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The Latest: Ex-staffers vouch for Franken after allegations

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Mayor says Lee statue must go as debate over U.S. slave past rages

Mayor says Lee statue must go as debate over U.S. slave past ragesBy Brandon Shulleeta RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) – The mayor of Charlottesville called on Friday for a special session of Virginia’s legislature to let localities decide the fate of Confederate monuments like the statue at the center of a far-right rally last week that turned deadly. Mayor Mike Signer issued his appeal amid an increasingly contentious debate over what to do with memorials to Confederate figures, who fought for the preservation of slavery during the U.S. Civil war, that are seen by opponents as offensive. In what has become the biggest domestic crisis of his presidency, Donald Trump has been sharply criticized, including by fellow Republicans, for blaming Charlottesville’s violence not only on the white nationalist rally organizers, but also the anti-racism activists who opposed them.


Boston free speech rally organisers say they fear far-Right groups could repeat violence of Charlottesville

Boston free speech rally organisers say they fear far-Right groups could repeat violence of CharlottesvilleOrganisers of a free speech rally in Boston on Saturday are warning far-Right groups to stay away amid growing fears of a repeat of the violent clashes that led to the death of a protester in Virginia last weekend. The national director of the Ku Klux Klan has said members are expected to turn out for the event, due to start on Boston common at midday. And police, already preparing for the presence of thousands of counter-protesters, said they were stepping up their vigilance in the wake of Thursday’s terrorist attack in Barcelona. The result is a city preparing for the worst. John Medlar, of Boston Free Speech which is organising the rally, said he was as shocked and horrified as anyone else at the violence in Charlottesville when white supremacist groups protested the removal of Confederate statutes commemorating the Civil War. White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017 Credit: Reuters “We are afraid some of the groups that caused trouble might come up here and cause more trouble,” he said. The Boston group held a similar rally in May but this weekend’s event has come under intense scrutiny after neo-Nazi groups and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville. A 32-year-old woman died when a car drove into a crowd sparking a week of debate about race relations, freedom of speech and America’s tempestuous political climate under Donald Trump. Mr Medlar said the roster of speakers included libertarians from both Left and Right but insisted there was no place for groups such as the KKK. “We don’t think the KKK is the type of group that will defend the first amendment rights of black people, so we don’t want them at our rally,” he said, referring to the part of the US constitution that guarantees free expression. Several of the most inflammatory speakers have already dropped out. Gavin McInnes, who describes himself as a “Western Chauvinist” and heads a group called the Proud Boys, said this week would no longer be attending. Trump says 'both sides' to blame in Charlottesville 01:19 Among the confirmed guests are Joe Biggs, who used to work for the conspiracy-mongering website Infowars, as well as Shiva Ayyadurai, a scientist who claims to have invented email and is now running for the Senate. Mr Medlar said he had been working with city authorities to ensure the day would go off peacefully. A planned march has been cancelled and police are setting up physical barriers and a neutral zone to separate counter-protesters from the rally. Several thousand people are expected at the rival “Fight Supremacy” rally. It was planned as a response to the Charlottesville unrest but, coming at the same time as the free speech rally, now raises the prospect of fresh clashes between the two sides. Mr Medlar said he had considered cancelling but realised people might still show up anyway. The responsible course, he added, was to work with city authorities on ensuring an orderly event. “No-one will be able to bring anything that can be used as a weapon,” he said. Charlottesville far-right protest In Charlottesville, armed militias linked to both Left and Right made use of Virginia’s open carry laws to patrol the area carrying assault rifles. About 500 police officers will be on the streets to maintain order. They are planning to close some roads to vehicle after of the car attacks that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville and 13 in Barcelona. "We all know the tragedy that happened in Barcelona. That only makes us more vigilant," said William Evans, Boston Police Commissioner. At the same time, Thomas Robb, of the KKK, told the Boston Herald that he expected members to attend. "I don't think they're going to cause a disturbance," he said. "Our members don't stand out, they don't walk around giving Nazi salutes, they might be your next door neighbour or Cub Scout leader."