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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

May 30, 2020 - 8:05 PM

Tear gas and burning cars in US cities as unrest continues

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tense protests over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of black men grew Saturday from New York to Tulsa to Los Angeles, with police cars set ablaze and reports of injuries mounting on all sides as the country lurched toward another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.

The protests, which began in Minneapolis following Floyd's death Monday after a police officer pressed a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes, have left parts of the city a grid of broken windows, burned-out buildings and ransacked stores. The unrest has since become a national phenomenon as protesters decry years of deaths at police hands.

The large crowds involved, with many people not wearing masks or social distancing, raised concerns among health experts about the potential for helping spread the coronavirus pandemic at a time when overall deaths are on the decline nationwide and much of the country is in the process of reopening society and the economy.

After a tumultuous Friday night, racially diverse crowds took to the streets again for mostly peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities from coast to coast. The previous day’s protests also started calmly, but many descended into violence later in the day.

— In Washington, growing crowds outside the White House chanted, taunted Secret Service agents and at times pushed against security barriers. President Donald Trump, who spent much of Saturday in Florida for the SpaceX rocket launch, landed on the residence’s lawn in the presidential helicopter at dusk and went inside without speaking to journalists.

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The Latest: National Guard called out in Washington, D.C.

The Latest on the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appears to be cheering on the tougher tactics being used by law enforcement around the country to confront sometimes violent demonstrators joining in protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

On Saturday, the president commended National Guard troops deployed in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!”

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US cities fear protests may fuel new wave of virus outbreaks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The massive protests sweeping across U.S. cities following the police killing of a black man in Minnesota have sent shudders through the health community and elevated fears that the huge crowds will lead to a new surge in cases of the coronavirus.

Some leaders appealing for calm in places where crowds smashed storefronts and destroyed police cars in recent nights have been handing out masks and warning demonstrators they were putting themselves at risk.

“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday evening. “There is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”

Minnesota’s governor said too many protesters weren’t socially distancing or wearing masks after heeding the call earlier in the week.

But many seemed undeterred.

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'Back in the game': SpaceX ship blasts off with 2 astronauts

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A rocket ship built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two Americans on Saturday, ushering in a new era in commercial space travel and putting the United States back in the business of launching astronauts into orbit from home soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode skyward aboard a white-and-black, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off at 3:22 p.m. from the same launch pad used to send Apollo crews to the moon a half-century ago. Minutes later, they slipped safely into orbit.

“Let's light this candle,” Hurley said just before ignition, borrowing the historic words used by Alan Shepard on America's first human spaceflight, in 1961.

The two men are scheduled to arrive Sunday at the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, for a stay of up to four months, after which they will come home with a Right Stuff-style splashdown at sea, something the world hasn't witnessed since the 1970s.

The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the U.S. over the case of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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Trump postpones G7 meeting, seeks expansion of members

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he will postpone until the fall a meeting of Group of 7 nations he had planned to hold next month at the White House despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And he said he plans to invite Russia, Australia, South Korea and India as he again advocated for the group's expansion.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned to Washington from Florida that he feels the current makeup of the group is “very outdated" and doesn't properly represent "what’s going on in the world.”

He said he had not yet set a new date for the meeting, but thought the gathering could take place in September, around the time of the annual meeting of the United Nations in New York, or perhaps after the U.S. election in November.

Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, said that Trump wanted to bring in some of the country's traditional allies and those impacted by the coronavirus to discuss the future of China.

The surprise announcement came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said Saturday that she would not attend the meeting unless the course of the coronavirus spread had changed by then.

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`Death By Racism': Part of America's DNA from the start?

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a black man or woman living in America in 2020. How could you not believe that racism kills?

If you are black, you need not imagine anything. You know it very well.

You don’t need to see the video of George Floyd, a police officer’s knee on his neck as he struggled for his dying breaths, to know that black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than are white people.

You don't need to hear the racial statistics on COVID-19 to know that black people have been affected disproportionately -- the same is true of eight of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States. Even before the pandemic, black life expectancy was 3 1/2 years shorter than white.

Many blacks are redlined into densely packed, crime-ridden urban areas. Stuck in underfinanced, substandard schools. Subjected to silent environmental catastrophes, like lead hidden in pipes and on walls.

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Officials blame differing groups of 'outsiders' for violence

WASHINGTON (AP) — As protests over the death of George Floyd grow in cities across the U.S., government officials have been warning of the “outsiders” -- groups of organized rioters they say are flooding into major cities not to call for justice but to cause destruction.

But the state and federal officials have offered differing assessments of who the outsiders are. They’ve blamed left-wing extremists, far-right white nationalists and even suggested the involvement of drug cartels. These leaders have offered little evidence to back up those claims, and the chaos of the protests makes verifying identities and motives exceedingly difficult.

Police officers across the country were gearing up Saturday for another night of potentially violent clashes in major cities. Some states had even called in the National Guard to aid overwhelmed police.

The finger pointing on both sides of the political spectrum is likely to deepen the political divide in the U.S., allowing politicians to advance the theory that aligns with their political view and distract from the underlying frustrations that triggered the protests.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday told reporters he’d heard unconfirmed reports that white supremacists were coming from elsewhere to stoke the violence and that even drug cartels “are trying to take advantage of the chaos.” John Harrington, the state’s commissioner of public safety, later said they had received intel reports on white supremacists.

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Protesters converge on White House for second straight day

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shouting “Black Lives Matter” and “I can't breathe,” hundreds of people converged on the White House for a second straight day Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and President Donald Trump's response. In several instances, pepper spray was used to disperse the crowd as pockets of violence erupted.

Trump did not talk to reporters as he returned to the White House after watching the launch of a SpaceX rocket in Florida. It was not clear if he could hear the protest over the sounds of his helicopter.

Earlier Saturday, Trump belittled protesters. In Florida, he pledged to “stop mob violence.”

“I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack and menace," the president said after watching the launch of a SpaceX rocket. "Healing, not hatred, justice, not chaos, are the missions at hand.”

Protesters in Washington chanted and taunted the police. Witnesses said there were multiple incidents of protesters pushing against barricades and being repelled with pepper spray.

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US faith leaders wrestle twin traumas in protests, virus

NEW YORK (AP) — American religious leaders across faiths are grappling with the heavy burden of helping to heal two active traumas: rising civil unrest driven by the police killing of George Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic.

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have raised their voices to condemn racial bias in the justice system while discouraging violence in response to the killing of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck. Those words of solidarity, for many clergy, came as their worship routines remained upended by a virus that has forced them to rely on digital or outdoor gathering.

At Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, which has provided relief and medical help to demonstrators this week as protests roiled the city, associate pastor Angela T. Khabeb said the shared pain caused by Floyd’s death was exposing the brutal double toll being exacted on people of colour.

“There were other pandemics we didn’t always talk about that faced black communities, indigenous, Latinx” before the virus outbreak, Khabeb said, citing “institutionalized racism” and poverty. “And then we layer on COVID-19, which disproportionately affects black, indigenous, Latinx communities.”

Khabeb acknowledged that she felt challenged by the task of tending to her congregation during the current crisis when the latest police killing of a black American had caused “a crisis of my own that’s very personal.”

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US food prices see historic jump and are likely to stay high

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As if trips to the grocery store weren’t nerve-wracking enough, U.S. shoppers lately have seen the costs of meat, eggs and even potatoes soar as the coronavirus has disrupted processing plants and distribution networks.

Overall, the cost of food bought to eat at home skyrocketed by the most in 46 years, and analysts caution that meat prices in particular could remain high as slaughterhouses struggle to maintain production levels while implementing procedures intended to keep workers healthy.

While price spikes for staples such as eggs and flour have eased as consumer demand has levelled off, prices remain volatile for carrots, potatoes and other produce because of transportation issues and the health of workers who pick crops and work in processing plants.

In short, supermarket customers and restaurant owners shouldn't expect prices to drop anytime soon.

“Our biggest concern is long-term food costs. I believe they will continue to go up,” said Julie Kalambokidis, co-owner of Adriano's Brick Oven, a restaurant in Glenwood, Iowa.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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