community. So obviously, a chokehold sent a signal that this is not about trust in the community,” Lamont said.

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11:48 a.m. ET, June 17, 2020

New York governor to sign executive order making Juneteenth a holiday for state employees

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that he will sign an executive order to recognize Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the US, as a "holiday for state employees."

Cuomo also said he would advance legislation to make it an official state holiday next year.

"It is a day we should all reflect upon. It is a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history," Cuomo said.

12:12 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Here's what is included — and not included — in the GOP police reform plan 

From CNN's Manu Raju and Clare Foran

Sen. Tim Scott, right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell take the podium for a news conference at the Capitol building in Washington on June 17.
Sen. Tim Scott, right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell take the podium for a news conference at the Capitol building in Washington on June 17. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats are already criticizing a police reform bill that was unveiled by Senate Republicans this morning, claiming that the proposal does not go far enough in bringing change to law enforcement agencies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday promised quick action in the chamber on the newly unveiled GOP proposal, challenging Democrats to decide whether to block the legislation from advancing or allow it to come up for debate on the floor.

McConnell's announcement sets up competing action in the House and Senate on different police reform proposals. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on their own sweeping policing overhaul measure, a bill that will be marked-up by the House Judiciary Committee today.

Key differences between the legislative proposals are likely to create hurdles to any attempt to get legislation across the finish line in Congress and to the President's desk.

Here is what is included in the GOP plan:

CNN
CNN

What the plan does not include:

CNN
CNN
2:26 p.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Atlanta district attorney will announce charging decision in Rayshard Brooks shooting this afternoon

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. will announce his charging decision in the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, according to a statement from his office.

The district attorney will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. ET to reveal if he intends to charge Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta officer who shot Brooks, and fellow officer Devin Brosnan who was also present during the fatal shooting.

11:23 a.m. ET, June 17, 2020

Schumer: GOP police reform plan "does not rise to the moment"

From CNN's Clare Foran

Senate TV
Senate TV

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized the newly-unveiled Senate GOP policing proposal, saying, “we have only had the bill for a few hours and are reviewing it, but what’s clear is that the Senate Republican proposal on policing does not rise to the moment.”

Speaking from the Senate floor, Schumer called the Scott bill “ineffective,” and demanded “significant improvement.”

Schumer also criticized Senate Majority Leader McConnell for moving on judicial nominees before taking up the police bill. He did not say if Democrats will block first procedural vote. Schumer did say that he is glad McConnell "has listened to our demands to bring a police reform bill to the floor before July 4."

Schumer suggested that Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to negotiate changes. He said that Democrats expect Republicans to work with them to make improvements to the bill. 

“The Senate is a place where you can only succeed if you convince a substantial majority of the chamber that you have good legislation. We expect our Republican colleagues to work with us to make significant improvement to any legislation in order for it to pass. We take this very seriously. As we continue to review the Republican legislation, I will be talking with my caucus about the best way to strengthen it. This bill will need dramatic improvement," he said.

He added, that “There’s been a lot of talk from the Republican leader about the real challenge of getting onto a bill. Frankly, the real challenge is whether Senate Republicans will be able to step up to the plate and rise to the moment and vote for a bill that actually solves the problem. We Democrats are going to try to get them there. It’s important that we get this right.”

Schumer called the House Democratic proposal “comprehensive, strong and enduring reform.”

He said, “We have a tale of two chambers, a glaring contrast between a strong comprehensive Democratic bill in the House and a much narrower, and much less effective Republican bill in the Senate.”

Schumer also ran through an overview of key differences between the Democratic and GOP proposal to argue why he believes that the Republican plan falls short. 

  • “The Democratic bill has a ban on no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, while the Republican bill only requires data on no-knock warrants."
  • "The Democratic bill has a publicly available nationwide database on misconduct … the Republican bill would keep such information almost entirely shielded from public view."
  • "The Democratic bill bans chokeholds and other tactics that have killed black Americans. The Republican bill purports to ban chokeholds but only those that restrict air-flow and not blood flow and provides exceptions when deadly force is needed.”