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George Floyd latest: Memorials take place across the US

June 5, 2020

Hollywood celebrities, musicians and politicians gathered in front of George Floyd's golden casket at a fiery memorial. An attorney for Floyd said he was killed by the "pandemic of racism." Follow DW for the latest.

The casket of George Floyd is seen ahead of his memorial service
Image: Reuters/L. Jackson
  • Family holds memorial service in Minneapolis
  • New Yorkers gather to remember the life of George Floyd
  • Republican Senator questions whether to support Trump in the November election

All times in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

06:20 We are now closing coverage on these updates. Thank you for reading. Check DW.com for the latest news.

03:50 Margaret Kimberley, a social justice activist and editor for Black Agenda Report, has told DW that police killings didn't start with US President Donald Trump.

Many of Trump's critics have placed the moral culpability of racist violence in the US on him, including those perpetrated by police. But Kimberley noted that such cases were happening well before Trump's time in office.  

"We should not act as though Trump is some sort of outlier," Kimberley said. "He only became president three years ago, January 2017, and we had a problem with police killing" before that.  

"But as president, he should give assurances to the people that he will use the power of his office to prosecute these cops," she said. "Obama never used the powers of the Justice Department to prosecute these police. If local law enforcement failed, the federal government can prosecute."

"That's what we should expect all presidents to do."

03:30 New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said a legal application was submitted to stop a Black Lives Matter rally from going ahead on Saturday in the state capital, Sydney.

Although the protest was initially approved with less than 500 people expected in attendance, thousands have since pledged to participate.

Australian authorities have limited public assembly in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state's supreme court will now decide whether the event can go ahead as planned.

03:21 Thousands of protesters defied a curfew in New York City.

Several videos circulating on social media showed police start to arrest protesters as soon as the curfew went into effect at 08:00 pm local time (0000 UTC).

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has come under fire for heavy-handed police tactics to quell protests. At an event where Floyd's brother Terrence spoke, Blasio was heckled by observers.

While many cities across the nation have scrapped curfews, New York remains one of the few, citing the need to protect businesses from looting.

01:12 Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said National Guard troops and federal officers should vacate the nation's capital.

More than 3,000 National Guard troops are in Washington DC or en route to the capital from several US states, including Florida, Ohio and Tennessee.

"We want troops from out-of-state, out of Washington DC," Bowser said. However, she cannot influence their presence in the city since it is considered outside of her mayoral powers.

Other Democratic leaders have also spoken out against the presence of out-of-state troops and federal officers in Washington DC.

"We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an open letter to Trump.  

The Trump administration has been criticized for violently dispersing a crowd of peaceful protesters in front of the White House earlier this week to make way for Trump to walk to a photo-op at a historic church.

00:30 Thousands of protesters gathered in cities across Europe to denounce police brutality against African Americans.

In Barcelona, Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech "I have a dream" was played on loudspeakers as thousands protested against Floyd's killing in police custody.

"I am hopeful that people are standing up now and they've said 'enough is enough,'" said a 31-year-old American living in Barcelona. "If you go back in history when people did make change, they did go to the streets."

In Vienna, police said around 50,000 people took part in an anti-racism protest in the Austrian capital. In the Polish capital Warsaw, a large crowd gathered in front of the US embassy and called for justice to served in Floyd's case.

Protesters attend a Black Lives Matter march in Vienna, Austria
Protesters attending a Black Lives Matter march in ViennaImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Klamar

23:10 The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging that White House officials violated protesters' civil rights when they were violently dispersed by US security forces using tear gas and stun grenades.

It accuses US Attorney General William Barr and other senior officials of wrongful action, saying they "unlawfully conspired to violate" the protesters' rights. The ACLU described the action as a "coordinated and unprovoked charge into the crowd of demonstrators."

Read more: ACLU sues Trump administration over controversial clearing

The Trump administration has come under fierce criticism, including from current and former officials, for repressing the protest in order to make way for Trump to walk to a historic church for a photo-op.  

Shortly before the protesters were dispersed, Trump threatened to deploy the US military on American soil to quell protests, a remark that was criticized by former generals, including Mike Mullen, the 17th Joint Chiefs of Staff.

22:30 US Attorney General William Barr has said he will ensure that the Justice Department investigates whether a federal civil rights crime was committed in Floyd's case.

"While the vast majority of police officers do their job bravely and righteously, it is undeniable that many African Americans lack confidence in our American criminal justice system," Barr said. "This must change. Our constitution mandates equal protection."

His comments appeared to be in stark contrast to earlier remarks concerning Floyd's case and unrest triggered by his death at the hands of the police. At the onset of nationwide protests, Barr condemned the unrest, describing a "disturbing pattern of cynicism and disrespect shown toward law enforcement."

21:35 New Yorkers have also been gathering to remember the life of George Floyd.

"You are not alone," the large crowd chanted in the direction of George's brother Terrence, who thanked them for their support.

"I thank God for you all showing love to my brother," he said.

Regarding some of the protests that have occurred since the death of his brother, Terrence Floyd said: "I'm proud of the protests but I'm not proud of the destruction. My brother wasn't about that. The Floyds are a God-fearing family."

"Power to the people, all of us," he added.

20:50 Mourners at the memorial service in Minnesota have made a stand — for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a timespan that has become a potent symbol of the police brutality inflicted up Floyd that fateful day.

Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in police custody in New York City in 2014, stood on stage with the Reverend Al Sharpton and the actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish.

20:00 The three former police officers accused of aiding and abetting a murder in the death of George Floyd have had their bail placed at $1 million (€882,000) each, according to court records.

That figure could be reduced to $750,000 should they be willing to accept certain terms, such as not getting in touch with the Floyd family as well as another regarding firearms.

The police officer Derek Chauvin, who stands accused of second-degree murder, is set to appear in court next week.

19:22 An attorney for George Floyd vowed at a memorial service in downtown Minneapolis to get justice for the African-American.

Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Floyd family, said it was "not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd. It was that other pandemic," Crump said. "The pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd." Crump promised "to get justice for George Floyd."

Members of the deceased's family were alongside the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey along with several hundred others in attendance.

19:15 Authorities in Washington, Los Angeles County and elsewhere have lifted curfew orders as protests over the killing of George Floyd began to dissipate.

A wave of curfews was implemented across the US last weekend as tensions mounted and protests gathered pace.

The unrest, including incidents of looting, arson and violent police crackdowns, largely reverted to those of a more peaceful nature recently.

In Washington, which has seen a stand-off between protesters and authorities outside the White House, Attorney General Bill Barr will seek a "low-profile footprint" and take down some barriers around the presidential building.

New York City also saw a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere, although it will maintain its curfew throughout Thursday.

Curfews have also lifted in the cities of San Francisco and Salt Lake City.

18:50 Mourners filed into a sanctuary in Minneapolis for the first in a series of a memorial services to take place across the United States to remember the life of George Floyd.

The afternoon service was set for North Central University and the civil rights leader, the Reverand Al Sharpton, was among those due to eulogize about the 46-year-old.

"He was a human being. He had family, he had dreams, he had hopes. The real duty of one with this type of assignment is to underscore the value of the human life that was taken, which gives the reason the movement was occurring," Sharpton said prior to the service.

The memorial included an image which was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was pinned to the pavement by a police officer. The message enshrined on the mural simply says: "I can breathe now."

18:25 Protesters rallying against police brutality in the US have a "civic duty" to get tested for coronavirus, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his daily press briefing.

"I'm not a nervous Nellie, I'm just looking at the numbers," he said, warning that some 30,000 came out to protest across the state.

"Many wear masks. But there is no social distancing," he added. "Police are in their face."

At the same time, Cuomo said his concerns would not affect the gradual reopening of the state's economy, with construction and manufacturing to restart on Monday.

Earlier this week, Chicago health officials urged protesters in the US' second most populous city to go into self-quarantine for 14 days, if possible.

On Thursday, Cuomo said he shared the outrage over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and that New York will observe a moment of silence over the tragedy.

18:15 A large statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will be removed at the earliest available opportunity from Richmond's Monument Avenue, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has confirmed, promising the state will no longer "preach a false version of history."

The bronze equestrian statue will be moved to storage while Northam and his colleagues work "with the community to determine its future," the governor said at a press conference where the news received a huge round of applause.

"You see, in Virginia, we no longer preach a false version of history. One that pretends the Civil War was about 'state rights' and not the evils of slavery. No one believes that any longer," Northam added.

USA Statue Robert E. Lee in Richmond
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Helber

18:00 The Russian Foreign Ministry urged the US authorities to respect citizens' right to protest peacefully.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin has taken note of the use of tear gas to disperse George Floyd protesters, as well as mass arrests. She also pointed to the suffering numerous journalists had encountered when trying to cover the rallies, including Russian reporters.

Zakharova said: "It's time for the US to drop the mentor's tone and look in the mirror," in a reference to Washington's assertion that Moscow doesn't respect the rights of its citizens. She also challenged the US authorities to "start respecting peoples' rights and observing democratic standards at home."

DW team in Minneapolis 

17:50 US Senator Lisa Murkowski admitted she is unsure whether to back President Donald Trump's reelection bid, questioning his response to nationwide protests over George Floyd's death.

Asked if she supported Trump ahead of the polls in November, Murkowski said, "I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time."

"He is our duly elected president. I will continue to work with him ... but I think right now... we are all struggling to find ways to express the words that need to be expressed appropriately," Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill.

17:30 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the "murder" of George Floyd.

Merkel said: "Racism is something terrible. This murder of George Floyd is extremely terrible. Racism is something terrible. Society in the United States is very polarised," she told public broadcaster ZDF.

Read more: Prosecutors charge 3 more police officers

17:20 Mourners have converged in Minneapolis for the first memorial to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police has sparked turbulent protests, both in the United States and elsewhere, against racial injustice.

He was killed when a police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd pleaded for mercy as he was struggling for breath, but to no avail.

An autopsy has since revealed Floyd suffered a cardiac arrest in what was officially deemed a homicide.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar (2nd R) speaks with Reverend Jesse Jackson (C) and Jonathan Jackson
US Senator Amy Klobuchar (2nd R) speaks with Reverend Jesse Jackson (C) and Jonathan JacksonImage: Getty Images/AFP/K. Yucel

jsi/rt (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP) 

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