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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George W. Bush: 'It is time for America to examine our tragic failures'

Former President George W. Bush released a lengthy statement on Tuesday calling on the country to listen to black Americans and “examine our tragic failures.”

“It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future," he wrote in a lengthy statement. "This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?”

Bush called on people to listen to “grieving” African Americans, saying it was critical to seeing the country's reality honestly and improving on it. 

Bush did not speak out publicly on police killings during his two terms as president, despite two major cases, according to the New York Times. And he did not reference policy brutality specifically, instead speaking of racism and that black Americans "are harassed and threatened in their own country."

Click here for the full story.

'Exhausting, traumatizing': Minneapolis protests push peace amid police confrontations

MINNEAPOLIS — Ashley Phelps and Ahmad Eltawely developed a fast bond on Saturday night while fleeing tear gas and running from advancing police who were macing protesters.

They had met for the first time earlier in the day at a peaceful protest and sit-in with thousands of demonstrators who were not involved in the burning of businesses and a police station on previous nights, said Eltawely, who had a microphone and passed it around for people to speak.

“That’s not a demonstration," he said of the violence. Instead, their sit-in "was so peaceful to the point we wouldn’t even allow anybody to yell out any chants that were anti-police."

But less than an hour after the 8 p.m curfew passed on Saturday, a wall of Minnesota State Patrol officers warned the crowd to disperse or face arrests. The officers then immediately began advancing into the crowd, using tear gas and pepper spray and filling the streets with smoke. People were seen running, throwing up and crying as police fanned out. Shots rang out in the distance.

“We were running from the cops attacking us,” said Phelps, 32, who earlier had led the crowd in the sit-in.

Read the full story here.

Clip of Biden blasting apartheid in 1986 goes viral amid broader race conversation

A decades-old video clip of Joe Biden went viral Tuesday showing the then-senator angrily blasting South Africa’s apartheid system and tearing into the Reagan administration over not taking a stronger position against it.

The two-minute clip, from a July 23, 1986, Senate hearing involving George Schultz, Reagan’s secretary of state at the time, made the rounds on Twitter Tuesday, during a time where the conversation over racism, civil rights, protesting and police brutality has sizzled following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

“Damn it, we have favorites in South Africa. The favorites in South Africa are the people who are being repressed by that ugly white regime,” Biden, then a Democratic U.S. senator from Delaware, is seen saying. “Our loyalty is not to South Africa, it’s to South Africans. And the South Africans are majority black. And they are being excoriated,” adds Biden, pounding his fist.

He then praises black South African citizens for rising up in opposition to the racist apartheid policy, noting that it was their last resort.

“They’re rising to with the only thing left available to them, with that repulsive, repugnant regime,” Biden says in the video. “They tried everything for the last 20 years. They begged, they borrowed, they crawled, and now they're taking up arms.”

“These people are being crushed, and we’re sitting here with the same kind of rhetoric,” he said.

Reagan’s administration was notoriously patient with the South African regime. Reagan himself vetoed the Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which put in place economic sanctions against South Africa over its apartheid policy. The veto, however, was overridden in both the House and the Senate.

Houston march begins with moment of silence

HOUSTON — A march protesting George Floyd's death drew thousands of people to downtown Houston on Tuesday afternoon. 

It started with 30 seconds of silence, as protesters dropped to one knee and raised their fists in Discovery Green, a public park. The protesters then began marching toward City Hall. 

Floyd grew up in Houston, and his relatives and friends joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rep. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in leading the march. 

NYPD union head says Chauvin 'was not a police officer — he was a criminal'

The president of New York City’s largest police union says that the officer who is charged with the murder of George Floyd “was not a police officer — he was a criminal.”

Patrick Lynch, who heads the NYC Police Benevolent Association, has been an outspoken leader of the union that represents patrol officers for the largest police department in the United States and offered a very rare rebuke of another officer over misconduct. 

Lynch, who criticized the NYPD’s decision to fire the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, says of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, “there is no one that is defending him at all in the New York City Police Department or law  enforcement as a whole.”

 

Ben & Jerry’s issues strong statement regarding the death of George Floyd

In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday titled “We Must Dismantle White Supremacy,” Ben & Jerry’s expressed its outrage over the death of George Floyd, saying it supported demonstrators who have gathered around the country to protest his death. 

The ice cream company wrote that Floyd’s death was “the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy” and that the officers involved in his death needed to be held responsible. 

Ben & Jerry’s also said in its statement Tuesday that specific action needed to be taken in response to Floyd’s death, calling for Congress to pass a bill that would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination and the creation a national task force that would draft legislation aimed at ending racial violence and increasing accountability for police departments. 

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.