Former Commanders Fault Trump’s Use of Troops Against Protesters in Trump’s Church Photo-Op

Former Commanders Fault Trump’s Use of Troops Against Protesters

After military helicopters carried out a “show of force” mission to discourage protesters, retired senior military leaders condemned their successors for deploying such tactics.

Military police and other law enforcement officers on Monday outside the White House.
Military police and other law enforcement officers on Monday outside the White House.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Jennifer Steinhauer

WASHINGTON — Retired senior military leaders condemned their successors in the Trump administration for ordering military units on Monday to rout those peacefully protesting police violence near the White House. Read More Mark Esper breaks with Trump on using troops against protesters.

As military helicopters flew low over the nation’s capital and National Guard units moved into many cities, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly aligned themselves behind a president who chose chemical spray and rubber bullets to clear peaceful protesters from a park so that he could stage a photo op at a nearby church.

In so doing, Mr. Esper, who described the country as a “battle space” to be cleared, and General Milley, who wore combat fatigues on the streets of the capital, thrust the two million active-duty and reserve service members into the middle of a confrontation in which the “enemy” was not foreign, but domestic.

The reaction has been swift and furious.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote on Twitter that “America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy.” Gen. Tony Thomas, the former head of the Special Operations Command, tweeted: “The ‘battle space’ of America??? Not what America needs to hear … ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure … ie a Civil War.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, another former chairman, wrote in The Atlantic: “Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.”

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Television networks broadcast images of General Milley and Mr. Esper walking behind Mr. Trump as he crossed Lafayette Square on Monday evening to pose for a photograph while holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.

The authorities used riot-control tactics to disrupt peaceful protests outside the White House to clear a path for President Trump’s walk to St. John’s Church in Washington on Monday night.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Esper joined the president’s call with governors, saying, “We need to dominate the battle space” — a comment that set off a torrent of criticism.

More than 40 percent of active-duty and reserve personnel are people of color, and orders to confront protesters demonstrating against a criminal justice system that targets black men troubled many.

The Air Force’s top enlisted airman used Twitter to express his anger.

“Just like most of the Black Airmen and so many others in our ranks … I am outraged at watching another Black man die on television before our very eyes,” Kaleth O. Wright, the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, said in a Twitter thread, citing the names of black men who died in police custody or in police shootings.“I am George Floyd … I am Philando Castile, I am Michael Brown, I am Alton Sterling, I am Tamir Rice.”

Neither Mr. Esper nor General Milley knew when they went to the Oval Office on Monday that they would be taking part in the president’s photo op, Pentagon officials said. Nor did they know, officials said, that law enforcement personnel would be firing chemical spray and rubber bullets on protesters in Lafayette Square before they crossed that park with Mr. Trump.

During the meeting in the Oval Office, which officials said became heated, General Milley and Attorney General William P. Barr argued against invoking the Insurrection Act to override governors and send active-duty troops to states where there are protests. They were able to get Mr. Trump to hold off for now, but the president nonetheless ordered active-duty troops deployed to the one place where he did not have to go through governors: the District of Columbia.

After the Oval Office meeting, officials said, Mr. Trump said he wanted to review personnel who were deployed outside the White House. Along with a number of White House staff members, Mr. Esper and General Milley joined the president — and prompted outrage.

“Ridiculous. General Milley, who I respect, is embarrassing himself,” Michael McFaul, the former United States ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, said on Twitter. “I worked 3 years at the White House at the National Security Council. I never once saw Admiral Mullen come to the building ready for war.”

James N. Miller, who served as an under secretary of defense for policy under Mr. Obama and on the Defense Science Board until Tuesday, when he abruptly resigned, told Mr. Esper in his resignation letter that he believed the defense secretary had violated an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” because of his backing of Mr. Trump’s actions on Monday night.

“You have made life-and-death decisions in combat overseas; soon you may be asked to make life-and-death decisions about using the military on American streets and against Americans,” he wrote in the letter, which was published Tuesday night by The Washington Post. “Where will you draw the line, and when will you draw it?”

Late Tuesday, the Pentagon announced in a statement that a battalion of combat troops from an Army quick-reaction force based at Fort Bragg had moved into the Washington area, as well as a military police headquarters unit from Fort Bragg and a military police battalion from Fort Drum.

In all, about 1,600 troops were being deployed to the Washington area from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum, the statement said, noting that the troops would be stationed initially at nearby bases outside the District of Columbia.

The Pentagon said this was “a prudent planning measure in response to ongoing support to civil authorities operations.”

“They are on heightened alert status,” the statement said of the troops, but added that they were not yet participating in operations inside the city limits.

The order to deploy troops to confront protesters and looters prompted one military official to liken the order to Mr. Trump requesting his own “palace guard.”

This week, Mr. Trump said, without elaborating, that General Milley was in charge of the effort to confront the protesters and looters.

At the Pentagon, officials expressed surprise at the president’s comments, and referred questions to the White House. But officials noted that all National Guard members now deployed in the United States are under the authorities of the governors.

Defense Department officials said that if those troops are federalized — that is, put under the power of the president rather than governors — that would normally be done under the auspices of United States Northern Command, which oversees military units on American territory, and not the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff.

President Trump, along with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top administration officials walking to St. John’s church on Monday.
President Trump, along with Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other top administration officials walking to St. John’s church on Monday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called on Tuesday for Mr. Esper and General Milley to testify before lawmakers about the potential deployments of United States military personnel to states.

As soldiers arrived on Monday, clad in camouflage uniforms and clutching riot shields labeled “military police” to reinforce the line of crowd control officers guarding Lafayette Square yards from the White House, the crowd of about 400 protesters responded with verbal taunts. “Fascists!” some yelled. Others booed. A few shouted expletives.

Around 10 p.m., the military stepped up its attempts to suppress the protesters.

A crowd making its way through the Chinatown area of Washington had gone relatively unbothered by law enforcement, having snaked across town, blocking roads and chanting, “We can’t Breathe,” “George Floyd” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The group, for the most part, was peaceful.

A Black Hawk helicopter, followed by a smaller medical evacuation helicopter, dropped to rooftop level with its searchlights aimed at the crowd.

Tree limbs snapped, nearly hitting several people.

Signs were torn from the sides of buildings.

Some protesters looked up, while others ran into doorways.

The downward force of air from the rotors was deafening.

The helicopters were performing a “show of force” — a standard tactic used by military aircraft in combat zones to scatter insurgents. The maneuvers were personally directed by the highest echelons of the District of Columbia National Guard, according to a military official with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Guard did not respond to a request for comment.

The deployment is also challenging for National Guard units, which inherited a legacy from the Revolutionary War militia, the citizen-soldiers who were ready to put down their plows and pick up weapons to defend their country.

Today, when the National Guard can be dispatched for an array of missions — like combat duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, helping with flood relief or providing assistance to coronavirus victims — that balance is more complicated.

Members of the Guard generally report to the governor of their state, but when units come under the command of the president, federal law prohibits them from being used domestically except under some very limited circumstances.

As of Tuesday morning, governors in 28 states and the District of Columbia had activated more than 20,400 National Guard troops to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations, the National Guard said.

In the current unrest, military personnel specialists say, the Guard is caught between expressing anguish over the killing of a black man, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and supporting civilian authorities in quelling the violent protests and looting that followed.

“Most of the soldiers will have sympathy for the peaceful protesters and be angry about Floyd’s death, but they’re probably angry at the violence as well,” said Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University who has studied the military for decades.

“It puts them in a fraught position.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a reporter in the Washington bureau and a former Marine infantryman. @tmgneff

Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent. She was previously an editor, diplomatic correspondent and White House correspondent, and was part of the team awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. @helenecooper

Eric Schmitt is a senior writer who has traveled the world covering terrorism and national security. He was also the Pentagon correspondent. A member of the Times staff since 1983, he has shared three Pulitzer Prizes. @EricSchmittNYT

Jennifer Steinhauer has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1994. She has worked on the Metro, Business and National desk, and served as City Hall bureau chief and Los Angeles bureau chief before moving to Washington in 2010. She is the author of a novel, two cookbooks and the upcoming book “The Firsts” the story of the women of the 116th Congress. @jestei

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James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one other.

Jeffrey Goldberg

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James Mattis
Christie Hemm Klok
  • James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

Adam Serwer: Trump gave police permission to be brutal

In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another.

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“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.

We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.

This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

He goes on to contrast the American ethos of unity with Nazi ideology. “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.”

Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’

We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.”

Mattis’s dissatisfaction with Trump was no secret inside the Pentagon. But after his resignation, he argued publicly—and to great criticism—that it would be inappropriate and counterproductive for a former general, and a former Cabinet official, to criticize a sitting president.

Doing so, he said, would threaten the apolitical nature of the military.

When I interviewed him last year on this subject, he said,

“When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours.”

He did add, however:

“There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

Eliot A. Cohen: America’s generals must stand up to Trump

That period is now definitively over. Mattis reached the conclusion this past weekend that the American experiment is directly threatened by the actions of the president he once served.

In his statement, Mattis makes it clear that the president’s response to the police killing of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests, triggered this public condemnation.

“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” he writes, “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

He goes on to implicitly criticize the current secretary of defense, Mark Esper, and other senior officials as well. “We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.’

At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors.

Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society.

It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.

Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

From the July/August 2020 issue: History will judge the complicit

Here is the text of the complete statement.

In Union There Is Strength

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court.

This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind.

We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.”

At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society.

It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.

Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

From the June 2020 issue: We are living in a failed state

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.”

We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’

Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’”

We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort.

We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.

This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

Mike Mullen: I cannot remain silent

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community.

Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country.

We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Park. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.

At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.


                                                                        James Mattis

We want to hear what you think about this article.

Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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Silence Is NOT An Option: Statement by Ben & Jerry’s About the George Floyd Murder by Police In Minneapolis: “All Of Us Are Outraged”

Source: Ben & Jerry´s

All of us at Ben & Jerry’s are outraged about the murder of another Black person by Minneapolis police officers last week and the continued violent response by police against protestors. We have to speak out. We have to stand together with the victims of murder, marginalization, and repression because of their skin color, and with those who seek justice through protests across our country. We have to say his name: George Floyd.

George Floyd was a son, a brother, a father, and a friend. The police officer who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and the police officers who stood by and watched didn’t just murder George Floyd, they stole him. They stole him from his family and his friends, his church and his community, and from his own future.

The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.

What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent. Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore.

Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t.

The officers who murdered George Floyd, who stole him from those who loved him, must be brought to justice. At the same time, we must embark on the more complicated work of delivering justice for all the victims of state sponsored violence and racism.

Four years ago, we publicly stated our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. To do that, we are calling for four things:

First, we call upon President Trump, elected officials, and political parties to commit our nation to a formal process of healing and reconciliation. Instead of calling for the use of aggressive tactics on protestors, the President must take the first step by disavowing white supremacists and nationalist groups that overtly support him, and by not using his Twitter feed to promote and normalize their ideas and agendas. The world is watching America’s response.

Second, we call upon the Congress to pass H.R. 40, legislation that would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. We cannot move forward together as a nation until we begin to grapple with the sins of our past. Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation were systems of legalized and monetized white supremacy for which generations of Black and Brown people paid an immeasurable price. That cost must be acknowledged and the privilege that accrued to some at the expense of others must be reckoned with and redressed.

Third, we support Floyd’s family’s call to create a national task force that would draft bipartisan legislation aimed at ending racial violence and increasing police accountability. We can’t continue to fund a criminal justice system that perpetuates mass incarceration while at the same time threatens the lives of a whole segment of the population.

And finally, we call on the Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people. The DOJ must also reinstate policies rolled back under the Trump Administration, such as consent decrees to curb police abuses.

Unless and until white America is willing to collectively acknowledge its privilege, take responsibility for its past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end. We have to use this moment to accelerate our nation’s long journey towards justice and a more perfect union.

Banner reading "We must dismantle white supremacy"
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TESOL Statement on Racial Injustice and Inequality

Source: TESOL

by David Cutler | 06/01/2020

Over the last week, we at TESOL International Association have joined with the rest of the world in our feelings of sadness, disgust, and anger at the senseless killing of George Floyd.

George Floyd: “I Can´t Breathe” “I Can´t Breathe. “I Can´t Breathe.” .” “Mama”… “Mama”

With this most recent incident of police brutality involving a person of color in the United States, it seems undeniable that while the fear and pain caused by one epidemic has upended our lives, another equally menacing epidemic of racism continues to tear apart our communities and threaten the ideals of freedom, peace, and prosperity to which we so tirelessly aspire. 

Sadly, this is not the first, nor likely the last time, that TESOL International Association will issue a statement of indignation in the face of social and racial injustice. Founded in 1966, TESOL was born during uncertain and turbulent times, with violence and unrest that mirrored emotions and actions visible in the streets of many of our cities today.

And despite great progress toward equality and tolerance over the past five decades, the abhorrent acts of violence that continue to be inflicted upon members of communities of color make clear that as a society and as individuals, we have much work to do in order to truly achieve equality and justice for all.

As a professional association of language educators, TESOL’s vision is to be the trusted global authority for knowledge and expertise in English language teaching. We can achieve this only by exemplifying our core values, including our commitment to equity, diversity, multilingualism, multiculturalism, and individuals’ language rights.

When systemic racism challenges the safety and well-being of any group within our society, we must join together to denounce it with all our collective strength and resolve.

As language educators, we are all too familiar with the effects of trauma and violence on the ability to learn and thrive. Colleagues of color, their families, their friends, and their students continue to be harmed by racism, discrimination, and xenophobia. Now is the time to come together and demand that this injustice finally stops.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others’?” It is with Dr. King’s words that we urge our TESOL members and Affiliates to join us in taking a stand against racial and social injustice, whether in your own words or by peaceful actions, each time we bear witness to such atrocities.

Not only will our communities be stronger for the bold actions we take today as TESOL professionals, but our children will benefit and learn from them tomorrow. Until that time, let us all make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions contribute in some way to justice and equality for all.

Deborah Short 
TESOL President, on behalf of the TESOL Board of Directors 

Rosa Aronson
Interim Executive Director, on behalf of the TESOL Staff


Download a copy of the statement here

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Minneapolis Police Use Force Against Black People at 7 Times the Rate of Whites

Source: New York Times

By Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Lazaro Gamio June 3, 2020

Video of George Floyd’s last conscious moments on earth horrified the nation, spurring protests that have led to curfews and National Guard interventions in many large cities.

But for the black community in Minneapolis — where Mr. Floyd died after an officer pressed a knee into his neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds — seeing the police use some measure of force is all too common.

About 20 percent of Minneapolis’s population of 430,000 is black. But when the police get physical — with kicks, neck holds, punches, shoves, takedowns, Mace, Tasers or other forms of muscle — nearly 60 percent of the time the person subject to that force is black. And that is according to the city’s own figures.

Police shootings and use of force against black people in Minneapolis since 2015

*Cases for which location isn’t listed or that occurred outside city limits are not shown*

Community leaders say the frequency with which the police use force against black residents helps explain a fury in the city that goes beyond Mr. Floyd’s death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide.

Since 2015, the Minneapolis police have documented using force about 11,500 times. For at least 6,650 acts of force, the subject of that force was black.

By comparison, the police have used force about 2,750 times against white people, who make up about 60 percent of the population.

All of that means that the police in Minneapolis used force against black people at a rate at least seven times that of white people during the past five years.

Those figures reflect the total number of acts of force used by the Minneapolis police since 2015. So if an officer slapped, punched and body-pinned one person during the same scuffle, that may be counted as three separate acts of force.

There have been about 5,000 total episodes since 2015 in which the police used at least one act of force on someone.

The disparities in the use of force in Minneapolis parallel large racial gaps in vital measures in the city, like income, education and unemployment, said David Schultz, a professor at Hamline University in St. Paul who has studied local police tactics for two decades.

“It just mirrors the disparities of so many other things in which Minneapolis comes in very badly,” Mr. Schultz said.

When he taught a course years ago on potential liability officers face in the line of duty, Mr. Schultz said, he would describe Minneapolis as “a living laboratory on everything you shouldn’t do when it comes to police use of force.”

Police-reported uses of force in Minneapolis by year

Mr. Schultz credits the current police chief, Medaria Arradondo, for seeking improvements but said that in a lot of respects the department still operates like it did decades ago.

“We have a pattern that goes back at least a generation,” Mr. Schultz said.

The protests in Minneapolis have also been fueled by memories of several black men killed by police officers who either never faced charges or were acquitted.

They include Jamar Clark, 24, shot in Minneapolis in 2015 after, prosecutors said, he tried to grab an officer’s gun; Thurman Blevins, 31, shot in Minneapolis in 2018 as he yelled, “Please don’t shoot me,” while he ran through an alley; and Philando Castile, 32, whose girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of his 2016 shooting by police in the suburb of St. Anthony.

The officer seen in the video pressing a knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was fired from the force and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder. Minneapolis police officials did not respond to questions about the type of force he used.

The city’s use-of-force policy covers chokeholds, which apply direct pressure to the front of the neck, but those are considered deadly force to be used only in the most extreme circumstances. Neck restraints are also part of the policy, but those are explicitly defined only as putting direct pressure on the side of the neck — and not the trachea.

“Unconscious neck restraints,” in which an officer is trying to render someone unconscious, have been used 44 times in the past five years — 27 of those on black people.

For years, experts say, many police departments around the country have sought to move away from neck restraints and chokeholds that might constrict the airway as being just too risky.

Types of force used by Minneapolis police

Note: Cases for which force type or race were not listed are not shown.

Dave Bicking, a former member of the Minneapolis civilian police review authority, said the tactic used on Mr. Floyd was not a neck restraint under city policy because it resulted in pressure to the front of Mr. Floyd’s neck.

If anything, he said, it was an unlawful type of body-weight pin, a category that is the most frequently deployed type of force in the city: Since 2015, body-weight pinning has been used about 2,200 times against black people, more than twice the number of times it was used against whites.

Mr. Bicking, a board member of Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Minnesota-based group, said that since 2012 more than 2,600 civilian complaints have been filed against Minneapolis police officers.

Other investigations have led to some officers’ being terminated or disciplined — like Mohamed Noor, the officer who killed an Australian woman in 2017 and was later fired and convicted of third-degree murder.

But, Mr. Bicking said, in only a dozen cases involving 15 officers has any discipline resulted from a civilian complaint alleging misconduct. The worst punishment, he said, was 40 hours of unpaid suspension.

“That’s a week’s unpaid vacation,” said Mr. Bicking, who contends that the city has abjectly failed to discipline wayward officers, which he said contributed to last week’s tragedy. He noted that the former officer now charged with Mr. Floyd’s murder had faced at least 17 complaints.

“If discipline had been consistent and appropriate, Derek Chauvin would have either been a much better officer, or would have been off the force,” he said. “If discipline had been done the way it should be done, there is virtually no chance George Floyd would be dead now.”

The city’s use-of-force numbers almost certainly understate the true number of times force is used on the streets, Mr. Bicking said. But he added that even the official reported data go a long way to explain the anger in Minneapolis.

“This has been years and years in the making,” he said. “George Floyd was just the spark.”

Fears that the Minneapolis police may have an uncontrollable problem appeared to prod state officials into action Tuesday. The governor, Tim Walz, a Democrat, said the State Department of Human Rights launched an investigation into whether the police department “engaged in systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color” over the past decade. One possible outcome: a court-enforced decree requiring major changes in how the force operates.

Announcing the inquiry, Governor Walz pledged to “use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state.”

While some activists believe the Minneapolis department is one of the worst-behaving urban forces in the country, comparative national numbers on use of force are hard to come by.

According to Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University, some of the most thorough U.S. data comes from a study by the Justice Departmentpublished in November 2015: The study found that 3.5 percent of black people said they had been subject to nonfatal force — or the threat of such force — during their most recent contact with the police, compared with 1.4 percent of white people.

Minneapolis police officials did not respond to questions about their data and use-of-force rates. In other places, studies have shown disparate treatment of black people, such as in searches during traffic stops.

Some law enforcement officials have reasoned that since high-crime areas are often disproportionately populated by black residents, it is no surprise that black residents would be subject to more police encounters. (The same studies have also shown that black drivers, when searched, possessed contraband no more often than white drivers.)

The Minneapolis data shows that most use of force happens in areas where more black people live. Although crime rates are higher in those areas, black people are also subject to police force more often than white people in some mostly white and wealthy neighborhoods, though the total number of episodes in those areas is small.

Mr. Stinson, who is also a former police officer, said he believes that at some point during the arrest of Mr. Floyd, the restraint applied to him became “intentional premeditated murder.”

“In my experience, applying pressure to somebody’s neck in that fashion is always understood to be the application of deadly force,” Mr. Stinson said.

But equally revealing in the video, he said, was that other officers failed to intercede, despite knowing they were being filmed. He said that suggests the same thing that the use-of-force data also suggest: That police in the city “routinely beat the hell out of black men.”

“Whatever that officer was doing was condoned by his colleagues,” Mr. Stinson said. “They didn’t seem surprised by it at all. It was business as usual.”

Note: Police use-of-force data was retrieved on May 29, 2020, and shows cases up to May 26, 2020. Data on officer-involved shootings is recorded separately and shows cases through 2019; these episodes are shown on the map but not included in the analysis or charts of use of force. Instances of use of force for which race information was not available are not shown in the charts or map.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Bureau of Justice Statistics; City of Minneapolis.

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How The Police Killed George Floyd In Police Custody

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Los Angeles Times Reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske: Minnesota State Patrol fired tear gas at reporters and photographers

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Source: LA Times May 30, 2020, MINNEAPOLIS — 

When Minnesota police advanced on peaceful protesters gathered at an intersection outside the Fifth Precinct late Saturday, I didn’t expect them to fire on reporters.

I was wrong.

At about 8:30 p.m., a group of about two dozen Minneapolis police and sheriff’s deputies appeared from behind a chain link fence opposite protesters.

They were in riot gear and grasping batons.

More journalists injured covering George Floyd protests

A young African American woman approached the police, arms raised.

An officer sprayed her in the face with something that smelled like pepper spray, and the woman ran to seek help from fellow protesters.

A young African American man approached the officers, outraged, but another man pulled him back to the main group.

The police retreated back behind the fence.

But moments later, a much larger phalanx of officers in riot gear emerged to block the street.

That left me stuck between the police and protesters, up against the precinct’s brick wall. But I was with a group of other reporters, photographers and cameramen. The wall had small alcoves where we could duck for cover as police passed and advanced on protesters.

But that’s not what happened.

I have never been fired at by police until tonight.” – LA Times ...

“This is the Minnesota State Patrol,” a trooper announced through a bullhorn, notifying protesters they were in violation of the curfew and should disperse.

I figured he wasn’t talking to us, that the press were exempt, just as during the COVID-19 pandemic we are exempt from quarantines and allowed to travel. We were wearing our credentials. The Times photographer I was with, Carolyn Cole, even wore a flak jacket labeled “Press.”I was wrong.

The officers started by firing tear gas indiscriminately into the street. We watched, cameras rolling. But instead of passing, the officers turned, backed us up against the precinct wall and fired.

“Press!” I shouted, waving my notebook an arm’s length from an officer in riot gear advancing through the smoke.

The officer said nothing, just kept firing. Cole was hit in the face. Other reporters piled on top of me against the wall. That, plus my goggles and mask, shielded me from most of the gas.

But officers kept firing. We realized we had to run, too. We were not exempt. They were treating us as scofflaws.

We tried to move along the wall, but it wasn’t clear where the officers wanted us to go. They issued no order, just fired. Cole, the photographer, shouted that she was unable to see because she’d been hit. One of the cameras was still rolling, and my sister, who lives nearby with her family, heard me shouting on television, “Where do we go?”

The local cameraman filming it was arrested and later released after also displaying his credentials.

None of the officers responded. Instead, they chased us along the wall and into a corner. Smoke billowed around us. Canisters kept dropping. I was hit in the leg with what I believe was at least one, maybe two rubber bullets.

I didn’t realize it, but I was bleeding from several wounds to my leg. Blood covered the face mask of a reporter next to me, who was so stunned someone had to tell him he was hurt.

We were up against another wall. I scaled it and ran to the nearest open door — a senior apartment complex that had allowed a few fleeing protesters to hide. We cowered as officers prowled outside the front window, chasing other people. I called Cole, who had been taken in and treated by a neighbor a few blocks away.

An 18-year-old protester sheltering with me gave me a ride to the neighbor’s house, and she gave us a ride to seek treatment. As we left, we passed another group of police. They fired a pellet gun at her car, which left red paint on the passenger window. Once we reached a wealthy suburb that hadn’t seen protests, police just waved us through.

George Floyd: police forcefully crack down on protests across US ...

I’ve covered protests involving police in Ferguson, Mo., Baton Rouge, La., Dallas and Los Angeles. I’ve also covered the U.S. military in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. I have never been fired at by police until tonight.

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la-bio-molly-hennessy-fiske

Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Houston Bureau Chief

Molly Hennessy-Fiske has been a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times since 2006. She won a 2018 APME International Perspective Award; 2015 Overseas Press Club award; 2014 Dart award from Columbia University; and was a finalist for the Livingston Awards and Casey Medal. She completed a Thomson Reuters fellowship in Lebanon in 2006 and a Pew fellowship in Mexico in 2004. Hennessy-Fiske grew up in Upstate New York and graduated from Harvard College. She spent a year as Middle East bureau chief before returning to cover foreign/national news as Houston bureau chief.

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In a sad week for America, Trump has fled from his duty

Source: CNN

(CNN) This past week has brought tragedy upon tragedy to our nation: the death toll from Covid-19 passed a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths; the brutal killing of George Floyd ignited mass protests in Minneapolis and beyond, and seven people were shot in protests demanding justice in Louisville.

But our President was mostly busy with other things: getting into a public fight with Twitter, condemning China over Hong Kong and terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization — an entity that once looked to the United States as the world’s leading institution in fighting pandemics.

President Donald Trump also took time, of course, to send out a stream of new, controversial tweets.

He called protesters in Minneapolis “thugs” and repeated a racist line from a Miami police chief years ago, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.

He even retweeted a video in which a supporter says, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

But other than a brief tweet in the midst of another storm, Trump remained silent on the most sensitive issue of his presidency: the pandemic that is killing so many older Americans and people of color living near the edge.

Understandably, with the rash of other news, the press is moving on.

But we should pause for one more moment to recognize how sad and sharp a departure his silence is from past traditions of the presidency.

Ex-prosecutor: Complaint against Minnesota cop in George Floyd case drops important clues

Ex-prosecutor: Complaint against Minnesota cop in George Floyd case drops important clues

Since the early days of the Republic until now, Americans have looked to our presidents to provide protection, meaning and comfort, especially in moments of crisis.

After George Washington was sworn as commander in chief of the Continental Army, Ethan Allen’s younger brother, Levi, wrote to Washington in 1776 that he had become “Our political Father and head of a Great People.”

Shortly thereafter, Washington was frequently referred to as “Father of Our Country.”

As he steered us through war, the constitutional convention, and two terms as President, the phrase caught on. He wasn’t much of a speaker — he thought his deeds spoke for him — but he was a leader of such strong character and rock-solid integrity that he became the gold standard of the presidency.

Lincoln began his presidency during great uncertainty about his leadership. He won the election of 1860 with the smallest plurality ever (39%), and his military experience was virtually nil. But over time, he kindled a special relationship with Union soldiers, many of whom called him “Father Abraham.”

Historians say his homespun ways, common manner and kindly empathy converted them. In his re-election, soldiers were his greatest supporters.

Franklin Roosevelt was known to be self-involved in his early years, but his struggles with polio transformed him into a caring, compassionate leader. Working families and many people of color thought they had a friend in the White House.

So attached did his followers become that when he gave a fireside chat on a summer evening, you could walk down the streets of Baltimore and hear every word as families sat in their living room by a radio.

It's been five decades since 1968, and things are somehow worse

It’s been five decades since 1968, and things are somehow worse

Historians generally agree that Washington, Lincoln and FDR were our greatest presidents.

All three are remembered for their empathy and steadfastness in caring for the lives of average Americans.

They continue to set the standard. In contemporary times, it is harder for any president to sustain deep ties with a majority of Americans. We are too sharply divided as a people, and the internet often brings out the worst in us.

Even so, several of our recent presidents have found moments when they can unify us and make us feel that at the end of the day, we are indeed one people.

In many cases, these moments have come to define their presidencies: Ask any American adult and they can generally remember one, two or even three occasions in which recent presidents connected with us emotionally, stirring our hearts.

I remember with absolute clarity the Challenger disaster in 1986. One saw the plumes of the rising space craft against a bright blue sky — and then that horrific explosion as it instantly disappeared. Ronald Reagan was one of the few presidents in our history who expressed our emotions so well in a moment of shock and mourning.

For hour upon hour, the networks had replayed the explosion, and it seemed so meaningless.

But then Reagan used his speech to replace that picture in our minds with a different one: the astronauts waving goodbye.

They became our heroes, especially as Reagan (drawing upon speechwriter Peggy Noonan) closed with lines from a World War II poem:

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”

Trump ignores reporters' questions on George Floyd protests

Trump ignores reporters’ questions on George Floyd protests.

One thinks, too, of Bill Clinton traveling to Oklahoma City after the bombing there of a federal building in 1995.

Clinton, like Reagan, was at his best when he captured tangled emotions and gave meaning to deaths of some of our finest citizens. He not only consoled families in private but moved the nation when he mourned them publicly.

As I recall, that’s when presidents were first called “Mourners in Chief” — a phrase that has been applied repeatedly to presidents since. (Not coincidentally, Clinton’s speech of mourning in Oklahoma City is widely credited with resurrecting his presidency, then in the doldrums.)

One remembers, too, George W. Bush standing on the top of a crushed police car in the rubble of the World Trade Center bombing. When a first responder said he couldn’t hear the President, Bush responded through his bullhorn:

“I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

One also remembers Barack Obama flying again and again to speak at gravesites where young children or church parishioners were being buried, victims gunned down in a gun-obsessed nation.

Thinking about the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, one’s mind returns to the image of the President of the United States leading a memorial service, singing “Amazing Grace.”

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Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama — two Republicans, two Democrats — served as our “Mourners in Chief.” All four bound us together for a few moments, and we remembered who we are and who we can be.

Why has our current “Mourner in Chief” gone AWOL?

God knows.

But his flight from responsibility is yet another sadness among this week’s tragic losses.

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Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: The Trump presidency is over

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Source: The Guardian

A pandemic unabated, an economy in meltdown, cities in chaos over police killings. All our supposed leader does is tweet.

You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States.

By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office. 

He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV and tweeting.

How has Trump responded to the widespread unrest following the murder in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes as he was handcuffed on the ground?

Trump called the protesters “thugs” and threatened to have them shot. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted, parroting a former Miami police chief whose words spurred race riots in the late 1960s.

On Saturday, he gloated about “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” awaiting protesters outside the White House, should they ever break through Secret Service lines. 

In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States. He doesn’t manage anything

Trump’s response to the last three ghastly months of mounting disease and death has been just as heedless. Since claiming Covid-19 was a “Democratic hoax” and muzzling public health officials, he has punted management of the coronavirus to the states.

Governors have had to find ventilators to keep patients alive and protective equipment for hospital and other essential workers who lack it, often bidding against each other. They have had to decide how, when and where to reopen their economies.

Trump has claimed “no responsibility at all” for testing and contact-tracing – the keys to containing the virus. His new “plan” places responsibility on states to do their own testing and contact-tracing.

Trump is also AWOL in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

More than 41 million Americans are jobless. In the coming weeks temporary eviction moratoriums are set to end in half of the states. One-fifth of Americans missed rent payments this month. Extra unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of July.

What is Trump’s response? Like Herbert Hoover, who in 1930 said “the worst is behind us” as thousands starved, Trump says the economy will improve and does nothing about the growing hardship.

The Democratic-led House passed a $3tn relief package on 15 May. Mitch McConnell has recessed the Senate without taking action and Trump calls the bill dead on arrival. 

What about other pressing issues a real president would be addressing? The House has passed nearly 400 bills this term, including measures to reduce climate change, enhance election security, require background checks on gun sales, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and reform campaign finance.

All are languishing in McConnell’s inbox.

Trump doesn’t seem to be aware of any of them.

There is nothing inherently wrong with golfing, watching television and tweeting. But if that’s pretty much all that a president does when the nation is engulfed in crises, he is not a president.

Trump’s tweets are no substitute for governing. They are mostly about getting even.

When he’s not fomenting violence against black protesters, he’s accusing a media personality of committing murder, retweeting slurs about a black female politician’s weight and the House speaker’s looks, conjuring up conspiracies against himself supposedly organized by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and encouraging his followers to “liberate” their states from lockdown restrictions.

He tweets bogus threats that he has no power to carry out – withholding funds from states that expand absentee voting, “overruling” governors who don’t allow places of worship to reopen “right away”, and punishing Twitter for factchecking him.

And he lies incessantly.

In reality, Donald Trump doesn’t run the government of the United States.

He doesn’t manage anything.

He doesn’t organize anyone.

He doesn’t administer or oversee or supervise.

He doesn’t read memos.

He hates meetings.

He has no patience for briefings. 

His White House is in perpetual chaos. 

His advisers aren’t truth-tellers. They’re toadies, lackeys, sycophants and relatives.

Since moving into the Oval Office in January 2017, Trump hasn’t shown an ounce of interest in governing.

He obsesses only about himself.

But it has taken the present set of crises to reveal the depths of his self-absorbed abdication – his utter contempt for his job, his total repudiation of his office.

Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.

He is no longer president.

The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.

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George Floyd And The Dominos Of Racial Injustice: Coronavirus, George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper, The Daily Social Distancing Show With Trevor Noah

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