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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.

850d ago / 8:06 PM UTC

Rev. Al Sharpton announces march in Washington on Aug. 28

The Rev. Al Sharpton, during his eulogy at a memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Thursday, announced plans for a march in Washington on Aug. 28, the anniversary of the original March on Washington in 1963 where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Sharpton said he was glad the civil rights icon's son, Martin Luther King III, was at the memorial.

"Because on Aug. 28, the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, we're going back to Washington, Martin," Sharpton said. "That's where your father stood in the shadows of the Lincoln memorial and said, 'I have a dream.'"

"Well we're going back this Aug. 28 to restore and recommit that dream," Sharpton said. "To stand up, because just like at one era we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal policing and criminal justice." 

Sharpton added, "We need to go back to Washington and stand up — black, white, Latino, Arab — in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them, ‘This is the time to stop this.'"

Sharpton also called for a federal policy to address a wide range of policing issues, including the inability to fully background check police officers and creating residency requirements for officers to live in the communities they police.

At the close of his eulogy, Sharpton asked Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, to join him and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump on stage while those gathered stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the amount of time a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck during the arrest where he died.

850d ago / 8:03 PM UTC

'We cannot cooperate with torture': Floyd family lawyer calls for justice at memorial service

850d ago / 8:02 PM UTC

'The other pandemic' killed George Floyd, family attorney says

Floyd tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, weeks before his death, according to an autopsy. B

ut Floyd died from a much more deadly disease, family attorney Benjamin Crump said.

“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” Crump told spirited mourners.

“I want to make it clear, on the record … the other pandemic that we are are too familiar with in America — the pandemic of racism and discrimination killed George Floyd."

850d ago / 7:57 PM UTC

Rev. Al Sharpton: Trump used a bible as a prop. We will not allow George Floyd to become one.

850d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

George Floyd memorial: Loved ones say goodbye to man whose death ignited national conversation on racism

MINNEAPOLIS - George Floyd's family and closest friends on Thursday demanded justice for their departed loved one, who was killed by “the pandemic of racism and discrimination.”

Mourners paid tribute to Floyd inside a sanctuary at North Central University in Minneapolis, singing praises for their son, brother, father and dear friend who died at the age of 46.

His younger brother, Philonise Floyd, said the family grew up poor but had everything they needed. They enjoyed banana and mayonnaise sandwiches made by their loving mother and washed clothes in a bathroom sink, before drying them over a hot water heater or oven.

“Everybody wants justice, we want justice for George,” the younger Floyd told mourners. “He’s going to get it, he’s going to get it.”

850d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

George Floyd's brother Philonise: 'Everybody loved George...he was powerful'

850d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

Social distancing efforts inside, outside George Floyd's memorial service

Minneapolis
People gathering outside George Floyd's memorial service practice social distancing.Janell Ross

George Floyd's memorial service is being played on loudspeakers for a crowd of several hundred people who have gathered outside.

Most of those gathering are wearing masks and there are navy blue stickers along the sidewalks outside that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING," placed about 6 feet apart but people are not adhering to that kind of spacing.

The Rev. Al Sharpton wore black surgical gloves at the pulpit where he preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1, which reads, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Sharpton later said, "Because of the pandemic I'm not going to ask you to hold hands," as he guided those at the memorial to stand and begin an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence, reflecting the length of time an officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck.

Navy blue stickers were placed along the sidewalks outside George Floyd's service that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING."
Navy blue stickers were placed along the sidewalks outside George Floyd's service that read "PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING."Janell Ross

An earlier speaker mentioned that the memorial service has to stick to a strict schedule to comport with social distancing rules.

850d ago / 7:30 PM UTC

More than 700 active-duty Army soldiers leaving Washington, D.C., returning to Ft. Bragg

More than 700 active-duty soldiers from Fort Bragg who have been in Washington, D.C., since Monday waiting to be deployed in case President Donald Trump invoked the Insurrection Act are being sent back to North Carolina tonight, a senior defense official told NBC News.

A decision to send the soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division back south to their base was made on Wednesday, but then reversed. The decision to send them home was made again Thursday. The soldiers, who have been waiting at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, were never called into the city to confront protestors.

More than 1,600 active-duty troops from Fort Bragg, Fort Drum in New York and Fort Riley in Kansas began arriving in the capital area on Monday. They have been staying at multiple military installations in the capital area.

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 7:11 PM UTC

The complicated racial history behind 'Amazing Grace'

"Amazing Grace," which was performed by Liwana Porter during George Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday, is one of the best known hymns across a variety of Protestant denominations and also has a complicated racial history.

Written in 1773 by John Newton, a white, English slave trader, the song was originally known as "Faith's Review and Expectation." Newton had been moved to craft the song after a near-death experience aboard a slave ship which sailed into a storm. Newton became a Christian and in 1778 spoke out publicly against slavery.

In 2015, President Barack Obama, a man with no previous history of public singing, sang the hymn at a memorial service for the nine African Americans killed by a white supremacist shooter inside one of the nation's oldest black churches, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The moment seemed to resonate with a wide variety of Americans.

In 2015, President Barack Obama, a man with no previous history of public singing, sang the hymn as a memorial service for the nine African Americans killed by a white supremacist shooter inside one of the nation's oldest black churches, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

After the song brought mourners to their feet, Obama went on to deliver a eulogy for the church's slain pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. As he delivered it, Obama said the killer assumed he "would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation's original sin.""But God works in mysterious ways," Obama said. "God had different ideas."

850d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Judge sets $750K bail for 3 ex-officers accused in Floyd's death

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge set bail at $750,000 apiece Thursday for three fired Minneapolis police officers who have been charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of George Floyd.

Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were making their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court since their arrests Wednesday.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired them last week, along with Derek Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's May 25 death. Widely seen bystander video shows the white police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring the African American man’s pleas that he can't breathe, until he stopped moving.

Defendants don't normally enter pleas during their first appearances in Minnesota courts, which tend to be brief proceedings. Judge Paul Scoggin set their next court dates for June 29.

850d ago / 6:50 PM UTC
850d ago / 6:50 PM UTC

Joy Reid: At some point, this country needs to let black people stop crying. But until then, we'll keep teaching.

850d ago / 6:39 PM UTC

'He will not die in vain': People in Houston's Third Ward pay tribute to George Floyd

850d ago / 6:26 PM UTC

Trump invoking Insurrection Act could undo years of police reform, experts warn

Those who remember the last time the Insurrection Act was used, during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, warn that President Donald Trump could undo decades of progress between police and the communities they serve if he invokes it now.

Calling governors weak and urging them to "dominate" American cities, Trump threatened Monday to invoke the little-known law against people protesting the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. The Insurrection Act, which dates to 1807, allows the president to call up active-duty military units or federalize the National Guard under certain circumstances.

"We don't need to be telling people that we're going to dominate them. That language doesn't work," said professor Erroll Southers, a former law enforcement officer who specializes in national and homeland security issues at the University of Southern California. "It just reinforces where we were decades ago."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both signaled distaste this week for using the Insurrection Act. Newsom said Wednesday that he would reject any attempt by Trump to militarize the response in California.

"It won't happen," Newsom told reporters while visiting a cafe in South Los Angeles. "It's not going to happen. We would reject it."

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 6:14 PM UTC
850d ago / 5:45 PM UTC

Los Angeles Mayor lifts curfew

850d ago / 5:36 PM UTC

NYPD officer appears to make white power sign at protest, prompting probe

A video of a uniformed New York City police officer appearing to make a white power symbol at a George Floyd protest Saturday in New York City has prompted an internal review.

The video showing the officer making the apparent "OK" hand gesture — touching the thumb and index finger to make a circle, with the remaining three fingers held outstretched — was posted to social media over the weekend.

NBC News is not publishing or linking to the video to avoid providing a platform to apparent expressions of hate or white supremacy.

The "OK" gesture has been used by people around the world for centuries, typically to signal consent, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Recently, the hand signal has also been appropriated to represent the letters w and p to signify "white power," stemming from a hoax in 2017 by members of the website 4chan, an anonymous and unrestricted online message board, the ADL says.

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 5:35 PM UTC
850d ago / 5:34 PM UTC

Damaged Asian businesses show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters

When David Choi, owner of the street food chain Seoul Taco, pulled up to one of his Downtown Chicago restaurants on Sunday morning, he saw doors and windows reduced to a pile of shards, a vandalized flat-screen TV, and the cash register and several iPads missing, presumably stolen.

Still, in his first message to customers, he made clear that those who ransacked his store in no way weakened his support for the fight against police brutality.

“EVERYTHING IN MY STORE WILL BE REPLACEABLE,” he wrote on Facebook within hours of the incident, “while lives are being senselessly lost, on a way too regular basis, is the way bigger issue.”

From California to New York, scores of Asian businesses were caught in the crossfire, suffering extensive property damage atop already prevalent anti-Asian racism. But owners young and old continue to express solidarity with protesters and vocally draw the distinction between material and human loss.

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 5:32 PM UTC

Florida professor cites 'black privilege' amid George Floyd protests, prompting calls for his firing

Charles Negy
University of Central Florida psychology professor Charles Negy reads from a letter complaining about his teaching on Aug. 23, 2012.George Skene / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

University of Central Florida students and others on social media are calling for the firing of a psychology professor at the school who is citing "black privilege" in tweets amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.

"Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they're missing out on much needed feedback," said one tweet from professor Charles Negy on Wednesday. He is the author of "White Shaming: Bullying based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance."

In a tweet Thursday morning, a statement from the school said: "Being actively anti-racist means calling out and confronting racist comments. We are aware of Charles Negy’s recent personal Twitter posts, which are completely counter to UCF’s values. We are reviewing this matter further while being mindful of the First Amendment."

Negy, in an email, told NBC News that he believes "The lives of black people matter as much as the lives of anyone else in this country. ... The timing of my controversial views that have been posted on twitter recently was poor, perhaps, but my views were not addressing the sadistic murder of George Floyd. ... I'm addressing other issues that I think ought to be discussed if we're ever going to make progress on race relations."

Read the full story here. 

850d ago / 5:27 PM UTC
850d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

Dr. Leana Wen: 5 safety measures to keep in mind if you're protesting during COVID-19

Americans are taking to the streets to protest the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more. And while any time people gather in groups, there’s an increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, there are ways to reduce your risk and stay safer, said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore.

Dr. Wen, who has been a leading voice in public health and a frequent commentator about coronavirus, recently spoke to Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, about safety measures protesters should keep in mind as they make their voices heard.

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 5:12 PM UTC
850d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

FBI wanted to separate itself from Barr's tough stance on protests, sources say

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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, officials at the FBI considered, and later canceled, a press conference to clarify how agents were being used in protests, according to three sources familiar with the planning.

The Bureau, led by Director Christopher Wray, wanted to separate itself from the tough stance Attorney General William Barr was taking in his pledge to continue ramping up federal law enforcement's response in D.C. even as protests turned largely peaceful on Tuesday night.

"They feel a strong need to delineate what they are and are not doing," said a source familiar with internal deliberations at the FBI. "You won't see FBI agents with a baton and shield."

The FBI's recent arrest of three men connected to the far-right "Boogaloo" movement for their attempt to provoke violence at protests also underlines the Bureau's distance from Barr who has, like Trump, said leftist extremist groups are to blame for the violence.

"This is representative of the FBI trying to avoid Barr's narrative by doing its job," the source said.

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 4:36 PM UTC

YouTuber Jake Paul charged with trespassing following Arizona looting

YouTube star Jake Paul was charged with trespassing after he allegedly entered an Arizona mall after it was looted last month, police said Thursday.

Paul, 23, was filming looting of the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall on May 30, according to video and a Scottsdale Police Department press release.

In footage of the looting, Paul is seen watching as rioters break into the mall. Paul later appears in footage that appears to show him inside the mall and filming inside of it after it had closed, according to video and the press release. It was unclear if Paul took anything from the mall.

The Scottsdale Police Department's statement said that it "received hundreds of tips and videos identifying" Paul as "a participant in the riot."

"Our investigation has revealed that Paul was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were ordered to leave the area by the police," the statement read. "Paul also unlawfully entered and remained inside of the mall when it was closed."

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 4:23 PM UTC
850d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

George Floyd memorial: Loved ones say goodbye to man whose death ignited national conversation on racism

George Floyd's family and closest friends on Wednesday will gather to mourn the Minneapolis man, whose death under a policeman's knee ignited a national conversation about systemic racism.

The memorial, set for 1 p.m. CT at North Central University in Minneapolis, is expected to last about two hours as Floyd's loved ones pay tribute to their son, brother, father and dear friend who died at the age of 46.

Thursday’s service starts an extraordinary multi-city series of memorials so loved ones can honor Floyd in the communities where he was born, raised and died.

“It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants,” Sharpton said in advance of Thursday’s service. “But it would also be inadequate ... if you acted as though we’re at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.”

Read the full story here.

850d ago / 2:56 PM UTC
850d 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.

850d 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.

850d 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.

850d ago / 12:26 PM UTC

More fences going up around the White House

850d 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.

850d ago / 11:39 AM UTC

850d 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.”

850d 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.

850d ago / 10:36 AM UTC

850d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

Student newspaper IDs protester critically injured by Austin police

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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."

850d ago / 9:53 AM UTC

850d 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.

850d 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 NOLA.com 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. NOLA.com 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.

850d ago / 6:00 AM UTC

Reverend who marched with MLK in 1962 reflects on protests

850d 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

850d 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.