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Mourners remember George Floyd as Trump’s talk of using troops at protests draws pushback

Formal mourning began Thursday for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death has touched off a torrent of national outrage. While overnight protests were largely peaceful, President Trump is now facing a torrent of criticism over his talk of using the military to quell unrest. John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The formal mourning has begun for the Minneapolis man whose death last week touched off a torrent of national outrage.

    At the same time, President Trump is facing a torrent of criticism over his talk of using the military to quell violence.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

  • John Yang:

    In Minneapolis today, the first of several memorial services across the country for George Floyd. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey knelt at Floyd's coffin.

    The Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy.

  • Rev. Al Sharpton:

    … is George Floyd's story has been the story of black folks, because, ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is, you kept your knee on our neck.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • John Yang:

    And across the country, a virtual moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen pinning his knee onto Floyd's neck. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.

    In Washington, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced new actions to address the unrest that has gripped the nation for 10 days.

  • Christopher Wray:

    We have directed our 200 Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country to assist law enforcement with apprehending and charging violent agitators.

  • John Yang:

    Barr blamed extremist groups.

  • Attorney General William Barr:

    We have evidence that Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.

  • John Yang:

    But, last night, protests remained largely peaceful. In Washington, hundreds marched to the Capitol beside National Guard troops. At one point, some demonstrators knelt and sang.

    In New York City, protesters were largely peaceful as well. But, as nighttime fell on the rainy city streets, police in riot gear moved in to enforce a curfew, sometimes by force. Dozens were arrested.

    Amid the chaos, a confrontation in Brooklyn left three policeman wounded, one stabbed and two shot, and their suspected attacker shot. The officers are expected to recover. The suspect is in critical condition.

    In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz ordered the National Guard to the state's western border, saying that violence from planned protests in North Dakota could spill into his state.

    Leaders in 32 states and the District of Columbia have deployed more than 3,200 members of the National Guard. President Trump is prepared to use active-duty troops, if necessary, according to Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, who used language usually reserved to describe potential overseas military operations.

  • Hogan Gidley:

    Safety and security are the number one thing Donald Trump cares about, period. All options are on the table when the lives of the American people are at stake.

  • John Yang:

    The idea drew new pushback last night, this time from President Trump's former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

    In his essay for "The Atlantic," the retired Marine general delivered perhaps his harshest public criticism of the president yet, accusing Mr. Trump of dividing the country. And he called the use of National Guard troops near the White House on Monday to forcefully clear crowds for a presidential photo-op an abuse of executive authority.

    The president fired back with a tweet calling Mattis "the world's most overrated general."

    And President Trump's support among congressional Republicans showed signs of strain, as Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Mattis' remarks were "necessary and overdue," and suggested she may not vote to reelect the president.

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska:

    I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time. I think you know that. I didn't support the president in the initial election.

  • John Yang:

    Meanwhile, there's new attention on police treatment of minorities across the country. The fatal shooting an unarmed Latino man early Wednesday morning by Vallejo, California, police responding to a report that a drugstore was being looted, and a video of a Sarasota, Florida, police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed black man being arrested in May on domestic violence charges.

    That incident is now under investigation.

    In Georgia today, a video court hearing for two men charged in the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery. A state investigator testified one of the accused men used a racial slur.

  • Richard Dial:

    After the shooting took place, before police arrival, while Mr. Arbery was on the ground, that he heard Travis McMichael make a statement, (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

  • John Yang:

    Tonight, demonstrators are gathering across the country for another round of protests. And mayors of cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have lifted nighttime curfews, hoping last night's calm holds.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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