After three days of continuous protest following the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis police officer seen on video kneeling on the handcuffed black man’s neck, was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, after the office gathered enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, reports AP.
Floyd died in custody after pleading that he could not breathe as the policeman knelt on his neck.
Freeman did not have immediate details, but said a criminal complaint would be made available later.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said state investigators arrested Chauvin, who was one of four officers fired this week, but he did not provide details.
News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to this week's protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the protests and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.
"Minneapolis and St Paul are on fire. The fire is still smoldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," Walz said, adding. "Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world — and the world is watching."
The governor cited a call he received from a state senator who described her district "on fire, no police, no firefighters, no social control, constituents locked in houses wondering what they were going to do. That is an abject failure that cannot happen."
His comments came the morning after protesters torched a police station that officers abandoned during a third night of violence. Livestream video showed protesters entering the building, where intentionally set fires activated smoke alarms and sprinklers.
President Donald Trump threatened action, tweeting "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," which prompted a warning from Twitter for "glorifying violence."
The governor faced tough questions after National Guard leader Maj Gen Jon Jensen blamed a lack of clarity about the Guard's mission for a slow response. Walz said the state was in a supporting role and that it was up to city leaders to run the situation. Walz said it became apparent as the 3rd Precinct was lost that the state had to step in, which happened at 12:05am. Requests from the cities for resources "never came," he said.
"You will not see that tonight, there will be no lack of leadership," Walz said.
On Friday morning, nearly every building in the shopping district around the abandoned police station had been vandalised, burned or looted. National Guard members were in the area, with several of them lined up, keeping people away from the police station.
Dozens of volunteers swept up broken glass in the street, doing what they could to help.
Dozens of fires were also set in nearby St Paul, where nearly 200 businesses were damaged or looted. Protests spread across the US, fuelled by outrage over Floyd's death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police. Demonstrators clashed with officers in New York and blocked traffic in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver.
Trump threatened to bring Minneapolis "under control," calling the protesters "thugs" and tweeting that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The tweet drew another warning from Twitter, which said the comment violated the platform's rules, but the company did not remove it.
Trump also blasted the "total lack of leadership" in Minneapolis.
A visibly tired and frustrated Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made his first public appearance of the night early Friday at City Hall and took responsibility for evacuating the precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers. As Frey continued, a reporter cut across loudly with a question: "What's the plan here?"
"With regard to?" Frey responded. Then he added: "There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that ... What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable."
He defended the city's lack of engagement with looters and said, "We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace." He said National Guard members were stationed in locations to help stem looting, including at banks, grocery stores and pharmacies.
The Minnesota State Patrol arrested a CNN television crew early Friday as the journalists reported on the unrest. While live on air, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was handcuffed and led away. A producer and a photojournalist for CNN were also taken away in handcuffs.
The Minnesota State Patrol said the journalists were among four people arrested as troopers were "clearing the streets and restoring order," and they were released after being confirmed to be media members. CNN said on Twitter that the arrests were "a clear violation of their First Amendment rights." Walz publicly apologised on Friday.
Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd's death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. In the footage, Floyd can be seen pleading as Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing members of Floyd's family, called for an independent investigation, and said he asked to take custody of Floyd's body to have an independent autopsy performed. Floyd said that talk of a heart condition or asthma are irrelevant because Floyd was walking and breathing before his contact with police.
The doctor who will do the autopsy is Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to do an autopsy for Eric Garner as well.
State and federal authorities are investigating Floyd's death. Chauvin was fired Tuesday, along with three other officers involved in the arrest.
Former president Barack Obama on Saturday came down heavily on the US leadership’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak as the country tops the list with most confirmed cases and deaths.
Obama told college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials "aren’t even pretending to be in charge”, reports AP.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said in unexpectedly political remarks. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
Globally, the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 4.7 million on Sunday and there have been more than 313,000 deaths. The US has recorded the highest number of cases at more than 1.5 million and over 90,000 deaths, according to data from Worldometer.
Obama spoke on “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour event for students graduating from historically black colleges and universities broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Later, during a second televised commencement address for high school seniors, Obama panned “so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs” who do “what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy”.
“Which is why things are so screwed up,” he said.
Obama’s message to high school students came at the end of an hourlong television special featuring celebrities and was less sharp-edged than his speech to the college graduates.
He urged the young graduates to be unafraid despite the current challenges facing the nation and to strive to be part of a diverse community.
“Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path," Obama said.
US President Donald Trump says he is optimistic about having a coronavirus vaccine on the market by the end of this year or thereafter.
Former pharmaceutical executive Moncep Slaoui, Moncef Slaoui, picked by the White House to lead a crash development programme to develop coronavirus vaccine, said that early trial data suggests that “a few hundred million doses of vaccine” will be delivered by late 2020.
Speaking at a Rose Garden event on Friday, Trump reiterated that he wants to see states move forward with reopening their economies.
“We are back, vaccine or no vaccine,” Trump said, reports AP.
The US has been the hardest-hit country by coronavirus with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths – more than 1,457,593 and 86,912 respectively, according to Wordometer.
Meanwhile, the global death tally from coronavirus pandemic reached 303,351 on Friday morning. Since it was first reported in China in December last year, coronavirus has infected more than half a million people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic on March 11. The virus is now affecting 212 countries and territories around the world and two international conveyances.
Meanwhile, confirmed coronavirus cases Bangladesh surged to 20,065 on Friday. The death toll has climbed to 298.
Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the task force, has become nationally known for his simple and direct explanations to the public about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Also quarantining are Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Hahn.
Fauci's institute said that he has tested negative for COVID-19 and will continue to be tested regularly. It added that he is considered at “relatively low risk” based on the degree of his exposure, and that he would be “taking appropriate precautions" to mitigate the risk to personal contacts while still carrying out his duties. While he will stay at home and telework, Fauci will go to the White House if called and take every precaution, the institute said.
Redfield will be “teleworking for the next two weeks" after it was determined he had a “low risk exposure" to a person at the White House, the CDC said in a statement Saturday evening. The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms.
Just a few hours earlier, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Hahn had come in contact with someone who tested positive and was in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He tested negative for the virus.
All three men are scheduled to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the panel, said the White House will allow Redfield and Hahn to testify by videoconference, a one-time exception to the administration's policies on hearing testimony. The statement was issued before Fauci's quarantine was announced.
Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, making her the second person who works at the White House complex known to test positive for the virus this week. White House officials had confirmed Thursday that a member of the military serving as one of Trump’s valets had tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who publicly identified the affected Pence aide as spokeswoman Katie Miller, said he was “not worried” about the virus spreading in the White House. Nonetheless, officials said they were stepping up safety protocols for the complex.
Miller had been in recent contact with Pence but not with the president and had tested negative a day earlier. She is married to Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser. The White House had no immediate comment on whether Stephen Miller had been tested or if he was still working in the White House.
The CDC and FDA would not disclose the identity of the person who had tested positive and with whom the agency leaders had come in contact.
Trump has resisted wearing a mask, and in a meeting with the nation’s top military leaders Saturday evening, he did not wear a mask during the brief portion that reporters were allowed to view. The generals around Trump also did not wear a mask, but participants did sit a few feet away from each other.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the administration was stepping up mitigation efforts already recommended by public health experts and taking other unspecified precautions to ensure the safety of the president. He said the White House was “probably the safest place that you can come,” but the he was reviewing further steps to keep Trump and Pence safe.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds conducted a flyover on Saturday in Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Prince George's County in Maryland in support of the frontline healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The show is one of a series of flyovers the squadrons have been making around the country.
The 20-minute Washington D.C. flyover, which followed one in Baltimore of Maryland earlier in the day, started at 11:45 a.m. Eastern Time in Prince George's County of Maryland. The planes then hovered around Montgomery County of Maryland and headed into Northern Virginia via Arlington.
After passing over Fairfax City, the planes looped back in Prince William County, and then flew toward the National Mall in the downtown D.C. area, where the flyover was brought to an end at around 12:05 p.m.
Saturday's flyover was part of the "America Strong" tour, which President Donald Trump announced at a recent news conference.
"What we are doing is paying tribute to our front-line health care workers confronting COVID, and it's really a signal to all Americans to remain vigilant during the outbreak," Trump said at an April 22 news briefing.
"Operation America Strong was the idea of our great military men and women - the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels crews who wanted to show support to the American medical workers who, just like military members in a time of war, are fiercely running toward the fight," said the president.