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George Floyd death: Minneapolis to host first memorial event

Protesters in Brooklyn, New York, 3 JuneImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Protests have taken place around the US for several days

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a memorial in Minneapolis for African American George Floyd, who died in police custody last month.

The death of Floyd, whose neck was pinned under a white officer’s knee, has sparked huge protests over racism and police killings of black Americans.

The tribute comes despite fears over coronavirus at large gatherings.

New charges were announced on Wednesday against all four of the now sacked officers present at Floyd’s death.

The charge against Derek Chauvin has been elevated to second-degree murder while the other three officers, previously uncharged, face counts of aiding and abetting murder.

The vast majority of demonstrations over the past eight days have been peaceful, but some have turned violent and curfews have been imposed in a number of cities.

Former President Barack Obama and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are among senior public figures who have offered their support to the protesters.

They were joined on Wednesday by former Defence Secretary James Mattis, who also attacked his former boss President Donald Trump, saying that he stoked division and had abused his authority in his reaction to the protests.

What will happen at the memorial?

The event, in the northern city of Minneapolis where Floyd died, is the first of several to honour him.

Veteran civil rights campaigner, Rev Al Sharpton, will deliver the eulogy for the two-hour service, which will start at 13:00 local time (18:00 GMT).

More on George Floyd’s death

It will take place at a sanctuary at the city’s North Central University.

Mr Sharpton, who met Floyd’s family on Wednesday, said he would announce the launch of a new social movement at the memorial, as well as call for new federal legislation to end racial discrimination by police.

Further tributes will be held at Floyd’s birthplace in North Carolina on Saturday, and in his home town of Houston on Monday.

What was Barack Obama’s reaction to the protests?

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Media captionMr Obama sees limitless potential in the faces of his fellow African Americans

Mr Obama said it was vital to channel the momentum built up in the recent protests to bring about change.

In his first video comments since Floyd’s death, he said the demonstrations were as profound as anything he had seen in his lifetime, and called on Americans to seize the chance to deal with the underlying problems in society.

“Too often some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you,” Mr Obama said.

“I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, your dreams matter.

“There is a change in mindset that’s taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better,” he added.

Mr Obama did not comment directly on Mr Trump’s handling of the unrest, although he urged mayors around the country to review their use-of-force policies.

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Media captionGeorge Floyd’s ex partner: “Gianna doesn’t have a father”

The Duchess of Sussex has also issued a personal message about Floyd’s death, saying his life mattered and recent events had been devastating.

What’s the background?

George Floyd, 46, was stopped by police investigating the purchase of cigarettes with counterfeit money on 25 May in Minneapolis.

A video showed Floyd being arrested and a white police officer continuing to kneel on his neck for several minutes even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.

Protests erupted and have continued since, across many US cities and also internationally, with rallies on Wednesday in Australia, France, the Netherlands and in the UK, where thousands gathered in central London.

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Media caption‘I’m tired of being afraid’: Why Americans are protesting

Floyd’s death follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years.

For many, the outrage over Floyd’s death also reflects years of frustration over socio-economic inequality and discrimination.

Protests over the death continued in dozens of cities on Wednesday night despite widespread curfews.

They have been largely peaceful, with cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago relaxing their restrictions amid hopes that the worst of the violence had passed.

A post-mortem examination has revealed that Floyd had the coronavirus in early April. But officials stressed that this played no role in his death.

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 while 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.

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

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.

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