June 2 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country.
Image: Protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York
Demonstrators gather after curfew during a protest in New York City on June 2, 2020.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

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This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 3 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

Protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd passed the one-week mark Tuesday with no signs of slowing down. From New York to North Carolina and Los Angeles to Minnesota, thousands hit the streets while Floyd’s family called for the arrests of three other officers involved in the Memorial Day incident.

As authorities across the country respond to destructive and chaotic demonstrations with curfews and mass arrests, there’s been one notable exception: Baltimore.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz announced a sweeping civil rights investigation of the police department in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, saying the inquiry will root out "systemic racism that is generations deep."

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Protesters rally against racial injustice, police brutality in France

Protesters in France defied a coronavirus-related police ban on large gatherings Tuesday to demonstrate against racial injustice and police brutality as outrage over George Floyd’s death in the United States rippled throughout the world.

Video footage posted on social media showed people peacefully congregating in the French capital on Tuesday evening to show solidarity with U.S. protesters and to denounce the death of Adama Traore, a black man in French custody four years ago. Reports from the ground in Paris said tear gas had been fired to disperse the protest. Local media also reported that tear gas had been fired at another protest in Lyon.


Signs reflected those thousands of miles away in the United States, including “Black Lives matter” and “without justice there is no peace.”

MAP: Nationwide outrage following George Floyd's death

See the growing list of cities here.

From St. John's Episcopal Church to pandemic response, Trump is co-opting religion to keep the religious right on his side

This week, as protests swelled across the country after the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, President Donald Trump had federal law enforcement deploy flash bangs, tear gas and rubber bullets to clear citizens peacefully protesting in Lafayette Square, so that he could have a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Though the moment was condemned by the Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop for the Diocese of Washington, for using “a Bible and a church of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for," it wasn't Budde's parishioners who Trump was signaling. The moment was crafted for people like his ally Robert Jeffress, a pastor who opined that Trump's stance in front of St. John's was about "demonstrating his intent to protect churches from those who would try to destroy them."

From the beginning of the pandemic, Trump has sought not to "protect" liberal churches like St. John's, but to cement support from his evangelical base embittered that stay-at-home orders have prevented them from meeting in person. And in so doing he has signaled to his supporters on the religious right that his paeans to "religious freedom" apply only to Christians who continue to support his presidency through every calamitous turn.

Read the full story here.

New poll: Majority believe anger that led to George Floyd protests justified

WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans say that the anger that has led to nationwide protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd is justified, and nearly six-in-ten now say that police officers are more likely to use excessive force against a black person than a white one when faced with a dangerous situation, according to a new Monmouth poll.  

The poll finds that  57 percent of Americans believe that protestors’ anger is “fully justified,” while another 21 percent say it is “partially justified.”  Just 18 percent say the anger motivating the protests is not justified at all. 

The public expresses more ambivalence about specific actions taken in those protests, which have included the burning of a police precinct as well as looting in major cities. Just 17 percent said protestors’ actions are “fully” justified, although another 37 percent say they are “partially” justified. 

The poll also notably found a jump in the public’s belief that black people face unequal treatment at the hands of police. Fifty-seven percent — including 87 percent of black Americans and 49 percent of white Americans — say that police are more likely to use excessive force with a black person than with a white person in the same situation. That’s up from just a third of Americans who said the same in a Monmouth poll of registered voters in 2016. 

Additionally, three-quarters of Americans — 76 percent — now say racial discrimination is a major problem in America, up from 68 percent in 2016. 

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating in the new survey shows 42 percent of the public approving and 54 percent disapproving. That’s a downtick — although within the poll’s margin of error — from a 43 percent to 51 percent split in May. 

The Monmouth poll was conducted from May 28 to June 1 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Tiffany Trump posts black square to Instagram in support of George Floyd

President Donald Trump's daughter, Tiffany Trump, posted a black square to her Instagram feed on Tuesday, joining a social media movement that condemns the police killing of George Floyd.

She captioned the post with a quote from Helen Keller — "Alone we can achieve so little; together we can achieve so much" — and added the hashtags #blackouttuesday, referring to the name of the social media movement, and #justiceforgeorgefloyd.

The post comes one day after President Trump threatened to deploy military troops if states couldn't contain protests that have been taking place in cities nationwide in response to police brutality and systemic racism.

Tiffany Trump is the youngest of the president's four adult children, and his only child with second wife Marla Maples. A recent law school graduate, Tiffany Trump, 26, has had noticeably less involvement in her father's business and political ventures than her older siblings Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric.

Reactions to her Instagram post were mixed, with some commenters vowing to unfollow her and others commending her for taking a stronger stance in the matter than the president has. "Maybe you could try to explain this to your father," one person wrote.

George Floyd's family was told other officers 'will be charged' following autopsy results, lawyer says

The attorney for George Floyd's family, Ben Crump, said Tuesday that authorities have told them the other three officers involved in the detainment that preceded his death will be charged.

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes as he exclaimed "I can't breathe," has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers involved in the incident, two of whom restrained Floyd's lower body and one of whom stood by as the horrific scene unfolded, have been fired but not charged.

"We heard that they expect to charge those officers," Crump said on the "TODAY" show Tuesday. "And now with the autopsy, the independent autopsy from the family that pays particular attention to the two knees at the back compressing his lungs, which is equally important as the neck compression cutting off the flow of air ... they will be charged, we understand. That is what the families are hearing from the authorities."

"He was dying for breath," Crump said.

Read the full story here.

Floyd family lawyer says Biden will attend Floyd funeral

Former Vice President Joe Biden will attend the funeral of George Floyd next Tuesday, a lawyer for the the Floyd family said Tuesday.

"We understand Vice President Biden will be in attendance," Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family's attorney, said during a video conference streamed on Facebook.

Multiple services in multiple states are being planned to honor Floyd, but Biden would attend the private funeral service in Houston on Tuesday, June 9, at 11 a.m., Crump said.

Biden campaign officials did not immediately respond to questions from NBC News about whether Biden would be attending the funeral.

Memorials planned for George Floyd in North Carolina, Texas and Minnesota

George Floyd, who was born in North Carolina, lived in Texas and died in Minnesota, will be formally memorialized in all three places in the coming days.

A memorial service for Floyd will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Minneapolis’ Trask Word and Worship Center at North Central University. Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at this service. Sharpton, the longtime leader off the National Action Network, a civil rights organization, is an outspoken public advocate of increased police accountability, as well as the host of MSNBC's "PoliticsNation."

A second memorial will be held for Floyd in North Carolina on Saturday. Details were not immediately available Wednesday morning.

On Monday, a viewing of Floyd’s body, an African American funeral tradition and effort to create space for public mourning during a pandemic, will be held from noon to 8 p.m. at the Fountain of Grace Church in Houston. Several members of Floyd’s family attend the Houston megachurch. A funeral service for Floyd will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, at the same worship space. Access will be limited due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Viral rumors about bricks meant to encourage protest shown to be false

Social media posts of piles of bricks have gone viral in recent days, with unfounded claims that they are being placed around cities in an effort to foment violence during protests.

But analysis by NBC News' Verification Unit found no evidence for such claims. 

Images of piles of bricks across the country have been posted: from a suburb of Minneapolis, to Tacoma, Washington, and San Francisco. 

Video of police in Boston unloading bricks from a vehicle has been viewed millions of times. The person who first posted it has since taken it down, saying she can’t be sure whether it does indeed show officers leaving the bricks at a protest site as she first suggested. That hasn’t stopped others repeating the claim. NBC News’ has now verified the footage shows the police unloading the bricks at the police station. 

NBC News' Verification Unit geolocated the photos and tracked down the bricks to a Dallas parking lot. They have been there for months, close to a construction site, and can be seen in an image on Google Maps Street View from February.Google Maps

Some photos, like this one in Dallas, claim the police left the bricks there to encourage a riot that they could then clamp down on.

NBC News’ Verification Unit geolocated the photos and tracked down the bricks to a Dallas parking lot. They have been there for months, close to a construction site, and can be seen in an image on Google Maps Street View from February.

Another post in Frisco, TX asked “Anyone know why these random piles of bricks keep showing up near protest sites??? Someone is funding the rioting.” The local police later put out a tweet saying they’d investigated, the bricks were for a planned construction project, and they’ve been removed.  

Unsubstantiated claims about bricks come as conspiracy theories about efforts to foment protests have spread on social media. 

Bricks have been thrown during some protests, including video that appears to show a police officer being hit by a brick. There is also video that shows a woman who gives back a brick that was handed out by someone from a passing car. She doesn’t know the people in the car and she shouts angrily at them to stop putting people’s lives in danger. 

But there is no evidence that piles of bricks have been strategically placed in U.S. cities to encourage protest violence.