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June 4 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country. Here are the latest updates.
Image: Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a memorial service for George Floyd following his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a memorial service for George Floyd following his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 4, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 5 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

On Thursday, George Floyd’s family held a memorial in Minneapolis, with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered a powerful eulogy and announced a march on Washington is scheduled for August.

An ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of aiding and abetting the alleged murder of George Floyd tried to warn his fellow officers when one of them put his knee on the man’s neck for more than eight minutes.

“You shouldn’t do that,” a lawyer for the officer, J. Alexander Kueng, said he told the officers.

Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco added their names Thursday to a growing list of cities that were lifting their curfews after a wave of nationwide protests that were sometimes accompanied by looting, property destruction and violence.

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California mayor quits after email with 'I don't believe there's ever been a good person of color killed by a police'

757d ago / 7:36 AM UTC

The mayor of Temecula, California, has resigned after sending an email that read "I don't believe there's ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer" — something he blamed on a speech-to-text program he uses because he has dyslexia.

Mayor James "Stew" Stewart had previously apologized and said in a statement Wednesday "I absolutely did not say 'good' I have no idea how that popped up." He said he intended to say he did not think there had ever been a person of color murdered by a police officer locally.

Thursday night in a Facebook post, Stewart said in part: "My typos and off-the-cuff response to an email on a serious topic added pain at a time where our community, and our country, is suffering."

"I may not be the best writer and I sometimes misspeak, but I am not racist," Stewart said. "I deeply regret this mistake and I own it, entirely. I am truly sorry."

Stewart said he would step down as mayor and from the city council effective immediately. The email came in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last week. The white officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck and three other officers have been fired and criminally charged.

Temecula is a city of around 114,700 in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles.

NFL stars call on league to 'admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting'

757d ago / 6:24 AM UTC

Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”

The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.

The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people. ... We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. ... We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

The NFL has been a flashpoint for protests over police violence ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during national anthems before games. Kaepernick has since gone unsigned — and emerged as a leading voice in opposition of police violence. 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke against Floyd's death but has been accused of hypocrisy and insincerity in his response, with critics pointing to the way the league handled Kaepernick's protest against police brutality in 2016.  

2 National Guard members hospitalized after D.C. lightning strike

757d ago / 5:11 AM UTC

Two people thought to be National Guard members deployed during protests in Washington, D.C. were hospitalized after lightning struck the area of their post not far from the White House early Friday, a fire official said.

The strike and possible injuries were reported shortly after midnight inside a perimeter anchored by Lafayette Square, the site of George Floyd demonstrations this week, according to Vito Maggiolo, spokesman for the district's fire and emergency medical services department.

The two were hospitalized in non-life-threatening condition, he said. 

Immediate information appears to indicate the pair wasn't struck directly. He said the victims "felt the effects of a nearby lightning strike."

Overnight White House social media director Dan Scavino retweeted imagery of lightning striking the capital.

'Nothing has changed': Protesters push for police reform

757d ago / 4:11 AM UTC

Buffalo officers suspended after shoving man to ground on video

, and

757d ago / 3:59 AM UTC

Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay Thursday after a video showed authorities knocking down a 75-year-old man during a protest, Mayor Byron Brown said.

In a statement, Brown said the suspension came after the city’s police commissioner launched an investigation into the incident. Brown did not identify the officers.

Brown said he was "deeply disturbed" by the video, which was published by the local National Public Radio affiliate, WBFO.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, is in serious but stable condition at a local hospital, Brown said.

Read the full story here

Seattle chief says officers’ badge numbers will be easy to see

757d ago / 3:29 AM UTC

Seattle’s police chief said Thursday that officers’ badge numbers will be “prominently displayed” following complaints by people protesting the death of George Floyd that black bands over the shields obscured the digits.

Chief Carmen Best said officers sometimes wear bands over badges to honor colleagues who have been killed while on duty. Best said she would issue a directive ensuring the numbers are visible while also trying to find a way for police to mourn.

“We’ve heard people, we understand,” Best said at a news conference Thursday with Mayor Jenny Durkan following the first peaceful night of protests in the Northwest’s largest city since rallies began last week.

“It was a good night in the city,” Best said.

Durkan said authorities continue to speak to community leaders about ways to reduce tensions and improve communication and police policies. Wednesday’s protests were among the largest Seattle has seen in years, but authorities reported no problems following days of unrest. Durkan abruptly Wednesday night ended a city-wide curfew in place for days amid the massive demonstrations over the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.

Atlanta Mayor Lance Bottoms: 'We are serious about policy changes'

757d ago / 2:47 AM UTC

New York officers could face suspension after street clashes

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757d ago / 2:17 AM UTC

Some New York Police Department officers are facing suspension after violent interactions with people protesting the death of George Floyd, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Thursday.

Shea pleaded with politicians to calm the rhetoric against the NYPD, noting that officers have not seriously injured any protesters, but officers have been shot at, stabbed, hit over the head with a fire extinguisher, and other forms of violence.

The impromptu news conference held without Mayor Bill de Blasio and at a police headquarters surrounded by barricades and officers in riot helmets was conciliatory and direct. It included a detailed discussion of Wednesday night's stabbing that is under review as a possible terror attack against officers.

In the last two weeks, New York police officers have repeatedly been accused of abusing protesters, including driving into a crowd and using excessive force to push them back. On Wednesday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams posted video on Twitter showing police officers in Brooklyn forcibly using their batons against peaceful protesters to get them to move down the street.

Read the full story here.

Paul, Harris, Booker debate on anti-lynching bill erupts on Senate floor

757d ago / 2:02 AM UTC

Enraged N.Y. driver who chased protesters with blades attached to arm is arrested

757d ago / 1:49 AM UTC

An enraged New York driver who allegedly rushed a group of protesters with two long blades attached to his arms, then chased them in his SUV, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of menacing and other crimes, authorities said.

Frank Cavalluzzi, 54, of Queens, faces multiple counts of reckless endangerment, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, the New York Police Department said.

Video footage of the June 2 incident showed the man speeding toward a small group of protesters on an expressway overpass in Queens. He can be seen leaping from his SUV with a device affixed to his arm that has machete-like blades extending from it.

A second video shows Cavalluzzi allegedly drive onto the overpass' sidewalk and speed after them. The protesters can be heard screaming and sprinting away from the vehicle.

Read the full story here.

Biden: George Floyd's death must prompt action, police reform

757d ago / 1:38 AM UTC

Joe Biden continued his de facto listening tour on race issues in America on Thursday night, telling a virtual town hall that the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody must be a moment for action.

"I see you, I hear you, and I'm angry as well. But we have to turn our anguish into purpose,” Biden said during an online town hall hosted by The Shade Room, an entertainment media company focused on the African American community.

“If we just let this wound scab over again, it's never going to heal,” he added during the event, which was moderated by actor Don Cheadle.

A short while after the event, President Donald Trump tweeted about the 1994 crime bill Biden supported — criticism he has faced throughout the campaign, including from other Democratic presidential candidates — calling it a "total disaster."

Click here to read the full story.

Heavy rain brings early end to Washington march

757d ago / 1:11 AM UTC

WASHINGTON — Protests in the nation’s capital over George Floyd’s death broke up before dark Thursday as a heavy rain began to fall.

The law enforcement presence at the Lincoln Memorial, where protesters gathered, was much smaller than it had been near the White House during the previous nights’ demonstrations.

Tomora Wright, 29, of Washington, said her parents were concerned that she was coming down to protest but she wasn’t worried. “I know that my people are peaceful and I’m not scared to be around people who believe in the same thing, the same cause. I definitely felt the need to come down here and protest in solidarity.”

She wants to see the killers of George Floyd brought to justice but also reopening of past cases such as Sandra Bland in Texas. “These are unimaginable times. “

Prosecutors say she tried to firebomb an NYPD van. Her friends say she's a 'regular girl'

758d ago / 12:01 AM UTC

The blurry video shows a woman holding a lighter to an indistinct object on a Brooklyn street. She vanishes off screen for a few seconds, then lurches back, lobbing what authorities say is a Molotov cocktail at a parked police van with four officers inside.

The officers weren't injured in the Saturday morning incident, and the suspect, later identified as Samantha Shader, 27, of the little Hudson Valley town of Catskill, tried to flee but was caught and arrested, authorities said. She now faces federal explosives charges. Her younger sister, Darian, was also booked on suspicion of resisting arrest.

Prosecutors in New York's Eastern District Court have described Shader an an out-of-control criminal determined to riot, someone who "demonstrated, at every turn, disregard and contempt for the judicial system and for the law abiding public."

But in interviews with NBC News, people who know Shader offered a different picture. One longtime friend said she didn’t believe the allegations. Another described her as a "regular girl" who wanted to help people and is being treated unfairly. And an online fundraiser seeking to raise money for legal fees for Shader and her sister says they "took a stand and bravely put their lives and freedom on the line to support the nationwide protest against police brutality."

Read the full story.

White House adds new fencing around perimeter

758d ago / 11:59 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — After another night of peaceful protests outside of Lafayette Square Wednesday, workers were seen putting up new fencing barriers around the White House complex Thursday morning, adding to the 8-foot fence that was erected around the entrance to Lafayette Square earlier in the week.

Reporters arriving at the White House as early as 5:30 a.m. ET on Thursday morning described seeing black fences being put up along the Eisenhower Executive Office Building entrance on 17th St. NW.

By the afternoon, the new fencing could be seen stretching from the back of the White House complex, closing off the entrance to The Ellipse and stretching all the way up 17th St., blocking off the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The Secret Service said "the closures are in an effort to maintain the necessary security measures surrounding the White House complex, while also allowing for peaceful demonstration," adding that the closed off areas would remain blocked until June 10.

Click here for the full story. 

758d ago / 11:31 PM UTC

Trump rages about protest fire, but was silent on burning black churches

758d ago / 11:22 PM UTC

“YOU DON’T BURN CHURCHES IN AMERICA!” President Trump tweeted on Thursday, an apparent reference to a fire that broke out at St. John’s Church, located across the street from the White House, during the protests. (The church’s rector described it as a small fire.)

Last year, the president was silent when three historically black churches in one Louisiana parish burned in a 10-day span. Pence commented after the Washington Post pointed this out, and he later visited.

A sheriff deputy’s son was later charged; he pleaded guilty earlier this year, admitting he set the fires to raise his profile as a metal musician.

Black churches have frequently been targeted throughout American history, and many were burned down during the Jim Crow era.

Minnesota Gov. Walz: 'Anyone who demonstrated should receive a test for COVID-19'

758d ago / 10:37 PM UTC

New Zealanders perform haka dance outside U.S. Embassy during protest

758d ago / 10:37 PM UTC

Demonstrators in New Zealand performed a traditional Māori dance Monday in Aukland while protesting the death of George Floyd.

Video of protesters performing the haka outside the U.S. Embassy in Auckland has gone viral on social media, garnering over 3.5 million views on Twitter. The haka is a war dance traditionally used on the battlefield and to show a tribe’s pride, strength and unity. 

Organizers of the march and protest told New Zealand station TVNZ that the haka was performed to stand in solidarity with U.S. protesters and to also protest the arming of New Zealand police.

'We cannot cooperate with torture': Floyd family attorney urges action

758d ago / 9:32 PM UTC

As loved ones gathered on Thursday to remember the life of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump gave an impassioned plea for America to “not cooperate with evil” but instead continue protesting against it.

“We cannot cooperate with evil,” he said. “We cannot cooperate with injustice. We cannot cooperate with torture because George Floyd deserved better than that. We all deserve better than that.”

Crump referred to Floyd’s final moments under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as “inhumane” and invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to action.

“The plea for justice is simply this,” Crump said. “Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting is really like cooperating with it.’”

Crump also reminded mourners that Floyd died not of the current coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across the country, but instead of the unspoken pandemic generations in the making.

“I want to make it clear on the record,” Crump said. “It was the other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with here in America. The pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd.”

Read the full story here.

Barr defends White House use of force, claims protesters were violent

758d ago / 8:52 PM UTC

Attorney General William Barr defended the decision to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday, downplaying the use of force and claiming that the administration's decision was provoked by increasing violence.

“I think the president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to the church of presidents,” Barr said at a virtual press conference on Thursday. “I don't necessarily view that as a political act. I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do.”

Barr claimed that protesters outside the White House on Monday were becoming violent, justifying his authorization for police to remove them.

“I saw the projectiles on Monday when I went to Lafayette Park to look at the situation,” said Barr, who was seen in the park before protesters were forced out.

Read what else Barr said.

No major foreign influence campaigns exploiting George Floyd, experts say

758d ago / 8:39 PM UTC

The outrage Americans have seen on their social media feeds following George Floyd's death by Minneapolis police is authentic, experts say — and not substantially inflated by foreign influence operations.

Campaigns to stoke U.S. tensions and shift public opinions online are a reality of online life. Attorney General William Barr said in a press conference Thursday that the Justice Department is "seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence," without going into specifics.

But a number of experts who track such behavior online said they haven't seen any significant foreign campaign surrounding Floyd and the protests that have cropped up nationwide in response to his death.

"These narratives are playing out on traditional media and social media platforms, but there is no evidence as yet to suggest a large-scale, covert interference campaign like those the Russian Internet Research Agency waged against the United States from 2014 until at least early 2020," said Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at Graphika, which tracks such operations.

758d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Rev. Al Sharpton announces march in Washington on Aug. 28

758d ago / 8:06 PM UTC

The Rev. Al Sharpton, during his eulogy at a memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Thursday, announced plans for a march in Washington on Aug. 28, the anniversary of the original March on Washington in 1963 where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Sharpton said he was glad the civil rights icon's son, Martin Luther King III, was at the memorial.

"Because on Aug. 28, the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, we're going back to Washington, Martin," Sharpton said. "That's where your father stood in the shadows of the Lincoln memorial and said, 'I have a dream.'"

"Well we're going back this Aug. 28 to restore and recommit that dream," Sharpton said. "To stand up, because just like at one era we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal policing and criminal justice." 

Sharpton added, "We need to go back to Washington and stand up — black, white, Latino, Arab — in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them, ‘This is the time to stop this.'"

Sharpton also called for a federal policy to address a wide range of policing issues, including the inability to fully background check police officers and creating residency requirements for officers to live in the communities they police.

At the close of his eulogy, Sharpton asked Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, to join him and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump on stage while those gathered stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck during the arrest where he died.

'We cannot cooperate with torture': Floyd family lawyer calls for justice at memorial service

758d ago / 8:03 PM UTC

'The other pandemic' killed George Floyd, family attorney says

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758d ago / 8:02 PM UTC

Floyd tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, weeks before his death, according to an autopsy. B

ut Floyd died from a much more deadly disease, family attorney Benjamin Crump said.

“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” Crump told spirited mourners.

“I want to make it clear, on the record … the other pandemic that we are are too familiar with in America — the pandemic of racism and discrimination killed George Floyd."

Rev. Al Sharpton: Trump used a bible as a prop. We will not allow George Floyd to become one.

758d ago / 7:57 PM UTC

George Floyd memorial: Loved ones say goodbye to man whose death ignited national conversation on racism

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758d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

MINNEAPOLIS - George Floyd's family and closest friends on Thursday demanded justice for their departed loved one, who was killed by “the pandemic of racism and discrimination.”

Mourners paid tribute to Floyd inside a sanctuary at North Central University in Minneapolis, singing praises for their son, brother, father and dear friend who died at the age of 46.

His younger brother, Philonise Floyd, said the family grew up poor but had everything they needed. They enjoyed banana and mayonnaise sandwiches made by their loving mother and washed clothes in a bathroom sink, before drying them over a hot water heater or oven.

“Everybody wants justice, we want justice for George,” the younger Floyd told mourners. “He’s going to get it, he’s going to get it.”

George Floyd's brother Philonise: 'Everybody loved George...he was powerful'

758d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

Social distancing efforts inside, outside George Floyd's memorial service

758d ago / 7:39 PM UTC
Minneapolis
People gathering outside George Floyd's memorial service practice social distancing.Janell Ross

George Floyd's memorial service is being played on loudspeakers for a crowd of several hundred people who have gathered outside.

Most of those gathering are wearing masks and there are navy blue stickers along the sidewalks outside that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING," placed about 6 feet apart but people are not adhering to that kind of spacing.

The Rev. Al Sharpton wore black surgical gloves at the pulpit where he preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1, which reads, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Sharpton later said, "Because of the pandemic I'm not going to ask you to hold hands," as he guided those at the memorial to stand and begin an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence, reflecting the length of time an officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck.

Navy blue stickers were placed along the sidewalks outside George Floyd's service that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING."
Navy blue stickers were placed along the sidewalks outside George Floyd's service that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING."Janell Ross

An earlier speaker mentioned that the memorial service has to stick to a strict schedule to comport with social distancing rules.

More than 700 active-duty Army soldiers leaving Washington, D.C., returning to Ft. Bragg

758d ago / 7:30 PM UTC

More than 700 active-duty soldiers from Fort Bragg who have been in Washington, D.C., since Monday waiting to be deployed in case President Donald Trump invoked the Insurrection Act are being sent back to North Carolina tonight, a senior defense official told NBC News.

A decision to send the soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division back south to their base was made on Wednesday, but then reversed. The decision to send them home was made again Thursday. The soldiers, who have been waiting at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, were never called into the city to confront protestors.

More than 1,600 active-duty troops from Fort Bragg, Fort Drum in New York and Fort Riley in Kansas began arriving in the capital area on Monday. They have been staying at multiple military installations in the capital area.

Read the full story here.

The complicated racial history behind 'Amazing Grace'

758d ago / 7:11 PM UTC

"Amazing Grace," which was performed by Liwana Porter during George Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday, is one of the best known hymns across a variety of Protestant denominations and also has a complicated racial history.

Written in 1773 by John Newton, a white, English slave trader, the song was originally known as "Faith's Review and Expectation." Newton had been moved to craft the song after a near-death experience aboard a slave ship which sailed into a storm. Newton became a Christian and in 1778 spoke out publicly against slavery.

In 2015, President Barack Obama, a man with no previous history of public singing, sang the hymn at a memorial service for the nine African Americans killed by a white supremacist shooter inside one of the nation's oldest black churches, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The moment seemed to resonate with a wide variety of Americans.

In 2015, President Barack Obama, a man with no previous history of public singing, sang the hymn as a memorial service for the nine African Americans killed by a white supremacist shooter inside one of the nation's oldest black churches, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

After the song brought mourners to their feet, Obama went on to deliver a eulogy for the church's slain pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. As he delivered it, Obama said the killer assumed he "would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation's original sin.""But God works in mysterious ways," Obama said. "God had different ideas."

Judge sets $750K bail for 3 ex-officers accused in Floyd's death

758d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge set bail at $750,000 apiece Thursday for three fired Minneapolis police officers who have been charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of George Floyd.

Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were making their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court since their arrests Wednesday.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired them last week, along with Derek Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's May 25 death. Widely seen bystander video shows the white police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring the African American man’s pleas that he can't breathe, until he stopped moving.

Defendants don't normally enter pleas during their first appearances in Minnesota courts, which tend to be brief proceedings. Judge Paul Scoggin set their next court dates for June 29.

758d ago / 6:50 PM UTC

Joy Reid: At some point, this country needs to let black people stop crying. But until then, we'll keep teaching.

758d ago / 6:50 PM UTC

'He will not die in vain': People in Houston's Third Ward pay tribute to George Floyd

758d ago / 6:39 PM UTC

Trump invoking Insurrection Act could undo years of police reform, experts warn

758d ago / 6:26 PM UTC

Those who remember the last time the Insurrection Act was used, during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, warn that President Donald Trump could undo decades of progress between police and the communities they serve if he invokes it now.

Calling governors weak and urging them to "dominate" American cities, Trump threatened Monday to invoke the little-known law against people protesting the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. The Insurrection Act, which dates to 1807, allows the president to call up active-duty military units or federalize the National Guard under certain circumstances.

"We don't need to be telling people that we're going to dominate them. That language doesn't work," said professor Erroll Southers, a former law enforcement officer who specializes in national and homeland security issues at the University of Southern California. "It just reinforces where we were decades ago."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both signaled distaste this week for using the Insurrection Act. Newsom said Wednesday that he would reject any attempt by Trump to militarize the response in California.

"It won't happen," Newsom told reporters while visiting a cafe in South Los Angeles. "It's not going to happen. We would reject it."

Read the full story here.

758d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

Los Angeles Mayor lifts curfew

758d ago / 5:45 PM UTC

NYPD officer appears to make white power sign at protest, prompting probe

758d ago / 5:36 PM UTC

A video of a uniformed New York City police officer appearing to make a white power symbol at a George Floyd protest Saturday in New York City has prompted an internal review.

The video showing the officer making the apparent "OK" hand gesture — touching the thumb and index finger to make a circle, with the remaining three fingers held outstretched — was posted to social media over the weekend.

NBC News is not publishing or linking to the video to avoid providing a platform to apparent expressions of hate or white supremacy.

The "OK" gesture has been used by people around the world for centuries, typically to signal consent, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Recently, the hand signal has also been appropriated to represent the letters w and p to signify "white power," stemming from a hoax in 2017 by members of the website 4chan, an anonymous and unrestricted online message board, the ADL says.

Read the full story here.

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758d ago / 5:35 PM UTC

Damaged Asian businesses show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters

758d ago / 5:34 PM UTC

When David Choi, owner of the street food chain Seoul Taco, pulled up to one of his Downtown Chicago restaurants on Sunday morning, he saw doors and windows reduced to a pile of shards, a vandalized flat-screen TV, and the cash register and several iPads missing, presumably stolen.

Still, in his first message to customers, he made clear that those who ransacked his store in no way weakened his support for the fight against police brutality.

“EVERYTHING IN MY STORE WILL BE REPLACEABLE,” he wrote on Facebook within hours of the incident, “while lives are being senselessly lost, on a way too regular basis, is the way bigger issue.”

From California to New York, scores of Asian businesses were caught in the crossfire, suffering extensive property damage atop already prevalent anti-Asian racism. But owners young and old continue to express solidarity with protesters and vocally draw the distinction between material and human loss.

Read the full story here.

Florida professor cites 'black privilege' amid George Floyd protests, prompting calls for his firing

758d ago / 5:32 PM UTC
Charles Negy
University of Central Florida psychology professor Charles Negy reads from a letter complaining about his teaching on Aug. 23, 2012.George Skene / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

University of Central Florida students and others on social media are calling for the firing of a psychology professor at the school who is citing "black privilege" in tweets amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.

"Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they're missing out on much needed feedback," said one tweet from professor Charles Negy on Wednesday. He is the author of "White Shaming: Bullying based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance."

In a tweet Thursday morning, a statement from the school said: "Being actively anti-racist means calling out and confronting racist comments. We are aware of Charles Negy’s recent personal Twitter posts, which are completely counter to UCF’s values. We are reviewing this matter further while being mindful of the First Amendment."

Negy, in an email, told NBC News that he believes "The lives of black people matter as much as the lives of anyone else in this country. ... The timing of my controversial views that have been posted on twitter recently was poor, perhaps, but my views were not addressing the sadistic murder of George Floyd. ... I'm addressing other issues that I think ought to be discussed if we're ever going to make progress on race relations."

Read the full story here. 

758d ago / 5:27 PM UTC

Dr. Leana Wen: 5 safety measures to keep in mind if you're protesting during COVID-19

758d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

Americans are taking to the streets to protest the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more. And while any time people gather in groups, there’s an increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, there are ways to reduce your risk and stay safer, said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore.

Dr. Wen, who has been a leading voice in public health and a frequent commentator about coronavirus, recently spoke to Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, about safety measures protesters should keep in mind as they make their voices heard.

Read the full story here.

758d ago / 5:12 PM UTC

FBI wanted to separate itself from Barr's tough stance on protests, sources say

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758d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, officials at the FBI considered, and later canceled, a press conference to clarify how agents were being used in protests, according to three sources familiar with the planning.

The Bureau, led by Director Christopher Wray, wanted to separate itself from the tough stance Attorney General William Barr was taking in his pledge to continue ramping up federal law enforcement's response in D.C. even as protests turned largely peaceful on Tuesday night.

"They feel a strong need to delineate what they are and are not doing," said a source familiar with internal deliberations at the FBI. "You won't see FBI agents with a baton and shield."

The FBI's recent arrest of three men connected to the far-right "Boogaloo" movement for their attempt to provoke violence at protests also underlines the Bureau's distance from Barr who has, like Trump, said leftist extremist groups are to blame for the violence.

"This is representative of the FBI trying to avoid Barr's narrative by doing its job," the source said.

Read the full story here.

YouTuber Jake Paul charged with trespassing following Arizona looting

758d ago / 4:36 PM UTC

YouTube star Jake Paul was charged with trespassing after he allegedly entered an Arizona mall after it was looted last month, police said Thursday.

Paul, 23, was filming looting of the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall on May 30, according to video and a Scottsdale Police Department press release.

In footage of the looting, Paul is seen watching as rioters break into the mall. Paul later appears in footage that appears to show him inside the mall and filming inside of it after it had closed, according to video and the press release. It was unclear if Paul took anything from the mall.

The Scottsdale Police Department's statement said that it "received hundreds of tips and videos identifying" Paul as "a participant in the riot."

"Our investigation has revealed that Paul was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were ordered to leave the area by the police," the statement read. "Paul also unlawfully entered and remained inside of the mall when it was closed."

Read the full story here.

758d ago / 4:23 PM UTC

George Floyd memorial: Loved ones say goodbye to man whose death ignited national conversation on racism

758d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

George Floyd's family and closest friends on Wednesday will gather to mourn the Minneapolis man, whose death under a policeman's knee ignited a national conversation about systemic racism.

The memorial, set for 1 p.m. CT at North Central University in Minneapolis, is expected to last about two hours as Floyd's loved ones pay tribute to their son, brother, father and dear friend who died at the age of 46.

Thursday’s service starts an extraordinary multi-city series of memorials so loved ones can honor Floyd in the communities where he was born, raised and died.

“It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants,” Sharpton said in advance of Thursday’s service. “But it would also be inadequate ... if you acted as though we’re at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.”

Read the full story here.

758d ago / 2:56 PM UTC

NFL quarterback Drew Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments

758d ago / 2:22 PM UTC

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued an apology on Thursday, saying he made "insensitive" comments on Wednesday in an interview with Yahoo on silent protest in the NFL.

“In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees said in an Instagram post. “I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he added. 

On Wednesday, Brees said he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag" in reference to players kneeling in protest against police brutality when the NFL season starts later this year. Brees has been widely criticized by many fellow athletes, including by Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and his Saints teammate Malcom Jenkins

Since 2016, several NFL players — following the lead of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — have been taking a knee during the anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.

Democrats prepare sweeping police reform bills after George Floyd's death

758d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

Congressional Democrats, powered by the Congressional Black Caucus, are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms as pressure builds on the federal government to respond to the death of George Floyd and others in law enforcement interactions.

With the urgency of mass protests outside their doors, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working furiously to draft what could become one of the most ambitious efforts in years to oversee the way law enforcement works. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, both former presidential candidates, are expected to announce a package in coming days, with a House bill coming soon.

Both the Senate and House efforts are expected to include changes to police accountability laws, such as revising immunity provisions and creating a database of police use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too, among them a ban on the use of choke holds. Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, has endorsed such a ban.

“We have a moral moment in our country,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the CBC, said on a conference call Wednesday.

Read more on the legislative effort.

'Absolutely devastating': Meghan Markle pays tribute to George Floyd in graduation address

758d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has spoken of the "absolutely devastating" police killing of George Floyd, during a speech to the 2020 graduating class of her former high school in Los Angeles.

"The only wrong thing to say, is to say nothing," Markle said Wednesday evening during the virtual graduation ceremony at the all-girls Immaculate Heart High School, in Los Angeles. "Because George Floyd's life mattered."

Prince Harry's wife, whose mother is black, listed the names of black people who had been killed in the United States, acknowledging there were many more who were unnamed.

Markle apologized to the 2020 class for having to experience what should be a "history lesson" as a "reality."

Read the full story here.

More fences going up around the White House

758d ago / 12:26 PM UTC

Citing coronavirus restrictions, rallies in Norway are a no-go

758d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country’s three largest cities in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, citing the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, not more than 50 people can gather in one place, Mohamed Awil, president of the African Student Association at the University of Oslo, said.

The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo where more than 15,000 people had said they planned to take part in Thursday’s demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. Awil said they were considering an alternative demonstration but details were not immediately available.

Similar events took place in the in the capitals of Sweden and Finland Wednesday. They attracted thousands of people even though the limit in Sweden is currently 50 and in Finland is 500.

758d ago / 11:39 AM UTC

Seattle mayor ends curfew ahead of schedule

758d ago / 11:31 AM UTC

The mayor of Seattle ended a city-wide 9 p.m. curfew that was in place amid massive demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday evening on Twitter that she was ending the curfew, which had been scheduled to last until Saturday, after she and Police Chief Carmen Best met with community leaders.

“Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew,” Durkan said. “For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate. We want you to continue making your voice heard.”

Washington's Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted that he was pleased with the decision. “Preemptive curfews were only making things worse. Other cities should do likewise,” he said.

Protests in Washington, D.C. and across the country continued largely peacefully on Wednesday evening. The curfew in San Francisco will also be lifted on Thursday, according to the city's Mayor London Breed, who said “our city will continue to facilitate any and all peaceful demonstrations.”

U.K. says it expects U.S. to continue protecting media freedoms

758d ago / 11:18 AM UTC

The U.K. expects the United States to continue its tradition of protecting media freedom, Britain's Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said Thursday when asked about protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"Anyone that saw the footage of the treatment of George Floyd would have been moved and distressed as I was, and I think seeing the protests and the violence is very distressing,” Raab said in an interview with Sky News on Thursday.

"You mention media freedoms and journalistic freedoms, of course the U.S. has a fine tradition of protecting all of those things and yes we do expect that to continue," he said. At least 125 press freedom violations were reported by journalists across the U.S. between Friday and Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference that he was "appalled and sickened" to see what happened to George Floyd. "My message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States, from the U.K. is that — and it’s an opinion I’m sure is shared by the overwhelming majority of people around the world — racism and racist violence has no place in our society.” Also on Wednesday, thousands took to the streets of central London to protest racism and show solidarity with their American counterparts.

758d ago / 10:36 AM UTC

Student newspaper IDs protester critically injured by Austin police

and

758d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

A university newspaper in Texas identified a young black man who was critically injured in recent Austin protests in an op-ed entitled “His Name is Justin Howell.” The author of the piece, Joshua Howell, who is also the opinion editor of the Texas A&M University newspaper, The Battalion, said the protester was his brother.  

"If you really want to know what happened, there is no substitute for the raw, unedited video," wrote Howell in the piece on Wednesday, referencing a video filmed by David Frost. "In it, you will see five people carrying Justin's limp body toward police headquarters, begging the officers to get him medical attention. As they do, the police fire some 15 rounds... over the course of about 30 seconds."

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said in a news conference on Monday the officer had been aiming at another demonstrator but missed. “Within a moment’s notice after that, one of the officers fired their less-lethal munition at that individual, apparently, but it struck this victim instead,” Manley said, “and this victim then fell to the ground and it appears as though he hit his head when he fell to the ground as well.”

Maredith Michael, a medic at the protests on Sunday night, shared a picture that showed she was also injured while trying to help Howell. She said in statement on Facebook on Monday: “I told the EMS that there was a young man dying, that I was just doing what the cops said to do, that they shot me and others who were trying to get him to the cops.”

Justin Howell was a student at Texas State University, which released a statement saying that "a heartbreaking situation has hit painfully close to home."

758d ago / 9:53 AM UTC

Iran's Khamenei says Floyd's killing exposes 'U.S. government's true nature'

758d ago / 9:24 AM UTC

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the killing of George Floyd in police custody had exposed the true nature of the rulers of the United States. The comments came six months after Iran cracked down on protests in multiple cities sparked by fuel price hikes.

"The crime committed against this black man is the same thing the U.S. government has been doing against all the world," Khamenei said in televised speech on Wednesday. "This is the U.S. government's true nature and character that is being exposed today."

Iran's state media has given wide coverage to the U.S. protests. In November, hundreds of protesters were killed in the protests in Iran, according to human rights group Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch has accused the authorities of deliberately covering up the scale of the mass crackdown against protesters.

Some Iranians on social media have also criticized Iran's clerical establishment for double standards in criticizing Washington's action against demonstrators.

Police in New Orleans use tear gas on crowds on highway bridge

758d ago / 7:07 AM UTC

New Orleans police said they used tear gas on protesters Wednesday night after crowds approached in an apparent attempt to cross a Crescent City Connection highway bridge.

Police tweeted that they were "compelled" to use the irritant "in response to escalating, physical confrontation with our officers."

Video from NBC affiliate WDSU showed tear gas billowing over the bridge and crowds retreating. Maria Singer, who was in the back of the crowd, told NOLA.com that some people panicked. "I wasn't scared of the tear gas as I was the stampede of people," she told the outlet. No injuries had been reported by police.

There was no violence reported by police in the incident. NOLA.com reported that almost everyone was peaceful but a handful of protesters were more aggressive and began pushing into the police line just before police used the tear gas.

Earlier Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards thanked the people of his state for holding peaceful demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, avoiding the violence and property damage seen in other parts of the country.

Reverend who marched with MLK in 1962 reflects on protests

758d ago / 6:00 AM UTC

Black Lives Matter sues L.A., county over curfews

758d ago / 5:56 AM UTC

Black Lives Matter and a group that includes protesters and a journalist on Wednesday sued the city and county of Los Angeles and San Bernardino in a bid to end nightly curfews that were ordered as a reaction to raucous demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

The federal suit, filed by the ACLU of Southern California, argues the curfews, imposed in the city of Los Angeles since May 30, violate the First Amendment as well as the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement.

"They are attempting to suppress our ability to fully mobilize and focus full attention on the true issue of concern in the protests — police violence against Black people," Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, said in a statement.

The suit states that the curfews "have given police an excuse to commit violence against BLM-LA’s members and others who have joined in the protests."

It seeks an injunction against such curfews, a declaration that they are constitutionally unlawful, an end to enforcement of unlawful assembly arrests related to the curfews, attorneys' fees and "any other relief" the court might grant.

The mayor on Wednesday said that as long as there isn't additional looting or violence in Los Angeles associated with the protests, he would end the curfews, NBC LA reported

Los Angeles looks to cut $150M in police funding, invest in communities 'left behind'

758d ago / 5:23 AM UTC

The mayor of Los Angeles, whose city has seen days of protest as well as some looting and violence, said Wednesday that the city is committed to identifying $250 million in cuts that he wants to spend on black communities and others he said have been left behind.

The police commission president said it is committed to working with others to identify between $100 million and $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department budget.

"We've made cuts because of COVID-19," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "It's time to also make cuts because racial justice is something worth fighting for, and something worth sacrificing for."

Other changes eyed include requirements that police officers intervene when they see the inappropriate use of force; requirements that officers report misconduct immediately; and that a special prosecutor outside the district attorney's office will be appointed to prosecute officers who engage in misconduct.

Garcetti said he wants to spend the money investing in jobs, education and health in communities, and every department would be affected. There will also be an increase in police training, he said.