Ge­orge Floyd’s death

Charge against Chau­vin, who knelt on man’s neck, raised to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMY FOR­L­ITI AND TIM SUL­LI­VAN

Three other for­mer Min­neapo­lis of­fi­cers now charged.

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — Pros­e­cu­tors filed a tougher charge Wed­nes­day against the police of­fi­cer at the cen­ter of the Ge­orge Floyd case and charged three other of­fi­cers, de­liv­er­ing a vic­tory to pro­test­ers gal­va­nized by a death that roused racial ten­sions and un­leashed coast-to-coast un­rest.

The most se­ri­ous charge was filed against Derek Chau­vin, who was caught on video press­ing his knee to Floyd’s neck and now must de­fend him­self against an ac­cu­sa­tion of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. The three other of­fi­cers at the scene — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were charged for the first time with aid­ing and abet­ting sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and sec­ond-de­gree man­slaugh­ter. All four were fired last week.

The new charges were sought by Min­nesota At­tor­ney Gen­eral Keith El­li­son, who called the protests un­leashed by the death “dra­matic and nec­es­sary” and said Floyd “should be here and he is not.”

“His life had value, and we will seek jus­tice,” said El­li­son, who cau­tioned that win­ning con­vic­tions would be hard and said that pub­lic pres­sure had no bear­ing on his de­ci­sions.

Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers were in New York City’s Wash­ing­ton Square Park when the charges were an­nounced.

“It’s not enough,” pro­tester Jonathan Roldan said, in­sist­ing all four of­fi­cers should have been charged from the start. “Right now, we’re still march­ing be­cause it’s not enough that they got ar­rested. There needs to be sys­tem­atic change.”

Ben­jamin Crump, an at­tor­ney for Floyd’s fam­ily, called it “a bit­ter­sweet mo­ment” and “a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward on the road to jus­tice.” Crump said El­li­son had told the fam­ily he would con­tinue his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Floyd’s death and up­grade the charge to first-de­gree mur­der if war­ranted.

Chau­vin was ini­tially charged with third-de­gree mur­der and sec­ond-de­gree man­slaugh­ter.

The move pow­er­fully punc­tu­ated an un­prece­dented week in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­tory, in which largely peace­ful protests took place in com­mu­ni­ties of all sizes but were rocked by bouts of vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing deadly at­tacks on of­fi­cers, ram­pant thefts and ar­son in some places.

Some of the rock­i­ness of the days since Floyd’s May 25 death dis­si­pated on Tues­day night, with demon­stra­tions con­tin­u­ing around the coun­try but with­out ma­jor re­ports of vi­o­lence.

Cur­fews and ef­forts by pro­test­ers to con­tain ear­lier flare-ups of law­less­ness were cred­ited with pre­vent­ing more

wide­spread dam­age to busi­nesses in New York and other cities overnight.

“Last night, we took a step for­ward in mov­ing out of this dif­fi­cult pe­riod we’ve had the last few days and mov­ing to a bet­ter time,” New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio said.

New York police said about 280 peo­ple were ar­rested on protest-re­lated charges Tues­day night, com­pared with 700 a day ear­lier. Na­tion­wide, more than 9,000 have been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with un­rest.

At least 12 deaths have been re­ported, though the cir­cum­stances in many cases are still be­ing sorted out.

Some tense in­ci­dents con­tin­ued Tues­day night, but were far less preva­lent than in pre­ced­ing days. Police and Na­tional Guard troops used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, non­lethal rounds and other means of dis­pers­ing crowds near a police precinct in Seat­tle, near Cen­ten­nial Park in At­lanta, and at demon­stra­tions in Tampa and St. Peters­burg, Fla.

Min­nesota has opened a civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether the Min­neapo­lis Police De­part­ment has a pat­tern of dis­crim­i­na­tion against mi­nori­ties.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has pushed the na­tion’s gov­er­nors to take a hard line against the vi­o­lence, say­ing Tues­day that “lowlifes and losers” were tak­ing over New York’s streets.

He again tweeted Wed­nes­day: “LAW & OR­DER!”

Thou­sands of pro­test­ers again took to the streets again in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, singing “Amaz­ing Grace” as they knelt. “We are not go­ing any­where!” they chanted.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in riot gear watched the crowd. Wash­ing­ton Mayor Muriel Bowser im­posed an 11 p.m. curfew af­ter Tues­day’s peace­ful protests. The Tues­day curfew had been 7 p.m.

Jade Jones, 30, said the protests would con­tinue de­spite the new charges.

“That’s the least they could do,” said Jones, who had been at­tend­ing Wash­ing­ton protests for days. “It’s not go­ing to wipe away 400 years of pain.”

“We are glad there are ad­di­tional charges, but that doesn’t mean jus­tice has been served,” she said.

More than 20,000 Na­tional Guard mem­bers have been called up in 29 states to deal with the vi­o­lence.

The protests have also taken root over­seas amid grow­ing global out­rage over Floyd’s death, racial in­jus­tice and heavy­handed police tac­tics.

In Greece, police fired tear gas af­ter young peo­ple at­tacked them Wed­nes­day out­side the U.S. Em­bassy in Athens. Some 4,000 pro­test­ers had been peace­ful un­til near the end of the demon­stra­tion, when some threw gaso­line bombs and stones at police. No in­juries or ar­rests were re­ported.

Mean­while in Philadel­phia, a statue of for­mer Mayor Frank Rizzo was re­moved by the city early Wed­nes­day af­ter re­peat­edly be­ing tar­geted by van­dals. Rizzo presided over a police force widely ac­cused of racism and bru­tal­ity in the 1970s.


Al­ganesh Hadgu (cen­ter) was comforted as she broke down in tears dur­ing a visit Wed­nes­day to the pub­lic me­mo­rial in Min­neapo­lis for Ge­orge Floyd at the spot where he died last week af­ter an en­counter with police.

Quincy Ma­son Floyd (left), son of Ge­orge Floyd, lis­tened as fam­ily at­tor­ney Ben­jamin Crump spoke Wed­nes­day in Min­neapo­lis.





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