Black Lives Matter
Is currently being painted in yuge lettering on one of the roads very near the White House.
Apparently with the nod from the Washington authorities.
Worldwide actions in solidarity with US protests over George Floyd
Police in Paris have banned an anti-racism demonstration in front of the US Embassy in the French capital tomorrow, citing the risk of social disorder and health dangers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But protests in solidarity with the strong wave of action across the US amid anger and grief at the killing of yet another black man by police are scheduled to take place this weekend in Britain, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, Brazil, South Korea, Australia and more.
Demonstrations have taken place this past week in those countries and Mexico, Liberia, Canada, Italy, Norway, Greece and many other places.
The protests in US cities large and small, coast to coast and north to south, have been massive and mostly peaceful, despite bouts of violent unrest and some aggressive policing tactics – and would have been, or would be, much, much larger if people were not still bound by caution over catching Covid-19.
We have all the details and reactions to the latest US jobs numbers in our Guardian business blog, here.
Donald Trump is not just pleased, he is ecstatic.
Trump to hold press conference after jobs numbers better than expected
The dire numbers expected in the latest jobs report this morning did not happen – at all.
Covid-19’s devastating assault on the US economy waned in May as the unemployment rate dipped to 13.3% and the US added another 2.5m jobs.
The latest tally follows the loss of 20m jobs in April when unemployment hit 14.7%. In February the unemployment rate was just 3.5%. A decade’s worth of gains made in the labor market since the last recession have been erased in just three months.
All 50 states have now begun easing quarantine restrictions and the pace of this unprecedented hollowing has now slowed as some have returned to work but uncertainties remain, my business colleague Dominic Rushe reports.
The president has taken to Twitter and in about an hour will take to a podium at the White House.
Jim Mattis lit into Trump this week and has accrued both condemnation (and withering, personal counterpoint by the president, albeit containing untruths) and support from many quarters.
As my colleague Julian Borger noted: Mattis, Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, accused him of abusing executive authority in his response to the anti-racism protests that have convulsed cities across the US, and called for the president to be held accountable.
Mattis’s broadside broke a near silence from the ex-marine general since he resigned in December 2018. He expressed outrage at the militarisation of the administration’s response to mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” he said.
His statement, published by the Atlantic magazine, came on a day of confusion and discord in the Trump administration over the role of the military. Mattis’s successor as defence secretary, Mark Esper, had contradicted Trump over the president’s threatened invocation of the 1807 Insurrection Act to deploy active duty troops on US streets.
Esper had ordered elite airborne troops, flown to the Washington outskirts on Monday, back to their bases on Wednesday, but then reversed that order hours later after a visit to the White House.
Trump shares letter calling peaceful protesters terrorists
Joanna Walters here in New York, taking over from my colleagues in London, it was another busy night and there’s a full-on day ahead in US political news.
The president has tweeted a copy of a letter that appears to have been written by one of his former attorneys, John Dowd, to former defense secretary Jim Mattis, after Mattis heavily criticized Trump on Wednesday for dividing America.
The tweet shows the text of the letter, which supports the violent clearing earlier in the week of the small Lafayette park area between the White House and St John’s church nearby, where protesters were gathered, so that Trump could hold a photo op outside the so-called “Church of the Presidents”.
The letter says: “The phony protesters in Lafayette park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate-filled students to burn and destroy.”
It warns Mattis: “This is the new nihilism”.
Black Lives Matter protestors urged to stay away from events in Scotland
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland’s chief constable, Iain Livingstone, have urged Black Lives Matter supporters to avoid taking part in large public protests in Scotland this weekend because of the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
Livingstone said during the Scottish government’s daily press briefing he recognised people were “shocked and distressed” by the death of George Floyd. “I understand the desire of people to make their voices heard,” he added.
But attending the mass rallies planned in various cities in Scotland would be dangerous, he said. Police were liaising with the event organisers to urge them to avoid breaching Scotland’s strict lockdown and social-distancing rules, which prohibits gatherings of more than eight people and requires those groups to stay at least two metres apart.
‘Because the threat of coronavirus is still with us, people shouldn’t attend mass gatherings which pose a very clear risk to public health,” Livingstone said. “it is essential everyone sticks to the rules”.
The first minister said protestors should heed the appeal from prominent BAME politicians on Thursday, including Hamza Yousaf, the Scottish justice secretary, and Anas Sarwar, a senior Scottish Labour MSP, to find different ways to protest.
More racism trouble for the Republican party on the horizon, as the Texas Tribune has been reporting overnight that a fourth Republican leader had shared racist posts on Facebook in the last few days, some of which also floated conspiracy theories.
Governor Greg Abbott has called for two of them to resign. It is reported that the Republican chairs in Bexar and Nueces counties shared on social media a conspiracy theory that Floyd’s death was a “staged event”.
Another Republican leader had shared an image of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr quote juxtaposed with a banana. A statement by Republican chairman-elect in Harris County, Keith Nielsen fell short of an apology, saying “It is unfortunate that the sentiment of the quote and my admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been overshadowed by people’s misinterpretation of an image.”
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the eldest son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, posted on Twitter late last night to say that the party should not tolerate racism of any kind.
Tom Perkins has been out for us in St Clair Shores, Michigan. It’s a largely white middle-class suburb about 17 miles north-east of downtown Detroit. And while the centre of Detroit has erupted in emotional protests and thousands of protesters have marched nightly through the city’s streets demanding justice, the view in St Clair Shores is very different.
Many in St Clair Shores share the president’s world view that the police and national guard are heroically battling violent agitators, not brutally suppressing largely peaceful protesters.
Several men who were part of a construction crew called the protests “stupid” and a “waste of time and energy”. Some even suggested Floyd was at fault for his death because he allegedly committed a crime, despite general worldwide outrage at the brutal manner of his killing and the criminal charges it has now brought against the officers involved.
You can read more of the report here: Detroit’s largely peaceful protests seen very differently from white suburb
Just a heads up on what we are expecting politics-wise today.
As mentioned in the intro, Donald Trump will be visiting Maine today – his first visit to the state since becoming president. He will be attending roundtable on supporting commercial fishermen and signing a proclamation in Bangor at 2pm.
He then goes on to tour Puritan Medical Products in Guilford at 3:30pm. It is a facility that makes swabs to test for coronavirus, and it is receiving significant sums from the government to ramp up production. We are expecting Trump to talk around 4pm, and to return to the freshly fenced-in White House at around 7.30pm.
Joe Biden is sort of on the campaign trail – there is still an election on – and we are expecting him to talk about the economy and the new jobless figures around noon in Dover, Delaware. Those jobless figures will be out this morning.
There’s also some interest in John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, who’ll be taking part in a discussion chaired by notoriously short-serving White House director of communications Anthony Scaramucci at the SALT talks.
The George Floyd protests take place against the backdrop of the ever-worsening numbers of coronavirus outbreak in the US. The Johns Hopkins University currently puts the figures at more than 1.8m cases in the US, with over 108,000 fatalities.
Bloomberg have a fascinating piece this morning asking one very crucial question: Whatever happened to the coronavirus task-force?
The task force is now reduced to weekly closed-door meetings with Vice President Mike Pence. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the government, hasn’t spoken publicly at the White House since 29 April. In his last task force news conference, a week earlier, he cautioned that the country must “proceed in a very careful, measured way” to reopen.
Similarly, task force coordinator Deborah Birx no longer appears in public as frequently as she did. Her voice is mostly mediated through being quoted by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
It’s an interesting read by Josh Wingrove about the current state of play: Fauci, Virus Task Force Sidelined With Trump All-In on Reopening
The way the Minneapolis Police force reacts to the death of George Floyd is going to place huge scrutiny on Medaria Arrandondo, the chief of police. He’s the first African American to hold the role in the city.
But if you think that might make it easier to reform the force responsible for the death of Floyd, you might need to think again.
My colleague Chris McGreal has been in Minneapolis, looking at one of the other key figures in local policing – Bob Kroll, leader of the Minneapolis police union.
Kroll wrote to his members this week describing Floyd as a “violent criminal”, because he did prison time, in an apparent attempt to imply Chauvin’s treatment of the unarmed man being arrested on suspicion of a non-violent minor crime was legitimate. The union chief also described those protesting over Floyd’s death as terrorists, and the dismissal of Chauvin and three other officers facing charges as depriving them of their rights.
You can read McGreal’s full and worrying report here: Hopeful that Minneapolis policing will change? Meet the police union’s chief …
Australian court bans Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney
There’s been an ongoing row about whether a Black Lives Matter protest would be allowed to take place in Sydney, Australia at the weekend, which has been resolved in a last-ditch court case – and the protest remains banned because of coronavirus fears.
My Australian office colleague Elias Visontay has been following the case in the New South Wales Supreme Court where Justice Desmond Fagan ultimately assessed there would be a public safety risk in allowing the protest to go ahead, likening it to a “defiance” of decisions made by ministers and the expert health advice those decisions were based on.
Justice Fagan said he did not accept the argument of lawyers representing the protest organisers that people would attend the rally regardless of the legal decision, and that in that case, it would be safest for the public to have the cooperation of police to close of streets and allow for greater space for social distancing. He labelled the argument “futile”.
Justice Fagan also acknowledged the right to protest and the importance of the Black Lives Matter protest in drawing attention to the treatment of Indigenous Australians at the hands of police, but reasoned that many Australians had had to forfeit rights during the pandemic, including to attend church and forfeiting their livelihoods.
Organisers had previously indicated they and supporters would attend the protest regardless of the legal decision, and it has been noted that last week in Sydney some 3,000 people gathered to join a protest based on conspiracy theories over 5G and police took no action.
Amnesty International UK had called for the protest to be allowed, saying that “Peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, and the New South Wales police should work with organisers to ensure that attendees can social distance, and protests can be carried out in a safe manner. Police must also commit to not fine anyone inadvertently breaking a COVID-19 guideline.”
This story is going to run and run.
Today so far
Yesterday was the tenth day of protests following the killing of George Floyd, and it was marked by the solemn occasion of a memorial service in Minneapolis for the 46 year old.
We’ll be bringing you ongoing coverage of the protest movement and today’s politics. Here are the key points so far:
Donald Trump is travelling rural Maine today, where he will be visiting a factory making swabs used in coronavirus testing.
He might also mention Hydroxychloroquine along the way, the controversial drug at the heart of the scandal of the Lancet withdrawing a study saying it was dangerous to Covid-19 patients.
And Trump might get a frosty reception – even the Republican senator for the state, Susan Collins, has been critical of Trump’s handling of the Floyd protests.
On the economic front, we are also expecting more grim US jobless figures to be announced later this morning.
Hello from London, I’m Martin Belam, and I’ll be running this live blog for a couple more hours now until I hand over to my colleagues in New York. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @MartinBelam