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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Thousands gather in Hollywood protesting George Floyd's death

NBC News Correspondent Gadi Schwartz reports from Los Angeles as thousands gather protesting the death of George Floyd.

Official resigns from Defense Science Board over protesters being cleared for Trump photo-op

James N. Miller, the former under-secretary of defense for policy, resigned from the Defense Science Board on Tuesday, citing President Donald Trump's use of federal police to forcibly move peaceful protesters Monday night.

"If last night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?" Miller wrote in his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which was published in The Washington Post. "Unfortunately, it appears there may be few if any lines that President Trump is not willing to cross, so you will probably be faced with this terrible question again in the coming days."

U.S. Park Police and the National Guard used smoke and flash-bangs to push away peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square and its surrounding streets, allowing Trump a cleared path to walk across the street to St. John's Episcopal Church, which suffered fire damage in protests Sunday night.

Democrats and religious leaders criticized the president for using force to push back protesters to pose for pictures. 

New York protesters march toward Trump Tower

A large number of protesters are marching towards Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York City.

N.J. police dispatcher resigns over racist comment on black protester

A police dispatcher resigned from the Woodbridge Police Department in New Jersey after a racist comment he wrote on Facebook.Woodbridge Police Department / via Facebook

A police dispatcher in New Jersey resigned Monday after posting a racist comment on Facebook about a black boy at a George Floyd protest.

In a photo posted on Facebook, the 8-year-old boy is pictured at a protest in Boston on Friday holding a sign, "At what age do I go from handsome to a threat?"

The dispatcher, Marc Repace, commented, "17 give or take a year or two" and "LMFAO totally kidding."

Repace, 21, was suspended Sunday from the police department in Woodbridge, about 20 miles south of Newark, where he worked for three years.

"Once the department determined he made the Facebook comment, he was immediately suspended," John Hagerty, a spokesman for the township, said Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

Police implored to take a knee near Union Square as NYC curfew nears

In Manhattan, a large, peaceful demonstration marched from Union Square down to Washington Square Park before returning, gathering just south of Union Square.

Juan, 32, said the protests so far have been “very loud, but there’s been no pillaging and are going very peaceful.” The crowd, possibly in the thousands earlier in the evening, began to thin out a bit as New York City's curfew — 8 p.m. ET — neared. When phones blared an alert telling everyone to go home, chats of "f--- the curfew" broke out.

Meanwhile, on the Upper East Side near Lenox Hill Hospital, protesters and hospital workers cheered for each other.

Hospital workers cheer on protesters as they walk near Lenox Hill Hospital in New York on June 2, 2020.Patrick Chovanec

Long Island restaurant owner faces backlash over racist remarks about peaceful protesters

A Long Island, New York, restaurant owner was being slammed as racist Tuesday after he recorded himself in a Facebook video calling people who were peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd "animals" and "savages" and saying he would throw watermelons at them.

Luigi Petrone, the co-owner of Tutto Pazzo restaurant, recorded a Facebook Live on Monday afternoon as protesters approached New York Avenue in Huntington Village, where his business is located.

"Bunch of kids, little punks, they look like little animals, savages,” he said at the beginning of the video.

He estimated in the video, first reported by Huntington Now, that there were 100 police officers present. A Suffolk County police spokeswoman told NBC News the protest was peaceful and drew up to 200 people.

Sabrina Chavez, 22, a lifelong Huntington resident, saved the video and posted it to Facebook.

"THIS WAS A PEACEFUL PROTEST AND IT STILL WAS A PROBLEM TO SOME PEOPLE...," she wrote in the post Monday that has been widely shared. "DO YOU SEE WHY PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE FED UP NOW?"

Read the full story here.

Democratic Rep. Engel caught on hot mic: 'If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn’t care'

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat facing a tough primary challenge and questions about his absence from his district, was caught on a hot mic at a district event responding to unrest saying twice that he only wanted press coverage because of an electoral threat.

“If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,” Engel said to Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, at a Tuesday press conference responding to unrest and vandalism in his district related to the recent death of George Floyd.

 

The moment was captured on a hot mic by a local television station and quickly went viral in a tweet that has nearly 1 million views as of Tuesday evening.

It comes as Engel has faced his toughest primary since being elected to Congress in 1988. He represents New York’s 16th Congressional District, which includes portions of the Bronx and Westchester as well as Mount Vernon, Yonkers and New Rochelle, which was one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak. Engel has faced growing criticism about his lack of presence in his district, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, and now given the demonstrations and vandalism in his district.

Click here for the full story. 

Protesters take a knee outside Trump Hotel in New York City

Mother of George Floyd's daughter gives emotional plea for justice

The mother of George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter broke down crying during an emotional plea for justice at City Hall in Minneapolis on Tuesday, lamenting that he would never watch his child grow up.

“I wanted everybody to know that this is what those officers took from me,” Roxie Washington said, her voice breaking, while she stood with her daughter, Gianna. “At the end of the day they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father.”

"If there's a problem that she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore," she said. 

“He will never see her grow up, graduate, he will never walk her down the aisle,” she said, wiping away tears.

“I'm here for my baby and I'm here for George because I want justice for him. I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good,” she said, later adding that Floyd was a good father. “He loved her, he loved her so much,” she said.

Houston protesters honor George Floyd, push for changes

HOUSTON — Protest organizers estimate that more than 60,000 people marched on Tuesday through downtown Houston, the city where George Floyd grew up and lived most of his life.

Eighteen members of Floyd’s family stood on the steps of City Hall and thanked protesters for coming out. Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, called on the marchers to remain peaceful.

“You’re shaming all our names, not just his name,” he said, referring to protests that have turned violent in other parts of the country. “It’s bigger than my brother.”

The Houston rally, endorsed by city and police officials, was advertised as a peaceful protest to honor Floyd’s family. But many in the crowd said the anger driving people to violence across the country is real — and justified.

Keondra Cooper, 26, carried a sign with the words, “Sick of this s---!” painted in bright red letters. She said she’s tired of watching viral videos of black men and women killed by police — every few weeks, it feels like — followed by social media hashtags but no policy changes.

Cooper, who worked in finance, says she lost her job as a result of the coronavirus crisis. In the midst of a pandemic stripping black people of their lives and jobs at disproportionate rates, Cooper said she wanted to make sure her voice was heard.

“We’re tired of black men and black women being killed senselessly,” Cooper said. “I have brothers. I have sisters. I’m a sister, and I’m going to be a mother one day. I don’t want that for my people or my family.”

LAPD arrests more than 1,000 on Monday, breaking records

A driver shows her support for demonstrators as they march in protest in Los Angeles, on June 2, 2020.Jae C. Hong / AP

The Los Angeles Police Department made 1,200 arrests Monday, a law enforcement source familiar with the numbers told NBC News. Most of the arrests were for curfew violations and a lessor extent looting Department did not have specific breakdown.

That number is about seven time greater than the average daily number of arrests since March 15, when the coronavirus stay at home order was issued, and several times higher than typical daily arrests for Spring — nearly 250 arrests. The number of people arrested Monday is equivalent to a typical arrest number in single week.

The LAPD Hollywood Division broke its one-day record for arrests with a total of at least 585 arrests per department officials. In Hollywood, most were for curfew violations and 20 arrests for looting, At least 50 vehicles were impounded.

Officials said they expected the number of looting arrests to jump this week as police continue to learn the looters' tactics and react accordingly.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said at a Police Commission meeting earlier Tuesday that since the unrest began there have been more than 2,700 arrests, around 2,500 of which were for failing to disperse or violating a curfew. The rest include burglaries, looting and assault on police, including one attempted murder case.

Sixty-six police vehicles have been damaged, with seven of them burned, and 27 LAPD personnel have been injured, with two requiring hospitalization. Those two cases involved a fractured skull and a broken knee, and both officers have been released and are recovering at home, Moore said.