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The Sickening Result of Searching ‘Racist’ on Twitter

There’s always been the assumption of bias on the part of big tech when it comes to conservatives, particularly when that conservative is Donald Trump. That assumption was complicated, however, by the fact that tech companies — particularly social media concerns — maintained a veneer of plausible deniability.

That complication seems to have resolved itself in the past few weeks.

Twitter has begun (poorly) “fact-checking” the president’s tweets on voter fraud and then hiding one because the thought he expressed in it — “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” — was briefly popularized by a grotesquely evil Miami police chief over a half-century ago.

The phrase can also mean that looting can lead to violence, but whatever — it got covered up like the details behind a Hunter Biden sinecure.

Snapchat, meanwhile, went almost as far and refused to promote the president’s content, which it regularly does with politicians and celebrities.

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Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, not precisely the head of an oasis of free thought, refused to do anything of the sort to the president’s posts — and faced an employee revolt because of it, which says a great deal about where the company’s head has been at for the past few years.

But it’s Twitter that gets the most focus, because it’s the president’s favorite social media platform. It turns out that the “fact-checking” and hiding of tweets wasn’t the only thing going on in the palace of Jack Dorsey.

Check out what happens when you search the term “racist” on the platform, as documented by The Western Journal’s own Bryan Chai:

Yes, it seems that Twitter’s search algorithm gives Donald Trump’s account as the top result when you search “racist.”

Let me guess: No bias! Just algorithmic! Can’t argue with them algorithms, after all.

I actually made this guess before I’d started doing research for this article and I was dispiritingly correct: “A Twitter spokeswoman said if users mention an account alongside certain terms, the account and the keywords can become algorithmically surfaced together as a search recommendation. A search on Twitter shows that users have been mentioning Trump’s account with the word ‘racist,’” C|NET reported.

In terms of intelligence-insulting explanations, the “don’t blame us, it’s just those kooky algorithms” ranks up there with “I’m leaving my position in the midst of a scandal to spend more time with my family.”

The idea that the software that undergirds social media is some kind of self-driving car and these executives never touch the wheel is prima facie ridiculous.

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How do I know this?

Consider that, as I discussed at the beginning, Twitter is actively monitoring Trump’s account to the point where profoundly dubious fact-checks are being applied to tweets about voter fraud — fact-checks that entirely neglected to mention actual instances of voter fraud involving mailed-in ballots, like the alleged one perpetrated in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District during the 2018 election, and insisted that voter fraud was a chimerical invention of the GOP — and then covered up one of his tweets because it was against their policy involving “glorifying violence.”

No hands on the wheel? Yes, the algorithm assembled that fact-check all on its own. Those algorithms, they’re really something.

Well, the thing about algorithms is that they’re fixed pretty easily when stuff like this, so given this has been happening for a few days, they’ve managed to make things —

That’s 2:53 p.m. on Saturday. The algorithm must be resistant to change! It’s sentient, peeps! It’s probably calling everyone at Twitter “Dave” now.

All right, I know this game is about as tired and unwanted at this point as charades at an office party you don’t want to be at, but it’s time to play yet another round of “Imagine if this Were a Democrat.”

Let’s take Hillary Clinton. Imagine for a second that some term like this appeared in conjunction with Hillary in the same way during the 2016 campaign. It’d be fixed quicker and more thoroughly than an Italian soccer match.

In fact, we can test this with Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden. In a disastrous appearance on the black-centric radio program “The Breakfast Club,” Biden said that if you didn’t vote for him over Trump, “you ain’t black.”

That’s a pretty specific phrase, something that rascally algorithm would catch — right?

Right. The Trump algorithmic hiccup was reported on Friday. It’s mid-Saturday afternoon. Nothing.

Oh, and that wacky algorithm is at it again: The Trump campaign’s tribute video to George Floyd got taken down because of a copyright complaint. According to Fox Business, Twitter didn’t comment as to who made the complaint.

It’s probably worth noting that it’s not just a distaste for Trump that’s motivating tech firms at this point. In the wake of the fact-check controversy, Trump signed an executive order that would obviate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a section of the 1996 bill protecting internet platforms like Twitter from being sued for content published by their users. The rationale behind Section 230 is that these platforms are platforms, not publishers. Of course, the difference is that publishers curate — and partisan fact-checking and hiding tweets for dubious reasons sounds a lot like curation.

“Trump’s executive order aims to reinterpret the law through new regulation. Online companies that moderate their websites in anything other than ‘good faith’ could face more lawsuits,” C|NET reported.

Do you expect Big Tech interference in the 2020 election?

“The order directs the Commerce Department to ask the Federal Communications Commission to propose regulation that clarifies when a company isn’t acting in good faith. That includes when a company decides to restrict access to content but its actions are inconsistent with its terms of service or taken without adequate notice or a ‘meaningful opportunity to be heard.’”

Now, to rain on your party, conservatives: This has roughly zero chance of succeeding. The FCC and Federal Trade Commission, which would be tasked with enacting this, are largely independent agencies. This is good and bad — the bad, in this case, being the fact they’re what one might call “swampy,” which means it’ll likely be ignored.

Furthermore, essentially changing a major law enacted by Congress through regulatory means almost always ends in years of court cases — and while I’m not a lawyer, I don’t predict they’ll go swimmingly for the Trump administration.

That being said, it’s certainly added a new layer of animosity to the relationship between the administration and big tech — and, to quote a certain fictional newsman, “Well, that escalated quickly.”

It shouldn’t have. In an election year, this is nothing less than social media interfering in the outcome.

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World boxing champion Joshua attends march, says racism is a pandemic

LONDON (Reuters) – Heavyweight boxing world champion Anthony Joshua described racism as a “pandemic” while addressing protesters at a Black Lives Matter march in London on Saturday.

Joshua, one of Britain’s highest-profile sportsmen, joined a march through the streets of his home town of Watford before gathering in a park where he recited a poem written by a friend.

“The virus has been declared a pandemic,” Joshua said. “This is out of control. And I’m not talking about Covid-19. The virus I’m talking about is called racism.”

Marches and protests have been held all over the world in response to the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by a police officer in the U.S. on May 25. Four officers involved have since been charged over the death.

The 30-year-old Joshua, whose world heavyweight title defence against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev scheduled for this month at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was dressed in all black for the event.

“We can no longer sit back and remain silent on these senseless, unlawful killings and sly racism on another human being – based on what? Only their skin colour,” the IBF, WBA and WBO world champion, who was using crutches and wearing a knee brace, after injuring his knee during training this week, added.

“We need to speak out in peaceful demonstrations — just like today, so well done Watford.

“We must not use a demonstration for selfish motives and turn it into rioting and looting.”

A spokesman for Joshua said his knee injury would be further checked by doctors, but “there is no immediate concern”.

The Black Lives Matters protests went on in London despite Health Minister Matt Hancock urging people not to attend large gatherings because of the pandemic.

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The Metropolitan Police also said on Friday that the protests could be unlawful because they would break social-distancing advice.

Crystal Palace soccer player Andros Townsend took to Twitter to question why the authorities were trying to stop the marches.

“I find it funny how people in power are using covid 19 to try and stop the #BlackLivesMatter protests in the UK… where was this same energy when there were thousands congregating around parks/beaches? Don’t hide behind the virus, say the real reason! #BlackLivesMatter,” he said.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis

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Protesters pour into DC for city’s largest demonstration yet – Press Enterprise

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters streamed into the nation’s capital Saturday for what was expected to be the city’s largest demonstration yet against police brutality while George Floyd was remembered in his North Carolina hometown, where hundreds of mourners lined up to pay their respects.

Military vehicles and officers in fatigues closed off much of downtown Washington to traffic ahead of the planned march, which authorities estimated would attract up to 200,000 people outraged by Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Large protests also took place across the U.S. and in major cities overseas, including London, Paris, Berlin and Sydney, Australia.

On a hot, humid day in Washington, throngs of protesters gathered at the Capitol, on the National Mall and in residential neighborhoods. Many groups headed toward the White House, where President Donald Trump was.

The crowd erupted in applause as Mayor Muriel Bowser walked along the portion of 16th Street that she renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Art Lindy, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, shouted “Vice President Bowser” as the mayor strolled by. He was referring to her defiant response to Trump’s taunts.

Bowser “has done an incredible job standing up to the face of federal power,” the 56-year-old construction manager said.

Washington has seen daily protests for the past week — largely peaceful. The White House has been fortified with new fencing and extra security precautions. The faint sound of protesters could be heard Saturday from the executive mansion. Trump had no public events on his daily schedule.

The protests extended to his golf resort in Doral, Florida, just outside Miami, where about 100 protesters gathered. The demonstration was organized by Latinos for Black Lives Matter.

In Raeford, North Carolina, a small town near Floyd’s birthplace of Fayetteville, a long line of people formed outside a Free Will Baptist church, waiting to enter in small groups for a chance to look at his coffin. At a private memorial service later in the day, mourners sang along with a choir. On display at the front of the chapel was a large photo of Floyd and a portrait of him adorned with an angel’s wings and halo.

The line of people waiting to view the coffin included families with young children and teenagers. One young woman wore a green and gold graduation cap and gown as she walked beside her parents. Most people wore surgical masks or cloth face coverings.

When a hearse bearing Floyd’s coffin arrived, chants of “Black Power,” “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace,” echoed from beneath the covered entrance.

“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said a man in the crowd, Erik Carlos of Fayetteville. “It was a heavy hit, especially knowing that George Floyd was born near my hometown. It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”

In general, demonstrations in the U.S. have shifted to a calmer tenor in recent days after frequent episodes of violence in the early stages after Floyd’s death. Protesters and their supporters in public office say they are determined to turn the extraordinary outpouring of anger and grief into change, notably in regard to policing policies.

College student Maiya Mack, 19, who protested in Columbus, Ohio, said a key step would be effective discipline against police officers implicated in racist acts of violence.

“Police who have performed misconduct, they should be held accountable, not just you can still be at home, you can still get paid,” she said.

Theresa Bland, 68, a retired teacher and realtor protesting at the Ohio Statehouse, had a broader agenda in mind

“I’m looking at affordable housing, political justice, prison reform, the whole ball of wax,” she said. “The world is so askew right now … with people dying from the virus and people dying in prisons and people dying because there’s not enough food.”

There already have been some tangible steps.

In Minneapolis, city officials have agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s police training program to stop teaching officers how to use a neck hold that blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

Democrats in Congress are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms, which are expected to included changes to police-accountability laws, such as revising immunity provisions and creating a database of police use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too, among them a ban on chokeholds.

The House is expected to vote by month’s end. With Democrats in the majority, the bills will almost certainly pass the House. The outcome in the Senate is less certain. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the chamber would look at the issues, but he has not endorsed any particular legislation.

Meanwhile in New York, two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old protester, who fell backwards onto the pavement and was hospitalized. Both pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault and were released without bail. The two were suspended without pay Friday after a TV crew captured the confrontation.

In London, thousands of demonstrators endured cold rain to gather in Parliament Square, a traditional venue for protests. They knelt in silence and chanted Floyd’s name before applauding his memory and then starting a march. Some clashes between protesters and police broke out near the offices of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In Paris, hundreds of people gathered at the Place de la Concorde in defiance of a police ban on large protests. Members of the multiracial crowd chanted the name of Adama Traore, a black man whose death while in police custody a few years ago has been likened by critics of French police to Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

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Crary reported from New York and Foreman from Raeford, North Carolina. Associated Press reporters from around the world around the U.S. contributed.

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Thousands march on White House to protest violence by U.S. police

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters were marching in Washington on Saturday as rallies across the United States to protest the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody entered a 12th day and officials moved to rein in law enforcement tactics.

George Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The killing has triggered protests against racism and police brutality in cities and smaller communities nationwide, as well as demonstrations by supporters around the world.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Delonno Carroll, a 27-year-old construction worker, said he had come out to demonstrate because he “simply cannot” sit and watch from home.

“Our voices need to be heard,” Carroll said. “No longer can we have a man call out for his mom on the streets and have to go through what George Floyd did.”

Six buses unloaded several hundred uniformed military personnel, most wearing body armor and carrying shields, at the White House grounds early on Saturday, a Reuters photographer said. Military Humvees were parked on tree-lined city streets.

Police — who drew criticism for firing smoke grenades and chemical irritant “pepper balls” before charging into peaceful protesters near the White House on Tuesday — were out in smaller numbers around the marchers on Saturday afternoon and generally in a more relaxed posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armor and helmets.

Various groups of protesters gathered around the city before converging near the White House.

Some passing motorists honked their horns in support, and some city residents came out on the street to hand out water and snacks to offer protesters relief from the sweltering heat.

Hundreds of demonstrators who marched past the George Washington University Hospital chanted “Hands up, Don’t shoot!” “We March for hope, not for hate,” and “I can’t breathe!”

That last chant echoed protests from New York in 2014, when Eric Garner died in police custody after an officer used a banned chokehold on him. Garner and Floyd are part of a long line of black men and women killed by white officers.

Many of those protesting in Washington were white. “Especially as a white person, I benefit from the status quo,” said protester Michael Drummond, a 40-year-old government employee. “So not showing up and actively working to deconstruct institutional racism makes me complicit.”

‘EXTREME TACTICS’

Footage of Floyd’s death recorded by an onlooker showed the man repeatedly pleading for his life and telling the officers he could not breathe, before he went silent.

A second memorial service was held for Floyd on Saturday in North Carolina, where he was born. Hundreds lined up at a church in Raeford to pay their respects during a public viewing, and a private service for the family was scheduled for later in the day.

Thousands took to the streets across Europe and Australia, as did hundreds in Tokyo and Seoul, in support of U.S. protests against police brutality.

There were also marches on Saturday in cities including Miami, Philadelphia and New York. Friday night’s protests were largely peaceful but tension remains high even as authorities in several places take steps to reform police procedures.

Demonstrators hold placards as they stand behind a fence at Lafayette Park in front of the White House during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

A federal judge in Denver ordered city police to stop using tear gas, plastic bullets and other “less-than-lethal” devices such as flash grenades, with his ruling citing examples of protesters and journalists being injured by police.

“These are peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and medics who have been targeted with extreme tactics meant to suppress riots, not to suppress demonstrations,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote in the ruling.

In Minneapolis, Democratic city leaders voted to end the use of knee restraints and choke holds, while California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, said he would end state police training of restraints that restrict the carotid artery in the neck.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would lead the way in passing reforms including banning choke holds and making police disciplinary records publicly available.

“Mr Floyd’s murder was the breaking point,” said Cuomo, a Democrat. “People are saying enough is enough.”

BUFFALO OFFICERS ARRAIGNED

Black Lives Matter activists have called for cities to defund police departments. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who in April proposed increasing law enforcement funding, this week reversed course and said he would seek some $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department.

In a case from New York state that drew condemnation after two police officers were filmed shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground in Buffalo, the two officers were arraigned on second-degree felony assault charges on Saturday.

The officers, who were applauded by scores of law enforcement colleagues as they left after their virtual arraignment, pleaded not guilty, according to a spokeswoman for the local district attorney’s office.

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The victim was treated for a head injury, loss of consciousness and bleeding from the right ear, authorities said, and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The demonstrations have erupted as the American public and businesses struggle to recover from sweeping lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Disease experts have said the protests could spark new outbreaks.

Reporting by Nathan Layne, Sharon Bernstein, Dan Whitcomb, Matt Spetalnick, Raphael Satter, Keith Coffman, Rich McKay, Barbara Goldberg, Lucas Jackson, Linda So and Scott Malone; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Pravin Char and Daniel Wallis

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Trump plans a ‘recovery summer’ message against a bleak backdrop

It’s an opening for political attacks that Republicans themselves once engineered — slamming President Barack Obama in 2010 for what they viewed as prematurely promising a “recovery summer” ahead of an election season dominated by a wave of tea party protests. Expectations from Obama and former vice president Joe Biden for a wave of new jobs — partly powered by stimulus-driven infrastructure and construction projects — never fully materialized, leading to blistering attacks from GOP candidates about the still-high jobless rate. In the 2010 mid-terms that fall, Democrats lost control of the House — an outcome that crippled the Obama agenda.

Trump could fall into the same trap if the economic gains he promised on Friday fail to keep delivering throughout the summer, or if coronavirus infection rates flare up again and cripple huge swaths of the economy ahead of the election. Biden, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent, slammed the president on Friday for his remarks, saying he still didn’t get it or have enough empathy for the tens of millions of unemployed Americans.

“Honorable people can debate whether the Obama administration did or didn’t lean slightly too positive on the recovery in 2010 when we were a year past recession,” said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council under both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and who worked closely with Biden in the Obama administration. “I don’t see, on the other hand, how anyone with any judgment or empathy could debate whether it was wise to do an end-zone dance and talk ‘rocket ships’ while tens of millions of people are still suffering from lost jobs, opportunities, income and health care on your watch and unemployment is still the highest since before World War II. There is just no comparison.”

The latest jobs report showed the economy had only recouped 2.5 million of the 22 million jobs lost in the prior two months. And the jobless rates for some groups — such as black and Asian workers — rose slightly.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, an ebullient Trump heralded the latest jobs gains and predicted a “spectacular” September with a good July and August on the economic front. His allies and advisers have hoped to get such a tailwind into the fall since they view an improving economy as one of his best cases for reelection — a far better message than his handling of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 100,000 American lives.

In freewheeling remarks that also touched on the coronavirus and relations with China, Trump used the occasion to take digs at Democrats, saying the only thing that could stop the recovery now was “left-wing bad policy” such as raising taxes or the Green New Deal.

“It was a classic Trump stream of consciousness, almost like a rally,” one senior Republican Senate aide said about the performance. “It’s good he is touting these numbers, but I also think we need to not proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished.’ There is still a virus and still ridiculously high unemployment. I would urge caution to the White House.”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement that the “great American comeback is underway after the economy was artificially interrupted by the global pandemic. Doomsday economists had predicted a loss of 8.5 million jobs in May, but the economy roared back and added 2.5 million jobs instead, thanks to President Trump’s leadership and the solid foundation his policies have laid.” The campaign launched a new wave of “great American comeback” ads, reframing a message he used in better times before the recession.

Democrats were far more pessimistic. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Trump and said the “13% unemployment is not ‘joyous’ or ‘stupendous.’“

“Considering that this was a return of a small percentage of the jobs that were lost only due to Trump’s inexplicably slow and weak response to the COVID crisis, he should be far more measured,” Sperling added. “Trump surely knows he is on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose net jobs during their presidency and he may just be overcompensating.“

After the job numbers, Republicans‘ attention now will turn toward the debate over additional stimulus measures. Trump has advocated for suspending the payroll tax temporarily, lowering some taxes and giving relief to hard-hit industries like restaurants. But Republicans on the Hill have been cool to the idea of the payroll tax holiday and on Friday downplayed the need for another sweeping spending bill.

Some conservatives, such as informal Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore, argue the improving employment picture negates the need for another massive government spending package — though Moore continues to advocate for a suspension of the payroll tax cut. That would help employers bring down costs and encourage Americans to return to their jobs, he said.

Other conservative economists and Democrats say a 13.3 percent unemployment rate signals the need for far more government help — particularly because some of the recent gains are due to the government’s Paycheck Protection Program and other federal support.

“My concern is that the rapid pace of progress will discourage Congress from giving support to the economy and workers and families and small businesses,” said Strain, the AEI economist. “The economy in December 2020 will be poorer than the economy in December 2019. We will have recession levels of unemployment. The idea that we can say, ‘OK, well, the unemployment rate is 13 percent. We’ve done all we can do,’ flies in the face of the basic facts of the situation.”

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After Unprecedented Strains With Longtime Friend U.S., Kosovo Has A New Government : NPR

Newly elected prime minister Avdullah Hoti (center) walks out of the parliament building in the capital Pristina, on Wednesday.

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Newly elected prime minister Avdullah Hoti (center) walks out of the parliament building in the capital Pristina, on Wednesday.

Visar Kryeziu/AP

Albin Kurti became prime minister of Kosovo in February by promising jobs and justice. A former activist who was often arrested at anti-corruption protests and once set off tear gas in parliament, he is described by friends and foes alike as a cross between Che Guevara and Bernie Sanders.

But there’s one view he shares with all politicians in Kosovo: He loves the United States.

“I always viewed the United States of America as the greatest ally,” Kurti, 45, tells NPR, “an indispensable partner for us in war and in peace, for justice and development and democracy.”

This year, though, unprecedented tensions arose between Washington and Kosovo, which is widely acknowledged as the most pro-American country in the world. The strains emerged over U.S. efforts to find a quick solution to Kosovo’s long-troubled relationship with neighboring Serbia, of which it used to be part. After only weeks in office, Kurti’s government was toppled, and this week a new prime minister was named — something Kurti calls a “parliamentary coup d’etat” engineered by political rivals and supported by a U.S. envoy.

Albin Kurti (second left) shakes hands with U.S. special envoy for talks between Serbia and Kosovo Richard Grenell in Pristina on Jan. 23.

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Albin Kurti (second left) shakes hands with U.S. special envoy for talks between Serbia and Kosovo Richard Grenell in Pristina on Jan. 23.

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The U.S. helped create Kosovo, whose population is Muslim-majority and mostly ethnic Albanian, as an independent nation. When the U.S. led NATO into war in the Balkans in the 1990s, one of its missions was to protect the people of Kosovo from ethnic cleansing. In 2008, when Kosovo declared independence, the U.S. was one of the first countries to recognize it, opening an embassy in the capital Pristina.

But Serbia still claims Kosovo as its own. Serbia’s allies, including Russia, have blocked Kosovo from joining the United Nations. Some European Union countries — including allies of Serbia or those wanting to avoid encouraging separatists at home — are also blocking Kosovo from joining the EU. Serbia tried to block Kosovo from joining Interpol, and in response, Kosovo imposed 100% customs duties on Serbian goods.

Kosovar political analyst Agon Maliqi sees the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo sapping both countries’ economies and democracies and leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by Russia and China.

“You have these malign actors using regions like the Balkans for proxy battles by abusing nationalist sentiments,” he says. “So why not do something big that resolves this thing once and for all?”

Enter Richard Grenell, appointed by President Trump last fall, while Grenell was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Germany, as special presidential envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations.

“President Trump has been singularly focused on trying to solve this problem by not looking backwards, by not just having the same old political stalemate and arguments,” Grenell told reporters in Kosovo in January.

Petrit Selimi, a former Kosovo foreign minister who now runs the U.S.-funded Millennium Foundation, welcomed Grenell’s appointment as a “very positive” sign that the U.S. had re-engaged with the Balkans after “dropping the ball during the last decade.” He said there was hope for an “intensive diplomatic effort to close painful chapters between Kosovo and Serbia.”

Grenell — who resigned this week as U.S. Ambassador to Germany but remains Serbia-Kosovo envoy — has urged a quick deal that would bring economic benefits.

“What I am trying to do is just look at all of the issues that have been stuck on the table that have economic impact and we are just going to a wrestle them through,” he said in January. “We’re going to push both the government and the leaders in Kosovo and Serbia to say, ‘look at the people, start moving forward with jobs.'”

Grenell’s pitch initially appealed to Kurti, who leads Kosovo’s leftist Self-Determination Movement party. Kosovo’s unemployment rate is 26%. But Kurti objected to the way Grenell went about it.

“In the past, American envoys, be they from State Department or from the White House, they were meeting us halfway, they were mediators,” he says. “It is the first time now that we have an American envoy, he has the same identical stance with Serbia.”

According to Kurti and diplomats involved in the negotiations, Grenell largely bypassed the European Union, which has traditionally led Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, and pressed Kosovo to unconditionally drop its tariffs on Serbian goods.

Kurti refused to do so. In response, the U.S. froze $50 million in development aid to Kosovo. Grenell retweeted a call by Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue saying, “If Kosovo is not fully committed to peace, then the U.S. should reconsider its presence there.” Some 600 U.S. peacekeeping troops are stationed in the country.

“It appears Grenell put extraordinary pressure on the government of Kosovo,” says Molly Montgomery, a former U.S. diplomat in the Balkans and now a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And he also seems to have given up the United States’ traditional role as Kosovo’s main champion.”

Kurti also claims Grenell and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci are pushing land swaps with Serbia, which would likely involve population exchanges — a potentially explosive move in countries that made up the former Yugoslavia, torn apart by war and ethnic violence in the 1990s.

“The implementation could result in de facto ethnic cleansing,” warns Montgomery. “We would potentially see renewed ethnic violence between Serbs and Kosovars, as well as movement toward secession in other parts of the Western Balkans.”

In an April tweet, Grenell denied discussing land swaps. Neither he nor the State Department would elaborate further to NPR. A spokesperson for Grenell, Dick R. Custin, said Grenell was “unavailable for comment.”

Kurti suggests Grenell is trying to rush a Kosovo-Serbia deal to clinch a quick foreign policy win for President Trump in an election year.

“Obviously, [Grenell] gives priority to the speed of reaching an agreement rather than to its content and consequences,” he says. “And with this rush, he can cause more problems than offer solutions.”

Others worry the longer things drag on, the more difficult it will be to reach an agreement.

“I’m not not saying that Kosovo has now to do whatever U.S. tells it to do and that we should swallow some extremely bitter pills,” Maliqi says, “but a deal sooner rather than later is in our strategic interest.”

Serbs, meanwhile, see Grenell as a “new opening for Serbian-American relations,” says Milan Igrutinovic, an international relations scholar at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. The Serbian government, he says, now feels it can manage a deal that “is more than the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, something that can be presented as an equitable, reasonable, productive deal, a non-defeat, to the Serbs.”

As the coronavirus pandemic was spreading in March, Kurti’s government lost a no-confidence vote in Kosovo’s parliament. Kosovo’s citizens protested the political turmoil by banging pots and pans from home, where they were in quarantine.

“People here were very, very keen to see Albin Kurti as prime minister,” says Teuta Arifaj, a news editor at Kohavision television. “For many, he is the only hope for this country.”

On June 3, the parliament voted to install a new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, an economics professor from the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo. Hoti told parliament that he would push for a “final deal” with Serbia but does not support changing Kosovo’s borders. Grenell has welcomed Hoti’s appointment.

As for Kurti, he questions whether Grenell can negotiate a sustainable deal between Kosovo and Serbia, but still considers the U.S. Kosovo’s best friend. Just a few days after the vote to oust him, he tweeted support for the U.S. — “a beacon of hope for millions” — as it battles COVID-19, with a photo of a Kosovo government building draped by the American flag.

“America First,” he says. “We still do say that.”

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Protesters pour into DC for city’s largest demonstration yet

RAEFORD, N.C. (AP) — Protesters streamed into the nation’s capital Saturday for what was expected to be the city’s largest demonstration yet against police brutality, while George Floyd was mourned in his North Carolina hometown, where hundreds of mourners lined up to squeeze into a church to pay their respects.

Military vehicles and officers in fatigues closed off much of downtown Washington to traffic ahead of the planned march, which authorities estimated would attract up to 200,000 people outraged by Floyd’s death 12 days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Large protests also took place across the U.S. and in major cities overseas, including London, Paris, Berlin and Sydney, Australia.

In Raeford, the small town near Fayetteville where Floyd was born 46 years ago, a long line of people formed outside a church, waiting to enter in small groups for a chance to look at his coffin. A private memorial service was scheduled for later in the day.

The line of people waiting to view the coffin included families with young children and teenagers. One young woman wore a green and gold graduation cap and gown as she walked beside her parents. Most people wore surgical masks or cloth face coverings.

When a hearse bearing Floyd’s coffin arrived, chants of “Black Power,” “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace,” echoed from beneath the covered entrance.

“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said a man in the crowd, Erik Carlos of Fayetteville. “It was a heavy hit, especially knowing that George Floyd was born near my hometown. It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”

Washington has seen daily protests for the past week — largely peaceful, with people marching back and forth from the White House to the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said local officials expected 100,000 to 200,000 protesters for Saturday’s event. The White House has been fortified with new fencing and extra security precautions.

President Donald Trump had no public events on his daily schedule. But about 100 protesters gathered at his golf resort in Doral, Florida, just outside Miami. The protest was organized by Latinos for Black Lives Matter.

In general, demonstrations in the U.S. have shifted to a calmer tenor in recent days after frequent episodes of violence in the early stages. Protesters and their supporters in public office say they are determined to turn the extraordinary outpouring of anger and grief into change, notably in regard to policing policies.

College student Maiya Mack, 19, who protested in Columbus, Ohio, said a key step would be effective discipline against police officers implicated in racist acts of violence.

“Police who have performed misconduct, they should be held accountable, not just you can still be at home, you can still get paid,” she said.

Theresa Bland, 68, a retired teacher and realtor protesting at the Ohio Statehouse, had a broader agenda in mind

“I’m looking at affordable housing, political justice, prison reform, the whole ball of wax,” she said. “The world is so askew right now … with people dying from the virus and people dying in prisons and people dying because there’s not enough food.”

There already have been some tangible steps.

In Minneapolis, city officials have agreed to ban chokeholds and neck restraints by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s police training program to stop teaching officers how to use a neck hold that blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

Democrats in Congress are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms, which are expected to included changes to police-accountability laws, such as revising immunity provisions and creating a database of police use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too, among them a ban on chokeholds.

The House is expected to vote by month’s end. With Democrats in the majority, the bills will almost certainly pass the House. The outcome in the Senate is less certain. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the chamber would look at the issues, but he has not endorsed any particular legislation.

Meanwhile in New York, two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old protester, who fell backwards onto the pavement and was hospitalized. Both pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault and were released without bail. The two were suspended without pay Friday after a TV crew captured the confrontation.

In London, thousands of demonstrators endured cold rain to gather in Parliament Square, a traditional venue for protests. They knelt in silence and chanted Floyd’s name before applauding his memory and then starting a march.

In Paris, hundreds of people gathered at the Place de la Concorde in defiance of a police ban on large protests. Members of the multiracial crowd chanted the name of Adama Traore, a black man whose death while in police custody a few years ago has been likened by critics of French police to Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

Chris Trabot, who works for Paris City Hall and is black, said Floyd’s death triggered his decision to demonstrate for the first time in his life.

Trabot said, “The violence happens every day. The moment has come to say stop.”

___

Crary reported from New York and Leicester from Paris. Associated Press reporters from around the world around the U.S. contributed.

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Why The FBI Shouldn’t Take A Knee, But Did: Concerns Mount Over FBI’s Role In Protests

Since President Trump’s speech on Monday night in the White House Rose Garden before he walked over to St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, Attorney General William Barr has been intimately involved in the government’s response to protestors in Washington, DC.

His directive was to deploy a large number of the 500 FBI Washington Field Office’s (WFO) Special Agents ‘in small to medium groups to patrol the areas most affected as a “show of force.”

This story reflects the concerns among FBI special agents in the field about being put in a situation that could readily create more harm than good. And as Washington D.C. gets ready for its eighth day of protests this Saturday, with hundreds of thousands expected to march down to Lafayette Square, the city’s law enforcement is hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.

According to an FBI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Barr has been a consistent presence in the Washington Field Office’s Command and Tactical Operations Center (CTOC), where he has been directly overseeing the operations to deploy law enforcement and military forces around the city to combat protestors.”

There are numerous issues with the deployment of FBI special agents to work on crowd control issues. One example occurred several days ago and was recorded in a TikTok video that showed 10-15 FBI Special Agents, patrol the streets in Washington D.C. Those agents were confronted with a much larger group of protestors who asked the special agents to “take a knee.”

The FBI special agents did just that. All of them.

Without knowing what the Special Agents were thinking, their personal belief system, nor their political opinions, what option did they have but to take a knee, said a source familiar with the incident.

“It is unlikely that they would have incited violence had they not kneeled – but they did not know that for sure.  And, were they willing to risk their lives, and the lives of those protestors who could have been injured or killed if violence escalated,” questioned a retired senior FBI agent who spoke to this reporter.

@sonnywithnochancesTHE FBI KNEELED WITH US IN DC!!!! ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️ ##blacklivesmatter ##blm ##georgefloyd♬ original sound – sonnywithnochances

Inside the Tactical Operations Center, the tensions are also high, as Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray have had numerous disagreements with the use of FBI agents out in the field, noted the source.

The source noted a number of reasons why the use of the FBI Special Agents is problematic

Tactically, FBI Special Agents do not receive any training in riot control, crowd dynamics, or crowd-based non-lethal force tactics.

Unlike the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, the FBI does not have a “Quick Response Force” capability if some of their patrolling Special Agents were to run into a dangerous scenario that required additional resources.

This was evident earlier this week when a group of Special Agents were deployed to Lafayette Square and, as the protests increased in size and changed location, they were essentially stranded for over 6 hours.

The FBI’s Deadly Force Policy, located here, purposely does not include any reference to a “use of force continuum”.  The Deadly Force Policy is the governing guidance that all FBI Special Agents adhere to during operations.  Without proper training in riot control tactics and the equipment with which to do so, the only default that these Special Agents have is contained in the words of the policy: “FBI special agents may use deadly force only when necessary – when the agent has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the agent or another person.”

When you have a small group of armed law enforcement officers, greatly outnumbered by protestors, it only takes a few violent acts (typically undertaken by agent provocateurs, Antifa, criminals, etc) before law enforcement will respond.  When you have no other option at your disposal other than lethal ammunition in your assigned service weapon, the consequences will be deadly.

Moreover, law enforcement officials say is the larger issue with “FBI Special Agents patrolling the streets at the behest of the Attorney General is that this will forever complicate and diminish the FBI’s most crucial function – Color of Law investigations.”

According to the FBI’s website, “The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating color of law violations, which include acts carried out by government officials operating both within and beyond the limits of their lawful authority…Those violations include…Excessive force: In making arrests, maintaining order, and defending life…Violations of federal law occur when it can be shown that they force used was willfully “unreasonable” or “excessive”.

So while the FBI is patrolling the streets, “and potentially facing situations where they will be presented with no option but to use excessive force due to their lack of training and equipment, the entire organization will be tainted when it comes to investigating others,” a senior former law enforcement source said.

More importantly, the FBI, which is currently investigating those officers charged with George Floyd’s death, must remain “above the fray” in order to see things objectively and without bias.

However, when you now have video of FBI Special Agents taking a knee in solidarity with protestors protesting against the police charged with Floyd’s death, the perception of objectivity is now completely gone.

Any shrewd defense attorney for the officers in question or future officials charged with Color of Law violations will be able to simply point to this video and say that the organization and its representatives carry an impartial bias against law enforcement officers.

According to a former FBI official familiar with Color of Law investigations, “it is not the Special Agent’s job to express solidarity or ‘take sides’ with either the victim or the suspect.  It is their job to perform an investigation to determine facts, corroborate or refute statements, and present a finding to prosecutors.  If an Agent carries a bias toward one side or another the system will not work.  The FBI must keep its people out of what is directly happening on the streets and focus on what is happening in incidents where excessive force type violations may have happened.  The FBI is not trained to deal with protests, riots, or civil unrest. Period.”

The same former official added “the fact that Special Agents were out patrolling the streets is indicative of the same systemic leadership failures within the FBI that have allowed so many egregious things to happen within the organization over the last decade.  Although the FBI Director reports to the Attorney General and serves at the pleasure of the President, he must advocate for maintaining the integrity of his organization and stand up for what is right.  This responsibility doesn’t just sit with the Director.  Anyone who is serving as in a leadership position in the FBI must do the same.”

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There’s a black jobs crisis. Coronavirus is making it worse

After weeks of catastrophic job loss across the country, May’s labor report held out a glimmer of hope: The nation’s overall unemployment rate ticked down to 13.3%, from 14.2% in April.

But for black Americans it was more bad news: A staggering 16.8% of the African American labor force was out of work, up a notch from 16.7% in April.

In California and nationwide, the coronavirus shutdown is widening the racial divide between haves and have-nots. And the pandemic-driven economic meltdown has helped to inflame the black community’s deep sense of injustice as uprisings over police brutality spread across the country this week.

Minneapolis is some 1,500 miles from Los Angeles, but protests across California over the killing of yet another unarmed black man erupted with equal ferocity. Beneath the fury over George Floyd’s death lie longstanding economic inequities that have plagued the 2.6 million African Americans who account for 6.5% of California’s population.

“Nearly half the black community has had either no job or a poverty, dead-end job that doesn’t pay basic needs of housing and food,” said Lola Smallwood Cuevas, the founder of the Black Worker Center in South Los Angeles.

“The financial instability has been tearing at the social fabric of black communities,” she said. “It is fueling a lot of what we are seeing in this recent uprising. Many black residents have to stitch together two or three jobs to survive.”

Three years ago, Cuevas helped research a UCLA Labor Center study on conditions in Los Angeles’ black neighborhoods. African American workers with a high school degree or less were twice as likely to be unemployed as whites with the same education, the report found.

It highlighted the decline of stable, well-paid blue-collar jobs in Los Angeles’ black neighborhoods as industries moved to the suburbs, to Southern states with lower wages and fewer unions or to other nations. Between 1980 and 2014, the percentage of L.A. County’s black workers in manufacturing jobs shrank from 19% to 5%.

“As a result of widening inequality, rising housing costs, and a glaring lack of economic opportunities, Los Angeles is in the throes of a black jobs crisis,” the researchers wrote. The remaining jobs “declined in quality, and as black employment cratered, these communities — especially their men — were increasingly criminalized and ensnared in California’s historic expansion of incarceration.”

In 2017, the California Poverty Measure, which accounts for cost of living, found 17.6% of black Californians living in poverty, compared with 12.5% of white residents, 16.4% of Asians and Pacific Islanders and 23.6% of Latinos.

Tina Jones, a full-time medical claims examiner, also works nights and weekends at a South Los Angeles supermarket cleaning carts and bagging groceries for $14.45 an hour.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

And now the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting California’s African Americans.

Since COVID-19 began claiming lives, black Americans have died at twice the rate of white ones. In Los Angeles County, African Americans have suffered 26 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared with 22 for Latinos, 16 for Asian Americans and 13 for whites.

“At no time in recent history have deep racial disparities in well-being appeared as obvious as they do today,” the Public Policy Institute of California wrote in a post this week. Underlying health conditions, less access to medical care and insurance, and more exposure to the virus due to employment and housing conditions contributed to the higher toll of the pandemic on African Americans, researchers found.

State-level job data by race won’t be compiled for months, but an analysis of Californians’ unemployment benefit claims by the state Employment Development Department and the nonprofit California Policy Lab shows the virus’s unequal impact.

From mid-March to mid-May, more than a quarter of California’s black workers, along with more than a quarter of its Asian workers, filed jobless insurance claims. For whites and Latinos, the proportion was also dire but somewhat less so: 21%.

On March 23, Trusion Daniels was laid off from his $15-an-hour job as a cook for a KFC outlet at Los Angeles International Airport. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Before the pandemic, the 29-year-old had lined up a job in Las Vegas, where he planned to attend culinary school.

The coronavirus outbreak “threw a wrench in our whole plan,” he said.

He used his last paycheck to help his mother rent a U-Haul and pay for storage when her landlord sold the Hawthorne building where he lived with her and 13 other family members.

After a short hotel stay, the family moved to South Los Angeles, but Daniels “didn’t want to crowd up space,” he said, so he couch surfs at a friend’s. Unemployment benefits are cushioning the blow, although how long they will last has yet to be determined as Congress debates future relief.

Daniels is no stranger to violence. He recalls watching a video of a friend’s nephew who was shot by police as he lay on his stomach. “A lot of people are angry and scared,” he said. “I’m six-two. I’m a dark-skinned man. When I walk down the street, I’m on guard.”

When he told his family he planned to attend the protests with his younger brother, his mother “was blowing my phone up,” Daniels said. “My grandma was blowing my phone up. They was, like, ‘Come back home.’”

Nationwide, median income for white households was $65,902 in 2018, compared with $41,511 for black households. In California, the gap was similar: $77,904 versus $53,565.

But unemployment and low wages are not the only measures of racial inequity. From 17th century slavery to 20th century redlining and housing discrimination, black residents have long been thwarted in accumulating wealth, so they have less to fall back on when a disaster such as the pandemic hits.

State-level data on assets by race are limited, but nationwide the cumulative effect of inequality and discrimination “can be traced back to this nation’s inception,” according to a February study by the Brookings Institution, which detailed how inherited wealth has buoyed white families over generations.

At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family in 2016 was nearly 10 times that of a black family, at $17,150, the study reported. And during the Great Recession, median net worth declined more for black families (44.3%) than for white families (26.1%).

“The ratio of white family wealth to black family wealth is higher today than at the start of the century,” Brookings researchers wrote.

With COVID-19 killing African Americans at a higher rate than other races, attention is increasingly focused on the kinds of jobs they hold.

A UC Berkeley Labor Center study last month analyzed the racial makeup of jobs that California officials designated as essential, including those in hospitals, home care, nursing homes, grocery stores, warehouses, meat processing plants, trucking and public transit agencies.

“Overall, Latinx workers have the highest rate of employment in these jobs (55%), followed by black workers (48%),” the report says. “As a result, both groups likely face greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace than other race/ethnic groups.”

Among white workers, just 35% held jobs in industries labeled as essential, along with 37% of Asian workers.

Tina Jones, 43, a full-time medical claims examiner, works a second job on nights and weekends at a South Los Angeles supermarket cleaning carts and bagging groceries for $14.45 an hour.

Her store fails to enforce certain safety measures such as requiring six feet of social distancing, she said, and at least one of her co-workers has tested positive for COVID-19. “We’re just coming to work trying to do what we have to do to take care of our families,” she said. “But we’re scared.”

The need to work during the pandemic makes her feel “as if I’m a robot and not a human,” Jones added. And the recent curfew worsened her anxiety. “You’re told if you don’t come to work and work your full shift, you won’t get paid,” she said.

Jones’s monthly rent is $2,240. She helps care for an elderly aunt and she has a 19-year-old son in college, at Langston University in Oklahoma, who works part time. When her $1,200 one-time federal stimulus check arrived, she spent $1,186 of it on her water and power bill.

With two jobs, Jones has been unable to attend the protests, “but I’m there in spirit,” she said. “I’m the mother of a black child, so it definitely hits home for me.”

In contrast to their 6.5% proportion of the California population, African Americans account for 12% of personal care aides, 9% of laborers and movers and 8% of food preparation workers, according to the UCLA study — jobs where social distancing is difficult.

Doug Moore, one of California’s most prominent black labor leaders, heads the United Domestic Workers, representing 118,000 workers who care for homebound low-income elderly and disabled clients. “Our members are disproportionately women of color,” he said.

“They are on the front line of this pandemic just like they’ve been on the front lines of structural racism,” Moore said. “They have to mask up and wash their hands frequently. They run errands for their clients and it potentially exposes them to someone carrying the virus.”

The union has scrambled to obtain masks, gloves and sanitizer, but they have often been in short supply, he said.

To Moore, this week’s protests are not just about police brutality. “We’ve had a lot of George Floyds over decades and decades,” he said. “Everyone tells us to forget about slavery, about Jim Crow. But we have to have the courage to stand up and say enough is enough.”

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George Floyd: US capital braces for biggest demonstrations yet

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“Fifty plus years later we’re still dealing with the same thing”

Large crowds have gathered to protest against racism and police brutality in Washington DC amid rising anger, sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis on 25 May, after a policeman knelt on his neck even as he said he could not breathe.

There have been protests across the US since, but Washington’s police chief believes Saturday’s “may be one of the largest we’ve ever had in the city”.

Anti-racism rallies have also been taking place in other countries.

Parliament Square in central London was filled with people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, despite calls by the British government to avoid mass gatherings for fear of spreading the coronavirus.

In Australia, there were major protests in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that focused on the treatment of indigenous Australians.

Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after being arrested outside a shop.

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Media captionWATCH: ‘I remember George Floyd as me’

Video footage showed a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he is pinned to the floor. Mr Floyd is heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”.

Mr Chauvin has been dismissed and charged with murder. Three other officers who were on the scene have also been sacked and charged with aiding and abetting.

What is planned in Washington?

Almost a dozen different demonstrations have been advertised by organisations and activists, according to local media.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

People in the US capital said they were planning peaceful protests

Protesters have been asked to gather at landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, and some are expected to march towards the White House.

“We have a lot of public, open source information to suggest that the event on this upcoming Saturday may be one of the largest we’ve ever had in the city,” Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham told journalists.

He did not provide a crowd estimate, but Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said local officials were projecting that between 100,000 and 200,000 people would attend, the Associated Press reported.

More on George Floyd’s death

On Friday, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has clashed with President Donald Trump over his handling of the protests triggered by Mr Floyd’s death, asked for the withdrawal of all federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops from the city’s streets.

In recent days, it had become apparent that their presence was “unnecessary” and “may counterproductive to ensuring the protesters remain peaceful”, she said.

Ms Bowser also renamed as Black Lives Matter Plaza an area opposite the White House where federal officers fired smoke grenades to clear protesters ahead of a visit to a church by Mr Trump on Monday.

City workers painted “Black Lives Matter” in large yellow letters on the ground.

‘We’re just getting started’

By Helier Cheung, BBC News, Washington

By noon, more than 1,000 protesters had gathered outside Lafayette Park, near the White House, at the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.

The crowd was diverse – with people of different ethnicities, and families with children – and there was an upbeat, if determined, mood. Music was being played and food is being handed out as protesters chant “George Floyd”, “Breonna Taylor”, and “No justice, no peace”.

Image caption

Sarina and Grace Lecroy were among the crowd at Lafayette Park, near the White House

Sisters Sarina Lecroy, 20, and Grace Lecroy, 16, said they were protesting for the first time, and that they believed the extent of the public outrage and the nationwide nature of these protests could lead to police reforms.

“We’re just getting started this time, but it [the movement] does feel much more collective than in the past,” said Sarina.

Many placards also reflected the growing debate about how White people should help the cause. One placard held by a demonstrator read: “I may never understand, but I will stand with you.”

What do protesters want?

An end to police brutality is undoubtedly at the forefront of protests nationwide.

But it isn’t the only concern. Repeated incidents of police brutality may have become the flashpoint, but issues with law enforcement are emblematic of the wider problem of systemic racism and inequality.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

An end to police brutality is at the forefront of protests nationwide

On social media and on the streets, those in support of the movement have called on elected officials to address these longstanding inequalities, from law enforcement to mass incarceration to healthcare.

Black Americans are jailed at five times the rate of white Americans and they are sentenced for drug offences six times more, often despite equal rates of drug use, according to the NAACP. Black mothers die in childbirth at over twice the rate of white mothers, according to national health data.

Decades of government-sanctioned segregation have also seen inequalities across school systems, housing and other public resources.

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Media captionThe USA’s history of racial inequality has paved the way for modern day police brutality

A 2019 Pew Research Center study found more than eight-in-10 black adults say the legacy of slavery still affects black Americans’ position today. Half say it is unlikely America will ever see true racial equality.

As demonstrator Kyla Berges told BBC Minute: “The system has failed me for 300 plus years, so what do I have to do to make it change?”

What else is happening in the US?

A memorial service will be held in Raeford, North Carolina, near where George Floyd was born.

A public viewing of Mr Floyd’s body is being held at a church, after which members of his family will gather for the service.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

A second memorial service is being held for George Floyd in North Carolina

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered that flags be flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on Saturday in Mr Floyd’s honour.

In Buffalo, two police officers have been charged with second-degree assault after they were filmed pushing an elderly protester to the ground, seriously injuring him.

The officers, who pleaded not guilty and were released without bail, were suspended without pay after footage of the incident went viral on Thursday. Fifty-seven of their colleagues resigned from the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team in response to their suspension.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe man approached police in Buffalo before being pushed backwards

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights agreed to ban police neck restraints and chokeholds.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also said he would move to end state police training in the use of the “carotid restraint”.

Seattle’s mayor, Carmen Best, meanwhile banned the use by police of CS gas against protesters. And a federal judge in Denver ordered police to stop the use of tear gas, plastic bullets and other non-lethal force.

In separate development, the National Football League reversed its policy on protests against racial injustice by players during the national anthem.

“We were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

US protests timeline

Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial
Image caption Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial

Image copyright by Getty Images

George Floyd dies after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage shows a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he is pinned to the floor. Mr Floyd is heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. He is pronounced dead later in hospital.

Demonstrators in Minneapolis
Image caption Demonstrators in Minneapolis

Image copyright by AFP

Four officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd are fired. Protests begin as the video of the arrest is shared widely on social media. Hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets of Minneapolis and vandalise police cars and the police station with graffiti.

Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon
Image caption Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon

Image copyright by Reuters

Protests spread to other cities including Memphis and Los Angeles. In some places, like Portland, Oregon, protesters lie in the road, chanting “I can’t breathe”. Demonstrators again gather around the police station in Minneapolis where the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest were based and set fire to it. The building is evacuated and police retreat.

President Trump tweets about the unrest
Image caption President Trump tweets about the unrest

Image copyright by Reuters

President Trump blames the violence on a lack of leadership in Minneapolis and threatens to send in the National Guard in a tweet.  He follows it up in a second tweet with a warning “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The second tweet is hidden by Twitter for “glorifying violence”.

Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest
Image caption Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest

Image copyright by Reuters

A CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, is arrested while covering the Minneapolis protest. Mr Jimenez was reporting live when police officers handcuffed him. A few minutes later several of his colleagues are also arrested. They are all later released once they are confirmed to be members of the media.

Derek Chauvin charged with murder

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd
Image caption Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd

Image copyright by Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter. The charges carry a combined maximum 35-year sentence.

Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York
Image caption Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York

Image copyright by Reuters

Violence spreads across the US on the sixth night of protests. A total of at least five people are reported killed in protests from Indianapolis to Chicago. More than 75 cities have seen protests. At least 4,400 people have been arrested.  Curfews are imposed across the US to try to stem the unrest.

Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church
Image caption Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church

Image copyright by EPA

President Trump threatens to send in the military to quell growing civil unrest. He says if cities and states fail to control the protests and “defend their residents” he will deploy the army and “quickly solve the problem for them”. Mr Trump poses in front of a damaged church shortly after police used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters nearby.

George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston
Image caption George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston

Image copyright by Getty

Tens of thousands of protesters again take to the streets. One of the biggest protests is in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Many defy curfews in several cities, but the demonstrations are largely peaceful.

Mourners gather to remember George Floyd
Image caption Mourners gather to remember George Floyd

Image copyright by Getty

A memorial service for George Floyd is held in Minneapolis.  Those gathered in tribute stand in silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Mr Floyd is alleged to have been on the ground under arrest. Hundreds attended the service, which heard a eulogy from civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton.