(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump touched down at Mount Rushmore on Friday night to greet supporters and kick off a fireworks display in honor of Independence Day.
More than 100 protesters, many Native American, lined the road leading from Keystone, South Dakota, to the monument, holding signs and playing Lakota music in 95-degree heat, according to the Associated Press. About 15 protesters were arrested for blocking the main road.
In prepared remarks to be delivered later at the ceremony, Trump blasted protests that erupted following the killing of George Floyd by police on May 25 in Minneapolis and sparked Black Lives Matter demonstrations nationwide. The protesters have toppled statues of Confederate leaders and prompted Americans to rethink their racial legacy.
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children,” Trump said, according to the prepared remarks.
At Mount Rushmore, Native American activists said that the stone monument of four past presidents was built on stolen sacred land and that the mask-optional gathering could spread Covid-19, which has hit Native Americans especially hard. They and local officials also cite the danger of wildfires from the planned fireworks display.
“It’s like if he tried to go and have a fireworks display celebrating independence at the Vatican,” Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux tribe, was quoted as saying in the Washington Post. Other opponents note that two of the four presidents depicted in the mountainside sculpture — George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — were slaveholders.
The Washington Redskins said they would “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name” in response to “recent events around the country and feedback from our community.” On Thursday, FedEx Corp. asked the team, which plays at FedEx Field, to change the name, and Nike Inc. appeared to have removed Redskins merchandise from its website. Also, 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion have asked FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationships with the team unless it agrees to change the name, which is a pejorative term for Native Americans, AdWeek reported.
Chicago is increasing the number of police officers on duty by 1,200 for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, after murders rose 83% in June compared with a year earlier. The public safety crisis comes as thousands of activists nationwide call for defunding of police departments. Chicago’s escalating gun violence demonstrates the challenges public officials face in balancing the need to address the police killings of Black men with the obligation to combat crime.
One of three White police officers who stopped a Black man last August in Aurora, Colorado, was fired over photos he received from fellow officers re-enacting the chokehold used before Elijah McClain died, AP reported, citing documents from prosecutors. McClain’s death drew national attention amid this year’s protests over police brutality and racism.
The question of reparations to African-Americans is drawing new attention.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wouldn’t be taking a knee in solidarity with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, preferring to focus on substantive changes. Speaking to LBC radio on Friday, days after he was pictured on the front page of a newspaper doing press-ups to make a point as to how fit he was, he said “I don’t believe in gestures, I believe in substance, I believe in doing things that make a practical difference.”
English Premier League clubs have embraced ‘Black Lives Matter’ the slogan, but are distancing themselves from the actual group itself. Black Lives Matter U.K.’s activism includes specific policy prescriptions like reducing police funding, as well as solidarity causes like seeking sanctions on Israel over Palestinian land issues.
The King Leopold Ranges in Australia’s iconic Kimberley region have been renamed to honor Aboriginal Australian landowners, shedding the name of the former Belgian ruler responsible for brutal oppression and enslavement of African people.
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