All Four Officers Involved in George Floyd Case Will Face Charges

On Thursday, following nine consecutive nights of protests after the killing of George Floyd, one of the movement’s goals has been met: all four Minneapolis Police Department officers present at Floyd’s death have been charged, Colorlines reports.

Derek Chauvin, who suffocated Floyd by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, now faces a second-degree murder charge, while the three other former officers—Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao—are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Bail for each of the four is set to $1 million.

The same day, Manuel Ellis, a black man in Tacoma, Washington, died in police custody while telling officers “I can’t breathe.” The autopsy ruled the death a homicide.

The Story Has Gotten Away from Us

Columbia Journalism Review recounts six months of the coronavirus and police brutality in the U.S., culminating in the murder of George Floyd and ensuing protests.

On the risks of COVID-19 spread amid protests, epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder said, “Structural racism has been a public-health crisis for much longer than the pandemic has.”

Police violence further shaped protests, even as news outlets described it passively: “Water bottles lobbed in the air are, somehow, rendered the equivalent of a police van plowing through an assembly of bodies.”

People want to see stories of police offering solidarity. But “according to activists on the ground, the same cops photographed kneeling came back hours later to beat people up.”

‘Bad apples’ Are Not the Problem

“Let’s remember that not all cops are bad, despite a few “‘bad apples.’”

For Salon, attorney Gregory Antollino recounts decades of observation and experience in cases involving NYPD misconduct and killing.

Numerous isolated incidents point to a culture of perjury and officers “misplacing” evidence of partners’ misconduct. Antollino has failed to find any instance of an officer presenting evidence faulting another.

While the Twitter mantra ACAB (all cops are bad) may over-generalize, “it holds some truth if almost all police officers—often the only witnesses to their brethren’s misconduct—cannot be trusted to report the truth.”

The Promise of Street Rebellions

Black Agenda Report’s coverage this week centers the bevy of factors leading to continuing nationwide, and global, protests.

“The dual assault of covid-19 and white supremacy unfolded against a larger crisis of human disposability shaped by late capitalism and its relentless attack on vulnerable workers and the oppressed,” writes Russel Rickford.

Margaret Kimberly, rather than foregrounding Donald Trump’s incoherencies, draws attention to dismissal of the uprisings by black mayors—who “obey everyone but their own people.”

“The joint disparagement of grass roots protest by the misleaders and corporate media prove that it has the potential to bring real change.”

The ‘Outside Agitator’ Myth

Defenders of the status quo leapt to blame “outside agitators” for the national uprising against racism and police brutality.

After initial Minneapolis protests, Donald Trump, Minnesota governor Tim Walz, and Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey blamed out-of-state people for the “riots,” though an investigation revealed 86% of those arrested were Minnesotans.

This trope, popular among southern leaders during ’60s civil rights struggles, aims to delegitimize protest and dissolve solidarity between protesters, as Jacobin explains.

As protesters’ numbers grow, in major cities and small towns, nationally and globally, CommonDreams shows how they “can’t be silenced.”

Holding Police Departments Accountable

ProPublica details five ways for any citizen or journalist to hold local police departments accountable.

Understand the policies and laws that govern police conduct. Find out if the agency has a policy on the use of force and what it dictates.

Access public records that can show if officers are following rules.

Identify and engage with law enforcement leaders.

Present information persuasively with evidence and by acknowledging legitimate counterpoints.

Follow up relentlessly, share tips with journalists, and keep track of ongoing examples.

Breonna Taylor and David McAtee

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman and emergency room technician treating COVID-19 patients, was shot to death on March 13 by police, who entered her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, under a “no-knock” warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend met the police with gunfire, as they were in plainclothes and had not announced their presence.

The Louisville Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve legislation regulating no-knock warrants. Charges against Taylor’s boyfriend were dropped, but the officers who killed her have not been charged.

During protests on Monday, police and National Guard fired into a crowd of Louisville protesters, killing David McAtee, whose body reportedly lay in the streets of Louisville for over 12 hours.

Democracy Now! speaks with Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of Louisville Urban League.

Trump Is Framing US Residents as Enemies to Be Met by Force

Donald Trump appears to be banking on public fear—of looters, viruses, economic ruin, political chaos—to win reelection.

He’s moving to consolidate the military for domestic political repression. Military and mounted police gassed, beat, and shot with rubber bullets peaceful protesters for the president’s church photo-op. World media—“enemies of the people” to Trump—captured, and were subjected to, the charge.

Indeed, U.S. police have targeted and brutalized journalists more than 130 times since May 28, according to Nieman Lab’s June 1 count. The Intercept offers an updated count of this week’s unprovoked police violence against the press: 280 instances.

Trump’s illegal order for governors to summon the national guard, his repeated calls to “dominate” city residents into submission, and uninterest in attempting de-escalation resonate with historic fascist playbooks, as Truthout observes.

Jim Mattis vs. Tom Cotton: No Contest

Wednesday, The New York Times published GOP Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed, calling on Donald Trump to “send in the troops” on protesters. Some editors for the Times opposed the move in a social media revolt.

The decision to publish the piece looked especially bad after The Atlantic published former defense secretary James Mattis’ “searing, eloquent broadside against all of Donald Trump’s fascist posturing.”

Cotton’s piece reeked of clichés and intellectual dishonesty, whereas Mattis’ was impassioned and convincing. The Nation, in its analysis of both, notes that the Cotton piece should have been rejected simply because it violated the paper’s standards; “it wasn’t very good.”

Glenn Greenwald with the tweet of the week:
Trump Waiving Environmental Safeguards

Thursday night, Donald Trump signed the third executive order of his presidency aimed at expediting oil and gas pipelines, InsideClimate News reports.

Presidents use this same legal authority to expedite hurricane and flood response by declaring an “economic emergency” and waiving environmental reviews and other regulations.

Critics say this order—enacted amid crowds of racial justice protesters flanking the White House—will likely fail from a business and legal perspective. It’s poorly timed, too, as communities of color would be disproportionately affected by waiving the environmental review mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Headlines

1. Civil rights groups sue Trump over assault on peaceful George Floyd protesters before president’s Bible photo op (The Independent)

2. Lessons for American Police From Hong Kong (The Atlantic)

3. Law Enforcement Seizes Masks Meant To Protect Anti-Racist Protesters From COVID-19 (HuffPost)

4. US unemployment sees surprise improvement in May (BBC)

5. ‘I’m getting shot’: attacks on journalists surge in US protests (The Guardian)