Trump finalising executive order on policing standards

The US president is facing criticism for a campaign rally he is holding on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery

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President Donald Trump weighed in on race relations and policing on Thursday before a friendly audience in Dallas as he announced he was finalising an executive order that would address policing standards, in response to the national outcry following the death of George Floyd.

The executive order will "encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards of force, and that means force, but force with compassion," said Mr Trump.

"We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police," he added.

Notably, Dallas’ mayor and three top law enforcement officials, all of whom are black, weren't on hand for the roundtable discussion at the Dallas campus of Gateway Church.

Mr Trump has also drawn criticism from Black leaders for his decision to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery, in a city known for a horrific race massacre in 1921.

The June 19 Tulsa rally will be his first since the coronavirus emerged.

June 19 is known in the US as Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and celebrated as African-Americans’ Independence Day.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden held a separate roundtable discussion on Thursday in Philadelphia, where he said Mr Floyd's death was having a bigger impact than Martin Luther King's assasination.

“Even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did,” Mr Biden said.

Earlier in the day, America's top general has said he was wrong to appear with President Donald Trump in a photo op near the White House last week after the area was forcefully cleared of anti-racism protesters.

"I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of military involvement in domestic politics," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday.

Gen Milley and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper were both strongly criticised for participating in what was widely seen as a political show by Mr Trump, who walked with officials from the White House to pose in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, holding up a bible.

Minutes earlier, troops firing smoke bombs and pepper rounds had cleared the area of peaceful protesters demonstrating against the killing of George Floyd, whose brother called on Congress to address police brutality in an emotional plea to “stop the pain” on Wednesday.

Philonaise Floyd described the anguish of watching a viral video of his brother’s death at the hands of a white police officer during a hearing before the House in which he demanded lawmakers pass reforms to halt systemic racism in the force.

"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain," the younger Mr Floyd said.

Following the hearing he joined demonstrators in the streets of Washington, where calls for change led by the Black Lives Matter movement have been echoed by protesters worldwide since Mr Floyd’s death on May 25.

The five-hour-plus hearing came after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of reforms this week aimed at ending police brutality.

The legislation would ban chokeholds, make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, require anti-racism training and bar fired personnel from working in police forces in other districts.

"There is systemic racism not just in our law enforcement but also in housing, education, and everything we do," Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted after the hearing.

Statues of historic figures associated with slavery have been pulled down in cities across the world. On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was toppled in Virginia and statues of explorer Christopher Columbus have been vandalised in Virginia, Boston and Miami.

Across the southern states, where the confederacy fought to keep black people as slaves during the American Civil War, monuments to the movement are being dismantled. Boston and Houston are the latest cities to announce racially-linked statues will come down.

Stock car series NASCAR has also banned the confederate flag. A statement from the organisation said the red-and-blue confederate banner, once a familiar sight at NASCAR events, has “no place” in the sport after its single black driver Bubba Wallace called for it to be banished.

As governments, businesses and organisations rush to address racial inequalities being pointed out by protesters, US TV network A&E has canceled a live documentary show on police officers in action, the latest media company to reassess their content amid widespread protests against law enforcement brutality on people of color.

The decision is a reversal from the network's plan to extend the show's contract a month ago.

Earlier in the week, Paramount Network canceled the reality TV show "Cops" that debuted in 1989 and was considered a pioneer of reality television as it followed real-life police on the job.

Such shows have come under criticism for glorifying law enforcement without any footage of police brutality.