Anti-racism protests continue in the US as statues, monuments and buildings of US historical leaders who carried out policies viewed as racist are being removed, following last month's police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd.

Members of the 1199SEIU union, the nation's largest healthcare workers' union during a vigil and walkout action at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in a protest against racial inequality in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, US, June 11, 2020
Members of the 1199SEIU union, the nation's largest healthcare workers' union during a vigil and walkout action at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in a protest against racial inequality in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, US, June 11, 2020 (Reuters)

Protests over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody have prompted government and police officials across the United States to enact or propose changes aimed at showing demonstrators that their concerns about police brutality and racism are being heard.

Here are some of those actions.

Trump plans executive order on police use of force

President Donald Trump said his administration would issue an executive order advising police departments to adopt national standards for use of force, but stopped short of more sweeping proposals in response to protests against police brutality.

Speaking at a campaign-style event at a church in Dallas, Trump added that his administration would invest more in police training. He repeatedly stated his support for police and said progress would not be made by labelling millions of Americans as racist.

"In recent days, there has been vigorous discussion about how to ensure fairness, equality and justice for all of our people," Trump said.

"Unfortunately, there's some trying to stoke division and to push an extreme agenda - which we won't go for - that will produce only more poverty, more crime, more suffering. This includes radical efforts to defund, dismantle and disband the police," he added.

Trump's comments were his first offering policy proposals on policing and race following the death on May 25 of Floyd, an African-American man, after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Police budget cuts proposed 

With protesters rallying officials to "defund the police" and "abolish the police," a majority of Minneapolis city council members pledged to disband the city's police department with a new community-led safety model, a step that would have seemed unthinkable before Floyd's death.

Los Angeles' mayor proposed cutting up to $150 million from the police department’s $3 billion budget, and New York City councilors proposed a 5 percent to 7 percent cut for all agencies, including the $5.9 billion police budget.

Mayors in other cities such as Boston, Lansing and Seattle also have said they are considering cuts.

Officers charged

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter after a video showed him pinning Floyd's neck to the street for over eight minutes during an arrest.

But as protests continued, prosecutors charged Chauvin with second-degree murder and alleged that three now former officers aided and abetted second-degree murder and manslaughter.

On June 6, two Buffalo, New York, police officers were arraigned on felony assault charges for shoving a 75-year-old demonstrator amid protests. 

A New York City police officer who shoved a woman to the ground during a protest was charged with assault, menacing and harassment on June 9.

Monuments come down 

Statues, monuments and buildings of US historical leaders who carried out policies viewed as racist are being removed.

Boston said on June 9 that it would dismantle a vandalized statue of Christopher Columbus, who enslaved people while colonizing America for Spain.

Philadelphia took down a statue of Frank Rizzo, a former mayor and police commissioner, and Dallas took away a statue at its airport of former Texas Ranger Captain Jay Banks, both of whom critics highlight supported actions that abused people of colour.

Several universities and towns in the South renamed buildings and roadways titled after leaders of the Confederate movement, which defended slavery. The US Marine Corp banned public displays of the Confederate flag at its facilities.

Birmingham, Alabama, removed a Confederate monument last week.

Changing police tactics 

Law enforcement agencies and politicians overseeing them across the country have ordered changes aimed at boosting oversight and curbing police violence.

California's governor ordered the state's police training program to stop teaching neck holds, as law enforcement agencies across the state said they would ban them and related maneuvers over concerns that they can be deadly.

Memphis police department in Tennessee said it introduced a new policy on June 9 warning officers would face consequences if they do not try to stop colleagues engaged in misconduct.

Other governments discussed new policies for apprehending suspects to reduce the risk of deadly encounters. Lexington, Kentucky, said top police officials now would need to approve "no-knock" warrants, which are used to forcibly enter homes but can result in residents shooting at officers seen as intruders.

Kansas City, Missouri's mayor committed to having an outside agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, review every local police shooting, seeking to address concerns about departments mishandling internal investigations.

Seattle's police chief banned covering badge numbers, which help the public identify officers. Police said they cover badges with black tape to mourn the death of officers, but critics say it can be used to shield police misconduct.

Amid public outcry over the police response to racial justice demonstrations, Portland and Seattle have temporarily restricted the use of tear gas on protesters.

In Europe, which has seen solidarity protests with Floyd, the French government also banned neck holds.

New laws pursued 

Federal lawmakers and state officials in much of the country have begun proposing what they describe as police reform legislation.

Democrats in the US Congress on June 8 proposed legislation to ban neck holds, require federal officers to wear body cameras, and increase independent oversight over departments.

US Representative Justin Amash, a Libertarian, and Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis and Ayanna Pressley of Boston, said they plan to back a separate bill allowing civil lawsuits against police. It would reverse a Supreme Court "qualified immunity" doctrine that has largely shielded police from legal liability even when courts find officers violate civil rights.

Among those taking quick action, lawmakers for the District of Columbia on June 9 voted to make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct, including the removal of the police officers' union from disciplinary procedures.

Sweeping reform bills also were moving quickly through the Colorado and New York state legislatures.

Republicans in the Senate, as well as President Trump, announced their own legislative plans to address police reform and racial injustice.

Source: Reuters