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Murder charge upgraded in Floyd case, other officers charged-Live

Murder charge upgraded in Floyd case, other officers charged-Live
  • At least 9,300 people have been arrested across the United States amid the continuing protests after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died last week in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and police brutality nationwide.
  • US President Donald Trump has outraged faith leaders and protesters for walking to an historic church near the White House and creating a photo opportunity, just minutes after police used chemical smoke canisters and flashbangs on peaceful protesters to clear the area.
  • Protesters are demanding all four officers involved be charged in Floyd’s death. So far, 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. Medical examiners have ruled the death a homicide. 
  • Those protesting against police brutality have been met with, at times, excessive force by authorities. Journalists have also been targeted by police. Officers have also been injured in the protests.
  • Protesters have remained undeterred by curfews and the presence of the US National Guard in some cities. Largely peaceful protests have at times turned violent, with looting and vandalism. Monday’s protests, however, remained largely peaceful after curfews took effect. 

Latest updates:

Wednesday, June 3

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 as 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 8 pm to 5 am this week, imposed to prevent the nighttime chaos and destruction that followed peaceful protests for several days in a row.

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

Goernor 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 honor 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 honor ended with a rally at the state Capitol, where speakers eulogized 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 a court document, 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.

And Derek Chauvin’s murder charge, previously third-degree, has been upgraded to second-degree unintentional murder.

The new charge 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, a black former US congressman, has requested that bail be set at $1mn for each of the four former officers, the documents showed. Ellison is expected to hold a briefing later.

19:15 GMT – Trump has no side effects from two-week course of malaria drug: doctor

Trump had no side effects from a two-week course of hydroxychloroquine – the malaria drug that can cause heart problems that he used as a preventive measure against the coronavirus, his White House physician said.

The results of Trump’s annual physical found that the 73-year-old president remains healthy but put one pound and now weighs 110.68 kg (244 pounds) compared to 110.22 kg (243 pounds) last year.

Trump is regularly tested for the coronavirus and has been negative each time, according to a summary of results by his physician, Sean Conley.

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 for Joe Biden’s vice president pick, tweeted on Wednesday. 

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

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

18:05 UN high commisioner on Human Rights blasts US for ‘structural racism’

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

Michelle 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 with the civil unrest in the nation’s capitol are beginning to return to their home base, after two days of more peaceful demonstrations in Washington, DC, senior defense officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The officials said that about 200 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne’s immediate response force will 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 – George Floyd’s family and their lawyers visited the site where the 46-year-old died.

Benjamin Crump, the prominent civil rights lawyer who is representing the family, called for the arrests of all officers involved in Floyd’s death to be arrested and charged before Thursday’s memorial in Minneapolis.

So far, only one – the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck – has been charged. CNN reported earlier on Wednesday that the Minnesota attorney general is expected to announce it’s decision on whether additional charges will be filed. Crump pointed out that some of Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe”.

Crump said he called on all those present and across of the to take a “breath for peace. “Let’s take a breathe 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 dehumanized 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.”

George Floyd blog - new outside image

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 bible

Trump holds up a Bible during a photo opportunity in front of St John’s Episcopal Church in the midst of continuing 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 allegedly 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 American Black 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 mattered 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. Derek Chauvin, the white officer who pinned Floyd down, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protesters demand the three other officers be charged as well.
  • 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.

aljazeera

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