The Latest: Protests continue after new charges announced over George Floyd's death
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Protests turn subdued after new charges in Floyd case
Demonstrations in cities across the U.S. to condemn racism and police abuses remained large but turned notably more subdued on the eve of a Thursday memorial service for George Floyd that kicks off a series of events to mourn the man whose death empowered a national movement.
The calmer protests came on the same day that prosecutors charged three more police officers and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the center of the case.
The most serious new charge Wednesday was an accusation of second-degree murder against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd's neck. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.
The move by prosecutors punctuated an unprecedented week in modern American history, in which largely peaceful protests took place in communities of all sizes but were rocked by bouts of violence, including deadly attacks on officers, rampant thefts and arson in some places.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 people have been arrested in connection with unrest, an Associated Press tally shows. More than a dozen deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
Floyd's name has become a rallying cry in other countries, too, unleashing protests against police violence and racial injustice.
In the U.S., protests were still big, but largely peaceful in California, where NBA stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson marched with protesters in Oakland.
Some demonstrators lay down to represent the amount of time a white police officer pressed a knee into Floyd's neck while he pleaded for air. But police kept a mainly hands-off policy during the day even after curfews took effect.
The first of three memorial gatherings for the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people was planned Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis at a service where the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, and family attorney Ben Crump will speak.
Floyd's body will then travel to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a public viewing and private family service Saturday.
There will be a large service Monday in Houston, where Floyd spent most of his life, 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. A private burial will follow.
Crump called the additional charges against the officers "a bittersweet moment" and "a significant step forward on the road to justice."
After the new charges were announced, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, said the state and nation need to "seize the moment" and use the wrenching events of the past week to confront the effects of racism, including unequal educational and economic opportunities.
"I think this is probably our last shot, as a state and as a nation, to fix this systemic issue," he said.
Hundreds of protesters were in New York City's Washington Square Park when the charges were announced.
"It's not enough," protester Jonathan Roldan said, insisting all four officers should have been charged from the start. "Right now, we're still marching because it's not enough that they got arrested. There needs to be systematic change."
But the mood in New York turned somber later in the day after a police officer on an anti-looting patrol was ambushed by a man who walked up behind him and stabbed him in the neck. That set off a struggle in which two other officers suffered gunshot injuries to their hands.
Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, counts that still stand.
The new second-degree murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd's death without intent while committing another felony, namely third-degree assault. It carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, compared with a maximum of 25 years for third-degree murder.
The other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face the same maximum penalties for aiding and abetting. All three men were in custody by Wednesday evening.
The multiple charges against each officer would offer a jury more options to find them guilty.
President Donald Trump has pushed the nation's governors to take a hard line against the violence. He again tweeted Wednesday: "LAW & ORDER!"
An overpowering security force — including officers from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and, according to a senior defense official, at least 2,200 National Guard soldiers — was out in force Wednesday as thousands of peaceful protesters demonstrated in the nation's capital.
Military vehicles were parked on streets near the White House. An FBI plane, an Army surveillance plane and a Park Police helicopter circled overhead.
At one point near the White House, protesters began singing "Amazing Grace" as they knelt in view of officers in riot gear. "We are not going anywhere!" they chanted. There were no signs of confrontations.
Protester Jade Jones, 30, said the demonstrations would continue despite the new charges.
"That's the least they could do," Jones said. "It's not going to wipe away 400 years of pain."
In New York City, where high-end stores were looted in earlier days, some retailers fortified their property. At the luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue, windows were boarded up, then covered in chain-link fencing and razor wire. The front of the store was guarded by a line of tattooed men with dogs.
The protests also also taken root internationally as Floyd's name has quickly become familiar around the world.
AP tally: Arrests at widespread US protests hit 10,000
More than 10,000 people have been arrested in protests decrying racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death, according to an Associated Press tally of known arrests across the U.S.
The count has grown by the hundreds each day as protesters spilled into the streets and encountered a heavy police presence and curfews that give law enforcement stepped-up arrest powers.
Los Angeles has had more than a quarter of the national arrests, followed by New York, Dallas and Philadelphia. Many of the arrests have been for low-level offenses such as curfew violations and failure to disperse. Hundreds were arrested on burglary and looting charges.
As cities were engulfed in unrest last week, politicians claimed that the majority of the protesters were outside agitators, including a contention by Minnesota's governor that 80 percent of the participants in the demonstrations were from out of state.
The arrests in Minneapolis during a frenzied weekend tell a different story. In a nearly 24-hour period from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, 41 of the 52 people cited with protest-related arrests had Minnesota driver's licenses, according to the Hennepin County sheriff.
In the nation's capital, 86 percent of the more than 400 people arrested as of Wednesday afternoon were from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
It is not known how many of the people arrested were locked up — an issue at a time when many of the nation's jails are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks. The protesters are often placed in zip-ties and hauled away from the scene in buses.
In Los Angeles, an online fundraising campaign has gathered $2 million so far to help more than 3,000 people arrested in demonstrations since Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Kath Rogers, executive director of the Los Angeles office of the National Lawyers Guild, said she was surprised by the huge number of arrests in that city. The office is calling on those arrested to be in contact so they can be part of the group's mass defense. So far, they have heard from about 400 people, she said.
She said some people had been swept up in the arrests because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, like a woman who was simply going for an evening walk and wasn't part of the protest. Or a young man who was taking pictures of the looting with his phone and then was arrested for looting.
"I've been here for two years and we go to hundreds of demonstrations, but I've never seen rubber bullets flying like this, tear gas used this way," she said.
Los Angeles Chief Michel Moore told the city's Police Commission Tuesday the bulk of the arrests, about 2,500, were for failure to disperse or curfew violations.
DC: Change the laws
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.
Seattle ends curfew
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.
Autopsy released: George Floyd's death
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.
Norway says no to protests
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.
'Sadness' about racial divisions
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.
Iran calls George Floyd's death 'brutal'
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.
Tear gas in New Orleans
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.
Journalists told to be cautious
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.