June 18 Black Lives Matter protest news

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

Updated 1:13 a.m. ET, June 19, 2020
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1:39 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Pennsylvania Avenue in DC reopens to pedestrians for the first time since protests began

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

For the first time since the last weekend of May when protesters clashed with the Secret Service in front of the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue has been reopened to pedestrian traffic as fences and barricades continue to come down surrounding the White House Complex.

As recently as this morning, you still needed to walk past a checkpoint to get onto that stretch of street, but now Pennsylvania Avenue is open to foot traffic to the east and west of Lafayette Square between 15th and 17th streets — the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue directly in front of the White House remains closed. 

The monuments in Lafayette Square are still behind fences and streets surrounding St. John’s Church and Black Lives Matter Plaza are still closed to vehicles. 

The high fencing running the length of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building along 17th street has also been removed. 

2:54 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Lawyer for Atlanta officer says charges in Brooks shooting go "way too far"

From CNN’s Ryan Young, Devon Sayers and Pamela Kirkland

The attorney for Atlanta police officer Devin Brosnan, who was charged on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of Rashard Brooks, said the charges against his client go “way too far.” 

“Officer Brosnan is not charged at all with anything to do with the actual shooting. He’s not at fault at all with regard to the shooting,” attorney Don Samuel told CNN. “The only allegation in these charges is that he violated the oath of office by not following proper protocol. The use of force policy.”

Samuel went on to say that Brosnan put his foot on Brooks' arm after he was shot “for a matter of seconds, to stabilize.” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a news conference on Wednesday that Brosnan stood on Brooks' shoulders "while he struggled for his life." 

Samuel said the charges regarding a failure to render timely first aid is a dispute over a matter of seconds. He denied that Brosnan was acting as a state witness in the case, as Howard indicated during Wednesday's announcement.

“He’s cooperating. He’s not a witness for the state. He’s not a witness for the defense. He’s a witness. He is simply going to tell the truth about what happened," Samuel said.

Brosnan was released on bond after turning himself in to the Fulton County Jail on Thursday. 

WATCH BROSNAN'S LAWYER HERE:

4:43 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Juneteenth named a university holiday at growing number of schools

From CNN's Elizabeth Stuart

The Juneteenth flag, commemorating the day that slavery ended in the U.S., flies in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 17.
The Juneteenth flag, commemorating the day that slavery ended in the U.S., flies in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 17. Nati Harnik/AP

A growing number of colleges and universities nationwide say they will be closed Friday in honor of Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States in 1865.

Harvard UniversityGeorgetown UniversityColumbia UniversityUniversity of VirginiaTowson UniversityDrake UniversityLoyola Marymount University and others will celebrate Juneteenth as a university holiday, closed for listening, learning, and reflection.

“All faculty and staff will have a full day of paid time off,” wrote Harvard President Lawrence Bacow in an email this week. “If you must work that day to support essential operations, your efforts will be acknowledged with other paid time off.”

Georgetown and Drake announced that Juneteenth will continue to be acknowledged as a holiday annually. 

“As we confront the challenges of this moment, I hope that this day will be a moment for reflection and renewed commitment to the work of racial justice,” wrote Georgetown President John J. DeGioia.

The announcements come as some universities are also considering removing statues, renaming buildings and swapping mascots as part of the country's larger call for changes to systemic racism and injustice.

“As I have said many times before, Columbia University is not innocent of the structures of racism that have afflicted America,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger in an email Wednesday. “There is still much more to do.”

Other prestigious higher education institutions including Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania are honoring Juneteenth as a “day of reflection.”

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and other university leaders wrote in an email Tuesday that they ask the campus community to take the day to contemplate how to learn from the past in order to chart a more equitable path forward.

“At a moment when our country is reckoning with the racism and discrimination that permeated the history of our country and universities for centuries, we are called to reflect on what we can do individually and collectively to dismantle systemic and structural barriers to equality,” Gutmann wrote.

1:15 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Senate Democrats try to pass bill by unanimous consent to remove Confederate statues from Capitol

From CNN's Ted Barrett

A statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens (L), vice president of the Confederate States, by artist Gutzon Borglum is seen in Statuary Hall of the US Capitol in Washington on June 11.
A statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens (L), vice president of the Confederate States, by artist Gutzon Borglum is seen in Statuary Hall of the US Capitol in Washington on June 11. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, tried to pass their bill by unanimous consent to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol.

Booker said the statues represent “hurt” and “pain” and don’t belong in the Capitol. Schumer said they honor men who are traitors and fought against the US to advance slavery.

Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, objected to their request arguing that the current law allows states to decide who they want to honor in the Statuary Hall collection and therefore it’s up the states to decide to replace them not Congress. 

Statuary Hall is a chamber near the House floor filled with statues of American historical figures. Each state is allowed to keep two statues of historical figures in the hall.

Blunt noted that several states already have removed Confederate statues and others are moving to remove them. He also said he supports changing the names of military bases named for Confederates and said that is up to the Congress to decide, not the states where the bases are located.

1:00 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Polls show widespread support of Black Lives Matters protests

From CNN's Grace Sparks

Protesters march on June 15 in New York.
Protesters march on June 15 in New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

About two-thirds support the recent Black Lives Matter protests over police brutality and discrimination in the US, and there's agreement on a wide variety of proposals on how to reform the nation's police departments, recent polls show.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll out Thursday found 64% of Americans supported the recent protests against police violence, including 86% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 36% of Republicans. Support for the protests is seen across racial lines, with 84% of blacks, 64% of Hispanics and 61% of whites in support. 

Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found 67% of registered voters supported the protests as a response to "the death of George Floyd at the hands of police." 

The killing of George Floyd last month sparked protests nationwide over police brutality and racism against black Americans. A Pew Research poll from last week found 67% of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, a clear majority — 55% — thinks the protests will lead to meaningful reform. That includes 76% of Democrats, 53% of independents and 34% of Republicans.

Keep reading about the polls here.

2:54 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Atlanta officer charged in Brooks case released from custody

From CNN’s Devon Sayers and Ryan Young

Atlanta Police officer Devin Brosnan is surrounded by media following his release from the Fulton County Jail on June 18 in Atlanta.
Atlanta Police officer Devin Brosnan is surrounded by media following his release from the Fulton County Jail on June 18 in Atlanta. Brynn Anderson/AP

Atlanta police officer Devin Brosnan, one of the officers at the scene of Rayshard Brooks' death, bonded out of jail on Thursday afternoon. He made no comments as he left the Fulton County Jail.

He is charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath by a public officer in the death of Brooks. 

12:24 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Attorney for Atlanta officer in Brooks case says his client is "disappointed in the system"

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Devin Brosnan
Devin Brosnan Fulton County Sheriff's Office

The attorney for Atlanta police officer Devin Brosnan said his client is "disappointed in the system" after turning himself in on charges for the death of Rayshard Brooks. 

During a media gaggle, attorney Don Samuel said the Fulton County district attorney had "other things in mind" when charging his client with a felony. Samuel said he "has never seen a case like this" and believes the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will not support the charges against him. 

Brosnan is charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath by a public officer in the death of Brooks. 

He is expected to be released from jail today on a signature bond, Samuel said.

12:14 p.m. ET, June 18, 2020

"What I witnessed was real horrific," says Brooks shooting witness 

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya

This image, presented by the office of the Fulton County District Attorney, shows Officer Devin Brosnan standing on Rayshard Brooks. Brosnan faces an aggravated assault charge.
This image, presented by the office of the Fulton County District Attorney, shows Officer Devin Brosnan standing on Rayshard Brooks. Brosnan faces an aggravated assault charge. Fulton County District Attorney

“What our clients witnessed was a murder,” said Shean Williams from The Cochran Firm who is representing Melvin Evans and Michael Perkins. Both men witnessed Rayshard Brooks’ killing in a Wendy's drive-thru in Atlanta last week.

Evans and Perkins, both musicians, were visiting Atlanta from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Evans was the driver and Perkins was a passenger sitting in the back of the car. “We were the last car in line,” said Perkins.

Williams said each of his clients has confirmed that at the time Brooks was shot, he was running away and his back was turned to the officers. One of the shots fired “barely missed Mr. Perkins,” Williams said. 

 “The vehicle got shot on the side I was in,” said Perkins. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

He said his instinct was to duck. “We didn’t know there was a bullet in the car until we left,” added Perkins. 

 “We could be here talking about more deaths,” added Williams.

 “What I think is important is that he did this action in a crowded Wendy’s parking lot with innocent bystanders,” said Williams about the shooting. 

Williams said his clients have provided statements to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “Mr. Evans has provided his vehicle for full inspection,” added Williams.

Williams said his clients didn’t shoot video of the incident. “They took video afterward and that video has been provided to GBI,” said Williams.

11:37 a.m. ET, June 18, 2020

Officer Devin Brosnan turns himself into custody

From CNN’s Devon Sayers

Don Samuel, attorney for Devin Brosnan, confirms that his client turned himself into the Fulton County Jail. He is being processed in now. 

The now-fired Atlanta Police officer Garrett Rolfe, who faces a felony murder charge for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks last week, has until this evening to turn himself in.

Brosnan faces an aggravated assault charge for standing on Brooks in the parking lot.

Arrest warrants were issued for both Rolfe and Brosnan yesterday.