The Latest: Thousands protest across from Lafayette Park

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters are massing across the street from Lafayette Park near the White House on Tuesday, as military and civilian law enforcement personnel stood on the other side of a black chain link fence that had been put up overnight to block access to the park.

The crowd chanted the name of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.

Floyd is the black man who died while in police custody in Minnesota.

The protesters stood in front of the historic church where President Donald Trump went for a photo op Monday night after the area around Lafayette Park was cleared of protesters by law enforcement officials using smoke canisters and pepper balls.

A half dozen Episcopal priests stood outside St. John’s Church handing out bottled water and praying with protesters.

WASHINGTON — A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says he was “sickened” to see National Guard troops and other security personnel forcibly clear protesters from a square near the White House to facilitate President Donald Trump’s walk to a nearby church to pose for photographers.

Calling the visit Monday a “stunt,” Mike Mullen, a retired Navy admiral who headed the military from 2007 to 2011, wrote in The Atlantic on Tuesday it laid bare what he called Trump’s “disdain” for the rights of peaceful protesters. He said it also risked further politicizing the military.

Mullen cautioned against an overly aggressive use of the military to restrain the sometimes-violent protests around the country. He said he has confidence in the professionalism of the troops but worries about the soundness of the orders they would be given by Trump, who has threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act to enable him to use the active duty military to perform law enforcement duties to quell protests.

Mullen said that as bad as conditions on the streets of some cities have become, the crisis does not now justify invoking the Insurrection Act.

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MIAMI — A demonstration in Miami grew to about 400 people as protesters marched from a courthouse to a historically black neighborhood north of downtown.

Demonstrators sat on one knee during several stops to listen to organizers shouting instructions that they were to remain peaceful and hydrated in the 80-degree weather. They shouted “No justice, no peace, no racist police” as more than 30 officers followed the group a few blocks behind wearing body armor.

Twenty-two-year-old Trinity Auberry arrived at the demonstration with four other friends. It was the first time protesting for the young black model who said the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is not isolated and cases of “police brutality” are also common in Florida.

“It happens everywhere,” Auberry said. “I just pray for the hearts of the wicked to be changed. If their hearts don’t change, it’s the same cycle over and over again.”

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia National Guard is pursuing disciplinary action against a guardsman who posted on social media that he would shoot at people protesting the death of George Floyd, officials said Tuesday.

The guardsman, Noah Garcelon, has already resigned his position as an officer with the Winfield Police Department after making the comments. In a series of now-deleted posts, Garcelon wrote that he would “start firing live rounds” at protesters and “see how many I can run over before my car breaks down.”

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, who leads the state’s National Guard, said officials will be taking the appropriate disciplinary action related to Garcelon and any others “who make inflammatory comments related to protests going on across the nation.”

Winfield Police Department Chief Ron Arthur said Garcelon acknowledged that he made the comments and stressed that he wasn’t a racist before resigning.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has urged people to remain peaceful but said he would not hesitate to call in the National Guard if demonstrations in the state became violent.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — About 100 people gathered in front of the state capitol building in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday afternoon as medics passed out water bottles and snacks and volunteers passed out voter registration forms.

Participants raised their fists in unison as passing commuters showed their solidarity with honks and waves.

An outreach minister emphasized the need to sustain demonstrations past the initial events over the weekend and also urged a peaceful nature in the afternoon’s demonstrations. Minister Danielle Ford told the crowd, “they’re waiting on us to give up, they’re waiting on us to get tired, they’re waiting on us to give in. We need you out here.”

A 21-year-old college student said she was protesting for justice for George Floyd as well as Joshua Ruffin, a 17-year-old shot to death by a Columbia police officer after a foot chase in April.

People join George Floyd’s family in a march on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, from Discovery Green to City Hall in downtown Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

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HOUSTON — Houston rappers Bun B and Trae Tha Truth organized a march on Tuesday and told the crowd it would be peaceful.

After asking the crowd of several thousand to look for anybody who could cause trouble, Bun B then led them on a chant. He said “What’s his name?” and the crowd replied, “George Floyd.”

The crowd later got down on one knee and was silent for 30 seconds.

Among those participating was a group of about 60 people on horseback from a riding club in Houston.

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday more than 2,700 people have been arrested since protests and violence began in the nation’s second-largest city.

The chief told the city Police Commission that about 2,500 of those arrests were for failure to disperse or curfew violations. The remainder were for crimes including burglary, looting, assaults on police officers and other violence.

The chief gave the figures during a report to the Police Department’s civilian oversight board. Several new demonstrations in Los Angeles on Tuesday over the death of George Floyd have remained peaceful.

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