US arrests surpass 10,000 as mourners gather for George Floyd memorial

Over 10,000 people have been arrested so far in the US crackdown on huge protests over the police murder of George Floyd.

The tally comes as mourners gathered last night in Minneapolis for the first of three memorial services for Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

Civil rights leader the Rev Al Sharpton was due to address them.

President Donald Trump has deployed the army to the streets of Washington DC and called for police and the National Guard to shoot at the “thugs” taking to the streets but the majority of arrests are for failing to disperse and violating curfews, which have been imposed in dozens of cities, rather than looting or burglary.

And claims that protests are driven by outside agitators have been undermined.

Last week Minnestota Governor Tim Walz said that “80 per cent” of those “destroying property” were from outside the state, while the mayors of Minneapolis and St Paul, Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter, made similar claims.

But 41 of 52 people arrested in Minneapolis over 24 hours last Saturday had Minnesota driving licences, police confirmed, while 86 per cent of those arrested as of Wednesday afternoon in Washington DC were from the city or neighbouring Maryland or Virginia.

Fundraising campaigns to defend those arrested have sprung up, with a Los Angeles scheme having raised over $2 million (£1.6m) so far, made up of over 46,000 small donations, many giving just $10-20.

The funds will go to the National Lawyers Guild and Black Lives Matter LA.

National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles office Kath Rogers said the brutality of the crackdown was unprecedented.

“We go to hundreds of demonstrations, but I’ve never seen rubber bullets flying like this, tear gas used this way,” she said.

On Wednesday evening prosecutors raised the charge against Mr Chauvin from third to second-degree murder, while three officers who were with him were charged with aiding and abetting the crime.

But the victory for protesters took place as police continued to attack demonstrators.

Hundreds crossing a bridge in New Orleans were assaulted with tear gas. The army raised barricades around the Capitol building in Washington, where the US Congress meets.

Three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in February appeared for a “probable cause” hearing yesterday that will determine if their trial goes ahead.

Special prosecutor Jesse Evans said Mr Arbery, a black man jogging in their neighbourhood, “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed” by the men.

Source: The Morning Star

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