Hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities across the United States Tuesday, defying citywide curfews, braving police and military repression, and shrugging off fears over the spread of coronavirus, in order to protest the police killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday the state’s Department of Human Rights has opened a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
Gov. Tim Walz: “The investigation will review MPD’s policies, procedures and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color.”
Legal observers believe Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is preparing to charge the three other officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, including two who held Floyd to the pavement while officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe” before falling still. On Tuesday, Minneapolis’s public school district said it was terminating its contract with the city’s police department to provide school resource officers.
Minnesota’s AFL-CIO coalition of labor unions has joined calls demanding that Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll resign, after he called George Floyd a “violent criminal,” described protesters as terrorists and called on police to expand their use of force. In April, Kroll told a radio podcaster he wasn’t “bothered” by shootings he’s been involved in.
Lt. Bob Kroll: “I’ve been involved in three shootings myself, and not a one of them has bothered me. You know, maybe I’m different.”
Bob Kroll was welcomed to the stage last October by President Trump at a Trump 2020 campaign rally in Minneapolis.
A warning to our TV audience: The next story contains disturbing footage. Arrest warrants have been issued for six Atlanta police officers after they tased two Black college students and dragged them from their car for allegedly violating the city’s curfew Saturday night. One officer was filmed smashing the window of the car. Another slashed the car’s tires. Two of the officers have already been fired. The victims were 20-year-old Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim and 22-year-old Morehouse College student Messiah Young, who suffered a fractured wrist and needed 24 stitches. He spoke on Tuesday.
Messiah Young: “I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else.”
In Washington, D.C., 700 soldiers with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne armed with fixed bayonets have been deployed to enforce the district’s 7 p.m. curfew. The Army says another 1,400 soldiers are ready to be mobilized to the nation’s capital. President Trump reportedly ordered the show of military force as part of “Operation Themis” — the code name for his domestic military operation against protesters. The name refers to an ancient Greek goddess of law and order.
The Washington Post reports U.S. Attorney General William Barr personally ordered police to beat and tear-gas peaceful protesters gathered near the White House Monday in order to clear a path for President Donald Trump to walk to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Trump posed for photos holding a Bible. Among the hundreds of people tear-gassed was the former assistant rector of St. John’s. President Trump visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine on Tuesday, sparking a new round of criticism from religious leaders. Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory said Trump’s visit at this time was “baffling and reprehensible.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered his embassy in Washington to investigate an assault on an Australian camera crew at Monday’s peaceful protest outside the White House. Seven Network reporter Amelia Brace was clubbed, tear-gassed and shot with rubber-coated bullets while her camera operator, Tim Myers, was hit with a riot shield and punched in the face in a live broadcast that aired across Australia.
Amelia Brace: “We’ve also seen tear gas being used. Here we go. They’re moving through again. This is exactly what it looks like, exactly what it looks like. We’re just staying safely” —
7NEWS Anchor 1: “Ooh!”
7NEWS Anchor 2: “Whoa!”
The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented at least 125 press freedom violations across the U.S. through Monday, and new reports of police attacks on reporters continue to emerge.
Here in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered nightly curfews from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Sunday. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to call out the National Guard, saying the New York Police Department had failed to protect people and property overnight Monday when some people set fires and smashed their way into retail stores. Mayor Bill de Blasio rejected the call at a Tuesday news conference.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Someone needs a history lesson. When outside armed forces go into communities, no good comes of it. We have seen this for decades. Go back to the ’50s, ’60s, with the civil rights movement, on through all the way up to today.”
The New York Police Department says it arrested 200 curfew violators overnight — compared to about 700 the night before.
In Oregon, an estimated 10,000 people filled Burnside Bridge in Portland Tuesday, laying face down on the pavement for nine minutes — the length of time George Floyd was pinned beneath the three Minneapolis police officers who killed him on May 25. Later Tuesday, police unleashed volleys of tear gas, flash grenades and pepper spray at protesters who were marching on the downtown jail and police precinct.
In Los Angeles, where nearly 3,000 protesters have been arrested since Friday, UCLA issued a statement Tuesday saying it would no longer allow police to use its college baseball stadium as a “field jail.” The Jackie Robinson Stadium is named after Major League Baseball’s first African American player. Other protesters have been processed in L.A. County’s jail system, which on Sunday reported its first death from the coronavirus — a 47-year-old prisoner whose name has not been released. Nearly 300 employees and 2,000 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 in L.A. jails since the pandemic began.
In Puerto Rico, protesters marched outside the mansion of Governor Wanda Vázquez in Old San Juan Tuesday, with chants for justice for George Floyd and denouncing Puerto Rico’s own legacy of racism. Protesters ignored the island’s coronavirus curfew and stayed on the streets into the night. This is Shariana Ferrer-Núñez, a member of Puerto Rico’s Feminist Collective Under Construction.
Shariana Ferrer-Núñez: “We recognize that we must dismantle white supremacy, we must dismantle a racialized system, we must eradicate anti-Black violence.”
In the occupied West Bank, dozens of people protested Tuesday outside the Church of Nativity in the city of Bethlehem, denouncing the police killing of George Floyd and the recent killing of Iyad el-Hallak, a 32-year-old Palestinian special needs student who was shot to death by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday. El-Hallak was reportedly chanting “Black lives matter” and “Palestinian lives matter” when Israeli police gunned him down, claiming el-Hallak was armed. This is one of the protesters in Bethlehem yesterday.
Ahmad Odeh: “We tell the people of the world, the free people and especially the American people, that what happened to them, the killing and racism against George Floyd, also happens in Palestine and to all of Palestine’s martyrs. We have today a photo of martyr Iyad el-Hallak, whose experience was not so different from what happened in the U.S. and the U.S. system that killed George.”
Thousands of people in cities across France defied coronavirus restrictions against mass gatherings and took to the streets Tuesday for antiracist protests. In Paris, 20,000 people gathered peacefully demanding an end to police brutality, and paying homage to Adama Traoré, a Black man who died in police custody in 2016 after he was pinned down by an officer. Late in the day police fired volleys of tear gas canisters into the crowds to clear the protests.
Voters cast ballots in eight states and the District of Columbia Tuesday in primary and municipal elections marred by the coronavirus pandemic and police and military crackdowns on street protests, with voting rights activists warning of widespread disenfranchisement. In Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, where polling places remained open even as curfews went into effect, officials said people had permission to be out of their homes if they informed police of their intention to vote. In Baltimore, election officials opened just six in-person voting sites, citing the pandemic. At one polling place, about 100 people — most of them African American — were still waiting to cast their ballots around 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
In Iowa’s 4th U.S. Congressional District, openly racist Republican Steve King has lost a primary election to challenger Randy Feenstra, who will take on Democratic nominee J.D. Scholten in November’s general election. Congressmember King, who has repeatedly praised far-right politicians in Europe, was stripped of his congressional committee assignments last year after he said in an interview with The New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” In Missouri, Ferguson City Councilmember Ella Jones will become the first African American mayor in her city’s history after winning 54% of the vote on Tuesday. She’ll succeed James Knowles III, the former chair of the Missouri Young Republicans, who was Ferguson’s mayor throughout the militarized crackdown on protests that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in 2014. The officer, Darren Wilson, was never charged.
In his first major address since the protests began, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke in Philadelphia Tuesday and criticized President Trump for supporting the use of tear gas and flash grenades to disperse peaceful protesters outside the White House.
Joe Biden: “But I promise you this: I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I’ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain.”
Meanwhile, Biden has faced criticism for remarks he made about police training during a meeting with African American community leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
Joe Biden: “The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at him with a knife or something, shooting him in the leg instead of the heart is a very different thing.”
In India, an estimated 100,000 people — including a number of coronavirus patients — have evacuated low-lying parts of the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra as a severe cyclone bears down on Mumbai for the first time in documented history. In Central America, at least 15 people were killed after Tropical Storm Amanda sparked severe flooding in El Salvador and Guatemala. The storm traversed from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, where it was rechristened Tropical Storm Cristobal. It’s the earliest C-named storm ever recorded, following Arthur and Bertha, which formed ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Climate scientists warn 2020 is on track to be the hottest year in human history, with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 418 parts per million — the highest level in at least 3 million years.