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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Chinese state newspaper calls U.S. handling of protests 'ruthless'

The editor-in-chief of a Chinese state newspaper, a mouthpiece of the country's ruling Communist Party, has called the U.S. handling of the mass protests sparked by the death of George Floyd "ruthless," saying American authorities showed zero tolerance for unrest at home despite supporting protests in other countries.

"How ruthless these US politicians are!" wrote Hu Xijin in an op-ed in the paper on Tuesday. "They talk about humanity, justice, and morality all the time. They condemned Hong Kong police simply for the latter's use of tear gas and water cannon against violent rioters. The U.S. unrest just began a few days ago, but police already fired shots at protesters before efforts for peaceful dialogue were even made."

The Chinese government has been accused by many countries, including the U.S., of violently cracking down on protesters in Hong Kong during last year's months-long demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill. Human rights groups have raised alarms about peaceful protesters in Hong Kong having been attacked with tear gas and batons, arrested under vague charges and beaten in custody.

Hu alluded to President Donald Trump's announcement Monday that he would use the U.S. military to stop the riots across the country if state officials are unable to contain protest violence, saying U.S. politicians can't tolerate domestic unrest. 

"When riot breaks out in the U.S., they want to use all means necessary, and cannot stand the loss of order for even one more day," he added. 

'Blackout Tuesday' hits music industry, social media for day of reflection

Social media users filled feeds on Tuesday with blacked-out images as part of what is being called "Blackout Tuesday."

It's not clear when the movement, spearheaded by two black women in the music industry as a way to pause and reflect, became associated with the black boxes, which have become most prominent on Instagram. 

Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, a former Atlantic executive, birthed the concept after posting to Instagram that the music industry had to reflect on what was happening to Black and brown people in America, according to The Verge

Because of Thomas and Agyemang, many participating in Blackout Tuesday are using the hashtag "TheShowMustBePaused."

They've also created the website "The Show Must Be Paused," which explains that the industry "will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives."

"Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent," the pair states on the website.

Major labels, streaming services, radio stations, musicians and other players in the music industry, such as Columbia Records, Atlantic Records, Spotify and others had pledged participation in the movement.

While "Blackout Tuesday" is labeled as a day meant to "intentionally disrupt the work week" and inspire reflection and hold the music industry "accountable," its specific goal is unclear, according to Rolling Stone. "The Show Must Be Paused" said a long-term initiative would be announced.

Additionally, on social media, participants urged those posting black squares not to include the hashtag "BlackLivesMatter" as that tag is used to distribute information and the black boxes could potentially drown that information out. 

A calmer night in Atlanta

Australian TV crew struck by police during protest outside White House

A news director of an Australian TV network whose reporter and cameraman were struck by police during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C., on Monday called the incident "nothing short of wanton thuggery."

Channel 7 News U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myer were filming live amid the protests outside the White House when police began moving the crowd. An officer hit Myer with a shield and punched him. Brace also appears to have been struck by a baton.

“They weren’t in anyone’s way just simply doing their job," Craig McPherson, network director of news at 7 Network Australia, said in a statement. Brace later told the station she and Myer were OK, but sore, as they were also hit by rubber bullets. "We'll have a few bruises tomorrow," she said, adding that they now feel safe. 

McPherson said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has informed them that he has been in touch with the Australian Embassy in Washington to have the matter urgently investigated. NBC News has reached out to Morrison's office for further comment, but has not heard back. 

The U.S. Embassy in Australia's capital, Canberra, issued a statement on Twitter Tuesday, saying it takes "mistreatment of journalists seriously."

White House releases video of Trump walking to church set to triumphant music

The White House released a video of President Donald Trump striding to fire-damaged St. John's Episcopal Church set to triumphant music after a speech in which he said that he would use the U.S. military to stop the riots across the country.

While Trump spoke, sirens wailed and flashbang grenades popped across the street where police backed by the National Guard stormed into a peaceful protest being held before curfew outside the White House. But the video posted by the White House on Twitter contains no images of the violence, and instead shows Trump striding — accompanied by members of his administration and the military — to the church where he held a Bible and posed for photos.   

The Episcopal bishop of Washington blasted Trump on Monday night, saying it was "deeply offensive" for him to use the St. John's "as a backdrop and the Bible as a prop" for a photo-op.

Police shot, hit by vehicles in George Floyd protests

Police officers were among those injured across the U.S. overnight amid continuing protests and violence sparked by the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

Four officers in St. Louis, Missouri, were shot after a peaceful protest turned violent in the early hours Tuesday. Two officers were hit in the leg, one in the foot and one in the arm, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Commissioner Col. John W. Hayden said during a news conference.

"Some coward fired shots at officers," he said. "Thankfully, they're alive. They're alive."

Read the full story here.

E.U. foreign policy chief says he's 'appalled' by Floyd's death

The European Union is "shocked and appalled" by the death of George Floyd in police custody, the bloc's top diplomat said on Tuesday, calling it "an abuse of power" and warning against further excessive use of force.

"Like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd ... all societies must remain vigilant against the excessive use of force," Josep Borrell, the E.U.'s foreign policy chief, told reporters.

Borrell called Floyd's death a "very, very unhappy" one and said it showed "an abuse of power" by law enforcement. "We condemn racism of any kind ... we trust in the ability of the Americans to come together, to heal as a nation."

NYPD officer hit by car in the Bronx

A New York police officer was hit by a car in the Bronx early on Tuesday, the NY Police Department confirmed after a video of the incident was posted on social media. However, it's unclear from the video whether the police officer was intentionally targeted.

The New York Police Department told NBC News that the officer was hit by a black sedan when he got out of an unmarked car while checking reports of break-ins in the neighborhood.

Video footage on Twitter (warning: contains profanity) appears to show the moment the officer was struck. The sedan fled the scene, the department said.

NYPD said the officer was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries, but is in stable condition. No arrests have been made.