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June 4 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country. Here are the latest updates.
Image: Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a memorial service for George Floyd following his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a memorial service for George Floyd following his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 4, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 5 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

On Thursday, George Floyd’s family held a memorial in Minneapolis, with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered a powerful eulogy and announced a march on Washington is scheduled for August.

An ex-Minneapolis police officer accused of aiding and abetting the alleged murder of George Floyd tried to warn his fellow officers when one of them put his knee on the man’s neck for more than eight minutes.

“You shouldn’t do that,” a lawyer for the officer, J. Alexander Kueng, said he told the officers.

Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco added their names Thursday to a growing list of cities that were lifting their curfews after a wave of nationwide protests that were sometimes accompanied by looting, property destruction and violence.

Download the NBC News app for the latest updates.

843d ago / 2:22 PM UTC

NFL quarterback Drew Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued an apology on Thursday, saying he made "insensitive" comments on Wednesday in an interview with Yahoo on silent protest in the NFL.

“In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees said in an Instagram post. “I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he added. 

On Wednesday, Brees said he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag" in reference to players kneeling in protest against police brutality when the NFL season starts later this year. Brees has been widely criticized by many fellow athletes, including by Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and his Saints teammate Malcom Jenkins

Since 2016, several NFL players — following the lead of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — have been taking a knee during the anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.

843d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

Democrats prepare sweeping police reform bills after George Floyd's death

Congressional Democrats, powered by the Congressional Black Caucus, are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms as pressure builds on the federal government to respond to the death of George Floyd and others in law enforcement interactions.

With the urgency of mass protests outside their doors, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working furiously to draft what could become one of the most ambitious efforts in years to oversee the way law enforcement works. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, both former presidential candidates, are expected to announce a package in coming days, with a House bill coming soon.

Both the Senate and House efforts are expected to include changes to police accountability laws, such as revising immunity provisions and creating a database of police use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too, among them a ban on the use of choke holds. Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, has endorsed such a ban.

“We have a moral moment in our country,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the CBC, said on a conference call Wednesday.

Read more on the legislative effort.

843d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

'Absolutely devastating': Meghan Markle pays tribute to George Floyd in graduation address

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has spoken of the "absolutely devastating" police killing of George Floyd, during a speech to the 2020 graduating class of her former high school in Los Angeles.

"The only wrong thing to say, is to say nothing," Markle said Wednesday evening during the virtual graduation ceremony at the all-girls Immaculate Heart High School, in Los Angeles. "Because George Floyd's life mattered."

Prince Harry's wife, whose mother is black, listed the names of black people who had been killed in the United States, acknowledging there were many more who were unnamed.

Markle apologized to the 2020 class for having to experience what should be a "history lesson" as a "reality."

Read the full story here.

843d ago / 12:26 PM UTC

More fences going up around the White House

843d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Citing coronavirus restrictions, rallies in Norway are a no-go

Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country’s three largest cities in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, citing the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, not more than 50 people can gather in one place, Mohamed Awil, president of the African Student Association at the University of Oslo, said.

The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo where more than 15,000 people had said they planned to take part in Thursday’s demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. Awil said they were considering an alternative demonstration but details were not immediately available.

Similar events took place in the in the capitals of Sweden and Finland Wednesday. They attracted thousands of people even though the limit in Sweden is currently 50 and in Finland is 500.

843d ago / 11:39 AM UTC

843d ago / 11:31 AM UTC

Seattle mayor ends curfew ahead of schedule

The mayor of Seattle ended a city-wide 9 p.m. curfew that was in place amid massive demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday evening on Twitter that she was ending the curfew, which had been scheduled to last until Saturday, after she and Police Chief Carmen Best met with community leaders.

“Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew,” Durkan said. “For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate. We want you to continue making your voice heard.”

Washington's Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted that he was pleased with the decision. “Preemptive curfews were only making things worse. Other cities should do likewise,” he said.

Protests in Washington, D.C. and across the country continued largely peacefully on Wednesday evening. The curfew in San Francisco will also be lifted on Thursday, according to the city's Mayor London Breed, who said “our city will continue to facilitate any and all peaceful demonstrations.”

843d ago / 11:18 AM UTC

U.K. says it expects U.S. to continue protecting media freedoms

The U.K. expects the United States to continue its tradition of protecting media freedom, Britain's Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said Thursday when asked about protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"Anyone that saw the footage of the treatment of George Floyd would have been moved and distressed as I was, and I think seeing the protests and the violence is very distressing,” Raab said in an interview with Sky News on Thursday.

"You mention media freedoms and journalistic freedoms, of course the U.S. has a fine tradition of protecting all of those things and yes we do expect that to continue," he said. At least 125 press freedom violations were reported by journalists across the U.S. between Friday and Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference that he was "appalled and sickened" to see what happened to George Floyd. "My message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States, from the U.K. is that — and it’s an opinion I’m sure is shared by the overwhelming majority of people around the world — racism and racist violence has no place in our society.” Also on Wednesday, thousands took to the streets of central London to protest racism and show solidarity with their American counterparts.

843d ago / 10:36 AM UTC

843d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

Student newspaper IDs protester critically injured by Austin police


A university newspaper in Texas identified a young black man who was critically injured in recent Austin protests in an op-ed entitled “His Name is Justin Howell.” The author of the piece, Joshua Howell, who is also the opinion editor of the Texas A&M University newspaper, The Battalion, said the protester was his brother.  

"If you really want to know what happened, there is no substitute for the raw, unedited video," wrote Howell in the piece on Wednesday, referencing a video filmed by David Frost. "In it, you will see five people carrying Justin's limp body toward police headquarters, begging the officers to get him medical attention. As they do, the police fire some 15 rounds... over the course of about 30 seconds."

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said in a news conference on Monday the officer had been aiming at another demonstrator but missed. “Within a moment’s notice after that, one of the officers fired their less-lethal munition at that individual, apparently, but it struck this victim instead,” Manley said, “and this victim then fell to the ground and it appears as though he hit his head when he fell to the ground as well.”

Maredith Michael, a medic at the protests on Sunday night, shared a picture that showed she was also injured while trying to help Howell. She said in statement on Facebook on Monday: “I told the EMS that there was a young man dying, that I was just doing what the cops said to do, that they shot me and others who were trying to get him to the cops.”

Justin Howell was a student at Texas State University, which released a statement saying that "a heartbreaking situation has hit painfully close to home."

843d ago / 9:53 AM UTC

843d ago / 9:24 AM UTC

Iran's Khamenei says Floyd's killing exposes 'U.S. government's true nature'

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the killing of George Floyd in police custody had exposed the true nature of the rulers of the United States. The comments came six months after Iran cracked down on protests in multiple cities sparked by fuel price hikes.

"The crime committed against this black man is the same thing the U.S. government has been doing against all the world," Khamenei said in televised speech on Wednesday. "This is the U.S. government's true nature and character that is being exposed today."

Iran's state media has given wide coverage to the U.S. protests. In November, hundreds of protesters were killed in the protests in Iran, according to human rights group Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch has accused the authorities of deliberately covering up the scale of the mass crackdown against protesters.

Some Iranians on social media have also criticized Iran's clerical establishment for double standards in criticizing Washington's action against demonstrators.

843d ago / 7:07 AM UTC

Police in New Orleans use tear gas on crowds on highway bridge

New Orleans police said they used tear gas on protesters Wednesday night after crowds approached in an apparent attempt to cross a Crescent City Connection highway bridge.

Police tweeted that they were "compelled" to use the irritant "in response to escalating, physical confrontation with our officers."

Video from NBC affiliate WDSU showed tear gas billowing over the bridge and crowds retreating. Maria Singer, who was in the back of the crowd, told that some people panicked. "I wasn't scared of the tear gas as I was the stampede of people," she told the outlet. No injuries had been reported by police.

There was no violence reported by police in the incident. reported that almost everyone was peaceful but a handful of protesters were more aggressive and began pushing into the police line just before police used the tear gas.

Earlier Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards thanked the people of his state for holding peaceful demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, avoiding the violence and property damage seen in other parts of the country.

843d ago / 6:00 AM UTC

Reverend who marched with MLK in 1962 reflects on protests

843d ago / 5:56 AM UTC

Black Lives Matter sues L.A., county over curfews

Black Lives Matter and a group that includes protesters and a journalist on Wednesday sued the city and county of Los Angeles and San Bernardino in a bid to end nightly curfews that were ordered as a reaction to raucous demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

The federal suit, filed by the ACLU of Southern California, argues the curfews, imposed in the city of Los Angeles since May 30, violate the First Amendment as well as the Constitution’s protection of freedom of movement.

"They are attempting to suppress our ability to fully mobilize and focus full attention on the true issue of concern in the protests — police violence against Black people," Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, said in a statement.

The suit states that the curfews "have given police an excuse to commit violence against BLM-LA’s members and others who have joined in the protests."

It seeks an injunction against such curfews, a declaration that they are constitutionally unlawful, an end to enforcement of unlawful assembly arrests related to the curfews, attorneys' fees and "any other relief" the court might grant.

The mayor on Wednesday said that as long as there isn't additional looting or violence in Los Angeles associated with the protests, he would end the curfews, NBC LA reported

843d ago / 5:23 AM UTC

Los Angeles looks to cut $150M in police funding, invest in communities 'left behind'

The mayor of Los Angeles, whose city has seen days of protest as well as some looting and violence, said Wednesday that the city is committed to identifying $250 million in cuts that he wants to spend on black communities and others he said have been left behind.

The police commission president said it is committed to working with others to identify between $100 million and $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department budget.

"We've made cuts because of COVID-19," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "It's time to also make cuts because racial justice is something worth fighting for, and something worth sacrificing for."

Other changes eyed include requirements that police officers intervene when they see the inappropriate use of force; requirements that officers report misconduct immediately; and that a special prosecutor outside the district attorney's office will be appointed to prosecute officers who engage in misconduct.

Garcetti said he wants to spend the money investing in jobs, education and health in communities, and every department would be affected. There will also be an increase in police training, he said.