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George Floyd latest: Trump threatens to deploy troops as police tear gas protesters

  • June 02, 2020
  • US President Donald Trump slams governors as “weak” and threatens deployment of “heavily armed troops”
  • An official autopsy declares the manner of Floyd’s death “homicide”
  • New York becomes the latest city to impose a curfew

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

03:52 Two men were arrested inside Macy’s flagship store in Manhattan. Its door had been breached amid a citywide curfew. Other stores across Manhattan were hit by looting, including the Nike, ATT and North Face stores.

City authorities have called on people to respect the curfew and stay inside. Since unrest erupted last week in the wake Floyd’s death, at least 700 people have been arrested in New York.

03:07 A curfew has gone into effect in New York City as of 11:00 pm local time (0300 UTC). Despite efforts by authorities to restrict public gatherings overnight, protesters and rioters remained on the streets.

In the run up to the curfew, storefront windows were smashed at several businesses, including Nike and ATT stores in Manhattan.

Earlier, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on people to respect the curfew. However, due to expected violations, he extended it.

“These protests have power and meaning,” said de Blasio. “But as the night wears on we are seeing groups use them to incite violence and destroy property. Our first priority is keeping people safe, so I’m extending the curfew to Tuesday. It will begin at 8pm.”

Over in Washington D.C. DW’s Alexandra von Nahmen said the situation had calmed down after police cleared protesters from the streets using tear gas. However, officers were now in the process of arresting demonstrators for defying the curfew there.

03:00 Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused the US of upholding “double standards” concerning both governments’ handling of protests.

“You know there are riots in the United States and we see how local governments reacted,” said Lam. “Then in Hong Kong, when we had similar riots, we saw what position they adopted then.”

02:24 Reverend Mariann Budde said she was “outraged” by Trump’s visit to the historic St. John’s Church, which forms part of her Episcopal diocese as bishop.

She said he did not “acknowledge the agony and sacred worth of people of color in our nation who rightfully demand an end to 400 years of systemic racism and white supremacy in our country.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who heads the diocese, said the visit was overtly political and had nothing to do with spiritual matters.

“This evening, the President of the United States stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a bible, and had pictures of himself taken,” said Curry. “In so doing, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes.”

Police used tear gas and sound grenades to clear protesters in front of the White House to make way for Trump to visit the church.

01:53 At least 5,600 people have been arrested amid nationwide unrest over the death of George Floyd in police custody, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

In Minneapolis alone, at least 150 people have been arrested. Floyd was killed in the Minnesota state capital. In Los Angeles, nearly 1,000 arrests have been made, while in New York City, at least 700 people have been taken into custody.

01:24 Twitter founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted “police policy reform now.”

His social media platform has come under fire from US President Donald Trump over the past week after it hid one of his tweets for “glorifying violence.” Trump responded by issuing an executive order targeting social media for allegedly censoring content.

Trump often uses Twitter, long considered his preferred platform, as an informal way to push his domestic and foreign policy agenda.

01:16 Several US state governors have come out against Trump’s threat to deploy the armed forces to quell nationwide protests.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Trump has “repeatedly proven he is incapable of governing and shown nothing but false bravado throughout the chaos that has accompanied his time in office.”

“Now he uses the most supreme power of the presidency in a desperate attempt to hide his timidity and vapidity,” said Inslee, a former presidential candidate. “I pray no soldier and no civilian is injured or killed by this reckless fit.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she would not use the National Guard to suppress protests, saying: “You don’t diffuse violence by putting soldiers on the streets.”

01:10 DW reporters on the ground in the US have been guaging public opinion at ongoing protests. Alexandra von Nahmen in Washington D.C. said people within the administration are concerned that Trump’s inability to strike the right tone to unite the nation may hurt his reelection chances. “But he himself believes stressing he is a ‘law and order president’ will help,” she said. “But if he continues his present course, he may lose important voter groups, such as women and independents.”

Stefan Simons is in Minneapolis at a memorial at the exact spot Floyd was killed last week. People from all walks of life have been attending a family event. When news of the autopsy results that Floyd died by suffocation filtered through, the reaction was simply “well, we knew that all along,” Simons said.

00:39 George Floyd’s family has accepted an offer by former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather to pay for his funeral.

“He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that, but yes, he is definitely paying for the funeral,” Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, told American sports broadcaster ESPN.

The funeral is expected to take place on June 9 in Houston, Floyd’s hometown.

00:29 US President Donald Trump walked from the White House to a historic church that had been damaged during riots over the weekend.

Trump described the place church as a “very, very special place.” St. John’s Church in Washington DC has been described as the “church of the presidents.”

“We have a great country,” Trump said holding a Bible outside the church.

DW’s Alexandra von Nahmen witnessed police firing tear gas and bang grenades to disperse protesters in front of the White House in order to make way for Trump to reach the church. 

23:59 The US isn’t the only country where Floyd’s death has triggered anger about racism. In an op-ed, DW’s Chiponda Chimbelu said Europe is also home to institutional racial violence.

“For years, black men and women have been murdered and killed, in the US and Europe, even by the police, just because they are black,” Chimbelu said.

“For us, George Floyd’s killing is a reminder that racist violence sometimes results in death.

Read the op-ed: George Floyd killing opens racism wounds for European blacks

23:32 Former Vice President Joe Biden called on US authorities to “pursue justice with every ounce of our being.”

Biden is running against Trump for the US presidency in elections slated for November.

“In this moment, the very soul of America is at stake,” Biden said. “We have to finally make the real American promise: That all men and women are not only equal at creation, but throughout their lives.”

23:07 Police in the nation’s capital clashed with protesters in front of the White House as US President Donald Trump delivered an address to the nation.

The police fired tear gas in a bid to disperse the protesters, who earlier had shouted slogans such as “No justice, no peace.”

“Enough is enough,” one protester told DW earlier. “We are tired.” 

22:51 US President Donald Trump said he is mobilizing “all available federal resources” to end nationwide riots triggered by the death of George Floyd.

Trump said he urged governors to “deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers so that we dominate the streets.” The president said he would “deploy the United States military” if they do not take action.

He described attacks on law enforcement agents as “domestic terror.” However, he did not acknowledge that the initial protests were triggered by Floyd’s death in police custody.

“These are not acts of peaceful protest,” Trump said. “These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God.”

“What happened in the city last night was a total disgrace,” he said as tear gas went off and crowds protested in the streets nearby.

“I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property.”

He also named Antifa, an antifascist movement, as a chief “instigator” of the protests.

21:54 The Hennepin county medical examiner has declared George Floyd’s death to be a homicide, according to an official statement.

The declaration comes after an independent autopsy found that Floyd had died of asphyxiation, in contrast to an official ruling that claimed he died due to pre-existing heart conditions.

The latest report said the manner of death was “homicide.” 

“Decedent experience a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the examiner said.

The statement added that “manner of death is not a legal determination of culpability or intent.”

21:48 Protesters have gathered in front of the White House to denounce police brutality after Floyd’s death in police custody.

According to DW’s Carla Bleiker, they chanted slogans such as “No Justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe,” the last words Floyd uttered before he died.

21:34 Protests against the systemic mistreatment of blacks by police have sparked violent confrontations since beginning peacefully last week. Take a look at how the demonstrations evoloved in pictures: 

  • A protester faces police when Black Lives Matter protesters clash with NYPD officers

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    ‘I can’t breathe’

    Tense protests over decades of police brutality against black people have quickly spread from Minneapolis to cities across the US. The protests began in the Midwestern city earlier this week, after a police officer handcuffed and pressed a knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, until he stopped breathing and died.

  •  mural of George Floyd painted by the artist eme_freethinker on a wall at Mauerpark in Berlin

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    A ‘gentle giant’

    Floyd grew up in Houston, Texas, and moved to Minneapolis in 2014 for work. Before his death, he was looking for work after having been laid off from his job as a security guard at a Latin bistro due to Minnesota’s stay-at-home coronavirus restrictions. Standing 6 feet, 6 inches (1.98 meters) tall, his friends described him as a “gentle giant.”

  • A man pleads with officers as crowds protesting the killing of G. Floyd clash with police in the blocks just north of the White House

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    From peaceful to violent

    Protests were mostly peaceful on Saturday, though some became violent as the night wore on. In Washington, D.C., the National Guard was deployed outside the White House. At least one person died in shootings in downtown Indianapolis; police said no officers were involved. Officers were injured in Philadelphia, while in New York two NYPD vehicles lurched into a crowd, knocking people to the ground.

  • A man carries a large chain out of the jewelry store Realm of the Goddess on Melrose Avenue after the front window was smashed in

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    Shops destroyed, looted

    In Los Angeles, protesters faced off with officers with shouts of “Black Lives Matter!” as police confronted crowds with batons and rubber bullets. In some cities including LA, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Minneapolis, protests have turned into riots, with people looting and destroying local shops and businesses.

  • A man plays guitar next to a graffiti sign with When the Looting Starts the Shooting Starts

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    ‘When the looting starts…’

    President Donald Trump has threatened to send in the military to quell the protests, saying his “administration will stop mob violence and will stop it cold.” Trump’s response has inflamed tensions across the country. He blamed the rioting on alleged far-left groups, but Minnesota Governor Tim Walz told reporters he had heard multiple unconfirmed reports of white supremacists stoking the violence.

  • Demonstrators protest the killing of George Floyd outside of the city's 5th police precinct

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    Media in the crosshairs

    Many journalists covering the protests have found themselves targeted by law enforcement. On Friday, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew were arrested while covering the story in Minneapolis, and several reporters have been hit with projectiles or detained while on air. DW’s Stefan Simons was fired at by police twice as he reported on the unrest over the weekend.

  • Anti-racism protests at US Embassy in Berlin / Tod von George Floyd (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Soeder)

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    Going global

    North of the US border, in Canada, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Vancouver and Toronto. In Berlin, American expats and other demonstrators gathered outside the US Embassy. In London, protesters kneeled in Trafalgar Square before marching past the Houses of Parliament and stopping at the British capital’s US Embassy.

  • Protesters hold their hands up in front of law enforcement personnel as demonstrators rally at the White House

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    At Trump’s front door

    Protests raged in the US capital, Washington, after the district began its 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Sunday. More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, with some lighting fires outside the president’s residence. The New York Times reported that Secret Service had brought Trump into a bunker as a safety precaution.

  •  law enforcement officer takes position as a building burns

    In pictures: US protests over George Floyd, police killings rage in dozens of cities

    Curfews in major US cities

    Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Washington D.C. and other US cities extended curfews as protests entered a sixth night. The state of Arizona in the west instituted a statewide, weeklong curfew after demonstrators clashed with police. Around 5,000 troops from the National Guard also have been deployed in 15 US states.

    Author: Martin Kuebler

21:17 Recap: DW reporter Stefan Simons was shot at by police on Sunday, marking the second night in a row that law enforcement had deliberately targeted DW crew members with projectiles.

Simons, who was wearing a press jacket during both incidents, had identified himself as a journalist. Authorities also threatened to arrest him on Saturday.

This is not the first time that police have deliberately targeted members of the press. Last week, a CNN reporter was arrested while live on camera.

21:05 Outcry over the killing of George Floyd has gone international, with people taking to the streets in Berlin and London to show solidarity with US protesters. In Germany, soccer stars wore T-shirts and knelt in support. There have been protests outside the US embassy in Berlin while others are taking to art to express their solidarity.

21:00 Authorities in New York City imposed a curfew starting at 11:00 pm local time (0300 UTC) and ending at 05:00 am.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said he had spoken to the city’s top law enforcement agent about “officers [who] didn’t uphold the values of this city and of the NYPD.”

Read more: US cities impose curfews as anti-police brutality protests persist

Cuomo, however, turned his attention to rioting that occurred in parts of the city over the weekend.

“I stand behind the protesters and their message, but unfortunately there are people who are looking to distract and discredit this moment,” said Cuomo. “The violence and the looting has been bad for the city, the state and this entire national movement, undermining and distracting from this righteous cause.”

20:45 The family of George Floyd received an autopsy report showing that he died of suffocation. The finding contrasts an official ruling that he had died from pre-existing heart problems.

“Independent medical examiners who conducted an autopsy of Floyd Sunday determined that asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause of death,” said Ben Crump, a lawyer for the family.

The death of Floyd, an unarmed African American, during his arrest by a white police officer has triggered a wave of protests and riots across US cities.

20:40 George Floyd’s brother voiced support for the protests, but urged people to refrain from violence and destruction, saying that it is “not going to bring my brother back at all.”

“We still going to do this, peacefully,” Terrence Floyd said at a vigil in Minneapolis, leading protesters in a chant of “peace on the left, justice on the right.”

He added that although the protests “may feel good for the moment,” they are causing harm and may prevent political change. “He would not want you all to be doing this,” Floyd said.

Floyd’s message of peace stood in stark contrast to that of US President Donald Trump who berated state leaders as “weak” for not cracking down harder on protesters.

20:30 Welcome to DW’s rolling coverage of the protests sweeping the US in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. The 46-year-old African American died in Minneapolis last week after a police officer kneeled on his neck. Since then, the US has experienced its worst civil unrest since the assaniation of Martin Luther King Junior in 1968.

ls/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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