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George Floyd protests: Hundreds of thousands take to America's streets to call for racial justice

Unprecedented marches across US call for racial justice as mourners gather in North Carolina for George Floyd memorial

Joe Biden condemns Donald Trump for George Floyd remarks

Thousands of Americans gathered in cities across the US on Saturday, continuing a second week of demonstrations against police brutality and racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

Across Europe, the US, Asia and Australia, major demonstrations were being staged. More than 200,000 people were expected to join a march in Washington DC where the White House has installed fencing and an intensified police presence is expected.

In North Carolina, mourners gathered for a memorial service to honour Mr Floyd, as Americans returned to the streets in major cities and small towns to demand racial justice.

Hundreds of people lined up to pay their respects at his coffin.

Rev Christopher Stackhouse from Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church delivered a eulogy, saying that "although it took 8 minutes and 46 seconds for him to die" — referring the length of time that officer Derek Chauvin was kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck before he died — "it took 401 years to put the system in place for nothing to happen".

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued for a 12th day following his death, as officials weigh reform efforts against law enforcement or suspend and charge police officers captured brutalising protesters in cities across the US.

With hundreds of National Guard troops deployed in the city, Donald Trump revived his fight with the mayor and touted his approval ratings among Republicans.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the latest protests across the US following the death of George Floyd in police custody. 

Here are the latest developments:

- After eight days of protests in the District over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, officials are preparing for the week’s biggest demonstration in Washington. Tens of thousands of protesters are expected in the nation’s capital on Saturday in an all-out rebuke of aggressive police tactics, racism and the Trump administration’s militant approach to the days of unrest that have gripped cities from the District to Los Angeles and hundreds between.

- Donald Trump was condemned by Joe Biden for invoking George Floyd's name as he touted US jobs figures. Mr Trump said Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, is "looking down" and "saying this is a great day". Mr Biden, who has now formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, said the remark was "despicable".

- A US District Court Judge ordered Denver police on Friday to stop using tear gas, plastic bullets and other "less-than-lethal" force such as flash grenades against protesters. The temporary injunction was in response to a local lawsuit filed on Thursday in the Denver District Court by protesters complaining about excessive force used by officers.

- Tens of thousands of Australians rallied on Saturday in solidarity with US protesters angered by the death of George Floyd, after authorities in one area lifted a ban on the gatherings under the country's social-distancing rules. A last-minute appeal at the New South Wales Court of Appeal allowed a rally in Sydney, where several thousand people marched among heavy police presence, chanting, "Whose lives matter? Black Lives matter."

- The entire Buffalo police department’s emergency response team has resigned after two colleagues were suspended without pay for pushing a 75-year-old man who was protesting the killing of Floyd. The 57 officers will still by employed by BPD but will no longer serve on the emergency response team. The elderly protester has been hospitalised and is said to be in stable condition.

- Police have banned a third protest in Paris that had been planned for Saturday to condemn alleged police abuses in the wake of George Floyd's death. Police cited a risk of spreading Covid-19 and fears of public unrest. The police decree noted that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people.

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 09:24

Washington expecting largest protests since Floyd killing

Authorities in the nation's capital are expecting today's protests to be the largest demonstration against police brutality in the city since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Washington has featured daily protests for the past week and they have largely been peaceful, with people marching back and forth from the White House to the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

Those numbers are expected to swell. Army secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters Friday that local officials were projecting between 100,000 and 200,000 protesters.

Metropolitan Police Department chief Peter Newsham would not commit to a number but predicted it would be smaller than the one million people who attended the Women's March in 2017.

It comes as authorities have sought to reduce tensions by having National Guard troops not carry weapons.

There were zero arrests during demonstrations on Thursday and Friday and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser canceled the curfew that had been in place since Monday. She said she will decide on Saturday morning if it will be reinstated.

A number of DC churches and theatres have said they will open their lobbies so people can cool off.

(Demonstrators gather on 16th St across from St Johns Episcopal Church in DC, Friday 5 June)

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 09:45

Minneapolis and St Paul curfew lifted

The curfew for residents of Minneapolis and St Paul was lifted on Friday night and the state is planning to start sending state troopers and National Guard members back home.

Minneapolis and St Paul saw violent protests and store break-ins late last week following George Floyd's death after being arrested by Minneapolis police.

The city has seen peaceful protests for nearly a week, including some 1,000 protesters in St. Paul on Friday and hundreds more near US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Governor Tim Walz credited peaceful protests for helping achieve rapid change on Minneapolis Police Department policy. On Friday, the city agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints as a civil rights investigation of the department begins.

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 09:48

The entire 57-member emergency response team of the Buffalo Police Department has resigned after two members of the unit were suspended for pushing a 75-year-old to the ground during the George Floyd protests, reports Justin Vallejo from New York.

The resignations were confirmed by the police union and two law enforcement officials that spoke to The Buffalo News.

Two members of the tactical unit, which responds to riots and crowd control, were suspended without pay on Thursday after video emerged of the confrontation during the emergency curfew.

The development that the members resigned “out of support for the suspended officers, as well as the disgust with the admin”, was first reported by Spectrum News.

Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans said the officers were “simply doing their job” and the man “slipped” during the interaction, which was aired by local news WBFO on Thursday night.

Read more below:

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 09:51

Family of man shot dead by state trooper calls for federal investigation

The family of an unarmed man shot and killed by an Arizona state trooper the same day George Floyd died have called for a federal investigation.

Dion Johnson's mother, Erma, said Friday she has not heard from Phoenix Police, who are overseeing the investigation of the Memorial Day shooting.

Family members expressed growing frustration that the trooper, who is on paid administrative leave, has not been identified to them.

Democratic state Rep Reginald Bolding said he has sent a letter requesting the US Justice Department review the case for possible civil rights violations.

The family says that Mr Johnson, 28, was deprived of emergency medical aid for several minutes after he was shot and cuffed.

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 09:58

Police in Paris ban protest planned for Saturday

Police have banned a third protest in Paris that had been planned for Saturday to condemn alleged police abuses in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Police cited a risk of spreading Covid-19 and fears of public unrest. The police decree noted that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people.

Online posts called for people to gather Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Paris police had previously also banned two other planned gatherings Saturday outside the US Embassy.

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 10:05

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the league has been at fault for not listening to its players’ fight for racial equality and will no longer punish those who protest during the national anthem, reports Tom Kershaw. 

Mr Goodell’s statement followed a video released by Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes and several other players demanding the NFL condemn racism.

“First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families who have endured police brutality,” Mr Goodell said. “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.

“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. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this country.”

Read more below:

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 10:15

'We are in solidarity with black people and the victims and survivors of state violence' 

The UK's Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and charity Freedom from Torture have released a powerful joint statement addressing the George Floyd protests, in which they say that "structural and pervasive racism" is written into "Britain's public institutions".

"We are in solidarity with black people and the victims and survivors of state violence everywhere, including those exercising their democratic right to stand against it now," the organisations said.

"The structural and pervasive racism that led to the torture and murder of George Floyd under the knee of an American police officer is not unique to the United States.

"It is built into Britain's public institutions, it exists in our immigration system and it is written into our history books. It lives and breathes in our society today.

"This is not just a 'black issue' or a 'race issue'; the structures of oppression do not operate in a silo.

"It is not confined to one area of policy nor can it be attributed wholly to a single government. It is your problem and ours."

(Protesters kneel during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London)

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 10:24

Reddit co-founder resigns, urges company to appoint black candidate 

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on Friday resigned from the social network firm's board and said he should be replaced by a black candidate.

Following Mr Ohanian's post on Reddit, the company's chief executive Steve Huffman said the company would "honor" his request and is working to strengthen its content policy to combat racist speech on its platform.

Mr Ohanian, who is married to tennis star Serena Williams, linked his decision to the anti-racist protests taking place across the globe in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. “I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country,” he said.

In a post published on Reddit, Mr Huffman said that "the unacceptable gap" between the site’s content policy and values has reduced the company's effectiveness in combating hate and racism, and slowed down its response to problems.

"This current policy lists only what you cannot do, articulates none of the values behind the rules, and does not explicitly take a stance on hate or racism,” he said.

Mr Huffman also said Reddit should have moved sooner to restrict access to r/The_Donald, a major forum for supporters of Donald Trump that Reddit ‘quarantined’ last year citing threats of violence against police and public officials.

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 10:33

Huge crowds are expected to join in the organised protests across the UK in the coming days. However, not all who wish to attend may be able to do so.

This may be because they are unable to travel to the location of a demonstration, have been instructed to stay home and continue shielding due to a health condition, or they feel concerned about standing among a large crowd due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown rules.

If you are unable to attend the protests, there are still several ways you can take action to demonstrate your support, such as by donating to a bail fund or by donating to a fundraiser set up in support of George Floyd’s family.

Read more below:

Samuel Lovett6 June 2020 10:40

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