June 7 George Floyd protest news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta, Peter Wilkinson, Fernando Alfonso III, Amir Vera and Steve George, CNN

Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT) June 8, 2020
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7:03 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

Protesters paint the words 'End Racism Now' in bold yellow on a street in Raleigh

From CNN's Bernadette Brown

Protesters painted the words “End Racism Now” in bold yellow on the street in front of the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC.
Protesters painted the words “End Racism Now” in bold yellow on the street in front of the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, NC.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter mural in Washington, DC, volunteers with CAM Raleigh spent six hours Sunday morning turning a block of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, into the largest mural yet, according to CNN affiliate WTVD-TV.

An artist named Kyle had plans to go to the beach, but immediately canceled them to come mark the letters with tape. The mural was finished by 7 a.m., WTVD reported.

6:25 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette removes black journalist from protest coverage after tweet about looting 

From CNN’s Taylor Romine  

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette leadership is being accused of removing a black journalist from protest coverage after she posted a tweet about looting last Sunday, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh said in a statement. The paper has also banned others in the newsroom who spoke out against the paper's decision, they said. 

The move stifled one of the few black reporters at the paper," the statement reads.

Alexis Johnson, a journalist at the Post-Gazette, posted a tweet with pictures on May 31 saying, "Horrifying scenes and aftermath from selfish LOOTERS who don’t care about this city!!!!! .... oh wait sorry. No, these are pictures from a Kenny Chesney concert tailgate. Whoops." The pictures accompanying the tweet were of a parking lot at night, covered in trash and debris. The tweet went viral, accruing more than 178,000 likes.

The next morning, Johnson pitched four stories related to the protests to her editor and she was told to hold off, she told CNN. Later, she got a call from editors saying that her tweet violated social media policy and that she was being pulled off protest coverage.

CNN has reached out to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette leadership for comment but has not heard back. 

Johnson said that while there are social media guidelines that were sent out several years ago, there was no policy that their union agreed to, and she had no warning by managers before her removal from coverage. Union officials from the Guild met with three top managers on the following Wednesday to get Johnson reinstated on protest coverage, but the editors declined.

Johnson said a white male reporter who also tweeted about the protests was spoken to by editors, but was only given a warning. The reporter was removed from protest coverage after Guild representatives brought up the issue during their meeting, she said. Johnson declined to identify the reporter. 

 "They need to take a hard look at why they made that decision," Johnson told CNN. "They may very well thought I violated the guidelines, but I guess they need to think about why they felt so strong about that, and not a white male reporter. I guess they need to try to figure out why they are standing so strong on this."

A photographer for the Post-Gazette, which Guild president Michael Fuoco confirmed to be Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Michael Santiago, was also removed from protest coverage after tweeting support for Johnson, the Guild said. When asked for comment, Santiago referred CNN to Fuoco, who directed CNN to the Guild statement. He also said that as of today, all Post-Gazette photographers are banned from protest coverage. 

In addition, two reporter's stories about the protests were taken down last week, according to the Guild statement, and were later reposted with no bylines and "severely shortened." 

One of the reporters, Lauren Lee, told CNN that this was the "right fight," and is "standing with Alexis, Michael and the few other reporters of color at the Post-Gazette and will continue to do so."

Johnson said she hasn't heard from management since last Monday. She is requesting an apology to her and the Post-Gazette readers for her protest coverage ban, and she and the Guild are also requesting for her to be allowed to cover the protests again. 

6:13 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

American Medical Association's Board of Trustees denounces police brutality in new statement

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad

The American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees on Sunday released a statement denouncing “police brutality and all forms of racially-motivated violence” and calling racism a threat to public health. 

“The AMA recognizes that racism in its systemic, structural, institutional, and interpersonal forms is an urgent threat to public health, the advancement of health equity, and a barrier to excellence in the delivery of medical care,” the board said.

It added that the AMA “opposes all forms of racism” and said the group will “actively work to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies and practices across all of health care.”

A chorus of medical groups, included the AMA, have already released statements emphasizing that racism is a public health issue and calling for police brutality to stop. An earlier statement from the AMA came from its board chair, Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, and president, Dr. Patrice Harris.

"AMA policy recognizes that physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public, particularly among Black and Brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, is a critical determinant of health and supports research into the public health consequences of these violent interactions," Ehrenfeld and Harris said in the statement.

In a press release announcing the new statement from the full board, the AMA said it “recognizes that worsening inequities, unequal access to care, and the disproportionately small number of Black physicians all have roots in past actions of the AMA.”

In 2008, the group apologized for “more than a century of policies that excluded black physicians,” according to the press release. 

8:04 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

Minneapolis City Council members announce intent to defund and 'dismantle' the Minneapolis Police Department

From CNN's Josh Campbell

Minneapolis police officers watch demonstrators protest outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct on May 27.
Minneapolis police officers watch demonstrators protest outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct on May 27. Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune/Getty Images

Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council made a commitment to start the process of defunding and “dismantling” the police department, Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender told CNN on Sunday.

"We're committed to dismantling police as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community, a new model of public safety that actually keeps our communities safe," Bender said.

Bender said that with nine votes the group of city council members would have a veto proof majority among the 13 city council members.

Right now, Bender said she and other council members are hearing from their constituents that "right now, our police department is not making our community feel safe."

"And so our commitment is that every single member of our community have that safety and security that they need," she said, adding that council will work with the community over the next year to build that system.

When pressed for details on what the dismantling might look like, Bender told CNN’s Josh Campbell they would shift police funding for other needs and start a discussion of how to replace the current police department.

“The idea of having no police department is certainly not in the short term,” Bender said.

Bender's comments come after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was booed by protesters Saturday after he refused to defund and abolish the police.

Watch here:

5:20 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

President Trump responds to NYT opinion editor's resignation

From CNN's Mary Kay Mallonee and Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to share his reaction to the resignation of New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet.

Bennet's resignation came after backlash from publishing an op-ed written by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton that called for sending the military to cities in the US to quell violent protests across the country. 

5:18 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

New York Times publisher sends letter to staff after editorial page editor resigns

From CNN’s Oliver Darcy

The exterior of The New York Times building in 2017.
The exterior of The New York Times building in 2017. Avalon/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

After the immediate resignation of New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger sent a letter to staff.

Here's the full letter:


I’m writing to share with you that James Bennet has resigned as Editorial Page Editor. Jim Dao, an Opinion deputy who oversees Op-Eds, will step off the masthead to move into a new role in the newsroom. 

Last week we saw a significant breakdown in our editing processes, not the first we’ve experienced in recent years. James and I agreed that it would take a new team to lead the department through a period of considerable change

Katie Kingsbury will step in as the acting Editorial Page Editor through the election in November. These changes are effective immediately.

James and Jim are both excellent journalists with enormous integrity who poured themselves into the mission of The Times. They fostered a culture of innovation, broadened the range of voices we publish and pushed us into new formats like video, graphics and audio. I’m grateful for their many contributions. 

Katie has been instrumental in reimagining Opinion since she joined The Times in 2017 from The Boston Globe, where she served as managing editor for digital and won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. She will lead a process in the coming weeks and months to implement changes in how the Opinion department works and in how decisions get made. I will work with Katie to bring more editing support to the Opinion department, as well as to take other steps to ensure all our work meets our high standards. There are also fundamental questions to address about the changing role of opinion journalism in a digital world, and we will begin work to reinvent the Op-Ed format so that readers understand why we choose to elevate each argument and where it fits in the national debate.

None of these changes mark a retreat from The Times’s responsibility to help people understand a range of voices across the breadth of public debate. That role is as important as it’s ever been. We are a polarized nation whose shared understanding of the world has fractured. The Times, and journalism more broadly, plays an essential role in making sense of this moment, wrestling with the history that has brought us here and helping the public chart a path forward. That requires fearless engagement with ideas from across the political spectrum, particularly those we disagree with. Those ideas, like everything that appears in our pages, must adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and be communicated in a way that respects our readers.

Because we have faced questions in recent days about our core values, I want to say this plainly: As an institution we are opposed to racism in every corner of society. We are opposed to injustice. We believe deeply in principles of fairness, equality and human rights. Those values animate both our news report and our opinion report.

While this has been a painful week across the company, it has sparked urgent and important conversations. In the tough town hall questions, in the Slack channels, in the countless searching conversations I have had with many of you, I have heard an extraordinary passion for the mission of The Times.

As a company we have made real progress in recent years in becoming more diverse and inclusive, but must increase our efforts to ensure that this is a place that welcomes, supports and reflects the contributions of all of our employees. Leadership will share a concrete set of steps the company will take within a month.

Thank you for your dedication to helping us to live up to our highest ideals.


5:25 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

Michael Jordan: 'We have been beaten down for so many years. It sucks your soul'

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

Michael Jordan speaks at a press conference before an NBA game on January 24.
Michael Jordan speaks at a press conference before an NBA game on January 24. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame NBA player and owner of the Charlotte Hornets, spoke plainly about the damage racial injustice has done to the African American community in an exclusive interview with the Charlotte Observer

"We have been beaten down (as African Americans) for so many years. It sucks your soul. You can’t accept it anymore. This is a tipping point. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to be better as a society regarding race," Jordan told the newspaper.

"Face up to your demons. Extend a hand. Understand the inequalities," Jordan answered when asked what needs to happen to change racist behavior. "Sure, it’s about bargaining for better policing, but it’s more. We have encountered racism to be somewhat acceptable in certain circles."

On Friday, Michael Jordan and Nike's Jordan Brand pledged to donate $100 million over the next ten years to organizations dedicated to promoting racial equality, social justice, and education. Speaking on why he chose those initiatives, Jordan said, "If I’m giving $100 million, along with Jordan Brand, then we’re going to make this go in a way that makes a difference. And this -- attacking ingrained racism, supporting educational opportunity -- is a very necessary step in society.”

5:24 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

New York Times editorial page editor resigns after controversial op-ed calling for troops to help police

From CNN's Sheena Jones

The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet has resigned effective immediately, a tweet from the Times says.

Bennet has been the Editorial Page Editor since May 2016, according to a statement from the Times.

“James is a journalist of enormous talent and integrity who believes deeply in the mission of The Times," Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said. "He oversaw a significant transformation of the Opinion department, which broadened the range of voices we publish and pushed us into new formats like video, graphics and audio. I’m grateful for his many contributions.”

This resignation comes after a controversial op-ed written by Sen. Tom Cotton was published where he argued the Insurrection Act could be invoked to deploy the military across the country to assist local law enforcement with unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Watch here:

5:01 p.m. ET, June 7, 2020

University of Houston cancels classes Monday for those who want to attend the public viewing of George Floyd

From CNN's Leah Asmelash 

The University of Houston canceled classes scheduled on Monday, according to a statement posted by the university on Twitter.

The university said it is doing so "in order to provide the UH community ample opportunity to attend the public viewing of George Floyd and reflect on the events taking place in our nation."