Floyd protests: Esper opposes Trump threat to send military | USA News

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    • At least 9,300 people have been arrested across the United States amid the ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died last week in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and police brutality nationwide.

 

    • US President Donald Trump has outraged faith leaders and protesters for walking to a historic church near the White House and creating a photo opportunity, just minutes after police used chemical smoke canisters and flashbangs on peaceful protesters to clear the way the area.

 

    • Protesters are demanding all four officers involved be charged in Floyd’s death. So far, only one – white officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded, “I can’t breathe” – has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Medical examiners have ruled the death a homicide.

 

    • Those protesting against police brutality have been met with, at times, excessive force by authorities. Journalists have also been targeted by police. Officers have also been injured in the protests.

 

    • Protesters have remained undeterred by curfews and the presence of the US National Guard in some cities. Largely peaceful protests have at times turned violent, with looting and vandalism as fell on. Monday’s protests, however, remained largely peaceful after curfews took effect.

 

Latest updates:

Wednesday, June 3

02:25 GMT – Defense Secretary Esper doesn’t support invoking Insurrection Act

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said during a press conference that he supported the rights of US citizens to protest peacefully and does not support the invocation of the Insurrection Act.

“It is these rights and freedoms that make our country so special. It is these rights and freedoms that American service members are willing to fight and die for,” Esper said in remarks before taking questions.

“I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

George Floyd blog - new outside image

A demonstrator walks in front of a row of military police members wearing riot gear as they push back demonstrators outside of the White House [Jose Luis Magan/AFP] 

President Trump has threatened to use the act to use the military to quell protests across the country. The Insurrection Act dates to the early 1800s and permits the president to send in US forces to suppress a domestic insurrection that has hindered the normal enforcement of US law.

Esper further said he was not informed about Trump’s controversial photo-op at a church which took place on Monday.

“I was not aware of law enforcement’s plans for the park. I was not briefed on them, nor should I expect to be”, Esper said.

Trump bible

Trump holds up a Bible during a photo opportunity in front of St John’s Episcopal Church in the midst of ongoing protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

The defence secretary also stated that he was working hard to keep his department out of politics, though it is challenging as the country moves closer to elections.

12:43 GMT – Statue of divisive former Philadelphia Mayor Rizzo removed

Workers removed the statue of controversial former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, which was recently defaced during a protest following George Floyd’s death.

As National Guard troops deployed in the wake of recent protests watched, a crane lifted the 10-foot-tall (3 metre) bronze statue and workers moved it from its stand outside the Municipal Services Building, across from City Hall. It was loaded onto the back of a truck.

 12:25 GMT – Iran’s supreme leader condemns ‘duplicitous’ US human rights policies

Iran’s supreme leader has assailed Washington in the wake of George Floyd’s killing for its allegedly duplicitous policies when it comes to upholding human rights.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that in America, “they kill people in an open crime, and they do not offer an apology while claiming [to support] human rights”.

Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, added: “Apparently, the African American man who was killed there was not a human being.”

12:05 GMT – Germany, shocked by George Floyd death, vows to counter racism

The German government is shocked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed American black man, at the hands of police and must work to counter racism at home like other countries, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The death of George Floyd … shocked people in Germany and all over the world, it shocked the federal government [of Germany] too,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “It is an appalling and avoidable death.”

11:45 GMT – ‘Of course black lives matter’, says British PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday black lives mattered and he supported the right to protest, in a lawful and socially-distanced way, after the killing by police of George Floyd in the United States stirred widespread anger.

“Of course, black lives matter and I totally understand the anger, the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well,” he told parliament.

“I also support, as I’ve said, the right to protest. The only point I would make … is that any protest should be carried out lawfully and in this country protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing.”

____________________________________________________________________

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the protests in the US over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath in Louisville, Kentucky, and Creede Newton in Washington, DC.

Here are a few things to catch up on:

    • George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 after a white officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes. Floyd can be heard on a bystander video repeatedly pleading with officers, saying “I can’t breathe.” He eventually lies motionless with the officer’s knee still on his neck. You can read about the deadly incident here.

 

    • The four officers involved in the incident were fired. Derek Chauvin, the white officer who pinned Floyd down, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protesters demand the three other officers be charged as well.

 

    • Protests – some violent – have since erupted nationwide as demonstrators rally for justice for Floyd and all unarmed Black people killed by police.

 

See the updates from Monday’s protests here.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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