Protests erupted across the United States as people continued to take to the streets over the weekend following the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Curfews have been enacted in at least 40 cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle. The National Guard was called in to several states as protests mounted.
Protesters in Minneapolis are calling for the arrest of all four officers involved in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers who were fired along with Chauvin have not been charged, even as new video appears to show two of them also kneeling on George Floyd’s body as he laid on the pavement.
On Saturday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he’d “fully mobilized” the National Guard for the first time in his state’s history, adding another 1,000 soldiers to the 700 he’d already ordered into the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Throughout the weekend, crowds of protesters were met with wave after wave of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. This is Minneapolis community leader and business owner Marques Armstrong speaking at a protest Saturday.
Marques Armstrong: “They continued to allow the abuses to happen to the community. And so this is an uprising. We are not condoning the violence that’s happening, the looting, the rioting. We understand it, though. We want this city to not burn, but it seems like that’s what it has to take in order for them to finally start listening to us. Like I said, six years we’ve been saying to them, introducing policy changes, sitting across the table from them, from the mayor, from the police and the governor, the city councilmembers. We’ve been talking to them. We’ve been sitting with them. We’ve been urging them. We’ve been challenging them. We’ve been pushing them. And they ain’t listening.”
Governor Walz said Saturday he’d asked Pentagon chief Mark Esper and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to help gather “signal intelligence” on protesters. On Friday, publicly available flight data showed Customs and Border Protection had diverted one of its Predator drones to circle 20,000 feet above Minneapolis as protesters gathered in the streets below. The drone is normally used to patrol the U.S.-Canadian border far to the north of the Twin Cities. A viral video posted online Saturday night shows a phalanx of officers in riot gear following an armored personnel carrier down a residential street in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighborhood after an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect. Officers repeatedly shout at residents to remain inside their homes, before firing crowd control rounds on a group of residents peacefully filming from their front porch.
In another harrowing moment, a truck driver barreled a tanker truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters who were occupying a Minneapolis interstate on Sunday afternoon. A crowd of thousands of people parted, with many diving to avoid the wheels of the massive truck. The driver slowed the vehicle as protesters surrounded him, then pulled him from the cab and roughed him up. Police moved in and arrested the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, who was booked on assault charges.
Police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, said law enforcement fatally shot a protester early this morning while the police force and the National Guard were attempting to break up a crowd. Protesters in Louisville have been demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse who was shot to death by police inside her own apartment in March.
In New York City, multiple protests unfolded over the weekend as thousands of people poured into the previously deserted neighborhoods due to the coronavirus lockdown. In Times Square Sunday, hundreds took a knee in silence to remember George Floyd. Protesters shut down traffic on the Manhattan Bridge Sunday. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, a shocking video shows two police SUVs ramming into a crowd of protesters. Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the actions of the officers, placing blame on the protesters.
NYPD said they have made nearly 800 arrests since the protests started. One of those arrested was Chiara de Blasio, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 25-year-old daughter. Chiara, who is Black, was arrested at a protest in downtown Manhattan. She has since been released.
In New York and Minneapolis, protesters cheered for unionized bus drivers who refused to transport arrested protesters to jails.
In Columbus, Ohio, three government officials were pepper-sprayed by police Saturday morning: City Council President Shannon Hardin, Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce and Congressmember Joyce Beatty — all of them Black. Congressmember Beatty had stepped in to deescalate a scuffle.
In Seattle, Washington, disturbing images of a child who was apparently maced by a police officer has provoked outrage. Social media photos and video show the 9-year-old girl in obvious distress, crying as adults around her pour milk on her face to help alleviate the pain.
In Washington, D.C., Secret Service officers confronted protesters outside the White House. Officials say President Trump took refuge in the White House bunker for an hour Friday night as hundreds protested. This is a protester speaking Saturday in front of the Capitol building.
Protester: “It does not matter what job you have, where you live, how many degrees you have. If your skin is black, you’re automatically a threat. As long as they use our skin color as a weapon, they will see us as a threat. We have to change the narrative today!”
In Sacramento, California, a 19-year-old is in the hospital with a broken jaw after he was shot in the face with a rubber bullet while standing in place, peacefully protesting. Dayshawn McHolder had just graduated from high school days before he attended the protest. Elsewhere in California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday night for all of Los Angeles County.
In Atlanta, Georgia, two police officers have been fired for using “excessive force” after they tased two young black students in their car for allegedly violating the city’s curfew Saturday night. One officer smashed the window of the car they were in. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms condemned the attack. Mayor Bottoms also warned Atlanta residents this weekend of the additional health risks of protesting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week, because there’s still a pandemic in America that’s killing Black and Brown people at higher numbers.”
Protests also took place around the world, including in Britain, Germany and New Zealand. In Spain, solidarity protests were limited to 10 people due to coronavirus restrictions.
Numerous reporters have been targeted as they covered protests around the country. Freelance photographer Linda Tirado was told by doctors she would be permanently blind in her left eye after being shot by Minneapolis police. Also in Minneapolis, an officer threw Vice News reporter Michael Anthony Adams face-first into the pavement of a gas station Saturday night as he shouted “Press!” and displayed his media ID above his head. Moments later, another officer casually blasted Adams directly in the face with pepper spray as he lay prone on the pavement.
In Louisville, Kentucky, a local reporter and photographer were hit by pepper balls while broadcasting live. The officer appeared to be aiming directly at Kaitlin Rust and photojournalist James Dobson.
Kaitlin Rust: [screams]
WAVE 3 anchor 1: “Are you OK?”
Kaitlin Rust: “I’m getting shot! I’m getting” —
WAVE 3 anchor 1: “Kate? Katie, are you OK?”
Kaitlin Rust: “Rubber bullets. Rubber bullets. It’s OK. It’s those pepper bullets. It’s those pepper bullets they’re just dropping in the street.”
WAVE 3 anchor 1: “Who are they aiming at?”
WAVE 3 anchor 2: “Now he’s shooting at the photographer.”
Kaitlin Rust: “At us, like directly at us! Directly at us!”
WAVE 3 anchor 1: “Why are they doing that?”
Kaitlin Rust: “Why?”
WAVE 3 anchor 2: “He’s shooting at our crew.”
In Los Angeles, public radio reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez tweeted a gruesome photo of a wound he received after a police officer shot him in the throat with a rubber-coated bullet.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has issued a safety advisory for reporters covering the protests, which includes avoiding working alone, and wearing protective gear, including body armor. The group also warns of the increased risk of contracting the coronavirus given the difficulty of maintaining social distancing.
Authorities in Minnesota are now investigating the role white supremacists may be playing in the protests. The Twin Cities TV station KARE reports at one least one person arrested in Minneapolis had shown clear support for white supremacy on their Facebook page. Meanwhile, President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have threatened to take action against anti-fascist activists. On Sunday, Trump tweeted he would label antifa as a terrorist organization, even though he does not have the legal authority to do so. This comes as Trump is facing widespread criticism for inflaming tensions in the country. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — quoting a phrase used by many segregationists in the 1960s. He also threatened protesters outside the White House with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”
At rallies across the country, some protesters also held signs calling for justice for Tony McDade — a Black transgender man shot and killed by Florida police last week. Police say they shot the 38-year-old after they suspected he was involved in a stabbing, and alleged he had a gun. Hours before his killing, Tony McDade posted a video on social media saying he’d been attacked by a group of men and was targeted because he was a Black trans man. McDade’s was at least the third fatal police shooting in Tallahassee in two months.
The number of people infected by the coronavirus across the globe has topped 6 million. Nearly 375,000 people have died, but many believe that is an undercount. While the world is facing one of its biggest public health crises in years, President Trump has announced the United States is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization. Historically the U.S. has been the largest contributor to the WHO.
In Afghanistan, a journalist and a driver from a TV station were killed by a bomb blast in the capital Kabul Saturday. At least four others were injured. Officials say the private bus was directly targeted. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Afghanistan is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists.
Israeli police shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian man in occupied East Jerusalem Saturday. Iyad el-Hallak was a 32-year-old special needs student who attended and worked at a school near where he was killed. Police say they thought he was carrying a weapon. Demonstrators took to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with some protesters holding signs demanding justice for Iyad and for George Floyd. A day earlier, on Friday, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank who they claim tried to ram into them with his car.
Four more women have accused convicted serial rapist and former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and rape in a new lawsuit filed in New York. One of the unnamed accusers was 17 at the time of an alleged attack. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape in February. He still faces criminal charges in Los Angeles.