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Chicago removes

Chicago removes Columbus statue in Grant Park overnight after protesters tried to topple it – NBC News

Chicago removed a Christopher Columbus statue from the city’s lakefront Grant Park before dawn Friday, a week after protesters tried to topple it.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said the city temporarily removed Columbus statues from both Grant Park and the Little Italy neighborhood a few miles away “until further notice.” It was not immediately clear where the statues were taken.

The removals come “in response to demonstrations that became unsafe for both protesters and police, as well as efforts by individuals to independently pull the Grant Park statue down in an extremely dangerous manner,” the statement said. “This step is about an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols.”

On July 17, a clash between protesters and police at the Grant Park statue resulted in injuries of both demonstrators and officers.

Lightfoot, a Democrat, originally said she didn’t think the Grant Park statue should come down. “Look, I know that the issue of Columbus, Columbus Day is an issue of great discussion but I think that the way in which we educate our young people in particular about the history is to educate them about the full history,” Lightfoot said in June, according to NBC Chicago.

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But on Monday, the mayor said she would announce a plan to take inventory of monuments and other symbols in the city.

“In time, our team will determine there are no monuments to African Americans in this city,” Lightfoot said. “There are no monuments to women. There are no monuments that reflect the contributions of people in the city of Chicago who contributed to the greatness of this city,” the mayor said, according to NBC Chicago.

The statement on Friday said the mayor and city “will be announcing a formal process to assess each of the monuments, memorials, and murals across Chicago’s communities, and develop a framework for creating a public dialogue to determine how we elevate our city’s history and diversity.”

Both Columbus statues that were taken down Friday had been vandalized last month, NBC Chicago reported.

Like Confederate monuments around the country, statues of Columbus have been targeted in recent protests over the Italian navigator’s history of colonization, enslavement and violence toward native peoples in the Americas.

The statue removals come as President Donald Trump’s administration plans to dispatch federal law enforcement agents to the city in response to a recent swell in gun violence, a plan that has raised concerns among some Chicago community activists.

A collection of activist groups filed suit Thursday, seeking to block the federal agents from interfering in or policing protests, The Associated Press reported.

Trump on Wednesday evening called Lightfoot to confirm his administration’s plan to bring agents into the city to supplement violent crime investigations. In a statement, Lightfoot’s office offered caution, saying that “the mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.”

Trump directed federal agents to Portland following an executive order to punish those who vandalize federal monuments or government property. In widespread, nightly demonstrations in the city, residents have protested the presence of federal agents.

Elisha Fieldstadt

Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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Facebook removes

Facebook Removes Trump Ads Displaying Symbol Used by Nazis – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Facebook on Thursday removed advertisements posted on its platform by the Trump campaign that prominently featured a symbol used by Nazis to classify political prisoners during World War II, saying the imagery violated company policy.

The Trump campaign had used the ads, with a picture of a large red triangle, to inveigh against antifa, a loose collective of anti-fascist protesters that President Trump has blamed for violence and vandalism during the nationwide protests against racial injustice. There is scant evidence that antifa has been involved in any coordinated campaigns during the demonstrations.

“Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem,” the campaign’s Facebook ads said. Beneath the text was the red triangle, a symbol that Nazis used to identify Communists and other political prisoners in concentration camps, just as they used a pink triangle to identify people they labeled as homosexual.

It was not clear if the Trump campaign was familiar with the origin of the symbol, which was reclaimed after World War II by some anti-fascists in Britain and Germany, in the same way that various political groups over the years have reclaimed words and symbols used to oppress them.

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” Facebook said in a statement. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

Before their removal, however, the advertisements gained more than a million impressions across the Facebook pages of Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. They began running on Facebook on Wednesday and were flagged by a journalist for Fortune magazine on Thursday.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, defended the advertisements. “The red triangle is a common Antifa symbol used in an ad about Antifa,” he wrote in an email. “Pretty straightforward.”

He also said that a similar red triangle was a standard emoji, and provided links to merchandise for sale online, like water bottles and phone cases, decorated with symbols described by the sellers as “anti-fascist red triangles.”

Mr. Murtaugh noted that the red triangle was not listed in the database of hate symbols maintained by the Anti-Defamation League.

But the Anti-Defamation League said its database is not used to keep track of historical Nazi symbols, and only lists symbols commonly used by modern extremists and white supremacists in the United States. The group denounced the Trump campaign for using the image.

“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol — one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. “It is not difficult for one to criticize their political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery. We implore the Trump campaign to take greater caution and familiarize themselves with the historical context before doing so.”

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum also weighed in on Twitter, noting that the red triangle was “the most common category of prisoners registered at the German Nazi #Auschwitz camp.”

Mark Bray, a historian at Rutgers and the author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” said that “the origin of the symbol is universally agreed to be with the Nazis and the concentration camps.” He added that the red triangle was not part of the symbolism of antifa in the United States.

The fact that the triangle has been reclaimed by some anti-fascists, Mr. Bray said, does not give the Trump campaign license to use the same symbol to attack antifa. “This is a symbol that represented the extermination of leftists,” he said. “It is a death threat against leftists. There’s no way around what that means historically.”

Facebook has removed Trump campaign ads in the past, for different reasons. In March, for instance, the company took down a number of posts that contained misleading information about the U.S. census, which violated Facebook’s rules.

But the company and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, have also been adamant that Facebook will not police the veracity of political ads or posts by political leaders like Mr. Trump. That policy has received blowback internally from employees who staged a virtual “walkout” this month when the company did not take down some of Mr. Trump’s posts, which contained what many critics saw as incitements to violence and voter disenfranchisement.

Facebook’s policy stood in contrast to Twitter, which has added warning labels to some of Mr. Trump’s most incendiary tweets. Twitter has also stopped accepting political advertising, citing the potential for disinformation.

On Thursday, Twitter added a “manipulated media” warning to one of Mr. Trump’s tweets that featured a video about a supposed “racist baby” that had been altered to appear as if CNN had broadcast it.

Mr. Trump and his campaign have often charged forward with little regard for the impact of hateful symbols in their messaging, leaving critics with the impression that they are posting purposefully incendiary and racist content online.

In 2016, Mr. Trump tweeted and then deleted an image of Hillary Clinton’s face with $100 bills in the background and a six-pointed Star of David, the symbol that Nazis forced Jews to wear on their clothing. At the time, Mr. Trump defended himself by saying that the star was the shape of a sheriff’s badge.

Randal Pinkett, who was the first African-American winner of Mr. Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice,” said Mr. Trump had lost the benefit of the doubt. “When you’re already perceived or painted as a racist, everything you do that is insensitive only adds to the narrative that you’re a racist,” he said.

Last week, the president postponed a planned campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., that had been scheduled for Friday, which is the holiday Juneteenth. He and his top aides said they did not realize the significance of holding the rally on a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in America, in a city that was the site of one of the country’s most violent racist episodes. The event was pushed to Saturday.

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York, and Mike Isaac from San Francisco.

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Amazon removes

Amazon removes racist messages after they appear on some product listings – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, April 22, 2020 after Amazon extended the closure of its French warehouses until April 25 included, following dispute with unions over health protection measures amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) said it was removing certain images after messages using extremely strong racist abuse appeared on some listings on its UK website when users searched for Apple’s (AAPL.O) AirPods and other similar products.

The message sparked outrage on Twitter, with the topic “AirPods” trending in the United Kingdom.

“We are removing the images in question and have taken action on the bad actor,” an Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday. She did not elaborate more on the “bad actor”.

Screenshots and video grabs of the messages were trending on Twitter, with users sharing the images.

The listings with the abusive messages were no longer visible on the Amazon UK website and it was not clear how long they were there for.

In April, several of Amazon’s foreign websites, including the UK domain, were added to the U.S. trade regulator’s “notorious markets” report on marketplaces known for counterfeiting and piracy concerns.

Amazon strongly disagreed with the report at that time, describing it as a “purely political act.”

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Frances Kerry

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