The Latest: Minneapolis officials estimate damage at $55M
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:
— Minneapolis officials estimate damage at $55 million, ask aid to rebuild.
— Citing virus restrictions, Norway refuses permission for rallies.
— Police in New Orleans release tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators.
MINNEAPOLIS — Officials in Minneapolis say the looting and property damage that following the death of George Floyd has caused at least $55 million in destruction.
Vandals damaged or set fire to at least 220 buildings in the city where Floyd died, but that number is expected to go up, city officials said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey will ask for state and federal aid to help rebuild after the civil unrest. Until that happens, community members are pitching in to support Minneapolis neighborhoods.
More than $1 million has been raised to help businesses in north Minneapolis, WCCO-TV reported. The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition says it will announce how they plan to use the money in the coming weeks.
The violence follows the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, ignoring Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe.
Prosecutors upgraded charges against the officer, Derek Chauvin, to second-degree murder on Wednesday and charged three other officers with aiding and abetting in the case that has rocked the nation with protests over race and police brutality.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country’s three largest cities in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, citing the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.
Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, not more than 50 people can gather in one place, Mohamed Awil, president of the African Student Association UiO told The Associated Press.
The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo where more than 15,000 people had said they planned to take part in Thursday’s demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. Awil said they were considering an alternative demonstration but details were not immediately available.
Similar events took place in the in the capitals of Sweden and Finland Wednesday. They attracted thousands of people even though the limit in Sweden is currently 50 and in Finland is 500.
LONDON — The Duchess of Sussex has shared her sadness about racial divisions in the United States, telling students at her former high school that she felt moved to speak out because the life of George Floyd mattered.
Meghan told graduates at the Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles that she wrestled with what to tell them given the days of protests after Floyd’s death.
“I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, because George Floyd’s life mattered,” she said in a virtual address.
Floyd, an African-American, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25. The incident sparked days of protests and riots.
The former Meghan Markle, who has an African American mother and a white father, said the unrest reminded her of riots that took place in her hometown of Los Angeles after police officers were acquitted in the video-taped beating of another African-American, Rodney King.
“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home, and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky, and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings,’’ she said. “I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.
“I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
The duchess’ video was first reported by the U.S. magazine Essence.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called George Floyd’s killing “brutal” and criticized President Donald Trump for posing for photos while holding a Bible.
Rouhani in a televised speech said Floyd “was killed in the most brutal way.”
“We express sympathy toward the American people who are on the streets while harshly condemning the crime,” he said, referring to Floyd’s death after a white police officer was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck.
Rouhani also made reference to the clearing of peaceful protesters from a park outside the White House with chemical agents and flash bang grenades so that Trump could walk to a church for a photo opportunity.
“It is a shame that the president stands with a Bible when he plans to act against his people,” Rouhni said.
Iranian officials regularly take advantage of protests in the U.S. to criticize the administration, even though Iran itself in November put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access.
State television has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest.
NEW ORLEANS — Police in New Orleans released tear gas on hundreds of demonstrators who pushed past a line of officers to cross a Mississippi River bridge during demonstrations against the death of George Floyd.
A video of the incident obtained by The Times Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate shows a crowd of protesters running, shoving past each other, and shouting “walk” on Wednesday night as smoke envelops the background of the bridge.
The encounter came hours after a rally and a march that started near the New Orleans City Hall. Some protesters were chanting curses at New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who earlier Wednesday was criticized by fellow high-profile athletes, including LeBron James, and some of his own teammates after saying in an interview with Yahoo! he opposed kneeling during the national anthem.
SEATTLE — Leaders in Seattle seeking to address concerns raised by protesters have abruptly ended a city-wide curfew in place for days amid massive demonstrations against the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said Wednesday evening on Twitter that she was ending the curfew, which had been scheduled to last until Saturday, after she and Police Chief Carmen Best met with community members.
“Chief Best believes we can balance public safety and ensure peaceful protests can continue without a curfew,” Durkan said. “For those peacefully demonstrating tonight, please know you can continue to demonstrate. We want you to continue making your voice heard.”
Thousands of protesters remained in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood well after the abolished 9 p.m. curfew Wednesday. Demonstrators carried “Black Lives Matter” signs, called for cutting the police department’s budget and shifting the money to social programs, and chanted for officers to remove their riot gear.
Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib tweeted that he was pleased Seattle had listened and reversed course.
“Preemptive curfews were only making things worse. Other cities should do likewise,” he posted.
WASHINGTON — Demonstrators marched to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and demanding that laws be changed to prevent more like it.
Along their route from near the White House, there were troops in fatigues and officers from federal agencies keeping watch on the crowd. Barricades were put up around the Capitol, and the Capitol Police stood guard behind them.
“We came here because they make laws here and we want the laws to change,” said Mohammed Wagdy, 26, of nearby Prince George’s County.
As an 11 p.m. curfew in Washington neared, community activists urged the demonstrators to head home. Some did, but others said they were returning to the White House.
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 COVID-19.
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 had a heart attack 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 COVID-19 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.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister has urged Australians involved in George Floyd-related anti-racism protests around the world to be “extremely cautious.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was commenting Thursday after Australian journalists came under attack while covering protests in Washington and London.
“In terms of some of the violence … that we’re seeing around the world today, for those Australians who find themselves in those situations, I would urge them to show great caution,” Morrison told reporters.
“I would urge people to be extremely cautious. These are dangerous situations, people should exercise great care in where they’re placing themselves,” he added.
Australia’s ambassador to the United States has complained about two police officers in riot gear lashing Channel 7 journalist Amelia Brace and camera operator Timothy Meyers with a shield and baton on Monday. The network’s news director, Craig McPherson, described the attack as “nothing short of wanton thuggery.”
The officers have been placed on administrative leave while their conduct is investigated.
Two Nine Network television crews also came under attack from crowd members while reporting Wednesday on protests in London, the network reported.