Mourners gathered by the thousands in cities around the country Thursday night to remember George Floyd, following a private memorial service in Minneapolis for the 46-year-old black man whose death in police custody sparked widespread protests against police violence and systemic racism.

“At the end of the day, my brother’s gone, but the Floyd name lives on,” Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, told a sea of supporters at a rally in Brooklyn. “I thank God for y’all.”

Later on Thursday, Buffalo police suspended two officers over a viral video of police seriously injuring a 75-year-old peaceful protester. After other videos showed New York City police arresting a man delivering food after curfew and violently confronting journalists on the street, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised changes.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Buffalo police suspended two officers Thursday night after a viral video spread showing police pushing over an elderly protester who fell, striking his head on the sidewalk. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the video, which shows police leaving the man bleeding on the ground, “utterly disgraceful.”
  • The American Civil Liberties Union and Black Lives Matter on Thursday accused President Trump and his administration of authorizing an “unprovoked and frankly criminal attack” on demonstrators to enable a photo op of the president holding a Bible in front of the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.
  • A judge set bail at $750,000 apiece with conditions, or $1 million without, for the three former police officers charged with aiding Floyd’s killing. Conditions of bail include signing an extradition waiver and surrendering firearms and concealed-carry permits.
  • At Floyd’s memorial, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Floyd’s death emblematic of the oppression black Americans have faced since the nation’s founding, saying, “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ’Get your knee off our necks.’”
  • Amid loud criticism of his city’s curfew, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to ensure food delivery drivers, journalists and other essential workers are protected. His comments came after viral videos showed a driver being arrested and journalists being accosted by officers.
  • In his most extensive comments on the civil unrest gripping the country, Attorney General William P. Barr defended law enforcement’s aggressive, militaristic response to protests, while acknowledging the “long-standing” concerns with police that were exposed by the death of Floyd.
June 5, 2020 at 6:17 AM EDT

Sen. Cory Booker fights tears while reflecting on personal experiences with racism, police

Following an emotional Senate session Thursday when tensions ran high over a stalled anti-lynching bill, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) fought back tears as he recalled his own experiences growing up black in America, dealing with police and fighting for racial justice.

“I am emotionally raw,” Booker said in an interview with CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert.

Booker told Colbert that he wished he had been with the protesters in Lafayette Square on Monday, decrying federal authorities’ use of chemical agents and less-lethal rounds to clear out the crowd so President Trump could walk from the White House to a nearby church and pose outside with a Bible.

“I almost feel embarrassment that I wasn’t there with the protesters to confront what has been, in my opinion, in my lifetime one of the greatest affronts of our most sacred principles and ideals,” he said, calling the widely condemned moment “deeply offensive” and an “assault” on all Americans.

Booker became visibly moved as he opened up about being worried for his safety walking at night through Washington in recent days, remembering conversations he had when he was 12 or 13 years old with adult family members who warned him that he “would make people feel scared or uncomfortable.”

“I’m a United States senator, and I left here late last night, and I literally thought twice about putting on my shorts and T-shirt to walk home,” he said.

He also noted his experience protesting the Rodney King verdict in 1992.

“I think the thing that’s made a lot of my friends just break down in tears this week is 30 years ago at Rodney King, when we were marching at Stanford, we thought we could change this and that we wouldn’t have to have these same conversations with our kids,” Booker said, his voice growing thick. “You have kids now in our streets again, like I was in my 20s, who are really questioning this nation.”

By Allyson Chiu
June 5, 2020 at 5:56 AM EDT

D.C. protests over the death of George Floyd have grown bigger and more diverse. That’s not an accident, experts say.

Although the issues at the core of these protests are not new, experts said, the diversity of the crowd and the sustained momentum are. Several longtime protesters have wondered: Why now? Experts cite a confluence of factors, including a mainstreaming of protests, a backlash to citywide vandalism, the response to a fortified Washington, frustration with the government’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and a growing recognition of unequal treatment of black people.

Rashawn Ray, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that if momentum continues, the demonstrations could mark a turning point in the larger movement against systemic racism that would mirror shifts from the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.

“The speed at which the movement for black lives has been able to diversify what the protest crowd looks like speaks, on one hand, to the fact that maybe there are a lot of people who want to see racial equality and want to see our country live up to its highest potential,” he said. “On the other hand, it also speaks to the ways the world around that movement has changed.”

Read more here.

By Marissa Lang
June 5, 2020 at 5:43 AM EDT

Tacoma mayor calls for officers to be fired over death of man in police custody who yelled, ‘I can’t breathe’

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards called Friday for the firing of four officers involved in the death of Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old black man, after the county medical examiner ruled that his death, while he was restrained in handcuffs on the ground, was a homicide.

New video footage of the violent March 3 arrest emerged late Thursday, showing Tacoma police officers beating Ellis on the side of the road, repeatedly striking him as he struggled. The footage, provided by the Tacoma Action Collective, shows officers telling him to “just put your hands behind your back” while they were already on top of him.

In a video statement, Woodards said the video only confirmed what she said the Pierce County medical examiner had made apparent: that Ellis died because of the actions of the four officers. The exact cause was respiratory arrest due to hypoxia — a lack of oxygen reaching body tissues — which was due to physical restraint.

Woodards demanded that the city manager fire the officers.

“Tonight, [the family] asked, why does it always take a video for the public to believe when a black person’s life is taken unjustly? As an African American woman, I didn’t need a video to believe,” Woodards said. “As I watched that video I became even more enraged and angered and disappointed.”

Live Video Statement from Mayor Woodards on Manuel Ellis Case-June 4, 2020

Mayor Victoria Woodards issues a live video statement regarding the Manuel Ellis case on June 4, 2020, at 9:20 PM.

Posted by City of Tacoma Government on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Tacoma demonstrators have drawn parallels between Ellis’s death and George Floyd’s at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

In addition to demanding the officers’ firing, she said she also instructed the city manager to allocate funds for body cameras immediately.

She asked that the district attorney prosecute the officers “to the fullest extent of the law.”

By Meagan Flynn
June 5, 2020 at 5:30 AM EDT

Supreme Court asked to reconsider immunity available to police accused of brutality

As protests around the country continue over the death of George Floyd, the Supreme Court is examining a form of immunity that has shielded police from lawsuits about excessive force and other government officials for alleged civil rights violations.

The court could announce as soon as Monday whether it will accept for argument next term challenges to a doctrine called qualified immunity. It protects officers from lawsuits unless plaintiffs can show that the accused violated “clearly established” laws or constitutional rights they should reasonably have been aware of.

In practice, the “clearly established” test often means that for their lawsuits to proceed, civil rights plaintiffs must identify a nearly identical violation that has been recognized by the Supreme Court or appellate courts in the same jurisdiction.

Clark Neily of the libertarian Cato Institute, one of the groups that has urged the Supreme Court to revisit the issue, wrote that Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police pointed out the “perversity” of the court’s rulings on qualified immunity.

“If Mr. Floyd’s family wants to sue the officer who took his life, they will need to find an existing case [from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit] holding that a police officer may not kneel on a unresisting suspect’s neck, ignoring his pleas for help, until he passes out,” Neily wrote.

Read more here.

By Robert Barnes
June 5, 2020 at 5:03 AM EDT

Dallas police adopt ‘duty to intervene’ policy requiring officers to step in when they see abuse

Dallas police who see another officer use inappropriate physical force are now required to step in and stop their colleagues, the city’s police chief said early Friday.

The rule, known as a “duty to intervene” policy, applies to both sworn and non-sworn officers. Police Chief Reneé Hall said the order is meant to create a police culture that would have prevented a death like that of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“His fellow co-workers either assisted or stood by and watched Mr. Floyd take his last breath. Had the officer’s partners intervened, the outcome might have been different,” the Dallas Police Department said in a statement, according to the Dallas Morning News.

As protesters across the nation have called for greater police accountability following Floyd’s death, activists in many cities — including Dallas — have called on law enforcement to adopt “duty to intervene” policies.

Police in Charlotte implemented a similar rule earlier this week, the Charlotte Observer reported, while Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) called on police forces in her state to do the same Thursday.

Hall’s order applies to any member of the Dallas police department “present at any scene where physical force is being applied,” the Morning News reported. It is unclear whether or how officers who fail to adhere to the rule will be reprimanded.

In the days immediately following Floyd’s death, demonstrators in Minneapolis and nationwide demanded consequences for the three police officers who watched Derek Chauvin press his knee against Floyd’s neck.

Prosecutors announced stepped-up murder charges Wednesday for the officers, who have also been fired.

By Teo Armus
June 5, 2020 at 4:35 AM EDT

Merkel condemns George Floyd’s killing but avoids criticizing Trump over protest response

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the killing of George Floyd in a television interview Thursday evening, but held back from directly criticizing President Trump for stoking tensions.

“The murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible,” she said in the interview with the German channel ZDF. “Racism is terrible. American society is very polarized.”

She sidestepped several questions on whether she believes Trump is inflaming those divisions, saying she did not want to draw a direct connection. But she described his “political style” as “controversial."

“Racism has always existed,” she said. “Sadly it exists here, too.”

By Loveday Morris and Luisa Beck
June 5, 2020 at 4:15 AM EDT

Maryland police search for man filmed accosting group posting fliers about George Floyd

Park police in Maryland are searching for a man who allegedly assaulted a group of people while they were putting up fliers about George Floyd earlier this week along a portion of a popular trail that runs between Washington and Bethesda.

The tense confrontation that played out Monday on the Capital Crescent Trail was captured in a now-viral video, which began circulating widely Thursday, sparking furious calls for the man to be identified and the incident investigated. Members of the group in the video told WJLA on Thursday that they had been posting fliers bearing the all-caps message, “KILLER COPS WILL NOT GO FREE.”

The 34-second video opens with a man dressed in cycling gear, his eyes obscured by a pair of mirrored sunglasses, advancing toward a young woman.

“Hey, leave her alone,” the person filming says.

Without speaking, the man abruptly turns and strides over to a different young woman standing nearby. A person off-camera repeatedly shouts, “Do not touch her!” Ignoring the commands, the man tries to wrestle what looks like a roll of tape off her arm.

After the man moves back to his bike, the person filming tells him to “get out of here.” The man then picks up the bike and charges at the camera’s operator, appearing to send the person crashing to the ground.

On Tuesday, the park police tweeted images of the man and asked for the public’s assistance to identify him. Authorities did not provide many details about the incident, only referring to it as “an assault."

Demands for the man to be identified and investigated were renewed Thursday amid widespread outcry. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) later weighed in, asking people on Twitter to contact him or the Montgomery County state’s attorney with information.

By Allyson Chiu
June 5, 2020 at 3:45 AM EDT

In urban areas, police are consistently much whiter than the people they serve

As police engage with protesters in cities across the United States, many major police forces are still much whiter than the communities where they work. Decades of reform have made police less white, but it has not been enough to keep pace with the changing demographics of the country.

This widening racial gap has left very few police forces that resemble the people they serve, which experts say can hinder community relations and affect crime rates.

Read more here.

By Dan Keating
June 5, 2020 at 3:12 AM EDT

California mayor resigns after writing email claiming local police never killed a ‘good person of color’

A California mayor resigned Thursday after sending an email earlier in the week claiming that local police in his city had never killed a “good person of color.”

Temecula Mayor James “Stew” Stewart sent the email Tuesday night, responding to a constituent asking what he and his administration were doing to address systemic racism in policing. After the email became public, Stewart said the word “good” had been added by mistake by the talk-to-text software he used to compose the message because of his dyslexia. He said he did not proofread the email after working a 12-hour shift at his barbershop in Temecula, which is about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

“As you know the City of Temecula does not have its own Police Department,” Stewart wrote in the brief email. "We contract with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. And I don’t believe there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer. So I’m kind of confuse what you are looking for.”

Some of Stewart’s critics accepted his apology for the mistake, the Press-Enterprise reported, but still considered his message troubling in the context of major protests demanding changes to address disparities in policing after George Floyd’s death.

Many pointed out that police have killed people of color in Riverside County, where Temecula is located, including 19-year-old Tyisha Miller, who was shot and killed in 1998 by police responding to a 911 call from family members who could not wake her as she sat in a locked car with a handgun on her lap.

"City of Temecula, I hear you, I agree with you, and I am deeply sorry,” Stewart said in a statement announcing his resignation from the city council on Thursday, the Press-Enterprise reported.

He added: “I understand that even my sincerest apologies cannot remedy this situation. Because actions speak louder than words, I will step down as your Mayor and City Council Member effective immediately.”

By Katie Shepherd
June 5, 2020 at 3:02 AM EDT

Texas GOP county chairs face calls to resign for sharing ‘disgusting’ posts calling Floyd’s death a hoax

One Facebook post falsely claimed that George Floyd’s death was a “staged event,” meant to rile up opposition to President Trump. Another showed a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. juxtaposed on a banana — an established racist trope.

And a third claimed that George Soros, the liberal billionaire, paid “white cops to murder black people” and “black people to riot because race wars keep the sheep in line.”

All posts were shared in recent days by Republican county leaders in Texas, who are now facing calls to resign from top state officials within their party, the Texas Tribune reported.

“I have said it before and I will say it again now: the GOP must not tolerate racism. Of any kind. At any time,” George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner, wrote on Twitter late Thursday. “I urge them to do the honorable thing and step aside now.”

The earliest, loudest and most damning condemnations were directed at the two GOP party chairs who shared a Facebook post floating a conspiracy theory about Floyd’s death.

Cynthia Brehm, the Bexar County chair, wrote on Facebook that Floyd’s death could have been a “filmed public execution” with “the purpose of creating racial tensions.”

Nueces County chair Jim Kaelin then posted the same text, calling it an “interesting perspective.”

Their posts drew immediate calls to resign from top Texas Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott, who called the posts “disgusting.” (Brehm, however, told Spectrum News San Antonio that she would not resign.)

“Spreading conspiracy theories that the murder was staged simply defies reality; it is irresponsible,” a spokesman for Abbott said in a statement to the Tribune.

Also on Thursday, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) called for the resignation of Keith Nielsen, the GOP chairman-elect in Harris County, who earlier this week had posted the image of the MLK quote and the banana, according to the Tribune.

Sue Piner, GOP chair in Comal County, outside San Antonio, shared the post with conspiracy theories about Soros.

By Teo Armus
June 5, 2020 at 2:39 AM EDT

After staff uproar, New York Times says Sen. Cotton op-ed urging military incursion into U.S. cities ‘did not meet our standards’

What began as an undercurrent of newsroom grumbling built into an unusual Twitter tidal wave of public outrage among journalists at the New York Times over their newspaper’s decision to publish an opinion column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) calling for military intervention in U.S. cities wracked by protests over police violence.

But after 24 hours of debate and acrimony — during which both the paper’s publisher and editorial page editor strongly defended the need to showcase diverse and controversial viewpoints — the paper late Thursday abruptly announced that Cotton’s op-ed was the result of a “rushed editorial process” and “did not meet our standards.”

Read more here.

By Elahe Izadi, Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison
June 5, 2020 at 2:18 AM EDT

New York mayor says arrests of essential workers after curfew are ‘NOT acceptable and must stop’

Amid crackdowns on protesters and others violating curfew, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) urged the city’s police department to protect the rights of essential workers after a pair of videos surfaced Thursday night showing the arrest of a food delivery worker out past 8 p.m.

“This is NOT acceptable and must stop,” de Blasio tweeted shortly after midnight, noting that he had just spoken to New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea about the “troubling” incident. “Food delivery is essential work and is EXEMPTED from the curfew.”

In one of the videos, a man carrying an orange insulated backpack bearing the logo of Caviar, a food delivery company, is standing in the street surrounded by at least six police officers. A bicycle lies on its side at the man’s feet.

“Are you serious? Look, look, look, look, I’m not even doing anything,” the man shouts. One officer can be heard telling him that he’s violating curfew as two others start removing his backpack.

The officers appear to ignore the man’s pleas to check his phone for proof that he is an essential worker, only telling him to “relax.” Another video shared minutes later shows the man being loaded into a police van.

NYPD officials said the man was taken to a nearby precinct where his credentials were verified and he was released.

DoorDash, the parent company of Caviar, told the Verge in a statement that it was “alarmed” by Thursday’s arrest and is in contact with city officials.

Thursday’s arrest fueled more backlash against the NYPD over its aggressive curfew enforcement. Videos have captured numerous confrontations as officers have clashed with protesters and journalists, who are also considered essential workers.

De Blasio stressed on Twitter that reporters covering the demonstrations would also be protected, writing, “Will get NYPD to fix this immediately.”

By Allyson Chiu
June 5, 2020 at 1:48 AM EDT

Man shot near Denver protest; two others possibly injured

A man was shot Thursday night one block away from the capitol building in Denver, where protesters were gathered to demand reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Video of the immediate aftermath posted on social media showed a chaotic scene, with a man lying in a pool of his own blood while people shouted for the crowd to make space for police and first responders.

“He has a critical wound in his neck, he needs help,” someone can be heard shouting in the video.

As EMTs begin treating the victim, preparing him to be placed on a stretcher and transported in an ambulance, a large group of police officers arrived on the scene. The police repeatedly ask the crowd if anyone saw what happened. In the video, bystanders said they heard a gun fire but did not see the shooting.

Denver police confirmed one man had been shot and transported to a nearby hospital. They had no details on his condition or the events leading up to the shooting.

Two other possible victims later arrived at the hospital as “walk-ins,” police said, one with a gunshot wound and another with stab wounds. A police spokesman told The Washington Post that officers have not confirmed those injuries are related to the incident near the capitol building, but police are operating under that assumption for now.

The Denver Post reported that a man carrying an ax had been shot by someone, but a police spokesman could not confirm that information early Friday morning. One officer told the newspaper that investigators did not believe the shooting was connected to the protests nearby. He said homicide detectives responded to the scene, but police have not yet confirmed any deaths or the medical status of any victims hurt in the incident.

By Katie Shepherd
June 5, 2020 at 1:33 AM EDT

NYPD arrests protesters after hundreds violate curfew to march through Manhattan

NEW YORK CITY — More than 200 peaceful protesters walked, biked and skateboarded up 6th Avenue at about 9 p.m. on Thursday. As the Tupac song “Changes” played from a speaker on a bicycle, the group ventured through the quiet, dark streets of Manhattan.

As the 8 p.m. curfew set in, the New York Police Department quickly broke up groups attempting to defy the order, which has come under harsh criticism this week. But this vibrant group outlasted most of their counterparts.

The group was mostly in their early 20s and came from diverse backgrounds. A white couple held hands as they marched, a woman with a headscarf made her way on a CitiBike, and a black woman directed marchers to take a knee as she spoke about defunding the NYPD.

“We’re just trying to be out here. We’re trying to not just enjoy ourselves, but also do this for a cause. We’re not doing this for no reason,” said 22-year-old Bronx resident John Bonilla.

Throughout the march, several dozen cyclists helped the group navigate around police and safely pass through intersections. Officers trailed the group for most of the walk, hanging back without intervening even after curfew.

But that all changed just after 10 p.m., when the group reached the southeastern corner of Central Park, where dozens of police officers awaited their arrival.

Standing at 5th Avenue and 59th Street, with the glow of the Plaza Hotel and the Pulitzer Fountain behind them, the demonstrators raised their arms and chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

But within minutes, they were swarmed by police, who took protesters to the ground to arrest them.

As one young man was pinned to the ground and an officer zip-tied his hands behind his back, he screamed out to another protester, whom he had just met that evening, and relayed his brother’s phone number so he could be alerted.

By Kayla Ruble