A memorial site where George Floyd died May 25 while in police custody, on June 1, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George's brother Terrence Floyd visited the site today and called for justice and the prosecution of all four officers involved in the incident. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP
AFP/Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Autopsy finds cop suffocated black man as US braces for more fury
Charlotte Plantive, Joy Powell (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2020 - 7:37am

MINNEAPOLIS, United States — An autopsy found Monday that an African-American man whose death has set off nationwide unrest was suffocated by a police officer, contradicting a preliminary ruling, as cities including New York imposed or toughened curfews in expectation of fresh fury.

Violence has erupted for three straight nights outside the White House, where a holed-up Donald Trump has brushed aside the traditional unifying role of a president, and one person was shot dead in Louisville, Kentucky, whose mayor fired the police chief.

One week after George Floyd died in Minneapolis, an autopsy blamed his videotaped death squarely on a white police officer who pinned him down with his knee for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe!"

"The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death, and homicide as the manner of death," Aleccia Wilson, a University of Michigan expert who examined his body at the family's request, told a news conference.

An initial finding cited in a criminal complaint pointed to pre-existing conditions, outraging the family.

Shortly after the independent report, Hennepin County's medical examiner released its official autopsy that called his death a homicide caused by "neck compression," although it also said he was intoxicated and pointed to heart disease.

A memorial for Floyd will take place on Thursday in Minneapolis before a service in North Carolina and a funeral on June 9 in Houston, where he grew up, family lawyer Ben Crump said.

Week of memorials

Floyd, 46, had been accused of trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit bill and his aggressive arrest was caught on a cellphone camera.

The autopsy revived demands for the arrest of three other police officers who stood guard for Chauvin as Floyd pleaded for his life.

"We are tired of this happening. This generation is not having it. We are tired of oppression," said Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old African-American woman at a peaceful demonstration at the Minnesota capitol in St. Paul.

Pointing to her three-year-old son, she said: "I want to make sure he stays alive."

Officer Derek Chauvin, who had remained in the police force despite persistent complaints about his behavior, had been due to appear in court on Monday but the judiciary said the initial hearing had been postponed to June 8.

The delay outraged many activists, although Minnesota has made clear that it seeks to punish Chauvin and has tasked the prosecution personally with the state's attorney general, Keith Ellison, a prominent former US congressman.

Curfew in New York, death in Louisville

New York, the famed "City that Never Sleeps," became the latest city to impose a nighttime curfew after consecutive nights of tension that included looting and the trashing of parked cars.

In the upscale SoHo district, Elliot Kurland, owner of the Leica photography store, said his entire shop was emptied by looters including clients' property. He estimated his loss at $1 million.

"I hope I have insurance," he said.

"My brother heard about it. He called me. I had been about to come here at three o'clock in the morning. My brother warned me, 'Don't go down. You'll get killed.'"

New York, like other cities, had just been emerging from weeks under lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic. Kurland said he was still paying employees who were not reporting to work.

More than 40 cities have imposed curfews. Washington's mayor, Muriel Browser, said a curfew will start Monday at an unusually early 7.00 pm in hopes of preventing a repeat of the destruction in the US capital — which included a fire at St. John's, the two-century-old "church of the presidents" across from the White House.

Apple, along with several other major retailers, temporarily closed most US stores, and California shut government offices in crowded areas as a precaution.

It was the most widespread unrest in the United States since 1968, when cities went up in flames over the slaying of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., and rekindled memories of 1992 riots in Los Angeles after police were acquitted in the brutal beating of black motorist Rodney King.

But unlike in Los Angeles, the latest unrest has primarily targeted property, although both protesters and police have reported non-life-threatening injuries.

One person was killed, however, in Kentucky's largest city Louisville. 

Police chief Steve Conrad said officers and the National Guard "returned fire" just after midnight after being shot at as they dispersed a crowd in a parking lot.

The dead man was David McAtee, the owner of a popular barbecue business, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, which quoted his nephew.

Louisville, the home of Muhammad Ali and Kentucky Fried Chicken, has seen especially passionate protests due to the police killing in March of an African American woman, Breonna Taylor, in her own apartment.

The 26-year-old emergency room technician was shot dead after police barged into her home, alleging that drug dealers had used the apartment to receive packages.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday he had fired the police chief, Steve Conrad, because officers did not record body-camera of the episode.

Trump combative

While presidents traditionally seek to bridge national divides during tumult, Trump was again holed up at the White House tweeting attacks on his political rivals and the media.

In a conference call with governors that was quickly leaked to several media outlets, Trump told state leaders to "dominate" and said they were "going to look like a bunch of jerks" if they are too soft.

The governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, is heard reprimanding Trump directly, saying he was "extraordinarily concerned" by the president's "inflammatory" rhetoric.

Trump has blamed the violence on Antifa, the loosely organized collective of far-left activists who advocate aggressive action to stop what they see as the rise of fascism and white supremacists.

Joe Biden, Trump's likely Democratic opponent in November elections, met Monday with black leaders at a church in his home of Wilmington, Delaware and promised to form a police oversight commission in his first 100 days as president.

"Hate just hides. Doesn't go away. And when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks," Biden said. — with Shaun Tandon in Washington

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 5, 2020 - 11:35am

Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta were among several US cities to announce curfews Saturday in a bid to stem violent anti-police protests breaking out across America.

A nighttime curfew was also implemented in Louisville, Kentucky as the United States continues to be rocked by demonstrators angry at the death of a black man during an arrest in Minneapolis on Monday.

George Floyd was handcuffed and died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking the widespread protests against police brutality. — AFP

Photo: Demonstrators confront secret service police officers outside of the White House on May 30, 2020 in Washington DC, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25. Jose Luis Magana / AFP

July 5, 2020 - 11:35am

Demonstrators chanting "Black Lives Matter" exchange words with activists waving pro-Trump signs outside a fortified White House: America's Independence Day was marked in Washington on Saturday by confrontation and disunity. 

As it struggles to contain the coronavirus and reckons with waves of protesters demanding racial justice, the United States is deeply polarized, with the gulf seemingly insurmountable on a day usually marking patriotism and unity.

The one thing people outside the White House — surrounded by an imposing police cordon — and on the nearby National Mall seemed to be able to agree on was that this was not where they wanted America be. — AFP

June 28, 2020 - 4:13pm

One person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a Black Lives Matter rally in the US state of Kentucky, police say.

The incident Saturday took place at Jefferson Square Park in the center of Louisville where protestors have gathered for weeks over the killing of African American woman Breonna Taylor. 

Her death in March helped fuel a campaign against racism and police brutality in the United States that has since spread across the globe. — AFP

June 28, 2020 - 12:20pm

Four men have been charged for attempting to remove a statue of former US President Andrew Jackson from outside the White House as part of anti-racism protests in the United States, authorities said on Saturday. 

US President Donald Trump, who is trying to position himself as a standard-bearer for "law and order" with less than five months to go before November's presidential election, also tweeted calls by police Saturday to identify more than a dozen other demonstrators who took part in the action. 

On Monday evening, a group of protesters attacked the statue of former President Johnson, a defender of slavery who led the United States from 1865 to 1869, which stands in Lafayette Park next to the White House. — AFP

June 21, 2020 - 1:25pm

A man was shot dead and another seriously injured Saturday in a police-free autonomous zone created by protesters in the US city of Seattle, where officers were prevented from accessing the victims, officials say.

The area, set up as part of the nationwide protest movement following the death of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, has been a frequent target of Donald Trump.

The US president has called it a "disaster" and said people there are anarchists from the "radical left." — AFP

June 21, 2020 - 12:07pm

As anti-racism protests broke out across the United States, Viet Hoai Tran knew exactly what he wanted to write on his poster — "Yellow Peril Supports Black Power."

"If we are talking about fighting for justice, for liberation, for change... all of us have to be part of this," said the 27-year-old, who was born in Vietnam, but grew up in the US. 

The death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests — and a sense of reckoning in the Asian American community, which has historically fraught, even violent, ties with African Americans. — AFP

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