Over 10,000 arrested, protests against Floyd killing continue

Hundreds more taken into custody everyday as protests continue despite heavy police presence.

  • More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests that have rocked the United States since the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, according to an Associated Press tally. 

  • All four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been charged. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder, which was upgraded from a previous charge of third-degree murder. He also faces a second-degree manslaughter charge. The other three are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

  • US President Donald Trump was rebuked by his former defence secretary, James Mattis, who said he was trying to sow divisions. Trump’s current defence chief, Mark Esper, also said he opposed Trump’s threat to send in the military to quell unrest.

  • Several major cities scaled back or lifted curfews imposed for the past few days. As protests continue, police in riot gear charged into a crowd of about 1,000 protesters defying a local curfew in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, albeit peacefully, near an outdoor plaza, and clubbed demonstrators and journalists as they scurried for cover in heavy rain.

Latest updates:

Thursday, June 4

This blog has closed for the day. To see more live updates from Thursday, including Floyd’s Minneapolis memorial service, follow along here

13:51 GMT – Minnesota governor sends National Guard to western border

Governor Tim Walz is sending Minnesota National Guard troops to state’s western border because of what he says are credible threats of violence during demonstrations planned in neighbouring North Dakota.

The city of Moorhead, Minnesota, lies just across the border from Fargo, North Dakota.

Walz’s order didn’t say how many guard members are being deployed in Clay County. The governor didn’t provide details on what he perceives is a credible threat.

President Donald Trump has blamed violence and looting on a loose grouping of far-left activists known as Antifa. Authorities have found little evidence to support these claims. There are concerns about white nationalist groups planning violence, with some suspected white nationalists allegedly shooting at protesters in North Carolina. 

“The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to provide protection for all Minnesotans,” Walz said in a statement. 

11:41 GMT – Memorial service to be held for Floyd after week of protests

A memorial service was to be held on Thursday for George Floyd led by civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

The ceremony will be held in Minneapolis, where Floyd died after being detained by police.

Sharpton, who will give the eulogy for Floyd, met with his family on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow we will lay out how we will mobilize nationally in the name of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more,” the leading rights activist said on Twitter, referring to a black jogger who was shot dead in February and a black medical worker killed by police in her own apartment in March.

A mural of George Floyd near the spot where he died while in police custody [File: Bebeto Matthews AP Photo]

10:40 GMT – SoftBank creates $100m fund for black entrepreneurs

Japanese tech giant SoftBank Group said it was setting up a $100-million fund for black entrepreneurs.

The Opportunity Growth Fund “will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of colour,” said the firm’s executive vice-president Marcelo Claure in an internal letter obtained by AFP news agency.

Venture capital start-ups are “overwhelmingly white, male and Ivy-league educated and based in Silicon Valley. Just one percent of VC-backed founders are black,” he added.

Many major US corporations have issued statements decrying discrimination and some, including Apple and Bank of America, have put some money behind the effort by supporting civil rights advocacy groups or programmes targeting disadvantaged populations.

10:34 GMT – US Park Police investigate attack on Australian journalists

The US Park Police said it has placed two officers on administrative leave after video showed two Australian journalists being attacked during Monday night’s protest in Washington, DC.

Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan said the attack is being investigated.

Video captured by WJLA-TV in Washington showed reporter Amanda Brace and cameraman Tim Myers being assaulted as law enforcement officials cleared an area near the White House so Trump could walk to a nearby church that had been damaged during the demonstrations the previous night.

The US Park Police said it has placed two officers on administrative leave after two journalists were attacked [Jacquelyn Martin/AP]

The journalists were reporting live for Australia’s Channel 7 on the demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death at police hands in Minnesota.

“As is consistent with our established practices and procedures, two US Park Police officers have been assigned to administrative duties, while an investigation takes place regarding the incident with the Australian Press,” Monahan said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Australia’s ambassador to the United States has complained about the attack that the network’s news director Craig McPherson described as “nothing short of wanton thuggery”.

10:32 GMT – Fundraisers say donations to Biden surge 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his allies have seen donations swell in recent days, several top fundraisers said.

Trump’s response to the demonstrations over George Floyd’s death pushed new donors and even some Republicans to open their checkbooks, the fundraisers said.

“I’ve seen several significant donors who had never been involved in politics before but believe that something has to be done,” said Michael Kempner, a New York-based fundraiser for Biden.

He called the influx “a sea change in the level of urgency and the size of the commitments,” but declined to compare recent totals with previous figures because of Biden’s relatively new arrangement with the Democratic National Committee that allows for much higher contributions.

Biden, the former vice president who will face the Republican Trump in the November 3 election, told supporters in an email on Monday that his campaign hit an ambitious $6mn online fundraising goal over six days at the end of May.

Trump has denounced those who carried out looting during protests as “thugs,” and his campaign has reiterated his calls for “law and order” in fundraising appeals this week.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 [Matt Rourke/AP Photo]

07:52 GMT – Arrests at widespread US protests hit 10,000

More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests across the US, according to an Associated Press tally of known arrests.

In a nearly 24-hour period from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, 41 of the 52 people cited with protest-related arrests had Minnesota driver’s licenses, according to the Hennepin County sheriff.

In the nation’s capital, 86 percent of the more than 400 people arrested as of Wednesday afternoon were from Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

In Los Angeles, an online fundraising campaign has gathered $2 million so far to help more than 3,000 people arrested in demonstrations since Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis.

Police arrest protesters as they march along a street in the Manhattan borough of New York [Seth Wenig/AP]

Los Angeles Chief Michel Moore told the city’s Police Commission the bulk of the arrests, about 2,500, were for failure to disperse or curfew violations.

The rest were for crimes including burglary, looting, assaults on police officers and other violence, Moore told the panel, which functions as the police department’s civilian oversight board.

The only other US city with an arrest toll that comes close to Los Angeles’ is New York, with about 2,000, according to AP’s tally.

The AP tally didn’t take into account any additional arrests still unreported from Wednesday evening.

07:50 GMT – Deputy mayor in Maine charged in case of racist Floyd post

The deputy mayor of a Maine city has resigned and was charged with filing a false report after he said someone hacked his social media account to make racist statements about the George Floyd killing.

All four men charged in George Floyd case

Brewer police said Thomas Morelli was charged in relation to the incident, the Bangor Daily News reported on Wednesday.

Morelli issued a statement in which he said he is “ashamed of my comments and behavior” and acknowledged his participation in “Facebook trolling.”

Morelli had told police on Monday that someone had gained access to his Facebook account to post racist comments about Floyd.

An investigation determined that Morelli made the comments, police said.

07:45 GMT – UK says expects US to protect media freedoms

Britain expects the United States to continue its tradition of protecting media freedoms, foreign minister Dominic Raab said when asked about protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

A journalist is seen bleeding after police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets in US protests [Chandan Khanna/AFP]

While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, police in some cities have used force against journalists and protesters, and protesters have clashed with police.

“I want to see America come together … you mention media freedoms and journalistic freedoms, of course the US has a fine tradition of protecting all of those things and yes we do expect that to continue,” he Raab said in an interview on Sky News.

07:03 GMT – Meghan calls US events ‘devastating’

Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex and wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, has spoken about events following the death of George Floyd saying she was sorry that children had to grow up in a world where racism still existed and that current events in the United States were “devastating”.

“I know you know that black lives matter,” Meghan said in a video she recorded for students graduating from her old high school in Los Angeles which was aired on Wednesday.

“For the past couple of weeks I’ve been planning on saying a few words to you for your graduation and as we’ve all seen over the last week what is happening in our country, and in our state and in our home town of LA is absolutely devastating,” said Meghan, whose mother is African American and father is white.

06:47 GMT – Officer stabbed, 2 shot in Brooklyn

A confrontation in Brooklyn left one police officer stabbed in the neck, two officers with gunshot wounds to their hands and another man shot by police, the New York Police Department said.

The officers were taken to a hospital with wounds that were not expected to be life-threatening, the department said. The condition of the man shot by police was not immediately released.

Tuesday night brought more big protests over the death of George Floyd [Seth Wenig/AP]

The bloodshed happened just before midnight in the hours after an 8 pm (local time) curfew that was intended to quell unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Details on how it unfolded weren’t immediately available.

A neighborhood resident, though, said there was no protest in the area at the time of the shooting, and it wasn’t clear if there was any connection to the unrest.

05:10 GMT – Trump hits back at Mattis

The US president has responded to former Defense Secretary James Mattis’s scathing criticism of his handling of the racial justice protests sweeping the country.

In a series of tweets, Trump called Mattis the “world’s most overrated General” and said: “Glad he’s gone!”

The president’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, called Mattis’s article in The Atlantic “little more than a self-promotional stunt to appease the DC elite”.

Under Trump, she wrote on Twitter, “America will unite in LAW AND ORDER!”

04:44 GMT – Los Angeles, San Francisco to lift curfews

London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, said she will be lifting a curfew in the city at 5am local time on Thursday.

“The protests we have seen in this city and across the country are for a peaceful cause and our city will continue to facilitate any and all peaceful demonstrations,” she wrote in a tweet.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said barring a setback, the city’s curfew will be discontinued on Thursday. Los Angeles is currently locked down, with its fifth curfew set to last from 9pm on Wednesday to 5am on Thursday.

04:16 GMT – Seattle cancels curfew

Jenny Durkan, mayor of Seattle, cancelled a curfew in the west coast city, saying the chief of the police believes we “can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew”.

“For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate,” she said in a tweet just hours before the curfew was to kick in. “We want you to continue making your voice heard.”

03:00 – Video shows North Carolina police using chemical agents on ‘boxed-in’ protesters

The police department in Charlotte, North Carolina, is coming under criticism after a video posted to social media appeared to show officers using chemical agents on demonstrators who were boxed in while protesting the death of George Floyd.

The video was recorded Tuesday night by Justin LaFrancois, co-founder and publisher of the alternative Charlotte newspaper Queen City Nerve. He said officers fired tear gas and flashbangs from behind the protesters, and in front of them, as well. He also said officers perched on top of buildings were firing pepper balls down on the crowd.

“We were completely trapped,” LaFrancois said. “There was one way to get out, and half of the group did go out that way through the tear gas and through the pepper balls. But for the rest of us, the only route of escape … was to pull up a gate on the parking structure that we were pressed up against.”

LaFrancois said people tried to squeeze under the 6-inch opening in the gate. But as they looked for an exit from the parking deck, he said officers began firing pepper balls after they entered the deck from the other side.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said on Twitter that they are looking into the incident.

02:45 GMT – Man fatally shot by police in San Francisco

A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers who thought a hammer he was carrying in his waistband was a firearm, police said.

Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco is the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement related to smash-and-grabs and protests in California since Floyd’s death. Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls of looting at a Walgreens early Tuesday when the shooting occurred.

Officers said Monterrosa began running toward a car when he suddenly stopped, got on his knees and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a firearm in his waistband. An officer shot five times through a car window, striking him once.

“The intent was to stop the looting and arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Williams said.

John Burris, a lawyer for the family, said he is appalled police would shoot at a person who was on his knees with his hands raised.

02:00 GMT – Autopsy report shows Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19

A full autopsy of Floyd showed that he had previously tested positive for COVID-19.

The report by Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker spelled out clinical details, including that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3 but appeared asymptomatic. The report also noted Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy, but he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart.

The county’s earlier summary report had listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death”. The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity could include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.

Terrence Floyd visits the site near where his brother George died in Minneapolis police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Eric Miler/Reuters]

00:05 GMT – Ex-defence chief Mattis rips Trump for dividing Americans

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis denounced Trump’s heavy-handed use of military force to crack down on protests and said Trump was setting up a “false conflict” between the military and civilian society.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote.

Mattis retired as defence secretary in December 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy. He declined to speak out against Trump, saying he owed the nation public silence while his former boss remained in office.

Riot police detaining a man as they rush protestors to clear Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House for President Donald Trump to be able to walk through for a photo opportunity in front of St John’s Episcopal Church [Ken Cedeno/Reuters] 

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic. 

Mattis said the protesters are rightly demanding that the country follow the words of “Equal Justice Under Law” that are on display at the US Supreme Court.

He took particular issue with the use of force to move back protesters so Trump could visit St John’s Church the day after it was damaged by fire during protests.

“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” Mattis said.

Read more here.

Wednesday, June 3

23:30 GMT – Police charge 3 men they say plotted to capitalise on Vegas protests

Three Nevada men who allegedly have ties to a movement of “right-wing extremists” advocating the overthrow of the US government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to trigger violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

Federal prosecutors say the three men, who are white and served in the US military, are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests against coronavirus lockdowns and later sought to capitalise on protests against Floyd’s death in police custody.

Stephen T Parshall, 35, Andrew T Lynam Jr, 23, and William L Loomis, 40, were being held on $1m bond each in the Clark County jail, according to court records.

Each currently faces two federal charges – conspiracy to damage and destroy by fire and explosive, and possession of unregistered firearms. In state court, they have been accused of felony conspiracy, terrorism and explosives possession.

23:15 GMT – ACLU sues Minnesota police, alleging harassment of journalists at protests

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has accused Minnesota law enforcement of wrongly arresting, injuring and harassing journalists covering protests.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU accuses the Minneapolis Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol of shooting journalists in the face with rubber bullets, arresting reporters and photographers without cause, and threatening them at gunpoint.

The suit alleges a Minnesota State Patrol officer forced videographer Tom Aviles to the ground and arrested him even though he had identified himself as a member of the press and was carrying a large video camera. 

Also arrested was CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, during a live broadcast. Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske and photographer Carolyn Cole were backed against a wall, subjected to tear gas and had projectiles hurled at them.

22:50 GMT – Retired Navy officer says he was ‘sickened’ by sight of army clearing protesters in Washington, DC

Retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was “sickened” to see how law enforcement – including the National Guard – had cleared the area outside of the White House on Monday and warned against over-use of the US military.

“Our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so,” Mullen wrote.

Protesters are tear gassed as the police disperse them near the White House in Washington, DC [Roberto Schmidt/AFP]

22:45 GMT – Trump says he most likely will not need military to respond to protests

Trump said on Wednesday that he did not believe that he would need to use US troops to counter protests.

“It depends, I don’t think we’ll have to,” Trump said when asked in an interview with Newsmax TV whether he would send the military to any cities.

The president had previously said that he could use military forces in states that have failed to crack down on the violent protests.

22:30 GMT – Obama calls on local mayors to review police use of force policies and commit to reform

Former US President Barack Obama said the violence and injustices that are the underlying causes that sparked nationwide protests need change at the local level.

“I’m urging every mayor in this country to review your use of force policies with members of your community, and commit to report on planned reforms,” he said in a virtual town hall.

Obama said both protest and voting are important, as officials who could effect change in 19,000 American municipalities and more than 18,000 local enforcement jurisdictions are elected and could be held accountable by voters.

Former US President Barack Obama speaking during an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [File: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters]

“To bring about real change. We both have to highlight a problem, and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented.”

He told young men and women of colour “your lives matter and your dreams matter” and commended those in law enforcement who have marched alongside the protestors.

21:30 GMT – Minnesota attorney general says first-degree murder charge still possible

In an interview with CNN, Minnesota Attorney General Ellison said that if the prosecution gets evidence to support a first-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case, it will be presented to a jury.

“We are continuing to gather evidence, and if we get evidence to support that, that we can put in front of a jury, we will present that. At this time, we brought forth the maximum ethical charges we could,” he said.

21:45 GMT – New York City has taken a ‘step forward’ in restoring order, mayor says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city has taken a “step forward” in restoring order with the help of an early curfew.

There was much less widespread looting of stores Tuesday night amid a large police presence, he said. The citywide curfew continues from 8pm to 5am this week, imposed to prevent the nighttime chaos and destruction that followed peaceful protests for several days in a row.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking during a press conference in New York City, New York [File: Angela Weiss/AFP] 

Police said they arrested about 280 people on protest-related charges Tuesday, compared with 700 the previous night.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was critical of the prior police response, says the city was “much better”, and officers were better equipped to keep the peace.

20:20 GMT – Symbolic funeral in Connecticut

Hundreds of people in the US state of Connecticut held a symbolic funeral procession to honour George Floyd and protest racial injustice.

In the city of Danbury, protesters shouted “I can’t breathe,” as they marched through the city and walked onto Interstate 84, briefly shutting down traffic on the highway.

The procession in Floyd’s honour ended with a rally at the state Capitol, where speakers eulogised victims of police brutality and called for a sustained effort to address issues of poverty and discrimination.

20:15 GMT – Floyd family welcomes new charges against fired policemen

“This is a significant step forward on the road to justice,” Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Floyd family, said in a statement, “we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest,” Crump said.

He later told CNN that Chauvin should be facing a first-degree murder charge and that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison had informed Floyd’s family that the investigation is ongoing and other charges could be filed.

19:30 GMT – All four Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s death charged

All four fired Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s death now face charges.

According to court documents, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng all face aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder charges, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Derek Chauvin’s murder charge, previously third-degree, has been upgraded to second-degree unintentional murder, which can carry a sentence of up to 40 years, 15 years longer than the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has requested that bail be set at $1m for each of the four former officers, the documents showed. Ellison is expected to hold a briefing later.

18:30 GMT – AG Ellison to elevate charges against officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, charge others involved: reports 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will elevate charges against former officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder, according to US Senator Amy Klobuchar.

“This is another important step for justice”, Klobuchar, a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for president and rumoured contender for Joe Biden’s vice president pick, tweeted on Wednesday.

Klobuchar also said the other three officers involved would be charged. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune also published a report with similar information.

Ellison is expected to make an announcement on the charges this afternoon.

18:05 UN high commissioner for human rights blasts US for ‘structural racism’

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday decried “structural racism” in the US and voiced alarm at the “unprecedented assault” on journalists covering protests across the country.

Bachelet insisted that the grievances at the heart of the protests that have erupted in hundreds of US cities needed to be heard and addressed if the country was to move forward.

“The voices calling for an end to the killings of unarmed African Americans need to be heard,” Bachelet, the former president of Chile, said in a statement.

Bachelet stressed the need for clear and constructive leadership to bring the country through the crisis.

“Especially during a crisis, a country needs its leaders to condemn racism unequivocally; for them to reflect on what has driven people to boiling point; to listen and learn; and to take actions that truly tackle inequalities,” she said.

17:57 GMT – Active-duty troops deployed to DC will leave

Active-duty troops brought in to help if needed during the civil unrest in the US capital are beginning to return to their home base, after two days of more peaceful demonstrations in Washington, DC, senior defence officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The officials said about 200 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne’s immediate response force would be the first to leave on Wednesday.

The remainder of the active-duty troops, who have all been kept at military bases outside the city in northern Virginia and Maryland, will also get pulled home in the coming days if conditions allow, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss imminent troop movements.

The active-duty troops were available but were not used in response to the protests.

17:45 GMT – Floyd’s family and their lawyers visit the site where the 46-year-old died.

Benjamin Crump, the prominent civil rights lawyer representing the Floyd family, called for all officers involved in Floyd’s death to be arrested and charged before Thursday’s memorial in Minneapolis. So far, only Derek Chauvin – who knelt on Floyd’s neck – has been charged. 

Pointing out that some of Floyd’s last words were, “I can’t breathe”, Crump called on those present to take a “breath for peace”. “Let’s take a breath for justice, let’s take a breath to heal our country. And most importantly take a breath for George Floyd,” he said, joined by members of Floyd’s family. “Let’s take a breath this week to heal this country.

“Let’s follow George’s example,” he added, reading the names of several Black people who have been killed by police.”Let’s take a breath for all the marginalised and disenfranchised and dehumanised people … who were killed unjustifiably, who were killed unnecessarily and who was killed senselessly because they are American citizens … and they human beings and finally, they are children of God”.

16:15 GMT – Decision made in further charges for officers in Floyd case

Minnesota Attorney General’s office has completed its review of initial evidence in the investigation of the four police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd and will announce its decision on further charges later this afternoon, CNN reports. 

Protesters have demanded all four officers involved be charged in Floyd’s death.

Only one – white officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe” – has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Former officers JA Keung and Thomas Lane, who helped Chauvin restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, have not yet been charged. 

Medical examiners have designated the death a homicide, though this is not a legal determination. 

16:10 GMT – Reports challenge Trump’s Antifa claims

Part of a June 1 internal intelligence assessment of the protests viewed by Reuters shows that US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said most of the violence appears to have been driven by opportunists.

Trump has threatened to designate Antifa, a loose conglomeration of anti-fascist activists, as a “terrorist” organisation for allegedly causing violence in the protests.

Reuters cited two unnamed Justice Department officials who said they had seen little to support claims that far-left groups were causing violence.

The DHS report said there was some evidence based on open-source and DHS reporting that Antifa may be contributing to the violence, a view shared by some local police departments in public statements and interviews with Reuters. 

The part of the document seen by Reuters did not provide any specific evidence of extremist-driven violence, but noted that white supremacists were working online to increase tensions between protesters and law enforcement by calling for acts of violence against both groups. There was no evidence, however, that white supremacists were causing violence at any of the protests, the document said.

But the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based monitoring group, claims it has found evidence that a person arrested at a North Carolina for allegedly shooting at groups of protesters has ties to neo-Confederate groups.

16:25 GMT – Secretary of Defense Esper does not support invoking Insurrection Act

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said during a news conference that he supports the rights of US citizens to protest peacefully and does not support the invocation of the Insurrection Act.

“It is these rights and freedoms that make our country so special. It is these rights and freedoms that American service members are willing to fight and die for,” Esper said in remarks before taking questions.

“I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

A demonstrator walks in front of a row of military police members wearing riot gear as they push back demonstrators outside of the White House [Jose Luis Magan/AFP] 

President Trump threatened to use the act to use the military to quell protests across the country. The Insurrection Act dates to the early 1800s and permits the president to send in US forces to suppress a domestic insurrection that has hindered the normal enforcement of US law. 

Esper further said he was not informed about Trump’s controversial photo-op at a church which took place on Monday. 

“I was not aware of law enforcement’s plans for the park. I was not briefed on them, nor should I expect to be,” Esper said.

Trump holds up a Bible during a photo opportunity in front of St John’s Episcopal Church in the midst of protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody [Tom Brenner/Reuters] 

The defence secretary also stated he was working hard to keep his department out of politics, though it is challenging as the country moves closer to elections.

12:43 GMT – Statue of divisive former Philadelphia Mayor Rizzo removed

Workers have removed the statue of controversial former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, which was recently defaced during a protest following Floyd’s death.

As National Guard troops deployed in the wake of recent protests watched, a crane lifted the 10-foot-tall (3-metre) bronze statue and workers moved it from its stand outside the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall. It was loaded onto the back of a truck.

14:25 GMT – Iran’s supreme leader condemns ‘duplicitous’ US human rights policies 

Iran’s supreme leader has assailed Washington in the wake of Floyd’s killing for its “duplicitous policies” when it comes to upholding human rights.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that in the US, “they kill people in an open crime, and they do not offer an apology while claiming [to support] human rights.”

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, added: “Apparently, the African American man who was killed there was not a human being.”

14:05 GMT – Germany, shocked by Floyd’s death, promises to counter racism

The German government is shocked by the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black American man, at the hands of police and must work to counter racism at home like other countries, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The death of George Floyd … shocked people in Germany and all over the world, it shocked the federal government [of Germany] too,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “It is an appalling and avoidable death.” 

13:45 GMT – ‘Of course Black lives matter’, says British PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday Black lives matter, and he supported the right to protest, in a lawful and socially-distanced way, after the killing by police of Floyd in the US stirred widespread anger.

“Of course, Black lives matter and I totally understand the anger, the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well,” he told Parliament.

“I also support, as I’ve said, the right to protest. The only point I would make … is that any protest should be carried out lawfully and in this country protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing.”

____________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the protests in the US over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath in Louisville, Kentucky, and Creede Newton in Washington, DC.

Here are a few things to catch up on:

  • George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 after a white officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes. Floyd can be heard on a bystander video repeatedly pleading with officers, saying: “I can’t breathe.” He eventually lies motionless with the officer’s knee still on his neck. You can read about the deadly incident here.
  • The four officers involved in the incident were fired, and one has been charged.
  • Protests – some violent – have since erupted nationwide as demonstrators rally for justice for Floyd and all unarmed Black people killed by police.

See the updates from Monday’s protests here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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