Staff and wire reports

Former President George W. Bush told The New York Times that he would not support the re-election of Donald Trump as president. A "growing numbers of prominent Republicans are debating how far to go in revealing that they won’t back his re-election — or might even vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr.," the Times said.

Bush is joined by former presidential nominee and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney.

"And former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced on Sunday that he will vote for Mr. Biden, telling CNN that Mr. Trump “lies about things” and Republicans in Congress won’t hold him accountable," the Times reported. 

Other Republicans, such as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, say they are struggling with support for Trump. "Perhaps we're getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally, and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up," Murkowski said. 

Murkowski's remarks reflected the choice Republicans are forced to make about whether, and for how long, to support Trump when his words and actions so often conflict with their values and goals. Trump has responded to violence accompanying some protests following George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis by calling for more "law and order" to "dominate" even peaceful demonstrations. He has been slower and less forceful in addressing racial injustice and questions of police brutality that lie at the heart of the unrest. 

Asked whether she can still support Trump, Murkowski replied: "I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time." 

The nation is on edge, and Election Day looms, with the presidency and control of the House and Senate at stake. Trump has made clear that consequences for what he considers disloyalty can be steep. 

Most in the GOP aren't breaking with him. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said Mattis' missive was not discussed Thursday at the GOP's lunch.

Troops leaving Washington 

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he's given the order for National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation's capital, saying everything now is "under perfect control."

The District of Columbia government requested some Guard forces last week to assist law enforcement with managing protests after the death of George Floyd. But Trump ordered thousands more troops and federal law enforcement to the city to "dominate" the streets after some instances of looting and violence.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last week called on Trump to withdraw National Guard troops that some states sent to the city.

Trump tweeted Sunday that "They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed." He also ordered more than 1,000 active duty troops to be flown to the D.C.-area in reserve, but they have begun returning to their home bases after days of peaceful protests.

Peaceful protests march on

Massive protests against police brutality nationwide capped a week that began in chaos but ended with largely peaceful expressions that organizers hope will sustain their movement.

Saturday's marches featured few reports of problems in scenes that were more often festive than tense. Authorities were not quick to release crowd size estimates, but it was clear tens of thousands of people — and perhaps hundreds of thousands — turned out nationally.

Wearing masks and urging fundamental change, protesters gathered in dozens of places from coast to coast while mourners in North Carolina waited for hours to glimpse the golden coffin carrying the body of native son George Floyd, the black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has galvanized the expanding movement.

Collectively, it was perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since Floyd died May 25 and came as many cities lifted curfews imposed following initial spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. Authorities have softened restrictions as the number of arrests plummeted.

Demonstrations also reached four other continents, ending in clashes in London and Marseille, France. In the U.S., Seattle police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters hurling rocks, bottles and what authorities said were "improvised explosives" that had injured officers, just a day after city leaders temporarily banned one kind of tear gas. Around midnight in Portland, a firework was thrown over the fence at the Justice Center, injuring a Multnomah County deputy, Portland police Lt. Tina Jones said. Smith said police had declare an unlawful assembly and were making arrests.

The largest U.S. demonstration appeared to be in Washington, where protesters flooded streets closed to traffic. On a hot, humid day, they gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in neighborhoods. Some turned intersections into dance floors. Tents offered snacks and water. 

Pamela Reynolds said she came seeking greater police accountability.

"The laws are protecting them," said the 37-year-old African American teacher. The changes she wants include a federal ban on police chokeholds and a requirement that officers wear body cameras.

Many protesters wore masks — a reminder of the danger that the protests could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.

Roderick Sweeney, who is black, said the large turnout of white protesters waving signs that said "Black Lives Matter" in San Francisco sent a powerful message.

"We've had discussions in our family and among friends that nothing is going to change until our white brothers and sisters voice their opinion," said Sweeney, 49. 

A large crowd of Seattle medical workers, many in lab coats and scrubs, marched to City Hall, holding signs reading, "Police violence and racism are a public health emergency" and "Nurses kneel with you, not on you" — a reference to how a white officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes. 

Atop a parking garage in downtown Atlanta, a group of black college band alumni serenaded protesters with a tuba-heavy mix of tunes. Standing within earshot, business owner Leah Aforkor Quaye said it was her first time hitting the streets.

"This makes people so uncomfortable, but the only way things are happening is if we make people uncomfortable," said Quaye, who is black.

Thousands in Spain on the streets

MADRID — Several thousand people have gathered in Spain's main cities to show their support for the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and to denounce racial discrimination in Europe.

A few thousand protesters gathered around the U.S. embassy in Madrid on Sunday. Many carried homemade signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "Human rights for all" and "Silence is pro-racist."

Protesters chanted "Police murderers!" and "No justice, no peace!" Police were present but the atmosphere remained peaceful. Social distancing was difficult, however everyone wore a mask.

Thimbo Samb, a spokesman for the group that organized the protest, says the demonstration was to protest the death of George Floyd but also to call attention to racism in Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

Thousands also filled a central square in Barcelona and there were other protests called for in smaller cities.

Clashes in London

LONDON -- Thousands of people are congregating around the U.S. embassy in London to protest against racial injustice in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd last month.

Protesters gathered Sunday for a second day running around the gleaming new glass building on Nine Elms Lane, just south of the River Thames.

There are concerns that Sunday's demonstration could take a violent turn, following clashes on Saturday at another demonstration in central London that saw 14 police officers injured. 

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, says violence is "simply not acceptable" and has urged those protesting to do so lawfully while also maintaining social distancing of remaining 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.

Hundreds of people also formed a densely packed crowd in a square in central Manchester, kneeling in silence as a mark of respect for George Floyd.

Rome rally against racism

In Rome's sprawling People's Square, thousands of demonstrators turned out for the city's first major rally against racism. 

With a great majority wearing masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus, participants listened to speeches for several hours and held up hand-made placards reading "Black Lives Matter" and "It's a White Problem." At one point the protesters, most of them young and some with children or young siblings, kneeled and raised their fists in solidarity with those fighting racism.

"It's quite unfortunate, you know, in this current 21st century that people of color are being treated as if they are lepers,'' said 26-year-old Ghanian Abdul Nassir, who was at the rally and is studying in Rome for a master's degree in business management. He said he occasionally has felt racist attitudes, notably when riding the subway. 

Migration of people of color to Italy, including from sub-Saharan Africa, was relatively infrequent until about 25 years ago, and there isn't yet a vast first-generation population who have come of age. 

The noisy, peaceful rally had many organizers, including the grassroots protest group Sardines, a women's group, a U.S. expatriates organization, a group called Neri Italiani — Black Italians — and a 25-year-old Roman student, Denise Berhane. 

Asked by SKYTG24 if Italy has a racism problem, Berhane said, "There are some problems in the country if all these people turned out."

New York City lifts curfew

New York City's mayor is lifting the city's curfew ahead of schedule, spurred on by protests against police brutality.

The 8 p.m. citywide curfew, New York's first in decades, had been set to remain in effect through at least Sunday, with the city planning to lift it at the same time it enters the first phase of reopening after more than two months of a coronavirus shutdown.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday morning in a tweet that the curfew will end "effective immediately."

"Yesterday and last night we saw the very best of our city," de Blasio tweeted "Tomorrow we take the first big step to restart."

The move followed New York City police pulling back on enforcing the curfew Saturday as thousands took to the streets and parks to protest police brutality, sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

More than two hours after the curfew had passed Saturday night, groups of several hundred demonstrators continued to march in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while police monitored them but took a hands-off approach.

15,000 rally in Berlin

BERLIN — After a day of anti-racism protests across Europe, Berlin police said 93 people were detained in connection with a demonstration in the German capital — most of them after the main rally had ended.

More anti-racism demonstrations were planned for Sunday across the U.K., including one outside the U.S. Embassy, just south of the River Thames.

At least 15,000 people had rallied peacefully in Berlin on Saturday in response to the May 25 death of American George Floyd, which has triggered global protests against racism and police brutality.

Police said several officers and one press photographer were injured in Berlin when bottles and rocks were thrown from a crowd that had gathered despite police orders to clear the city's Alexander Square an hour after the demonstration was over. Berlin police said 28 officers suffered minor injuries in the scuffles.

Confederate statue comes down in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. — In the former capital of the Confederacy, demonstrators toppled a statue of Gen. Williams Carter Wickham from its pedestal after a day of mostly peaceful demonstrations across the commonwealth.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that most of the demonstrators had already dispersed when a rope was tied around the Confederate statue, which has stood since 1891 in Richmond's Monroe Park, which is surrounded by the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. In 2017, some of Wickham's descendants urged the city to remove the statue.

A Richmond police spokeswoman didn't know if there were any arrests and the extent of any damage.

Confederate monuments are a major flashpoint in Virginia. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that a state-owned statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee would be removed from its perch on the famed Monument Avenue "as soon as possible."