Live Updates on George Floyd Protests: Trump Speaks at West Point Amid Rift With Military Leaders

Near Trump’s West Point speech, calls for “no more years.”

President Trump told West Point graduates that they would not serve in “endless wars” being waged in “far away lands,” but he made no mention of his conflicts with military leaders in recent days about the role of the armed forces during times of trouble on American soil.

In a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy that had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic before the president insisted on moving forward with it, Mr. Trump presented himself as a staunch supporter of the armed forces who has increased spending on new weapons even as he said they should not be used in fruitless conflicts.

His address skirted the more acute issue of the last few days as he threatened to send active-duty troops into the streets of American cities to put down demonstrations against racial injustice that have been predominantly peaceful. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resisted the president, leaving a deep schism between the commander in chief and the military.

Near the academy, hundreds of protesters gathered to protest President Trump’s speech, holding signs that read “Cadets Aren’t Props” and “no more years.”

Some of them stressed that they supported the cadets and considered themselves part of the West Point community.

Dr. Anne Sumers, a retired ophthalmologist who lives nearby in Montrose, N.Y., and one of the organizers of the protest, has for many years befriended cadets, offering home-cooked meals and a civilian shoulder to lean on, especially for cadets whose families live far from West Point.

Laura Vetter, an instructor for 18 years at West Point before retiring last fall, was also among those who felt she was protesting on behalf of the West Point graduates who are not allowed to make political statements in uniform.

“The day I retired my muzzle came off,” she said.

Most of the protesters were wearing face coverings while the law enforcement officers monitoring them did not. One demonstrator used a megaphone to announce that he had bandannas and hand sanitizer for those who need them.

Thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against police brutality and racism in European cities like London and Paris on Saturday, after a week in which statues linked to slavery and colonialism were targeted across the continent and calls intensified for scrutiny of policing and of a history of racial discrimination.

As protesters on the continent have shown solidarity with those marching in the United States in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, they have also denounced their countries’ own problems and urged the authorities to address them.

The situation was especially tense in London, where far-right groups came into the center of the city to stage an angry and at times violent counterprotest. They clashed several times with the police, who had imposed restrictions on the marches because of concerns about the potential for violent exchanges with protesters backing Black Lives Matter and left-wing causes.

Videos shared on social media showed mounted police officers standing guard in Parliament Square in front of statues of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, which had been covered to protect them from vandalism. Protesters in the square were seen threatening and punching police officers who tried to repel them.

The protests and counter-demonstrations came after a week in which protesters in Britain tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, in Bristol, and others scrawled the word “racist” on a Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square.

They knelt on campuses and outside courthouses and a capitol. They filmed videos and challenged coaches and gripped megaphones to call out racism they knew from their classrooms and stadiums. They led protest chants, registered voters and started to strategize for Election Day.

In some instances, the nation’s college athletes even pledged not to play.

Until recently, many university administrators and coaches would have instinctively sought to silence college athletes’ public expressions of racial furor, pain or politics. But players and coaches have seized their influence for a vast display of political action.

“There are a lot of things we’re not going to stand for anymore,” Marvin Wilson, a Florida State football player, said. “People are starting to realize we have a say-so in how this country should be run.”

The national moment’s gravity emboldened the players, especially because it was a challenge to a justice system that many believed stood poised to oppress them or their black teammates when they were away from the field. Often cheered by their followings on social media, they also drew motivation from a long-simmering debate that has recently driven student-athletes to question their place in a $14 billion industry.

And in a shift that could alter the relationship between college activism and athletics, universities suddenly became willing to lend the power of their sports brands to social causes.

“It’s where we are as a society that there’s no room to quiet the voices or stifle them,” said Mike Locksley, Maryland’s football coach.

The Minneapolis Police Department was in many ways a poster child for change: it had two chiefs hailed as reformers, had trained officers on implicit bias, reconciliation and how to treat the public with respect. It had tried to overhaul its early warning system and disciplinary process for officers. It had even, back in 2016, instituted a duty for officers to intervene if they saw other officers doing something wrong.

Last week, it agreed to institute a duty to intervene — again.

As a reporter covering criminal justice, I have seen this over and over: Urgency over a needless death at the hands of the police is funneled into reports on what went wrong. Commissions on how to do better. Policy changes that do not translate into cultural changes.

My colleague Mike Baker, who has been closely following the protests in Seattle, and I were asked to assess what had changed since the last big national reckoning on policing, in 2014, after the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Our findings: not enough.

After Ferguson, one of the biggest problems was the lack of data on use of force by the police and deaths in police custody. But the big national projects launched to track those things have yet to materialize. It is no wonder that protesters today are skeptical of reform measures.

Last week, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb in 2016, participated in a panel discussion. She didn’t mince words about all the working groups she has consulted with over the years: “I think we’ve covered everything you could possibly imagine about what we should do and what we could do, but nothing is being implemented.”

The former officer accused of killing Floyd could get a $50,000 annual pension.

Even if the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is found guilty of murdering George Floyd, he will qualify to receive what could amount to around $50,000 a year in state pension payments.

But how much of that money he will see is less certain: Members of Mr. Floyd’s family, who are expected to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Mr. Chauvin and the city, may be able to seize his pension distributions if they obtain a sizable judgment.

Some states force public employees who are convicted of serious crimes to forfeit their state pensions. But Minnesota does not, and the agency that distributes them said that could be changed only by legislative action.

Former employees qualify for benefits “if they meet length-of-service requirements, regardless of whether termination of employment was voluntary or involuntary,” the agency, the Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association, said in a statement. “Under state law, being charged or convicted of a crime does not impact a member’s benefit.”

Mr. Chauvin, 44, faces up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted of second-degree murder. He was a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police force before being fired and paid into a state pension system.

After analyzing police payroll, salary and contract information, CNN estimated that Mr. Chauvin’s annual payments would be around $50,000 or more if he elected to begin receiving distributions at age 55.

“I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I weren’t here,” said James Luckey, 21, who grew up on Staten Island.

“It was this feeling of helplessness, like I’m not supposed to leave my house, but this is wrong, so wrong, and they’re going to get away with it unless there’s a huge group of people to draw attention to how wrong this is,” said Belinda Stahl, 29, who grew up in Maine and was adopted from Peru by a white American family.

“To be silent is to be complicit,” said David Dacosta, 32, who immigrated from Jamaica. “I can’t do that anymore.”

They and others emerging from different corners of New York City are movement newbies.

Mostly in their 20s and 30s, they call this their personal turning point. No longer, they say, could they just post on Instagram, or just give money, or just vote. They needed to put their bodies on the street after the killing of George Floyd.

So they protested.

For many, it’s their first movement. Their chance to be a part of history, they say. For some, a moment to examine who they are.

They are the United States’s largest and most racially diverse generations, and they are part of a global generational revolt erupting at a time when strongman leaders have ascended around the world.

For years, paintball guns have been used against protesters all over the world, but it is relatively new to see them used in the United States against protesters. But in recent weeks, that is what has been happening, which has experts concerned.

In recreational paintball, players are required to wear ballistic eye protection, but people at protests tend not to wear protective gear. A study published by the journal Nature in 2014 found paintballs pose significant risk for devastating ocular trauma.

“You are seeing a lot more of this,” said Chris Burbank, vice president of law enforcement strategy of the Center for Policing Equity, a think tank, and the police chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department until 2015. “It seemed like a broader tactic than I had anticipated.”

Adam Keup, a financial adviser, said he was observing a protest from a distance in May in Omaha, Neb., when an officer without warning shot him in the eye with a paintball loaded with pepper spray. Mr. Keup, 23, said doctors told him he would have permanent eye damage and might never be able to see out of that eye again. “I was in a state of shock,” Mr. Keup said. “It felt like getting a paper cut across your eye.”

While some chiefs defend the use of paintballs as a necessary tool, some are having doubts. Chief Art Acevedo of the Houston Police said his department of more than 5,000 law enforcement officers uses paintballs only for training. As president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a network of chiefs and sheriffs in the largest cities in the United States and Canada, he plans for the organization to re-examine the use of paintballs and other projectiles.

“We’re going to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said. “It’s important for everyone to take a step back and look at the circumstances in which we’re deploying these munitions and if there is a better way.”

A court is investigating the case of a Tennessee man who died in police custody.

Credit…Courtesy of Jennifer Louise Jenkins

It was all captured on disturbing video that was never shown to a grand jury that investigated the case.

Officers held down Sterling Higgins, a black man accused of trespassing, in a struggle at the Obion County jail in northwestern Tennessee and grabbed him by the neck until he went limp. As he was unconscious and foaming at the mouth, they tied him to a chair and left him in a cell for about 14 minutes before medical help arrived, the lawyers said. He died on March 25, 2019.

The case is unfolding in U.S. District Court in Western Tennessee as protesters nationwide continue to demand an end to racism and police brutality. Lawyers for his estate released the video on Friday.

The lawsuit accuses the police and county jail officials of causing Mr. Higgins’s death by using excessive force, restraining him in a way that asphyxiated him and failing to provide him medical help.

Tommy Thomas, the Obion County district attorney general, agreed that the videos were “very disturbing” but said they did not prove criminal behavior.

Mr. Thomas said a medical examiner found that Mr. Higgins died of “excited delirium” caused by large amounts of methamphetamine in his system.

Erik Heipt, one of the lawyers representing the estate of Mr. Higgins, said Mr. Thomas should have shown the videos to the grand jury.

“He has a duty to seek justice and find the truth,” Mr. Heipt said. “He inexplicably refused to show the most critical piece of evidence in the case to the grand jury.”

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Peter Baker, Alan Blinder, Shaila Dewan, Jenny Gross, Lauren Hard, Iliana Magra, Constant Méheut, Zach Montague, Elian Peltier, Somini Sengupta and Billy Witz.

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