The Latest: Sharpton speaks out at George Floyd memorial

The Latest on the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:

TOP OF THE HOUR:

— Rev. Al Sharpton speaks out at Floyd memorial.

— Mayor Garcetti ends curfew in Los Angeles.

— Generally peaceful protests in Portland, New Orleans.

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Rev. Al Sharpton says George Floyd’s story has been the story of black people in America, and that he died not from common health conditions, but from a malfunction of the criminal justice system.

Sharpton spoke Thursday at a memorial service for Floyd in Minneapolis, the first of six services for Floyd in three cities. Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring the African American man’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. The officer stayed there even after Floyd stopped moving.

Sharpton says the reason black people couldn’t be who they dreamed of being is because “you had your knee on our necks.” He added: “Get your knee off of our necks!”

He also commented about the protests that have occurred across the country and the world since Floyd’s death, saying that this time is different. Sharpton said he saw white people outnumbering black people in some marches and calling for justice.

Sharpton also called out President Donald Trump for walking from the White House across the street as protests were going on in Washington so he could pose with a bible.

“We cannot use bibles as a prop,” Sharpton said. “For those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.”

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VIENNA — Thousands of people have participated in an anti-racism demonstration in Vienna.

The Austria Press Agency reported police said about 50,000 people gathered in downtown Vienna.

Protesters carrying signs with the Black Lives Matter slogan marched to the Karlsplatz square. Many argued racism is just as present in Austria as the United States.

Diedo Ladstaetter, a 27-year-old student from Vienna, says his dark-skinned Latino friend “is affected by everyday racism. And therefore, I don’t see why it would be somehow different in Austria compared to America. You have to protest here, too.”

Some protesters also carried Antifa signs and were heard shouting “fight the police.”

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools will discontinue use of school resource officers from the Portland Police Bureau. Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero says Oregon’s largest school district needed to “re-examine our relationship” with the police after the nationwide upheaval over the death of George Floyd.

The news came after thousands of protesters gathered Wednesday for the sixth consecutive night in Portland and remained peaceful. Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday ordered all flags flown at half-staff to honor Floyd.

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LOS ANGELES — The mayor of Los Angeles says he will end the curfew starting Thursday night.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement after the curfews were put in place since last week as a precaution against looting and violence.

Earlier, the Los Angeles County sheriff said he will not enforce a curfew in areas his deputies patrol. Curfews also ended in San Francisco and San Jose. The decisions follow generally peaceful demonstrations.

Oakland and Sacramento plan to maintain curfews for now.

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LOCUST GROVE, Va. — Deputies in Virginia say a white man who called to report an assault turned out to be the aggressor and has been charged with attacking three African Americans because of their race.

Authorities responding to a call from Edward Halstead in Locust Grove on Tuesday night “interviewed several people and determined that the caller was in fact the perpetrator of assault and battery on three individuals,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

Halstead, 53, was charged with attempted strangulation and three counts of felonious assault and battery due to the victim’s race.

It was not immediately clear if Halstead had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says U.S. society is “very polarized” while sidestepping questions whether President Donald Trump bears a share of the responsibility.

Merkel told ZDF television the killing of George Floyd “is something really, really terrible, racism is something terrible and society in the United States is very polarized.”

Merkel say her approach to politics is always to try to bring people together. She deflected questions about Trump’s role, saying she hopes the U.S. will unify and she’s “happy that many are making their contribution to that.”

Pressed again about Trump, she replied: “I think the political style is a very controversial one, that is clear.”

Regarding racism, she says “unfortunately we have it here, too. So let’s put our own house in order and hope there are also enough people in the United States who carry forward peaceful demonstrations.”

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Thousands of protesters who gathered for the sixth consecutive night of protests in Portland remained peaceful.

The Portland Police Bureau says a crowd estimated at 10,000 or more dispersed by 2 a.m. and there were no major issues.

Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast to honor George Floyd.

A small number of what police described as “select agitators” stayed in downtown Portland into the early morning hours, setting small fires and vandalizing businesses. Officers had cleared the streets by about 4 a.m.

Police Chief Jami Resch thanked the peaceful protesters, saying her officers will continue to identify and arrest those who are causing damage.

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NEW ORLEANS — Tear gas was deployed against protesters during a late-night encounter in New Orleans after demonstrators tried to forcibly cross police lines on an approach to a Mississippi River bridge.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson says police didn’t fire rubber bullets or other projectiles. He says three New Orleans residents were arrested, plus one from Belgium and one from Massachusetts.

Ferguson began the news conference Thursday by showing video of police discussing the situation with protest leaders — and allowing protest leaders to address the crowd using police public address systems.

“We were talking to them, engaging them,” Ferguson said.

He says one woman addressing the crowd refused to advise demonstrators not to attempt to cross.

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ROME — The highest-ranking American at the Vatican will lead a prayer service on Friday in Rome to pray for “peaceful coexistence” following the death of George Floyd and protests that erupted across the U.S.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, an Irish-born naturalized U.S. citizen, is the prefect of the Vatican’s family and laity office.

The Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity close to Pope Francis, is organizing the evening prayer at its Santa Maria in Trastevere church. Francis this week decried Floyd’s death and the “sin of racism” while denouncing violence as “self-destructive and self-defeating.” He’s appealed for national reconciliation and peace.

Farrell was bishop in Dallas, Texas, and an auxiliary bishop of Washington D.C. before taking his current job in 2016.

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MINNEAPOLIS — George Floyd will be memorialized by family, friends and celebrities Thursday in the Frank J Lindquist sanctuary at North Central University in Minneapolis.

Inside the sanctuary sits the gold casket and a portrait of Floyd. The blue and orange mural painted at the site of Floyd’s makeshift memorial is projected above the pulpit.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is among those who planned to speak.

Members of Congress, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Ayana Pressley and Rep. Joyce Beatty took a moment together and prayed over George Floyd’s casket.

Others expected to attend include Martin Luther King III; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz; Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey; St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and U.S Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

More services will be held in Raeford, North Carolina, and Houston.

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MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry urged the U.S. authorities to respect Americans’ right for peaceful protest amid the wave of demonstrations sparked by George Floyd’s death.

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, says Moscow has taken note of the use of tear gas to disperse rallies and massive arrests of protesters in the U.S. She also pointed out numerous journalists, including Russian reporters, were hurt while covering the protests.

Moscow long has bristled at Washington’s criticism of its human rights record amid Russia-U.S. tensions. Zakharova sought to turn the tables on the U.S. by pointing to the authorities forceful response to protests.

She says “it’s time for the U.S. to drop the mentor’s tone and look in the mirror,” challenging the U.S. authorities to “start respecting peoples’ rights and observing democratic standards at home.”

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans police used tear gas during a late-night protest on a Mississippi River bridge when protesters refused commands to not cross.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson was expected to discuss the protest at a Thursday news conference.

The encounter resulted in hundreds of demonstrators scattering on the bridge known as the Crescent City Connection, hours after a rally and march began near New Orleans City Hall

The department says on its Twitter page that tear gas was used after protesters refused to obey three orders not to attempt to cross the bridge. A department post says gas was deployed in “response to escalating, physical confrontation with our officers.”

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SAN FRANCISCO — Police in San Francisco have filed criminal charges against more than 100 people accused of looting and violence.

Police in Vallejo say they shot and killed a 22-year-old looting suspect on Tuesday after mistaking his hammer for a gun.

The San Francisco figures were announced on the sixth day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. California authorities are generally praising thousands of peaceful protesters, with an estimated 10,000 gathering in San Francisco.

The violence has dwindled and some cities and counties have announced plans to shorten or cancel curfews.

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NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says an ambush that left three New York police officers injured and the suspect in critical condition shows the difficult balance police must strike in keeping the peace.

An officer on anti-looting patrol was ambushed in Brooklyn hours after an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect. The ensuing struggle Wednesday night left two other officers with gunshot injuries. All three are expected to recover.

“They have an impossible job, and they need support,” Cuomo told Long Island News Radio. “They’re out there, they’re getting hurt, last night again, they are the best, they are the best. God bless them because I don’t know that I would want to do the job that they’re doing now.”

Cuomo’s comments came days after he drew some criticism for saying some NYPD officers had exacerbated tensions during recent George Floyd protests with “very disturbing actions.”

The city’s police commissioner didn’t speculate on the stabber’s motive, but a police union leader blamed the attack on anti-police rhetoric.

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WARSAW, Poland — A large crowd gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw with signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” in Poland’s second anti-racist protest in two days in response to the death of George Floyd

Some laid face down on the ground in solidarity with the handcuffed Floyd, who was pleading for air as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, says the violent scenes of protest in the U.S. are an “anomaly” and not a true picture of the Americans.

“We can and will heal and learn from this tragedy — and justice will prevail,” Mosbacher’s statement said.

A small protest march was held Wednesday in Poland’s western city of Poznan.

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Three men who were charged with murder months after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery appeared Thursday by a video link from jail for their probable cause hearing following a week of angry protests in the U.S. over law enforcement biases against black victims.

Jesse Evans, appointed as a special prosecutor in the case, says Arbery “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed” based on the evidence his team would present.

Glynn County Magistrate Judge Wallace E. Harrell scheduled the hearing to determine whether authorities have enough evidence of murder in Arbery’s killing to send the case to trial.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23 after a white father and son armed themselves and gave chase when they spotted the 25-year-old black man jogging in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick.

It wasn’t until May 7 that Greg McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34 were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels’ arrests came two days after cellphone video of the shooting leaked online and stirred a national outcry.

The neighbor who filmed the video, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan, was also arrested and charged with felony murder and illegally using a vehicle to try to confine and detain Arbery.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Walz is sending Minnesota National Guard troops to state’s western border because of what he says are credible threats of violence during demonstrations planned in neighboring North Dakota.

The city of Moorhead, Minnesota, lies just across the border from Fargo, North Dakota.

Walz’s order didn’t say how many guard members are being deployed in Clay County. The governor didn’t provide details on what he perceives is a credible threat.

“The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to provide protection for all Minnesotans,” said Walz in a statement. “While Minnesotans turn their attention to rebuilding our communities and re-examining racial inequities in the wake of George Floyd’s death, our administration is committed to providing protection for our neighborhoods, businesses, and families in order for those meaningful conversations to happen.”

The National Guard adjutant general will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment and facilities as needed, Walz said.

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SARASOTA, Fla. — A bystander video showing a Sarasota police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed black man a week before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has prompted an investigation and promises of transparency.

Two Sarasota officers are seen on video holding down Patrick Carroll, 27, during a domestic violence call on May 18. A third officer was standing nearby.

The department told news outlets it wasn’t aware the officer placed a knee on Carroll’s neck until it was tagged in the video on social media on Monday.

Aerial video posted by the department Tuesday shows the officers speaking with Carroll for several minutes before placing him in handcuffs. He then resists being put in the patrol car, and officers force him to the ground.

Carroll said he was trying to ask officers why he was being detained. He said he has asthma and scoliosis in his back and was having trouble breathing.

The officer who placed his knee on Carroll’s neck has been placed on administrative leave, the department said. He hasn’t been identified. The two other officers are on “desk duty” while the arrest is being investigated, news outlets reported.

Carroll faces charges of domestic battery, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and resisting arrest.

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MINNEAPOLIS — A full autopsy of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police, provides several clinical details — including that Floyd had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The 20-page report released Wednesday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office came with the family’s permission and after the coroner’s office released summary findings Monday that Floyd’s heart stopped while being restrained by officers and classified his May 25 death as a homicide.

The report by Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker spelled out clinical details, including that Floyd tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on April 3 but appeared asymptomatic. The report also noted Floyd’s lungs appeared healthy, but he had some narrowing of arteries in the heart.

The county’s earlier summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.” The full report’s footnotes noted that signs of fentanyl toxicity can include “severe respiratory depression” and seizures.

(This version corrects that Floyd’s heart stopped instead of heart attack).

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Categories: AP National News