George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Protests: Live Updates

The fallout is spreading from police departments to publishing and beyond.

Protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have quickly given rise to a vast American reckoning with racism, as a backlash against entrenched inequality reverberates across society, from the upper echelons of corporations and media organizations to the pages of the dictionary.

The fallout has been swift and fierce.

By Wednesday, the chief executive of CrossFit had resigned after speaking belligerently about race and racism on a company call. Thousands of researchers across the country went on strike, forgoing research, classes, meetings and other work to instead spend the day calling for actions to protect the lives of black people. And Merriam-Webster said it would expand its dictionary definition of racism to address systemic bias.

The changes come as protesters across the country continue to cry out for racial justice and accountability with a visceral force.

In Richmond, Va., protesters ripped down a statue of the explorer and colonizer Christopher Columbus overnight and threw it into a lake. In Boston, a similar statue was beheaded. Across the country, at least 10 monuments to Confederates or other controversial historical figures have been removed, and people have challenged similar monuments in more than 20 cities.

The demand for consequences reflects a considerable shift in public opinion, as Congress races to address police accountability and racial bias in law enforcement during a pivotal election year. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Wednesday from a brother of Mr. Floyd, who spoke out against the repeated police killings of black Americans and urged lawmakers to “make it stop.”

In Minneapolis, the police chief, Medaria Arradondo, said that he would no longer engage in contract negotiations with the police union, as officials across the country increasingly defy influential police and corrections groups.

Almost no industry has been immune from the fallout.

Authors and book publishing employees are speaking publicly about pay disparities in an overwhelmingly white industry under the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe. Among newspapers, which are also disproportionately white, high-ranking editors at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer have stepped down or been reassigned in recent days after staff complaints about editorial decisions touching on race and protests.

But history suggests that such intense focus on societal racism is unlikely to last, the Rev. Al Sharpton warned during a eulogy for Mr. Floyd this week. He promised to be back in Minneapolis when the trial for officers start, and to march on Washington “by the tens of thousands” on the anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in August.

“We must commit to this family — all of these families, all of his children, grandchildren and all — that until these people pay for what they did, that we’re going to be there with them,” he said. “Because lives like George’s will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives.”

A day after George Floyd was laid to rest during an impassioned service calling for broad corrections to racial injustice, his brother Philonise Floyd testified on Wednesday before a House hearing on police accountability and racial bias in law enforcement, and offered lawmakers a wrenching plea for change.

“I’m here to ask you to make it stop,” Mr. Floyd told the House Judiciary Committee, describing the agony he felt as he watched the video his older brother dying while pinned under the knee of a white police officer for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The elder Mr. Floyd died on May 25 after being arrested over a complaint that he had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

“I am asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars?” Mr. Floyd asked members of Congress. “This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough.

Moved to tears as he recounted how his brother had continued to address the officers detaining him as “sir” as he lay dying, Mr. Floyd later broke down as he detailed the horror his family felt watching the video, saying it felt like “eight hours and 46 minutes.”

“Sitting here, coming to try to tell you all about how I want justice for my brother, I just think about that video over and over again,” Mr. Floyd said. “Every day just looking at it, being anywhere, that’s all people talk about. The rest of my life, that’s all I’ll ever see.”

Anybody “with a heart,” he continued, would know that how his brother was treated was wrong: “You don’t do that to a human being, you don’t even do that to an animal.”

Mr. Floyd was the marquee voice among more than a half-dozen civil rights experts and activists at a hearing called to consider the most expansive federal intervention into law enforcement that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory, which was put forth by Democrats this week.

His testimony added to the mounting sense of urgency on Capitol Hill to overhaul law enforcement practices and address systemic racism in policing.

House Democrats have indicated that they intend to act quickly, with a vote on their legislation planned by the end of the month. Congressional Republicans, faced with a rapid shift in public opinion, are scrambling to coalesce around a legislative response.

Trump says he will not allow Army bases honoring Confederates to be renamed.

President Trump rejected the idea on Wednesday of changing the names of American military bases that bear the names of Confederate officers, propelling himself even further into the culture war dividing the United States at a time when racial tensions are already high following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Mr. Trump volunteered his view without being asked, after Gen. David H. Petraeus, the retired Army commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former director of the C.I.A., wrote in The Atlantic that the 10 United States Army installations named for Confederates should be renamed. The list includes Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Benning in Georgia.

“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Mr. Trump wrote in a string of messages on Twitter.

“The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”

Mr. Trump, a native of New York, has aligned himself repeatedly with defenders of Confederate heritage, most notably during the Charlottesville rally in 2017 that attracted white supremacists and turned violent.

A number of Confederate memorials have recently been targeted for removal, including a statue commemorating Confederate soldiers in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, and a prominent statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., that has been covered in graffiti by protesters.

On Monday, a Pentagon official said that Defense Secretary Mark P. Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic” of removing Confederate names from bases. The announcement, first reported by Politico, came as the services were struggling with issues of racial justice raised by the demonstrations of recent days.

The top commanders of the Navy and Marine Corps have both recently announced that they would ban the display of Confederate battle flags and other Confederate symbols in common areas of their services’ bases, ships and aircraft.

American public opinion can sometimes seem stubborn. Voters haven’t really changed their views on abortion in 50 years. Donald J. Trump’s approval rating among registered voters has fallen within a five-point range for just about every day of his presidency.

But the Black Lives Matter movement is proving to be an exception.

Public opinion on race and criminal justice issues has been steadily moving left since the first protests ignited over the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. And since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, public opinion on race, criminal justice and the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted leftward.

Over the last two weeks, support for Black Lives Matter increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years, according to data from Civiqs, an online survey research firm. By a 28-point margin, Civiqs finds that a majority of Americans support the movement, up from a 17-point margin before the most recent wave of protests began.

The survey is not the only one to suggest that recent protests enjoy broad public support. Weekly polling for the Democracy Fund’s U.C.L.A./Nationscape survey shows a significant increase in unfavorable views of the police, and an increase in the belief that African-Americans face a lot of discrimination.

Perhaps most significant, the Civiqs data is not alone in suggesting that an outright majority of Americans agree with the central arguments of Black Lives Matter.

The chief of the Minneapolis Police Department said on Wednesday that he was calling off contract negotiations with the police union, as he sought to keep control of the department amid calls from city lawmakers to dismantle it.

Chief Medaria Arradondo said he would bring in outside advisers to examine how to revamp the police union contract to allow “more flexibility for true reform.” He said the review would cover issues like the role of supervisors and the discipline and arbitration process, a thorny subject raised by protesters in several states.

Chief Arradondo, an African-American who once sued the police department and the city for discrimination, expressed frustration with the way police union contracts tie the hands of department leaders in dealing with problem officers.

“There is nothing more debilitating to a chief, from an employment-matter perspective, than when you have grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct, and you’re dealing with a third-party mechanism that allows for that employee to not only be back on your department, but to be patrolling in your communities,” he said.

Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged with murder after kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, was on the Minneapolis force for 19 years before being fired the day after Mr. Floyd’s death. During that time Mr. Chauvin was the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints, his personnel file shows, including one in 2007 in which he appears to have been reprimanded and possibly suspended.

Activists say the police union in Minneapolis exerts more control than the chief does over police officers’ behavior.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, the union representing more than 800 officers, did not immediately return a call seeking comment for this report.

Lieutenant Kroll has been the subject of at least 20 internal-affairs complaints; all but three were closed with no discipline, according to an investigation by The Minneapolis Star Tribune. In the past, he has referred to Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization.”

In his first substantial reaction to the killing of Mr. Floyd and its aftermath, Lieutenant Kroll sent a letter to officers on June 1 commending their “outstanding work” and criticizing how the city handled the protests, which he described as “a riot” backed by a “terrorist movement” that he said was years in the making.

Chief Arradondo said he would bring in a company called Benchmark Analytics to track police officers’ performance and alert supervisors to “early warning signs” of misconduct. He promised to announce more measures over the next week.

Mayor Jacob Frey applauded the chief’s plans in a statement, saying the city needed not only a new police union contract but also “a new compact between the people of Minneapolis and the people trusted to protect and serve.”

A journalist who lost the use of an eye to a police round in Minneapolis is suing the city and state.

Credit…Linda Tirado

A freelance photographer and author who was blinded in one eye by a law enforcement officer during a night of unrest in Minneapolis filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the city and state police of deliberating targeting the press.

Linda Tirado, 37, was struck in the left eye by a non-lethal projectile fired by an officer on May 29, as she was covering demonstrations after the death of George Floyd. Ms. Tirado said officers ignored the press credential she wore around her neck and first hit her with a green tracking round, leaving a mark on her backpack.

“Then, with a bright green target on her, the police shot her in her face,” her lawyers wrote.

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a joint effort of several journalism organizations, has collected well over 200 reports from around the country of journalists being arrested, shot with non-lethal rounds, hit or pepper-sprayed by law enforcement officers while covering the protests of the past two weeks. It says it is looking into more than 90 incidents in Minnesota alone.

The Minneapolis Police Department uses 40 mm “less-lethal” foam rounds, and Ms. Tirado said doctors had removed foam particles from her eye.

Ms. Tirado, a mother of two who lives in Tennessee and does not have health insurance, has had two surgeries. She said she had lost her sense of depth perception and did not expect to be able to work as a photographer.

“I’m not sure I am ever going to feel comfortable in a protest situation where I might have to run,” she said in an interview.

Asked if she was deliberately targeted, she said: “I think the totality of evidence is that there certainly was animus toward the press.”

A lawyer for Ms. Tirado, Tai-Heng Cheng, said that if she won a settlement or judgment, after paying her medical bills she would donate the money to a charity dedicated to police reform.

A Minneapolis Police spokesman said his agency did not fire at Ms. Tirado.

“Our department was not a part of that incident,” John A. Elder, a spokesman, said. “Several agencies have been involved in addressing the riots.”

Bruce Gordon, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said “we are reviewing the incidents involving our troopers,” but would not say whether a state officer had fired at Ms. Tirado.

He added that it “can be difficult for officers to distinguish journalists from those who are violating a curfew order or not complying with commands to leave an area.”

The shot that killed a Louisville restaurateur was fired by the National Guard, investigators say.

David McAtee, the black owner of a Louisville barbecue restaurant who was killed on June 1, was fatally shot by a member of the Kentucky National Guard, state officials said on Tuesday.

Mr. McAtee, 53, was killed by a single shot to the chest after two Guard soldiers and two Louisville Metro Police Department officers discharged their weapons as they tried to disperse a crowd of curfew violators outside his restaurant.

Bullet fragments recovered from Mr. McAtee’s body matched the green-tipped ammunition from Guard members’ assault rifles, according to J. Michael Brown, the executive cabinet secretary overseeing the Kentucky State Police’s investigation into the shooting.

He said the fragments were too badly damaged to identify which rifle had fired the fatal shot.

Mr. McAtee fired a gun before being shot, though a visual investigation by The New York Times found that he appeared to be reacting to pepper balls fired directly at his restaurant.

Mr. Brown said investigators found two casings from rounds fired from Mr. McAtee’s gun, as well as gunpowder residue on his body.

The state investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted in conjunction with the F.B.I.

Another video of a fatal law enforcement encounter leads to calls for a Texas sheriff to resign.

A video showing sheriff’s deputies delivering repeated electric shocks to a black man just before he died, even as he told them he had heart disease and could not breathe, has triggered calls for the sheriff of a Central Texas county to resign, amid nationwide protests against bias and excessive force in policing.

The incident occurred last year, but the video, with parallels to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that has ignited two weeks of demonstrations, was made public on Monday, a day before Mr. Floyd was laid to rest after an emotional service in Houston. The video was published by The Austin American-Statesman and an Austin TV station, KVUE.

The death of Javier Ambler after a car chase drew little attention at the time, but after the release of the video, taken from a police officer’s body camera, three of four Williamson County Commissioners have demanded the resignation of Sheriff Robert Chody. The Sheriff’s Department concluded that the deputies did nothing wrong.

The case is also under investigation in Travis County, where the car chase ended, and is expected to be presented to a grand jury.

“Yet another black man aggressively arrested and resulting in death,” one of the Williamson County commissioners, Terry Cook, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The deputies tried to pull over Mr. Ambler over for failing to dim his headlights, but he led them on a 22-minute chase. The events were filmed by crew members from A&E’s reality show “Live PD” who were riding with the deputies, Austin outlets reported.

After Mr. Ambler, 40, finally stopped, deputies attempted to put him face-down on the ground and cuff his hands behind his back. In the video, he appears to resist, telling them that he has congestive heart failure and — like Mr. Floyd — says he can’t breathe. At one point Mr. Ambler said “save me.”

After the deputies restrained him, Mr. Ambler became unresponsive and they tried unsuccessfully to revive him. An autopsy concluded that he died of heart disease in combination with the deputies restraining him.

Representatives of “Live PD” told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that no law enforcement agency had asked for its footage of the incident, which was never broadcast. They said that after the Sheriff’s Department concluded its internal investigation, it had destroyed that video as a matter of routine.

Activists take aim at city policies and racist monuments as protests move into a new phase.

Hundreds of protesters flooded Seattle City Hall on Tuesday night, in a visceral protest against the killing of black Americans. In Philadelphia, a crowd took to a largely white, affluent neighborhood on the northeast side of the city, chanting “black lives matter.”

The movement to end systemic racism and police brutality in America is moving into a new chapter, more than two weeks after the death of George Floyd ignited fiery protests and widespread anger.

There have been far fewer reports of fires, looting or violent clashes between protesters and the police in recent days, but demonstrations are still unfolding across the country, increasingly aimed at city policies and racist symbols.

In Seattle, hundreds of protesters occupied City Hall on Tuesday — not by force, but with the approval of a City Council member, Kshama Sawant, who said that the voice of the people needed to be heard.

The changes come as cities across the country move swiftly to make significant policy changes in response to the protests. City officials from Houston to San Diego are now banning the police from using chokeholds and other neck restraints, and the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City have pledged to move funds out of police budgets to invest in social services and in communities of color.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected questions from reporters on Wednesday about how the United States could demand respect for democratic rights around the world after American police and security officers forcibly broke up a peaceful demonstration outside the White House last week.

Mr. Pompeo dismissed comparisons between the Trump administration’s heavy-handed tactics against the protesters — which included low-flying helicopter maneuvers meant for combat zones and security forces hitting protesters with clubs — and those of authoritarian governments.

“The question is so troubling, because you ask the question assuming there is a moral equivalency,” Mr. Pompeo told journalists at the State Department.

One crucial difference, he said, was that the protests in the United States following the death of George Floyd have led to an open national debate over law enforcement practices.

“Our diplomats all around the world can be incredibly proud of the fact that they represent a nation that has God-given rights, ensconced in our fundamental founding documents, that ensure that when we get something wrong here in the United States, when something as tragic and as awful as what happened to George Floyd takes place, that the government responds,” he said.

Mr. Pompeo said the State Department was investigating concerns and complaints from other nations that foreign journalists covering the protests were attacked by the security forces.

“We will address them in a way that is appropriate to try to address any concerns those nations may have about their journalists, who we, too, do our level best to protect,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Scientists are pausing their work to confront racism in their ranks.

Galvanized by the killing of George Floyd and continued reports that minority researchers feel marginalized and disrespected, almost 6,000 scientists and academicians said they would participate in a one-day strike on Wednesday.

The event was organized by a loosely affiliated group of physicists and cosmologists operating under various hashtags, including #Strike4BlackLives, #ShutDownStem and #ShutDownAcademia.

Participants planned to cancel classes, lectures or committee meetings, hold off on reporting any breakthroughs, and forgo engaging with email and reading draft articles for peer review. Instead, they would devote the day to a close examination of how science does business.

“Racism in science is enmeshed with the larger scheme of white supremacy in society,” said Brian Nord, a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and one of the organizers of the strike. “We need to rethink what scientific collaborations should look like. Black people need a seat at the table.”

He added, “The idea is to disrupt the system, at least for a day.” As of Wednesday morning, some 5,700 scientists had signed a pledge to strike, and registration was closed. The petition reads, in part: “We recognize that our academic institutions and research collaborations — despite big talk about diversity, equity and inclusion — have ultimately failed black people.”

Demands for justice have been met with gradualism and tokenism, the organizers said, and black students still often feel unsupported and unwelcome at predominately white college campuses and laboratories.

Many leading scientific journals, including Science, Physical Review Letters and arXiv, an online platform where physicists post their pre-prints, have all said that they will be silent on Wednesday.

Reporting was contributed by Jason M. Bailey, Kim Barker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Nate Cohn, Johnny Diaz, Catie Edmonson, Nicholas Fandos, Thomas Fuller, Emma Grillo, Lara Jakes, Erin McCann, Patricia Mazzei, Sarah Mervosh, David Montgomery, Dennis Overbye, Richard Pérez-Peña, Kevin Quealy, Frances Robles, Ed Shanahan, Nicole Sperling, Tracey Tully and Daniel Victor.

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