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Protests over George Floyd death continue across US, world

Pastors march through downtown Orlando

Protests in downtown Orlando
Protests in downtown Orlando (WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here’s the latest on protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

NEW YORK

On Friday night, demonstrators again remained on city streets hours after the curfew. With police generally allowing some leeway, crowds mostly dwindled on their own at various locations. But there were some minor flare-ups: About an hour after a Brooklyn protest ended, images on social media showed officers surrounding a group of protesters and chasing down some with batons.

Officers on Manhattan’s East Side also used force to break up remnants of a march that started near the mayor's official residence. There were about 40 arrests citywide — far fewer than previous nights — and no obvious signs of the smash-and-grab stealing that marred protests earlier in the week.

With demonstrations and marches planned throughout the day and into the evening on Saturday in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, local politicians and civil liberties advocates have been calling for an end to the 8 p.m. curfew. They’ve complained that it causes needless friction when officers try to enforce it.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio has insisted the curfew will remain in place throughout the weekend.

MINNEAPOLIS

Minneapolis has agreed to ban chokeholds by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force. The agreements reached Friday are the first concrete steps that have been taken to remake the city's police department since George Floyd's death. The moves are part of a stipulation between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which launched a civil rights investigation this week. The City Council approved the agreement unanimously. Floyd, who was handcuffed and black, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd's neck and kept it here even after Floyd begged for air and eventually stopped moving.

BUFFALO, N.Y.

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday, prosecutors said, after a video showed them shoving a protester in recent demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Two officers push the elderly man backward, and he hits his head on the pavement. Blood spills as officers walk past. One officer leans down to check on the injured man before another officer urges the colleague to keep walking. Both pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. They were released without bail. The officers had been suspended without pay Friday after a TV crew captured the confrontation the night before near the end of protests. Dozens of police officers stepped down from the department’s crowd control unit Friday, in response to their fellow officers’ suspensions.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump invoked George Floyd’s name as he delivered remarks trumpeting the latest unemployment numbers, which showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly adding 2.5 million jobs last month.

Trump mentioned equal justice under the law means everyone needs to receive fair treatment. He referenced Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked protests across the world.

Trump says, “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” adding: “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”

Trump is also calling an improving economy “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations” and the African American community.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A man with George Floyd says his friend didn’t resist arrest and tried to diffuse the situation when officers began screaming at Floyd.

Maurice Lester Hall, a longtime friend, was a passenger in Floyd’s car when police approached him on May 25 while responding to a call about a possible use of counterfeit money. Hall told the New York Times that Floyd was trying in his “humblest form to show he was not resisting arrest in no form or way.”

Hall, 42, was arrested Monday in Houston on outstanding warrants.

He has been interviewed by Minnesota authorities and is a key witness in the state’s investigation into the four officers who apprehended Floyd. All four officers were fired and charged, including Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.

Hall told ABC’s “Good Morning America” the situation escalated and police grabbed Floyd, put him in a squad car, dragged him back out and then “jumped on the back of the neck.”

Hall says Floyd was crying out for help because he was dying. He says he’ll always remember seeing the fear in his friend’s face.

Hall didn’t know Floyd had died until the next day, when he saw the bystander video.

ORLANDO -- Two state lawmakers say a Florida deputy used unnecessary force by smashing the driver-side window of a woman’s car after she left a group of demonstrators protesting police abuse and refused orders to leave the car after being pulled over.

On Thursday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina called it “troubling” and an internal inquiry had been opened.

In deputy-cam video footage released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, the deputy with lights flashing follows the woman in her car after she leaves a group of demonstrators on Wednesday. She pulls over into a parking lot, and the deputy exits his squad car and shouts “Get out of the car!”

When the woman asks why through a partially rolled-down window, the deputy asks, “Do you want to go to jail? Seriously? Either get out of the car or you’re going to jail.”

The deputy says she was illegally in the middle of the street when she stopped next to the demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, and she was committing a traffic violation.

The deputy repeats his order and warns she will be removed if she doesn’t comply. When the deputy starts reaching through the window to open the car door, the woman tells him to stop and starts rolling up the window. The deputy smashes the window with a baton, shattering glass on the woman. She was handcuffed and put in a squad vehicle.

The woman had minor cuts, according to sheriff’s office officials, who say the car had lurched forward.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota’s county attorneys want to give the state attorney general the authority to handle all cases of police-involved deaths.

The Minnesota County Attorneys Association voted Thursday in transferring that power during an emergency meeting, which included Attorney General Keith Ellison. The attorney general is leading the state’s case against the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death instead of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

State lawmakers would need to pass legislation during this month’s special session to give the attorney general the ongoing authority.

The county attorneys are also calling on the Legislature to provide additional funding to the state Attorney General’s Office and create a unit within Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate police killings of civilians.

“If this is the path the Legislature and governor choose to take, my office will accept the responsibility,” Ellison said. “But it must come with resources sufficient to do the job thoroughly and to do justice in the way Minnesotans have a right to expect.”

Ellison is one of 18 Democratic attorneys general who are asking Congress to grant their offices “clear statutory authority under federal law” to investigate “unconstitutional policing by local police departments” in their respective states, the Star Tribune reported.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minneapolis City Council is preparing to vote on changes to the city’s police department in response to the death of George Floyd.

City leaders and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights are working out an agreement for a temporary restraining order to force some immediate changes and set a timeline for the state’s civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

The council meets Friday afternoon. If the council approves the agreement, the order would require court approval.

The state human rights department opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by the police department on Tuesday. The investigation into policies, procedures and practices seeks to determine if the force has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices toward people of color and ensure that any such practices are stopped.

ORLANDO -- A group of pastors marched through Orlando on Friday morning to protest the death of George Floyd.

The pastors were joined by local leaders, including Orange County Sheriff John Mina and Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon.

Protests across Central Florida have remained largely peaceful, with small outbreaks of vandalism.

Orlando police have made several arrests over the past week related to the protests.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Prosecutors are investigating after a television crew captured a police officer in Buffalo, New York, shoving a 75-year-old man who then fell and cracked his head.

The WBFO recording of Thursday night’s encounter quickly gained steam online and sparked outrage. Two police officers have been suspended without pay.

The video shows a man approaching a line of officers clearing demonstrators from Niagara Square around curfew time. The man falls backward and hits his head on the pavement. Blood leaks out as officers walk past.

The mayor says the man is in serious condition. He hasn’t been publicly identified.

PARIS -- Police have banned a planned protest against police violence in Paris on Saturday because of health measures restricting gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

A protest decrying systemic racism and calling for justice for Floyd and other victims of police brutality was planned to take place outside the U.S. Embassy.

But on Friday, Police Prefect Didier Lallement said such protests “are not authorized” because virus safety measures “prohibit any gathering, in the public space, of more than 10 people.” He issued an order banning the Floyd demonstration and another protest planned for the same day.

Lallement said “in addition to the disturbances to public order that these rallies can generate ... the health risks they could cause remain significant.”

France has had over 29,000 people die in the pandemic.

BEIRUT -- The Islamic State group says protests across the United States and the repercussions of the coronavirus on Western countries will weaken these nations and divert their attention from Muslim countries.

The comments published Friday in an editorial in the extremist group's online weekly newspaper al-Nabaa were its first on protests in America after last week's death of African American George Floyd while a policeman put a knee to his neck.

Al-Nabaa said protests have been occurring in the U.S. since it was founded, but this year “coincide with the negative effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy.” Al-Nabaa said the pandemic will weaken “infidel states.”

In recent weeks, the militants have taken advantage of the pandemic to launch deadly attacks in their former self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

The group that once controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria used these territories to launch attacks worldwide that killed hundreds of people since declaring their so-called caliphate in 2014.

WASHINGTON -- Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users.

The company put a label on a video posted by the (at)TeamTrump account that said, “This media has been disabled in response to a claim by the copyright owner.” The video was still up on President Donald Trump’s YouTube channel and includes pictures of Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests, at the start.

“Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” Twitter said in a statement.

The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking.

It’s the latest action that Twitter has taken against Trump, who has threatened to retaliate against social media companies.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- A member of Finland’s populist party has been expelled from the its parliamentary group in response to a series of racist social media posts by the lawmaker -- the latest one was on George Floyd.

The opposition Finns Party decided Thursday to expel Ano Turtiainen from the group. He has since conceded it was racist, deleted the tweet and apologized to the party that was formerly known as the True Finns, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

“This time that was not enough. The decision was unanimous,” spokesman Ville Tavio said of the apology and the decision to expel Turtiainen, according to YLE.

Parliament speaker Matti Vanhanen described the tweet, showing a doctored image of Floyd being arrested with a pink head and the words “Pink Floyd,” as “shocking and simply wrong from the standpoint from universal human values.”

Turtiainen’s exit means meant the Finns Party is no longer the largest group in the country’s parliament.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- South Africa’s ruling party says it is launching a “Black Friday” campaign in response to the “heinous murder” of George Floyd and “institutionalized racism” in the U.S., at home, in China and “wherever it rears its ugly head.”

A statement by the African National Congress says President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday evening will address the launch of the campaign that calls on people to wear black on Fridays in solidarity.

The campaign is also meant to highlight “deaths by citizens at the hands of security forces” in South Africa, which remains one of the world’s most unequal countries a quarter-century after the end of the racist system of apartheid.

“The demon of racism remains a blight on the soul of our nation,” the ANC statement says.

SYDNEY -- Thousands gathered in Australia’s capital on Friday to remind Australians that the racial inequality underscored by George Floyd’s death was not unique to the United States.

The Canberra rally that attracted 2,000 demonstrators comes before larger rallies are planned for Australia’s most populous cities on Saturday, with authorities concerned about maintaining social distancing.

Police were on Friday seeking a court order banning a rally in Australia’s largest city, Sydney, because of the pandemic risk. A state government leader urged demonstrators not to attend a rally in Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city.

Matilda House, an elder of the Ngambri-Ngunnawal family group who are the traditional owners of the Canberra region, said: “Australians have to understand that what’s been going on the United States has been happening here for a long time.”

Australia had to move beyond a colonial attitude “that blacks are only here to be walked on, trodden on and murdered,” House said in the first speech of the rally.

NEW YORK -- Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”

The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.

The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people. ... We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. ... We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A police commissioner has suspended two officers following video that shows a Buffalo officer appearing to shove a man who walked up to police.

Video from WBFO shows the man appearing to hit his head on the pavement, with blood leaking out as officers walk past to clear Niagara Square on Thursday night.

The station reports two medics treated the unidentified man. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted that the man was hospitalized and stable, but his exact condition wasn’t immediately known.

WIVB-TV reports that Buffalo police initially said in a statement a person “was injured when he tripped & fell.” But Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later told the TV station that an internal affairs investigation was opened. Later Thursday, news outlets reported that Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended two officers without pay.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office has tweeted that they’re aware of the video.

NEW YORK -- Protesters stayed on the streets of New York City after curfew for another day Thursday, spurred by the death of George Floyd.

Actions by the protesters included gathering at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza, the site where police used batons against demonstrators who were out past the city-imposed curfew a night earlier.

Protesters continued past the 8 p.m. curfew Thursday, even after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to deflect criticism over harsh tactics from police enforcing it.

Thousands of protesters were out after curfew, and so were police.

At some locations, officials watched, but didn’t immediately move in. At other spots, they made orderly arrests without the batons and riot gear, like a night earlier.


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