In Minnesota, parts of Minneapolis erupted in flames Wednesday night as residents took to the streets for a second night to protest the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police on Monday. A video circulated widely on social media earlier this week shows George Floyd gasping for air and telling the officers “I cannot breathe,” while a white officer named Derek Chauvin pinned him to the pavement with a knee to his neck. Three other officers stood nearby. All four officers have since been fired. The officers confronted Floyd after receiving a complaint that he tried using a counterfeit bill to buy groceries.
On Wednesday, protesters held a day-long demonstration outside the city’s 3rd Precinct police headquarters. Police fired tear gas, flash-bang grenades and projectiles in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Demonstrators also rallied outside the home of former officer Derek Chauvin.
On Wednesday night, the city requested help from the National Guard as a number of buildings were set ablaze. Meanwhile, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called on prosecutors to file criminal charges against Chauvin.
Mayor Jacob Frey: “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? … George Floyd deserves justice. His family deserves justice. The Black community deserves justice. And our city deserves justice.”
The Star Tribune reports Derek Chauvin was involved in multiple police shootings in his 19 years on the Minneapolis police force and was the subject of a dozen police conduct complaints. Protests over the killing of George Floyd have also erupted in other cities, including Los Angeles, where demonstrators temporarily blocked traffic on Highway 101.
China’s parliament has approved a new law that criminalizes any conduct in Hong Kong that harms national security, and allows Chinese intelligence agencies to set up in the former British colony for the first time. Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters have been arrested in recent days opposing the law, as well as a separate bill making disrespect of the Chinese national anthem a crime. Earlier today, a group of Hong Kong protesters gathered at a shopping mall.
Protester: “Eventually, after they pass the national security law, if there is really a national security agency established in Hong Kong, then what will happen to the protesters? Does our next generation in Hong Kong need to be accepted into reeducation camps like those in Xinjiang?”
The Trump administration has strongly criticized the new Chinese law. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Congress that the U.S. no longer views Hong Kong as fully autonomous from China — a move that may lead to Hong Kong losing its special economic status with the United States.
In New York, scores of activists held a car caravan protest outside the notorious Sing Sing prison on Wednesday, demanding that Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately release prisoners at risk of COVID-19. At least four Sing Sing prisoners have died of the disease, and dozens more have tested positive.
Elsewhere, protesters deposited effigies of body bags outside New York City Hall Wednesday to mourn the deaths of 78 unhoused New Yorkers during the pandemic. The protesters held signs reading “Mayor de Blasio: There is blood on your hands.” They’re demanding the city open thousands of vacant hotel rooms to unhoused people to self-isolate and for an end to punitive sweeps against the homeless.
In Argentina, security forces have sealed off one of the poorest neighborhoods in the outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires, preventing people from entering or leaving, after more than half of the slum’s 300 residents tested earlier in the week tested positive for COVID-19. Local activists and some members of Argentina’s leftist government condemned the move, saying it felt like the country was building “ghettos for poor people.” Argentina’s slums are often overcrowded and lack proper sewerage or running water, making it nearly impossible for residents to isolate or maintain proper hygiene.
In Peru, hospitals across the country are on the brink of collapse as coronavirus cases continue to surge, forcing some healthcare facilities to place patients in improvised tents outside.
Dr. Carlos Contreras: “Right now we find ourselves in a collapsed reality. We don’t have beds in the ICU. We don’t have beds here in the Rezola Hospital. Patients are dying every day, and there are no results from authorities. So we’re urgently asking for help, for our personal protective equipment to arrive.”
An international coalition of antiwar and human rights groups are calling on the U.S. Congress to block two pending weapons sales to the Philippines — worth $2 billion — saying President Rodrigo Duterte has a legacy of human rights violations and that the weapons could be used to unleash violence on innocent Filipinos. In a letter to U.S. lawmakers, the coalition writes, “What could help the Filipinos right now is aid for their under-resourced healthcare system and for programs to assist poor people to survive during the current lockdown, not an arms sale.” This comes as Duterte has put the military in charge of the country’s COVID-19 response. In early April, Duterte ordered troops to “shoot dead” anyone violating quarantine.
The legendary AIDS activist and playwright Larry Kramer has died at the age of 84. In 1981, he helped found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the country’s first AIDS organization. Six years later, he helped form ACT UP — the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. The direct action group invaded the offices of drug companies and scientific labs, stormed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, covered the home of Senator Jesse Helms in a giant condom, and conducted many die-ins at the FDA — all in an attempt to force the country to address the AIDS epidemic. Larry Kramer also wrote many plays, including “The Normal Heart.” Last year he addressed the Queer Liberation March in New York City.
Larry Kramer: “Everyone gay I’ve known has been affected by this plague of AIDS. As it has since its beginning, this has continued to be my motivation for everything I’ve done. It’s been a fight I’ve been proud of fighting.”