This blog is now closed
It’s morning on the east coast of the US and we’ve started up a fresh blog to keep track of developments on Sunday. You can read it here:
Authorities in Minneapolis deployed the National Guard on Saturday to deal with protests and riots in the city, determined to avoid the scenes of looting and destruction from the night before. Their tactics were aggressive, as this video below shows, with guardsmen marching through residential neighbourhoods ordering people to go inside their homes – and firing non-lethal rounds at them if they failed to comply. This footage, not usually the kind associated with American cities, is being widely shared.
Reuters is the latest media outlet to report its staff were attacked by police last night. They’ve just posted this story:
Two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and injured in Minneapolis on Saturday night when police moved into an area occupied by about 500 protesters in the southwest of the city shortly after the 8 p.m. curfew.
Footage taken by cameraman Julio-Cesar Chavez showed a police officer aiming directly at him as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
“A police officer that I’m filming turns around points his rubber-bullet rifle straight at me,” said Chavez.
Minutes later, Chavez and Reuters security advisor Rodney Seward were struck by rubber bullets as they took cover at a nearby gas station.
On footage captured as they ran for safety, several shots are heard ringing out and Seward yells, “I’ve been hit in the face by a rubber bullet.”
Asked about the incident, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder requested a copy of the video and made no immediate comment.
Chavez, one of the journalists, has posted pictures of his injuries.
Rioting appears to be ongoing and intense in the Californian city of La Mesa, close to San Diego. A curfew has been imposed but at least two banks and a fire truck have now been set on fire, local media is reporting, with unverified footage on social media indicating the damage may be far more extensive.
A police officer in the city was put on leave two days ago after footage emerged of him detaining an African American man after twice shoving him onto a bench. The officer claimed he was arresting the man for assault, but there’s no evidence of that on the video that was posted to Instagram this week and quickly amassed more than half a million views.
We’re getting more information now from Indianapolis, where police are saying three people were shot, one fatally, after peaceful protests there turned violent on Saturday night. Earlier reports had only mentioned the one fatal shooting. It’s still unclear who fired the weapons but police say their officers were not involved.
The Indianapolis Star reported six people were arrested on Saturday night. Overnight curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major American cities including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Seattle.
More than 1,300 people have been arrested in 16 cities since Thursday, including over 500 Friday in Los Angeles.
Hello, it’s Michael Safi taking over from Sam Levin. It’s 3.55am on the US east coast and 12.55am on west coast, and I’ll be steering you through the next hours as protests appear to quiet down across the country - but continue in parts of Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sacramento and San Diego.
One among the many disturbing features of the unrest of recent days has been attacks on journalists covering the protests and riots. The latest to surface is from Oakland, California, where reporter and photographer Sarah Belle Lin was shot with a paintball round as she was filming protesters running from police.
She says she was wearing press accreditation and clearly had her camera out. “I confronted the line of police to inquire who had shot me and why. No one provided me with an identity,” she says.
You can see footage of the incident at the end of the video below.
Lin says she’s okay and was able to get home. We’ve collated accounts of journalists being injured and attacked by police tonight in Minneapolis and other US cities here.
It’s now just past midnight in California, and I’m signing off here in Los Angeles. Here’s where things stand and some key updates and links from the day of unrest across the US:
- There are curfews in place in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Seattle, Miami, Cleveland, Columbus, Portland, Milwaukee and Salt Lake City, as protests continued late into the evening.
- Governors activated their state national guards in Colorado, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- Protests stayed on the streets in Minneapolis after the curfew, and police responded with more teargas and rubber bullets.
- The unrest came to Donald Trump’s doorstep as protesters clashed with the Secret Service and police outside the White House for the second successive day.
- Police have made an estimated total of 1,400 arrests around the country during the protests, though the number is likely higher, according to an AP tally.
- Some of the protests and clashes seemed to start calming down later into the night, while looting and fires continued.
- In New York City, a video of two police vehicles driving through protesters blocking a road quickly went viral. Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the action of the police driving the cars, further angering New Yorkers.
- Several journalists reporting on the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday were injured and teargassed as police worked to impose an evening curfew, just a day after a CNN reporter in the city was arrested live on air.
- Trump further ignited tensions, lashing out at “anarchists” he blamed for stoking the deadly unrest and urging the Minneapolis mayor to act more forcefully against demonstrators.
- George Floyd’s brother urged police to arrest and charge the three other officers present, and said Trump was brief in a call with him: “He didn’t give me the opportunity to even speak.”
Tim Arvier, a US correspondent for Nine News Australia, reporting on the ground in Minneapolis, tweeted that he was “detained and searched” by police. Officers allegedly handcuffed his cameraman and security, but have since let them go:
More from journalists on the ground in Minneapolis:
One person killed amid Indianapolis protests, police say
One person was killed and two other were shot during protests in downtown Indianapolis, according to a late-night announcement from police chief, Randal Taylor.
Officials did not have details on the person who died, any suspects, or the injuries of others shot, the Indianapolis Star reported. The circumstances of the shooting remained largely unclear, though Taylor said police had not fired the shots and were not injured.
Police made arrests and deployed teargas during the night, and there were ongoing reports of looting.
There have been a number of new accounts of journalists in Minneapolis getting injured and attacked by police after trying to get out of the way, attempting to follow their order and making clear that they are reporters.
Ryan Faircloth, a reporter for the Star Tribune, said officers blew out his car window with some kind of rubber bullet, writing, “The glass shattered into my face and body. I’m bleeding from the side of my face and down my left arm.” He said he was trying to get out of the area when officers fired on his car, causing glass to explode and his vehicle to fill with smoke.
Michael Anthony Adams, a reporter with Vice in Minneapolis, tweeted a video that captured him repeatedly shouting that he was press and showing his press ID, at which point an officer forced him on the ground and another one pepper-sprayed him in the face:
And here’s more from a Los Angeles Times reporter, whose story of being teargassed we covered earlier:
State police did not respond to a request for comment on the treatment of journalists.
The mayor of San Francisco has just announced a curfew, effective immediately until 5am. London Breed also said the National Guard is on standby:
The late-night announcement came just as California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles, where police have been attempting to enforce a curfew on protesters. The National Guard has already been deployed to LA and the surrounding areas.
There are also ongoing reports of looting in Emeryville, near Oakland, where there are a number of chain outlets, including Target, Marshalls, Ross, Best Buy and Guitar Center.
Target announced today that it was temporarily closing a number of stores due to the protests, including a wide range throughout Minnesota, California, Texas and New York.
The Guardian’s Ankita Rao, reporting from New York, on the mayor’s controversial late-night statements:
Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the podium on Saturday night to tell protestors across the city that they were “heard, loud and clear”.
But the response from some New Yorkers made it clear that they felt otherwise.
Over the course of two days, thousands of protesters swarmed through the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens – holding signs, wearing masks and stopping traffic – to call for justice for the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, and the countless other black men and women at the hands of the police.
The protests were angry yet largely peaceful, but several videos and documentation of police arresting minors, brutalizing protesters and at one point, driving their car into crowds, surfaced as well. One woman was filmed being pushed over by cops, before she went into a seizure and was taken to the hospital.
In response, de Blasio’s main message appeared to be to keep the NYPD safe, and that violence against the police would not be tolerated. He told people they had made their point and should go home, and blamed the agitation on outsiders coming to the city. Notably, de Blasio responded to questions about the police vehicle driving into protestors with a flippant, “they shouldn’t have done that” and complained about damaged vehicles.
The speech was a stark departure from Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who described how she felt when she watched Floyd’s killing, saying she “hurt like a mother would hurt” in a speech to her city, or Muriel Bowser, the DC mayor, who called out Donald Trump for hiding “behind his fence afraid” and said she stood with the people exercising their first amendment right.
De Blasio sounded little like the mayor of a city with a long and bloody history of officers brutalizing people of color. His promise of change was vague and unemotional, and tucked away in the litany of patronizing rhetoric toward city protesters.
Some New Yorkers on Twitter slammed his livestream, and called on him to resign. Meanwhile, sirens still blazed throughout Brooklyn, where he was giving the speech, as small fires were set in trash cans.
New Yorkers are planning to protest again tomorrow in Queens.
US prosecutors have filed federal charges against three people in New York, accusing them of using “molotov cocktails” on New York police vehicles during the Friday protests:
The three were “using and attempting to use improvised incendiary devices” to target police cars, prosecutors alleged in a press release. They were arrested early Saturday morning and will have to make an initial appearance before a judge on Monday.
Two of the defendants are accused of throwing a molotov cocktail at an unoccupied, parked police car, and the third allegedly threw something at a car with multiple officers inside, shattering the windows. The announcement did not suggest officers were injured.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has released a late-night statement on the protests that continue late into the night in cities across America:
The presumptive Democratic nominee condemned protests that lead to “destruction”:
Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.
The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.
The US cities that currently have curfews in place are Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Miami, Cleveland, Columbus, Portland, Milwaukee and Salt Lake City.
NBC has a helpful summary of the curfews and the potential consequences for violations:
And governors have activated their state national guards in Colorado, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The New York police department is facing intense backlash over footage showing one of its officers drive into a crowd of demonstrators in Brooklyn:
New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio defended the police’s actions in a late-night press conference just now, with comments that are also sparking outrage:
De Blasio blamed the protesters, saying they were “trying to hurt police” and “trying to damage their vehicles”:
It’s inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers. That’s wrong on its face. ... I’m not going to blame officers who were trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation ... They didn’t start the situation. The situation was started by a group of protesters.”
Guardian reporters Lois Beckett and Maanvi Singh are reporting from Oakland, California, protests where there is a large presence of officers. So far, it appears calmer than yesterday, although it’s still early.
Protests are continuing in Minneapolis despite the curfew and ongoing firing of teargas and rubber bullets, according to our Chris McGreal, still reporting on the ground:
Police have arrested nearly 1,400 people in 17 US cities in protests over the killing of George Floyd, which have continued across the country late into Saturday evening.
That’s according to an Associated Press tally, which found at least 1,383 arrests since Thursday, though the number is likely much higher at this point as arrests continue into the evening.
Two journalists were also apparently arrested in New York today during the protests.
HuffPost journalist Chris Mathias, who has been live-tweeting from the demonstrations, was taken into NYPD custody in an arrest that was photographed:
HuffPost said he was jailed “while doing his job as a journalist” and demanded his immediate release. The New York attorney general said she was looking into it.
Keith Boykin, a CNN commentator, said he was arrested in Manhattan while taking photos and video. He said he told police he was with the press, and that they “then turned around and arrested me”.
He said he was charged with “walking on the highway” and “disorderly conduct - blocking vehicular traffic”, adding that the road was already obstructed by law enforcement and protesters and that he was taking photos.
The NYPD has not yet commented on the arrests.
The California national guard is deploying to Los Angeles tonight, the mayor has just announced.
A curfew in LA began at 8pm local time and covers the entire city. An hour before it began, residents received an emergency “public safety alert” that said the curfew would last until 5.30am, but added, “Traveling to and from work, seeking or giving emergency care, and emergency responders are exempt.”
The curfew follows a day of intense unrest and large demonstrations in LA where police fired teargas, rubber bullets and used other aggressive tactics.
The mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, has declared a state of civil emergency after protesters set a fire inside the Metro Courthouse in the state’s capital.
Thousands were involved in a peaceful protest there in the afternoon, but clashes erupted after night fell, the AP reported.
Demonstrators also pulled down a statue outside the Capitol of Edward Carmack, a former lawmaker and newspaper publisher known for racist views, according to the Tennessean, a local newspaper.
By evening, police declared the protest unlawful and began deploying teargas. The governor has also activated the National Guard.
In Minneapolis, police have continued to fire rubber bullets on protesters out past the curfew, according to our Chris McGreal, who remains at the scene. He said riot police are attempting to surround the demonstrators who are fleeing:
Journalists teargassed 'at point blank range' in Minnesota
Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air.
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, a Los Angeles Times journalist, who was reporting outside the fifth precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of roughly a dozen journalists when the Minnesota state patrol “fired teargas canisters on us at point blank range”.
“I was saying, ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said on video, adding that she was hit in the leg.
She posted a video on Twitter from inside a building where she took shelter after police cornered her and others. She said the group clearly identified themselves as journalists.
The MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi said he was also hit in the leg by a rubber bullet, adding, “State police supported by national guard fired unprovoked into an entirely peaceful rally.”
A photographer with WCCO, a local CBS station, was also arrested on Saturday night, taken into custody by state patrol. The station published video of the arrest, which showed the photographer, Tom Aviles, attempting to follow police’s orders, asking the officers where he should go and repeatedly saying he was with WCCO, until police took him down to the ground and arrested him.
Aviles was also hit with a rubber bullet, the station reported, adding, “We’ve called our CBS attorneys, and they’re working on freeing him.” WCCO’s article on the arrest said veteran producer Joan Gilbertson was also with Aviles, and that a patrolmen told her: “You’ve been warned, or the same thing will happen to you. Or you’re next.”
Gilbertson picked up Aviles’ camera and recorded what happened.
State patrol did not immediately comment on their claims.
Trump, who has been largely silent in recent hours, is back on Twitter, with a partisan attack on the mayor of Minneapolis and praising the work of the national guard:
Minnesota, like a number of states across the country with large demonstrations, has activated the state national guard. He also tweeted praise for New York police officers, saying they “must be allowed to do their job!”
Tensions have escalated in New York throughout the day, and police have reported making two dozen arrests on Saturday night. In Times Square, officers in riot gear adopted an aggressive approach to push protesters back.
The president has been widely condemned in recent days for his divisive and partisan comments and his violent language on social media. On Saturday, he suggested that leftwing groups were responsible for the violence – a claim which was unsubstantiated.
An update on the situation in Seattle, where police say AR-15-style rifles were stolen, from the Guardian’s Richard Luscombe:
Tensions and violence are flaring again in Seattle, where the Washington state governor, Jay Inslee, has sent 200 national guard troops to the city center to assist local law enforcement in trying to disperse protestors.
TV news channel KOMO broadcast images of vehicles on fire in downtown, and reported that the Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan, had issued an emergency order including a curfew until Sunday night. But thousands of protesters remained in the city after nightfall, and the AP said the Washington state patrol had closed Interstate 5 in both directions downtown.
The violence followed a mostly peaceful daytime rally at the city’s Westlake Park. Several police vehicles were set alight as protesters left the park. They were later dispersed by riot police using flash bang devices and pepper spray.
In a worrying development, Seattle city officials said two police AR-15-style rifles were stolen from police. One was recovered but the whereabouts of the other is unknown.
The unrest has come to Donald Trump’s doorstep as protesters clash with the Secret Service and police outside the White House for the second successive day.
Chanting “I can’t breathe”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Fuck Donald Trump!”, hundreds of demonstrators have circled the White House grounds, which have come to resemble a fortress more than at any time in recent memory.
Armoured Secret Service, along with District of Columbia police and Park Police, lined up in front of the protesters, forming a barricade as the US president returned to the White House from a trip to Florida. Lafayette Square, the park in front of the executive mansion, has been sealed off with steel barriers.
On Saturday evening, protesters overcame the barriers and entered the park but were driven out by police wielding shields, batons and pepper spray. Demonstrators damaged several Secret Service vehicles and threw themselves against officers’ riot shields, the Washington Post reported.
As the night wears on, tensions appear to be rising. Police fired teargas just before 10pm, according to Ellie Hall, a BuzzFeed News reporter:
Trump has done little to calm the situation. He warned that if protesters had breached the White House fence they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.
Earlier, marchers halted between the Washington Monument and Smithsonian National Museum of African American History for a nine-minute silence – recognising the nine minutes that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
More from Chris McGreal in Minneapolis, who says state police in riot gear are moving in aggressively on protesters who appear peaceful, but are out past curfew:
State leaders have attempted to portray the demonstrations as the work of outside agitators, but the reality is much more complex, according to Chris, who has been talking to local protesters:
Historic scenes across the country:
Less than an hour into Minneapolis’ curfew, the situation is already dramatically escalating, according to our reporter Chris McGreal, who is on the ground. Police have already deployed flash bangs, teargas and rubber bullets:
Residents in several Minneapolis communities have set up barricades anticipating tensions this evening. Some said they have little confidence in authorities to keep the calm.
Ron Brown organized a barricade to seal off his street just a couple of blocks from where some of the most serious clashes happened in recent nights. “I want to make sure my community is safe,” he said. “We don’t have no type of confidence whatsoever in the cops to protect us, or the government. They just gave up on us. They don’t care. If anyone comes this way we’ll look after ourselves.”
Brown, 22, stood with half a dozen other young men from the street. At every street corner for blocks around, similar makeshift barricades were thrown up using bollards, commandeered roadworks signs and fencing reflecting a widespread collapse in confidence among residents that the authorities will protect them if the violence mostly directed at businesses so far spills the short way into residential neighbourhoods.
Los Angeles shuts down Covid testing amid protests
The city of Los Angeles is temporarily shutting down Covid-19 testing sites in response to the escalating protests against police brutality.
The mayor, Eric Garcetti, said late Saturday afternoon he would be closing the facilities “because of the safety worries across the city”. He did not specify how long the sites would remain closed or what the specific safety concerns were. Garcetti also adopted a curfew for the city following a night of tense demonstrations.
Los Angeles remains the primary hotspot for coronavirus cases in California, and the county announced 2,112 new cases and 48 deaths on Saturday.
The Guardian’s Chris McGreal is outside the 5th precinct in Minneapolis, where tense scenes unfolded last night:
There are hundreds of people here, and the crowds are growing rapidly. The protests here are a real symbol of defiance. Demonstrators are clearly not obeying the curfew. The message going round here among protesters is to keep it peaceful, until the security forces don’t.
The crowd is diverse and racially mixed. Lots of people have made it here on bikes, suggesting they’ve come from nearby. A number of protesters told me they’re from Minneapolis, and not, as authorities have suggested, from outside of the state.
From the Guardian’s Ankita Rao reporting from Brooklyn:
Tensions are running high at the 84th precinct in downtown Brooklyn, where police were expecting hundreds of protesters to storm the building.
So far, demonstrators have walked passed the precinct onto the Manhattan bridge, where they’re being stopped by authorities.
The curfew is now in effect in Minneapolis, where officials have sent an emergency alert to residents’ phones, telling them to “go home” and reminding them the policy is “enforceable”. Chants of “fuck the curfew!” broke out when locals received the text:
The Minnesota department of public safety has used increasingly aggressive language to try and discourage people from demonstrating, warning that the police force will be tripling in size and that authorities are preparing for “a sophisticated network of urban warfare”. The department has also claimed that police expect “rioters” to use “deadly force” and use “civilians as shields from law enforcement and distractions”. The department did not elaborate on these claims.
From the Guardian’s Richard Luscombe in Miami:
Police unleashed tear gas rounds and rubber bullets in Miami as protesters who closed down the I95, the city’s busiest highway, began hurling bottles and rocks and set a police vehicle on fire.
Unlike other cities where vehicles were left to burn, officers in riot gear quickly cleared the demonstrators, allowing fire crews to put out the blaze.
Nightfall brought a change of atmosphere and a swelling in numbers of the hundreds who had earlier attended peaceful marches along the I95 and at Miami police headquarters in downtown.
Earlier in the day, police chiefs and officers came out of the building to show solidarity with the protestors by taking a knee on the steps of the front entrance.
Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, blamed “elements” of domestic terrorism, ideological extremism and international destabilisation for what he called an assault on Minneapolis. Black community leaders suggested the destruction was led by white supremacists and anarchists intent on destroying the state.
But if alien revolutionaries could be found among the huge crowds who tore apart shops and businesses along a two-mile stretch of southern Minneapolis following the police killing of George Floyd, there were also plenty of people driven by nothing more than visceral anger and opportunism.
The narrative of outside agitators stirring up trouble was not without truth. Young white people dressed in black, who at times did not seem to know their way around the city, were among the most aggressive with the police. They worked in groups, and spray-painted the most political graffiti, beyond the calls for justice for George Floyd or the ubiquitous “Fuck the police”.
But blaming ideological agitators is also politically convenient, not least because Walz was severely embarrassed by the failure of the police and national guard to enforce a curfew he said would end the destruction.
It is also untrue.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has now activated the state’s national guard, saying “violence and looting will not be tolerated”:
A number of people at the Los Angeles protest, which has continued to intensify, have accused the police of escalating the conflicts this afternoon. Here’s Westworld star Tessa Thompson:
Black Lives Matter LA said the police department has been “violent” and “brutal” today and has failed to show restraint. Earlier, the mayor, Eric Garcetti, said the city would always protect “Angelenos’ right to live without fear of violence or vandalism”, and that it was implementing a curfew.
Trump postpones G7 summit
Trump is postponing the G7 summit from June to possibly September, the president just told reporters on Air Force Once.
He also said he wants to add Russia, Australia, South Korea and India to the leaders’ summit. Earlier in the day, German chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not commit to attending a June summit in Washington DC due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis here.
Police cars are burning across America. Here are a few recent images:
In New York, federal prosecutors are filing charges against multiple people accused of being involved in “Molotov cocktail incidents”, according to law enforcement officials.
Police allege that one Molotov cocktail was thrown at a van with four officers inside, but have not yet released details about the prosecution. Tense standoffs between police and demonstrators are continuing in Brooklyn today:
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, said on MSNBC that his conversation with Trump was brief: “It was so fast. He didn’t give me the opportunity to even speak. It was hard. I was trying to talk to him but he just kept like pushing me off like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.’”
He also said his brother’s killing was a “modern-day lynching in broad daylight” and that officer Derek Chauvin should face first-degree murder charges, not third-degree charges. He echoed the calls for the remaining three officers to be charged and arrested, and said all four should face the death penalty.
“He wasn’t a person to them, he was scum, he was nothing,” he said. “I don’t need them on the streets to kill anybody else.” Watch more here:
The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has sent more than 1,500 state troopers to a number of cities in the state in response to the ongoing protests, including Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
In Houston, nearly 200 people were arrested yesterday for “obstructing a roadway” after demonstrators took over a highway. Hundreds also protested outside police headquarters in Austin today.
Curfews declared in cities across US
Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta have all just announced curfews.
The mayor of LA said the city’s curfew will go from 8pm to 5am, an announcement that comes as tensions are already escalating before nightfall while large crowds of demonstrators gather.
The details on Philadelphia and Atlanta:
The list of governments adopting curfews has grown in recent hours, and now includes Minneapolis, Louisville, Columbia, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee and Columbus.
The NFL has released a statement this evening that offers condolences to George Floyd’s family, but does not discuss racism or police brutality.
The statement comes days after numerous athletes posted emotional statements about Floyd’s killing, with some referencing the NFL and others’ treatment of Colin Kaepernick when he did peaceful kneeling protests in 2016 to raise awareness about racism in America. From the Guardian’s recent coverage:
Most of the people arrested and taken to Hennepin county jail in Minnesota in connection to last night’s riots were residents of the local metro area, according to records reviewed by KARE 11, a local station:
This data is noteworthy given that local officials and Donald Trump have presented the protests as riots led by out-of-state residents and agitators.
The arrests from the evening tied to the protests were largely for rioting, unlawful assembly and burglary. Here is the data from St Paul:
The mayor of Columbus, Ohio has just announced a citywide curfew from 10pm to 6am.
Minneapolis, Portland and Louisville have also implemented curfews. Columbus has further closed downtown “indefinitely”:
Earlier, multiple elected officials said they were pepper sprayed or maced, including Congresswoman Joyce Beatty:
Hi all - Sam Levin, in Los Angeles here, taking over our live coverage of the protests around the country, which will continue into the evening.
Here in southern California, protests have already grown tense and drawn large crowds today, following an evening of clashes and more than 500 arrests. Here’s the current scene in LA:
Richard Luscombe has news of Donald Trump’s latest comments on the protests ...
Donald Trump says the department of justice is investigating possible civil rights violations in the death of George Floyd.
Speaking at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center after this afternoon’s historic SpaceX launch, the president also lashed out at “Antifa and the violent left” whom he blames for protests spreading across the United States.
“My administration has opened a civil rights investigation, I have asked the attorney general and the justice department to expedite it,” Trump said during a 25-minute monologue to space workers that at times resembled one of his pre-coronavirus campaign rallies.
“I understand the pain that people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protestors and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or with peace.
“The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists. The violence and vandalism is being led by Antifa and other radical left-wing groups who are terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses and burning down victims.
“Right now, America needs creation not destruction, cooperation not contempt, security not anarchy, and there will be no anarchy. We cannot and must not allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities.”
After a night in which he threatened protestors at the White House with “vicious dogs and ominous weapons,” Trump appeared to change his tune, painting himself as a supporter of those angered by Floyd’s death.
“I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace. And I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack and menace,” he said.
“In America justice is never achieved at the hands of an angry mob. I will not allow angry mobs to dominate.”
There are large scale protests in Los Angeles this afternoon. The protests started out peacefully in Pan Pacific Park but CNN has shown footage of police cars being vandalised and the police have fired rubber bullets in return. However, the large scale unrest seen last night has not taken place so far in the city.
On the east coast, Philadelphia’s mayor has spoken about the pain felt by the black community after the killing of George Floyd, but has appealed for protesters to demonstrate peacefully.
“You should not have to bear witness to the killing of yet another unarmed Black person,” wrote Jim Kenney on Twitter. “You should not have to feel as though society believes your lives are less valuable than white Americans. And you should not fear for your lives – or for your loved ones – when leaving the house ... Please keep each other safe by protesting peacefully, distancing as much as possible, and wearing masks.”
The Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, has joined the governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota by calling in the national guard to help oversee the protests over the death of George Floyd. DeWine said he had called in the guard to “drive out hate and violence, and to instill order”. He added: “Sadly there is a relatively small number of violent individuals who pose a specific threat and a real threat to our law enforcement officers and the safety of people in Columbus and Franklin county.”
The LA Times has spoken to black Angelenos who witnessed the riots following the police beating of Rodney King in 1992. Many of the people the newspaper interviewed do not believe the situation has improved for people of colour in the nearly 30 years since.
“I don’t feel better, and it troubles me to say that,” said Kerman Maddox, who was a reporter during the King riots. “It’s worse today than it was back then ... Back then, they used to beat the crap out of us, but they didn’t kill us. Now when my 13-year-old son goes to the park, I worry ... is someone going to call the cops on him?”
The Guardian spoke to King shortly before his death in 2012 about the weight he carried from the events of 1992.
New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has issued a message “particularly to white New Yorkers” about the death of George Floyd and the subsequent “raw pain” the black community has faced.
“Structural racism haunts the lives of people of color,” he said in a message posted to Twitter. “What we’re seeing is an overflow due to decades of injustices. I see my own privilege and can only understand so much. I know enough to say that for the black community every day is pervaded by racism. We will do better.”
De Blasio, whose wife is African American, has spoken in the past about his concerns for his son around law enforcement. Last year, De Blasio said he has had serious talks with his son, Dante, “including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between our young men and our police”.
A Fox News reporter was chased by protesters during a demonstration outside the White House on Friday night. Leland Vittert told the Associated Press “we took a good thumping” from protesters. Vittert said he was not carrying any equipment that identified the organisation he worked for, but several people asked who he was a reporter for. He said one person then found his photo on his phone and told other protesters he was from Fox, which is seen as friendly to Donald Trump.
“The protesters stopped protesting whatever it was they were protesting and turned on us,” Vittert said, “and that was a very different feeling”.
Vittert said he was followed by a number of people before someone took his microphone and threw it at his back. The incident was captured by a reporter from the Daily Caller.
“It makes me proud to do my job and to be a journalist,” he said. “I’m proud to be an organization that is unyielding in our coverage. We’re going to keep on telling our story and doing exactly what we’re doing.”
The Fox News Media CEO, Suzanne Scott, said journalists should be free to do their job during a time of national crisis. “We are truly living in unprecedented and transformative times and freedom of the press is a vital element to the foundation of our society,” Scott wrote.
A disturbing echo today of the killing of Heather Heyer during the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. At a protest in Tallahassee, Florida, a pickup truck suddenly accelerated through an intersection filled with protesters. According to ABC27 the truck had initially stopped and was surrounded by protesters who talked to people in the truck. ABC27 then said a punch was aimed at someone in the truck before it accelerated.
A video of the incident has appeared on social media and people can be heard screaming in distress as the truck drives through the crowd.
“No one was pulled under the wheels that I saw, but people were definitely hurt,” one witness, Lucas von Hollen, told the Associated Press. “There was screeching ... People were crying and screaming about how it just drove through the crowd.”
The city’s mayor, John E Dailey, said the driver had been taken into custody and no one was seriously injured.
“Earlier today an individual struck a crowd of peaceful protestors with their vehicle in downtown Tallahassee at a low rate of speed,” wrote Dailey on Twitter. “Thankfully no one was seriously injured. The driver of the vehicle was immediately taken into custody.”
The Tallahassee police department said people had the right to protest peacefully. “This is an extremely tense, emotional time across the nation. Mutual respect among all of us is vital,” the department said in a press release. “The Tallahassee police department supports the nonviolent gathering of protesters and will uphold their constitutional right to do so while making every effort to maintain a safe environment for our community.”
Iran has wasted no time into criticizing its longtime foe over the civil unrest in America.
“Some don’t think #BlackLivesMatter,” the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Twitter. “To those of us who do: it is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism. Time for a #WorldAgainstRacism.”
Zarif also referenced a message that the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, sent to Iranian street protesters in 2018, but with some of the words changed. “The US government is squandering its citizens’ resources, whether its adventurism in Asia, Africa, or Latin America...”
Iran’s foreign ministry had earlier condemned the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. “The voices of the protesters must be heard ... [and] the repression of suffering Americans must be stopped immediately,” the ministry statement said.
The New York attorney general, Letitia James, has confirmed her office will investigate the clashes between police and protesters in New York City last night. Police in Brooklyn were seen shoving protesters, and one police van was set alight during Friday’s demonstrations.
“Peaceful protest is a basic civil right. That right should be protected and guarded,” said James in a statement. “We take the designation to investigate last night’s actions very seriously. We will act independently to seek answers, ensure that the truth is laid bare, and that there is accountability for any wrongdoing. We will be transparent in our findings as we seek accountability for those who did wrong.”
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters are marching in midtown Manhattan blocking traffic.
Boston’s mayor used emphatic language when hosting a prayer vigil to honour the memory of George Floyd. Marty Walsh, who hosted the vigil alongside Boston’s police commissioner, described Floyd’s death as a “murder”. Derek Chauvin, the police officer captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck before his death, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but has yet to face trial.
Walsh said the vigil was a chance to reflect on Floyd’s “murder”. Walsh added: “If there’s ever a moment to acknowledge injustice and recommit our nation to eradicating it, it’s right now ... This is our moment in time to change as a nation.”
The capsule carrying the astronauts on the SpaceX mission has successfully separated from its rocket and is now on its way to the International Space Station. The capsules crew of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will now use thrusters to steer their way to the space station. The journey will take them around 19 hours.
Concern has been raised by many people that the demonstrations seen around the US could help spread Covid-19. Many protesters have been seen without masks in packed crowds. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio agreed such scenes were worrying, particularly in a city with tens of thousands of deaths from the virus.
“I would still wish that everyone would realize that when people gather it’s inherently dangerous in the context of this pandemic and I’m going to keep urging people not to use that approach and if they do they focus on social distancing and wearing face coverings,” De Blasio told journalists on Saturday.
De Blasio said he understood the anger fueling the protests “but the last thing we would want to see is members of our community harmed because the virus spread in one of these settings. It’s a very very complicated reality.”
SpaceX mission launches
Richard Luscombe in Florida has news on Nasa’s latest mission:
The United States is back in the business of human spaceflight after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon crew capsule carrying two Nasa astronauts blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The 3.22pm launch marked the rebirth of the nation’s crewed spaceflight program as the first mission by a private contractor carrying humans into orbit. It was also the first launch of astronauts from US soil since the retirement of Nasa’s space shuttle fleet in 2011.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, both veterans of shuttle missions, will join their Nasa colleague Chris Cassidy already aboard the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth after docking on Sunday.
“It’s absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to get the United States back in the launch business,” Hurley said from the flight deck moments before lift-off.
Today’s launch was attended by Donald Trump, whose administration has made space a policy priority. This mission is the first crewed test flight for SpaceX, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company, ahead of planned regular flights to the ISS commencing later this year.
Tony Evers is the latest state governor to call in the national guard to help police protesters. The Wisconsin governor said at least 125 members of the state’s national guard have been activated after protests escalated in Milwaukee on Friday night. A police officer suffered a minor gunshot wound in the city early on Saturday morning while near where protesters had gathered.
“It is critical that people are able to peacefully express their anger and frustration about systemic racism and injustice, in Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin, and our Nation,” said Evers in a press release. “This limited authorization of citizen soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard will help protect people who are exercising their First Amendment rights and ensure the safety of the public.”
The US attorney general, William Barr, has issued a statement on the civil unrest of the last few days. He started by acknowledging the anger over the death of George Floyd.
“The outrage of our national community about what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is real and legitimate. Accountability for his death must be addressed, and is being addressed, through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level,” said Barr.
However, he also said that “the greatness of our nation comes from our commitment to the rule of law” before, like Donald Trump, blaming the violence and looting that has taken place in some cities on elements of the left.
“In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from out of state to promote the violence,” he said.
Neither Barr nor Trump has provided any evidence that leftwing groups are responsible for the violence.
Barr concluded by saying it was a federal crime to cross state lines to stir up riots. “In that regard, it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting. We will enforce these laws,” he said.
In Chicago, protests over the killing of George Floyd continued until 5am on Saturday. There were just over 100 arrests and a dozen officers were injured according to police.
“Some in the crowd began confronting the police, so we had to take swift action so that the violence and property damage wouldn’t escalate,” said Supt David Brown. “We think we hit the right tone as it relates to allowing those who want to express their First Amendment right, and crossing the line to property damage and violence – we took swift action.”
Another demonstration is planned this afternoon, and Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot urged people to protest peacefully. “My hope is that if there is an additional protest... that the vast majority of people will conduct themselves the way the vast majority of people conducted themselves yesterday, which is peaceful,” Lightfoot said.
DC mayor says Trump guilty of 'glorification of violence against American citizens'
Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser has strongly rebuked Donald Trump, after a few days in which the President of the United States has spoken with apparent relish about the weapons he can turn on his own citizens.
“To make a reference to vicious dogs is no subtle reminder to African Americans of segregationists who let dogs out on women, children, and innocent people in the south,” Bowser said.
On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase with racist origins which was censored by Twitter.
Then, on Saturday, the president claimed without evidence that protesters in Washington DC were “professionally” organized but had failed to breach the White House perimeter.
“If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” Trump tweeted.
Bowser added that Trump’s language was a “glorification of violence against American citizens.” She said that “what used to be heard in dog whistles we now hear from a bull horn.”
Attorney general William Barr has been speaking in Washington, promising to enforce federal laws against crossing state lines or using inter-state facilities “to incite or participate in violent rioting”. “Outside agitators” have been taking over protests over the death of George Floyd, he says.
From the Pentagon, meanwhile, comes news that per Donald Trump’s earlier statements about being willing to use the military against rioters, some US military unites are now on four-hour recall status. The Department of Defense also says Minnesota governor Tim Walz has not requested such support. Walz said earlier today he was mounting the biggest national guard deployment since the second world war.
The AP has a fascinating report about military police units being put on alert to go to Minneapolis. It’s here, and here’s a taste:
Active-duty forces are normally prohibited from acting as a domestic law enforcement agency. But the Insurrection Act [of 1807, last used in Los Angeles in 1992] offers an exception.
The Act would allow the military to take up a policing authority it otherwise would not be allowed to do, enforcing state and federal laws, said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor who specializes in constitutional and national security law.
The statute “is deliberately vague” when it comes to the instances in which the Insurrection Act could be used, he said. The state’s governor could ask President Donald Trump to take action or Trump could act on his own authority if he’s determined that the local authorities are so overwhelmed that they can’t adequately enforce the law, Vladeck said.
“It is a very, very broad grant of authority for the president,” he added.
It’s getting on for mid-afternoon on the US east coast now, and crowds of protesters are gathering in some cities.
Chris McGreal is in Minneapolis for the Guardian, from where he sent this report about Friday night and Saturday morning after. He’s also been out today and seen people attempting to clean up some damage.
Here, meanwhile, is a picture from Newark, New Jersey, not far across the Hudson river from New York City, where protests on Friday were mostly in Brooklyn.
Here’s some relatively dramatic video from Columbia, South Carolina:
A small army of volunteers turned out to clean up several miles of Lake Street in Minneapolis hit by Friday night’s destruction.
They lifted debris from restaurants and food stores, a car wash and an electronics shop. Some places were beyond help. The comprehensively plundered liquor store and dozens of places gutted by fire, including a gas station. Entire blocks of shops were razed. A church set up a makeshift stall a block long to distribute free food.
Munah Wotorson-Smith grew up in the area. “I had to come out. If we rebuild, we grow,” she said.
Her daughter, Malaika Smith, said the clean-up was the true face of the community. “There’s too much focus on actors in our community that want to promote division. I think what’s important is the story of George Floyd. This is a reaction to something that’s happened,” she said.
Asked about whether, as some business owners said, the authorities failed in leaving the rioters a free hand, Smith said they had failed earlier than that.
“The failure is that they didn’t arrest him [the accused police officer in the death of George Floyd] immediately,” she said. “There was 300 seconds for that man to get off [Floyd’s] neck. The whole world watched it. They could have arrested him immediately and stopped all this.”
Wotorson-Smith said the violence was an inevitable consequence of frustration but it could be used to bring about change. “We have had change since the time of slavery. Civil rights, voting rights. But it came with blood and tears,” she said.
Her daughter agreed. “I don’t know where the mindset comes from that there can be peaceful change,” said Smith.
Something worth noting in light of Trump’s earlier comments about deploying the military to Minnesota to quell protests: if he sends troops, it would have to be at the invitation of the state’s governor.
The Associated Press has more on the story:
As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty US military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.
The get-ready orders were sent verbally on Friday, afterDonald Trump asked the defense secretary, Mark Esper, for military options to help quell the unrest in Minneapolis after protests descended into looting and arson in some parts of the city.
Trump made the request on a phone call from the Oval Office on Thursday night that included Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’ Brien and several others. The president asked Esper for rapid deployment options if the Minneapolis protests continued to spiral out of control, according to one of the people, a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.
“When the White House asks for options, someone opens the drawer and pulls them out so to speak,” the official said.
The person said the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial.
“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington DC-based attorney, who specializes in national security.
The rapper Killer Mike has addressed protesters in Atlanta after a troubled night that saw the city’s college football hall of fame damaged and looted. Killer Mike said that people should “plot, plan, strategise, organise and mobilise” for political change but not engage in violence. “You have a duty not to burn your own house down,” he said. You can hear more of the star’s comments in the video below:
Trump says military are ready to counter protesters
Before his departure to Florida, Trump added that the military would be ready to take to the streets of Minneapolis if necessary. “We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military,” Trump said. “We can have troops on the ground very quickly.”
He again added the allegation that the left are behind the violence during protests at the killing of George Floyd. “Because these people, this Antifa, there’s a lot of radical left bad people, and they’ve got to be taught that you can’t do this,” he said. The president added that America should: “Honor the memory of George Floyd.”
In a since deleted tweet this morning, Trump appeared to invite his supporters to a counter-protest at the White House tonight, something that could easily flare into violence. When he was asked about the tweet Trump said of any potential counter-protesters: “By the way, they love African American people, they love Black people.”
Donald Trump has spoken to reporters before flying to Florida for the launch of the SpaceX mission. Once again, stoking up political divisions in the US, he blamed protests at the White House on Friday night on the left. He said he was grateful for members of the Secret Service who “handled the Antifa or the radical left incredibly”.
The Secret Service said in a statement that six people were arrested on Friday night during the protests. A number of officers were also injured. The statement added that local police were also present, which contradicts an earlier tweet from Trump, who said DC’s mayor had said local law enforcement would not help patrol the demonstrations.
Protests in Phoenix on Friday night centered not only on the death of George Floyd, but also that of Dion Johnson, a black man shot dead by police in the city on Monday. Johnson was in a parked car early on Monday morning when a trooper said he became involved in a struggle with Johnson. Police said the trooper was not wearing a body camera and a handgun was recovered at the scene.
Johnson’s mother, Erma, said her son would have avoided confrontation with law enforcement.
“I want to know where was his body camera? I want to know why did he not call for back up?” she told the Arizona Republic. “If he was so threatened, why didn’t he call for some backup? It’s a lot of questions that are unanswered. It’s a lot of things that I want to know that happened to my son in the last minutes of his life.”
Protesters marched through the city’s streets before stopping at headquarters. For the most part, the demonstration was peaceful before water bottles were thrown at police, who fired rubber bullets in return, according to the Arizona Republic.
The protests over George Floyd’s death have spread to European soccer. Weston McKennie, a star of the US men’s national team, wore an armband reading “Justice for George” during the German Bundesliga match between Schalke and Werder Bremen on Saturday. The 21-year-old’s team tweeted out an image of McKennie wearing the band with the with hashtag #JusticeForGeorge. McKennie could not prevent Schalke falling to a 1-0 defeat.
A number of sports stars have spoken out over Floyd’s death, including LeBron James, Lewis Hamilton and the No1 overall pick in this year’s draft Joe Burrow.
Burrow, one of the few white US sports stars to make a public statement, said that the “black community needs our help” on Twitter.
“They have been unheard for far too long,” said Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner from Louisiana State and No 1 overall pick in last month’s NFL draft. “Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights.”
Former NBA star Stephen Jackson, was friends with Floyd, who he called his “twin”. Jackson spoke about his friend’s death on Friday at a rally in Minneapolis.
“I’m here because they’re not gonna demean the character of George Floyd, my twin,” Jackson said to onlookers at the Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda. “A lot of times, when police do things they know that’s wrong, the first thing they try to do is cover it up, and bring up your background to make it seem like the bullshit that they did was worthy. When was murder ever worthy? But if it’s a black man, it’s approved.”
Around 200 people were arrested during protests in Houston last night, and four police officers were injured, none of them seriously. The protests shut down much of the city’s downtown and Houston police said most of those arrested would be charged with obstructing a roadway. The streets were finally cleared around 4am, according to the Houston Chronicle. George Floyd was originally from the Houston area.
The city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, thanked those who had demonstrated peacefully. “For those who protested peacefully yesterday, thank you,” said the mayor. “To our police officers, thank you for showing incredible restraint and professionalism.”
A video posted to social media showed a police horse knocking over a protester. Houston police said they are reviewing the incident. “We are aware of a video circulating showing one of our mounted patrol horses and a citizen. We are currently reviewing the circumstances behind the incident,” the department wrote in a tweet.
Cuomo’s press conference has finished. He also said that the families of frontline workers who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic will receive benefits.
“It is my honor to sign into law a bill that gives death benefits to all the frontline workers who gave their lives in service to all of us during this pandemic,” he said. “Providing for their families is the least we can do.”
Cuomo says the attorney general would investigate whether police acted properly during protests in New York City last night. People “deserve accountability,” he says.
“Last night we saw disturbing violent clashes amidst protests right here in NYC, in Brooklyn” he says. “I’m asking Attorney General James to review the actions and the procedures that were used last night because the public deserves answers and they deserve accountability.”
Cuomo also expresses concern that some protesters in New York were not wearing masks. “Demonstrate with a mask on, what’s the difference,” he says. He adds that many young people think they will not suffer from Covid-19, but he points out that they can infect other people, even if they do not suffer themselves.
Cuomo attempts to strike a conciliatory note, by appealing to New Yorkers’ “better angels”. New Yorkers should “demand justice” over racial injustice and inequality, he says but should take note of the way people came together to fight Covid-19. He says emergency workers were not “white New Yorkers, or black New Yorkers or Latino New Yorkers”. Instead “they were Americans. They were New Yorkers.”
Andrew Cuomo says 'violence obscures the righteousness of the message'
New York governor Andrew Cuomo says he understands the “outrage” around the death of George Floyd after clashes between police and protesters in New York City last night. However he said, “violence obscures the righteousness of the message. The violence allows people to talk about the violence rather than the situation that causes the violence.”
He emphasised that racial injustice in the US is very real. “When you have one episode, two episodes maybe you can look at them as individual episodes. But when you have 10 episodes, 15 episodes, you are blind or in denial if you are still treating each one like a unique situation,” the governor said.
Police reportedly shoved protesters as crowds gathered near the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn on Friday night, while a molotov cocktail was thrown at a police van in nearby streets. Cuomo said the state’s attorney general would look into incidents during the protests.
A group of journalists of colour in the UK have written a letter to the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, expressing their concern at the arrest of a CNN reporter covering the Minneapolis protests.
Omar Jimenez, who is black, was arrested on Friday morning by around half a dozen white officers who did not initially give a reason for his arrest. The letter to Johnson was signed by a number of high-profile journalists, including the Guardian’s Hugh Muir, Gary Younge and Afua Hirsch.
Here’s the letter in full:
We are a collection of journalists of colour working in the United Kingdom. Between us we work for every major British broadcaster and numerous news outlets and a range of media.
We unreservedly condemn the arrest of our fellow African-American correspondent Omar Jimenez and his fellow crew members including producer Bill Kirkos and photojournalist Leonel Mendez reporting for CNN on the unrest in Minneapolis following the brutal death of the black man George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
While Jimenez and his team were released following the intervention of the president of CNN and the Governor Tim Walz we note that CNN’s white reporter Josh Campbell who was working close by with his team was not arrested. We do not believe this is a coincidence or that the difference in race was incidental.
It is crucial that journalists be able to conduct their work without fear of arrest of harassment by officials. It is important that this applies to all journalists irrespective of their race, gender or religion in order for the journalism that is produced to truly reflect the US’s rich diversity. This is even more important when reporting on issues which specifically pertain to the country’s people of colour.
We believe that the arrest, seen across the world, sets a worrying precedent for how countries treat journalists, especially ones perceived as coming from racial minorities, and how they can be detained and stopped from doing their important work. In your position as ambassador we seek reassurances that British journalists will be able to work in the US without fear of arrest and that you will do everything in your power to ensure that this potential international precedent is not set.
To this end we call on an immediate condemnation of the arrest by the ambassador, and all American officials based in the UK.
We also call on an immediate inquiry not only into the arrest of Omar Jimenez but into the treatment of all black journalists and journalists of colour by American authorities.
We call on the immediate suspension of the police officers involved in the arrest of Jimenez and his team until this inquiry is complete.
We stand in solidarity with Omar Jimenez and all journalists of colour who are reporting on racism in America.
Marcus Ryder (Acting Chair of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity)
The Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, has followed Minnesota’s lead by calling in the National Guard. There have been widescale protests in Louisville this week, caused by the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in March, and Monday’s killing of George Floyd.
“The demonstrations in Louisville have all started peacefully, but what we have seen, especially last night, and what our intelligence says is going to happen are outside groups moving in, trying to create violence to harm everybody who is on those streets. We cannot let Breonna’s legacy be marred by violence, and we can’t let our streets turn violent,” Beshear said.
Louisville’s mayor, Greg Fischer, said there would be a curfew on Saturday night after unrest on the city’s streets on Friday night, during which six people were arrested. “A very sad night for our city. And as violence raged across many cities in our country, it has been a sad night for America,” said Fischer.
The civil right activist Reverend William Barber has written an opinion piece for us on the roots of the civil unrest in America over the last few days. He says underlying issues must be addressed first:
No one wants to see their community burn. But the fires burning in Minneapolis, just like the fire burning in the spirits of so many marginalized Americans today, are a natural response to the trauma black communities have experienced, generation after generation.
No one wants the fires – even activists on the ground have said this. But they have also shared how their non-violent pleas and protests have gone unnoticed for years as the situation has gotten out of hand. No one knows who and what is behind the violence, but we do know that countless activists, grassroots leaders and preachers were screaming non-violently long before now: “Change, America! Change, Minneapolis!” Rather than listen, many of those in power saw even their non-violent protest as an unwelcome development.
You can read the full article below:
Major General Jon A Jensen, the director of the Army National Guard, confirmed the body will have 2,500 personnel mobilised by 12pm today in Minnesota. “The governor just announced the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard for the first time since world war two. What does that mean? It means we’re all in,” Jensen said.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz also echoed the belief that many of the protesters in Minneapolis are not from the city. “What I would ask today is if you know where these people are sleeping today, let us know and we will execute warrants,” Walz said. “Call that in, tell us who they were. They’re not from Minneapolis, but they’re staying down here.”
He added that he believes 80% of the protesters are from outside Minnesota, although did not offer evidence to back that figure up. Walz said he was not giving that figure to hide the fact that inequalities in his state had helped cause the civil unrest in the first place. “I’m not trying to deflect in any way,” Walz said.
From Washington, Daniel Strauss considers what the George Floyd death and ensuing protests mean for US politics, in the year of perhaps the most consequential presidential election of modern times. (Easy contrasts are available to the election of 1968, when violence raged across the summer and Richard Nixon, standing on a law and order platform which Donald Trump consciously appropriated in 2016, went on to beat Hubert Humphrey for the White House.)
Donald Trump and Joe Biden offered divergent responses that point to an even more divisive political debate on race relations and between Democrats and Republicans in the months ahead.
The president, in a tweet in the early hours of Friday, warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. Later on Friday the former vice-president in a video address called for national unity and serious police reform, saying: “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”
At a press conference in the Rose Garden where the president seemed poised to further address Floyd’s death and the riots, Trump instead announced that the US would withdraw from the World Health Organization. He did not mention the riots or Floyd’s death.
Meanwhile, Biden revealed he had already spoken to Floyd’s grieving family and spoke emotionally of the shock at his killing and society’s racial problems. “We’re a country with an open wound. None of us any longer can hear the words ‘I can’t breathe’ and do nothing,” he said.
The wildly different responses by the two men battling for the White House under the ongoing cloud of the coronavirus pandemic has left party leaders unsure of what exactly the final months of the presidential election will now look like.
Here’s the piece in full:
Minnesota governor: protesters making 'mockery' of George Floyd's death
Protests in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed on Monday, are expected to be even larger today and, as a result, Minnesota governor Tim Waltz has activated more than 1,000 additional members of the National Guard, to go alongside the 700 personnel already on duty yesterday. The Minnesota National Guard said it was the largest deployment in its 164-year history.
In a news conference on Saturday, Walz said police had faced explosive devices, and the protests had reached a point where it was a “mockery” to suggest they had anything to do with Floyd’s death.
“I think what’s really important to recognize is the tactics and the approach that we have taken have evolved and need to evolve the same way,” said Walz, a Democrat. “With a sensitivity to the legitimate rage and anger that came after what the world witnessed in the murder of George Floyd, and was manifested in a very healthy gathering of community to memorialize that on Tuesday night. Was still present to a certain degree on Wednesday. By Thursday, it was nearly gone, and last night is a mockery of pretending this is about George Floyd’s death or inequities or historical traumas to our communities of color.”
Walz added that it was people of color who were being hit the hardest when the protests turn to violence and looting.
“Because our communities of color and our indigenous communities were out front fighting hand in hand to save businesses that took decades to build. Infrastructure and nonprofits that have served a struggling community were torn down and burned by people with no regard for what went into that,” Waltz added.
At the same press conference,Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, added that he believes most protestors were from outside the city.
“Our Minneapolis residents are scared and rightfully so. We’ve seen longterm institutional businesses overridden. We’ve seen community institutions set on fire. And I want to be very, very clear. The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” he said.
Portland is no stranger to protests, so it’s not surprising demonstrations against George Floyd’s death took place in the Oregon city last night. The protests turned violent around 11pm when people broke windows and caused fires at a downtown building housing a jail and police offices. Police later used tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades to disperse the crowd and shop windows broken and some items stolen.
By 4am on Saturday the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, had declared a state of emergency. There will also be a curfew in the city tonight.
“What’s going on right now is flat out breaking the law, violating our community, violating the memory of George Floyd and so many other people on such an important night,” Wheeler said. “I have had enough. The community has had enough, and I’m telling those individuals go home.”
A security officer was killed and another injured last night after a shooting at Oakland’s Federal Building. The incident happened less than half a mile from the city’s police headquarters where a crowd gathered to protest the death of George Floyd. However, Oakland police in a statement that “it appears the shooting is unrelated to tonight’s demonstration.”
The demonstration over Floyd’s death started at around 8.30pm and by 9pm police had deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. Protesters set off fireworks and threw bottles towards police. Windows were broken in downtown Oakland and police used flash bangs, as well as more tear gas, against the protesters.
In a since-deleted tweet, Donald Trump appeared to insinuate protesters outside the White House last night were being paid - or at least were directed by professionals. The president is, of course, known for his appetite for baseless conspiracy theories.
“They professionally managed so-called ‘protesters’ at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd,” he wrote. “They were just their to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”
As is often the case, it is unclear what the president meant in the final line of his tweet. He is scheduled to fly to Florida today for the SpaceX launch and is due back around 8pm. His words could be interpreted by some as an invitation for a counter-protest, which would be potentially dangerous in the current climate.
There was damage and looting at the college football hall of fame last night. Protests over the death of George Floyd started in central Atlanta, where the hall is located. The building front windows were smashed and the gift shop was looted, although it is not known whether anything was taken from the museum, where the hall’s memorabilia is stored.
Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, has called in the National Guard to Atlanta and declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, the city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, condemned the violence and looting.
“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr This is chaos,” Lance Bottoms said. “A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city. If you want change in America, go and register to vote. ... That is the change we need in this country.”
The college football hall of fame CEO, Kimberly Beaudin, said she was “heartbroken” by the damage.
“We support the peaceful protests that honor [Floyd’s] memory but unfortunately deteriorated into chaos and disorder,” Beaudin said. “We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame. As our mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said, we are better than this, better than this as a city, better than this as a country.
“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll work to pick up the pieces to rebuild the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game, many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers.”
Trump: 'vicious dogs and ominous weapons' awaited White House protesters
Donald Trump is up and tweeting, and he says that had protesters breached the fence at the White House last night, they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.”
The president was at home as protesters gathered outside the White House and he commending the US secret service for its job guarding him.
But he doesn’t really do calls for calm and unifying rhetoric. Trump, remember, tweeted on Friday “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, was censored by Twitter, then claimed he hadn’t known the inflammatory and racist nature of the phrase, let alone had intended to call for violence against his own citizens.
On Friday night, hundreds of demonstrators gathered across the street from the White House in Lafayette Square. Here’s the AP report:
Protesters hurled pieces of bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and US Park Police officers who were in riot gear behind barricades around the White House. Protesters at times kicked and punched officers and wrestled over the barricades.
The crowd of hundreds chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd”.
As some in the crowd grew more aggressive, police deployed pepper spray to maintain a perimeter of officers around the White House. Demonstrators came to the aid of protesters who were sprayed, their eyes red and puffy, offering bottles of milk and water to splash on their faces.
By the end of the night, the protesters had stolen about 15 barricades and left police to form a line of officers holding riot shields to keep back the swelling crowd. At one point, the protesters were able to gain control of an officer’s shield and set it ablaze before trying to toss it back at the line of officers. Police used a smoke device to quickly stop them.
The protest went on for hours before police declared the gathering “unlawful” and ordered everyone to leave the seven-acre public park. Dozens of officers pushed forward with their shields and fired off streams of pepper spray at protesters.
Some protesters broke the bricks from the pavement and hurled chunks at the officers. Police did not immediately provide any information about arrests.
The president’s Saturday message is also worth quoting in full:
“Great job last night at the White House by the US @SecretService. They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe.
“They let the “protesters” scream & rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them. The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic.
“Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.
“Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action. “We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and good practice.” As you saw last night, they were very cool & very professional. Never let it get out of hand. Thank you!
“On the bad side, the DC Mayor, @MurielBowser, who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the DC Police get involved. “Not their job.” Nice!”
So Trump is making a political point at a Democratic authority figure, in this case an African American in a majority African American city, once again.
Shimon Prokupecz of CNN has obtained an email sent to FBI employees on Friday night by director Christopher Wray.
The president may be using Twitter to make political points around the rioting, against Democrats ahead of the November election, but the man he appointed to replace James Comey at the head of the FBI is insisting US law enforcement must “protect and serve all citizens who are in custody”.
The FBI is part of a justice department civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. The investigation is unusually swift – usually states proceed with charges related to such deaths and if such cases fail, the federal agencies step in.
“When we fail to honour their rights,” Wray continues, “we tarnish the badge we wear, we completely erode the trust so many of us … work so hard to build, particularly within minority communities.”
“The events this past week in Minneapolis,” Wray adds, “clearly illustrate how quickly that trust can be lost.”
As Chris McGreal and Kenya Evelyn reported yesterday, “Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer captured on video kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd as he begged for his life, was charged on Friday afternoon with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The state’s bureau of criminal apprehension took Chauvin, a 19-year veteran, into custody.
“We are in the process of continuing to review the evidence. There may be additional charges later,” the Hennepin county attorney, Mike Freeman, said.
An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the arrest of Chauvin, but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wanted the other officers arrested, too.
Other deaths have been reported amid protests, rioting and looting. In St Louis, Missouri, police are investigating after a man was killed after being dragged by a FedEx truck. The Associated Press reports, meanwhile, on a death in Detroit, Michigan:
One person was killed in downtown Detroit after someone in an SUV fired shots into a crowd of people protesting George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis custody, a Detroit police spokeswoman said Saturday.
The shooting occurred about 11.30pm on Friday near Detroit’s Greektown entertainment district as officers were confronted with dozens of protesters, said Sgt Nicole Kirkwood, a police department spokeswoman. She said an officer wasn’t involved in the shooting.
Kirkwood said the victim was a 19-year-old man, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The suspect pulled up in a Dodge Durango and fired shots into the crowd, she said.
Good morning, and welcome to our coverage of protests in US cities over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was killed when he was arrested by four Minneapolis police officers and one knelt on his neck.
Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe” were reminiscent of the 2014 killing in New York of Eric Garner, a case which fuelled the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests. A new wave of such protests has now hit the US, from Minneapolis in the north to Portland on the west coast, from New York and Washington on the east coast to Atlanta in the south.
This morning, Minnesota governor Tim Walz has released a statement on Twitter, saying “Minnesotans are asking for and deserve confidence that we can respond to this crisis, and we will. We are continuing to coordinate efforts at the state and local level while accessing resources from across the country to keep our communities safe. I urge for peace at this time.”
Here’s the introduction to our main news report, filed by Chris McGreal from Minneapolis and other correspondents:
Protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd ignited once again on Friday, as Minneapolis faced another night of chaos and demonstrators clashed with police in cities across the US.
Gatherings were largely peaceful during the day as protesters marched from Los Angeles to New York, but many demonstrations turned volatile as the night wore on.
In Minneapolis, where Floyd died on Monday after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, protesters ignored an 8pm curfew set by the state’s governor, with thousands pouring on to the streets for a fourth straight night. In Atlanta, protesters set a police car ablaze and broke windows at CNN’s headquarters, prompting Georgia’s governor to declare a state of emergency.
Donald Trump’s reaction to the shooting has caused consternation on all sides, many accusing the president of acting only to ratchet up the tension.
On Friday, the president tried to excuse his swiftly infamous “looting leads to shooting” tweet, but many saw it as a president inciting violence against American citizens. Trump also expressed his “deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd”.
Overnight, he turned to electioneering on the back of the protests, riots and looting.
For now, as daylight breaks across America on a warm last weekend in May, things are relatively calm. We’ll be here all day with coverage, Tom Lutz taking over from me at 9am ET.
In the meantime, here’s some further reading from Tom McCarthy, our national affairs correspondent, on what has changed in six years since the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown … and what hasn’t: