First Thing: police gassed protesters so Trump could get a photo op

Tim Walker
Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Donald Trump walked from the White House to the nearby St John’s Episcopal church on Monday. Not to worship or pray there, as many presidents have done before, but to pose for a photo holding a copy of the bible aloft. Just beforehand, police had used teargas and rubber bullets to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from his path.

The photo op came shortly after Trump described himself as “your president of law and order”, and threatened to deploy federal troops to quell the nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd – a threat that would require him to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, last used during the LA riots of 1992.

Church leaders responded to his behaviour with outrage, but the president was unrepentant. Also on Monday, he ranted at governors and other officials that they must “dominate” their states and cities, saying otherwise they would “look like a bunch of jerks.”

This president has “built his entire political career as a gold-painted tower to incite violence,” says Richard Wolffe. And in threatening to deploy the military, writes David Smith, Trump has raised the spectre of fascism:

Comparisons to dictators, fashionable during Trump’s political ascent, have fallen out of favour in recent years. Now they might be in for a comeback.

The protests go on in big cities, small towns – and overseas

The demonstrations over police brutality and structural racism, inspired by the death of Floyd, continued across the US on Monday night, despite the curfews enacted in New York, Philadelphia and other cities. Protesters marched and chanted from Maine to California, in big cities and small towns, while solidarity protests took place in other nations including the UK and Australia.

A medical examiner says Floyd’s death was a ‘homicide’

Mourners at a mural of George Floyd, close to the spot where he died in Minneapolis. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Derek Chauvin, the police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, has already been charged with his murder. But calls to charge the other three officers involved in his fatal arrest are growing, after a medical examiner in Minneapolis classified the 46-year-old’s death as a homicide, caused by “a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s).”

The chief of Minneapolis police, Medaria Arradondo, said in an interview on Sunday that the decision over whether to charge the officers would come through the Hennepin county attorney’s office, but added that “all four officers” involved in Floyd’s death were “complicit” in what he described as “a violation of humanity.

Dr Fauci hasn’t spoken to Trump in more than two weeks

Fauci listens to Trump at a briefing on 20 March. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

For months, Dr Anthony Fauci was the face of the US response to the coronavirus. But on Monday the Trump administration’s top infectious disease expert admitted he had not spoken to the president since 18 May, despite the pandemic’s continued spread through American communities. The news seems likely to raise fears that Fauci has been frozen out by the White House – and that Trump has lost interest in tackling the disease.

The coronavirus crisis continues…

In other news…

There are fewer than 1,000 Sumatran rhinos left on Earth. Photograph: Supri Supri/Reuters

Great reads

Run the Jewels: ‘I’m just rapping about the societal conditions.’

Killer Mike’s impassioned speech about the death of George Floyd went viral last week. He and his Run the Jewels collaborator El-P tell Alexis Petridis about being the right band for the times. “If anything, it’s a source of mild discomfort to us that our music is seemingly relevant.”

The power of crowds

Even before the coronavirus lockdown, the opportunity to gather freely in crowds was under threat from mass surveillance, or the seizure of public space. But whether for protest or celebration, the human desire to form a crowd will persist, writes Dan Hancox.

Opinion: the G20 should be leading us out of the Covid crisis

In 2009, Gordon Brown led a G20 summit at which world leaders come together to forge solutions to the global financial crash. Yet in 2020, Brown writes, the world’s premier forum for international economic cooperation has gone awol amid an even deeper crisis.

This is not just an abdication of responsibility; it is, potentially, a death sentence for the world’s poorest people, whose healthcare requires international aid and who the richest countries depend on to prevent a second wave of the disease hitting our shores. 

Last Thing: ‘No one can ignore a black woman on a horse’

Brianna Noble rides her horse Dapper Dan through downtown Oakland last Friday. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

Brianna Noble was one of thousands of protesters on the streets of Oakland on Friday. But she was probably the only one riding a horse. “I know that what makes headlines is breaking windows and people smashing things,” the 25 year-old horse trainer told the Guardian. “So I thought, ‘Let’s go out and give the media something to look at that is positive and change the narrative’ … I felt helpless and thought to myself, ‘I’m just another protester if I go down there alone, but no one can ignore a black woman sitting on top of a horse.’”

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