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Newsletter: Outrage over a death in Minneapolis

Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department on Thursday.
Protesters set fires at the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department on Thursday. Violent protests over the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

The death of George Floyd has fueled emotional demonstrations across the U.S.

TOP STORIES

Outrage Over a Death in Minneapolis

Protests both peaceful and violent have flared in cities around the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for help.

In Minnesota on Thursday night, protesters broke into a Minneapolis police precinct station that has become the epicenter of outrage. After the department fled the facility, some demonstrators set it ablaze and ignited fireworks. Crowds continued to ransack the station, burn cars and fire guns in the air early Friday. National Guard troops and Minneapolis police protected fire trucks as firefighters fought several blazes. Earlier, the governor had called in the National Guard as looting broke out in St. Paul.

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The demonstrations intensified after prosecutors announced they had not decided whether to charge the officers involved in Floyd’s death. It was reported that the officer shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck, along with another officer who stood by and watched, have been involved in use-of-force incidents over their careers.

Late Thursday night, President Trump blasted what he called a “total lack of leadership” in Minneapolis. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump tweeted, prompting Twitter to apply a notice that the tweet glorifies violence.

In downtown L.A., demonstrators again filled the streets Thursday night, without much incident. But the chorus of voices condemning the killing has been joined by some unfamiliar allies.

Leaders of some of the largest police departments in the U.S., including those in L.A. and New York, have spoken out this week against the officer at the center of the video, criticizing not only his tactics but also fellow officers who might seek to justify Floyd’s death.

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Trump’s Fury Against Twitter

The notice on Trump’s Minneapolis tweet came several hours after the president had signed an executive order targeting the social media platforms that help him and his campaign spread his message.

Earlier this week, Twitter had drawn Trump’s ire after adding a disclaimer fact-checking two of his tweets about mail-in balloting. Trump’s order aims to limit social media companies’ legal immunity for how they moderate content posted by users by modifying Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Experts say the move exceeds the president’s authority unless he persuades Congress to change the law, but it could put pressure on Silicon Valley by opening the door to lawsuits and regulatory reviews. In a Friday morning tweet, he called for Section 230 to “be revoked by Congress.”

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Trump’s action also could backfire. If the companies face new legal threats over user-generated content, they may try to limit their liability by blocking incendiary and baseless messages — the same kind that the president routinely posts or shares.

A Caution Sign for Reopening

With new labor figures showing that 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last 100 days, there’s an understandable push to reopen the economy, even as the number of coronavirus-related deaths has exceeded 100,000 in the U.S. But as California has moved forward with a relatively cautious approach, two counties in the state’s north offer a cautionary tale.

Sonoma County was one of the first regions to begin reopening after months of restrictions. Nearly 300 miles away, Lassen County had prided itself on being untouched by the coronavirus for months. Now, officials in both counties are scaling back the reopening.

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Los Angeles County, which has seen more than 2,200 coronavirus deaths, had been taking a slower approach but now is beginning to reopen its economy more rapidly.

Just this week, officials said churches and many more retail businesses could reopen with strict social distancing rules. There is hope L.A. County could soon join surrounding areas in allowing limited in-person dining at restaurants.

Health officials have stressed that preventing new outbreaks depends on people wearing masks, avoiding crowded spaces and keeping at least six feet apart. Then there’s the fear factor: Though L.A. County is allowing malls to resume operation, so far business is off to a slow start for the ones that have opened.

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A Disproportionate Toll

A major shift was already underway last month as coronavirus deaths were rising across L.A. County and officials were trying desperately to prevent a surge in cases.

In mid-April, while officials urged people to stay home, limit shopping trips and wear masks, infection rates in less affluent communities for the first time overtook wealthy ones, a Times analysis of county health data shows.

Confirmed cases per capita diverged on April 17 and the gap has kept growing since. The analysis found the virus is increasingly ravaging predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods with higher poverty levels, while wealthier, majority-white enclaves that initially reported some of the highest infection rates see much slower growth.

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— San Francisco Mayor London Breed has unveiled a plan for reopening the city, including allowing outdoor dining and permitting customers inside retail stores on June 15.

— Amid a growing outbreak at the California Institution for Men in Chino, officials say nearly 700 vulnerable inmates will be transferred to a dozen other prisons around the state.

— For many Americans, quarantine has been a sort of prison. For Kevin Harrington, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, it was freedom.

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— “Is pork essential?” In a Smithfield town, a coronavirus-plagued meat factory comes back to life.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

The End of an Era

“I wrote every column for The Times like it was my last. And now it is.” After three decades at The Times, Chris Erskine is off to new adventures.

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In writing about his life in the suburbs, there were lots of laughs. And in recent years, too many heart-wrenching moments. Here are some of his best columns.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Disney’s “It’s a Small World” was originally an attraction for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was so successful, company executives decided to move it to Disneyland in 1966. It officially opened as part of the park on May 30, sponsored by the Bank of America. As a story in The Times put it, the attraction “is based on audio-animatronics, the Disney technique of making three-dimensional figures seem alive.” The grand opening ceremony included fireworks and the release of balloons and white doves.

May 30, 1966: Walt Disney pours water from a canteen into a channel through the new Disneyland attraction "It's a Small World."
May 30, 1966: Walt Disney pours water from a canteen into a channel through the new Disneyland attraction “It’s a Small World.” With Disney are Louis B. Lundborg, Bank of American board chairman, and children representing many nations.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

YOUR WEEKEND

Waffles: It’s what you’re making for breakfast.

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— Find a new apartment, even during a pandemic.

— Give your pets some extra attention. Plus, here are dozens more things to do this summer.

— Has quarantine brought some tension to your relationship? Here’s how to fix it.

Want insider tips on the best of Southern California’s beaches, trails, parks, deserts, forests and mountains? Our newsletter The Wild, coming soon, takes on the great outdoors. Sign up here.

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CALIFORNIA

— L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez are calling on Councilman Jose Huizar to step down amid an ongoing corruption investigation at City Hall centered on bribes and real estate development.

— A sharp political and public policy rift has emerged between Gov. Gavin Newsom and his fellow Democrats in the California Legislature over how to navigate the bleak economic road ahead after a state Senate panel rejected more than half of the spending cuts in the $203.3-billion proposed budget he unveiled two weeks ago.

— The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is reviewing the actions of deputies captured on video confronting three men in a gray sedan who complained of unlawful harassment.

— Public access to a scenic Ventura County waterfall will be cut off starting today after officials said recent record crowds inundated the area with trash and human waste.

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NATION-WORLD

At least seven people were shot Thursday night in Louisville as protesters turned out to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.

— A federal watchdog says millions of American homeowners who are eligible for relief under the CARES Act were provided inconsistent or confusing information by more than two dozen banks.

— With fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections looming, some Persian Gulf nations have turned for help to an ostensible enemy and a country they don’t officially recognize: Israel.

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— The Chinese Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping, emerged from their post-coronavirus political meetings this week with a clear message: Beijing’s bottom line is sovereignty, at any cost.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— As Hollywood faces mounting pressure to resume production of movies and TV, filmmakers are turning to virtual producers and cutting-edge technology from the world of video games.

— How might live theater resume? Companies are exploring an old “new” stage: the outdoors.

— California artist Peter Alexander, who created ethereal worlds out of resin, died this week. He was 81.

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— Last week, Warner Bros. abruptly announced that Ruby Rose was leaving “Batwoman” after just one season on the CW. Rose says there’s more to the story.

— The cast of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will reunite Sunday for “Reunited Apart,” Josh Gad’s quarantine-friendly chat series on YouTube.

BUSINESS

— In black communities, barbershops and salons are cultural institutions. That’s made coronavirus closures harder to deal with and some shop owners are fighting back.

Amazon won’t say how many workers have gotten COVID-19. So workers are tracking cases themselves.

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SPORTS

College baseball programs have served as a river connecting the amateur and professional ranks. The coronavirus has disrupted it, setting up a roster logjam.

— How can college campuses be safe for athletes but not students? Columnist Bill Plaschke says big money is to blame.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— Columnist LZ Granderson on George Floyd, Central Park and the familiar terror they inspire.

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Hong Kong is the front line of a new cold war. If it burns, the world gets burned too, professor Ching Kwan Lee writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— The pandemic has made calculating the risk of our actions so frequent and front of mind, it’s almost a new national pastime. (The Cut)

— Gustavo Arellano, now with The Times, recounts how an online social media war with, among others, Donald Trump Jr. got him temporarily locked in Twitter jail. (Alta)

ONLY IN L.A.

For the alone, the lonely and those who just wanted latte, L.A.’s coffee shops were something of a romantic ideal. If there’s anything The Times’ Julissa James misses most in quarantine, it’s the quiet thrill of sitting in one with others. “It held out a romantic, maybe even unrealistic notion that your next connection — big or small, platonic or not — could be sparked when you reached for the Oatly at the same time as someone else.”

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Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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