Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was formally charged Monday with murder in the death of George Floyd, appearing via videoconference during which a judge set his bail at $1.25 million without conditions or $1 million with conditions.

The hearing coincided with a final public memorial in Houston for Floyd, who will be buried next to his mother in a cemetery in Pearland, Tex., on Tuesday.

Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody has sparked a nationwide debate over police department funding. President Trump defended police officers amid calls to “defund the police,” saying that most were “doing an incredible job.” Former vice president Joe Biden said Monday he opposes calls from activists to defund the police but added that federal aid should be conditional.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Attorney General William P. Barr said Monday that the Secret Service took President Trump to a secure bunker in the White House because “things were so bad” during the protests, a statement that contradicts Trump’s claim that he went to the bunker simply to inspect it.
  • One day after the majority of the Minneapolis City Council announced their intention to disband the city’s police department, a contingent of the council delved into the proposal on Monday and fielded questions from reporters about how their plan would come together.
  • Congressional Democrats unveiled sweeping police reform legislation Monday in response to Floyd’s killing. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among a range of steps.
  • A self-identified leader in the Ku Klux Klan was arrested after driving through peaceful protesters in Richmond late Sunday afternoon, prosecutors said. He was charged with assault and battery, attempted malicious wounding and destruction of property with intent.
  • Portland Police Chief Jami Resch announced that she is resigning and that her replacement will be Charlie Lovell, an African American lieutenant. The Portland Police Bureau faces criticism for its handling of demonstrations against police brutality.
  • In a now-deleted Facebook post, the Brevard County, Fla., chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police jokingly advertised openings available to 57 Buffalo Police officers who resigned from their assignments after two fellow officers were suspended over pushing a protester, as well as to six officers in Atlanta accused of using excessive force on two black college students.
June 9, 2020 at 6:10 AM EDT

Barr’s Four-Pinocchio claim: ‘Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant’

“Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.”

— Attorney General William P. Barr, during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” June 7, 2020

The Trump administration’s June 1 effort to clear protesters from the area around Lafayette Square continues to draw controversy. The move came just before President Trump walked across the street to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church to hold up a Bible.

Initially, the National Park Service’s statement said “tear gas” was not used on protesters, just pepper balls, a projectile munition that lofts irritant powder into the air. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “tear gas” is an umbrella term for a riot-control agent — “chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” Pepper spray was listed as a type of riot-control agent.

Now Barr is trying to argue that “pepper spray” is not a chemical irritant.

The Facts

Here’s the full exchange between Barr and interviewer Margaret Brennan.

BRENNAN: There were chemical irritants, the Park Police has said —
BARR: No, there were not chemical irritants. Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It’s not chemical.
BRENNAN: Pepper spray, you’re saying is what was used —
BARR: Pepper balls. Pepper balls.

But this is simply wrong. PepperBall’s website declares: “With multiple payload options and a proprietary chemical irritant that’s proven more effective from even greater distances, PepperBall® projectiles offer the protection and versatility for any situation.” (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)

What’s that ingredient? It’s called pelargonic acid vanillylamide, or PAVA, a “synthetic'' form of capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. Anyone who’s tried to insert contacts in their eyes after cutting hot peppers knows what that feels like. PAVA is mostly derived from synthesis rather than extraction from natural plant sources, according to the “Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents.”

Read the full Fact Checker here.

By Glenn Kessler
June 9, 2020 at 5:40 AM EDT

Tom Cotton rallies conservatives, raises national profile as op-ed on military intervention causes uproar

With his call for the military to be deployed in U.S. cities gripped by protests over police brutality, Sen. Tom Cotton has found himself in a familiar position: rallying conservatives, enraging Democrats and further raising his national profile amid growing speculation over his future ambitions.

The Arkansas Republican has been minted as a political up-and-comer since he entered Congress in 2013, yet he cemented his status as a hero on the right when an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times on using the military to deter looting and violent unrest amid the demonstrations provoked an unusual public furor among its journalists, who called it inflammatory. The uproar led to the ouster of the newspaper’s powerful opinions editor.

That turmoil at the Times has only emboldened Cotton, 43, a relatively junior senator who has nonetheless demonstrated his influence in the Trump era by having the president’s ear and embracing key tenets of Trumpism that have, at times, put the men at odds with some in their own party.

Read more here.

By Seung Min Kim
June 9, 2020 at 4:58 AM EDT

Newly released video shows officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man during traffic stop

New Jersey’s attorney general released police dash-camera footage Monday that captured the fatal shooting of a 28-year-old unarmed black man by a white state trooper last month.

Maurice Gordon of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., had been pulled over by Sgt. Randall Wetzel on May 23 for allegedly speeding. Then, his car became disabled in the left shoulder of the Garden State Parkway in Bass River, N.J., according to the attorney general’s office, which is investigating the shooting. While they waited for a tow truck to arrive, Wetzel told Gordon to sit in his police cruiser to stay out of the way of traffic.

During a half-hour of dash-cam footage, the stop appeared routine. Wetzel got Gordon’s information and called a tow truck. The trooper offered to drive Gordon to a car dealership and offered him a mask.

Read more here.

By Meryl Kornfield
June 9, 2020 at 4:30 AM EDT

San Diego council votes to increase police funding, sending protests to mayor’s doorstep

As calls to defund the police resound across the country, the San Diego City Council passed a budget Monday night that increases funding for police, causing uproar among demonstrators who have been demanding for days that the city redirect millions into other community programs.

The council voted 8 to 1 to approve the mayor’s budget, which increases police funding by $27 million to a total of $566 million, representing about one-third of the city’s total budget.

The vote followed more than 10 hours of public comment from more than 4,000 people, nearly all of whom called in and emailed to urge the council to reject the funding boost for police, KPBS reported.

Immediately after the late-night vote, the local Black Lives Matter chapter mobilized protesters outside Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s home, chanting, “Defund police!”

“There were 700 of us who called in, hundreds more of us left comments explicitly demanding police be defunded. And what they do?” said one organizer, according to video footage of the protest. “Therefore, we know Mayor Faulconer, even though his bootleg self is the one who came up with the plan, it’s also within his power to do the right thing.”

Some who took turns speaking at the protest asked how far that $27 million increase to police could go to help people who have been unemployed or have lost their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilman Chris Ward (D) was the sole dissenting vote.

“I would have liked to have seen a reallocation of resources from police towards programs, policies and initiatives that support this work … because we need to be investing more in our people, proactive measures and less in reactive measures,” Ward said, according to KPBS.

He added on Twitter that the budget’s rental relief and small-business assistance programs amid the coronavirus crisis did not go far enough.

In a news briefing, the mayor acknowledged that he listened to hundreds of people during public comment Monday but did not address their demands to redirect police resources. He said he supported Councilwoman Monica Montgomery’s proposal to fund an office of race and equity to support minority businesses and improve the relationship between the city and minority communities.

By Meagan Flynn
June 9, 2020 at 3:58 AM EDT

How D.C.’s mayor went from a bland bureaucrat to a fresh voice of the resistance

LeBron James retweeted her. Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis posed for pictures with her. “Morning Joe” wanted her on MSNBC.

Appearing on rapper Lil Wayne’s radio show — a show normally devoted to stars like Drake and Eminem — D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) could not help but crow about her duel with President Trump.

“When you’re the president, you’re supposed to swing up, you’re supposed to be beating up on foreign leaders,” Bowser said. “Not swinging down on chick mayors.”

In a city famous for political bombast, Bowser is known as a cautious leader who expresses herself in the forgettable words of a government bureaucrat. Now, in the span of a week, she has turned into a fresh voice of the resistance, buffeted by Trump’s threat of a federal takeover and his use of racist language to criticize street protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Read more here.

By Paul Schwartzman and Fenit Nirappil
June 9, 2020 at 3:21 AM EDT

Seattle protesters march outside boarded-up police precinct after barricades are removed

Protesters have massed in downtown Seattle in recent days outside barricades set up by the police near the department’s East Precinct, creating a flash point that erupted into chaos on Sunday night when officers fired tear gas and flash bangs at the demonstrators.

On Monday night, those barricades were gone. The precinct was boarded up with plywood, though police pledged not to abandon or evacuate the facility, the Seattle Times reported.

Hundreds of protesters marched peacefully to the precinct and gathered outside to demand changes in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), who has faced heavy criticism over the police’s use of force against protesters, said the decision by Police Chief Carmen Best to remove the barricades was meant to de-escalate tensions.

“In an effort to proactively de-escalate interactions between protesters and law enforcement outside the East Precinct, Chief Best and the Seattle Police Department officers have removed barricades surrounding the East Precinct while safely securing the facility,” Durkan wrote on Facebook. “Keeping demonstrations peaceful must be a joint effort between our community members and law enforcement. And our accountability system and Chief must hold officers accountable for any misconduct or excessive use of force.”

Outside the precinct, protesters chanted to defund the department.

“The question is, are we going to build a movement strong enough to overcome the power of those who are not on our side,” City Council member Kshama Sawant told the crowd early on Tuesday morning.

By Tim Elfrink
June 9, 2020 at 2:29 AM EDT

Richmond judge halts removal of Robert E. Lee statue for 10 days

RICHMOND — A Richmond judge on Monday temporarily blocked Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from removing a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the Monument Avenue traffic circle where it has stood for 130 years.

A Richmond Circuit Court judge granted a 10-day injunction sought by an individual Virginian, William C. Gregory. He contends that the state promised to “affectionately protect” the statue when it annexed the land it stands on from Henrico County.

Read more here.

By Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider
June 9, 2020 at 2:00 AM EDT

‘I am viewed not as a child but as a color’: Black teen spit on by white woman at protest speaks out

A Milwaukee-area school district is calling on prosecutors to file hate crime charges after a white woman spat on a black teenager during a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Shorewood, Wis.

The woman, 64-year-old probate lawyer Stephanie Rapkin, interrupted the protest on Saturday when she parked her car in the middle of the street to go to a store, blocking the marchers’ path, video shows.

Eric Lucas, a 17-year-old high school student who helped organize the demonstration, was among the protesters demanding that Rapkin move her car so the protest could proceed. Just as he approached her, Rapkin spat on him, video shows.

“I continue to be mentally and physically shaken to be assaulted by an adult in my own community during a pandemic — it was traumatic,” Lucas said Monday at a news conference organized by leaders of the Shorewood School District. “Again and again I am viewed not as a child but as a color.”

Rapkin was arrested Saturday following the spitting incident — and arrested a second time on Sunday following a related incident. Protesters wrote messages such as “I spit on a child!” outside her home. Rapkin emerged and pushed one, a 21-year-old college student, video shows, and later kneed an officer in the groin when they were called to the scene, Shorewood police said.

Rapkin, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is facing charges of battery, disorderly conduct, battery of a police officer and resisting arrest. Calling the spitting incident an “appalling display of racial hatred,” Shorewood School District Superintendent Bryan Davis said the district has asked the Milwaukee County district attorney to file hate-crime enhancements.

Rapkin also faces a complaint of professional misconduct in the state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation submitted by another attorney, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

By Meagan Flynn
June 9, 2020 at 1:30 AM EDT

Protesters in Madison paint ‘Defund Police’ on street leading to Wisconsin State Capitol

In the latest public statement of its kind, protesters in Madison, Wis., painted “Defund Police” in yellow letters Monday night on a street leading up to the Wisconsin State Capitol.

The words cover a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that runs between the City-County Building and the Madison Municipal Building, WMTV reported. In photos shared to social media, the block lettering stretches toward the brightly lit capitol.

Madison is the latest city where activists have painted the streets with pointed messages in recent days. The first mural started taking shape Friday morning on 16th Street NW in Washington, directly north of the White House, where city work crews joined local artists and volunteers to paint “Black Lives Matter” in yellow. The painting was sanctioned by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who also renamed a portion of the thoroughfare Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Over the weekend, protesters in the District added to the message, painting “Defund the Police” in matching yellow letters.

Similar slogans supporting the ongoing protests have also been painted on streets in Sacramento, Oakland, Calif., and Raleigh, N.C.

By Allyson Chiu
June 9, 2020 at 1:00 AM EDT

Court bans Minneapolis police from using chokeholds, neck restraints

Minneapolis police officers must stop using chokeholds and neck restraints, a county court in Minnesota ordered late Monday, prohibiting the tactic used by former officer Derek Chauvin for nearly nine minutes before George Floyd’s death.

As video of the incident has sparked protests nationwide, the order appears to address some specific concerns raised by activists. Demonstrators have decried the lack of intervention from the three nearby police officers, including two rookies who said they did not want to challenge their superior.

But under the preliminary injunction, any officer who witnesses another using a chokehold or neck restraint must stop their colleague, both verbally and physically, and report the situation to the Minneapolis police department. The order applies regardless of rank and tenure.

Rebecca Lucero, Minnesota’s human rights commissioner, said in a statement that the preliminary injunction will “create immediate change” for communities of color that have suffered “systemic and institutional racism and long-standing problems in policing."

The order was filed by Lucero’s office and then signed by Karen A. Janisch, a district judge in Hennepin County, and includes several other policy changes. Lucero’s agency will also continue to investigate Minneapolis police for violations of the state’s human rights law.

Under the order, only the police chief or their designee will be able to approve crowd control weapons, including tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs — all of which have been used by officers against protesters in Minneapolis over the past two weeks.

The ruling also requires the Minneapolis police chief to “make timely and transparent discipline decisions” for officers who violate the order. Civilian and municipal investigators will be allowed to review body camera footage proactively.

Since 2015, Minneapolis police have rendered people unconscious with neck restraints 44 times, NBC News reported.

By Teo Armus
June 9, 2020 at 12:30 AM EDT

Buffalo police dispatcher suspended for Facebook post demanding officers be allowed to ‘shoot to kill’

A Buffalo Police Department dispatcher has been suspended without pay and is under investigation after allegedly writing on Facebook that officers should be allowed to “shoot to kill” during the protests gripping the nation.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood condemned the “reprehensible” post in a statement Monday night announcing the disciplinary action against the dispatcher, who was only identified as a civilian employee of the department.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed that the employee is a police dispatcher and directed The Washington Post to local media outlets that posted images of a Facebook post recently shared by a man named Bob Marth to his personal page.

In the post, which contained expletives, Marth wrote, “Enough is enough!!! What is going on is uncalled for.”

“F----- WILD ANIMALS … and what do you do to an animal that’s rabid out of control — you take it out!!” he continued.

He went on to demand that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) “stop being a patsy” and give the order to allow officers to use deadly force.

The suspension and internal investigation comes days after the Buffalo Police Department became the focus of nationwide outcry after officers last week were seen on video shoving a 75-year-old protester, who fell to the ground and hit his head on the concrete. Two officers have since been charged with assault.

By Allyson Chiu
June 8, 2020 at 11:55 PM EDT

Seattle man accused of shooting protester after speeding toward crowd claims self-defense

The Seattle man accused of shooting a protester who was trying to stop his car from speeding toward a peaceful crowd made his first appearance in court on Monday on charges of first-degree assault, while insisting that he was defending himself.

Nikolas Fernandez told police Sunday as he surrendered that he “just had to shoot somebody” because “they tried to jack my car,” according to a probable cause statement. Fernandez, whose brother works at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, said he thought he could drive down 11th Avenue, the heart of the protests near the precinct. Protesters surrounded his car and began yelling at him, which led him to fear for his life, he said.

The shooting victim, identified as Daniel Gregory, told police that Fernandez sped straight for the crowd. Gregory tried to reach through the window to stop him when Fernandez shot him, he said.

Fernandez’s bail was set at $150,000, the Stranger reported.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best cast doubt on Fernandez’s story during an interview on MSNBC on Monday. She questioned why Fernandez would have thought he could access a street overtaken by thousands of people.

“It’s very difficult to say this person didn’t see the large crowd of people, literally in the thousands, when he drove his vehicle straight into that crowd,” Best said.

Fernandez claimed in an interview with police that his car stalled and that he couldn’t start the engine, so he decided to get out of the car with his gun, alarming protesters. Best said police found nothing mechanically wrong with the car.

It does not appear that the incident was “random or accidental,” she said, stressing that a possible motive is still under investigation.

By Meagan Flynn
June 8, 2020 at 11:28 PM EDT

Two Atlanta officers who used Tasers on college students sue for their jobs

Two Atlanta police officers who were fired after video showed them pulling two college students from a car and shooting them with stun guns filed a lawsuit Monday for their jobs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner were among six officers fired after video showed them using their Tasers on the students. Their attorney, Lance LoRusso, argues in the lawsuit filed against Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) in Fulton County State Court that the officers’ use of force was lawful and that they were fired without an investigation.

“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal,” the complaint said.

Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim, who attends Spelman College, were stuck in traffic on May 30 caused by protests over George Floyd’s death. Live TV and body-cam footage showed the officers using a club to smash the windows and pulling them from Young’s car after the city’s 9 p.m. curfew. The officers used their Tasers on them and threw them to the ground, according to video.

Young suffered a fractured arm and a gash requiring 24 stitches.

Bottoms announced that the officers were fired a day after the incident. Criminal charges were also filed against the six officers.

In an interview with WSB-TV, LoRusso said that the firings were politically motivated and that Tasers should not be classified as deadly weapons.

“A lawful use of force will never look good on camera, no matter how you see it, no matter what angle,” he said.

More than 1,000 people in the United States have died after police stunned them with Tasers, Reuters reported in 2017.

Bottoms’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

By Meryl Kornfield
June 8, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT

GOP struggles with message amid national debate over police and racial justice

Amid a public backlash over the militarized federal response to mass protests, President Trump is seeking to turn the national movement for racial justice into a debate over law and order, presenting Democrats as inflaming chaos in American cities.

But as the White House and the president’s reelection campaign begin that messaging, they are already facing difficulty navigating the line between exhibiting toughness and straying into the kind of offensive rhetoric and race-baiting that have often defined Trump’s tenure.

In recent days, Texas Republican leaders shared racist social media posts. A Trump campaign adviser promoted a viral video of a violent man spewing a racist epithet. And Trump himself retweeted a prominent black conservative’s criticisms of George Floyd, the Minnesota man whose killing in police custody two weeks ago sparked the protests.

Read more here.

By David Nakamura and Ashley Parker