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DENVER (AP) — The Denver City Council declared Juneteenth an official commemorative holiday in the city, elevating the commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. from the status of a ceremonial holiday.

The council on Monday unanimously passed a bill to set an annual official observance of Juneteenth on the Saturday closest to June 19, The Denver Post reported.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States and the delivery of a message on June 19, 1865, telling slaves in Galveston, Texas, that they were free.

The message delivered by Union soldiers followed the cessation of the Civil War, but came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The holiday began in Texas and has expanded to the majority of U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

Colorado began recognizing Juneteenth as a ceremonial holiday in 2004.

Mayor Michael Hancock and council member Chris Herndon proposed the holiday recognition earlier this month.

Denver’s Juneteenth celebration in the Five Points area dates to 1953 and often includes a large parade, musical acts, food and booths.

Much of the annual event was conducted virtually last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, while some people held a silent march to call attention to police brutality.

Council member Candi CdeBaca said the proclamation “is a notable symbolic gesture,” but she wants to see the event “accompanied by real action that dismantles the oppression of Black people.”

“If we pass yet another proclamation about race and racism or Black freedom without action — such as saving legacy businesses that are rapidly disappearing from Five Points — I suspect we are only maintaining an illusion of freedom just to say we have done something noteworthy for Black History Month, especially for a celebration that has already been part of Denver’s history for generations,” CdeBaca said.

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Family Accuses Rochester City of Wrongful Death of Black Man in Police Custody

Reuters March 8, 2021 0 Comments

The family of a Black man who died of asphyxiation last year while in police custody in Rochester, New York, charged the city on Monday with wrongfully causing his death, failing to properly train its officers and not holding them accountable.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, the estate of Daniel Prude accused officers of causing his death when they restrained him on the ground while he was naked during an apparent mental health crisis.

“The actions of these Defendants in forcing him to lay naked on the freezing pavement for a long period of time and taunting him while he begged for help was intentional and/or reckless,” said the 27-page complaint filed by one of Prude’s five children, Nathaniel McFarland, on behalf of his estate.

Besides the city, the complaint, which supersedes an earlier lawsuit filed by one of McFarland’s siblings, names several officers as defendants.

A spokesman for the city declined to comment but confirmed in an email that the officers involved remain suspended during an ongoing internal investigation.

Last month, a grand jury declined to indict any of the officers after an investigation into Prude’s death led by state Attorney General Letitia James.

The pre-dawn incident on March 23 did not come to light until September when family members released body-worn camera video that went viral.

The revelation followed other deaths of Black people at the hands of police, most notably George Floyd who died with an officer’s knee on his neck in a Minneapolis street.

The lawsuit accused three of the officers of using the “deadly force” of their body weight to cause Prude’s death while he was on the ground. Prude, 41, stopped breathing minutes later and died a week later when he was taken off life support.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for Prude’s physical and emotional pain and suffering.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)

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