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Protests wind down on East Coast, but clashes persist in West; hundreds mourn Floyd near N.C. birthplace

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6/7/2020 Hannah Knowles, Brent Griffiths, Miriam Berger, Brittany Shammas, Meryl Kornfield, Candace Buckner, Samantha Pell, Derek Hawkins

Protests wound down on the East Coast early Sunday after a nationwide outpouring of anger Saturday sparked by the killing of George Floyd in police custody. But clashes continued in Portland, Ore., and in Seattle, where police used stun grenades in an attempt to disperse a crowd outside a precinct and reported several injuries to officers in a melee with rock- and bottle-throwing protesters.

Amid heightened attention to complaints of police brutality as a result of the protests, which researchers call the broadest in U.S. history, two police officers in Buffalo were charged after a widely circulated video appeared to show them shoving a 75-year-old protester, who fell and bled from the head as officers walked past him.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Demonstrators streamed into downtown Washington on Saturday for day-long protests that officials described as the largest yet in the city following Floyd’s death.
  • A car rammed through a group of protesters on bicycles during peaceful demonstrations in Brooklyn on Saturday night, setting off a chase that ended in the driver’s arrest.
  • A public viewing and private memorial service for Floyd was held in Raeford, N.C., near his birthplace. His body was later flown to Texas for another service and burial near Houston.
  • Clashes between protesters and police broke out again in Portland, Ore., early Sunday, as late-night demonstrations continued to devolve in the city’s downtown. Police later said they made at least 50 arrests and dispersed the crowd.
  • George Floyd’s younger brother is scheduled to testify before Congress next week in the first congressional hearing on law enforcement reform since Floyd’s death on Memorial Day.
  • Congressional Democrats plan to release expansive legislation to rein in police violence.

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5:29 AM: George Floyd’s body arrives in Houston 

George Floyd, the “gentle giant” whose death in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world, has returned to Houston, where he lived for most of his life. On Tuesday, his body will be laid to rest in the same local cemetery where his mother is interred.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made the announcement on Twitter just before 1 a.m. local time. The Fountain of Praise Church is set to have a six-hour public viewing on Monday before a mostly private and final memorial service the following day attended by a mix of family and dignitaries.

Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is expected to attend Tuesday’s service, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump said last week. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) are also expected to attend, local TV station ABC-13 reported.

The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an emotional eulogy during Floyd’s first memorial service on Thursday, comparing his death to the arc of the black experience in America and imploring the nation to “get your knee off our neck.” A second service was held Saturday in Raeford, N.C., near Floyd’s birthplace. From there, his body was flown to Texas.

After Tuesday’s service, Floyd will be buried in Pearland, Tex. According to Houston Chronicle, it will be the same cemetery where his mother, who died two years ago, was laid to rest.

By: Brent D. Griffiths

5:20 AM: British, Australian officials say solidarity protests raise covid-19 risks

a group of people riding on the back of a horse: A mounted police officer lies in the street after falling off her horse during a clash with protesters in central London on Saturday. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images) © Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images A mounted police officer lies in the street after falling off her horse during a clash with protesters in central London on Saturday. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Officials in Britain and Australia expressed alarm Sunday that large demonstrations in solidarity with U.S. protests could increase the risk of renewed outbreaks of covid-19 in their countries.

“It is undoubtedly a risk,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News when asked whether massive turnouts in London and other cities raised the prospect of a surge in coronavirus cases. While he supports the protesters’ arguments, he said, “the virus itself doesn’t discriminate, and gathering in large groups is temporarily against the rules precisely because it increases the risk of the spread of this virus.”

He spoke after British protesters briefly clashed with mounted police near the residence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaving 14 officers injured and marring an otherwise largely peaceful display of support for American demonstrators.

In Australia, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on Sunday sharply denounced countrymen who rallied in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in defiance of coronavirus restrictions.

“I think it is incredibly selfish,” Cormann said in an interview with Sky News, Reuters reported. “It’s incredibly self-indulgent.”

More than 20,000 people turned out in Sydney and other cities Saturday in the solidarity demonstrations. Similar large demonstrations were organized in Germany and other U.S.-allied countries.

By: William Branigin

3:47 AM: Portland police arrest protesters in melee at city justice center

a person walking down a city street: A protester faces police in downtown Portland, Ore. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian/AP) © Dave Killen/AP A protester faces police in downtown Portland, Ore. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian/AP)

Clashes between protesters and police broke out again in Portland, Ore., early Sunday, as late-night demonstrations continued to devolve in the city’s downtown.

Officers eventually dispersed a crowd of protesters and made at least 50 arrests, the Portland Police Department reported on Twitter.

Earlier, Lt. Tina Jones, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a video statement posted on Twitter: “Lasers are being used by some members of the crowd. Balloons with paint, water bottles and full beer cans are among some of the items that have been thrown at officers.”

The Multnomah County Sheriff said an officer was injured “after a commercial grade firework” was shot over a fence that police have erected to try to protect a county justice center and its employees inside. The justice center has become a flash point for protests and was briefly set on fire last week.

Jones stressed in her statement that peaceful protests were taking place elsewhere in the city as demonstrations continued for a 10th day.

Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed officers earlier Saturday to use tear gas only as a last resort, declining to go as far as Seattle in virtually banning the deployment of gas but reining a practice that has become increasingly controversial. It did not immediately appear that officers had used tear gas Saturday night after having done so the night before.

Local TV station KATU reported that police apparently started making arrests shortly after 11:30 p.m. and that one officer was seen striking a protester, who seemed to have been recording video of him, with a baton and then pepper-spraying him.

By: Brent D. Griffiths

3:26 AM: U.S. service branches try to confront racism in their ranks

U.S. service branches are trying to confront racism within their ranks in the wake of George Floyd’s death as they try to move beyond a culture that, for some outfits, included resistance to integrating units for years.

Scott Bethmann, a member of Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees, resigned after he and his wife accidentally broadcast a video on Facebook that featured multiple racial slurs. Bethmann, according a Florida Times-Union report, used the n-word during the video, which was recorded for more than 30 minutes while he and his wife watched the news before realizing what was happening.

“These attributed statements do not represent the mission and values of the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy,” retired Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the association’s chairman, wrote in a post on the group’s Facebook page.

Added Vice Adm. Sean Buck, superintendent of the Naval Academy: “We cannot tolerate racism or bigotry of any kind within our U.S. Naval Academy family.” He wrote on Twitter that such behavior “completely violates our Navy’s core values, and does not support the Naval Academy mission.”

The news came just days after the U.S. Marine Corps banned all displays of the Confederate battle flag in public and work spaces, including items ranging from banners to bumper stickers. The flag, once ingrained in American culture, has increasingly been pushed out of the public sphere in recent years after a shooting rampage that killed nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 and a deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville two years later.

Each of the service branch chiefs has posted public statements condemning racism. On Monday, Kaleth O. Wright, chief master sergeant of the Air Force, the top enlisted airman in the branch, posted a series of tweets in which he described his experience of being a black man trying to rise through the ranks.

By: Brent D. Griffiths

2:38 AM: Black police chiefs express anger and dismay as they try to change their departments from within

a group of people posing for a picture: Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, foreground left, and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, foreground right, kneel with others for a moment of silence at a rally in honor of George Floyd on Wednesday in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP) © Rich Pedroncelli/AP Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, foreground left, and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, foreground right, kneel with others for a moment of silence at a rally in honor of George Floyd on Wednesday in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

The day that George Floyd’s cries for his mother reverberated across the country, Chief William T. Riley III walked up to a group of his officers discussing the horror they had seen.

“You know, chief, we already know if anything like that happened with us, we wouldn’t have a job,” one officer said.

Riley, a black police chief who was hired to transform the force in Inkster, Mich., after the suburban Detroit city settled a police brutality lawsuit in 2015, had trouble hiding his delight. But he remained firm.

“You are right,” Riley said. “Not only would you not have a job, you’d be locked up.”

In the past six years, as Black Lives Matter has emerged as a national movement to confront police brutality against people of color, the job of leading a department while black has become far more complex, politically sensitive and personally painful.

Read more here.

By: Arelis R. Hernández and Scott Wilson

2:17 AM: Protests wind down largely peacefully on East Coast; clashes continue in West

Protests in Washington, D.C., and New York began to peter out early Sunday, but demonstrations were still going strong as the clock moved closer to midnight on the West Coast.

The Post’s Michael E. Miller reported that “as the clock struck midnight, a few hundred people were still standing around Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, where the traffic lights endlessly blinked red.” President Trump, having canceled a weekend trip to New Jersey, observed on Twitter just after 10 p.m., “Much smaller crowd in D.C. than anticipated.”

While only 50 or so people remained by St. John’s Church in the early hours of Sunday, more than 10,000 demonstrators streamed into the nation’s capital earlier in the day in the largest protest in the city so far since George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minnesota on Memorial Day. One of the major focal points of the day was the newly christened “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” which covers a patch of 16th Street just north of the White House.

In New York, where nightly curfews remain in effect, protesters were allowed to continue demonstrating hours after the 8 p.m. curfew. The New York Times said there were “no reports of major confrontations or arrests as of 1 a.m.”

On the other side of the country, mostly peaceful protests in Seattle morphed into more confrontations with police as officers fired stun grenades to get people to leave the area around a police precinct. A Seattle Times live stream showed a crowd of hundreds continuing to chant slogans, some of the protesters just feet away from police in riot gear.

The Seattle Police Department reported on Twitter that protesters threw rocks, bottles and “explosives” at officers, adding that several officers were “injured due to improvised explosives.” It did not immediately provide details.

In Portland, where fierce nightly clashes have erupted around a county justice center, officers added animal feed to the list of things that should not be thrown over the fence at them.

By: Brent D. Griffiths

1:38 AM: ‘This is for unity’: Athletes continue to join George Floyd protests

Professional athletes added their voices Saturday to calls for racial justice, joining local protests across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.

In Milwaukee, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was joined by teammates Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Brook Lopez, Frank Mason II and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis’s brother, as they marched down 27th Street. The group all wore T-shirts that read “I can’t breathe” printed on the front. The players also wore masks and gloves.

Antetokounmpo and his teammates were also seen passing out water to protesters. In a video taken at the protest, Antetokounmpo can be seen talking to the crowd.

“We want peace,” he said. “We want justice. And that’s why we’re out here. That’s what we’re going to do today. That’s why I’m going to march with you guys.

“I want my kid to grow up here in Milwaukee and not be scared to walk in the street.”

The Denver Broncos organization also came out in big numbers on Saturday, with more than 70 players, coaches and other personnel leading a group of thousands through downtown Denver during a protest. Videos and photos shared from the team’s social media account show most wearing black T-shirts that read: “If You Ain’t With Us, You Against Us.”

In addition, many were wearing masks that had “I can’t breathe” printed on them. Safety Kareem Jackson was the driving force behind the team’s participation in the event, according to ESPN.

Other athletes who have participated in peaceful protests over the last week include the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin, the Boston Bruins’ Zdeno Chara, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Washington Mystics guards Natasha Cloud and Kristi Toliver, and Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle.

By: Samantha Pell

12:48 AM: Seattle police deploy stun grenades in attempt to disperse some protesters

Seattle police officers used stun grenades on Saturday night as they tried to disperse protesters outside a police precinct, with demonstrations continuing throughout the city.

The department’s Twitter account said individuals were throwing “rocks/bottles/and explosives” at police outside the East Precinct when officers escalated their response. Multiple people pointed out that the photo the department tweeted of what it claimed was an improvised explosive may, in fact, show a candle. A label in one of the images clearly says “candle.”

The Seattle Times reported that other groups of mostly peaceful protesters marched elsewhere in the city, including by the landmark Space Needle as protests continued for the ninth day.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best reached a deal on Friday that virtually bans all use of tear gas by officers in Seattle for the next 30 days. Only SWAT officers can still deploy tear gas, and even then it requires high-level approval from Best or someone she designates.

By: Brent D. Griffiths

12:22 AM: Video shows car plowing through protesters on bikes in Brooklyn

A car rammed through a group of protesters on bicycles during peaceful demonstrations in Brooklyn on Saturday night, setting off a chase that ended in the driver’s arrest, according to footage from the scene.

Video shows a group of about a dozen cyclists, who were part of a larger march, gathered at an intersection in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood when a dark Volkswagen hatchback lurches onto the sidewalk and accelerates toward them.

The car can be seen crashing into one protester head-on, the crunch of metal audible in the clip. Other cyclists can be seen banging on the vehicle and screaming at the driver to stop. Seconds later, the driver speeds off down the street.

Brooklyn resident Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, who shot the video, said he was among a group of protesters at the front of the demonstration.

The driver wanted to get through to go to work but could not be persuaded to turn around by multiple people, Spitzer-Rubenstein told The Washington Post.

“He refused to turn around, backed up and then rammed into the people,” he said. “The video of is of him driving onto the sidewalk and then hitting people.”

Other observers said protesters stopped the driver down the road. Video posted by Chris Welch, editor of the Verge, a technology news website, shows dozens of people surrounding the car. Several police officers in helmets and masks handcuff the driver.

The New York Police Department could not immediately confirm that the driver had been taken into custody.

In cities across the country, drivers have been captured on video careening through crowds of people in demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody.

This week, a car grazed several people and hit a cyclist during a protest in Newport Beach, Calif. The driver was arrested a few blocks away on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Another video showed a car swerving toward a protester in Denver. Last weekend, a truck barreled toward masses of demonstrators on a Minneapolis highway.

The New York Police Department also came under fire last weekend after officers in squad cars were filmed driving through protesters.

By: Derek Hawkins, Brent D. Griffiths and Hannah Knowles


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