Floyd’s brother pleads for peace, Trump takes combative tone

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Terrence Floyd looks at a mural near the site near where his brother George was taken in Minneapolis police custody and later died, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. June 1, 2020. (Reuters)
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International support: Women pose for a photo as they take part in a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 1, 2020. (Reuters)
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A woman walks past shattered windows of the Solstice sunglasses store after it was damaged by protesters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US, June 1, 2020. (Reuters)
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District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington, during a news conference to announce a new 7 p.m. curfew for the city for the next two nights. (AP Photo)
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Updated 01 June 2020

Floyd’s brother pleads for peace, Trump takes combative tone

  • Terrence Floyd: Destruction is ‘not going to bring my brother back at all’
  • Donald Trump: ‘Most of you (governors) are weak – you have to arrest people’

MINNEAPOLIS: George Floyd’s brother pleaded for peace in the streets Monday, saying destruction is “not going to bring my brother back at all,” while President Donald Trump berated most of the nation’s governors as “weak” for not cracking down harder on the lawlessness that has convulsed cities from coast to coast.
The competing messages — one conciliatory, one bellicose — came as the US braced for another round of violence at a time when the country is already buckling because of the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused.
“We are a country that is scared,” said Sam Page, county executive in St. Louis County, Missouri, where the city of Ferguson has been synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement since the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, during a confrontation with a white officer. “We are a country that is angry. And we are a country that is holding out for the promise of justice for all.”
In Minneapolis, Floyd’s brother, Terrence, made an emotional plea at the site where Floyd was pinned to the pavement by an officer who put his knee on the handcuffed black’s man neck for several minutes.
“Let’s switch it up, y’all. Let’s switch it up. Do this peacefully, please,” Terrence Floyd said.
The crowd chanted, “What’s his name? George Floyd!” and “One down, three to go!” in reference to the four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding that his colleagues be prosecuted, too. All four were fired.
The gathering was part rally and part impromptu eulogy as Floyd urged people to stop the violence and use their power at the ballot box.
“If I’m not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing?” he said. “You all are doing nothing. Because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all.”
The country has been beset by angry demonstrations for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the US since the 1960s. Spurred in part by Floyd’s death, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police.
While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, others have descended into violence, leaving neighborhoods in shambles, stores ransacked and cars burned, despite curfews around the country and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members in at least 15 states.
Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard members. “Most of you are weak,” he said.
He added: “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, rejected Trump’s call for the use of force. He said he told Trump during the meeting: “No one is laughing here. We’re in pain. We’re crying.”
Meanwhile, an autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation from neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said. That distinguishes it from the official autopsy, which said he died from the effects of being restrained along with underlying health problems and potential intoxicants in his system. It found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
The second autopsy was done by a doctor who also examined the body of Eric Garner, a New York man who died in an officer’s chokehold six years ago.
While police in some places tried to calm tensions by kneeling or marching in solidarity, officers elsewhere were accused of treating protesters with the same kind of heavy-handed tactics that contributed to the unrest in the first place. Cities struggled to keep police in line.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an officer was suspended for pushing a kneeling woman to the ground during a protest. In Atlanta, two officers were fired after bashing in the window of a car and using a stun gun on the occupants. In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters, knocking two people to the ground.
In New York, the police commissioner said about six incidents were being investigated by the department’s internal affairs bureau, including a weekend confrontation in Brooklyn in which two police vehicles appeared to plow through a group of protesters. In another incident, an officer pointed a gun at protesters, drawing condemnation from the mayor.
“I think some of the actions of the NYPD have exacerbated the anger,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “There are videos of some NYPD actions that are very disturbing. There are videos of NYPD cars driving into a crowd that are very disturbing. Pulling a mask down off a person to pepper spray them. Throwing a woman to the ground. It’s on video! It’s on video!”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was considering imposing a curfew on the nation’s biggest city after groups of people broke into Chanel, Prada and Rolex boutiques and electronics stores on Sunday night.
At the same time, the mayor said the law-breaking in the city of 8.6 million people was being “fomented by a very small number of violent protesters.”
Around the country, political leaders girded for the possibility of more of what unfolded over the weekend: protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in Philadelphia, setting a fire near the White House and smashing their way into Los Angeles stores, running off with as much as they could carry.
At least 4,400 people have been arrested for offenses such as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.
Police officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing a curfew in Louisville, Kentucky, killed a man early Monday when they returned fire after someone in a large group shot at them, police said. In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence over the weekend, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. He met in person with black leaders in Delaware and also held a virtual meeting with big-city mayors.
He said hate emerges “when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate.”


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.