Learn how the First Amendment protects your right to assemble and protest and how the government can hinder that right.
Most Americans sympathize with protests over the death of George Floyd and disapprove of President Donald Trump’s hard line against the unrest, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Police and protesters clashed in Portland early Wednesday and tensions were high in New York City, but protests in most major cities Tuesday night were relatively calm. Many cities intensified their curfews, with authorities in New York and Washington ordering people off streets while it was still daylight.
In Los Angeles, Police Chief Michel Moore apologized for his remark Monday that the death of Floyd, an African-American father who died on Memorial Day during a confrontation with Minneapolis police, is “on the hands” of those encouraging criminal acts at protests. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday faced calls to fire Moore.
At least 9,300 people have been arrested in protests around the country, according to a tally by the Associated Press. Los Angeles has recorded 2,700 arrests, followed by New York with about 1,500.
A closer look at some recent developments:
- Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s daughter, gave her first public comments since his death. She tearfully lamented that he’ll miss their 6-year-old’s future milestones, like graduating and getting married.
- A California police officer is on leave and under investigation after viral videos show his ‘disturbing’ behavior and misconduct towards protesters in San Jose.
- Six Atlanta police officers are facing charges over an incident caught on video where they are seen using stun guns and forcefully removing two college students from a car.
Remembering George Floyd:Memorial services, funeral to be held in Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.
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64% of Americans sympathetic to protesters; 55% rejectTrump stance
Almost two-thirds of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” while 27% said they were not and 9% were unsure, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday. More than 55% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s efforts, including 40% who “strongly” disapproved, while just one-third said they approved. That’s lower than his overall job approval of 39%, the poll showed.
Trump has been pressing mayors and governors to crack down on the protests, threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy federal troops to states.
Tension but less violence in New York City
Thousands of protesters marched in Manhattan and Brooklyn on Tuesday night in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew but with less violence and damage than the city absorbed one night earlier. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to call in the National Guard after Monday night’s unrest. The mayor declined. The safety concerns and political squabbles diverted much of the attention away from the message sent by thousands of people, including Eloise Paterson, who says she’s worries about her son if he is stopped by police.
“I’m terrified if my son just goes out for a jog,” said Paterson, a 54-year-old African American. “I hope people realize that this isn’t about the looting. The looters have nothing to do with us. We are out here because we want our children to be safe.”
– Christopher Maag, NorthJersey.com
Curfew lifted, violence erupts in Portland
A peaceful protest that drew thousands to downtown Portland devolved into chaos hundreds of demonstrators attempted to tear down protective fencing and hurled bottles, bats and batteries at police officers, Chief Jami Resch said Wednesday. Police declared an unlawful assembly and set off flash-bang grenades and tear gas to quell the disturbance. No tally of arrests was immediately available. Mayor Ted Wheeler had canceled an 8 p.m. curfew earlier Tuesday citing Monday night’s peaceful rally..
“There are many thousand of you who are not involved in the violence and destruction, and I thank you,” she said. “I know the others who are engaged in criminal acts do not represent you.”
Pope says world cannot turn ‘a blind eye to racism’
Pope Francis says he has “witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest’’ in the U.S. and called for national reconciliation.
“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,’’ the pope said during his weekly Wednesday audience, held in the presence of bishops due to coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.
At the same time, the pontiff warned “nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost.’’
L.A. police chief apologizes for remarks amid calls for his firing
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore has apologized and is fending off calls for his firing after likening looters in the city to those responsible for George Floyd’s death.
“We didn’t have protests last night. We had criminal acts,” Moore said Monday. “We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd. We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands, as much as it is those officers.”
Moore tweeted out an apology, saying he misspoke.
“While I did immediately correct myself, I recognize that my initial words were terribly offensive,” Moore said via Twitter. “Looting is wrong, but it is not the equivalent of murder and I did not mean to equate the two. I deeply regret and humbly apologize for my characterization.”
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was called out on social media, with people demanding that he fire Moore. Later Tuesday, protesters gathered at Garcetti’s home.
On Tuesday, more than 1,000 protesters made their way for a second day through the streets of Hollywood, and several hundred demonstrated in downtown Los Angeles, at times kneeling en masse and at others calling for Moore’s resignation.
California police officer on leave for ‘disturbing’ behavior toward protesters
A California police officer is on leave and under internal investigation after multiple viral videos showed his frivolous behavior toward demonstrators last week in the wake of George Floyd’s death, local officials said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called the videos “disturbing” during a news briefing on Sunday, and Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the officer, Jared Yuen, would “be accountable for his actions and will have to deal with the consequences.”
Related News: White House Press Secretary Says She “Naively” Believed CNN
One video shows Yuen grinning into a demonstrator’s camera while swaying side-to-side. A second video shows Yuen telling a demonstrator to “shut up, bitch” just moments before firing his projectile launcher at protesters. Another video shows him saying, “Let’s get this (expletive).”
A protester in the background responds by saying: “This is funny to them. They have smiles on their faces.”
– Jessica Flores
Mother of Floyd’s daughter speaks out about her loss
The mother of George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter lamented that he’ll miss the girl’s future milestones, like graduating and getting married, in her first public comments since he died in police custody May 25.
From a podium at the city hall in Minneapolis, where Floyd moved from Houston seeking better work opportunities, Roxie Washington said she wanted to speak up for him and their daughter Gianna, who joined her. Washington also said she wants justice for Floyd.
“He’ll never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle,” said Washington, who struggled to fight back tears. “If there’s a problem she’s had and needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.”
– Mark Emmert
Business owners express frustration, solidarity with protesters
Several dozen Milwaukee businesses, some already weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, face a difficult recovery after being burglarized and damaged during civil unrest. They included three small grocery stores, multiple mobile-phone stores, a Walgreen’s pharmacy and a clothing shop on the city’s north side over the weekend.
Some of the businesses remained closed Monday, while others reopened with boarded windows and doors. Civic leaders and social activists denounced the property losses. “The rioting and the looting have got to end now. It’s hurting everyone in the community,” said Darryl Farmer with the Black Panthers of Milwaukee.
Charnjit Kaur, who has a Metro PCS phone store and a clothing shop in Milwaukee, said her businesses had $100,000 in losses from looters who kicked in the doors and windows and stole nearly everything.
Nas Sarsour, who owns a Cricket Wireless reopened Monday, said he supported the protests, but that the looting made things worse in a neighborhood already struggling with job losses in the pandemic. “People have the right to be angry. They have the right to protest. But they don’t have the right to come and break into local businesses,” he said.
– Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
More protest coverage from USA TODAY
ABC show ‘Black-ish’ re-airs 2016 police brutality episode
As the country confronts police brutality and mistreatment of black people in the wake of Floyd’s killing, ABC rebroadcast a groundbreaking 2016 episode of “Black-ish” on Tuesday that confronted those troubling issues.
“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris spoke about the timely re-airing of the episode in an Instagram post Tuesday, saying it’s “been 1,562 days since we first shared that episode with the world and it breaks my heart on so many levels that this episode feels just as timely as it did then and eerily prescient to what’s happening to black people in this country today.”
– Patrick Ryan and Bill Keveney
GOP senators criticize Trump: ‘Word of God as a political prop’
Republican senators were split on President Donald Trump’s decision Monday to push back protesters from an area surrounding the White House so he could visit a historic church across the street to take a photo with a Bible.
“I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement. “While there is no right to riot or destroy property, he said, there is a “fundamental — a Constitutional — right to protest.”
Sen. Tim Scott, the Senate’s sole black Republican, said he did not approve of the move.
“As it relates to the tear gas situation and the Bible… it’s not something that I thought was helpful or what I would do without any question,” he told Politico. “If your question is: Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op? The answer is ‘no.’”
– Christal Hayes
Six Atlanta officers charged in incident with college students
Six Atlanta police officers seen on video forcefully pulling two young college students out of their car during Saturday protests have been charged, mostly with aggravated assault, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. Two of the officers, investigators Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, were fired Sunday. The incident was caught on body cam video and denounced by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Messiah Young and his girlfriend Taniyah Pilgrim were caught in traffic Saturday night during protests over George Floyd’s killing when they were approached by the officers yelling commands. The video shows the officers using stun guns on the couple, breaking the car window with a baton and yanking out both students, who are heard screaming and asking what was happening.
“We understand that our officers are working very long hours under an enormous amount of stress, but we also understand that the use of excessive force is never acceptable,” Bottoms said.
More news about the George Floyd protests
Contributing: The Associated Press; Jessica Flores and Erick Smith, USA TODAY
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