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American streets calmest in days, protests largely peaceful – CTV News

June 3rd, 2020

WASHINGTON — Protests were largely peaceful and the nation’s streets were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set off demonstrations that at times brought violence and destruction along with pleas to stop police brutality and injustice against African Americans.

There were scattered reports of looting in New York City overnight, and as of Wednesday morning there had been over 9,000 arrests nationwide since the unrest began following Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis. But there was a marked quiet compared with the unrest of the past few nights, which included fires and shootings in some cities.

The calmer night came as many cities intensified their curfews, with authorities in New York and Washington ordering people off streets while it was still daylight.

A block away from the White House, thousands of demonstrators massed following a crackdown a day earlier when officers on foot and horseback aggressively drove peaceful protesters away from Lafayette Park, clearing the way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op at nearby St. John’s Church. Tuesday’s protesters faced law enforcement personnel who stood behind a black chain-link fence that was put up overnight to block access to the park.

“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest Tuesday for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”

Pastors at the church prayed with demonstrators and handed out water bottles. The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the crowd Tuesday was peaceful, even polite. At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for national reconciliation and peace.

Francis said that he has `’witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest” in the United States in recent days.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” the pope said during his weekly Wednesday audience, held in the presence of bishops due to coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Trump, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” he tweeted. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!”

Thousands of people remained in the streets of New York City Tuesday night, undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, though most streets were clear by early Wednesday other than police who were patrolling some areas. Midtown Manhattan was pocked with battered storefronts after Monday’s protests.

Protests also passed across the U.S., including in Los Angeles, Miami, St. Paul, Minnesota, Columbia, South Carolina and Houston, where the police chief talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.

“God as my witness, change is coming,” Art Acevedo said. “And we’re going to do it the right way.”

More than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up in 29 states to deal with the violence. New York is not among them, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he does not want the Guard. On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called what happened in the city “a disgrace.”

“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany.

He said the mayor underestimated the problem, and the nation’s largest police force was not deployed in sufficient numbers, though the city had said it doubled the usual police presence.

Tuesday marked the eighth straight night of the protests, which began after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder.

The mother of George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, said she wanted the world to know that her little girl lost a good father.

“I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took,” Roxie Washington said during a Minneapolis news conference with her young daughter at her side. “I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Some protesters framed the burgeoning movement as a necessity after a string of killings by police.

“It feels like it’s just been an endless cascade of hashtags of black people dying, and it feels like nothing’s really being done by our political leaders to actually enact real change,” said Christine Ohenzuwa, 19, who attended a peaceful protest at the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul. “There’s always going to be a breaking point. I think right now, we’re seeing the breaking point around the country.”

“I live in this state. It’s really painful to see what’s going on, but it’s also really important to understand that it’s connected to a system of racial violence,” she said.

Meanwhile, governors and mayors, Republicans and Democrats alike, rejected Trump’s threat to send in the military, with some saying troops would be unnecessary and others questioning whether the government has such authority and warning that such a step would be dangerous.

A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the president is not rushing to send in the military and that his goal was to pressure governors to deploy more National Guard members.

Such use of the military would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history.

Amid the protests, nine states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries that tested the nation’s ability to run elections while balancing a pandemic and sweeping social unrest. Joe Biden won hundreds more delegates and was on the cusp of formally securing the Democratic presidential nomination.

Also Tuesday, Minnesota opened an investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of discrimination against minorities.

——

Sullivan reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press journalists across the U.S. contributed to this report.

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Trump claims ‘domination’ after police crack down on George Floyd protesters in D.C. – Globalnews.ca

June 2nd, 2020

Claiming he is backed by a “silent majority,” President Donald Trump turned the nation’s capital into a model for the overwhelming force he believes critical to stop sometimes-violent protests that have spread across the country in a time of racial unrest. His tactics were decried Tuesday by some fellow Republicans as well as his presumptive Democratic opponent.

The violent dispersal of peaceful protests near the White House the night before was a potent symbol of Trump’s policing tactics and a physical manifestation of the rhetorical culture war he has stoked since before he was elected. Moments after historic Lafayette Park was cleared, Trump walked across to pose with a Bible in front of a church damaged by fire during protests the previous evening.

“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination,” Trump tweeted Tuesday, after a night in which heavily armed military forces and federal officers swarmed the city. Trump added: “(thank you President Trump!).”

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READ MORE: George Floyd protests: Biden blasts Trump’s response, vows to heal racial divide

The president wanted to make the aggressive action in the nation’s capital — where he wields disproportionate powers — an example for the rest of the country, a senior White House official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss internal thinking. Trump hoped his personal walk to the church, after federal officials dispersed protesters, would send a message about how dominant force could restore law and order.

The president has threatened that if states do not take tough enough action, he will deploy active duty military across the country to quell unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“SILENT MAJORITY!” Trump tweeted Tuesday, embracing a phrase popularized by President Richard Nixon decades ago, in claiming broad support for his actions. Trump also emphasized the political importance of the moment to his supporters on Twitter and declared that “My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.”

The District of Columbia’s federal status gives the president outsized authority to act, allowing him to direct the deployment of the National Guard. He authorized Attorney General William Barr to oversee a surge in the deployment of federal law enforcement officers, including the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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3:06George Floyd death: Chuck Schumer calls Trump church photo-op ‘unconstitutional’

George Floyd death: Chuck Schumer calls Trump church photo-op ‘unconstitutional’

Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sought to distance themselves from Monday night’s events after former military officials criticized their appearance with the president.

Senior defence officials told reporters the two were not aware that the Park Police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square or that Trump intended to visit the church. They had been in Washington to co-ordinate with federal law enforcement officials but were diverted to the White House to brief Trump on military preparations, the officials said.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said of Trump posing for photos holding up a Bible: “I just wish he opened it once in a while.”

And D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said of the routing of the protesters, “At no time do we think it was appropriate that people who had not violated the curfew or anything else received that treatment.”

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READ MORE: North Korea, Iran scold U.S. for ‘double standard’ on crushing protests

Democrats weren’t the only ones saying Trump had gone too far.

“There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property, and no right to throw rocks at police,” said Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse. “But there is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop.”

It was Barr who gave the order Monday afternoon for law enforcement to clear out the protest before Trump’s walk to the church and ahead of Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew. Officials said the decision to clear the park was made earlier in the day in response to violence the night before.

Trump also ordered military aircraft to fly above Washington on Monday night as a “show of force,” according to two Defence Department officials. They said the U.S. military and National Guard were operating under the mission name “Operation Themis.” In Greek mythology, Themis is a titaness of divine law and order, whose symbols are the scales of justice.

5:26George Floyd death: Biden hopes Trump ‘reads the Bible once in a while’

George Floyd death: Biden hopes Trump ‘reads the Bible once in a while’

Execution of the order to clear the park created striking split-screen images as officers deployed tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs and mounted units to break up the peaceful protest even as Trump was in the Rose Garden saying he supported the rights of peaceful protesters. Chemical remnants still hung in the air as he walked to the church.

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Trump reacted to the clearing of the protesters with enthusiasm, pumping his fist at officers in the park. He’d been furious about weekend images juxtaposing the fires in the area with the darkened White House in the background, according to current and former campaign and administration officials not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Trump was also angry about the news coverage revealing that he had been rushed to the White House bunker during weekend protests, believing the park fires in what amounts to his extended front yard made him appear weak.

But some White House and Justice Department officials privately acknowledged that Monday’s events didn’t serve the administration well.

READ MORE: Trudeau stays silent on Trump’s behaviour as George Floyd protests spread

Trump on Tuesday appeared to be backing off his threat to deploy federal troops to quell unrest under the 1807 Insurrection Act. White House officials said Monday night’s events indicated that the resources already available to local governments should be able to restore order.

Instead, Trump turned his Twitter fire on New York officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a frequent political sparring partner.

“New York was lost to the looters, thugs, Radical Left, and all others forms of Lowlife & Scum,” Trump tweeted. “The Governor refuses to accept my offer of a dominating National Guard. NYC was ripped to pieces.”

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The federal government has provided all affected states with a list of National Guard resources available to them, the White House official said. The official added that Trump’s message to governors was that if they don’t use all the tools in their arsenal they shouldn’t expect a sympathetic response to any request for federal dollars to help with cleanup and recovery down.

4:22George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if governors can’t quell violent protests

George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if governors can’t quell violent protests

Trump, meanwhile, toured a Catholic shrine on Tuesday in his second straight religious-themed appearance after he declared himself to be the “president of law and order.”

Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory called it “reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.”

On Tuesday’s drive to the shrine, Trump’s motorcade sped past National Guard members deployed around the World War II Memorial. Some onlookers along the route booed, held “black lives matter” signs or made obscene gestures as the convoy rolled past.

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Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and pressed Floyd’s neck with his knee as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Violent demonstrations have raged in scores of American cities, marking a level of unrest unseen for decades.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Federal government continues to add to COVID-19 supply stores to meet future demand – CBC.ca

June 2nd, 2020

Planes and boats loaded with personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 supplies continue to arrive in Canada as the federal government moves to increase the domestic stockpile of crucial gear. 

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that supply chains for essential equipment have stabilized but Canada continues to press to ensure reliable international sources of goods, while increasing domestic production efforts at the same time. 

Canada is in the market for hundreds of millions of pieces of equipment, including gowns, gloves, masks, face shields and hand sanitizer. 

Anand said the focus continues to be two-fold: meet short-term needs and be ready for a potential increase in future demand.  “As demand goes up, Canada is keeping up,” she said.

Anand said Tuesday the government is also looking ahead to the day a vaccine becomes available, ordering 37 million syringes.  It has not yet been determined when they will arrive. 

The numbers for most goods on hand are ticking steadily up, though not for ventilators — as of May 26, only 203 had arrived out of the nearly 40,000 ordered. 

Severe forms of COVID-19 often require the use of the assisted-breathing device, and concerns about potential shortages dominated discussions around gear in the early days of the pandemic in Canada. 

Anand said the contracts for the ventilators are largely with Canadian companies, and as some companies are retooling to make them, it will be another month before they start arriving. 

In their regular procurement updates, the Liberal government has highlighted some of the Canadian companies engaged in production of supplies. 

Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s full news conference from Tuesday June 2:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s news conference on Tuesday June 2 in Ottawa. 29:44

On Tuesday, they singled out The Canadian Shield, from Kitchener, Ont., that has produced 1.2 million face shields so far. 

But many of the deals being signed aren’t being made public, signed instead under national security provisions that keep the details — including costs — under wraps. 

A spokesperson for Anand’s department said that if the national security exemption wasn’t used, the tenders for the goods would have to remain open for weeks and that just wouldn’t be feasible in the current environment. 

Making public all the information around what Canada is buying and from who could also risk the supply of the goods, spokesperson Stefanie Hamel said in an email. 

“Considering the fierce global competition for the same products, if we were to disclose information about specific contracts or suppliers, we could jeopardize Canada’s supply chains for these life-saving products, putting our delivery to Canada and into the hands of front-line health-care workers at risk,” Hamel said. 

The department said when the risk has passed, the government does intend to provide more information.

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Don Martin: The 21 seconds of silence that said everything about Canada’s reaction to Trump – CTV News

June 2nd, 2020

OTTAWA — Watching Justin Trudeau’s daily COVID-19 briefings lately is to believe the time has come to shelve the ritual as being well beyond its best-before date.

When billions in emergency program spending were rolling out and course corrections were a regular feature of these media encounters, it made sense for the prime minister to personally face a nervous nation.

Recently, though, it’s more about rehashing the government agenda and taking credit, deserving or otherwise, for pandemic responses. In other words, it is no longer must-see TV.

Then came Tuesday’s 21 seconds of silence.

Trudeau was asked for his reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to use the military to suppress George Floyd protests while tear-gassing peaceful demonstrators near the White House so he could stage a Bible-holding photo-op outside a nearby church.

What made the question particularly daunting was the second part of reporter Tom Parry’s question: “If you don’t want to comment, what message do you think you are sending?”

Trudeau stared at the camera – and said nothing. The sign language interpreter folded her hands. Not a bird chirp could be heard.

Finally, Trudeau sought verbal refuge in acknowledging everybody has challenges with systemic discrimination, including Canada.

Now, there are only two ways to explain how a prime minister was caught flat-footed when asked for reaction to Trump’s behaviour that has outraged the United States and is reverberating around the world.

Either his spin doctors had a huge fail before the briefing by neglecting to arm Trudeau for a question that was obviously going to be asked.

Or some genius in his communications army suggested the best escape from a no-win predicament was for the boss to simply stand at the podium for an uncomfortably long time while appearing to struggle for the right words.

One of my friends figured the teleprompter had stopped working, leaving Trudeau tongue-tied for his rehearsed lines.

But, even though it often seems that way, there was no electronic babysitter ready to spoon-feed a script to the prime minister.

So we might never know how Trudeau came up with a perfect way to express his personal outrage without giving the president cause for a cross-border counterpunch.

But perfect it was.

No American president has ever seemed this foreign to the vast majority of Canadians, unleashing behaviour that defies comprehension with such deadly consequences.

Yet no president has shown the capacity to take politics so personally, reacting with a vengeful temper to real or perceived slights.

That gives Trump immunity from candid criticism by allies who know the economic cost for incurring his wrath isn’t worth the political benefit of saying the right thing.

Hitting the mute button is particularly challenging for Trudeau, a prime minister with the habit of being preachy about gender, visible minority and Indigenous rights to other nations while his government falters on taking action on its own.

Of course, deploying the sounds of silence against a disturbed president was a one-off, if it was indeed a deliberate communications strategy.

Trudeau can’t keep saying nothing when asked about a president who is just getting started on dividing his nation to conquer the electoral college.

But, for at least one day, Justin Trudeau managed to condemn without commentary, to convey disgust without decibels and to muffle any Trump backlash without saying a word.

That made Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing something worth watching.

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Trump to send military to ‘dominate the streets’ as George Floyd protests continue – Globalnews.ca

June 2nd, 2020

Hours after a carefully orchestrated declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump to send out the military and “dominate the streets,” American cities were engulfed in more violence and destruction that overshadowed peaceful protests demanding justice after generations of racism.

In New York City, largely peaceful demonstrations were punctuated by people smashing storefront windows near Rockefeller Center and breaching the doors to the storied Macy’s store on 34th Street, leaving the major Manhattan thoroughfare littered with broken glass. A vehicle plowed through a group of law enforcement officers at a demonstration in Buffalo, injuring at least two.

READ MORE: Religious leaders ‘outraged’ over Trump photo op at D.C. church amid George Floyd protests

Demonstrations erupted from Philadelphia, where hundreds of protesters spilled onto a highway in the heart of the city, to Atlanta, where police fired tear gas at demonstrators, to Nashville, where more than 60 National Guard soldiers put down their riot shields at the request of peaceful protesters who had gathered in front of Tennessee’s state Capitol to honor George Floyd.

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Bystander Sean Jones, who watched as people ransacked luxury stores in Manhattan’s chic Soho neighborhood, explained the destruction this way: “People are doing this so next time, before they think about trying to kill another Black person, they’re going to be like, ’Damn, we don’t want them out here doing this … again.’”

The unrest in Minneapolis appeared to stabilize on the same day that Floyd’s brother made an impassioned plea for peace at the location where a white police officer put his knee on the handcuffed Black man’s neck until he stopped breathing last week.

The death toll from the unrest began to mount, including two people killed in a Chicago suburb. The police chief in Louisville was fired after a beloved restaurant owner was killed by security forces during unrest early Monday.

3:33George Floyd protests: Police disperse peaceful protest for Trump photo op outside church

George Floyd protests: Police disperse peaceful protest for Trump photo op outside church

An officer was shot shortly before midnight near the Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas, where police have made 338 arrests during three nights of violence that followed peaceful protests earlier in the day. Police had no immediate word on the officer’s condition.

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The latest wave of protests came on the day that Trump portrayed himself as hard-nosed, law-and-order president and police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.

Trump emerged after two days out of public view and threatened in remarks from the White House Rose Garden that he would deploy “thousands and thousands” of U.S. troops. Then he made a surprise walk through Lafayette Park to a Washington house of worship known as “The Church of the Presidents” that suffered fire damage in the protests.

READ MORE: George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if states don’t mobilize National Guard

The photo op was condemned by Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde.

“The president just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for,” she said.

The nation has been roiled by violence over the death of Floyd for nearly a week. The protests come after years of seeking police reforms over repeated cases of minorities dying in police custody, and at a time when the country is already reeling from the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment.

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“We have been sitting on a powder keg for some time and it has burst,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, whose officers have made hundreds of arrests.

The president, seeking his second term in office, demanded an end to the heated protests in remarks from the Rose Garden and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.

2:18Trump threatens military action to quell protest over George Floyd death

Trump threatens military action to quell protest over George Floyd death

If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets,” Trump said the U.S. military would step in to “quickly solve the problem for them.”

“We have the greatest country in the world,” the president declared. “We’re going to keep it safe.”

A military deployment by Trump to U.S. states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. It drew comparisons to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Minutes before Trump began speaking, police and National Guard soldiers began aggressively forcing back hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, where they were chanting against police brutality and Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. As Trump spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding.

READ MORE: George Floyd died of ‘asphyxiation,’ autopsy commissioned by family finds

Five months before Election Day, the president made clear that he would stake his reelection efforts on convincing voters that his strong-arm approach was warranted to quell the most intense civil unrest since the 1960s. He made little effort to address the grievances of Black Americans and others outraged by Floyd’s death and the scourge of police brutality, undermining what his campaign had hoped would be increased appeal to African American voters.

The scene in and around the White House on Monday night appeared to be carefully orchestrated. As the crowd of protesters grew, Attorney General William Barr arrived in Lafayette Park to look over at the demonstrations and the swarm of law enforcement.

0:40George Floyd death: White House says actions of officers involved in Floyd’s death don’t reflect wider police force

George Floyd death: White House says actions of officers involved in Floyd’s death don’t reflect wider police force

Trump, who rarely attends church, held up a Bible and gathered a group of advisers — all white — to pose for photos at the historic house of worship.

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The moment was quickly decried by Trump’s critics, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the president “used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church.”

Federal law permits presidents to dispatch the military into states to suppress an insurrection or if a state is defying federal law, legal experts said. But Trump’s statements also set up an immediate conflict with officials in New York and other states who asserted that the president does not have the unilateral right to send in troops against the will of local governments.

READ MORE: George Floyd: Trump blames Antifa for ‘violence,’ but experts raise doubts

Earlier Monday, Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard troops. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

He added: “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, dismissed Trump’s comments as the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”

2:14The two sides of the protests, and the charge for change

The two sides of the protests, and the charge for change

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. He met in person with Black leaders in Delaware and also held a virtual meeting with big-city mayors.

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Biden said hate emerges “when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate.”

More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Five police shot, with no end in sight for U.S. protests – theglobeandmail.com

June 2nd, 2020

Protesters against police brutality near the White House in Washington, on June 1, 2020. The President spoke from a White House beset by protesters, and then walked along a path cleared by police to briefly visit a damaged church.

ERIN SCHAFF/The New York Times News Service

The U.S.’s most widespread protests since the civil-rights movement in the 1960s continued to grow Monday despite unprecedented measures to shut them down, spreading from major cities to suburbs and towns a week after George Floyd’s death.

State and local authorities struggled to respond to the upheaval in more than 140 cities, which has laid bare the country’s failure to adequately deal with institutional racism and police brutality.

Demonstrators set fire to a strip mall in Los Angeles, looted stores in New York City and clashed with police in St. Louis, Missouri, where four officers were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“Officers are still taking gunfire downtown & we will share more info as it available,” St Louis Police said on Twitter.

A police officer was also shot during protests in the Las Vegas Strip area, AP news agency said, quoting police. Another officer was “involved in a shooting” in the same area, the agency said without giving details.

It did not give details of the shootings or the officers’ condition. Police declined to comment to Reuters.

More than 20 states and the District of Columbia have called in the National Guard and at least 40 cities have instituted curfews in a bid to stop the after-dark property destruction and fires that have accompanied many of the protests. But they have largely been unsuccessful. At least 4,400 people have been arrested over the past week, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump threatened Monday to call in the military unless state governors act to quell demonstrations, sometimes violent, that have engulfed much of the country, a warning that came as protesters surrounded the White House amid escalating unrest over the death of Mr. Floyd.

Around the time Mr. Trump spoke, the National Guard fired tear gas at a peaceful crowd of protesters to clear the way for the President to hold a subsequent photo-op. The military police used batons and shields to beat back protesters, while a line of mounted officers advanced.

U.S. protests: A guide to the story so far, from George Floyd’s death to a national reckoning on racism

George Floyd’s brother pleads for peace, Trump takes combative tone

This time, the mayhem and chaos in the U.S. feels different

The President posed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged by the previous night’s demonstrations and has been boarded up. He held a Bible in his right hand.

”If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military quickly to solve the problem for them,” Mr. Trump said in a speech on the White House lawn, his first public address since the protests began.

He added that he planned to unleash “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” into Washington as protesters swarmed the capital hours after the family of Mr. Floyd, an African-American Minneapolis man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck, released an independent autopsy showing that he had been asphyxiated.

While Mr. Trump said Americans should be “rightly sickened and revolted by the death of George Floyd,” he described the protests as “domestic terror” orchestrated by “professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who instituted a 7 p.m. curfew, condemned the crackdown near the White House.

“A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!” she tweeted.

A broad array of voices – including that of former president Barack Obama – weighed in on Monday to call for the protesters to channel the fury on the streets into tangible change, including at the ballot box.

Mr. Floyd died a week ago after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Mr. Floyd gasped for air.

Video of his death sparked protests in Minneapolis, which quickly spread to major centres from New York to Los Angeles to Washington. They have now gone even further, from Bakersfield, Calif., to Des Moines, Iowa to Anchorage, Alaska.

A protester holds a burned American flag during a protest in St Louis, Missouri.

LAWRENCE BRYANT/Reuters

The protests come against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which, according to one Yale University study, has killed black Americans at a rate 3.5 times that of white people and left tens of millions of people out of work.

Mr. Floyd’s family released the autopsy that showed the cause of death as “asphyxia due to neck and back compression.” The result contradicted the previous ruling, by the city’s medical examiner, who said Mr. Floyd died of underlying medical conditions including high blood pressure.

The independent autopsy, by doctors Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson, found that the officer choked off Mr. Floyd’s carotid artery, starving his brain of blood, while other officers sitting on his back had stopped his breathing.

The finding could further inflame the protests. Mr. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers with him – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane – have been fired from the police force but not charged.

Mr. Floyd’s family and protesters have called for Mr. Chauvin’s charges to be upgraded to first-degree murder and for the other police officers to be charged as well.

“They knew that they were applying restraints that could or would cause death,” said Antonio Romanucci, one of the family’s lawyers. “They are criminally liable because they knew what they were doing could lead to death.”

Mr. Floyd’s younger brother, Terrence Floyd, visited the intersection where his brother died to call for peaceful protest.

Terrence Floyd, center, the brother of George Floyd, is comforted while visiting the site of his brothers death in Minneapolis, on June 1, 2020.

Victor J. Blue/The New York Times News Service

“If I’m not over here wilding out, if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community, then what are y’all doing?” he said. “Y’all are doing nothing. Because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all.”

The younger Mr. Floyd urged change through the electoral system. “Educate yourself and know who you are voting for. That’s how we’re going to hit them,” he said, wearing a face mask with his brother’s image on it.

In California, protests expanded from urban centres into suburban communities such as Long Beach and Beverly Hills. Police in Santa Monica, an affluent beach city west of Los Angeles, arrested more than 400 people for vandalism, assault and curfew violations overnight Sunday. Walnut Creek, a bedroom community in the San Francisco Bay Area, instituted a week-long curfew after protesters stormed a Macy’s department store and shopping plaza and one woman was shot in the arm.

In a call with governors, the audio of which was posted online by The New York Times, Mr. Trump berated them for not cracking down with enough force. He called for some protesters to be given lengthy prison sentences.

“You have to dominate or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks,” he said at one point during the call. “Someone throwing rocks is like shooting a gun. You have to do retribution.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told the President that his “inflammatory” statements are “making it worse” and that responding to the protests by granting their demands for police reform was the way to calm the situation. The President fired back: “I don’t like your rhetoric much either.”

Mr. Trump so far has not made the sort of calming address to the nation that previous presidents delivered during similar unrest.

His predecessor, Mr. Obama, on Monday encouraged protesters to focus their efforts on local governments to force city councils and police to properly investigate and clamp down on brutality.

“Throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities,” he said in a post on Medium. “But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices – and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”

The former president also condemned “the small minority of folks” engaging in property destruction.

“Let’s not try to excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves,” he wrote.

Law enforcement officers stand guard as demonstrators take part in a demonstration against the death of George Floyd, in Anaheim, Calif., on June 1, 2020.

MIKE BLAKE/Reuters

Some local officials vowed to address the concerns of protesters.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would set up a human- and civil-rights commission, including an office of racial equality, to fight racism in the country’s second-largest city.

“We don’t just have to give word to this, but we can actually see and measure where discrimination lives in our city,” he said at a public briefing. “This is not something where Los Angeles has to be awakened. Long before I was mayor, and long after I’m mayor, this is part of our culture.”

Mr. Garcetti initially declined to call in the National Guard, but later changed his mind and asked for 500 troops. He said, however, that they would not patrol the racially diverse neighbourhoods of Southern Los Angeles for fear of evoking the city’s painful history of riots over police brutality. The city erupted in the 1960s, and again in 1992 after the acquittal of four Los Angeles police office offices for the beating of motorist Rodney King.

Other Democratic officials similarly struggled to balance demands for social justice with the desire to restore order.

In Oakland, home to a large African-American community, city officials declined to impose a curfew. The community has a history of fraught political debates over whether to establish a youth curfew to tackle crime. The city’s police department has been under federal government oversight for the past 17 years because of civil-rights abuses.

Several major American cities imposed curfews overnight Saturday amid intensifying protests over the death of George Floyd and police brutality. Reuters

“Really this demonstration is about absolute power,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “So we are in a delicate position to not impose that power.”

But across the bay in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed had no such qualms. The first African-American woman to lead the city, she called in 200 more police officers from other parts of California to crack down on looting and vandalism. “We can’t just sit by and let you destroy our city,” she said. “We will do what we need to do.”

The protests have echoes of the civil-rights era more than five decades ago, including the week of demonstrations and riots that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April of 1968. Richard Nixon used the unrest to rally his white voter base, much as Mr. Trump appears to be trying to do now.

Unlike those long-ago protests, the current upheaval has largely played out over social media, from the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death to widespread documenting of the protests and riots that followed to Mr. Trump’s condemnation of the protesters.

Silicon Valley was facing its own internal uprising after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg decided not to censure a statement of Mr. Trump’s that called for the shooting of protesters. Last week, Twitter placed a warning on a tweet from Mr. Trump that threatened “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” – which echoed a 1967 statement by a police chief who threatened to shoot African-American civil-rights protesters in Miami. Facebook left a similar post by Mr. Trump on its platform untouched.

Facebook’s employees this week staged a walkout, and took to Twitter to call out Mr. Trump. “Mark is wrong, and I will endeavour in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” said Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed.

Andrew Crow, who heads design for Portal, Facebook’s video conferencing system, said “Censoring information that might help people see the complete picture is wrong. But giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable.”

– with files from Reuters

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Trump threatens military force against protesters across the U.S. – CTV News

June 1st, 2020

WASHINGTON — Wielding extraordinary federal authority, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened the nation’s governors on Monday that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation over the past week. His announcement came as police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.

Trump’s bellicose rhetoric came as the nation braced for another round of violence at a time when the country is already buckling because of the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused. The president demanded an end to the heated protests in remarks from the White House Rose Garden and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.

If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets,” Trump said the U.S. military would step in to “quickly solve the problem for them.”

“We have the greatest country in the world,” the president declared. “We’re going to keep it safe.”

A military deployment by Trump to U.S. states would mark a stunning federal intervention not seen in modern American history. Yet the message Trump appeared to be sending with the brazen pushback of protesters outside the White House was that he sees few limits to what he is willing to do.

Some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots, capturing the White House. But despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, Trump is an incumbent who risks being held responsible for the violence.

Minutes before Trump began speaking, police and National Guard soldiers began aggressively forcing back hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, where they were chanting against police brutality and the Minneapolis death of George Floyd. As Trump spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding.

Floyd died last week after he was pinned to the pavement by a police officer who put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. His death set off protests that spread from Minneapolis across America. His brother Terrence pleaded with protesters on Monday to remain peaceful.

Five months before Election Day, the president made clear that he would stake his reelection efforts on convincing voters that his strong-arm approach was warranted to quell the most intense civil unrest since the 1960s. He made little effort to address the grievances of black Americans and others outraged by Floyd’s death and the scourge of police brutality, undermining what his campaign had hoped would be increased appeal to African American voters.

The scene in and around the White House on Monday night appeared to be carefully orchestrated. As the crowd of protesters grew, Attorney General William Barr arrived in Lafayette Park to look over at the demonstrations and the swarm of law enforcement.

The sudden shift in tactics against the protesters was initially a mystery. Then, after finishing his Rose Garden remarks, Trump emerged from the White House gates and walked through the park to St. John’s Church, where an office had been set on fire the previous night.

Trump, who rarely attends church, held up a Bible and gathered a group of advisers — all white — to pose for photos.

The moment was quickly decried by Trump’s critics, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the president “used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church.”

“It’s all just a reality TV show for this president,” he said on Twitter. “Shameful.”

Federal law permits presidents to dispatch the military into states to suppress an insurrection or if a state is defying federal law, legal experts said. But Trump’s statements also set up an immediate conflict with officials in New York and other states who asserted that the president does not have the unilateral right to send in troops against the will of local governments.

The country has been beset by angry demonstrations for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the U.S. since the 1960s. Spurred largely by Floyd’s death, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police. Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding that three of his colleagues be prosecuted, too. All four were fired.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, others have descended into violence, leaving neighbourhoods in shambles, stores ransacked, windows broken and cars burned, despite curfews around the country and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members in at least 15 states.

On Monday, demonstrations erupted from Philadelphia, where hundreds of protesters spilled onto a highway in the heart of the city, to Atlanta, where police fired tear gas at demonstrators, to Nashville, where more than 60 National Guard soldiers put down their riot shields at the request of peaceful protesters who had gathered in front of Tennessee’s state capitol to honour Floyd. Two people were killed during protests in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, authorities said, but provided no details. In Louisville, Kentucky, riot police firing tear gas scattered several hundred protesters from downtown, violently capping a day of mostly peaceful protests.

A vehicle plowed through a group of law enforcement officers at a demonstration in Buffalo, New York, injuring at least two. Video from the scene showed the vehicle accelerating through an intersection shortly after officers apparently tackled a protester and handcuffed him. The officers were hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

In New York City, where nightfall has brought widespread scenes of destruction, large crowds rallied peacefully in Times Square and Brooklyn during the day. Then, in early evening, looters rushed into a Nike store in Manhattan and protesters smashed storefront windows near Rockefeller Center. Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop.

In Washington, protesters continued marching peacefully through Washington hours after being forced from Lafayette park and past the 7 p.m. curfew.

Eventually, within sight of the Capitol building, the marchers were turned back by law enforcement officers using tear gas, pellets and low-flying helicopters kicking up debris. As they dispersed, some protesters smashed windows at a nearby office building.

Earlier Monday, Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard troops. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

He added: “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, dismissed Trump’s comments as the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. He met in person with black leaders in Delaware and also held a virtual meeting with big-city mayors.

Biden said hate emerges “when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate.”

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, Floyd’s brother Terrence made an emotional plea for peace at the site where Floyd was arrested.

“Let’s switch it up, y’all. Let’s switch it up. Do this peacefully, please,” Terrence Floyd said as he urged people to use their power at the ballot box.

Also Monday, an autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation from neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said.

Authorities in many cities have blamed the violence on outside agitators, though have provided little evidence to back that up.

But on Monday, federal authorities arrested a 28-year-old Illinois man saying he had posted self-recorded video on his Facebook page last week that showed him in Minneapolis handing out explosive devices and encouraging people to throw them at law enforcement officers.

More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offences as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.

Sullivan and Morrison reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press journalists across the U.S. contributed to this report.

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George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if states don’t mobilize National Guard – Globalnews.ca

June 1st, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be deploying the military to handle George Floyd protesters if states don’t mobilize their National Guard units.

Trump, who said the measures go into effect immediately, has yet to actually deploy the American military to any states as of yet.

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READ MORE: Trump urges crackdown on George Floyd protests, tells governors to get ‘tougher’

Whether he can do so legally as a means to quell protests and whether such demonstrations constitute acts of terrorism, however, also remains to be seen.

The American Civil War-era Posse Comitatus Act prohibits federal troops from executing domestic law enforcement measures such as making arrests or searching people.

4:22George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if governors can’t quell violent protests

George Floyd protests: Trump says he will deploy military if governors can’t quell violent protests

The president can, however, invoke the Insurrection Act in extreme cases.

The act — also from the 1800s — could essentially allow the deployment of active-duty military personnel or National Guard members in a state for use in law enforcement.

During his address, Trump urged mayors and governors to establish an “overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.”

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“A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents,” he said.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Trump said his administration was already in the process of dispatching “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” to put an end to the protests.

2:21George Floyd protests: Trump issues warning with strict 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C

George Floyd protests: Trump issues warning with strict 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C

He added that a 7 p.m. curfew would be “strictly enforced” within Washington D.C. as well, promising lengthy jail sentences and severe criminal penalties for anyone caught breaking the law.

READ MORE: ‘This ain’t the way’: Protester pleads for violence to stop in powerful video

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According to The Associated Press, between 600 and 800 National Guard members from five states were now being sent to assist the U.S. capital, citing senior defence officials.

Trump also criticized Antifa, lumping the left-leaning, anti-fascist movement together with other “organizers of this terror” he claimed were “leading investigators” of the violence unfolding across the U.S.

On Sunday, Trump declared that he would be classifying Antifa as a terrorist organization.

2:21George Floyd protests: Trump issues warning with strict 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C

George Floyd protests: Trump issues warning with strict 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C

Currently, the U.S. does not have any laws in place to designate domestic groups as a terrorist entities — only foreign organizations could be classified as such.

Just minutes before Trump began speaking at the White House Rose Garden, National Guard members and police aggressively forced back peaceful protesters that were gathered in Lafayette Park.

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Loud noises heard in the background prior to Trump’s address seemed to be those of police helicopters and the firing of tear gas or flashbangs.

READ MORE: Kentucky police chief fired after Black restaurant owner killed amid police gunfire

After finishing his remarks, Trump later emerged from the front gates and walked through the park — which had been cleared of demonstrators — to St. John’s Church.

He later posed for photos — Bible in hand — alongside a group of advisers.

Earlier on Monday, Trump had mocked the nation’s governors as “weak,” demanding that they enforce tougher crackdowns and more arrests in their states amid another night of violent protest in several American cities.

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said, according to some of the local leaders. “You have to arrest people.”

Trump, who spoke to the governors on video teleconference alongside a handful of law enforcement and national security officials, said that they would “have to get much tougher.”

1:24George Floyd death: White House calls on governors to deploy National Guard

George Floyd death: White House calls on governors to deploy National Guard

The protests, which were sparked by the killing of George Floyd — a Black man who died after being suffocated by a white Minneapolis police officer — have now entered their second week.

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Several of the peaceful demonstrations have turned violent in many U.S. cities, with looters and rioters taking advantage of the chaos.

With files from The Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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George Floyd died of ‘asphyxiation,’ autopsy commissioned by family finds – Globalnews.ca

June 1st, 2020

An autopsy commissioned for George Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression when a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes and ignored his cries of distress, the family’s attorneys said Monday.

The autopsy by a doctor who also examined Eric Garner’s body found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and weight on his back made it hard to breathe, attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference.

2:26Protests fuelled by death of George Floyd sweep across U.S.

Protests fuelled by death of George Floyd sweep across U.S.

“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death and homicide as the manner of death,” Allecia Wilson, one of the doctors who conducted the family’s autopsy, said at a press conference on Monday.

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READ MORE: George Floyd: What we know about the arrest, video and investigation

The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as described in a criminal complaint against the officer. That autopsy included the effects of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system, but also said it found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”

Floyd, a Black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after the white officer ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. His death, captured on citizen video, sparked days of protests in Minneapolis that have spread to cities around America.

The official autopsy last week provided no other details about intoxicants, and toxicology results can take weeks. In the 911 call that drew police, the caller described the man suspected of paying with counterfeit money as “awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.”

Crump said last week that he was commissioning the family’s own autopsy. Floyd’s family, like the families of other Black men killed by police, wanted an independent look because they didn’t trust local authorities to produce an unbiased autopsy.

6:00George Floyd death: George’s brother Terrence Floyd makes emotional plea to demonstrators for calm

George Floyd death: George’s brother Terrence Floyd makes emotional plea to demonstrators for calm

Dr. Michael Baden, who conducted the autopsy with Wilson, said neither drugs nor alcohol were the cause of Floyd’s death. He said it took three minutes and 50 seconds for Floyd to die. 

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Baden is the former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to conduct an autopsy of Eric Garner, a Black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold and he pleaded that he could not breathe.

Baden also conducted an independent autopsy of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He said Brown’s autopsy, requested by the teen’s family, didn’t reveal signs of a struggle, casting doubt on a claim by police that a struggle between Brown and the officer led to the shooting.

READ MORE: Police hardline tactics at George Floyd protests may prove point of having them: experts

The officer who held his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and is in custody in a state prison. The other three officers on scene, like Chauvin, were fired the day after the incident but have not been charged.

Crump on Monday called for the remaining three officers to be arrested and for the charge against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder.

The head of the Minneapolis police union said in a letter to members that the officers were fired without due process and labour attorneys are fighting for their jobs. Lt. Bob Kroll, the union president, also criticized city leadership, saying a lack of support is to blame for the days of sometimes violent protests.

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2:18George Floyd death: Black activist delivers powerful message to 16-year-old protester in viral video

George Floyd death: Black activist delivers powerful message to 16-year-old protester in viral video

When asked to respond, Mayor Jacob Frey said: “For a man who complains so frequently about a lack of community trust and support for the police department, Bob Kroll remains shockingly indifferent to his role in undermining that trust and support.” Frey said Kroll’s opposition to reform and lack of empathy for the community has undermined trust in the police.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that Attorney General Keith Ellison would take the lead in any prosecutions in Floyd’s death. Local civil rights activists have said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman doesn’t have the trust of the Black community. They have protested outside his house, and pressed him to charge the other three officers.

Freeman remains on the case.

— With files from Emerald Bensadoun

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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‘Bunker Boy’: Trump mocked for ‘hiding’ from protesters at White House – Globalnews.ca

June 1st, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump bragged over the weekend that he watched “every move” the Secret Service made to protect him on Friday night while hundreds of Americans rallied outside the White House to protest his response to the death of George Floyd.

Trump described the Secret Service as “very cool” on Twitter and pushed the conspiracy theory that the protests were not legitimate.

He failed to mention that he spent nearly an hour of his Friday night in the White House’s fortified bunker in a rare security response that typically only occurs in the face of a terrorist threat. The Secret Service made the decision to whisk Trump, his wife Melania and his son, Barron, off to the bunker, the New York Times reports.

READ MORE: Trump vs. himself — How he dismissed the coronavirus, in his own words

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Trump’s critics responded to news of his bunker visit with outrage and mockery, particularly after Trump boasted about his defenders and ridiculed the protesters in several tweets on Saturday.

Many Twitter users accused Trump of “hiding” from the American citizens whom he’s supposed to lead through a time of crisis. They also accused him of refusing to acknowledge the anger that has spurred sweeping protests across the United States in recent days after the death of Floyd, the latest unarmed Black man to be killed in an encounter with police.

Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minn., last week after a police officer pinned him down with a knee on his neck for several minutes.

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“Please, I can’t breathe,” he said in a video of the incident.

5:31Former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death

Former police officer charged in George Floyd’s death

Floyd’s death came just two weeks after police barged into the home of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT in Louisville, Ky., and shot her dead in a dispute over a search warrant. It also occurred shortly after video emerged from the February slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger who was ambushed by two white vigilantes in Georgia. The protests have also been fuelled by rage over the actions of Amy Cooper, a white woman who falsely told police that a Black birdwatcher was “threatening” her in Central Park last week.

“The country is literally falling apart and our ‘leader’ is no where to be found,” one user tweeted.

Another user called Trump a “coward” and a “bunker boy” — one of several bunker-related nicknames that circulated on Twitter Monday, along with “Bunker Don” and “Bunker Trump.”

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Many people shared an image of the White House with its lights off on Sunday night after a weekend filled with protests in Washington, D.C.

Critics suggested that the photo was a symbol of Trump’s response to police brutality against African-Americans.

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Several people recirculated an old Trump tweet from 2014 in which he criticized then-President Barack Obama‘s leadership.

“It’s almost like the United States has no President,” Trump wrote in the old tweet. “We are a rudderless ship heading for a major disaster. Good luck everyone!”

Others blasted Trump for pushing a conspiracy theory that the protesters were somehow illegitimate — a claim he’s made repeatedly, without evidence. Trump suggested over the weekend that the protesters were being run by Antifa and moved to label the group a terrorist organization.

“These are ‘Organized Groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd,” Trump tweeted after his bunker visit. He presented no evidence to back up his claim.

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The protests outside the White House have occasionally turned violent, with some among the crowd setting fires and throwing rocks. Seventeen individuals were arrested during protests on Sunday, the Washington Post reports. Most of them were locals.

2:29George Floyd killing: Riots, protests escalate across the U.S.

George Floyd killing: Riots, protests escalate across the U.S.

Thousands have been arrested across the United States after several days of protests marred by cases of looting, vandalism, break-ins and the burning of police cars.

Trump has attempted to present a strong image in public, but he has said he’s worried about his safety during the protests, the Associated Press reports.

7:41George Floyd death: Trump comments on widespread protests around the U.S.

George Floyd death: Trump comments on widespread protests around the U.S.

Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the 2020 election, acknowledged the protesters’ outrage in a statement over the weekend while urging them to avoid spreading destruction.

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“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” Biden said. “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.”

Trump continued to rage-tweet about the situation on Monday morning, accusing Biden of paying to get “anarchists” out of jail and misquoting from his favourite show, Fox and Friends.

He also called out the biggest day on his 2020 calendar: election day, when all Americans will decide whether they want four more years of his leadership.

“NOVEMBER 3RD!” Trump tweeted.

“Go back to your bunker, loser,” Star Trek actor and activist George Takei tweeted in response.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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