Rights leader says Floyd ‘changed the world’ as protests march on

Reverend Al Sharpton leads a moment of silence during a memorial service for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, June 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Rights leader says Floyd ‘changed the world’ as protests march on

  • Members of Floyd’s family were among several hundred people attending the North Central University service
  • A vigil for Floyd was also held in New York and was attended by thousands of people, including Floyd’s brother, Terrence

MINNEAPOLIS: Hundreds of mourners joined an emotional memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday for George Floyd, the black man killed by police last week, as civil rights leader Al Sharpton vowed mass protests will continue until “we change the whole system of justice.”
Largely peaceful demonstrations took place later in cities from coast to coast. In New York, thousands marched over Brooklyn Bridge, while in Washington and Los Angeles curfews were lifted and crowds reduced.
In Minneapolis, Floyd’s attorney told mourners he would find justice for the 46-year-old, who died during a May 25 arrest when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” said Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family. “It was that other pandemic. The pandemic of racism and discrimination.”
The crowd stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same length of time that officer Derek Chauvin spent with his knee on Floyd’s neck, a scene captured on video.

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Floyd’s death has reignited long-felt anger over police killings of African-Americans and unleashed a nationwide wave of civil unrest unlike any seen in the US since Martin Luther King Jr’s 1968 assassination.
With marches for racial justice stretching beyond the US and around the world, Sharpton said Floyd’s death would not be in vain.
“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say get your knee off our necks,” said the 65-year-old Baptist minister.
“You changed the world, George,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting, George.”
“We’re going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice.”
Members of Floyd’s family were among several hundred people attending the North Central University service.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo dropped to a knee as the hearse bearing Floyd’s remains arrived for the service.
A vigil for Floyd was also held in New York and was attended by thousands of people, including Floyd’s brother, Terrence.
“White Silence is Violence,” a sign read. “Make America Not Embarrassing Again,” read another.
Arrests were reported in Manhattan after the 8.00 p.m. curfew passed, while upstate in Buffalo, a police officer who pushed an elderly protester to the ground drew outrage as footage was shared widely online.
A police statement said the man, who appeared unconscious and bled heavily from one ear, “tripped and fell.”
Local media later reported the man was in stable condition and an internal investigation of the officers involved had been launched.
In Richmond, protesters gathered around a statue of Robert E. Lee, after Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the Confederate leader monument.
A Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, broke ranks with her party meanwhile and revealed she was “struggling” with whether to support President Donald Trump’s re-election.
Murkowski said her move was prompted by remarks from Trump’s former defense secretary James Mattis, who a day earlier delivered a biting assessment of a president who “tries to divide us.”
“I thought General Mattis’s words were true and honest and necessary and overdue,” Murkowski told reporters.
Her comments mark a major break with Trump within the Republican camp, which has largely held together through various crises including his impeachment and current threat to use military force against protests.
While condemning Floyd’s death, Trump has adopted a tough stance toward the protesters, saying they include many “bad people” and calling on governors to “dominate the streets.”
US civil rights groups filed a case Thursday suing Trump, after security forces fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear peaceful demonstrators outside the White House before the president walked to a church for a photo op earlier this week.
Low-flying choppers were also used in an apparent show of force above protesters in Washington, DC on Monday night.
Trump tweeted: “The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!“
His re-election campaign accused Twitter of censorship after its post of video paying tribute to Floyd, narrated by a speech Trump gave on the killing, was removed following a copyright complaint.
Democratic Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr to fight segregation, echoed Sharpton’s hope that Floyd’s death could pave the way for “greater change.”
The 80-year-old civil rights icon told “CBS This Morning” that the current protests felt “so much more massive and all-inclusive.” He also condemned Trump’s threat to use military force against demonstrators.
Some of the protests were marred by rioting and looting in the early days, but they have been mostly peaceful since then.
Three of the four Minneapolis police officers who arrested Floyd for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill made their first court appearance to face charges of aiding and abetting his murder.
Bail was set at $1 million each.
The fourth policeman, Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and appeared before a judge last week.


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.