Trump denounces white supremacy after shootings, cites video games and internet

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the shootings in El Paso and Daytonin the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Monday called for urgent action to prevent gun violence and said all Americans must “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio killed 29 people and wounded dozens.

Trump, whose rhetoric has frequently been condemned as stoking racial divisions, laid out a number of policy options but did not mention his own past remarks.

“These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” Trump said in remarks at the White House. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”

On Saturday, a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in what authorities said appeared to be a racially motivated hate crime. Just 13 hours later, another gunman in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people.

Trump said mental health laws should be reformed to better identify mentally disturbed individuals and he called for capital punishment for those who commit mass murder and hate crimes.

He said he had directed the Justice Department to work with local authorities and social media companies to detect mass shooters before they strike. He said the Internet, social media and violent video games had helped radicalize people.

Earlier on Monday, Trump had urged lawmakers in a tweet to put strong checks in place on potential gun buyers, suggesting action could be tied with immigration reform. In his remarks at the White House, however, he did not mention immigration.

(Reporting by Roberta Rammpton and Susan Heavey; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Bill Trott)

Trump defiant as lawmakers blast his ‘racist’ attacks on four congresswomen

U.S. Reps Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) hold a news conference after Democrats in the U.S. Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump's attacks on the four minority congresswomen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

By Jeff Mason and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump doubled down on his attacks against four minority U.S. congresswomen on Monday and dismissed concerns that his comments were racist, prompting outrage from Democrats, who moved to condemn him in the House of Representatives.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said people he described as critical of the United States should leave the country.

Those remarks followed his Twitter messages on Sunday that said the four left-wing lawmakers, known in Congress as “the squad,” should go back to “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

All four of the first-term House members are U.S. citizens and all but one were born in the United States.

“If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply: You can leave,” he said, drawing scattered applause from a crowd of businesspeople.

Asked if he was concerned that some viewed his remarks as racist and that white supremacists found common cause with him, Trump said he was not. “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” Trump said.

The president’s remarks were widely derided and some, though not many, of his fellow Republicans spoke out against them.

Trump did not identify the lawmakers by name in his Sunday tweets, but he appeared to refer to representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

All four have been critical of Trump, as well as of the current Democratic leaders of the House, straining party unity in that chamber.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill, the four lawmakers said Trump was trying to sow division and distract attention from what they characterized as failed policies on immigration, healthcare and taxation.

“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Tlaib and Omar repeated their calls for Trump to be impeached.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been criticized by members of “the squad,” said her party would introduce a resolution condemning Trump’s “xenophobic tweets.”

A draft of the resolution, seen by Reuters late on Monday, said the House “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color …”

Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters the resolution could be on the House floor for debate as soon as Tuesday.

Such a resolution could put Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress in an awkward position, forcing them either to vote against their party’s leader, who has strong support among conservatives, or effectively to defend his statements.

Trump’s attacks elevated the profiles of the four progressive Democrats, who have helped push the party’s agenda to the left, causing concern among Democratic moderates who are eager to hold onto their seats in the 2020 election.

A FEW REPUBLICANS SPEAK OUT

Trump has a history of what critics consider race-baiting. He led a movement that falsely claimed former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and he said after a deadly, white supremacist-led rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that “both sides” were to blame for violence there.

“This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it’s happening on national TV, and now it’s reached the White House garden,” Omar said.

Although most Republicans stayed silent on Trump’s divisive rhetoric, several began expressing concern late on Monday.

Texas Representative Will Hurd, the only African-American Republican in the House, called the attacks “racist” on CNN.

Tim Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, called them “racially offensive” on Twitter.

Others did not go that far. Senator Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, and Senator Marco Rubio, who ran in 2016, both condemned the remarks but declined to characterize them as racist.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said the four lawmakers belonged in the United States, but did not criticize Trump. “The president is not a racist,” he told reporters.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did not comment on the controversy.

Trump regularly used racially charged language during his campaign and continued in his presidency. His latest remarks came as some of his efforts to deal with immigration – a major issue for his conservative base – have faltered.

Trump promised as a candidate to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and that Mexico would pay for it. As president, very little has happened on wall construction and Mexico has resolutely refused to pay for a wall.

‘RACISM, DIVISION’

In his Sunday tweets, Trump said of the four congresswomen, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came … Then come back and show us how … it is done.”

Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were born in the United States while Omar, a Somali refugee, arrived in 1992.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a sometime Trump golf partner and adviser, called the four congresswomen “communist” and “anti-Semitic” on Fox News on Monday, but he also called on Trump to stop making such personal attacks.

“Aim higher … Take on their policies. The bottom line here is this is a diverse country,” he said, adding that he had spoken to Trump.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice, Eric Beech, Richard Cowan, Mohammad Zargham and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Andy Sullivan and Jeff Mason; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Bill Trott, Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman)

Google workers around world protest harassment, inequality

Workers stand outside the Google offices after walking out as part of a global protest over workplace issues in Dublin, Ireland, November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

By Graham Fahy and Angela Moon

DUBLIN/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Over 1,000 Google employees and contractors in Asia, Europe and the United States staged brief midday walk-outs on Thursday, with more expected to follow at California headquarters, amid complaints of sexism, racism and unchecked executive power in their workplace.

Hundreds of women and men filed out of Google’s office in New York City and silently walked around the block for about 10 minutes around 11:00 a.m. ET. A few held sheets of paper with messages including “Respect for women.”

Two blocks away, a larger crowd of people that appeared to number a thousand or more, including Google employees and New Yorkers not working for the company, filled a small park. Some held larger signs than those at the Google office, with more confrontational messages including “Time’s up Tech.”

“This is Google. We solve the toughest problems here. We all know that the status quo is unacceptable and if there is any company who can solve this, I think it is Google,” said Thomas Kneeland, a software engineer who said he has been at Google for three years.

Google employees have been getting a lot of emails from managers and colleagues to participate in the walkout recently, he said. Just around 11 a.m., people started forming groups to leave the building. “We had engineers on our team bring their pagers since they were on-call, but that’s how we thought of the walkout. It’s important.”

The demonstrations follow a New York Times report last week that said Google in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to Andy Rubin after the then-senior vice president was accused of sexual harassment.

Rubin denied the allegation in the story, which he also said contained “wild exaggerations” about his compensation. Google did not dispute the report.

The report energized a months-long movement inside Google to increase diversity, and improve treatment of women and minorities.

In a statement late on Wednesday, the organizers called on Google parent Alphabet Inc to add an employee representative to its board of directors and internally share pay-equity data. They also asked for changes to Google’s human resources practices intended to make bringing harassment claims a fairer process.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a statement that “employees have raised constructive ideas” and that the company was “taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”

GLOBAL ACTION

Hundreds more filed out of its European headquarters in Dublin shortly after 1100 local time, while organizers shared photographs on social media of hundreds more leaving Google offices in London, Zurich, Berlin, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Irish employees left a note on their desks that read: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out with other Googlers and contractors to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone,” national broadcaster RTE reported.

Google employs 7,000 people in Dublin, its largest facility outside the United States.

The dissatisfaction among Alphabet’s 94,000 employees and tens of thousands more contractors has not noticeably affected company shares. But employees expect Alphabet to face recruiting and retention challenges if their concerns go unaddressed.

Much of the organizing earlier this year was internal, including petition drives, brainstorming sessions with top executives and training from the workers’ rights group Coworker.org.

Since its founding two decades ago, Google has been known for its transparency with workers. Executives’ goals and insights into corporate strategy have been accessible to any employee.

But organizers said Google executives, like leaders at other companies affected by the #metoo movement, have been slow to address some structural issues.

“While Google has championed the language of diversity and inclusion, substantive actions to address systemic racism, increase equity, and stop sexual harassment have been few and far between,” organizers stated.

They said Google must publicly report its sexual harassment statistics and end forced arbitration in harassment cases. In addition, they asked that the chief diversity officer be able to directly advise the board.

(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin, Paresh Dave in San Francisco, editing by Larry King and Nick Zieminski)

Memphis removes Confederate statues as King anniversary nears

A statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, stands in Memphis Park, formerly named Confederate Park, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., August 19, 2017.

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – Authorities in Memphis, a city steeped in civil rights history, removed two statues of Confederate leaders on Wednesday hours after the downtown parkland where they stood was sold to a private group.

Several U.S. cities have in recent months dismantled monuments to Confederate leaders, which have become focal points for a fraught national debate over race and politics.

The removal of the statutes of President Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest comes three months before Memphis marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination there of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Confederate General Forrest was a slave trader and a Ku Klux Klan leader.

Many Americans see such statues as symbols of racism and glorifications of the southern states’ defense of slavery in the Civil War, but others view them as important symbols of American history.

“The statues no longer represent who we are as a modern, diverse city with momentum,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

Earlier in the evening, the city council in Memphis voted unanimously to sell the land where the statues stood to a nonprofit organization called the Memphis Greenspace for $2,000 in order for the monuments to be removed, the Commercial Appeal newspaper reported.

“This is a fix, and a scam, and if the state has one hair on its ass then people will be charged with felonies,” the Sons of Confederate Veterans said in a post on Facebook opposing the sale of the land.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by John Stonestreet)

Man arrested after threatening to kill ‘all white police’ at White House

Man arrested after threatening to kill 'all white police' at White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Texas man suspected of traveling to Washington to kill “all white police” at the White House was arrested on Monday by Secret Service agents near the executive mansion, the agency said.

Michael Arega of Dallas, whose age was not listed by authorities, was arrested Monday afternoon after police in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland, issued an alert for the suspect in the Washington area, the Secret Service said.

“Secret Service personnel at the White House immediately increased their posture of readiness and began searching for Arega,” the agency said in a statement.

A little more than an hour after receiving the bulletin, agents spotted Arega on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue near Lafayette Square, a park across the street from the White House, and he was taken into custody without incident by uniformed Secret Service officers, the agency said.

Arega was not armed when he was arrested, and was under investigation for allegedly making felony threats, Secret Service spokesman Shawn Holtzclaw told Reuters by telephone.

U.S. President Donald Trump was on an overseas trip in Asia at the time.

Arega was handed over to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, the Secret Service said.

In a report on the incident, police said Arega made threats on Facebook. It was not immediately known if Arega has an attorney.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting and writing by Keith Coffman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Mary Milliken)

After protests, St. Louis mayor says address racism

Demonstrators continue to protest for a fourth day after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

By Brendan O’Brien

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – The legacies of racism, not only the violent protests that gripped St. Louis after a white former police officer was acquitted of murdering a black man, must be addressed, the city’s mayor said on Tuesday.

Mayor Lyda Krewson said she had listened and read the reaction of residents since the controversial verdict on Friday and was ready to find ways to move the city forward.

“What we are seeing and feeling is not only about this case,” Krewson told reporters.

“What we have is a legacy of policies that have disproportionately impacted people along racial and economic lines,” she added. “This is institutional racism.”

The city has been working to expedite existing plans to increase equity as well as develop new approaches, including changing how police shootings are investigated and granting subpoena powers to a police civilian oversight board, and expanding jobs programs, Krewson said.

“We, here in St. Louis, are once again ground zero for the frustration and anger at our shared legacy of these disproportional outcomes,” she said. “The only option is to move forward.”

Krewson said town halls scheduled for Tuesday night and later were canceled. As she spoke, dozens of protesters chanted outside her office.

Some activists had planned to voice complaints about police tactics used during protests after a judge found former officer Jason Stockley, 36, not guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

Largely peaceful protests during the day have turned violent at night with some demonstrators carrying guns, bats and hammers, smashing windows and clashing with police. Police arrested 123 people on Sunday, when officers in riot gear used pepper spray on activists.

The clashes have evoked memories of riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in nearby Ferguson.

Protesters have cited anger over a police tactic known as “kettling,” in which officers form a square surrounding protesters to make arrests. Some caught inside police lines Sunday said officers used excessive force, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis police are also investigating whether some of its officers chanted “Whose streets? Our streets,” appropriating a refrain used by the protesters that one civilian oversight official said could inflame tensions.

“I wish that wouldn’t have been said,” Krewson said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri asked the city in a Tuesday letter to preserve video evidence ahead of what it said was a likely lawsuit challenging police tactics.

Complaints of police misconduct were being reviewed, but intimidation tactics would not be tolerated, Krewson said. Police had generally shown “great restraint,” she said.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning in Chicago; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Steve Orlofsky)

More than 80 arrested as riot police break up St. Louis protest over officer’s acquittal

Police detain protesters arrested for causing damage to local businesses during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

By Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – More than 80 people were arrested on Sunday night as protests in St Louis over the acquittal of a white policeman who had shot a black man turned violent for a third night running.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray and arrested the demonstrators who had defied orders to disperse following a larger, peaceful protest.

After nightfall, a small group remained and the scene turned to one of disorder, following the pattern of Friday and Saturday. Protesters smashed windows and attempted to block a ramp to an interstate highway, police and witnesses said.

Officers tackled some protesters who defied police orders and used pepper spray before starting the mass arrests.

At a late-night news conference, Mayor Lyda Krewson noted that “the vast majority of protesters are non-violent,” and blamed the trouble on “a group of agitators.”

Acting police commissioner Lawrence O’Toole struck a hard stance, saying: “We’re in control, this is our city and we’re going to protect it.”

The protests in St Louis followed the acquittal on Friday of former police officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

The violence evoked memories of the riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

Police reported confiscating weapons including handguns and recovered plastic spray bottles containing an unknown chemical that hit officers, who were then decontaminated.

“This is no longer a peaceful protest,” St. Louis police said on Twitter earlier.

Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

Protesters broke large ceramic flowerpots and threw chunks of the ceramic at storefront windows.

Sunday’s gathering was the largest of the three nights with more 1,000 protesters. Police in turn deployed their largest show of force, as officers in riot gear marched through the streets.

“Do they think this will make us feel safe?” said Keisha Lee of Ferguson, shaking her head.

Police ordered a group of news photographers to stand up against a wall. One, Kenny Bahr, was working on assignment for Reuters and posted the incident live on Facebook until he was placed in handcuffs when he turned off his video. The photographers were released after about 30 minutes.

Earlier in the evening a handful of demonstrators threw bottles in response to a police officer making arrests.

As people converged on an unmarked police car holding one suspect, an officer drove through the crowd in reverse to escape, police said. No injuries were reported.

The protests began on Friday shortly after the acquittal on Friday, when 33 people were arrested and 10 officers injured.

Violence flared anew on Saturday night when about 100 protesters, some holding bats or hammers, shattered windows and skirmished with police in riot gear, resulting in at least nine arrests. Sunday’s arrests again followed earlier peaceful, and far larger, protests.

Protesters participate in a "Die-In" on the third day of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, outside police headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 17, 2017.

Protesters participate in a “Die-In” on the third day of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, outside police headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

More serious clashes broke out in 2014 in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, following the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer who was not indicted.

The Ferguson protests gave rise to Black Lives Matter, a movement that has staged protests across the United States.

An informal group known as the Ferguson frontline has organized the protests, focusing on what it describes as institutional racism that has allowed police to be cleared of criminal wrongdoing in several shootings of unarmed black men.

“Windows can be replaced. Lives can’t,” said Missy Gunn, a member of Ferguson frontline and mother of three including a college-age son. She said she feared for him every night.

Smith was shot in his car after Stockley and his partner chased him following what authorities said was a drug deal. Prosecutors argued that Stockley planted a weapon in Smith’s car, but the judge believed the gun belonged to Smith.

 

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr in St Louis and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mary Milliken, Peter Cooney and Toby Chopra)

 

Anti-racism activists to march from Charlottesville to Washington

Participants of "Charlottesville to D.C: The March to Confront White Supremacy" begin a ten-day trek to the nation's capital from Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Julia Rendleman

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Anti-racism activists will begin a 10-day march on Monday from Charlottesville to Washington to protest against a far-right rally in the Virginia city and what they called President Donald Trump’s reluctance to condemn its white nationalist organizers.

The “March to Confront White Supremacy” is the latest demonstration following the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, when one woman was killed after a man drove a car into a crowd of anti-racism counterprotesters.

Trump received fierce criticism from across the political spectrum after he first blamed “many sides” for the violence. Under pressure, he later condemned neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan by name, but that did little to appease his opponents.

March organizers said that about 200 people will begin walking on Monday evening from Charlottesville, a liberal-leaning college town that is home to the University of Virginia. That number is expected to rise as the march nears its end in Washington on Sept. 6.

“What we’re trying to do is unite the country,” one of the organizers, Cassius Rudolph of People’s Consortium for Human and Civil Rights, said. “We’re standing up to confront white supremacy.”

Other organizers include the Women’s March, which oversaw a massive anti-Trump demonstration in Washington in January, and the Movement for Black Lives, Rudolph said.

The march will begin at Emancipation Park, which was the focus of the Aug. 12 rally called by white nationalists to protest against the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

There were hours of clashes in the streets and a 32-year-old local woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car crashed into a group of counterprotesters. The alleged driver, 20-year-old Ohio man James Fields Jr., faces multiple charges including murder.

Charlottesville police charged two men over the weekend in connection with an Aug. 12 assault. Daniel Borden, 18, is in custody in Cincinnati, police said in a statement, while Alex Ramos, 33, is at large.

A third man, Richard Preston, 52, was charged with firing a weapon during the rally and is being held in Towson, Maryland, the police statement said.

 

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Alistair Bell)