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June 8 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country. Here are the latest updates.
Image: Pallbearers bring George Floyd's casket into the Fountain of Praise Church for a memorial and viewing services in Houston, Texas, on June 8, 2020.
Pallbearers bring George Floyd's casket into the Fountain of Praise Church for a memorial and viewing services in Houston, Texas, on June 8, 2020.Mario Tama / Getty Images

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 9 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

Friends and family of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death touched off a national debate about systemic racism, were joined at a Houston memorial on Monday by thousands of strangers who showed up to pay their final respects.

On Sunday night, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council agreed to dismantle the city's police department after the death of Floyd in police custody, Councilman Jeremiah Ellison told NBC News. He said the council would work to disband the department in its "current iteration."

Speaking Sunday at a community meeting before the vote, the council's president, Lisa Bender, vowed to "re-create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe."

In Washington, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joined demonstrators marching to the White House on Sunday in protest of Floyd's death.

“We need a voice against racism. We need many voices against racism and against brutality. And we need to stand up and say black lives matter,” Romney, the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, said.

Download the NBC News app for the latest updates.

Verification Unit: Investigating the killing of David McAtee in Louisville

Virginia has the most Confederate memorials in the country, but that might change

Deepa Shivaram

Deepa Shivaram and Kyle Stewart

As nationwide protests continue following the death of George Floyd in police custody, the debate over removing Confederate statues has reignited — and the city that was once the capital of the Confederacy is taking the lead.

The Richmond, Virginia, City Council on Friday decided unanimously to remove four Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. The decision followed an announcement by the state's Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, that the six-story-tall statue of Robert E. Lee that looms over the street would come down "as soon as possible."

Virginia is home to 110 Confederate monuments, 13 of which are in Richmond, according to 2019 data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC. The state has 244 Confederate symbols, which includes roads and bridges named after Confederate leaders, more than any other state, the SPLC says. There are 41 symbols for Lee alone.

Read the full story here.

St. Paul man charged in connection with police precinct arson

A Minnesota man is facing federal charges in connection to the fire that was set at a Minneapolis police precinct station during protests over the death of George Floyd, prosecutors said Monday.

Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, has been charged with aiding and abetting arson in connection with fires set at the police department's third precinct on May 28, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota said in a statement.

The precinct "was overrun and heavily damaged due to vandalism and arson," the U.S. attorney's office said, with multiple fires set inside.

Read the full story here

What does it mean to dismantle a police department?

Los Angeles police chief orders moratorium on carotid hold

LAPD Chief Michel Moore on Monday issued a moratorium on the training and use of the "carotid restraint control hold," a type of neck restraint that had already been restricted by department rules.

The memo follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday called for the end of the carotid hold and other techniques like it and ordered that it be removed from the state police training programs and state training manuals.

The LAPD in 1982 banned bar-arm chokeholds and other techniques following a federal lawsuit.

The Los Angeles Police Commission followed up the bar-arm ban weeks later by restricting the carotid chokehold, designed to immobilize a suspect by blocking the neck artery and, by extension, the flow of blood to the brain.

The department still allowed officers to use a carotid restraint but limits those situations to immediate danger to life. The memo ordering the moratorium says that the Board of Police Commissioners will conduct a detailed review.

2 Atlanta officers charged with assault during protests seek jobs back

Two Atlanta police officers who were fired and criminally charged in connection with pulling two college students from a car during protests late last month have filed a lawsuit seeking their jobs back.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on May 31 announced that the two officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner would be fired immediately after what she called "an excessive use of force."

The suit, which says the officers were denied due process, seeks the reinstatement of both officers and back pay.

Video showed officers forcibly pulling Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim from their car around 9:40 p.m. May 30 during protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Read the full story here

'They're chanting his name ... but they didn't know him like we knew him,' Floyd's classmates say

HOUSTON — On Memorial Day, Jonathan Veal was at home in Oklahoma City, getting ready to start up the grill, when he saw a disturbing video circulating on social media. It showed a black man struggling for breath under the knee of a white police officer in Minnesota.

"No, no, not again," Veal remembers thinking.

He felt the same sickening tightness in his chest that hits him every time a new viral video shows a black man or woman being killed by a police officer. That could have been him or one of his five children — or a friend.

At first, he didn't recognize the man whose face was pressed against concrete, gasping for his mama. It wasn't until the following morning, when the name George Floyd started appearing in social media posts and news articles, that Veal, 45, made the connection. Afterward, he locked himself in his office at the leadership consulting company he owns and sat in silence, trying to process the realization — memories of "Big Floyd" rushing through his mind.

Read the full story here

President takes aim at NFL after league says it was wrong to not let players protest

Calls for racial justice reshaping media landscape

Dylan Byers

Dylan Byers and Doha Madani

Less than 24 hours after Editorial Page Editor James Bennet resigned from The New York Times, the ongoing social upheaval over racial injustice continues to force changes across the media industry.

On Monday, editors at Bon Appétit and Refinery29 resigned amid staff protest over their leadership, various outlets faced scrutiny over their treatment of black staffers and one publication said it would support its journalists' right to protest.

The changes come as media companies are being forced, often by their own staff, to reassess their role in the fight for racial justice, whether that means rethinking diversity inside the company or re-examining their commitment to editorial "objectivity."

Read the full story here

Los Angeles won't prosecute curfew violations

Demonstrators in front of the District Attorney's office protest in Los Angeles on June 3, 2020.Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

Prosecutors in the city and county of Los Angeles said Monday they will not prosecute those arrested for curfew violations or failure to disperse in peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd.

On Monday, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said her office would not prosecute those cases and City Attorney Mike Feuer said his office would take a “nonpunitive” approach that's “outside of the courts."

"I believe whole-heartedly in free speech and support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully against historic racial injustice in our criminal justice system and throughout our nation,” Lacey said in a statement.

Feuer also said Monday that his office "has developed a non-punitive approach, outside of the Court system" for all violations that do not involve violence, looting or vandalism, which he said primarily involves failure to disperse or curfew violations.

The city and county of Los Angeles imposed curfews on May 30 following violence and looting, but by Thursday they were lifted. There were thousands of arrests in Los Angeles. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said last week that the majority of arrests that had been for curfew violations or failure to disperse.

Seattle police reopening streets to allow protests

The Seattle Police Department announced they will reopen streets around the East Precinct on Monday night to allow protesters to march peacefully on Capitol Hill. 

On Sunday night, protesters took to the area surrounding the precinct to protest the death of George Floyd when a man drove into a group of protesters and shot one man, who was taken to an area hospital.

Assistant Chief of Patrol Operations Tom Mahaffey sent a letter to officers that said, “The decision has been made to allow demonstrators to march past the East Precinct later today. Your safety and the security of our facilities are my highest priorities. Additional measures are currently underway to enhance our ongoing efforts to insure the security of our East Precinct and provide for the safety of all our officers.”

Video posted on Twitter showed officers removing barriers and equipment from the area.

George Floyd remembered at public memorial in his hometown of Houston

A massive crowd went to George Floyd's public viewing on Monday including many who had never met him, to pay their final respects.

Democratic leaders clash with Black Lives Matter activists over 'defund the police'

People walk on the words 'defund the police' that was painted in bright yellow letters on 16th Street as demonstrators protest on June 7, 2020, near the White House.Maya Alleruzzo / AP

WASHINGTON — Painted in bright yellow letters outside the White House are the words "DEFUND THE POLICE”: A rallying cry for a movement to combat police brutality and racism that has exploded across the nation — and caused nervousness among Democrats.

Protesters around the country demanding justice for George Floyd's death waved “Defund the police!” signs at rallies in major cities on a weekend when Joe Biden officially became the presumptive Democratic nominee to face President Donald Trump this fall.

As Trump seizes the slogan as an opportunity to paint his opposition as radicals who envision a world of lawlessness and anarchy, Biden and most Democrats are resisting the left's calls and floating more modest measures to curtail bad police behavior.

"Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded," campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement Monday

Read the full story here. 

Trump: ‘We won't be defunding or dismantling our police’

Martha C. White

President Trump strongly denounced the notion of defunding police departments while hosting a roundtable discussion with law enforcement leaders at the White House. His Attorney General Barr maintained a more hopeful rhetoric that police reform could be achieved.

University of Alabama to remove Confederate plaques from campus

The University of Alabama announced Tuesday that it plans to remove three Confederate Army plaques from their current locations on the Tuscaloosa campus. 

The plaques commemorated three University of Alabama students who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, as well as members of the student cadet corps involved in protecting the campus, the university said in a news release. The university said that the plaques, which are currently located in front of Gorgas Library, will be placed at a more appropriate historical setting in consultation with the university’s president Dr. Stuart Bell. 

In addition to the Confederate Army plaques, the Board of Trustees president has selected a group of Trustees to review and study names of buildings within the entire university system and report back with any recommended changes. 

This comes as nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd have led to the planned removal of confederate monuments in cities like Richmond, Virginia and a statue of prominent slave trader Edward Colston was pushed into a harbor by demonstrators in Bristol, England.

McConnell: ‘Call me old fashioned,’ but we need police to stop criminals

Senate Majority Leader McConnell spoke on the Senate floor, criticizing the nationwide message from protesters to defund police departments in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Derek Chauvin's bail set at $1.25M in first court appearance in George Floyd death

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges in the fatal arrest of George Floyd, was granted bail Monday at his first court appearance.

Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The former officer appeared in the Hennepin County court through video conferencing from prison, wearing an orange jumpsuit and blue mask.

Judge Jeannice Reding granted the prosecution’s request for a $1.25 million unconditional bail or a lower bail of $1 million with conditions. The $1 million bail conditions would require Chauvin to turn in his firearms and gun permits, have no contact with Floyd’s family, and not work in a security capacity or as an officer while out on bail.

Read the fully story here.

Seattle beefs up security as unrest continues

Mayor of Houston pays his respects to George Floyd

Voices from the Houston funeral of George Floyd

Joey Lucio Sanjavier, a 26-year-old son of Mexican immigrants, used a black marker to write, “las vidas negras importan” — black lives matter — on his mask.

“I feel like, as a Latino, I have to be here,” Lucio Sanjavier said, while waiting in line to view Floyd’s golden casket. “If we’re not here to support our black community, how are we going to stand up for our own rights?”

Dolly Spencer, 72, brought flowers.

“Mr. Floyd gave his life, not intentionally, but I wanted to pay my respects,” said Spencer, who is black. “And maybe we’ll get something out of this, that something bad will lead to something good.”

The long goodbye to George Floyd reaches his hometown of Houston

Childhood friends of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death touched off a national debate about systemic racism, paid their final respects to the Houston native on Monday.

Floyd's casket arrived at Fountain of Praise church, where mourners braved 90-degree-plus heat to wait outside before coming in for their personal tributes.

Well-wishers, wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus, filed into two lines as ushers directed them to Floyd's gold-colored casket where they said their goodbyes.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner were among those paying tribute at the church on Monday. More than 200 people lined up before the doors opened, as Red Cross volunteers outside distributed water on one of Houston's hottest days of 2020.

Read the full story here.

Rev. Al Sharpton posts picture with Joe Biden and family of George Floyd

New fence around the White House becomes a canvas for protesters

Msafiri, 5, of Baltimore, stands among signs along the fence constructed at Lafayette Park including drawings of Breonna Taylor, Emmett Till, and Trayvon Martin, as demonstrators protest Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House.Jacquelyn Martin / AP

New fencing put up around the White House in an effort to keep protesters at bay has become a magnet for demonstrators, who've been decorating it with signs honoring George Floyd and demanding police reform.

The new taller fencing started going up around the White House complex last Monday, after federal officials forcibly cleared a part of the area of peaceful protesters shortly before President Donald Trump toured the area en route to a church that had suffered fire damage during rioting over the weekend.

The extra security measure was also implemented after The New York Times reported, and NBC News confirmed, that the president had been taken to a secure bunker during demonstrations on Friday.

Biden comes out against defunding police departments

Joe Biden opposes the defunding of police departments, his presidential campaign said Monday — putting the presumptive Democratic nominee at odds with a position that has grown popular among protesters demonstrating nationwide against police brutality and racism.

Biden "does not believe that police should be defunded," campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. Bates said Biden instead supports reforming policing across the country and pointed to Biden’s previously-released criminal justice reform plan that proposed new funding for community policing and diversifying police departments.

"As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded. He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain,"  Bates said. "Biden supports the urgent need for reform, including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing, so that officers can focus on the job of policing. This also means funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents, and provides the training that is needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths."

A movement calling to "defund the police" has gained traction at protests across the nation in recent weeks, including in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was last month killed in police custody. 

Philadelphia couple marries amid peaceful protests

France to abandon police chokeholds, security chief says

Associated Press

France’s top security offical says police will no longer conduct chokeholds that have been blamed for multiple cases of asphyxiation and have come under renewed criticism after George Floyd’s death in the United States.

With the French government under increasing pressure to address accusations of brutality and racism within the police force, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced Monday that “the method of seizing the neck via strangling will be abandoned and will no longer be taught in police schools.”

He said that during an arrest, “it will be now forbidden to push on the back of the neck or the neck.”

Pelosi, top Democrats unveil police reform bill

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional Democrats are unveiling comprehensive legislation Monday that seeks to hold police departments accountable, track misconduct and outline ways for law enforcement to change their tactics.

The bill, dubbed the “Justice in Policing Act,” would ban chokeholds, including the kind used by a police officer in the Minneapolis death of George Floyd last month, as well as no-knock warrants such as the one that led to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March, according to a bill summary obtained by NBC News and a House Democratic aide.

The legislation would also require local police departments to send data on the use of force to the federal government and create a grant program that would allow state attorneys general to create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force, according to the five-page summary of the bill. Further, it would make it easier for people to recover damages when police departments violate their civil rights.

Read the full story here.

Philadelphia police union cheers embattled officer

The Philadelphia police officer who was charged with assaulting a college student during a George Floyd protest last week marched through a crowd of cheering supporters on Monday before surrendering to authorities.

Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating a Temple University student with his baton in an confrontation caught on video, prosecutors said.

Before he formally turned himself in to be booked on Monday, Bologna, his lawyer and union president John McNesby walked through supporters from their Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. Bologna did not answer any questions before getting into a car to surrender.

Martin Luther King III lays flowers at site where George Floyd was killed

St. Louis man charged with murder in fatal shooting of retired police captain

A 24-year-old man was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a retired St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department captain who was killed while protecting a friend's pawn shop from looters last week, authorities said Sunday.

Stephan Cannon of St. Louis faces one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and two counts of armed criminal action in connection with retired captain David Dorn's death. He is being held without bond, according to St. Louis police. 

Jimmie Robinson, 27, was also charged with first-degree burglary, armed criminal action and stealing in connection with Dorn's death. He's being held on $30,000 cash-only bond.

The arrests were announced five days after Dorn was shot and killed after responding to an alarm at Lee Pawn and Jewelry Store amid protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four other officers were shot that night and 55 businesses were burglarized or damaged.

Read the full story here. 

NYPD misconduct often involves minority youth, report says

The vast majority of complaints about mistreatment of youths by New York Police officers involved children of color, according to a report released Monday by the city’s police watchdog agency. 

The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board released an analysis of more than 100 complaints involving young New Yorkers between January 2018 and last June that showed that young males of color between the ages of 10 and 18 were a complainant and/or victim in nearly 65 percent of complaints involving youth, despite only accounting for less than five percent of New York City’s population.

The report added that several youth-NYPD interactions involving New Yorkers between the ages of 10 and 18 involved officers stopping youth for "seemingly innocuous activities," such as playing, high-fiving, running, carrying backpacks and jaywalking. 

The report comes amid mounting calls for police reform in the wake of in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. 

Thousands expected to pay final respects to George Floyd in Houston

What does protester rallying cry 'defund the police' mean?

Petra Cahill

Protesters have taken to the streets demanding their cities shrink police departments, and "defund the police" has become a frequent rallying cry.

Supporters of the movement say they are not trying to eliminate police departments, but rather calling for budgets to be realigned so that the emphasis is on community programs rather than strictly enforcement. 

On NBC News "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explained that the phrase "defund the police," means "invest in the resources that our communities need." She went on to say that means "increased funding for housing, increased funding for education, increased funding for quality of life for communities that are over policed and over surveilled."

Other cities have floated ideas to heed the call.

After saying that the New York City curfew would be lifted Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a proposal to shift funding from the New York Police Department to youth and social services. And Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to slash up to $150 million of the police budget. The proposals are expected to face stiff resistance from police leaders and unions.

George Floyd's family appeals to U.N. for support for police reform

Juliette Arcodia

Rachel Elbaum and Juliette Arcodia

George Floyd’s family and his legal team released on Monday a letter they sent to the United Nations requesting recommendations for police reform in the U.S.

The group sent a letter on June 3 to one of the international body’s working groups asking for support for the end of the provision of military equipment and military-type training for police, the teaching of deescalation techniques, independent prosecutions and autopsies for “extrajudicial” police killings, and more.

“When a group of people of any nation have been systemically deprived of their universal human right to life by its government for decades, it must appeal to the international community for its support and to the United Nations for its intervention,” Floyd’s family attorney Ben Crump said in a press release.

The Minneapolis Police Department announced last month that the FBI would be part of the investigation into Floyd’s death.

On May 28, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called Floyd's death the "latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by U.S. police officers and members of the public," and urged "serious action." 

Man drives into Seattle George Floyd protest, shoots one protester

A man drove into a Seattle crowd protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd before shooting one of the demonstrators on Sunday, police said.

The suspect was detained and the 27-year-old man who was shot in the arm was taken to hospital by firefighters, police said in a tweet. Officials did not name the shooter or the victim.

Police confirmed a gun was recovered and no other people were injured.

Read the full story here.

New York City begins to reopen after coronavirus lockdown, curfew lifted

New York City is set to begin the first phase of re-opening on Monday after nearly three months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions that were capped off last week with a curfew enacted in the wake of protests.

In the wake of the protests that roiled the city after the death of George Floyd, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday a series of new reforms to the New York City Police Department. He also said the city will shift funding from the police force to youth and social services for communities of color. 

As many as 400,000 people are expected to return to work on Monday, NBC New York reported. Full subway service and construction work are also set to resume. As of Sunday, the city had 210,166 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21,752 deaths, approximately one-fifth of the entire U.S. death toll. 

Cincinnati Reds great Joey Votto says #BlackLivesMatter

Cincinnati Reds great Joey Votto on Sunday penned a scathing column - targeting himself and admitting he's turned a blind eye to systemic racism and police brutality.

In a guest column posted by The Cincinnati Enquirer, the star first baseman said George Floyd's death has forced him to open "my eyes to the realities of being a black man in America."

"That privilege kept me from understanding the 'why' behind Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. That privilege allowed me to ignore my black teammates’ grievances about their experiences with law enforcement, being profiled, and discriminated against," wrote Votto, who grew up just outside of Toronto. "And that privilege has made me complicit in the death of George Floyd, as well as the many other injustices that blacks experience in the U.S. and my native Canada. " 

Votto, 36, said supports the Black Lives Matter movement and added: "Only now am I just beginning to hear. I am awakening to their pain, and my ignorance. No longer will I be silent."


Protesters call to defund the police

Majority of Minneapolis City Council commits to dismantling city's police department

Shaquille Brewster

Tim Stelloh and Shaquille Brewster
Image: Anti-Racism Protests Held In U.S. Cities Nationwide
Demonstrators calling to defund the Minneapolis Police Department march on University Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Minneapolis.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council agreed Sunday to dismantle the city’s police department after the in-custody killing of George Floyd, a council member said.

In an interview with NBC News, councilman Jeremiah Ellison said the council would work to disband the department in its "current iteration."

"The plan has to start somewhere," he said. "We are not going to hit the eject button without a plan so today was the announcement of the formulation of that plan."

Read the full story.