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National Notebook

George Floyd’s brother seeks UN’s help to fight racism in US

GENEVA — George Floyd’s brother made a heartfelt plea Wednesday to the UN’s Human Rights Council, seeking intense international scrutiny of systemic racism, the killing of Black people by police, and violence against protesters.

Via video, Philonese Floyd backed a call by dozens of African countries hoping to create a commission of inquiry — the council’s most powerful tool — to report on racism and police violence against peaceful protesters in the United States.

It’s an unprecedented effort to shine a spotlight on the United States, which calls itself the world’s leading human rights advocate. But it has no voice in the room: The Trump administration pulled out of the 47-member body two years ago.

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Floyd joined the UN human rights chief, the council’s independent rapporteur on racism, and many diplomats at an “urgent debate” championed by the Africa Group after his brother George’s death after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck as he pleaded for air.

“I am my brother’s keeper. You in the United Nations are your brothers and sisters’ keepers in America — and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother,” Philonese Floyd said. “I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us — Black people in America.”

The council has regularly addressed police brutality and racial profiling in the United States; they were themes five years ago in a regular human rights review that all countries go through at the council.

But never before had the US record in those areas led to an “urgent debate” — and rivals pounced. Russia’s envoy derided a ‘‘calamitous state of human rights’’ in the United States. China’s representative said his country was “saddened and shocked” by Floyd’s death, which exposed “deep-rooted racial discrimination.”

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The US ambassador in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, in a statement ahead of the debate, acknowledged shortcomings including racial bias but insisted the government is transparent about dealing with it.

President Trump has condemned the actions of police linked to George Floyd’s death and on Tuesday signed an executive order on police reform. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cuomo moves to make Juneteenth a state holiday

NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees to commemorate the emancipation of US slaves. He called it “a day we should all reflect upon” and “a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history.” Cuomo said he’ll propose legislation next year making a permanent holiday.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was effective Jan. 1, 1863, but the news took time to travel. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that word of the proclamation reached slaves in Texas. — associated press

Vandals paint ‘white lives matter’ on Arthur Ashe statue

RICHMOND — A statue of Black tennis legend Arthur Ashe in Richmond’s has been vandalized with the words “white lives matter” and the initials “WLM.” Those letters were later painted over with “BLM.” Police said they were alerted about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday. They said they have information on possible suspects and are asking the community to call Crime Stoppers if they have information.

The monument was dedicated in 1996 to memorialize the Richmond native and counterbalance statues dedicated to Confederate leaders. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pastor apologizes for talk on the ‘blessing of slavery’

ATLANTA — A white megachurch pastor tearfully apologized for referring to the “blessing of slavery” and for suggesting that the phrase “white privilege” could be better understood as a “white blessing.’’

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Louie Giglio, founder of Passion City Church, made the comments in a conversation with Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore and evangelist Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A.

The three men sat down for a panel discussion on race.

“We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do, and we say ‘that was bad,’ but we miss the blessing of slavery, that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people lived in and live in. And so a lot of people call this white privilege,” Giglio said to the panelists.

The online backlash was swift, and Giglio apologized in a video message on Twitter for a “horrible choice of words.”

“To be clear, I don’t believe there’s any blessing in slavery, to the contrary,” he said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Social media posts on Floyd case get chief suspended

DETROIT — Shelby Township Police Chief Robert J. Shelide was suspended for 30 days without pay and will undergo diversity training because of his social media posts about people protesting the George Floyd death. Macomb County trustees voted 5 to 2 for the punishment for the chief, who has held the title since 2015.

Shelide, who earlier apologized, told the township board before the vote that he is “not a racist” and “I bleed blue.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS