Across the United States, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered Wednesday for a ninth night to call for police accountability and justice for George Floyd. Earlier in the day, Minnesota prosecutors added a second-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and charged three more former officers in Floyd’s death.

Meanwhile, the White House tweeted, and then later deleted, a 58-second video that purported to show “Antifa and professional anarchists … staging bricks” for nefarious use during protests against the killing of Floyd. This came as large peaceful protests unfolded in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and some cities lifted curfews or decided not to enforce the orders as unrest subsides. The ACLU also filed a lawsuit targeting curfews in Southern California, calling them “draconian” measures that violate the free speech of protesters.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Army was making plans to send home active-duty soldiers who were dispatched to the Washington, D.C., area to bolster security, but the plan was reversed on Wednesday after a meeting at the White House involving Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, defense officials said.
  • Former president Barack Obama, in his first public remarks since protests erupted, offered an optimistic perspective on the civil unrest, urged mayors to enact policing reforms and reminded young people of color: “your lives matter.”
  • Former defense secretary Jim Mattis excoriated President Trump on Wednesday, accusing the nation’s chief executive of deliberately trying to divide Americans.
  • A San Francisco man kneeling outside a pharmacy that was being looted was fatally shot Monday night by an officer who thought the man was carrying a firearm in his waistband, police said Wednesday.
  • Outrage spiked as the New York Police Department cracked down on demonstrators out after curfew on Wednesday, particularly over a video showing officers using batons to beat a cyclist.
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s budget will be cut by up to $150 million to provide funding for programs in communities of color, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Wednesday.
12:31 p.m.
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Photos from the protests around the nation and the world

See more photos from the protests across the U.S. and the world here.

10:15 a.m.
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‘Tear gas’ or ‘pepper balls’? In response to assault on White House protesters, Trump harps on the semantics.

The shocking scene of peaceful protesters gassed and pummeled with rubber bullets Monday in Lafayette Square to make way for a presidential photo op had dominated the news cycle for nearly 24 hours, with images of coughing, weeping activists fleeing through billows of smoke. Journalists grappled with questions ranging from who ordered the aggressive use of force to whether President Trump’s use of military and religious symbolism raised constitutional concerns.

But late Tuesday, his reelection campaign pushed back by demanding a specific correction from the media:

The part in the stories about “tear gas” being used on the crowd, it maintained, was untrue.

Read more here.

9:58 a.m.
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20-year-old protester in Austin critically injured by police over weekend, family says

Justin Howell, 20, has suffered a fractured skull and brain damage, his family said Wednesday, after a police officer in Austin shot the young black man with “less-lethal” ammunition during protests over the weekend.

Howell, a political science major at Texas State University, was peacefully demonstrating late on Sunday outside Austin’s police headquarters, police chief Brian Manley said at a news conference earlier this week.

At around 11 p.m. Sunday, a man standing beside him threw a water bottle at the officers guarding the building, and then a backpack. The officers responded with a bean bag round.

But the munition missed, Manley said, and instead hit Howell, who fell on his head.

Other protesters scrambled to help him, the police chief said, and some officers on the scene told them to move Howell forward. Yet as a group followed instructions, carrying Howell’s limp body toward the police building, other police responded with even more “less-lethal” munitions.

Video of the scene shows police shooting at the group about a dozen times. Manley said one person was struck in the hand.

“We’re trying to get help,” one person screams.

Howell was eventually transported inside the police building and taken to the hospital, Manley said, as the incident quickly gained attention in Texas news outlets.

“We are praying for this young man and his family, and we’re hoping that his condition improves quickly,” Manley said at the news conference on Monday.

Howell went unidentified for the next two days — until his brother, Joshua, penned an emotional response on Wednesday in the Battalion, the student newspaper at Texas A&M University. His brother, Joshua said, had not been throwing anything at the police.

“We are interested in you appropriately using the responsibilities with which the people of Austin have entrusted you,” Joshua Howell wrote to the chief. “Prayer is not an excuse to abdicate responsibility.”

9:50 a.m.
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How Barr seeks to subdue Washington protests

From an FBI command center in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood, Attorney General William P. Barr has orchestrated a stunning show of force on the streets of the nation’s capital — a battalion of federal agents, troops and police designed to restore order, but one that critics say carries grim parallels to heavy-handed foreign regimes.

Barr was tapped by President Trump to direct the national response to protests and riots over police misconduct since the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The attorney general has focused much of his attention on the District, where unrest and arrests swelled over the weekend before a jarring clash Monday to clear peaceful protesters from outside the White House — an order Barr issued personally. By Tuesday night, as he sat in the FBI command center until nearly midnight, the city’s mood seemed to have calmed.

Read more here.

9:31 a.m.
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Minnesota files new charges in Floyd death as protests resume with a calmer tone

Prosecutors in Minnesota filed new charges Wednesday against the four former Minneapolis police officers present when George Floyd died in custody, as protesters returned to the streets of American cities, but a relatively calm tone prevailed early in the evening.

The charge against Derek Chauvin — the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness — was upgraded to second-degree murder from third-degree, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) announced. The other three officers, who restrained Floyd or stood guard while passersby pleaded for Chauvin to stop, were charged with aiding and abetting the murder.

Those charges — which an attorney for Floyd’s family called “a source of peace” — came on a day when peace seemed to be making a comeback, at least tentatively. After a week of aggressive use of force by police amid looting and vandalism in some cities, the tone changed. Police in many cities hung back and even marched with demonstrators, while protesters expelled vandals themselves.

Read more here.

9:12 a.m.
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George Conway’s group releases new ad accusing Trump of turning cities into ‘war zones’

An anti-Trump super PAC co-founded by George T. Conway III, an attorney and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, released an ad Wednesday accusing President Trump of turning U.S. cities into “war zones.” (George Conway is also a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s opinion section.)

The 60-second spot is the Lincoln Project’s latest attack ad targeting Trump and focuses on his response to the ongoing protests. The ad highlights the president’s threat to deploy the military to quell violent acts and looting, as well as his widely denounced Bible photo op that resulted in a large group of mostly peaceful protesters outside the White House being forcibly removed by federal authorities using chemical gas and less lethal rounds.

“When Donald Trump came out of hiding this week, he didn’t do it to bring us together or heal the nation. He wasn’t there to offer words of calm and comfort,” the ad’s narrator says over photos and videos of recent protests. “Instead, he became what we always feared, evoked the worst of our past, threatened our governors and states.”

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric — “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and his urging of governors nationwide to “dominate” — flash across the screen as quotes written in white text.

The video goes on to slam Trump’s Monday visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has since been widely denounced by many, including religious leaders.

“He didn’t invoke the Lord to give us wisdom, but to boost his polls,” the narrator says.

“Washington transformed into a war zone for this coward,” the voice continues, referring to Monday’s incident involving the protesters in Lafayette Square. “This is a time for choosing: America or Trump.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Post early Thursday.

8:54 a.m.
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Los Angeles protest ends with arrests of demonstrators who breached curfew

LOS ANGELES — A large rally outside City Hall on Wednesday night largely dispersed, but not before dozens were arrested in peaceful protest for not adhering to the city’s curfew.

At around 10:30 p.m. local time, police in riot gear handcuffed close to 100 protesters who had overstayed the 9 p.m. curfew by about an hour and a half.

But many attendees of the 1,000-person rally in Los Angeles described the demonstration, meant to protest Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and the city’s police department, as “beautiful.” Some praised law enforcement for largely allowing them to congregate and support their cause.

“When I first got here it was really scary, because when I came here I saw the National Guard and I was not myself,” said Ashley, a 22-year-old protester from Pasadena, Calif., who declined to give her last name. “So seeing that made me fear what was going to happen.”

For Bernard Elmore, 58 of Los Angeles, attending the protest was just as much about witnessing a peaceful anti-police brutality protest after experiencing the 1992 Rodney King riots, as it was about sharing the experience with his 16-year-old daughter, Mayah.

“This is going to be history. She needs to see a peaceful protest, not that negative stupid stuff,” he said. “If you’re trying to be a voice and let your voice speak for the cause, you need to see this side of it.”

Many attendees said they were unsure whether they would breach the curfew, despite understanding the need to pushback on what they believed was an unjustified timeline.

“No one is nervous about each other, or rioting, but we’re definitely on edge about the police presence,” said Yoko Okumura, 32. “For people who do stay, the curfew is criminalizing people who are out in their own city who just want to be heard.”

8:35 a.m.
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On a bridge in New Orleans, police tear gas the crowd

NEW ORLEANS — Police fired tear gas into a large crowd of protesters rallying against police brutality Wednesday night in New Orleans, an incident that seemingly marked a turning point in the tone of the city’s largely peaceful protests.

Hundreds of protesters marched through city streets for hours without incident before making their way up a highway on-ramp and onto the Crescent City Connection, an elevated bridge that connects New Orleans proper to neighboring Jefferson Parish. There, a line of officers and police vehicles blocked protesters from crossing the bridge.

Protesters faced off with the line of officers for nearly an hour, but the relative calm seemed to shift just after 10:15 p.m. As the crowd chanted, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” a small number of protesters apparently provoked shield-wearing officers, who then fired tear gas into the crowd.

A near-stampede ensued during the brief but panicked moment that followed, when hundreds of protesters ran toward the highway on-ramp to exit the chaos. Clouds of tear gas were visible in the air above the departing crowd, and some protesters were seen rubbing their eyes and vomiting from the effects of the gas.

Most protesters left the highway after the tear gas was deployed, though a small crowd continued to stand off with officers before they were eventually dispersed.

The New Orleans Police Department confirmed the incident, tweeting that officers “deployed tear gas tonight to disperse protesters after the crowd refused to comply with three orders not to attempt to walk across the [bridge].” Police tweeted officers were compelled to gas the crowd “in response to escalating, physical confrontation.”

Wednesday’s march marked the second night in a row when New Orleans protesters took over a city highway. On Tuesday, however, the highway march was largely peaceful, with some officers even taking a knee in unison with protesters.

Local organizers have additional marches planned for Thursday and Friday this week.

Teo Armus contributed to this report.

8:16 a.m.
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‘George Floyd’s life mattered’: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, backs protests

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had a powerful, timely message for the graduates of her own Los Angeles high school Wednesday: George Floyd’s life mattered.

“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing,” she told seniors at Immaculate Heart High School in a virtual commencement speech. “I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”

So Meghan, who has been outspoken about the racism she has faced at the hands of British tabloids, turned to the current events rocking the nation.

“George Floyd’s life mattered,” she said, repeating that sentiment for other black Americans who have died in police custody or in shootings — Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark — and the “many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”

In addition to describing her own childhood memories of the 1992 riots, the former Meghan Markle cited a piece of advice she received from her teacher at the private all-girls Catholic school: to always put the needs of other before your own fears.

“That has stuck with me throughout my entire life,” she said, “and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.”

She still vividly remembers the “seeing ash fall from the sky” in response to the police beating of Rodney King, and said she was sorry the graduates had to grow up with history seemingly repeating itself. But nearly three decades later, she said, it was notable what had changed, too.

“We are seeing communities come together,” she told the class of 2020. “You are going to be part of this movement.”

8:02 a.m.
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Three NYPD officers, suspect injured after knife attack and shooting in Brooklyn

Three New York City police officers were injured in what police say was a “cowardly, despicable, unprovoked attack” early Thursday morning.

At around 12:15 a.m., police say a man approached two officers assigned to an anti-looting patrol near the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a briefing that surveillance footage shows the man brandished a knife and stabbed one of the officers in the neck.

When shots rang out from the scene, a nearby sergeant and police officer heard the noise and responded to the intersection. Shea said they opened fire when they saw the man holding a gun that police believe he took from an officer. Two officers were shot in the hand during the gunfight. The suspect was also shot multiple times.

Police did not mention any direct connection between Thursday’s early-morning attack and the ongoing protests against police brutality, other than the officers’ duty assignments.

Police recovered 22 casings and several unspent bullets on the ground. The police firearm and a knife were found at the scene.

All three injured officers received medical treatment, are in stable condition and expected to recover. The suspect is also in the hospital in critical condition, Shea said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Shea visited the officers and their families in the hospital early Thursday morning.

“No matter what else is happening around us, we’ve got to be there for each other,” de Blasio said at a news conference early Thursday. “Officers protect us. We have to respect, support and protect them.”

The anti-looting patrols are part of the NYPD’s response to more than a week of upheaval in the city. Police have been violently attacked by some looters and drivers, sending several officers to the hospital in recent days.

Officers have also used force against Black Lives Matter protesters, while dozens of stores have been raided and vandalized. The inconsistent police response has drawn criticism from Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and protesters.

7:45 a.m.
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ACLU sues to end curfews in Southern California, calling restrictions ‘draconian’

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed an emergency lawsuit Wednesday challenging “draconian curfews” imposed in the region in response to protests, arguing that the orders violate constitutional rights and calling for them to be immediately rescinded.

The lawsuit — filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles as well as individual protesters and journalists — targets curfew orders in Los Angeles city and county and the city of San Bernardino that have been in place for several days now. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) and the city’s police chief, Michel R. Moore, are named as defendants, among other local leaders.

Earlier Wednesday, Garcetti announced that restrictions in Los Angeles would end Thursday, “barring a bad night.” Other officials named in the lawsuit have yet to signal a complete rollback.

“These unconstitutional curfews have suppressed a huge amount of important political protest activity and disrupted the lives of over 10 million people,” Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel of the ACLU SoCal, said in a statement. “The curfews must end now.”

Arulanantham told The Washington Post in an email that he believes the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, is the first of its kind from the ACLU in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

Describing the curfews as “extraordinary suppression of literally all political protest after dark,” the ACLU alleges that the official action “plainly violates the First Amendment” and infringes on the Constitution’s protection for freedom of movement. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the orders have made it “extremely difficult” for journalists to report on the unrest.

Beyond demanding that curfews in Southern California be reversed immediately, the ACLU is requesting that the court declare such restrictions “unlawful under the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.”

“The City and County of Los Angeles are attempting to use these curfews to suppress Black Lives Matter — L.A.’s right to protest,” Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, said in Wednesday’s statement. “They are attempting to suppress our ability to fully mobilize and focus full attention on the true issue of concern in the protests — police violence against Black people.”

7:28 a.m.
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The intersection where Floyd died has become a place for both grief and love

MINNEAPOLIS — Each night at the site of 38th and Chicago, where George Floyd was killed more than a week ago, the place looks a bit more lived in.

There were three couches set up at the Speedway gas station around midnight. Music played as well, as around 100 people hung out around the space, socializing, and interacting with the enormous altar to Floyd, which stretches across the Chicago Fire Arts Center and Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue.

In the center of the intersection is a giant circle of flowers and signs remembering Floyd.

Ronnie Riley Jr., an African American dancer and long-distance bicyclist, said the space at 38th and Chicago is not just about grief but also love and celebration.

“The grief is from living a life of discrimination,” he said. “The love is living a life where we have to communicate with each other to express how we want to live. And the celebration is the power we have and success in our statement.”

As a group of young men try out their break-dancing moves, Riley said the space is also a warning.

“The warning is that we will only grow with the message,” he said.

7:04 a.m.
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The sights from the protests in Minneapolis, Washington and London

See more photos from Wednesday’s protests here.

6:40 a.m.
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Rep. Ayanna Pressley to co-lead bill to end ‘qualified immunity’ in police abuse cases

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has signed on to co-lead a bill to end “qualified immunity,” a legal protection that shields police officers from liability for rights violations in civil court.

The bill was first proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.) on Sunday. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced a similar proposal on Monday.

Pressley joined Amash on Wednesday to push for the legislation that would allow victims of police violence and civil rights abuses to sue the officers responsible. Courts have interpreted the qualified immunity standard to be a broad shield, allowing lawsuits only when an officer broke a “clearly established” law.

That protection could prevent George Floyd’s family from suing the four Minneapolis officers who face murder charges over his death in police custody.

Pressley, one of four freshman Democrats who call themselves “the Squad,” is the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

“Qualified immunity shields police from accountability, impedes true justice, and undermines the constitutional rights of every person in this country,” Pressley said on Twitter late Wednesday. “It’s past time we end #QualifiedImmunity.”