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June 1 George Floyd protest news

Crowds at George Floyd memorial take knee with his brother
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What you need to know

  • Protests erupted for a seventh day across the US over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • At least 40 cities imposed curfews and National Guard members have been activated in at least 23 states and Washington, DC.
  • An independent autopsy found Floyd died from “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” while the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings” to “support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
  • One former officer who was seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter — but protesters say the charge doesn’t go far enough, and are demanding charges for the other officers involved.
  • President Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” during remarks from the Rose Garden Monday night.
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Our live coverage of the nationwide George Floyd protests has moved here.

Trump's call for a protest crackdown has been a boon for Chinese propaganda

Protesters running amok. Innocent citizens under siege. Outside actors engaging in terrorist acts. Police struggling to maintain control and in desperate need of reinforcements.

That was how Chinese state media portrayed anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, dismissing calls for greater democracy and an investigation into police brutality by focusing on individual acts of violence and property damage. 

Throughout the protests, the US was consistent in its support of people’s right to take to the streets and have their voice heard. Facing widespread unrest and public anger at home in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the reaction from US President Donald Trump appeared markedly different.

On Monday, Trump called for the military to be deployed to “dominate” protesters, and demanded states do more to stem “acts of domestic terror.”

The irony has not been lost on Beijing, which on Thursday marks (or rather doesn’t, the date is highly censored) its own military crackdown on anti-government protesters on June 4, 1989

“Washington’s promise of equality and justice for all in the country has remained hollow at best,” state news agency Xinhua said in a commentary titled “The coming suffocation of the American dream.”

“Amid the ongoing anti-racism protests in the country, decision-makers in Washington, instead of trying to sooth the pain and anger of the public, have been fanning the flames, calling protesters ‘THUGS,’ and threatening them with ‘the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons,” the commentary said.

China Daily, a state-backed newspaper, noted that “The US, after the killing of Floyd, seems to be on fire, and troops have been mobilized to subdue angry demonstrators.” 

“This is certainly not what the world expects to see in a country that is the world’s sole superpower,” it added. “But that sadly is the reality of the US.”

This rhetoric isn’t just embarrassing for Washington, it’s also a sign of how the US may find its influence damaged by a perceived hypocrisy over human rights at home and abroad. 

Earlier today, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam pointed to the unrest in the US as evidence of Washington’s “double standards.”  

“They attach great importance to the national security of their country, but look at our national security through tinted spectacles, especially the current situation in Hong Kong,” she added. 

The ability of Washington to influence Beijing’s position on Hong Kong – which is in part founded on fear of outside influence in the city – was already severely limited. The Trump administration’s reaction to protests at home may have hurt its position even further.

A Kentucky police chief knelt with protesters amid peaceful demonstrations of solidarity

A protester holds a police officer's hand while praying together during a rally to protest the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in Lexington, Kentucky, on Sunday, May 31.

As violent clashes between police and protesters erupted Sunday evening, the Kentucky city of Lexington emerged as one notable exception of how the two groups could demonstrate together in solidarity. 

During peaceful protests Sunday evening, Lexington officers clad in riot gear knelt and prayed with protestors, even embracing demonstrators too. The moments of unity were captured on video. 

Following chants from protestors urging officers to kneel with them, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers first took a knee, according to department spokeswoman Brenna Angel. The chief then told officers they could also kneel if desired, she said. 

“It was a beautiful thing,” Devine Carama, a hip-hop artist, community youth activist and organizer, told CNN. He was on the front line of the peaceful demonstrations Sunday evening. 

“Obviously the protestors were down there to protest police violence and bringing value to black lives. But it was almost as if the police officers in Lexington were showing solidarity with protestors, as opposed to it being a battle. I don’t think that’s what the protestors expected,” he continued.

Minnesota officials now say no evidence the trucker intentionally drove into protesters Sunday

People react after a tanker truck drove into a crowd peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd on the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River on May 31, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota authorities are now saying a man who drove a tanker truck toward protesters may not have done so intentionally.

What happened: On Sunday, Bogdan Vechirko drove a tanker truck toward a group of protesters on the I-35W bridge near Minneapolis. It doesn’t appear anybody was injured. He was subsequently arrested and charged with assault.

On Sunday, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington’s department tweeted that the driver was “inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators.”

But Harrington walked it back today, saying, “We don’t have any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act.”

Harrington says the state had not yet finished putting up roadblocks when Vechirko was on the freeway. “He saw the crowd, and from what it looked like, panicked,” said Harrington.

Vechirko is being interviewed by investigators, but Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell says it will be up to the county attorney whether to pursue the case.

Jail records show that Vechirko was still in custody without bail Monday night.

In Minneapolis, people are leaving tributes and flowers at the site of George Floyd's death

People gather at site where George Floyd died on June 1, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In Minneapolis, the place George Floyd died has become an emotionally charged site of tribute, with hundreds of flowers and messages of condolences left by mourners.

Yesterday, the police said they had found incendiary materials like water bottles filled with gasoline in the area – but today, it’s quiet.

Part of the new calm may be because people are growing tired and disillusioned, or are realizing the impact of looting and destruction – but more likely, they have taken to heart the message of Terrence Floyd, George’s brother.

Terrence spoke to protesters and supporters at the scene today, his first appearance there since his brother’s death.

“I understand you all are upset … (but) if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community, what are y’all doing?” he shouted to the crowd. “That’s not going to bring my brother back at all.” 

Terrence said his family is “peaceful” and “God-fearing,” and that George would not want the protesters to be committing acts of violence or destruction.

“Do this peacefully. Please,” he said.  

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Democratic governors criticize Trump's call for stronger state response against protests

The Democratic governors of two western states issued statements Monday night criticizing President Trump’s call for states to crack down harder on violent protests. 

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak accused the President of “inciting combativeness, stoking racial tensions, and creating division when we need unity more than ever.” 

In response to the suggestion that the National Guard has been restrained in some states, Gov. Sisolak said, “As the Commander In Chief of the Nevada National Guard I can state, categorically, that they have done their duty to protect all Nevadans, and will continue to do so.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was even more direct in his criticism. In a written statement, Inslee said the President had “repeatedly proven he is incapable of governing,” and accused the President of showing “nothing but false bravado throughout the chaos that has accompanied his time in office.” 

“Our country is defined by our collective character and democratic ideals, not by reactionary calls for division and not by threatening Americans with their own military,” added Inslee.

New York looters seemed "well-organized," said CNN reporter

Most of the protests in New York today were peaceful marches – but as night fell, there were also increasing instances of property destruction and looting.

The looting appeared remarkably organized at times, said CNN Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz at the scene.

“They would go to stores. They would break the windows. You know, they would use hammers. They would run off. And then, others would come. And then, repeatedly come back,” Prokupecz said.

The looting and destruction would serve as a second blow to many of the businesses already suffering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, he added. Many of the stores vandalized had already been closed for months, and had been losing money.

“And now, (the stores are) being looted.” Prokupecz said. “Everything taken out and now they have to repair the stores, fix the glass.”

The citywide curfew: The city’s curfew, which went into effect at 11 p.m. tonight, will be extended through tomorrow evening – but tomorrow night it will be enacted earlier, at 8 p.m. instead.

“The curfew, in the end, is probably too late,” Prokupecz said. “They brought in more officers. They doubled the number of officers that were going to be dealing with this today. And that didn’t even seem to help.”

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