Ferguson Just Elected Its First Black Mayor

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Ella Jones will also be the Missouri city’s first female mayor. She got involved in city government after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown.

Ferguson, Missouri, the city where protests helped propel the Black Lives Matter movement into a nationwide crusade, elected its first Black mayor Tuesday night.

Ella Jones will also be the city’s first female mayor. The St. Louis County Board of Elections confirmed the news of her win with the St. Louis Dispatch, reporting that she secured 54% of the vote.

Her success in Tuesday’s election marks the second time Jones broke down barriers in her local government. In 2015, she became the first Black woman to serve on the Ferguson City Council. Despite the Black community making up nearly 70% of Ferguson’s population, the city’s government and police force were largely white at the time.

“So, being the first African American woman, what does that mean? That means I’ve got work to do,” Jones said in a video posted Tuesday night by St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum. “Because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart. And I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”

Jones joined the city government just months after the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a Black teenager gunned down by a white police officer. His death sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and helped put the Black Lives Matter movement on the map. 

“It’s a sad way we got known all the way around the world,” she said in an interview last month. 

Her campaign largely focused on raising property values in Ferguson and attracting new homeowners.




Family autopsy: Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure

An autopsy commissioned for George Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression when a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes and ignored his cries of distress, the family’s attorneys said Monday.

The autopsy by a doctor who also examined Eric Garner’s body found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and weight on his back made it hard to breathe, attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference.

The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as described in a criminal complaint against the officer. That autopsy included the effects of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system, but also said it found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”

Floyd, a black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after the white officer ignored bystander shouts to get off him and Floyd's cries that he couldn't breathe. His death, captured on citizen video, sparked days of protests in Minneapolis that have spread to cities around America.

The official autopsy last week provided no other details about intoxicants, and toxicology results can take weeks. In the 911 call that drew police, the caller described the man suspected of paying with counterfeit money as “awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.”

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The family's autopsy was conducted by Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson. Baden is the former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to conduct an autopsy of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold and he pleaded that he could not breathe.

Baden also conducted an independent autopsy of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He said Brown's autopsy, requested by the teen's family, didn’t reveal signs of a struggle, casting doubt on a claim by police that a struggle between Brown and the officer led to the shooting.

The officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and is in custody in a state prison. The other three officers on scene, like Chauvin, were fired the day after the incident but have not been charged.

Crump on Monday called for the remaining three officers to be arrested and for the charge against Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder.

The head of the Minneapolis police union said in a letter to members that the officers were fired without due process and labor attorneys are fighting for their jobs. Lt. Bob Kroll, the union president, also criticized city leadership, saying a lack of support is to blame for the days of sometimes violent protests.

When asked to respond, Mayor Jacob Frey said: “For a man who complains so frequently about a lack of community trust and support for the police department, Bob Kroll remains shockingly indifferent to his role in undermining that trust and support." Frey said Kroll's opposition to reform and lack of empathy for the community has undermined trust in the police.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday that Attorney General Keith Ellison would take the lead in any prosecutions in Floyd's death. Local civil rights activists have said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman doesn't have the trust of the black community. They have protested outside his house, and pressed him to charge the other three officers.

Freeman remains on the case.




Former President Barack Obama issues statement on George Floyd

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"This shouldn't be 'normal,'" the former president wrote.

Former President Barack Obama put out a statement on George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned down by police in Minneapolis.

"This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America," he wrote. "It can't be 'normal.' If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better."

Obama said this in reference to the point that many people in America would like life to go back to "normal" in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. But, he wrote, "being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly 'normal'" for millions of Americans.

This difference, he wrote, comes "whether it's while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in the park." Those last two points seemingly reference Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot and killed by two white men while on a jog in Georgia in February, and an incident in New York City's Central Park this week in which a white woman called the police on a black man who asked her to leash her dog.

Former first lady Michelle Obama also later shared a strings of tweets about Floyd's death, writing in part, "Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on."

"Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it," she added.

The initial tweet also included a painting of Floyd with the words "Justice 4 George."

Floyd died after being apprehended by police Monday. A video that went viral shows an officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, pinning his knee to Floyd's neck as he is on the ground, saying, "I can't breathe."

Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder on Friday afternoon. All four officers involved have been fired, and investigations are ongoing.

Floyd's death in police custody has led to outrage across the nation and protests in many cities, including in Minneapolis, where violence has broken out over several nights this week.

In the statement that he posted to social media Friday, the former president also referenced conversations he has "had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota."

These conversations included an email from "a middle-aged African American businessman" who wrote, "'the knee on the neck' is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help."

He also referenced a video of 12-year-old Keedron Bryant singing a gospel song with lyrics written by his mother about being a young black man in America, and wrote that Keedron and Obama's friend share the same "anguish," as do Obama himself and "millions of others."

Ultimately, Obama wrote, it is up to officials in Minnesota to thoroughly investigate and seek justice for Floyd's death. But, he wrote, it is up to everyone "to work together to create a 'new normal' in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts."

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he has not spoken to Floyd's family, but that he feels "very, very badly" and that what he saw in the video of Floyd's death "was not good, very bad." Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump are monitoring a Department of Justice investigation, according to officials.

On Friday morning, the president tweeted about the protests in Minneapolis, saying that "thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd" and, referencing the military, that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." This tweet was flagged by the social media platform as "glorifying violence."




Michelle Obama: ‘I’m Exhausted By A Heartbreak That Never Seems To Stop’

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The former first lady responded to the death of George Floyd with an Instagram post about rooting out racism.

Former first lady Michelle Obama said it was “up to all of us — Black, white, everyone” to root out racism as she responded on social media to the death of George Floyd.

Obama revealed in an Instagram post on Friday that she was “pained “and “exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop,” noting how “race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with.”

“Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on,” she wrote

“But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it,” Obama continued. “It’s up to all of us — Black, white, everyone — no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”

Obama said it “starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own” and “ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”

“I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us,” Obama concluded the post, which featured illustrations by artist Nikkolas Smith.

Check out Obama’s post here:

Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in Minneapolis on Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck. Four Minneapolis police officers were fired following Floyd’s death, which was captured on camera and sparked protests nationwide.

Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Former President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said in a statement Friday that “this shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.”

“It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,” he said. “But we have to remember that for millions of Americans being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”

‘We apologize’: Police across U.S. condemn George Floyd custody death in rare rebuke of fellow cops

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In a rarely seen display of indignation with people in their own profession, police across the country have taken to social media this week to publicly condemn the Minneapolis officers involved in the appalling custody death of George Floyd.

“There is no need to see more video,” said David Roddy, the police chief in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“There no need to wait to see how ‘it plays out,'" he tweeted. "There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this... turn it in.”

Roddy’s unprecedented language is being echoed across the U.S. as disappointed and outraged police officers urge authorities to punish the four cops involved in Monday’s horrific incident. Their statements stand in stark contrast to the typical silence or support for police following in-custody deaths — even as critics call their denunciation empty words.

Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died shortly after a white officer pressed his knee against his neck for more several minutes while the handcuffed suspect begged for air and repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. The whole incident, which was prompted by a forgery investigation, was captured on video and the footage has sparked massive protests across the city and the country.

“Let me start this by saying... I AM SORRY,” said Anthony Johnson, an Ohio police officer known as the “dancing cop.”

“On behalf of every good cop out there... we apologize,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “If you have ever been mistreated by the police... we are sorry. I’m sorry you had to see what you seen... feel what you felt... and live with the trauma caused by the those actions. Please accept this apology and know that those officers DO NOT speak for the majority of us."

In Georgia, meanwhile, Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats did not mince words calling for the Minneapolis officers to be criminally charged.

“I am deeply disturbed by the video of Mr. Floyd being murdered in the street with other officers there letting it go on,” he wrote on Facebook. “I can assure everyone, me or any of my deputies will never treat anyone like that as long as I’m Sheriff. This kind of brutality is terrible and it needs to stop. All Officers involved need to be arrested and charged immediately.”

But those words are being met with skepticism as the number of cops speaking out is still relatively small. Critics also say there’s much work to be done to dismantle the long-standing system of police racism in America.

READ IT: Full transcript of George Floyd 911 call describes ‘awfully drunk’ suspect who was ‘not acting right’

“We’ve got to remember that it was not just Officer Chauvin who was sitting on George Floyd’s neck,” said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles.

The arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, was accompanied by three colleagues who watched Floyd beg for mercy and slowly stop moving but did nothing to stop it. Two of them were also on top of the dying man while another stood inches away.

All four were fired the following day, but no one has been charged.

Civil rights attorney and professor Gloria Browne-Marshall said she wouldn’t be a “cheerleader” for a “handful” of police officers who decided to voice outrage by one particular incident.

“Any minute progress is seen as miraculous because so little has been done for so long,” she said. “It’s nothing close to progress or what outrage would be taking place if it was a white man as the victim of this assault.”




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