The Latest: Warren won’t prosecute peaceful protesters

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Andrew Warren, Thomas Scott

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, right, speaks during a news conference Monday, June 15, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. Warren announced his decision not to prosecute dozens of protesters arrested on charges of unlawful assembly during a Black Lives Matter march on June 2. Looking on is visionary leader Bishop Thomas Scott. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Florida state attorney won’t prosecute peaceful protesters.

— Detroit removes a bust of Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years.

— Twenty-member panel will review Chicago Police Department’s policy governing when officers can use force.

— UK’s leader creates anti-racism panel; critics want more.

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TAMPA, Fla. — More than five dozen peaceful protesters in Florida who were arrested earlier this month for unlawful assembly while demonstrating against police abuse following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota won’t be prosecuted, a State Attorney said Monday.

State Attorney Andrew Warren in Tampa said that his office won’t be filing charges against 67 protesters who were arrested two weeks ago in downtown Tampa.

The prosecutor’s office will also work to expunge the arrest records of the protesters who were taken into custody, he said.

“In these unlawful assembly cases, there is no value in filing charges,” Warren said at a news conference. “Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights creates problems rather than solving them. It can weaken the bonds between law enforcement and the community, while undermining faith in our system.”

Warren warned, though, that his office would prosecute anybody who takes advantage of the protests to cause destruction or commit crimes. He said his office is still reviewing another 133 arrests starting from the night of May 30, including cases of arson and vandalism from that night when a gas station was set ablaze and store windows were smashed.

Under Florida law, an “unlawful assembly” is a gathering of three or more people with a “common unlawful purpose” that must have an “intent to do an unlawful act which threatens the peace.”

“There was no evidence that anyone was intending to commit a crime,” Warren said. “They were just there to protest.”

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The city of Detroit has removed a bust of explorer Christopher Columbus from a prominent downtown spot after 110 years.

Mayor Mike Duggan “decided it ought to be placed in storage to give us time to evaluate the appropriate long-term disposition of the statue,” spokesman John Roach said Monday.

The move in Detroit comes while other cities and states have removed Confederate Civil War statues and other public monuments to people with a racist past.

The bust, which was unveiled in 1910, was a gift from the readers of the Italian newspaper La Tribuna Italiana d’America, according to historicdetroit.org.

The inscription reads, “Christopher Columbus, a great son of Italy. Born 1435 — Died 1506. Discovered America October 12, 1492.”

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CHICAGO — A 20-member panel will review the Chicago Police Department’s policy governing when officers can use force, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

The panel held its first meeting last week and plans to meet virtually for the next eight weeks before making recommendations to the police superintendent and other leaders, officials said. Residents, activists and one high-ranking police official are among the group’s members.

Lightfoot has said Chicago needs to speed up its police reform timeline following the death of George Floyd. On Monday, Lightfoot said the new working group was part of that effort.

The U.S. Justice Department investigated the city’s police department following the 2015 release of video showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. That video was made public more than a year after McDonald’s death.

The city negotiated an extensive agreement for court-supervised reforms within the police department, which include opportunities for community input on its use of force policy. Van Dyke was later convicted of murder and sent to prison.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will establish a commission to look at racial equality in Britain, after two weeks of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said the body would look at “all aspects of inequality — in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life.”

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in hundreds of demonstrations across the U.K. since Floyd died on May 25, demanding the U.K. confront its own history of imperialism and racial inequality.

Opposition politicians accused the government of opting for words rather than action. Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy said “the time for review is over and the time for action is now.”

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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.

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