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Video: Minneapolis mourners remember George Floyd at memorial

Reuters/Minneapolis, United States
Filed on June 4, 2020
Mourners, memorial, service, remember, George Floyd, black man, killed, police, custody, Minneapolis, United States
Courtney Ross George Floyd's girlfriend pays respect during a memorial service for George Floyd following his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Minneapolis, in Minneapolis, U.S., June 4, 2020.

(Reuters)

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a television political commentator and civil rights activist who will give a eulogy at the service, struck an optimistic tone on Thursday morning, praising the unity of marchers protesting at police brutality.

Mourners gathered in Minneapolis on Thursday for a service to remember George Floyd, the black man whose death in police custody set off a wave of protests that have rocked America in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a divisive presidential election campaign.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a television political commentator and civil rights activist who will give a eulogy at the service, struck an optimistic tone on Thursday morning, praising the unity of marchers protesting at police brutality.

"I've seen more Americans of different races and of different ages, standing up together, marching together, raising their voices together," he told MSNBC. "We are at a turning point here," Sharpton said ahead of the event, which started at 1 p.m. Central Time (10pm UAE).

Huge crowds have defied curfews and taken to the streets of cities across the country for nine nights in sometimes violent protests that prompted President Donald Trump to threaten to send in the military.

The protests dwindled overnight into Thursday after prosecutors leveled new charges against four former Minneapolis policemen implicated in the killing. Several major cities scaled back or lifted curfews imposed for the past few days. But not all was calm.

In New York City's Brooklyn borough, police in riot gear charged into a crowd of about 1,000 protesters defying a curfew, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday that foreign interests and "extremist agitators" were taking over the protests.

In another racially charged case that has gained national attention, a court heard on Thursday that one of the white men charged in the murder of unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia used a racial slur after shooting the man and before police arrived at the scene.

Special Agent Richard Dial, an investigator for the prosecution, quoted William Bryan as saying fellow defendant Travis McMichael uttered the slur after shooting Arbery in February.

"Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement: fucking nigger," Dial said in testimony to the court.

'EXTREMIST AGITATORS'

Barr, the country's top law enforcement official, said foreign interests and "extremist agitators" affiliated with movements like Antifa, which opposes authoritarianism, have sought to widen divisions in U.S. society during the protests.

"We have seen evidence that Antifa and other similar extremist groups as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions have been involving in instigating and participating in violent activity," Barr.

"I believe we have evidence that some of the foreign hackers and groups associated with foreign governments" are focused on this, he said without offering details.

Trump's former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, after long refusing to explicitly criticise a sitting president, denounced a militarization of the response to civil unrest. Current Defence Secretary Mark Esper also said he did not back the use of troops to patrol the country.

"Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people - does not even pretend to try," Mattis, who resigned as defence secretary in 2018, wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic.

Services for Floyd, 46, will stretch across six days and three states, the attorney for Floyd's family told media. His killing has propelled the issue of race to the top of the political agenda five months before a Nov. 3 presidential election.

Memorials will also be held on Saturday in Hoke County, North Carolina, where Floyd's sister lives, and in Houston on Monday, near where Floyd lived, media said. A funeral is planned for Tuesday with private services at an undisclosed location.

Prosecutors on Wednesday leveled new criminal charges against four Minneapolis policemen implicated in Floyd's death.

Derek Chauvin, 44, earlier arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, was also charged with second-degree murder.

The added charge can carry a sentence of up to 40 years, 15 years longer than the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.

Chauvin was the white officer seen in video footage kneeling on Floyd's neck as Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, "Please, I can't breathe."

The three other former police officers charged in the case were scheduled to appear in court in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon. The three were charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.


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