Overnight, there were more protests against the police murder of George Floyd and decades of violence toward the Black community. The attorney general of Minnesota announced charges against all four of the police officers most directly involved in Floyd’s death, including aiding and abetting murder for the three officers who stood and watched the murder without taking action. All four officers have now been arrested. And charges against Derek Chauvin, who crushed Floyd’s neck beneath his knee for over eight minutes, had his charges raised to second-degree murder. Members of Floyd’s family expressed their relief at the new charges against the officers and the increased charges against Chauvin—though they continued to feel that Chauvin’s charge should be one of first-degree murder.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama led a discussion on police reforms that could be rapidly implemented, Los Angeles officials sought to cut $150 million from the LAPD’s funds and move that money to programs that directly help the Black community, James Mattis (belatedly) carved Donald Trump a new one, Joe Biden released a new ad that manages to be upbeat while still slamming Trump, and Drew Brees and Rand Paul managed to stand out as massive jackasses even in a day when Bunker King Donald Trump filled the streets of Washington, D.C. with nameless ChickenTroopers.
As The Washington Post reports, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who took over prosecution of the case earlier in the week—upgraded the charge against Chauvin from third-degree to second-degree murder and brought charges against the other three officers—Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and Alexander Kueng—who failed to intervene in the murder. All four officers face a potential sentence of 40 years. These charges followed shortly after additional witnesses to the murder reported that Floyd had not resisted Chauvin and cooperated with officers, even though he had no idea why he was being arrested.
While news of the charges were met with cheers at many protests, they don’t address concerns about how Floyd’s murder was one in a seemingly endless string of incidents in which police either killed Black citizens or used highly inappropriate levels of force. In fact the internet was replete with incidents that continued on Wednesday evening, though protests in most areas were peaceful and in some areas curfews were either not enforced or are officially being rolled back.
Also on Wednesday evening, former President Barack Obama led a group of young Black activists and community leaders in a discussion of reforms to policing, many of which could be made immediately. For many, Obama’s brief discussion was a welcome respite in a nation that has seemingly been without leadership.
That said, Donald Trump did take some actions on Wednesday. Actions in the sense that he erected a second fence even further away from the White House, placing more of Washington, D.C. inside his expanding bunker. And Trump lined the walls of his bunker with thousands of newly minted “troops” who had no name badges, rank identifiers, or insignia.
It was widely reported that the majority of these people were from the Bureau of Prisons and had placed the city under the control of Attorney General William Barr, which was disturbing for nearly infinite reasons. Also, when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that the active duty military troops Trump had called into the capital were to return to their bases, he quickly had to backtrack … because Trump apparently no longer feels safe, even in his bunker, without tens of thousands of soldiers on hand to defend him from peaceful protesters.
Esper’s lack of enthusiastic support for fascism earned him a hefty dose of stink-eye on Wednesday, with several reports that he was in trouble with Trump and less than ringing endorsements from the White House. Since Esper has barely been in office long enough to get his feet wet, it’s not clear who else Trump might select for the job of turning America’s military against America—though Senator Tom Cotton made a sterling bid for the position in an ill-conceived New York Times editorial (intentionally not linked) in which he enthusiastically called for sending troops in to put down the uppity.
Earlier in the week, Esper had gone all in by explaining to governors their need to “dominate the battlespace.” (Or crush peaceful protesters in the streets of American cities. Same thing.) But Esper seemed somewhat chagrined about his role in blasting protesters so that Trump could have a Bible-fumbling photo op, and slightly tepid in his support for full-bore fascism.
Meanwhile, Esper’s predecessor, ex-general Jim Mattis, was considerably less agreeable in a statement on Wednesday night. Mattis talked about Trump’s three year effort to divide the nation and the need for unity … words that might have been more effective if they had come before he left the White House instead of after.
Finally, even on a night where Fear Troopers lined the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the nation had some standout jackasses. Saint’s quarterback Drew Brees decided that this was a peachy time to once again attack the idea of peaceful protest and insist that kneeling was disrespectful to the flag—a move that didn’t exactly earn him respect.
And Rand Paul decided that he alone could stop the march of tyranny by … being the lone senator to block a bill that would make lynching—actual lynching—a hate crime. Yes, really.