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More calls for police reform, virus comeback in Arizona and Georgia's election chaos

‘Make it stop’: As George Floyd's brother calls for police reform, here's what it might really look like.
Image: Philonise Floyd
Philonise Floyd testifies during a House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on police accountability on Capitol Hill on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.Erin Schaff / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

George Floyd's brother made a highly emotional plea for police reform while activists imagine what "defunding the police" might actually look like.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

'Who else needs to die?': Calls for police reform intensify

A Minneapolis judge ordered the city’s police department to stop using neck restraints and chokeholds. A majority on the Minneapolis City Council pledged to dismantle the department, and the chief withdrew from contract negotiations with the police union to allow for "greater community transparency."

These are some of the steps taken in Minneapolis following more than two weeks of demonstrations in cities around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd who died while in police custody.

But activists, reform advocates and even those who work in law enforcement question whether these types of changes, not only in Minneapolis but in other U.S. cities, are enough to heal widespread distrust between communities of color and police departments.

"Our nation needs to change the mindset of what it means to be a police officer," Patrick Skinner, a former CIA operations officer who now trains police in Savannah, Georgia, told MSNBC. "We’re cops. We’re not warriors ... If you have a warrior mindset, you can’t deescalate."

As the debate over what the rallying cry "defund the police" actually means, some activists are looking at cities and towns across the country where more moderate experiments are already underway.

Programs in Dallas, Milwaukee and Salinas, California have already shifted some responsibilities from police to health workers and community groups — and found a new balance.

Here are some other developments:

Coronavirus is making a comeback in Arizona three weeks after governor lifted stay-at-home order

Three weeks after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order, the state has seen a big spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

With nearly 1,100 dead and hospitalizations spiking rapidly, lawmakers and medical professionals are warning there might not be enough emergency room beds to handle what could be a big influx of new cases.

Ducey has insisted this “is not a crisis situation” and suggested the rise in the number of cases is due to an increase in testing.

But critics say that Arizona residents, who initially took the coronavirus threat seriously, have grown lax about social distancing and face coverings, and that the result is a rise in new cases.

Arizona is not alone. Coronavirus infections in the U.S. have topped 2 million as at least nine states reported a jump in hospitalizations since Memorial Day.

See our live blog for the latest developments.

Georgia's election chaos is a 'cautionary tale' for the Trump-Biden presidential race

Georgia's primary election debacle is a warning sign for states as a nation on edge gears up for a consequential election during a pandemic.

A combination of cash-strapped state budgets and dramatic changes expected in voting behavior have fueled concerns among advocates about whether the ballot box will be safe and accessible to all Americans.

Voters line up to cast their ballots in primary elections in Union City, Ga., on Tuesday.Dustin Chambers / Reuters

'Preposterous': Court-appointed lawyer in Michael Flynn case slams DOJ attempt to drop it

The retired federal judge appointed to act as a friend of the court in the Michael Flynn case strongly urged the court Wednesday not to let the Justice Department abandon the prosecution.

In a scorching 83-page submission, John Gleeson said the government's move to drop the case was "riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact."

Gleeson, the retired judge and former mafia prosecutor appointed by the court to argue against the Justice Department's highly unusual move to drop Flynn's case, said judges must ordinarily defer to the wishes of the department about whether to pursue a prosecution. But not when the motives of the government are suspect.

In Flynn's case, the government's move to dismiss the case "is based solely on the fact that Flynn is an ally of President Trump," Gleeson wrote.

Everything about this is irregular," the retired prosecutor and federal judge wrote about the case. Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

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Quote of the day

"I'm asking you, is that what a black man is worth? Twenty dollars?"

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on the need for police reform.

One fun thing

Does every day feel like "Groundhog Day"? Did you have to ask someone what day of the week it was recently?

You’re hardly alone — it’s getting harder and harder to tell when every day seems the same.

Here are some suggestions on how to break up the monotony.

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Thanks, Petra Cahill