Learn how the First Amendment protects your right to assemble and protest and how the government can hinder that right.
The three other officers at the scene when George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police last week have been charged with aiding and abetting a murder, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Wednesday.
In addition, Ellison said charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer seen on video pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes, will be upgraded to second-degree murder.
“I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state,” said Ellison, the lead prosecutor in the case.
During a town hall Wednesday, former President Barack Obama urged mayors to commit to police reform in the wake of Floyd’s death and protests demanding police reform and racial justice.
At least 9,300 people have been arrested in protests around the country, according to a tally by the Associated Press. Los Angeles has recorded 2,700 arrests, followed by New York with about 1,500.
A closer look at some recent developments:
- During a town hall, former President Barack Obama urged mayors across the country to review and change their law enforcement’s use-of-force policies.
- Former Defense Secretary James Mattis denounced President DonaTrump as a threat to democracy for failing to unite the country as protests erupted after George Floyd’s death.
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans to remove the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue.
- George Floyd’s son, Quincy Mason Floyd, visited the spot where his father died, knelt in prayer and thanked supporters.
- A California police officer is on leave and under investigation after viral videos show his ‘disturbing’ behavior and misconduct toward protesters in San Jose.
Remembering George Floyd:Memorial services, funeral to be held in Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.
Wednesday’s protests: A city-by-city look at the latest developments.
Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for the Daily Briefing. Here’s the latest news:
Los Angeles to cut police budget by $100-150M to support ‘communities of color’
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday announced that the nation’s second largest city would cut $100 million to $150 million from the police budget as part of a sweeping effort to make greater investments in the black community.
As protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis continued through the country — including Los Angeles, where demonstrations have been peaceful at times but devolved into violence at other times — Garcetti said the city needed to “make a firm commitment to change, not just with words but with actions.”
“We all have to step up and say, ‘What can we sacrifice?’ the mayor said.
By making $250 million in cuts to “every department, including the Police Department,” Garcetti said the city would be able to invest in jobs, health care, education and healing for the black community “as well as communities of color and women and people who have been left behind.”
The LAPD’s total annual budget is $1.86 billion, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Former President Barack Obama urges mayors to commit to police reform
Former President Barack Obama hosted a town hall Wednesday urging mayors in the country to commit to police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death that triggered protests nationwide.
“What are the specific steps you can take?” Obama asked. The steps, he said, include reviewing their law enforcement’s use-of-force policies with community members, and committing to report on any needed changes. Obama said his administration created a task force in 2014 after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, that produced many reforms.
Obama also supported protesters demanding police reforms and justice for Floyd. “We both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”
In Los Angeles, local officials are acting quickly as protesters demand to defund the police department in the wake of Floyd’s death. City council members introduced legislation Wednesday to cut funds from the LAPD in the 2020-21 budget to help disadvantaged communities and communities of color, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Ex-Defense Secretary James Mattis: Donald Trump is threat to American democracy
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis denounced President Donald Trump Wednesday in an extraordinary statement that hammered his former boss as a threat to American democracy.
Trump is needlessly dividing the country and “militarizing” America’s response to the protests, Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic magazine. The former general also offered a full-throated endorsement of the demonstrations, which have unfolded across the U.S. after George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Mattis took particular aim at the White House’s decision Monday to forcibly clear protesters from a park in front of the White House so that Trump could walk across the street and pose with a Bible in front of a historic church. Mattis said it was an abuse of power.
– Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY
3 held on terror charges in right-wing conspiracy to spark violence during protests in Las Vegas
Three Nevada men with ties to a loose movement of right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.
Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus. Prosecutors say the men later sought to capitalize on protests over George Floyd’s death.
They were arrested Saturday on the way to a protest downtown after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal
Minnesota AG: Three officers will be charged and Chauvin faces second-degree murder
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, adding that they have been charged with aiding and abetting a murder. Ellison also announced that charges against former officer Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second-degree murder from third degree.
All four policemen were fired the day after Floyd’s killing May 25, but only Chauvin had been charged until Wednesday. Floyd’s deadly arrest, captured on video, has sparked protests against police brutality and racism across the nation.
“George Floyd mattered,” Ellison said. “He was loved. His family was important. His life had value, and we will seek justice for him and for you.”
In the video, Lane and Keung can be seen on top of Floyd, while Thao is standing by. According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Thao stood by as Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. Court papers describe Thao as being more concerned about controlling the nearby crowd than Floyd’s welfare.
“The family of George Floyd watched the video in agony,” family lawyer Benjamin Crump said. “We cannot have two justice systems in America, one for black America and one for white America.”
Robert E. Lee statue, other Confederate monuments to be removed in Richmond
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans Thursday for the removal of an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The Democratic governor will direct the statue to be moved off its massive pedestal and put into storage while his administration seeks input on a new location, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak before the governor’s announcement.
“That is symbol for so many people, black and otherwise of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than,” said Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk.
Also Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced plans to remove the other Confederate monuments along Monument Avenue, which include statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart. Those statues sit on city land, unlike the Lee statue, which is on state property.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper opposes use of military to quell unrest
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he does not support use of the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement to quell violence erupting at some protests.
Esper, speaking at a news conference, said the National Guard is “best suited” for supporting local law enforcement. Governors in more than half the states have called up their National Guards, and more than 20,000 guard members have been called to duty.
Esper described Floyd’s death as a “horrible crime” but said he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to override bans on the use of the military on U.S. soil.
More protest coverage from USA TODAY
- Planning to protest? How to protect yourself from tear gas, pepper spray.
- Blackout Tuesday: The social media trend that made the music industry go silent to call attention to the deaths of Floyd and other black Americans.
- ‘I won’t fan the flames of hate’:Joe Biden addresses George Floyd protests in Philadelphia speech.
- Riots, violence and looting: Words matter when talking about race and unrest, experts say.
Ex-President George W. Bush: Injustice and fear ‘suffocate our country’
Former President George W. Bush is calling for peace and empathy following the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd. In a rare public statement, Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “anguished” by Floyd’s death and “disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country.” Bush said they had “resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen.”
Bush, who has been critical of Trump, did not mention the current president by name but said, “The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America – or how it becomes a better place.”
– William Cummings, USA TODAY
Lawsuit: Minnesota officers’ treatment of journalists ‘tramples Constitution’
Police in Minnesota violated journalists’ constitutional rights when officers pepper sprayed, fired rubber bullets at or otherwise attacked, injured or arrested members of the press covering recent protests, a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges. The suit claims that a pattern of attacks on journalists carried out by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol “tramples on the Constitution.”
Jared Goyette, the named plaintiff in the suit, is a freelance journalist who says police shot him in the face with a less-lethal ballistic ammunition a week ago. The police and State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
– Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti backs police chief amid calls to fire him
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed confidence in Police Chief Michel Moore, despite Moore’s comments equating looters to the police officers responsible for the death of George Floyd. Moore has apologized and is fending off calls for his firing.
“We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd,” Moore said Monday. “We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers.”
On Tuesday, more than 1,000 protesters marched through the streets of Hollywood, and several hundred demonstrated downtown, at times kneeling en masse and at others calling for Moore’s resignation. Moore tweeted an apology and reiterated his regret at a Police Commission meeting Tuesday, saying he misspoke.
“If I believed for a moment that the chief believes that in his heart, he would no longer be our chief of police. I can’t say that any stronger,” Garcetti said.
64% of Americans sympathetic to protesters; 55% reject Trump stance
Almost two-thirds of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” while 27% said they were not and 9% were unsure, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday. More than 55% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s efforts, including 40% who “strongly” disapproved, while just one-third said they approved. That’s lower than his overall job approval of 39%, the poll showed.
Trump has been pressing mayors and governors to crack down on the protests, threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy federal troops to states.
More news about the George Floyd protests
- ‘Law and order’: Trump returns to 2016 theme as violence spreads after George Floyd death.
- Resources, ways to donate: How you can take action from home after the death of George Floyd.
- Covering Floyd protests: Journalists blinded, injured, arrested.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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