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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Five years after Freddie Gray unrest, Baltimore sets an example for peaceful protests

BALTIMORE -- As cities across America burned in recent days, there was a notable omission from those facing curfews, mass arrests, arson and police brutality: Baltimore.

The Maryland city is no stranger to racial tensions, having experienced civil unrest after the 2015 police custody death of Freddie Gray. But demonstrations for George Floyd over the past four days have been largely peaceful, with no curfews issued and Monday’s youth-led march drawing more than 1,000 participants on the eve of Baltimore’s consequential mayoral primary election.

Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Tuesday, “I’m proud that Baltimore is showing the nation how we can begin to build a more perfect union.”

“We had thousands of people out expressing their very legitimate and real frustrations and anger but peacefully, working together in cooperation,” he told a local radio station.

Read the full story here.

Protester in Manhattan talks about the burden of enabling change

Monica Williamson, a resident of New York City, came to the protests at Foley Square in Manhattan on Tuesday. While she was there to stand in solidarity, she said that as a black woman she was not responsible for changing the system or providing answers.

The burden of enabling change lies with those who have the power to create it, Williamson said.

“Is this my fight alone? No, no. Vote, get these folks out of office who perpetuate this system. Stop being afraid of losing your sense of comfort. Because if you operate from a position of greed and hyper-paranoia then there is no shot of equality. There won’t ever be enough for everyone.” 

Protesters in lower Manhattan kneel in the middle of 23rd St between 3rd Ave and Park as part of a march on the afternoon of June 2, 2020.Phil McCausland / NBC News

State of Minnesota files civil rights charge against Minneapolis Police Department

The state of Minnesota launched a sweeping civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday, a week after an officer allegedly killed a black man during an arrest, officials said.

The probe, stemming from the death of George Floyd, will be designed to root out "systemic racism that is generations deep," Gov. Tim Walz told reporters.

"The Minnesota of Department of Human Rights is filing a commissioner's charge of discrimination and launch a civil right investigation against the Minneapolis Police Department," Walz said.

Read the full story here.

Protesters on horseback arrive at Houston march

HOUSTON — An urban trail riding club, Nonstop Riders, arrived at a downtown Houston march Tuesday afternoon to protest George Floyd's death. 

Marcus Johnson.Mike Hixenbaugh / NBC News

Marcus Johnson, of Houston’s Fifth Ward, raised his fist in the air. “We’re here representing for all our black brothers and sisters," he said. 

The mounted protesters planned to join thousands more on foot as they made their way from Discovery Green, a public park, to City Hall. 

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.