In Washington on Saturday, small groups of demonstrators were streaming along the major thoroughfares to the center of the district near the White House, the main protest zone, where an estimated thousand-plus had gathered by early afternoon. Special police divisions and military-style vehicles blocked traffic and were parked at the side of the road.
The early protest in downtown Washington had a party atmosphere, with music playing, volunteers handing out free food and water, and one group posing with National Guard personnel for a picture while others chanted, “No justice, no peace.” A high black metal fence kept demonstrators from Lafayette Park, outside the White House, and no security forces were visible behind the fence or in the park.
Courtney Ross, 28, a D.C. resident originally from Georgia, said she came to the protests because her female antecedents had contended with racism. “My mother couldn’t be here, so I wanted to be here for her,” she said.
Reba McGinnis, a 48-year-old federal employee from Washington, D.C., attending the protest Saturday with her husband and 13-year-old daughter. “I’m here so we can have a better future for my daughter,” she said. She added George Floyd’s killing left her feeling angry and saddened, but also inspired by the number of people in the U.S. and abroad rallying around a common cause. “It was so egregious to see it play out national television, that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
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The demonstrations in Washington were expected to be the largest in the district so far on the 12th consecutive day of protests nationwide sparked by the killing of Mr. Floyd in police custody. After looting and some violence in Washington earlier in the week, protests have been peaceful, with demonstrators frequently admonishing those who sought confrontation with law-enforcement personnel. Washington also saw heavy thunderstorms Thursday and Friday evening, dampening attendance.
The weather Saturday was cloudy with scattered thunder showers forecast for the afternoon, when protesters were expected to amass near the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, as well as in smaller groups around town.
Two Buffalo, N.Y., police officers were charged with felony assault Saturday in connection with a Thursday night altercation that injured a 75-year-old protester, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were arraigned virtually and released on their own recognizance by Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah, Mr. Flynn said at a news conference.
Video posted by WBFO, a public radio station, shows the officers pushed protester Martin Gugino as they cleared the city’s central square shortly after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect.
Messrs. Torgalski and McCabe pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to Tom Burton, a lawyer for the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, which represents the officers. Mr. Burton called the felony charges—which require a showing that officers intended to cause physical injury—aggressive.
Mr. Gugino remains in serious condition at Erie County Medical Center hospital, Mr. Flynn said Saturday.
Mr. Flynn said the officers “crossed the line” by shoving Mr. Gugino and were charged with second-degree assault, a felony, because the protester was more than 65 years old and the officers were more than 10 years younger.
“I’m not on anyone’s side. I’m on this country’s side,” Mr. Flynn said. He described officers as his teammates in maintaining public safety, and said his office is also prosecuting 39 protesters—including people charged with attempting to light City Hall on fire and running over police officers who were clearing protesters on Monday.
“There was no intent to hurt this fellow at all. They were just trying to clear the area, and nobody’s happy the man fell backward,” Mr. Burton said.
Hundreds of mourners lined up to pay their respects to George Floyd at a Baptist-affiliated conference center in Raeford, N.C., near Fayetteville, where he was born.
His coffin was wheeled into a sanctuary by two men wearing face masks shortly before 11 a.m. as crowds gathered outside. Some mourners for the public viewing wore black t-shirts with “I can’t breathe” printed in large type.
The two-hour public viewing period was due to be followed by a private memorial service with prayer, scripture readings, song, short speeches and a eulogy for family members and friends.
One day as Kadiatou Diallo babysat her grandchildren, her daughter called with news that reignited her despair over the 1999 killing of her son, Amadou, by four white police officers in New York’s Bronx borough.
“She said, ‘Mom, something has happened,’ so I went and watched the video of George Floyd,” she said. “That was unbelievable. I can’t describe the feelings I felt.”
Ms. Diallo is part of a growing cadre of black families that are thrust into the spotlight after a family member is killed by police in a highly publicized case. In situations in which officers are acquitted or face few consequences for their roles in the deaths, the survivors are often called upon to speak publicly.
Some have become outspoken activists for social-justice causes, while others maintain low profiles. But Ms. Diallo said they have at least one thing in common: Their trauma is retriggered by graphically violent videos of new assaults or killings of black men and women by police.
“Behind all the headlines, after all the televisions are gone, people go back to their daily lives. For us, there is no going back,” she said. “We live with it, we breathe with it, we sleep with it and wake up with it. It will never, ever go away.”
The Trump administration’s deployment of hundreds of officers in military-style riot gear, sometimes without identifying insignia, has stirred tensions with demonstrators and concerns among watchdog groups and lawmakers about accountability.
Attorney General William Barr has sent hundreds of agents from the Justice Department’s law-enforcement units—the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the federal Bureau of Prisons, in particular—to conduct crowd control and investigate crimes. Adding in thousands of National Guard troops from 10 states, plus local police, makes for a confusing brew.
Many of the officers whose agencies aren’t identifiable by markings on their uniforms are from federal Bureau of Prisons tactical teams. They normally respond to riots behind bars, where, officials said, the agency they work for is understood and such markings are generally unnecessary. As the violence escalated, Mr. Barr temporarily empowered the bureau to make arrests in the continuing protests, according to a law-enforcement official.
Many local police departments require officers to have some sort of identification, including their names, on their uniforms. Rachel Harmon, a former prosecutor in the Justice Department’s civil rights division who specialized in criminal cases against law-enforcement officials, said she knows of no federal law requiring U.S. officers to identify their agency, either visually or verbally.
That said, most federal law-enforcement agencies require officers in tactical gear to have patches or markings on their uniforms that identify their parent agencies, except in undercover situations, former law-enforcement officials said. Federal agents don’t typically wear name badges on their uniforms.
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Last Updated: Jun 6, 2020 at 1:18 pm ET