George Floyd latest: Donald Trump praises ‘great day’ for racial equality in US

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www.dw.com-Donald Trump caused outrage by saying “this is a great day” for George Floyd. More demonstrations are expected around the world over the weekend. Follow DW for the latest.

  • Trump says ‘hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying: ‘This is a great thing’
  • Washington’s mayor calls for federal forces to leave the US capital
  • Demonstrators protest outside US consulates in Frankfurt and Hamburg
  • French police have banned a protest in front of the US embassy Saturday

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

03:10 The first of a number of Black Lives Matter rallies in Australia have begun amid possible clashes between protesters and law enforcers in Sydney after a court sided with police that the rally posed too much risk for spreading the novel coronavirus.

A rally in Adelaide was being held to honor George Floyd but also to protest against the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody. Likewise, in Sydney, where thousands of citizens were expected to demonstrate. However, New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan stated on Friday that the gathering was not an authorized public assembly and therefore should not go ahead.

“I don’t diminish the importance of the issues and no one would deny them in normal circumstances. No one denies them that but we’re talking about a situation of a health crisis.”

02:45 Minneapolis and St. Paul have officially lifted their curfews and the state of Minnesota, where both cities are located, is planning to start sending back state troopers and members of the National Guard.

The two cities experienced unrest that included store break-ins late last week following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. However, the anger has subsided somewhat and the protests have evolved into a more peaceful movement, such as the ones that involved 1,000 protesters in St. Paul and hundreds more near the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz credited peaceful protests for provoking a rapid response from the Minneapolis Police Department. On Friday, the city agreed to forbid chokeholds and neck restraints as a civil rights investigation of the department gets underway.

02:05 The words “Black Lives Matter” have been painted in enormous bright yellow letters on the street leading to the White House in Washington, DC.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has clashed with President Donald Trump over his handling of the protests in the United States, said the painting by city workers and local artists that runs for two blocks is a sign of support and solidarity with Americans outraged over the killing of George Floyd.

“We know what’s going on in our country. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of distrust of police and the government,” the mayor said at a press conference. “There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized. We had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city.”

01:45 Basketball legend Michael Jordan and his Nike-backed Jordan Brand have pledged to donate $100 million (€88.5 million) over the next 10 years in support of racial equality and social justice.

“Black lives matter. This isn’t a controversial statement,” read the joint statement from Jordan and his firm. “Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of Black people.”

Part of the initiative involves creating greater access to education for minorities.

Earlier in the week, Michael Jordan said: “I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.

“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength, and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality.”

00:35  In the United States, the National Football League (NFL) has admitted it was wrong in not recognizing black players’ rights to protest against racial injustice.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made a mistake over its reaction to a kneeling protest in 2016 led by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The killing of George Floyd last week has renewed scrutiny of the way the NFL treats its black players, particularly over its lack of support for Kaepernick over the past four years.

Now the NFL has backtracked on its previous stance. Goodell said in a video: “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We the National Football League believe black lives matter.”

“Without black players there would be no National Football League,” he said without mentioning Kaepernick by name.

The 32-year-old, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl, did not renew his contract with the club when it expired in at the beginning of 2017. He has not played in the NFL since.

00:02 Protesters who have taken to the streets since George Floyd’s death last week have promised to turn momentary grief into a sustained movement to address racial injustice.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd died while in police custody, the city has agreed to forbid police chokeholds and require officers to intervene on any occasion they witness unauthorized force by another officer.

The City Council was expected to ratify the agreement, which will be enforceable in court.

Meanwhile, the nationwide protests have continued into an 11th day, with equal determination for justice, as the calls for an equal society grow ever louder.

At Floyd’s memorial in Minneapolis on Thursday, the Reverend Al Sharpton set out plans for a commemorative march on Washington in August, vowing that the movement will not relent in its goal to “change the whole system of justice.”

Floyd’s body has now moved to North Carolina, his state of birth, for a public viewing and private service for family members on Saturday.

Americans support the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd by a margin of almost 2-to-1, according to a HuffPost/YouGov survey, with most viewing the 46-year-old’s death as part of a worrying trend in police treatment of black people.

23:37 A group of 66 United Nations human rights experts issued a stinging rebuke of the “modern-day racial terror lynchings” they said African-Americans still have to endure in the United States.

The group released two joint statements in response to the death of George Floyd and a number of other killings of black people in the United States.

Many of those incidents have been seen on online and “shock the conscience and evoke the very terror that the lynching regime in the United States was intended to inspire,” the group said. “Given the track record of impunity for racial violence of this nature in the United States, Black people have good reason to fear for their lives.”

The UN experts added that policing in the US remains tainted by a “legacy of racial terror” whose origins began with “slave patrols and social control.”

The group demanded the US government addresses the “systemic racism and racial bias in the country’s criminal justice system by launching independent investigations and ensuring accountability in all cases of excessive use of force by police.”

The monitors also lambasted US President Donald Trump’s response to the protests, which has included “threatening more state violence using language directly associated with racial segregationists from the nation’s past, who worked hard to deny black people fundamental human rights.”

22:50 Police in France banned demonstrations scheduled outside the US Embassy in Paris and on the lawns near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday. The protests are among the many taking place around the world following the death of George Floyd in the United States last week.

The Paris police department said it decided to ban the demonstrations because of the risks of social disorder and health dangers from large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unrest followed another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.

22:35 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee to show solidarity with protesters during an anti-racism rally in the country’s capital, Ottawa, while onlookers chanted: “Stand up to Trump! Stand up to Trump!”

The rally was one of several taking place across Canada prompted by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Wearing a black face mask to protect against the novel coronavirus, Trudeau applauded and nodded in agreement as a speaker demanded people must choose to be either “a racist or an anti-racist.”

22:00 Manhattan’s district attorney said his office will not prosecute those arrested for breaking the city’s curfew while participating in protests against racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

Cy Vance said the decision not to prosecute charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct “in the interest of justice.”

“The prosecution of protestors charged with these low-level offenses undermines critical bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” he said in a statement.

New York, like other cities across the United States, has been beset by protests and unrest following the death of Floyd, a black man, who died last week after a white officer restrained him by holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while three other officers stood nearby.

 

21:45 US President Donald Trump has courted further controversy with his social media posts. This time Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all disabled Trump posts of a tribute video to George Floyd due to copyright issues.

His campaign team posted a clip showing images and video footage of protest marches and examples of violence in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, with Trump speaking in the background.

As a result, a number of complaints were submitted and a Twitter representative said: “We respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it took down the video after receiving the creator’s copyright complaint under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“Organizations that use original art shared on Instagram are expected to have the right to do so,” Facebook said via an official statement.

20:53 All 57 members of a police tactical unit in Buffalo, New York, have resigned from their team to object to the suspension of two colleagues who were filmed pushing a 75-year-old man to the pavement. Several officers had walked past the elderly man without attending him as he bled from his head and ear.

Local media quoted Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans as saying the officers were simply doing their job, and that their colleagues on the team had resigned from the special unit in protest at their suspension without pay. Evans could not be reached for comment, the Associated Press reported.

20:17 Donald Trump was greeted by demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd during a campaign visit to Maine in the northeast United States.

“It’s not the right time for him to be coming to our state,” said Marie Follayttar, director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership which helped organize the protest.

Maine Governor Janet Mills told Trump earlier this week that she had “security concerns” over his visit, to which Trump replied that made him more determined to come.

20:00 Dr. Jay Varkey, a specialist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia fears that police are spreading the new coronavirus by spraying tear gas on demonstrators.

“When I see the wide use of things like tear gas or pepper bombs that by its nature cause people to immediately rub their eyes, that causes me tremendous consternation in terms of the risk of what that could cause in terms of infection transmission during a pandemic,” Varkey said.

Varkey also said that confining people in small spaces dramatically increases the risk of infection.

19:40 California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the state police training program to stop teaching carotid holds, saying the restraining technique has no place in the 21st century.

The technique, which involves wrapping ones arms around a person’s neck and can block blood flow to the brain, was used on George Floyd during his arrest before he died in police custody.

19:24 Two-thirds of Americans think that Donald Trump has increased tensions with his handling of the George Floyd demonstrations, according to a poll conducted by public broadcasters NPR and PBS and the New York-based Marist College.

Trump’s approval rating has remained relatively unchanged, sitting at 41% — down just two percentage points from the last NPR/PBS/Marist poll. However, 47% said they “strongly disapprove” of the job he’s doing as president.

19:06 Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has given up his seat on the social news aggregator’s board and has urged other members to replace him with a black candidate.

Ohanian, husband of tennis star Serena Williams, also said he would “use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community,” beginning with a $1 million (€885,413) donation to Know Your Rights Camp, a charity founded by former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

18:51 American police officers in two US cities have found themselves under investigation over incidents in and around protests relating to Floyd’s killing.

Two officers were suspended in Buffalo, New York after a video depicted the pair shoving a 75-year-old man, who fell to the ground and injured his head. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident “offensive and frightening.”

In Indianapolis, Indiana, four police officers were captured on video using batons and pepper balls to subdue two women during a George Floyd protest in the state capital. The quartet has been reassigned to support duties pending an investigation.

17:45 Three black German footballers, including former German international Jerome Boateng, spoke to DW about how they feel about racism.

Nicole Anyomi, a striker for SGS Essen in Germany’s top women’s division, said she was “lost for words” when hearing of Floyd’s death. “We are in 2020 and racism and injustice still prevails,” she told DW.

Leroy Kwadwo of third-tier side Würzburger Kickers, a victim of racist chants earlier this year, told DW that “it’s common that players of a different skin color or another religion are insulted and it’s not publicized afterwards.”

Boateng told DW that everything starts with “the education of children,” saying that “no child is born a racist.”

17:35 Former Vice President Joe Biden has heavily criticized US President Trump for incorporating Floyd into his address on job figures.

Trump said he hoped Floyd was “looking down right now and saying: ‘This is a great thing happening for our country.'”

“George Floyd’s last words — ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ — echoed all across this nation and, quite frankly, around the world. For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd I frankly think is despicable,” said Biden, who is set to square off against Trump in this year’s presidential election as the Democratic nominee.

17:24 Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was choked to death by a police officer, has agreed with the state of Minnesota to ban police chokeholds and require police to report and intervene anytime they see an unauthorized use of force by another officer.

The agreement also requires the police chief or a designated deputy chief to authorize the use of crowd control weapons, including chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons and marking rounds. Decisions to discipline officers also must be made in a timely fashion.

Minneapolis’ City Council is expected to ratify the measures later Friday.

16:56 Facebook said it has not detected any foreign interference targeting US protests related to Floyd’s killing.

US Attorney General William Barr had claimed that foreign groups were using online disinformation campaigns similar to those mounted by Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

“We have been actively looking and we haven’t yet seen foreign interference or domestic coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting these protests,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, told reporters in a conference call.

“We want to caution people against jumping to conclusions without clear evidence of foreign interference.”

16:38 City workers in Washington have painted “Black Lives Matter” in yellow letters on the street leading to the White House.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser posted an aerial video of the text, which she dedicated to Breonna Taylor, an African American woman who was shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky.

16:35 Authorities in the city of Mobile, Alabama removed a statue of a Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes without notice. Its removal followed days of protests, and more demonstrations calling for it to be taken down were scheduled for Sunday.

The Confederacy was a bloc of slave-holding state that battled US troops in the American Civil War of the 19th century. Statues of Confederate figures erected after the war have sparked controversy in the US, many criticizing they symbolize the systemic racism in America.

16:24 South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) is launching a “Black Friday” campaign in response to Floyd’s “heinous murder” and “institutionalized racism” in the US, at home, in China and “wherever it rears its ugly head.

The campaign, which calls on South Africans to wear black on Fridays in solidarity, is also meant to highlight “deaths by citizens at the hands of security forces” in the country.

“The demon of racism remains a blight on the soul of our nation,” the ANC said in a statement.

South Africa remains one of the most racially divided countries in the world a quarter of a century after the racist system of apartheid.

16:01 People around the world took to the streets again in protests related to Floyd’s killing. In Germany, tens of thousands of demonstrators in Frankfurt and Hamburg protested against racism, holding signs with slogans such as: “Your Pain Is My Pain, Your Fight Is My Fight.”

In London, several dozen people gathered in Trafalgar Square, with many in the British capital wearing masks and some kneeling in solidarity.

Demonstrators also gathered outside the US Embassy in Vienna, Austria, holding banners with slogans such as “There are no races just one species” and “Racism is the Real Virus.”

Several more protests are expected in Berlin, London, Brussels and Barcelona and Madrid in Spain on Saturday and Sunday. In Paris, French police have banned a planned demonstration in front of the US embassy on Saturday.

15:53 Washington Mayor Bowser announced the renaming 16th street near the White House to “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” She posted a video on her Twitter account depicting a city worker changing the sign.

15:49 Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has ended a state of emergency in the American capital and called for Trump to remove federal forces from the district.

“The protests have been peaceful, and last night, the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest,” Bowser wrote in a letter she posted on her Twitter account.

“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing black Americans.”

15:36 Earlier Friday, Twitter blocked a Trump campaign tribute video over a copyright claim, adding to a growing feud between the social media platform and the US president. The video, still visible on YouTube, contained pictures of Floyd and Trump soundbites calling his death a “grave tragedy” and stating “it should never have happened.”

15:05 Trump said he was “suggesting to some governors that are too proud … Don’t be proud. Get the job done. You’ll end up doing much better in the end, calling the National Guard. Call me.

“You have to dominate the streets. You can’t let what’s happening, happen,” he said in remarks at the White House Rose Garden.

15:01 US President Donald Trump has told a press conference that all citizens have to receive equal treatment from law enforcement. He appeared to suggest that the protests following Floyd’s death were now over.

“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying: ‘This is a great thing happening for our country.’ A great day for him, a great day for everybody. This is great day for everybody.”

15:00 Welcome to DW’s rolling coverage of the protests sweeping the US and the rest of the world 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 for several minutes, despite crying out “I can’t breathe.” Since then, the US has experienced its worst civil unrest since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

dv/rt (AP, Reuters)

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