Thousands took to the streets of Minneapolis Thursday as protests against the killing of an African American man by a white police officer rocked the city for the third night in a row. Demonstrators set fire to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct, just hours after prosecutors said they were not yet sure if they would criminally charge Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who pinned George Floyd to the ground by his neck for eight minutes while Floyd gasped for air. In a video that has now been seen around the world, Floyd repeatedly gasps “I can’t breathe.” Four officers including Chauvin have since been fired, but not arrested. On Thursday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was questioned about the delay in charging and arresting the officers.
Mike Freeman: “That video is graphic and horrific and terrible, and no person should do that. But my job, in the end, is to prove that he violated a criminal statute, and there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called in the National Guard overnight as protests raged in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This morning, Minnesota state police arrested CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, along with his producer and camera crew, live on national television outside the charred remains of the 3rd police precinct. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz later apologized to CNN over the arrests, and the crew was released. After headlines, we’ll go to Minneapolis for the latest.
Around the United States, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd. Here in New York, police arrested at least 70 people during a rolling protest that began in Manhattan’s Union Square. In Colorado, police fired tear gas and pepper balls at protesters who gathered at the state Capitol in Denver. One protester was intentionally rammed by a driver who plowed their SUV into a crowd of demonstrators. In Arizona, police declared an “unlawful assembly” Thursday and fired tear gas and pepper spray at hundreds who gathered at Phoenix City Hall. In Louisville, Kentucky, hundreds of protesters gathered downtown demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse who was shot to death by police inside her own apartment in March. At least seven people were injured by gunfire that erupted as demonstrators surrounded a police vehicle. It’s not known who fired the shots, though Louisville’s mayor said no police officers fired their weapons.
On Twitter, President Trump attacked Minneapolis’s mayor, who has called for the arrest of now-fired police officer Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd. Trump tweeted, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.....” In a follow-up tweet, Trump attacked protesters as ”THUGS” and added, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter responded by labeling Trump’s tweet with the warning: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
The U.S. Labor Department reported another 2.1 million workers filed for unemployment benefits over the last week, bringing the toll of job losses since coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March to a staggering 40.7 million. One in four U.S. workers has lost their job in just 10 weeks. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that during the same period the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires soared by $485 billion.
In immigration news, advocates across the country are continuing demands to release all people from Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails as confirmed coronavirus cases inside facilities in the U.S. near 1,400. Immigrant rights advocates led protests outside immigration jails in California and Washington state Thursday. In Burlington, Massachusetts, advocates replaced the ICE flag at the agency’s Boston Field Office with a new flag that read ”ICE Kills. Free Them All.” Another national day of action is planned for today.
A 30-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant who sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement two weeks ago and was later quickly deported by the agency has officially been declared missing. Héctor García Mendoza was part of a class-action lawsuit demanding the immediate release of all immigrants held at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey, where prisoners and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Gothamist reports that four days later and without notice, García Mendoza was transferred to Laredo, Texas, where he was then escorted into the notoriously dangerous border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. García Mendoza reportedly hasn’t reached out to his family in Mexico or the U.S. His lawyers have contacted shelters in Mexico and immigrant advocacy groups in Texas, but no one has reportedly seen or heard from him. His family is also concerned for García Mendoza’s health, as in the days leading up to his removal, he complained of chest pain and shortness of breath but didn’t receive any medical attention from ICE. Mendoza’s removal came despite a federal judge’s order blocking the deportation. Advocates believe his expedited deportation is retaliation for the lawsuit against ICE. García Mendoza had been living in the U.S. for 10 years.
Brazil registered a record number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, with more than 1,000 deaths in just 24 hours. Brazil is second only to the United States in infections and deaths, as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has sought throughout the pandemic to undermine remain-at-home measures taken by state and local governments. Despite this week’s surge in COVID-19 cases, the mayor of São Paulo — the Western Hemisphere’s largest city — is allowing nonessential businesses, including offices, shopping malls and car dealerships, to reopen beginning June 1.
In Haiti, local social justice and human rights groups are warning that hundreds of prisoners could be at risk of dying of COVID-19 as infections are quickly spreading inside the country’s prisons. The Miami Herald reports at least 11 prisoners at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince have already tested positive, and many others are presenting symptoms such as fevers. But Haitian human rights groups believe the number of infections is far higher as prisons are overcrowded, with scarce food supplies or essential medication, and up to 80 prisoners are often crammed shoulder to shoulder inside filthy cells without ventilation. The United States has also faced criticism for deporting Haitians who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Trump administration has announced plans to cancel the visas of thousands of Chinese graduate students studying in the United States. The move would impact students who have studied at schools that have links to the Chinese military. Republican lawmakers are also proposing to bar all Chinese graduate students from studying science or technology in the United States. Many educators have warned the moves could lead to a new Red Scare on American campuses. Meanwhile, Britain is considering offering a path to citizenship for over 300,000 residents of Hong Kong if China moves ahead with implementing a new national security law on the former British colony.