After weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer killed him by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, family and friends gathered in Houston Tuesday for a private funeral, to lay George Floyd to rest, and to call for change. This is Brooke Williams, George Floyd’s niece, speaking at the funeral.
Brooke Williams: “These laws need to be changed. No more hate crimes, please! Someone said, 'Make America great again.' But when has America ever been great? Those four officers were literally on him for nine minutes, and none of them showed they have a heart or soul. This is not just murder, but a hate crime. I share happy memories with my uncle. And that’s all I have, are memories.”
After the funeral, George Floyd’s golden coffin was driven to a cemetery to be buried beside his mother. Thousands lined the streets as his motorcade passed. After headlines, we’ll air excerpts from George Floyd’s funeral service, including remarks by his brother Philonise, who’s testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee.
Voters headed to the polls in five states Tuesday. In Georgia, some voters had to wait in line for as long as five hours in the heat and rain due to widespread problems with new electronic voting machines and a shortage of trained poll workers. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state has launched a probe. Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said, “It’s a disaster that was imminently preventable. … We found ourselves in the mix of both incompetence and malfeasance.” The New York Times has published drone footage showing hundreds of people waiting in line at one site. The lines were so long, judges extended voting hours at polls in at least 20 counties — including in areas with large African American communities. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted videos of voters complaining about the long lines. This is 80-year-old Anita Heard.
Anita Heard: “This is ridiculous. In the United States of America, this time, people can’t vote. People are killing each other and can’t get along. I don’t have to like you, but I respect you as a human being. What is going on? And now we get here. People have been — look at these people. We’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting since 6:00 this morning. Six o’clock. If you go around this building, you’ll see people waiting in line. This is unfair.”
DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said, “If this is a preview of November, then we’re in trouble.” Georgia has closed over 200 polling places since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Results from the Georgia election won’t be finalized for days. Jon Ossoff is leading in the Democratic Senate primary, but a runoff may still be needed to decide who will challenge Republican Senator David Perdue in November. In other election news, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham survived a challenge from three fellow Republicans in South Carolina. He will face Democrat Jaime Harrison in November.
Protests against racism and police brutality continue to rock cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus on Tuesday evening; they set it on fire before throwing it in a nearby lake. In Antwerp, Belgium, city officials removed a statue of King Leopold II on Tuesday, just days after protesters set it on fire. From 1885 to 1908, Leopold declared himself absolute ruler of Congo, leading a campaign of torture and genocide that killed an estimated 10 million people. In England, authorities have removed a statue of 18th century Scottish lord Robert Milligan from outside the Museum of London Docklands, after protesters covered it in a tarp and a Black Lives Matter sign. Milligan enslaved over 500 people on his family’s sugar plantations in Jamaica. The statue’s removal was welcomed by city councilor Amina Ali.
Amina Ali: “It’s a victory. And, you know, for the ancestors and the people whose lives have been affected by slavery, this is a victory today. So, it’s very symbolic. And I’m glad it’s happened in my lifetime.”
In Washington state, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters took over Seattle City Hall Tuesday evening demanding the defunding of the Seattle Police Department and the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan. Police did not try to stop the protesters as they marched downtown — unlike on previous nights when officers unloaded with a barrage of so-called less lethal firepower. On Monday, Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda condemned the mayor’s militarized response to protests.
Teresa Mosqueda: “How many people need to write in about being gassed in their own homes? How many people have to be sprayed in the street every night or experience getting hit with flash bombs or rubber bullets? How many people have to call for the police to be defunded, for you to consider resigning or for the mayor to embrace radical change?”
Here in New York, state lawmakers have voted to ban the use of police chokeholds and to repeal a controversial law known as 50-A that shields the disciplinary records of police officers from the public. The vote came despite heavy lobbying from police unions to keep officers’ records secret.
In Phoenix, Arizona, hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets demanding justice for 28-year-old Dion Johnson, who was killed by a police officer on the same day George Floyd was killed in Minnesota. On May 25, Johnson was allegedly sleeping in his car on the side of a north Phoenix highway when a Department of Public Safety trooper shot him, alleging he feared he would be pushed into oncoming traffic. Johnson’s family is demanding the release of the name of the trooper, the official report of the incident and any video footage that may exist. The trooper was reportedly not wearing a body camera, did not have a dashboard camera, and there were no known witnesses. Johnson’s family has called on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and for the trooper to be arrested and charged.
In Minneapolis, police have admitted that officers slashed the tires of unoccupied vehicles parked near recent protests over the killing of George Floyd, after Mother Jones published photos and videos of several incidents. A Department of Public Safety spokesperson on Tuesday said state troopers had “strategically deflated tires.” In other news from Minneapolis, the TV station FOX 9 is reporting federal and state prosecutors were negotiating a possible plea deal with former officer Derek Chauvin just days after he killed George Floyd. The negotiations fell apart on May 28. The following day, Chauvin was charged and arrested.
A warning to our viewers: This next story contains graphic images of police violence. In Austin, Texas, Black Lives Matter activists are demanding the arrest of officers who sent two young people to the hospital with head trauma at recent protests. On May 31, police shot 20-year-old Texas State University student Justin Howell in the head with a lead-pellet bag fired by an officer’s shotgun. After he fell unconscious to the pavement, he was picked up by fellow protesters who tried to rush him past a police line for medical attention. The police then opened fire with another barrage. Powell was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull and brain damage. A day earlier, another Austin officer shot 16-year-old Brad Levi Ayala in the head with a bean bag round as the teen stood passively on a hillside near a line of riot police. Ayala’s family says he is undergoing neurological testing at an Austin hospital and faces a long road to recovery.
In San Jose, California, police shot their own anti-bias trainer in the groin, rupturing his testicle with a rubber-coated bullet, as he tried to deescalate tension between police and protesters at a May 29 demonstration. Doctors say 27-year-old Derrick Sanderlin, who is African American, may never be able to father children.
In New York, NYPD officer Vincent D’Andraia has been charged with assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing, after video showed him violently shoving a peaceful protester to the ground as he shouted an expletive and a misogynistic slur. Twenty-year-old Dounya Zayer suffered a seizure and was hospitalized with a concussion after the May 29 attack.
President Trump has tweeted an attack on a longtime peace activist who was assaulted by Buffalo police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest last week. In video of the assault, which has been viewed by millions, two police officers are seen violently shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground. Dozens of officers walk by as blood pours from Gugino’s head. On Tuesday morning, as Gugino lay in a hospital recovering from head trauma, President Trump amplified a conspiracy theory pushed by right wing news outlet One America News, tweeting, “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. … I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast.
In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza was pronounced dead Monday morning of an apparent heart attack. Many are speculating his death may have been due to COVID-19 complications, after the long-serving president fell ill over the weekend. Nkurunziza had refused to impose coronavirus restrictions, allowing sporting events and mass political rallies to take place during the pandemic.
In environmental news, on Friday, President Trump gutted protections for the country’s only maritime monument in the Atlantic Ocean by opening up the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to commercial fishing. Gib Brogan from the advocacy group Oceana said, “Protecting deep-sea waters is a win-win for both fishermen and healthy oceans, as healthy oceans from the seafloor to the surface will help sustain robust fisheries for years to come.” Legal challenges are expected.
In climate news, temperatures in parts of the Arctic Circle in northern Russia have topped 86 degrees Fahrenheit this month — continuing a record-breaking heat wave that began in May. Climate data show last month was the planet’s warmest May ever recorded, keeping 2020 on pace to become the hottest year since records began. The 10 hottest years on record have all come since 2005.
After 33 years, the reality TV show “Cops” has been canceled.
Inner Circle: “Bad boys, Whatcha want, whatcha want, Whatcha gonna do, When Sheriff John Brown come for you?”
Police officer: “Keep your hands on the car. I’m doing my job.”
In 2013, the group Color of Change launched a campaign to cancel the show, saying it “built a profit model around distorted and dehumanizing portrayals of Black Americans and the criminal justice system.”