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'Because they can get away with it': Why African Americans are blamed for crimes they didn't commit: Experts

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(NEW YORK) — A panicked white woman in New York City’s Central Park calls 911 to say that a black man threatened her and her dog.

A Florida mom claims two black men abducted her son, who had autism, and was later found dead.

But the harrowing story from Manhattan was just that — a tall tale about a potential assailant, but a bird watcher. And the supposedly terrified mother, police say, was never confronted by two abductors, but instead has been charged with killing her son.

Both the phony 911 call and the alleged kidnapping story follow, experts say, the stereotypical notion of black men as criminals and the ingrained racism that has existed in American society for generations. Although some may find it shocking that people are still resorting to these tropes, experts say that a culture of relative impunity has allowed it.

“It’s because they can get away with it. They do it because the criminal justice system is not going to give them consequences,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Patricia Ripley, the Florida mom, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder on May 23 after Miami, Florida, police said that in her initial report her son, who was non-verbal, was abducted by “two black men” during a carjacking was a farce.

During the manhunt for the two vaguely described alleged abductors, police say they found surveillance video that allegedly showed 45-year-old Ripley attempting to drown her son in a canal. Police say neighbors heard screams and rescued the boy, but an hour later, Ripley allegedly drowned the child in another canal, police said. Ripley is expected to be arraigned on June 12 and it was not clear if she had an attorney. “We don’t agree about what they said about my wife,” said Aldo Ripley, the father of Alejandro Ripley, after Patricia Ripley’s bond hearing on May 23.

The allegations surrounding Ripley were reminiscent of Susan Smith’s October 1994 story to South Carolina police that her two sons, aged 1 and 3, were kidnapped by an African American man during a carjacking. Smith, now 48 and serving 30 years to life prison sentence, confessed that she actually let her car roll into a lake with the boys inside, drowning them.

Smith, a white woman, and Ripley, who described herself in a police report as a “white Hispanic,” were not charged with filing a false police report.

In the second recent incident, Amy Cooper was seen on a now-viral cellphone video on May 26 frantically telling a 911 operator that the African American man recording her, Christian Cooper, was threatening her life after asking her to put her dog on a leash (she earlier told him, on camera that she would do exactly that). Dogs are permitted off-leash during certain hours, but not in the section of Central Park they were in.

Amy Cooper has since been fired from her investment firm job and apologized for her actions, saying “I am not a racist.” The New York City Commission on Human Rights launched an investigation into the incident.

Tim Wise, an anti-racism activist and author of the 2004 book “White Like Me: Reflection on Race from a Privileged Son,” compared Amy Cooper’s actions to “a white woman in the Antebellum South lying about a black man raping her and then maybe getting exposed.” Wise said the woman’s thoughts would likely be “oh, my life is ruined now. Everybody’s going to think I’m a liar.”

Instead, she should have been thinking about the potentially dire consequences of her claims, Wise said. “Gee, maybe you shouldn’t have tried to get this man killed,” he said. Nearly 3,500 black people were lynched in the United States from 1882-1968, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Browne-Marshall maintained that white people jump to blaming African Americans, specifically African American men, for crimes in some cases because they don’t want to believe they themselves are “the Boogeyman.”

“They do it because in their minds, they are the victims no matter what they have done to every group of color, they still see themselves as victims,” said Browne-Marshall. “That brother [Chris Cooper] could have been killed based on that white woman’s lies. How many black people generally, and black men in particular, have been murdered on the lie of a white woman?”

Falsely reporting African Americans for crimes has happened on a number of other occasions and is not exclusive to white women.

–In 1989, Charles Stuart reported to police that this pregnant wife was shot to death by an African American man during a carjacking in a predominately African American community in Boston. He then pointed out an innocent African American man in a police lineup.

It wasn’t until Stuart’s brother told police that he helped with the murder in an alleged insurance fraud scheme that the truth surfaced. Stuart died by suicide the following year.

–In 1992, Jesse Anderson falsely reported that two African American men attacked him and his wife in Milwaukee. His wife was stabbed dozens of times to death. Anderson went as far to give police a hat that one of the alleged assailants were wearing. The investigation found that Anderson bought the hat and the knife used to kill his wife. He was convicted of her murder and in 1994 died after a prison beating.

–Sherry Hall, a Georgia rookie police officer, falsely claimed in 2016 that an African American man shot her. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hall described her assailant as a 6-foot, 230-pound African-American man wearing a green shirt and black jogging pants. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation got involved and found her story to be a lie. She was charged, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison on a range of charges including making false statements.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum and former Boston police officer, told ABC News on Friday he remembers the Stuart investigation as “a nightmare.”

“With a serious crime like that, police have to believe the victim, but they also have to check the information,” said Wexler, who did not work on the Stuart case. “What it did was create racial issues in the city. Police stopped a number of African American men and police got criticized for racial profiling.”

The man who Stuart identified in the lineup, Willie Bennett, stood accused of the crime until Stuart’s brother came forward. Bennett spent 12 years in prison on an unrelated robbery charge.

Dr. Rheeda Walker, a licensed clinical psychologist, told ABC News on Thursday that the consequences of African Americans being falsely blamed for crimes can transition to “internalized racism.”

“Over the course of generations, some, not all, but some black people start to internalize this notion that ‘I don’t matter, my life doesn’t matter’ because the messaging is so pervasive…these narratives gets warped into not only are you not human, you’re a violent person,” said Walker.

Walker said that African Americans are sometimes seen as potentially violent simply because of their skin tone.

“It is out of our control and I think that’s the part of what gets to be really, just hurtful because skin is something that you are born with, yet is perceived as a weapon or by your inherent birth, somehow you’re dangerous,” said Walker, the author of “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health.”

According to Walker, African Americans find themselves making daily efforts to avoid triggering a potential racist.

“You always have to live your life with these calculations, with these limitations, because you have to navigate other peoples’ racist insanity,” said Walker. “So, often black people do things in society to look less threatening that way other people don’t have to feel threatened. It’s a calculation.”

Browne-Marshall, the author of “Race, Law, and American Society: 1607-Present,” said that white people have “the privilege of escape, of never looking inward to determine why they have a fear of black people in the first place.”

People, Wise said, are “trained” to believe negative things about African American people and “even if you’re a decent person, 99.9% of the time, you are still being conditioned to react in that way.”

“And so if you live in a society where you have been told to fear black folks, not just to fear, but to have contempt for black and brown bodies, to actually view them as less deserving of consideration of humanity as you, or to believe that they ought not be in your space when you’re in that space or that they should have to defer to you,” said Wise.

According to Walker, there’s enough “misunderstanding” about who African Americans are in every level of the government, healthcare, criminal justice and education systems racial biases are passed from generation to generation.

African Americans make up 49% of wrongful convictions since 1989, according to data collected by The National Registry of Exonerations (NRE). By contrast, 37% of whites and 12% of Hispanics were exonerated during the same time period.

According to a 2017 report from the NRE, black people were seven times more likely to be falsely convicted of murder than white people, three and a half times more likely to be innocent when accused of sexual assault because of misidentification (happened in half the cases) and 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted in drug cases.

Like in Amy Cooper’s case, the moments when a 911 dispatcher receives a call that a crime is being committed are the most crucial, experts say. Wexler says that dispatchers are trained to ask several questions before deploying officers to a possible crime scene.

“If someone says there’s a suspicious man in the neighborhood and a police officer stops someone who is doing nothing it becomes a nightmare for everyone, for the person stopped and the officer who is now being accused of racial profiling,” said Wexler.

Wexler said it’s “frustrating” when people use the police for racial profiling, but you “cannot control citizen’s discretion” on when to call the police.

According to Wexler, training police officers on how to detect implicit bias and recognize that there are citizens who want to draw police into their biases can prevent responses to calls like Amy Cooper’s.

Browne-Marshall suggested that laws be created or amended “to protect, laws to give criminal consequences to people who abuse law enforcement for their own racial harassment and reform the prosecutorial system.”

“So when these people are using police officers for harassment, that should be a crime and someone should pass legislation that if police officers are used for racial harassment that it should be a crime punishable of a fine…now that’s action,” said Browne-Marshall. “We need to put the burden on the white people to prove that it is not racism.”

New York State Assistant Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz sponsored a bill in January 2019 to amend the statute for falsely reporting an incident to include hate crimes. Ortiz posted on Twitter that if the bill passes it would make falsely reported incidents, like Amy Cooper’s, a hate crime.

Ortiz’s bill is still pending votes with the committee.

“If they can come up with a fine this fast for social distancing then they can come up with this,” said Browne-Marshall.

Walker says, for now, it’s more important to resist internal racism and be responsible for the mental health of the community “because we have that in our control.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dragon docks at International Space Station 19 hours after NASA-SpaceX launch

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(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — Astronauts on board the Dragon successfully docked at the International Space Station Sunday morning, 19 hours after the successful NASA-SpaceX launch.

At 10:16 a.m. Eastern time, the Dragon spacecraft carrying veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley rendezvoused with the space station 262 statute miles above the border of China and Mongolia.

“Docking soft capture. We have docking,” NASA mission control in Houston announced.

The accomplishment came at 18 hours and 58 minutes after the rocket, commercially built by technology entrepreneur Elan Musk and his SpaceX team in Hawthorne, California, propelled the astronauts into a new chapter of space exploration, marking the first time a privately funded space program teamed with NASA on such an endeavor.

Shortly after linking up with the space station, 12 latches of the Dragon were deployed creating an airtight seal that would allow Behnken and Hurley to enter a vestibule and go into the space station.

“It’s been a real honor to be just a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States space ship docked with the International Space Station,” Hurley said after the historic accomplishment.

About 2 hours after docking, the astronauts opened the final of three hatches and entered the space station dressed in dark shirts, light-colored pants and white socks. Behnken was the first to through the hatch, entering the space station at 1:22 p.m. Eastern time quickly followed by Hurley.

On the other side of the hatch they were greeted with hugs by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and his two crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Hurley and Behnken entered the space station while orbiting 262 miles over Turkmenistan.

Flight director Zeb Scoville, who was at mission control in Houston, congratulated the crew.

”Bravo on a magnificent moment in spaceflight history, and on the start of a new journey that has changed the face of space travel in this new era of space transportation,” Scoville said.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator who was at mission control in Houston, was among the first to greet them.

“Welcome to the space station,” Bridenstine told them. “I tell you, the whole world saw this mission and we are so proud of everything you have done for our country and in fact to inspire the world.”

Hurley responded, saying, “I appreciate that sir. It’s obviously been our honor to be just a small part of this.”

“It’s great to get the United States back in the crew launch business and we’re just really glad to be on board this magnificent complex,” Hurley said.

Bridenstine asked if they were able to get any sleep Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

“We did get probably a good seven hours or so of the opportunity for sleep and I did succeed at sleep and Doug did as well,” Behnken said. “The first night is always a little bit of challenge but the Dragon was a slick vehicle and we had good airflow and so we had an excellent, excellent evening.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was also on hand in Houston to congratulate the astronauts and asked them how the Dragon handled in space.

“It flew just like it was supposed to,” Hurley said. “We had a couple of opportunities to take it out for a spin, so to speak, once after we got into orbit last night and again today about 20 minutes before we docked and my compliments to the folks back in Hawthorne [California] and SpaceX for how well it flew. It’s exactly like the simulator and we couldn’t be happier about the performance of the vehicle.”

Cruz reminded the astronauts about the problems in the United States on the ground, referring to the violent protests stemming from the police-involved killing of African American George Floyd and the continuing battle against the coronavirus.

“I have to say this launch and y’all’s docking is a powerful inspiration of what we can do when we come together,” Cruz said.

Hurley responded by recalling that nine years ago he was among the crew that docked space shuttle Atlantis to the space station, ending a 30-year shuttle program and that ever since then SpaceX, NASA and the commercial crew program have been working to restore American launch capability.

“This is just one effort that we can show for the ages in this dark time that we’ve had over the past several months to kind of inspire especially the young people in the United States to reach for these lofty goals and work hard and look what you can accomplish,” Hurley said.

Following the SpaceX launch on Saturday, Bridenstine said he was “so proud” of the achievement.

“For the first time in nine years, we have now launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I’m so proud of the @NASA and @SpaceX team for making this moment possible,” Bridenstine tweeted.

Speeding into orbit at more than 17,500 mph, the Dragon spacecraft, now named Endeavour, was able to track down the International Space Station in about the same amount of time it takes for a commercial flight to travel from New York to Sydney, Australia. But the docking procedure was done slowly and cautiously.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were on hand at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to watch the launch on Saturday afternoon. The blast-off was initially scheduled to take place on Wednesday but was postponed due to weather conditions.

“It is absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to get the United States back in the launch business. We’ll talk to you from orbit,” Hurley said minutes before launch.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"Speechless" no more: Dan + Shay reemerge to speak out about George Floyd's death

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ABC/Image Group LAJustin Bieber‘s been posting multiple messages denouncing racism since the death of George Floyd, whose death following his arrest by the Minneapolis police has sparked protests worldwide.  Now, his “10,000 Hours” duet partners, Dan + Shay, have added their voices to the chorus.

In a lengthy Instagram post, the duo explains that they’ve been silent on social media because they’ve been busy finishing up “what we think is our best work yet.” But, they add, “This past week’s event in Minneapolis changed that.”

“When the news story began do break, so did our hearts. In fact, they shattered. For the family of George Floyd and for the black community as a whole,” they write.  “This is not the first time this has happened, but by God, please let it be the last.”

They continue, “We, as humans, MUST come together to make a change. Racism and discrimination because of someone’s skin color is simply just WRONG.  Politics and all other bulls*** aside, we all have a giant responsibility to eliminate this issue, which has plagued our country for far too long.”

The “Speechless” duo’s message concludes, “…this starts at home. We must educate our children, and instill values of love and equality. We are all born innocent, and racism is something that is learned. Let’s work together, NOW, to make a change.  Please use your voice.”

Dan + Shay also add that their “hearts go out to those affected directly and indirectly by COVID-19.”

By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

George Floyd protest updates: Police arrest almost 1,700 people across 22 cities in 3 days

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iStock/ChiccoDodiFCBy: JON HAWORTH, ABC News 

(NEW YORK) — The death of George Floyd, a black man seen in a video pinned down by a white police officer and who later died, has caused outrage in Minneapolis and across the United States. What started as mostly peaceful protests earlier in the week have turned into chaos.

City leaders have pleaded with communities to voice their outrage in a lawful manner, but the widespread escalation of protests continued Friday night into Saturday.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, murder and manslaughter charges have been filed against Derek Chauvin, one of four officers at the scene, all of whom have been fired. The Department of Justice said a full investigation of the incident is a “top priority.”

Prosecutors said Chauvin, seen in the video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck, had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including for two minutes and 53 seconds when Floyd was unresponsive.

This story will be updated throughout the day. Please check back for updates. All times Eastern.

7:38 a.m.: Richmond police investigating shooting incident during protests

The Richmond Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened during the violent protests overnight.

At approximately 1:04 a.m. this morning, officers were notified that an adult male victim had arrived at a local hospital. He was taken there in a private vehicle.

The victim suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound when the vehicle he was riding in came in contact with a group of protesters at approximately 12:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of W. Grace Street.

Detectives have determined the gunshots came from behind the vehicle. There is no suspect description at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

6:35 a.m.: 345 people arrested in New York City on Saturday amid protests, 33 officers injured

345 people were arrested in New York City on Saturday night and into early Sunday morning after a second round of protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent.

There were also 33 police officers injured and 47 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

Daytime marches that blocked traffic but were mainly peaceful devolved at night into projectile throwing and the torching of police vehicles.

Multiple police vehicles were set on fire or defaced with graffiti.

The 33 officers were injured in demonstrations throughout parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. None of the injuries are life threatening but some are serious.

Police faced criticism after video circulated on social media that appeared to show a police SUV pushing a metal barrier into a crowd of demonstrators. Mayor de Blasio, who briefs at 10a, said in a late night news conference the police were put in an impossible situation

“I wish the officers found a different approach,” the mayor said. “The protesters on that video did the wrong thing to surround that police car.”

6:05 a.m. Police have arrested at least 1,669 people in 22 U.S. cities in the past 3 days

George Floyd was accused by a convenience store clerk on May 25 of attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill when Minneapolis Police Department officers arrived on scene. About 20 minutes later, Floyd was pronounced dead, and four days later, former officer Derek Chauvin, who is now in police custody, was charged with third-degree murder.

5:57 a.m.: At least one killed in Indianapolis in shooting amid protests

Police Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department held a press conference late last night confirming that at least one person has been shot and killed and at three more people had been shot throughout the day as protests engulfed the city.

Said Taylor: “Earlier this evening our officers worked to protect our residents’ right to peaceful protests. Most of those protesters cooperated and did a fine job. For that, we’re thankful. However, there was a small group of people that escalated to violent acts, including throwing projectiles at officers and breaking windows of government buildings. Since then, we have seen continued and escalating incidents of violence. This includes shots fired and loss of life. This is not acceptable in this community. This behavior will not be tolerated by IMPD. We’re asking that residents who do not live in the downtown area go home. Enough is enough. Indianapolis, we are better than this. Downtown is not safe at this time. Residents who do not live in the downtown area, we’re asking to please vacate the area.”

The IMPD did not give any further details on the circumstances around the death of the individual involved in the shooting and said that they had “lost count” of the number of reported shots being fired across the city.

4:32 a.m.: 28 arrested in Nashville; horses used to back crowd away from precinct

A total of 28 people have been arrested by the Metro Nashville Police Department after the 10 p.m. curfew took effect.

Earlier in the day, protesters marched down Broadway and 1st Avenue North arriving at 1 Public Square to continue protesting outside of the Metropolitan Nashville Courthouse.

Protesters could be seen shouting “no peace” and “don’t shoot’ as they gathered on the steps of Public Square Park.

Protesters reportedly broke out windows of Metro courthouse and spray-painted obscenities against law enforcement on the walls and sidewalk.

A group of people also managed to break into the Metro courthouse and set fire to the outside and inside of the building before authorities were able to disperse the crowd using fireworks and a smoke bomb. Protesters could also be seen outside the front of the courthouse burning an American flag.

3:39 a.m.: Target temporarily closes 175 stores in 13 states due to protests

Target released a new statement late Saturday night announcing that they will be temporarily closing 175 stores due to ongoing protests.

They have closed 71 stores in Minnesota; 49 stores in California; four stores in Colorado; two stores in Georgia; seven stores in Illinois; one store in Michigan; five stores in Missouri; 12 stores in New York; one store in Nebraska; eight stores in Oregon; four stores in Pennsylvania; nine stores in Texas; and two stores in Wisconsin.

Team members impacted by store closures will be paid for up to 14 days of scheduled hours during store closures, including COVID-19 premium pay.

2:43 a.m.: No civilian or officer injuries as ‘dozens’ arrested in Minneapolis

Minnesota’s commissioner of corrections says they’re still working to finalize the total arrest numbers from overnight but that, to his knowledge, dozens had been arrested by 10 p.m. local time.

Commissioner Paul Schnell said “rapid response teams” were working to break-up small groups still roaming the streets of Minneapolis overnight.

They reported no injuries among people in the streets as well as to responding officers.

Authorities shutdown major freeways in the city and closed off key routes between Minneapolis and St. Paul to prevent groups from moving between the two cities. A police line blocked the Ford Parkway Bridge.

It was a very different night compared to what happened on Friday in Minneapolis. Local authorities said Saturday’s law enforcement response would be noticeably different and it seems that the new tactics along with more manpower was working.

Authorities launched an aggressive operation to disperse the crowd of hundreds that gathered around the Precinct 5 police department. Thursday, protesters burned the Precinct 3 department to the ground. About 40 minutes after Saturday’s 8 p.m. curfew began, riot police seemed to appear from every direction, dozens coming off of city buses and deploying flashbangs and tear gas.

“I believe tonight went far better than expected,” Schnell said. He called Saturday night’s effort to clear the crowd of demonstrators a “decisive and strong action.”

The response certainly appeared more aggressive than nights before and seems to have been successful in helping authorities reclaiming the streets of the Twin Cities.

There were no major fires like the ones that burned in the days prior. The question now is what will Sunday bring to this city. Police believe they’ve “drawn a line” and made progress.

Said the commissioner: “We’re in this until this is addressed. We don’t feel that we’re out of this yet. We’re seeing this types of issues occurring across the nation.”

2:02 a.m.: Atlanta police arrest 70 people, majority of protesters have now dispersed

Atlanta Police have issued a statement saying that they are no longer working any major incidents and the vast majority of protesters have dispersed.

A total of 70 people have been arrested Saturday night into Sunday morning.

“As of 1:30 a.m., APD officers were not working any major incidents and it appeared that the vast majority of protesters had dispersed. Officers arrested 70 individuals Saturday night, into Sunday morning,” the APD said in the statement.

1:42 a.m.: Denver authorities arrest 18 as protests ease from previous two nights

Denver officials say a curfew helped keep Saturday night’s protests around the state capitol much more peaceful than the previous two nights when businesses, city and state buildings took significant damage.

“We’re serious about this. This was not a game to be played. Lives were at stake. Very serious property damage was at stake. We weren’t going to stand for it again in this city,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told ABC News’ Denver affiliate KMGH-TV. “We meant this curfew. We will continue to enforce it accordingly.”

The Denver Police Chief told KMGH-TV that the department arrested 18 people Saturday night, including one man allegedly carrying this handgun illegally.

Throughout the day and evening, several skirmishes broke out between police and protesters, who built makeshift roadblocks and set them on fire as police in riot gear advanced, firing teargas to clear the streets. One woman was reportedly shot at point blank range in the back by an officer firing a pepper ball round and several cars were also burned.

Things are mostly quiet now, with a few remaining protesters and police on the streets. Denver’s curfew is in effect until 5 a.m. local time and again on Sunday night.

1:34 a.m.: Houston mayor says George Floyd’s body will return to Houston

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has said the body of Houston native George Floyd will return to the city.

Turner spoke to the community late Saturday afternoon and encourage residents to protest peacefully, after looting was reported on the first night.

“This is our house. This is the same city that George Floyd grew up,” Turner said. “And his body will be returning to this city. To his city.”

Fort Bend Memorial Planning Center in Rosharon, Texas, posted a flyer on Facebook with a picture of Floyd, stating funeral arrangements are forthcoming.

Floyd’s family and attorneys have yet to confirm funeral arrangements for the 46-year-old.

“The focus needs to be on supporting and uplifting his family. And that’s what I want to keep bringing this conversation to. George Floyd. It’s not about these other individuals, who won’t be a moment. It’s about George Floyd, and justice for George Floyd,” said Turner.

1:12 a.m.: Protests mount in Ferguson, Missouri

Ferguson, Missouri, tonight has taken a violent turn as protesters have vandalized the police department.

Notably, Ferguson was the center of civil of unrest in 2014 after the fatal police shooting of Mike Brown by police officer Darrel Wilson.

Per the St. Louis County Police Department, all non-essential personnel have been evacuated at the Ferguson Police Department.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency late Saturday and activated the Missouri National Guard to stand ready to assist.

A total of two officers were injured and transported to the hospital while two others were treated on the scene for minor injuries.

Crowds have now dispersed and officers will continue patrol for the night.

12:53 a.m.: Miami-Dade Police arrest 38 people, suspends all transit services on Sunday

The Miami-Dade Police Department have announced that 38 people have been arrested so far after Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed a local state of emergency declaration, ordering a curfew that took place at 10 p.m. last night until 6 a.m. on Sunday after some protesters began to burn police cars at the Miami Police Station.

The Department of Transportation and Public Works also has suspended all Miami-Dade Transit services on Sunday, May 31, including Metrorail, Metromover and Metrobus. This decision was made in an abundance of caution, and to ensure the safety of all passengers and employees, according to a statement released by Miami-Dade County.

12:46 a.m.: Biden releases statement on protests, urges understanding but cautions against ‘needless destruction’

Former vice president Joe Biden released a paper statement just after midnight eastern on the ongoing unrest and protests currently gripping several major American cities, urging an understanding of the trauma many people of color in America are facing in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but also speaking out against the “needless destruction,” that is playing out as a result of the protests.

“These last few days have laid bare that we are a nation furious at injustice. Every person of conscience can understand the rawness of the trauma people of color experience in this country, from the daily indignities to the extreme violence, like the horrific killing of George Floyd,” Biden wrote.

“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not,” he added.

The presumptive Democratic nominee also added that the protests going on tonight should not overshadow the cause they are trying to advance.

“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance,” Biden wrote.

Biden also acknowledged the widespread pain across the country, not only from the pain of Floyd’s death, but from coronavirus as well, relating to the feeling of grief, but implored the country to use the current anger to “compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.”

“I know that there are people all across this country who are suffering tonight. Suffering the loss of a loved one to intolerable circumstances, like the Floyd family, or to the virus that is still gripping our nation. Suffering economic hardships, whether due to COVID-19 or entrenched inequalities in our system. And I know that a grief that dark and deep may at times feel too heavy to bear,” Biden said.

“I know.”

“And I also know that the only way to bear it is to turn all that anguish to purpose. So tonight, I ask all of America to join me — not in denying our pain or covering it over– but using it to compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.”

“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us,” the statement said.

Biden also pledged, if elected, to help lead a conversation on the issues that have caused the current unrest, and referenced again his recent conversation with George Floyd’s family and a promise he made to ensure his death will not just be a “hashtag.”

“As President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen. I will keep the commitment I made to George’s brother, Philonise, that George will not just be a hashtag. We must and will get to a place where everyone, regardless of race, believes that ‘to protect and serve’ means to protect and serve them,” Biden wrote.

“Please stay safe. Please take care of each other,” he added, ending his statement.

12:39 a.m.: Los Angeles issues mandatory curfew for the entire city

The Los Angeles Police Department has issued a mandatory curfew from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. for the entire city. No one is allowed on the streets and people found in violation of this order are subject to arrest.

The LAPD initially issued the curfew for the downtown area of the city but have now expanded it to include the entire city.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Ahmad Hemingway, Alexandra Faul, Marcus Moore, Clayton Sandell, Bonnie McLean, Sarah Shales and John Verhovek contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How some cities plan to increase outdoor dining as restaurants reopen

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(NEW YORK) — As restaurants begin to reopen across the country, owners and managers are faced with new challenges to keep staff and customers safe.

Restaurant owners agree that the concept of limited dining capacity is simply not sustainable. Their businesses rely on volume of customers and frequent turnover.

So cities have stepped in.

As diners eagerly await being seated at eateries in person once again — even if it means sitting six feet apart — cities have stepped up plans to support the hard-hit industry and are clearing a path for potential success.

In Europe, cities and countries such as Amsterdam and Germany have been proponents of opening up the streets and plazas to provide space for restaurants to expand seating and provide al-fresco dining experiences.

Across the U.S., many states have started to ease restrictions to allow restaurants to reopen and local municipalities have engineered new measures for expansive outdoor seating.

The thought is that shutting down streets and opening up other public areas to restaurants will help ensure that diners can enjoy a meal while remaining at a safe social distance in accordance with state, local and health officials’ mandates, and that restaurants will be able to fill and turn more tables.

For a full look at your state’s reopening plan, click here.

Here is what’s being done to expand service to the streets in some U.S. cities.

San Diego

“America’s Finest City,” as many call it, has given the green light for restaurants to reopen, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced earlier this month that the city has worked diligently to approve modified on-site dining.

Matt Awbrey, the mayor’s chief of civic and external affairs, shared news on Twitter, outlining the proposal for “temporary outdoor business operations” changes to the city’s municipal code. The changes will allow for expansion of outdoor dining “within the public right of way, private parking lots and public space and parks,” the memo read.

Sdewalk cafe permits, temporary street closures and constructed seating in pedestrian plazas are all part of the proposed measure, which would waive current permit requirements. The program will ensure that restaurants continue to follow social distancing guidelines.

“Let’s support local workers and restaurants not only by giving them our business but by following public health rules that keep all of us safe,” Mayor Faulconer said in a press release. “We’ve all worked so hard, so let’s enjoy our progress but not give up the gains we’ve made. Whether you’re on the sand or at a shop this weekend, stay classy out there San Diego.”

The temporary ordinance would go into effect during the current state of emergency, which was declared by the city on March 12.

San Francisco

The City by the Bay remains under strict plans for re-opening and although restaurants will not open for dining with modified outdoor service until June 15, the mayor and a local restaurant lobbying group have made strides to help get residents back to their favorite eateries.

Mayor London Breed introduced a Shared Spaces Program in an attempt to help restaurants rebound after they closed their doors in the densely populated 46.8 square-mile city.

She called the order “a creative solution that will give our businesses more space to operate safely, and shift some of our street and sidewalk space to protect the economic and physical health of our entire community.”

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) has interceded with a petition to allow restaurants to apply for permits that would temporarily utilize “a portion of the public right-of-way” — open spaces around businesses including sidewalks, parking spots and “full or partial streets.”

Charleston, SC

At a high-traffic beach town 11 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina — where COVID-19 restrictions have eased — restaurants have room to breathe and started to seat crowds of customers at socially distanced outdoor tables.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order earlier this month that would allow South Carolina restaurants to offer outdoor seating.

Just in time for Memorial Day, Loggerhead’s Beach Grill, a popular oceanfront bar and restaurant, reopened its patio seating and expanded even more dining setups in the parking lot.

“We have the biggest location as far as folks to sit outside, we’ve turned our outside parking lot area into outdoor seating as well to maximize our capacity,” Mike Van Horn, the restaurant’s manager told ABC News Charleston affiliate WCIV. “It’s a good relief because obviously the restaurant industry was one of the biggest ones hit, especially with the number of people that were laid off industry wide.”

He added now that restrictions have been lifted, “folks definitely came out here in droves — and it hasn’t slowed down.”

New York City, NY

As the Big Apple prepares to reopen more businesses, City Council introduced legislation on Thursday to expand outdoor dining options for restaurants throughout the five boroughs.

“Expanding outdoor dining space will not only help these restaurants thrive financially but give our city a sense of normalcy. The restaurant industry is a huge part of New York City. No matter where you live, you love your local restaurants,” Speaker Corey Johnson said in the press conference. “This legislation will help give all New Yorkers better access to enjoy and support their local restaurants.”

If passed, there would be a new streamlined permit process for bars and restaurants located in an area zoned for sidewalk cafes to utilize the newly identified open spaces like sidewalks, streets and plazas to serve customers outside.

The temporary permit would come at not cos for restaurants and allow them to set up outdoor tables.

Additionally, the bill would ask the city’s Department of Health for new safety protocols to ensure that restaurants follow proper social distancing and cleanliness parameters outside.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed the idea and gone so far as to identify bar-heavy spots where a plan like this could work, he has yet to issue any official guidance to act on the issue.

“It is not part of phase one, but it is something we’ll have more to say on soon,” de Blasio said, according to ABC New York station WABC.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, said “restaurants cannot wait any longer” and explained that they need clear criteria to move forward.

“They need money, they need customers, and you can tell New Yorkers are out and about. There’s beautiful weather, so they’re going to be out regardless,” he explained on Thursday.

Local bar and restaurant owners like Linden Pride of Dante — a popular spot that has switched to curbside takeaway in Greenwich Village — told ABC News that he is a big proponent of the outdoor move.

Pride believes shutting down streets and opening up sidewalk space will allow for safer and more flexible dining options that help ensure more space without stifling capacity.

He also noted that while “space is limited,” people want to be outside. “Now is the perfect time while the weather permits, before winter,” he added. But even then, he said, if social distancing measures are still in place and outdoor dining is working, “there are heat-lamps and coverings, but who knows how long that could work.”

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