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LIVE UPDATES: Protesters gather in downtown Orlando as mourners honor George Floyd

Officer kept his knee to Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for air for nearly 9 minutes

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here’s the latest on the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.

The first of several memorial services for Floyd began Thursday.

NEW YORK--

New Yorkers gathered Thursday for a memorial service for George Floyd, whose death last week at the hands of Minneapolis police has prompted ongoing global protests against police brutality. Demonstrators protesting Floyd’s May 25 death marched through the city for a tenth day as the governor and mayor sought to deflect criticism over the harsh tactics used by officers dispersing crowds of protesters Wednesday night. Both Democrats said they had not seen videos of officers using batons on protesters. In Buffalo, video shows a police officer appearing to shove a man who falls and cracks his head on the pavement. Buffalo police said they’re opening an internal investigation and two officers were suspended.

ORLANDO -- For the fifth day, protesters in Orlando are demonstrating calling for change in the wake of George Floyd’s death, despite the wet weather soaking much of the area.

“There are demonstrations currently in progress in the downtown Orlando area,” Orlando police tweeted. “Keep in mind, traffic may be interrupted as the crowds gather.”

Around 5 p.m. a dozen officers with helmets and shields stood outside the OPD headquarters. For the past few days, demonstrations have started downtown near city hall on Orange Avenue and the group moves to OPD headquarters off Orange Blossom Trail.

Orlando remains under an 8 p.m. curfew. The rest of the county is under a 10 p.m. curfew.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mourners at George Floyd’s memorial service are standing for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, a span that has become a potent symbol of police brutality.

The Rev. Al Sharpton exhorted Floyd’s family, civil rights leaders, politicians, athletes and celebrities at the service Thursday to stand as a commitment to justice in Floyd’s name. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in New York City in 2014, stood on stage with Sharpton and comedian Tiffany Haddish.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on May 25 as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring his cries and bystander shouts until Floyd eventually stopped moving.

In the days since his death, protesters have seized on 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the time given in a criminal complaint that the officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck — as a way to honor Floyd.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Rev. Al Sharpton says George Floyd’s story has been the story of black people in America, and that he died not from common health conditions, but from a malfunction of the criminal justice system.

Sharpton spoke Thursday at a memorial service for Floyd in Minneapolis, the first of six services for Floyd in three cities. Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring the African American man’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. The officer stayed there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Sharpton says the reason black people couldn’t be who they dreamed of being is because “you had your knee on our necks.” He added: “Get your knee off of our necks!”

He also commented about the protests that have occurred across the country and the world since Floyd’s death, saying that this time is different. Sharpton said he saw white people outnumbering black people in some marches and calling for justice.

Sharpton also called out President Donald Trump for walking from the White House across the street as protests were going on in Washington so he could pose with a bible.

“We cannot use bibles as a prop,” Sharpton said. “For those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.

MINNEAPOLIS--The first of three services for George Floyd took place Thursday afternoon at North Central University in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s body will then go to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a two-hour public viewing and private service for the family on Saturday.

Finally, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. A 500-person service on Tuesday will take place at The Fountain of Praise church and will include addresses from Sharpton, Crump, and the Rev. Remus E. Wright, the family pastor.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, may attend, and other political figures and celebrities are expected as well. A private burial will follow.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A judge set bail at $750,000 apiece Thursday for three fired Minneapolis police officers who have been charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of George Floyd.

Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were making their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court since their arrests Wednesday.

The Minneapolis Police Department fired them last week, along with Derek Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death. Widely seen bystander video shows the white police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring the African American man’s pleas that he can’t breathe, until he stopped moving.

Defendants don’t normally enter pleas during their first appearances in Minnesota courts, which tend to be brief proceedings. Judge Paul Scoggin set their next court dates for June 29.

If convicted, Chauvin faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on the murder count and 10 years for manslaughter. Under Minnesota law, aiding and abetting second-degree murder is tantamount a second-degree murder charge, so Thao, Lane and Kueng face the same potential penalties as Chauvin if convicted.

A date for Chauvin’s first court appearance has not been set. He was arrested May 29. The latest criminal complaint against him says his actions were a “substantial causal factor in Mr. Floyd losing consciousness, constituting substantial bodily harm, and Mr. Floyd’s death as well.”

The narratives in the other three complaints are almost identical to the one against Chauvin. The complaint against Lane, 37, notes that he asked about rolling Floyd on his side and wondered about delirium, but went on to say that Lane “took no actions to assist Mr. Floyd, to change his position, or to reduce the force the officers were using against Mr. Floyd.”

The complaint against Kueng, 26, says he was positioned between Chauvin and Lane and could hear their comments. The complaint against Thao, 34, who was seen in the cellphone video standing near a crowd of bystanders, says Thao initially got a hobble restraint from the squad car, “but the officers decided not to use it and maintained their positions.”

Following days of nationwide protests decrying police brutality and discrimination, Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights ordered a civil rights investigation of the police department to determine how to address its history of racial discrimination and find solutions for systemic change.

ORLANDO -- Protests in Orlando ended peacefully Wednesday night as a new 8 p.m. curfew went into effect for the first time.

The new time comes as charges were filed against all four officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest.

The previous night, Orlando police used tear gas to disperse crowds who lingered after a 10 p.m. curfew.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A Florida police department is pledging transparency in its investigation of an officer recorded pressing his knee into the neck of a black man under arrest just a week before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Bystander video shows the arrest of 27-year-old Patrick Carroll on May 18.

The department says it wasn’t aware one of its officers pressed his knee into Carroll’s neck until it was tagged in a social media post this week.

The department released the police report and aerial video of the arrest. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- An armed demonstrator is accused of throwing an object at St. Petersburg’s police chief on Wednesday night after the crowd was asked use the sidewalk rather than blocking a street, officials said.

The man then threw an object at Chief Tony Holloway and a major, the agency posted on Twitter. Police arrested the man and found he was carrying a loaded semiautomatic pistol in his waistband.

Officers had asked the group protesting police killings of African Americans to use the sidewalk so they could open the street they were on to traffic, the agency said.

Police didn’t release any other details about the arrest, including the man’s name or the kind of object that was thrown at the chief. No one was injured.

Marches in St. Petersburg have been mostly peaceful. However several times police declared an unlawful assembly late Tuesday night when a crowd gathered outside the police department. Officers tossed smoke grenades on the front landing to disperse the crowd. Someone in the crowd threw fireworks or mortars back at the building and police arrested 23 people.

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats, powered by the Congressional Black Caucus, are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms in response the death of George Floyd.

Lawmakers are working furiously in the House and Senate to draft what could become the most ambitious effort in years to oversee law enforcement work.

Proposals in Congress are expected to include changes to police accountability laws, the creation of a database of police use-of-force incidents, and revamped training requirements.

One proposal is to ban choke holds, a change endorsed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country’s three largest cities in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, citing the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, not more than 50 people can gather in one place, Mohamed Awil, president of the African Student Association UiO told The Associated Press.

The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo where more than 15,000 people had said they planned to take part in Thursday’s demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. Awil said they were considering an alternative demonstration but details were not immediately available.

Similar events took place in the in the capitals of Sweden and Finland Wednesday. They attracted thousands of people even though the limit in Sweden is currently 50 and in Finland is 500.

LONDON -- The Duchess of Sussex has shared her sadness about racial divisions in the United States, telling students at her former high school that she felt moved to speak out because the life of George Floyd mattered.

Meghan told graduates at the Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles that she wrestled with what to tell them given the days of protests after Floyd’s death.

“I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, because George Floyd’s life mattered,” she said in a virtual address.

Floyd, an African-American, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25. The incident sparked days of protests and riots.

The former Meghan Markle, who has an African American mother and a white father, said the unrest reminded her of riots that took place in her hometown of Los Angeles after police officers were acquitted in the video-taped beating of another African-American, Rodney King.

“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home, and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky, and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings,” she said. "I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.

“I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”

The duchess’ video was first reported by the U.S. magazine Essence.

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called George Floyd’s killing “brutal” and criticized President Donald Trump for posing for photos while holding a Bible.

Rouhani in a televised speech said Floyd “was killed in the most brutal way.”

“We express sympathy toward the American people who are on the streets while harshly condemning the crime,” he said, referring to Floyd’s death after a white police officer was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck.

Rouhani also made reference to the clearing of peaceful protesters from a park outside the White House with chemical agents and flash bang grenades so that Trump could walk to a church for a photo opportunity.

“It is a shame that the president stands with a Bible when he plans to act against his people,” Rouhni said.

Iranian officials regularly take advantage of protests in the U.S. to criticize the administration, even though Iran itself in November put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access.

State television has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest.

NEW ORLEANS -- Police in New Orleans released tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators who pushed past a line of officers to cross a Mississippi River bridge during demonstrations against the death of George Floyd.

A video of the incident obtained by The Times Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate shows a crowd of protesters running, shoving past each other, and shouting “walk” on Wednesday night as smoke envelops the background of the bridge.

The encounter came hours after a rally and a march that started near the New Orleans City Hall. Some protesters were chanting curses at New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who earlier Wednesday was criticized by fellow high-profile athletes, including LeBron James, and some of his own teammates after saying in an interview with Yahoo! he opposed kneeling during the national anthem.

Brees took to social media Thursday to apologize for his comments.

View this post on Instagram

I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

SEATTLE -- Leaders in Seattle seeking to address concerns raised by protesters have abruptly ended a city-wide curfew in place for days amid massive demonstrations against the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.

Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday evening on Twitter that she was ending the curfew, which had been scheduled to last until Saturday, after she and Police Chief Carmen Best met with community members.

“Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew,” Durkan said. “For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate. We want you to continue making your voice heard.”

Thousands of protesters remained in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood well after the abolished 9 p.m. curfew Wednesday. Demonstrators carried “Black Lives Matter” signs, called for cutting the police department’s budget and shifting the money to social programs, and chanted for officers to remove their riot gear.

Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted that he was pleased Seattle had listened and reversed course.

“Preemptive curfews were only making things worse. Other cities should do likewise,” he posted.

WASHINGTON -- Demonstrators marched to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and demanding that laws be changed to prevent more like it.

Along their route from near the White House, there were troops in fatigues and officers from federal agencies keeping watch on the crowd. Barricades were put up around the Capitol, and the Capitol Police stood guard behind them.

“We came here because they make laws here and we want the laws to change,” said Mohammed Wagdy, 26, of nearby Prince George’s County.

As an 11 p.m. curfew in Washington neared, community activists urged the demonstrators to head home. Some did, but others said they were returning to the White House.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A full autopsy of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police, provides several clinical details -- including that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19.

The 20-page report released Wednesday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office came with the family’s permission and after the coroner’s office released summary findings Monday that Floyd had a heart attack while being restrained by officers, and classified his May 25 death as a homicide.

The report by Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker spelled out clinical details, including that Floyd 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 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 can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.

CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia’s prime minister has urged Australians involved in George Floyd-related anti-racism protests around the world to be “extremely cautious.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was commenting Thursday after Australian journalists came under attack while covering protests in Washington and London.

“In terms of some of the violence ... that we’re seeing around the world today, for those Australians who find themselves in those situations, I would urge them to show great caution,” Morrison told reporters.

“I would urge people to be extremely cautious. These are dangerous situations, people should exercise great care in where they’re placing themselves,” he added.

Australia’s ambassador to the United States has complained about two police officers in riot gear lashing Channel 7 journalist Amelia Brace and camera operator Timothy Meyers with a shield and baton on Monday. The network’s news director, Craig McPherson, described the attack as “nothing short of wanton thuggery.”

The officers have been placed on administrative leave while their conduct is investigated.

Two Nine Network television crews also came under attack from crowd members while reporting Wednesday on protests in London, the network reported.


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