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Hundreds of people held a private memorial in honor of George Floyd in his North Carolina birth town.

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Cities across the nation saw massive demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality Saturday as numerous peaceful confrontations between protesters and authority figures captured national attention. 

Half a dozen Secret Services agents engaged protesters outside the U.S. Treasury building in Washington on Saturday. “Do you want an all-white police force?” asked one black officer. “When I take this uniform off, I’m still black.” In Minneapolis, a crowd of demonstrators booed Mayor Jacob Frey after he refused to say he was in favor of abolishing the city’s police department. And Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley left a restaurant after protesters confronted him.

Demonstrations have reached even small cities as America confronts racism in conversations and protests — some calm, others tumultuous.

Some recent developments:

  • George Floyd protests reach even small cities as America confronts systemic racism.

  • Saturday was by far the largest day of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., since Floyd’s death. Thousands of protesters from all walks of life poured into the nation’s capital.

  • The U.S. Marine Corps ordered all public displays of the Confederate flag removed, a ban that extends to bumper stickers, clothing, mugs, posters and more.

Police, protesters square off in Portland

A clash between Portland police and protesters at the Justice Center overnight resulted in more than 50 arrests. Chief Jami Resch said early Sunday that several thousand people marched peacefully, but that a smaller group of protesters attempted to cut through a security fence and threw balloons full of paint and full beverage cans. Two officers were injured by lit fireworks, she said. 

Protests have taken place daily in the city for more than a week, and police have come under scrutiny for their use of force against demonstrators. The advocacy group Don’t Shoot Portland has filed suit against the city, accusing police of “indiscriminate use” of tear gas. The city’s police oversight panel, the Citizen Review Committee, has issued a statement citing “a troubling pattern of police violence against protesters that interferes with public safety and freedom of speech.”

Survey: Americans’ perceptions of police drop significantly in one week

The perception of police among white Americans has dropped by double digits in just one week, as police have targeted peaceful protesters, bystanders and journalists amid nationwide demonstrations focusing on systemic racism facing black Americans. Perceptions also have declined across all racial groups following the death of George Floyd in police custody, according to a new survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.

Among white Americans – a group where President Donald Trump saw broad support in the 2016 election – those who have a very favorable or somewhat favorable impression of police officers totaled 61% in the survey conducted May 28 to June 3. That’s down from 72% the previous week, according to an analysis from Nationscape Insights, Democracy Fund, UCLA and USA TODAY. Among black Americans, only 38% view the police very or somewhat favorably. That number dropped 9 percentage points from the previous week.

“These changes were striking,” said Robert Griffin, research director for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group. “While public attitudes are typically quite stable, the country is experiencing an almost unprecedented level of civil protest – hundreds of gatherings and events taking place even in small cities. At a time when so much in American politics feels deadlocked, this is the kind of major event that can reshape how Americans think.” 

– Rebecca Morin

More on protests, George Floyd:

Police announce arrests, investigations of officers

Multiple police departments have announced investigations and arrests tied to allegations of officer misconduct. In a high-profile case, two suspended Buffalo, New York, police officers were charged with second-degree assault Saturday amid outcry over video showing police shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground as they cleared an area of demonstrators. Graphic video from the incident showed the man motionless and bleeding from his head. Officials later said he was in stable condition.

Protesters have continued to call for justice for Floyd, a black man killed when a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as other officers stood by. Amid the demonstrations Saturday, multiple other police departments announced actions against officers tied to misconduct allegations.

In San Diego, police say they are investigating after a Thursday incident captured on video, which appears to show police forcing a protester into an unmarked vehicle. In the video an officer can be heard telling other protesters, “You follow us, you will get shot.”

Meanwhile, local media reports say a Missouri officer has been suspended after allegedly hitting a person with his vehicle, and a white Virginia officer is facing assault charges for his use of a stun gun on a black man in a recent domestic call.

Second Floyd memorial held in North Carolina

George Floyd’s death while in police custody sparked “a movement” nationwide, his eulogist said, as hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday in Raeford, North Carolina, to mourn his death while in police custody. 

The memorial was held inside a church just outside Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Floyd was born. Before the service, the 46-year-old’s body was placed in the center of the lobby, where mourners from the public were allowed in groups of 10.

Rev. Christoppher D. Stackhouse delivered a stirring eulogy about Floyd, noting “there was something different about that day” he died under police custody in Minneapolis.

Floyd was a gentle giant who loved banana-and-mayonnaise sandwiches, Stackhouse said. 

“A movement is happening today, and George Floyd sparked that fuel,” Stackhouse said. “He sparked the fuel that is going to change this nation.”

As the memorial started, a crowd of peaceful protesters lined the road outside.  A group of black men on horses rode into the parking lot, followed a few minutes later by a local motorcycle group. Flowers and signs lined the street, including one that read “George Floyd changed the world.”

– Ken Alltucker, Melody Brown-Peyton, Michael Futch, Rachael Riley

Contributing: The Associated Press

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