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

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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.

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Enraged N.Y. driver who chased protesters with blades attached to arm is arrested

An enraged New York driver who allegedly rushed a group of protesters with two long blades attached to his arms, then chased them in his SUV, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of menacing and other crimes, authorities said.

Frank Cavalluzzi, 54, of Queens, faces multiple counts of reckless endangerment, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, the New York Police Department said.

Video footage of the June 2 incident showed the man speeding toward a small group of protesters on an expressway overpass in Queens. He can be seen leaping from his SUV with a device affixed to his arm that has machete-like blades extending from it.

A second video shows Cavalluzzi allegedly drive onto the overpass' sidewalk and speed after them. The protesters can be heard screaming and sprinting away from the vehicle.

Read the full story here.

Biden: George Floyd's death must prompt action, police reform

Joe Biden continued his de facto listening tour on race issues in America on Thursday night, telling a virtual town hall that the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody must be a moment for action.

"I see you, I hear you, and I'm angry as well. But we have to turn our anguish into purpose,” Biden said during an online town hall hosted by The Shade Room, an entertainment media company focused on the African American community.

“If we just let this wound scab over again, it's never going to heal,” he added during the event, which was moderated by actor Don Cheadle.

A short while after the event, President Donald Trump tweeted about the 1994 crime bill Biden supported — criticism he has faced throughout the campaign, including from other Democratic presidential candidates — calling it a "total disaster."

Click here to read the full story.

Heavy rain brings early end to Washington march

WASHINGTON — Protests in the nation’s capital over George Floyd’s death broke up before dark Thursday as a heavy rain began to fall.

The law enforcement presence at the Lincoln Memorial, where protesters gathered, was much smaller than it had been near the White House during the previous nights’ demonstrations.

Tomora Wright, 29, of Washington, said her parents were concerned that she was coming down to protest but she wasn’t worried. “I know that my people are peaceful and I’m not scared to be around people who believe in the same thing, the same cause. I definitely felt the need to come down here and protest in solidarity.”

She wants to see the killers of George Floyd brought to justice but also reopening of past cases such as Sandra Bland in Texas. “These are unimaginable times. “

Prosecutors say she tried to firebomb an NYPD van. Her friends say she's a 'regular girl'

The blurry video shows a woman holding a lighter to an indistinct object on a Brooklyn street. She vanishes off screen for a few seconds, then lurches back, lobbing what authorities say is a Molotov cocktail at a parked police van with four officers inside.

The officers weren't injured in the Saturday morning incident, and the suspect, later identified as Samantha Shader, 27, of the little Hudson Valley town of Catskill, tried to flee but was caught and arrested, authorities said. She now faces federal explosives charges. Her younger sister, Darian, was also booked on suspicion of resisting arrest.

Prosecutors in New York's Eastern District Court have described Shader an an out-of-control criminal determined to riot, someone who "demonstrated, at every turn, disregard and contempt for the judicial system and for the law abiding public."

But in interviews with NBC News, people who know Shader offered a different picture. One longtime friend said she didn’t believe the allegations. Another described her as a "regular girl" who wanted to help people and is being treated unfairly. And an online fundraiser seeking to raise money for legal fees for Shader and her sister says they "took a stand and bravely put their lives and freedom on the line to support the nationwide protest against police brutality."

Read the full story.

White House adds new fencing around perimeter

WASHINGTON — After another night of peaceful protests outside of Lafayette Square Wednesday, workers were seen putting up new fencing barriers around the White House complex Thursday morning, adding to the 8-foot fence that was erected around the entrance to Lafayette Square earlier in the week.

Reporters arriving at the White House as early as 5:30 a.m. ET on Thursday morning described seeing black fences being put up along the Eisenhower Executive Office Building entrance on 17th St. NW.

By the afternoon, the new fencing could be seen stretching from the back of the White House complex, closing off the entrance to The Ellipse and stretching all the way up 17th St., blocking off the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The Secret Service said "the closures are in an effort to maintain the necessary security measures surrounding the White House complex, while also allowing for peaceful demonstration," adding that the closed off areas would remain blocked until June 10.

Click here for the full story. 

Trump rages about protest fire, but was silent on burning black churches

“YOU DON’T BURN CHURCHES IN AMERICA!” President Trump tweeted on Thursday, an apparent reference to a fire that broke out at St. John’s Church, located across the street from the White House, during the protests. (The church’s rector described it as a small fire.)

Last year, the president was silent when three historically black churches in one Louisiana parish burned in a 10-day span. Pence commented after the Washington Post pointed this out, and he later visited.

A sheriff deputy’s son was later charged; he pleaded guilty earlier this year, admitting he set the fires to raise his profile as a metal musician.

Black churches have frequently been targeted throughout American history, and many were burned down during the Jim Crow era.

Minnesota Gov. Walz: 'Anyone who demonstrated should receive a test for COVID-19'

New Zealanders perform haka dance outside U.S. Embassy during protest

Demonstrators in New Zealand performed a traditional Māori dance Monday in Aukland while protesting the death of George Floyd.

Video of protesters performing the haka outside the U.S. Embassy in Auckland has gone viral on social media, garnering over 3.5 million views on Twitter. The haka is a war dance traditionally used on the battlefield and to show a tribe’s pride, strength and unity. 

Organizers of the march and protest told New Zealand station TVNZ that the haka was performed to stand in solidarity with U.S. protesters and to also protest the arming of New Zealand police.

'We cannot cooperate with torture': Floyd family attorney urges action

As loved ones gathered on Thursday to remember the life of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump gave an impassioned plea for America to “not cooperate with evil” but instead continue protesting against it.

“We cannot cooperate with evil,” he said. “We cannot cooperate with injustice. We cannot cooperate with torture because George Floyd deserved better than that. We all deserve better than that.”

Crump referred to Floyd’s final moments under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as “inhumane” and invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to action.

“The plea for justice is simply this,” Crump said. “Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting is really like cooperating with it.’”

Crump also reminded mourners that Floyd died not of the current coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across the country, but instead of the unspoken pandemic generations in the making.

“I want to make it clear on the record,” Crump said. “It was the other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with here in America. The pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd.”

Read the full story here.

Barr defends White House use of force, claims protesters were violent

Attorney General William Barr defended the decision to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday, downplaying the use of force and claiming that the administration's decision was provoked by increasing violence.

“I think the president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to the church of presidents,” Barr said at a virtual press conference on Thursday. “I don't necessarily view that as a political act. I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do.”

Barr claimed that protesters outside the White House on Monday were becoming violent, justifying his authorization for police to remove them.

“I saw the projectiles on Monday when I went to Lafayette Park to look at the situation,” said Barr, who was seen in the park before protesters were forced out.

Read what else Barr said.