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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Joe Biden: Floyd's final words 'I can't breathe' are a wake-up call 'for all of us'

PHILADELPHIA — Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the nationwide peaceful protests to the death of George Floyd, calling his killing in police custody a "wake-up call for our nation" and drawing a stark contrast between President Donald Trump's tactics and how he would respond.

In a speech from Philadelphia City Hall, Biden repeated Floyd's final words before he died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes — and said it was time "to listen to those words ... and respond with action."

“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. George Floyd’s last words," the apparent 2020 Democratic presidential nominee said. "But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation."

Read the full story here.

Washington resident houses dozens of protesters who cops wanted to arrest for breaking curfew

Dozens of protestors took refuge in a Washington resident’s home over night after police boxed them in and tried to arrest them for violating curfew.

One protester, who goes by Meka, said on Twitter that police surrounded the group of peaceful protesters and started hitting and macing them on Monday evening. A local resident, Rahul Dubey, took the protesters into his home, and let them stay there until curfew let up the next morning as police continued to arrest people outside. Video posted by Meka, who confirmed the account to NBC News, also showed another neighbor letting protesters into their home.

“I hope they continue to fight and I hope they go out there today peacefully as they did yesterday,” Dubey said of the protesters on ABC 7 News Tuesday morning. “Our country needs them and needs you and everybody more than ever right now.”

Police chief says officers ‘will be disciplined’ after tear gas deployed in Richmond, VA

Police officers have been pulled from the field after “unwarranted use” of tear gas on demonstrators, Richmond Police Department said in a statement

Footage shared on social media showed demonstrators running away from Monument Avenue as smoke engulfed Robert E. Lee Monument Monday evening. Demonstrators claim that the gas was deployed fifteen minutes before curfew. 

Richmond Police Department Chief William Smith apologized and said that officers “will be disciplined because their actions were outside department protocols and directions given”.

Shootings on Las Vegas Strip leave one dead and a police officer injured

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed Tuesday morning that it was investigating two shooting incidents that took place on Monday night. The first was an officer-involved shooting that occurred after a man carrying firearms and appearing to be wearing body armor approached local  and federal officers guarding the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse on the Las Vegas Strip from protesters.

The department said that officers engaged with the man after he reached for a firearm, and the man was struck by gunfire. He was then transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Videos filmed near the courthouse showed a man who appeared to be wearing body armor walking toward the building, while gunfire can be heard in another video. 

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said that an officer was gravely injured in a separate shooting when attempting to disperse a large crowd of protesters in front of the Circus Circus hotel, also on the Strip. Lombardo said that a suspect had been identified and taken into custody.

About 700 arrests made in NYC, NYPD Sgt. struck by car

Around 700 people were arrested as a result of looting and destroying property during Monday night's protest in New York City, a New York Police Department spokesperson told NBC News.

The Midtown and Union Square areas in Manhattan and Fordham Road section of the Bronx were particularly hard hit.

An NYPD sergeant who was run over by a car in the Bronx has serious injuries and is expected to survive. 

Confederate monuments removed or defaced in several cities amid unrest

Confederate monuments and statues across the U.S. have been removed or defaced amid unrest over the killing of George Floyd in recent days, putting the nation's fraught and contentious history in the spotlight.

In some cases, Confederate symbols have been removed by city officials or owners.

  • The statue of a Confederate soldier in Alexandria, Virginia, was taken down Tuesday morning and reportedly will be moved elsewhere by its owners, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, according to NBC Washington.
  • The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, ordered the removal of the 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Linn Park on Monday, one day after protesters there defaced it, according to The New York Times.

In other cases, symbols of the Confederacy or racist historical figures were targeted by people who participated in protests and demonstrations. 

  • The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, was graffitied on Sunday, covered in phrases such as "No More White Supremacy," "Blood On Your Hands" and "Black Lives Matter," according to The Washington Post.
  • The statue of Edward Carmack, an early 1900s Tennessee politician who espoused racist views and denigrated the civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells, was toppled by protesters in Nashville on Saturday.

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."