The nation marked one year since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police Tuesday. The murder of the 46-year-old father, who was a security guard and rapper, sparked a national uprising and global movement to end racism and police brutality. It also resulted in the drafting of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has yet to be enacted into law. George Floyd’s family spoke after meeting with President Biden at the White House Tuesday. This is his brother, Philonise Floyd.
Philonise Floyd: “We just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed in the future.”
Reporter: “Is there any message — could I ask you real quick: Is there a message you want the American people to know?”
Philonise Floyd: “No, because this is the thing: If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”
Protests and gatherings took place around the country and around the world Tuesday, including in Brooklyn, New York.
Jason Warwin: “I’m not only here for the one-year anniversary of George Floyd. I’m here for the hundreds and thousands of other people who have also been killed by racist police. So, how I’m feeling right now is that things need to change, and we need to defund the police.”
This comes as Israel continues to crack down on Palestinians living in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Haaretz reports Israeli police have arrested hundreds of Palestinians since Monday morning. In other news from Gaza, the head of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, has expressed regret after saying the Israeli airstrikes were carried out with “sophistication” and “precision.” A number of Palestinian groups criticized Matthias Schmale, saying his remarks “completely ignored the crimes committed during the latest Israeli offensive against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip”.
The U.S. has joined mounting calls for further investigation into the origins of COVID-19. A World Health Organization mission earlier this year found it was “extremely unlikely” that it emerged from a laboratory and more likely originated from an animal source. But some top health experts are now questioning whether the virus accidentally escaped from the lab. This is Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra addressing a WHO meeting Tuesday.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra: “Phase 2 of the COVID origins study must be launched with terms of reference that are transparent, science-based and give international experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak.”
Moderna says its vaccine is 100% effective in children and teenagers aged 12 to 17, and will seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration early next month. The Pfizer vaccine is already in use for those 12 and older. This comes as the White House announced another milestone in its vaccination drive Tuesday. This is senior COVID response adviser Andy Slavitt.
Andy Slavitt: “Today the U.S. will hit 50% of adult Americans that are fully vaccinated. This is a major milestone in our country’s vaccination efforts.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned unvaccinated Americans, heading into Memorial Day weekend, that they remain at risk and need to continue wearing a mask and following other public health guidelines.
Kristen Clarke was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris Tuesday evening after the Senate confirmed her to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. She is the first Black woman to assume the role. The vote was 51 to 48, with Maine Republican Susan Collins joining Democrats. Biden nominated her in January, but Republicans spent months trying to block her confirmation. Clarke is the former head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a prominent voting rights advocate. Click here to see our many interviews with her.
In Iraq, security forces killed one protester and injured scores of others at a Baghdad rally calling for justice for murdered activists and protesters. The protest was called following the killing of civil society activist Ehab al-Wazni in Karbala earlier this month. This is a demonstrator speaking Tuesday.
Muhammad al-Yasiri: “We returned to protest, to demand the dismissal of the central government, because our previous demands to reveal the killers of the protesters have been ignored.”
According to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, at least 35 activists and 600 protesters have been killed since the fall of 2019, when mass protests started forming.
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet next month in Geneva, Switzerland. The June 16 summit will be the first in-person meeting between the two heads of state since Biden took office and comes amid tensions over cyberattacks, Russian military build-up at the border with Ukraine, the jailing of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, and nuclear arms.
Samoa is facing a political crisis after the long-standing prime minister refused to concede to the newly elected leader. Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who is Samoa’s first woman leader, won a one-seat parliamentary majority, but her incumbent rival and Samoa’s ceremonial head of state are blocking her from taking power. On Monday, she was physically locked out of parliament and forced to hold a makeshift swearing-in ceremony in a tent. Mata’afa called the attempts to shut her out of office a “bloodless coup.”
In Colombia, the national strike committee and the government of far-right President Iván Duque say they reached “pre-agreements” this week in talks that could end weeks of mass protests calling for an end to militarized police, violence and inequality. One group says security forces have killed over 40 protesters. This is a member of a group known as “Front Line Moms” speaking from a protest in Bogotá.
Vanesa: “The people got sick of this bad government. That is what happened. We got tired of it. We’re tired of there not being work, of there not being healthcare, of the violation of our rights even to protest. As women, we don’t have many benefits.”
The Manhattan district attorney has convened a grand jury to decide whether to indict former President Trump, other executives, or the Trump Organization itself, if criminal charges are brought. The news suggests the DA’s investigation is at an advanced stage. New York’s attorney general recently announced her office launched a criminal investigation into Trump and was working alongside the Manhattan DA. Investigators have been looking into financial crimes at the Trump Organization, including possible tax fraud.
In other news about Trump’s legal troubles, the former president argued Monday he possesses “absolute immunity” from a lawsuit filed by California Congressmember Eric Swalwell over his role in inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The lawsuit says, “The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of [Trump’s] unlawful actions. As such [Trump is] responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.”
After days of silence, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned recent comments by far-right Georgia Congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust. Greene said on a conservative talk show last week that House Speaker Nancy’s Pelosi’s requirement that congressmembers keep wearing masks while on the House floor is “exactly the type of abuse” experienced by Jews under the Nazis. On Tuesday, she tweeted an article about a grocery store where vaccinated employees will wear a vaccination logo on their name tag, likening the logo to the yellow Star of David badges worn by Jews in Nazi Germany. Illinois Congressmember Brad Schneider is calling on other Democrats to join him in a motion to censure Greene.
A coalition of Jewish organizations is calling on President Biden to appoint a special envoy to monitor the rise of antisemitism in the United States. On Monday, Biden condemned what he called “despicable” attacks on the Jewish community. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism, but many progressive Jewish groups and writers reject the claim. Peter Beinart writes in The Guardian, “Anti-Zionism is not inherently antisemitic — and claiming it is uses Jewish suffering to erase the Palestinian experience.”
The attorney general for Washington, D.C., has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, which he accuses of fixing prices to charge consumers more and maintain its monopoly power. This is D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine speaking on Bloomberg TV.
Attorney General Karl Racine: “They require sellers first to pay it, Amazon, a very significant commission, upwards to 40%, for a good. Then it requires the sellers to not provide for access to their product on any other site, including the seller’s own site, for a price lower than that which they sell it on Amazon. That means that you and I are locked into buying a good at an artificially high price set by Amazon.”