Hollywood celebrities, musicians and political leaders gathered in front of the golden casket of George Floyd at a fiery memorial Thursday for the man whose death at the hands of police sparked global protests, with a civil-rights leader declaring it is time for black people to demand: “Get your knee off our necks!”
The service – the first in a series of memorials set for three cities over six days – unfolded at a sanctuary at North Central University as a judge a few blocks away set bail at US$750,000 each for the three fired Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death.
“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck,” the Reverend Al Sharpton said in a fierce eulogy. “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say: ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”
The service drew the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Senator Amy Klobuchar and other members of Congress, including congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson Lee and Ayanna Pressley. Among the celebrities present were T.I., Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Marsai Martin.
Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, died on May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with murder, and he and the others could get up to 40 years in prison.
From coast to coast, and from Paris and London to Sydney and Rio de Janeiro, the chilling cellphone video of Floyd’s slow death has set off turbulent demonstrations against police brutality, racism and inequality.
Here are the developments:
Trump administration sued over removal of protesters
The American Civil Liberties Union and others have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging officials violated the civil rights of protesters who were forcefully removed from a park near the White House by police using chemical agents before US President Donald Trump walked to a nearby church to take a photo.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday in federal court in Washington. It argues that Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials “unlawfully conspired to violate” the protesters’ rights when clearing Lafayette Park on Monday.
Shortly before 6.30pm on Monday, law enforcement officers began aggressively forcing back the peaceful protesters, firing smoke bombs and pepper balls into the crowd to disperse them from the park.
Barr said on Thursday that he ordered the protesters to be dispersed because officials were supposed to extend a security perimeter around the White House earlier in the day. He said he arrived there later in the afternoon and discovered it had not been done.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Black Lives Matter D.C., and individual protesters who were in Lafayette Park on Monday evening.
New York Times op-ed was ‘a mistake’
A New York Times opinion piece recommending that the US military be used to quell demonstrations suffered from a “rushed editorial process” and “did not meet our standards”, the newspaper said after a review of the controversial commentary.
The op-ed, written by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, said that troops should restore order after rioters “plunged many American cities into anarchy”. The editorial was criticised on social media, including by some of the Times’ own employees, who said it would put the lives of black people and journalists in danger.
Late on Thursday, the newspaper put out a statement saying they had examined the process leading up to the editorial’s publication and found it lacking.
“As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish,” the Times said in the statement.
Twitter removes Trump’s tribute
Twitter has disabled US President Donald Trump’s campaign tribute video to George Floyd on its platform, citing a copyright complaint. The clip, which is a collation of photos and videos of protest marches and instances of violence in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, has Trump speaking in the background.
Twitter said the video on the president’s campaign account was affected by its copyright policy.
“We respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorised representatives,” a Twitter representative said.
The three-minute 45-second video uploaded on Trump’s YouTube channel was tweeted by his campaign on June 3.
The clip, which is still on YouTube, had garnered more than 60,000 views and 13,000 likes. The video-streaming platform’s parent Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The social media platform has been under fierce scrutiny from the Trump administration since it fact-checked Trump’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of mail-in voting fraud. It also labelled a Trump tweet about protests in Minneapolis as “glorifying violence”.
Two officers suspended
Two New York police officers have been suspended after a viral video showed them shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground on Thursday night
The graphic video shared on Twitter shows a man walking up to Buffalo Police Department officers. It is unclear if he exchanged words with the officers before he is shoved to the sidewalk. The man stumbles back and falls and the video shows him motionless and bleeding from his head.
After the man falls, a person shouts, “He’s bleeding from his ears!” Someone else shouts, “Get a medic!”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown issued a statement late on Thursday, saying the man in the video is 75 years old and at the hospital in “serious but stable” condition.
“I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood,” Brown said in the statement, which was posted to Twitter. “He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay.
“After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening.”
Australians could be barred from protests
Australian authorities are taking legal action to try stop a Black Lives Matter protest scheduled to take place in Sydney on Saturday, citing the risk of an outbreak of Covid-19 given the large numbers expected to attend.
The last-minute move by the New South Wales state government on Friday came after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people not to attend the gathering and similar rallies in Melbourne and other major cities.
NSW police had originally approved the protest, on the understanding there would be fewer than 500 participants. Organisers now expect thousands of people to attend the gatherings.
“The New South Wales government would never, ever give the green light to thousands of people flagrantly disregarding the health orders,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
The NSW Supreme Court will hear the matter on Friday afternoon.
Morrison said earlier that people should find other ways to express anger following the death of black American George Floyd in US police custody.
“The health advice is very clear, it’s not a good idea to go,” he told reporters in Canberra. “Let’s find a better way and another way to express these sentiments … let’s exercise our liberties responsibly.”
Islamic State says protests will weaken the West
The Islamic State group said protests across the United States and the repercussions of the coronavirus on Western countries will weaken these nations and divert their attention from Muslim countries.
The comments published on Friday in an editorial in the extremist group’s online weekly newspaper al-Nabaa were its first on protests in America.
Al-Nabaa said protests have been occurring in the US since it was founded, but this year “coincide with the negative effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy.” It said the pandemic will weaken “infidel states.”
In recent weeks, the militants have taken advantage of the pandemic to launch deadly attacks in their former self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Shooter ‘used racist slur’ as black jogger lay dying
The inflammatory revelation came amid a week of angry nationwide protests over law enforcement biases against black victims that erupted after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In a hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to proceed with a murder trial, the lead Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent in the case testified that Travis and Greg McMichael and a third man in another pickup, William “Roddie” Bryan, used their trucks to chase down and box in Arbery, who repeatedly reversed directions and ran into a ditch while trying to escape.
Travis McMichael then got out of his truck and confronted Arbery, later telling police he shot him in self-defence after Arbery refused his order to get on the ground, GBI agent Richard Dial said.
“Mr Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement, ‘f*****g n****r’,” Dial said.
At the conclusion of the probable cause hearing on Thursday, Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell found that there was enough evidence for the cases against all three defendants to proceed.
“Ahmaud Arbery was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed at the hands of these men,” prosecutor Jesse Evans told the judge. “He was on a run on a public road in a public subdivision. He was defenceless and unarmed.”
Protesters urged to get coronavirus tests
The thousands of people protesting the death of George Floyd have a “civic duty” to be tested for the coronavirus and help New York avoid a spike in new cases as it slowly restarts its economy, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.
There’s widespread concern that people packing in tightly for demonstrations, sometimes without faces coverings, could lead to more Covid-19 cases. Cuomo was particularly concerned about daily mass demonstrations in New York City, which is poised to relax some restrictions amid an intense, months-long effort to tame the outbreak.
“If you were at a protest, go get a test, please,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing. “The protesters have a civic duty here also. Be responsible, get a test.”
An estimated 20,000 people have demonstrated in New York City alone, the governor said, as he expanded the state’s testing criteria to include people who attended recent protests across the state.
Protests have continued around New York despite state rules against gatherings of more than 10 people.
Regions of the state outside of New York City have begun phasing in economic activity after progress in slowing the spread of the virus. Fewer people are being hospitalised statewide for Covid-19, and the recorded daily death toll was 52 on Wednesday, compared to 800 at the peak of the outbreak.
Paris police ban anti-racism protest
Police have banned a planned protest against police violence in Paris on Saturday because of health measures restricting gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
A protest decrying systemic racism and calling for justice for Floyd and other victims of police brutality was planned to take place outside the US Embassy.
But on Friday, Police Prefect Didier Lallement said such protests “are not authorised” because virus safety measures “prohibit any gathering, in the public space, of more than 10 people.” He issued an order banning the Floyd demonstration and another protest planned for the same day.
Lallement said “in addition to the disturbances to public order that these rallies can generate … the health risks they could cause remain significant.”
Mayor wants out-of-state troops gone from US capital
Thousands of National Guard troops and federal officers in riot gear and masks ringed the White House and monuments in the US capital this week, evoking comparisons to an occupying force.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said she wants most of them out of her district of 700,000 residents. But her powers are limited.
Like cities countrywide, the US capital has been rocked by a week of protests against police brutality and racism following the death of George Floyd. Shops and offices were hit by nighttime vandalism and looting after peaceful demonstrations last weekend, prompting Bowser to impose a 7pm curfew on Monday and Tuesday.
The Democratic mayor told reporters she is fine with D.C. National Guard helping to keep order. But she is examining all legal options to reverse the Trump administration’s deployment of forces from elsewhere.
Several hundred active-duty troops from the 82nd Airborne Division who were sent to the D.C. area are expected to start returning to their home base in North Carolina, a US official said on Thursday.
Some 3,300 national guardsmen are in the area or en route from Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, according to the National Guard.
The security situation is complicated in Washington because the federal district does not have full autonomy, unlike most states where governors carry sole responsibility for security.
Residents pay federal taxes but do not have representation in Congress, and the federal government can override some local authorities in emergencies. The D.C. National Guard, for instance, reports to the president, whereas National Guard units elsewhere report to their local state governor.
California gun store robbed of 29 firearms
After looters made off with dozens of firearms from a Hayward, California, gun store over the weekend, federal officials are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the theft.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this week offered a US$5,000 reward, which was matched by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, for information on the crime.
The San Francisco Bay Area saw a weekend of unrest as demonstrators took to the streets to decry the death of George Floyd.
On Sunday night, 30 to 40 people broke into Richardson Tactical in Hayward and stole 29 weapons, according to the reward notice issued by the ATF.
Among the weapons the store sells are Glock-22s, AR-15s and Beretta M9 handguns, according to Richardson’s Facebook page.
A Monday post on the page verified the looting.
“Everyone working here is safe, no one was harmed, just some damage in the store,” the post said.
Apple CEO publishes open letter on racism
Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter on racism, highlighting that his company must do more. The full text of the letter was posted to the iPhone maker’s website.
“To create change, we have to re-examine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored,” Cook said. “Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To the black community – we see you. You matter and your lives matter.”
Cook said Apple would “commit to continuing our work to bring critical resources and technology to underserved school systems”, as well as “fight the forces of environmental injustice – like climate change – which disproportionately harm Black communities and other communities of colour”.
Earlier this week, Cook said in an internal memo to employees that protections for people are “still not universally applied” as he discussed discrimination and inequality in the US.
Civil rights icon cried over video of Floyd killing
Civil rights icon John Lewis said on Thursday that the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minnesota “made me cry.”
“I kept saying to myself: How many more? How many young black men will be murdered?”
“It made me so sad. It was so painful,” Lewis told CBS This Morning. “It made me cry.”
Lewis said he was encouraged to see such diverse crowds protesting Floyd’s killing, seeking the arrests of the police officers involved and demanding an end to racial injustice.
“It was very moving, very moving to see hundreds and thousands of people from all over America and around the world take to the streets to speak up, to speak out,” he said.
Lewis, 80, was a key figure in the civil rights movement and was one of the leaders behind the 1963 March on Washington and the push to end legalised racial segregation. He had his skull fractured by Alabama troopers as marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965.
He urged protesters seeking justice in Floyd’s killing to embrace non-violence and called on Trump not to crack down on “orderly, peaceful, non-violent protests”.
“You cannot stop the call of history,” Lewis said.
. TOP is the right space for authors to publish their work. What you find is an option for online publishing with TOP and once you are considered one of the authors with TOP then comes the fun part.