AP News in Brief at 6:04 p.m. EDT


Police break up skirmishes among demonstrators in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — Police broke up scuffles between groups of demonstrators a few blocks from the Republican National Convention as crowds in the hundreds gathered Tuesday afternoon. There was no immediate word on any arrests or injuries.

A skirmish broke out when right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones started speaking in downtown’s Public Square through a bullhorn. Police on bicycles pushed back a surging crowd, and Jones was whisked away.

Minutes later, more officers on bicycles formed a line between a conservative religious group and a communist-leaning organization carrying a sign that read, “America Was Never Great.”

The demonstrators appeared outnumbered by police and members of the media. Police on bike and on foot formed lines to keep pockets of protesters separated.

Demonstrators soon spilled into the streets, and some appeared to be making their way toward the arena where the convention is being held.

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Trump seeks to steady GOP convention after plagiarism charge

CLEVELAND (AP) — After a chaotic start, Donald Trump is under pressure to steady his Republican convention as a plagiarism charge and other unforced errors threaten to overshadow GOP efforts to unify behind him.

Still, barring last-minute complications, the unorthodox billionaire will end the night Tuesday as the Republican Party’s official White House nominee.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions opened the nominating process with an enthusiastic endorsement of Trump, declaring him “a warrior and a winner.”

This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Democrat Hillary Clinton. But the rocky start raises fresh questions about his oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.

The plagiarism accusations center on Monday night’s well-received speech by Trump’s wife, Melania Trump. Two passages — each 30 words or longer — matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.

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Pence seeks to reassure conservatives about Trump

CLEVELAND (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, making his first appearance in Cleveland since being named Donald Trump’s running mate, tried to reassure Republicans nervous about the celebrity businessman’s conservative credentials by vouching for his character and comparing him to Ronald Reagan.

Pence, long a conservative darling, made a surprise appearance Tuesday in front of a powerful conservative lobbying group to vow “that Donald Trump will be a great president of the United States of America because his heart beats with the heart of the American people.”

“He’s a builder. He’s a fighter. He’s a father and a patriot,” Pence said of Trump in what may be a preview of his vice presidential acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. “Trust me when I say this. When we come together as a party, we’ll re-elect strong conservative majorities in the House and the Senate and elect this good man as the 45th president of the United States, and I know in my heart that we will make America great again.”

Trump picked Pence as his running mate last week after days of unusual and very public deliberations. Those in Trump’s camp who advocated for Pence framed his selection as a step toward party unity, touting his popularity among conservatives, including those who were skeptical of Trump and supported other candidates during the bruising Republican primary battle.

Pence seized the task of selling Trump to the conservatives gathered for a luncheon hosted by The American Conservative Union Foundation. He immediately compared Trump to the former president whose has been deified by many conservatives.

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Cleveland police are relying heavily on bike patrols

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland police trying to keep protests from turning violent during the Republican convention are relying heavily on officers on bikes, who are not only more maneuverable but are seen as friendlier and less intimidating.

Police Chief Calvin Williams said the city bought 300 bicycles for the event on the advice of the police in Charlotte, North Carolina, which hosted the 2012 Democratic convention. Officers on loan from more than a dozen police departments are on bike patrol in the city, he said.

“Getting around town is a lot easier and a lot faster,” Williams said. “The tactics they use for crowd management and to monitor and assist for protests, you can’t do it on foot, can’t do it in vehicles.”

The bikes also offer a less tangible benefit: making officers more approachable.

“The bicycle breaks down all kinds of barriers,” said Maureen Becker, executive director of the International Police Mountain Bike Association. “It’s a catalyst for conversation. It is less intimidating than some other types of vehicles. And most people can relate in some way shape form to being on a bicycle.”

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Turkey fires tens of thousands in coup plotters hunt

ISTANBUL (AP) — Asserting that “all the evidence” points to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric as the mastermind of last week’s failed coup, Turkey’s government on Tuesday fired tens of thousands of teachers, university deans and others accused of ties to the plot and demanded the cleric’s extradition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue in a phone call with U.S. President Barack Obama, and his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said the government was preparing a formal extradition request for the cleric, Fethullah Gulen. But he also suggested that the U.S. government shouldn’t require the facts before extraditing him.

“A person of this kind can easily be extradited on grounds of suspicion,” Kalin said. “And there is very strong suspicion for his involvement, for Gulen’s involvement, in this coup attempt. So this is sufficient ground.”

Later, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Turkey had submitted materials related to Gulen and the administration was reviewing them to determine whether they amounted to a formal extradition request. Earnest added that a decision on whether to extradite would be made under a longstanding treaty between the two countries, and wouldn’t be made by Obama.

The extradition demand is likely to put strains on U.S. ties as the Obama administration refers the matter to the Justice Department, which will review the documents to determine whether the Turkish government has established probable cause that a crime was committed. Gulen has denied any knowledge of the failed coup.

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Kansas City, Kansas, officer dies after shot in police car

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — An officer with the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department died Tuesday after he was shot in his car as he approached people matching the description of suspects in an earlier shooting.

Capt. Robert Melton was brought to the University of Kansas Hospital just before 2:30 p.m., but resuscitation efforts did not work, trauma surgeon James Howard said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

“There’s a lot of pain and brokenness in our community and our nation right now, and we just want to ask everyone to be prayerful and thoughtful right now,” Mayor Mark Holland of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County said.

Melton had responded to a report of person being shot at by several people in a vehicle, the police department said in a news release. When he and other officers arrived on the scene, the three or four occupants of the car jumped out and ran away.

About a half-hour after the initial call, Melton saw people who matched the suspects’ descriptions about 20 blocks from the original scene and pulled up to them, police spokesman Tom Tomasic said. Before he could get out of his car, he was shot multiple times.

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German train attacker vowed ‘revenge on the infidels’

WUERZBURG, Germany (AP) — A 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker vowing “revenge on these infidels” went on an ax-and-knife rampage on a train in southern Germany, wounding five people before being shot and killed by police — an attack that German authorities conceded Tuesday was almost impossible to prevent.

German officials didn’t identify the attacker or the victims, but Hong Kong’s immigration department said among those wounded were four members of a family of five from the southern Chinese city.

The dpa news agency reported the attacker wounded the 62-year-old father, the 58-year-old mother, their adult daughter and her boyfriend. The teenage son was not hurt. The father and the boyfriend had tried to defend the other family members, dpa said.

At least one member of the Chinese family and another woman attacked outside the train were in life-threatening condition, according to Bamberg prosecutor Erik Ohlenschlager.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Monday night train attack, which came less than a week after the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, France, also claimed by IS, in which 84 people were killed.

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Louisiana capital city struggles with 2 weeks of violence

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana capital is marked by memorials — flowers, balloons and stuffed animals with notes of condolences.

In the past two weeks, Baton Rouge has seen a black man shot to death by white police and night after night of protests, followed by a fatal attack on three officers by a gunman who seemed to target the badge.

The city of 229,000 is better known for its championship college football team and its political scene. But this broiling summer, it has been churning through tension and grief and taking a leading role in the national debate about race and law enforcement.

Sterling Pierce, a 32-year-old black appliance store worker, was shaken up as he paid his respects Tuesday outside the convenience store near where the officers were killed. A sign posted at a memorial read: “God … please help us heal!”

Shaking his head, Pierce struggled to make sense of recent events and to foresee an end to the violence. He showed bullet marks on his car and said the city’s problems run deep.

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Crane collapses on lanes of Tappan Zee Bridge in NYC suburbs

NEW YORK (AP) — A huge crane toppled off the new Tappan Zee Bridge under construction and collapsed across the busy span it is replacing, bringing cars to a halt midday Tuesday on the key Hudson River crossing north of New York City.

“Miraculously, there were no serious injuries,” said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who briefed reporters at the scene. “If you said to me that a boom could fall across the Tappan Zee Bridge at noon, not hit a car… I would not believe it.”

Cuomo said the crane was performing routine work on the new bridge, driving pilings into the river bottom, and it was unclear what caused the crane’s boom to fall across the entire 90-foot, seven-lane width of the old bridge. Cars swerved to avoid the machinery, and at least one person was loaded into an ambulance, but no one was seriously hurt.

Cuomo said he would not allow traffic back on the bridge until inspectors determine it is safe. It wasn’t clear when that inspection would be complete, but Cuomo said it would take at least several hours.

“As you know it’s an old bridge,” he said. “That’s why we’re replacing it in the first place.”

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Mom charged with drowning infant; family says she loved boy

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The family of a woman charged with murder after her 6-week-old son drowned in a pond at a Myrtle Beach outlet mall said she was overwhelmed by the challenges of returning to work as a first-time mom and dealing with an abusive boyfriend.

Jameisha Alexander was seen holding her son, King, near the pond Saturday night by someone who called security. By the time officers arrived, Alexander was gone and the baby was in the water, according to her arrest warrant.

Paramedics tried CPR but the boy died a short time later. Alexander was taken into custody two hours later after being involved in a wreck about 20 miles away, according to a police report.

Alexander, 24, was jailed on a murder charge pending a Tuesday court hearing. The report was partly redacted and police wouldn’t discuss why they think she killed her son.

But Alexander’s family said she was having a rough time, and while joyous, her son’s birth made things tougher.