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Black Lives Matter: America boils as violent protesters demand justice for George Floyd

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Protesters have clashed with police in cities across the US over the killing of an unarmed African-American man at the hands of officers in Minneapolis.

Hundreds of people rallied outside the White House, which was briefly put under lockdown on Friday, demanding justice over the death of George Floyd.

Demonstrations have been taking place in Minnesota, New York and California.

A former Minneapolis police officer has been arrested and charged with murder over Mr Floyd’s death in custody.

Derek Chauvin, who is white, was shown in footage kneeling on 46-year-old Mr Floyd’s neck on Monday. He and three other officers have since been sacked.

Mr Chauvin, 44, is due to appear in court in Minneapolis for the first time on Monday.

President Donald Trump has described the incident as “a terrible, terrible thing” and said he had spoken with Mr Floyd’s family, whom he described as “terrific people”.

What happened during the protests?

On Friday evening, crowds gathered near the White House in Washington, DC, waving photographs of Mr Floyd and chanting “I can’t breathe” – invoking his last words and those of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being held in a police chokehold in New York in 2014.

The White House was then temporarily placed on lockdown, with the US Secret Service closing entrances and exits.

People gather outside the White House during a protest over the Minneapolis, Minnesota, arrest of George Floyd, who later died in police custody, 29 May 2020

Curfews were ordered for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, from 20:00 to 06:00 on both Friday and Saturday evening. But further gatherings of protesters were reported after the curfew had come into effect, and buildings and vehicles were later set alight.

There were violent clashes between protesters with police in several cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Louisville, Phoenix, Columbus and Memphis.

In Atlanta, buildings were vandalised and a police vehicle was set alight as protesters gathered near the offices of news broadcaster CNN.

In Dallas, officers launched tear gas canisters after they were pelted with stones.

While Mr Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over his role in Mr Floyd’s death, the protesters want the other officers involved to face justice.

The case has reignited US anger over police killings of black Americans, and the nationwide protests follow days of looting and arson in Minneapolis.

On Thursday, during the third night of protests, a police station was set alight. A number of buildings have been burned, looted and vandalised in recent days, prompting the activation of the state’s National Guard troops.

What did the prosecutor say?

Hennepin County Prosecutor Mike Freeman said he “anticipates charges” for the three other officers but would not offer more details.

Mr Freeman said his office “charged this case as quickly as evidence has been presented to us”.

“This is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer,” he noted.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr Chauvin acted with “a depraved mind, without regard for human life”.

How did George Floyd die?

The full report by the county medical examiner has not been released, but the complaint states that the post-mortem examination did not find evidence of “traumatic asphyxia or strangulation”.

The medical examiner noted Mr Floyd had underlying heart conditions and the combination of these, “potential intoxicants in his system” and being restrained by the officers “likely contributed to his death”.

Protests over death of George Floyd, killed in police custody in Minneapolis

The report says Mr Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds – almost three minutes of which was after Mr Floyd became non-responsive.

Nearly two minutes before he removed his knee the other officers checked Mr Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and were unable to find one. He was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance and pronounced dead around an hour later.

The Minnesota police handbook states that officers trained on how to compress a detainee’s neck without applying direct pressure to the airway can use a knee under its use-of-force policy. This is regarded as a non-deadly-force option.

What has the president said?

At the White House on Friday, Mr Trump said he had asked the justice department to expedite an investigation it announced on Friday into whether any civil rights laws were violated in Mr Floyd’s death.

The president also said “looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters”.

Earlier, he described the rioters as “thugs” who were dishonouring Mr Floyd’s memory.

Social media network Twitter accused Mr Trump of glorifying violence in a post that said: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

What’s the reaction?

Mr Floyd’s family and their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said that the arrest was “welcome but overdue”.

The family said they wanted a more serious, first-degree murder charge as well as the arrest of the other officers involved.

The statement called for the city to change its policing, saying: “Today, George Floyd’s family is having to explain to his children why their father was executed by police on video.”

Former US President Barack Obama also weighed in, saying: “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.”

His statement added: “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”

What happened in the arrest?

Officers suspected Mr Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 note and were attempting to put him in a police vehicle when he dropped to the ground, telling them he was claustrophobic.

According to police, he physically resisted officers and was handcuffed.

Video of the incident does not show how the confrontation started, but a white officer can be seen with his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck, pinning him down.

Mr Floyd can be heard saying “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me”.

A former local nightclub owner has said Mr Chauvin and Mr Floyd both worked as bouncers at her venue in south Minneapolis up until last year, though it is unclear if they knew one another.

– BBC

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Plateau Govt Confirms 22 Dead, 132 hospitalised In Jos School Building Collapse

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The Plateau State Government has confirmed 22 dead and 132 persons injured in the Jos collapsed school building.

Musa Ashoms, the Commissioner for Information, said six of the injured were in critical condition.

Ashoms said that those injured were receiving treatment in various tertiary health facilities in the state, while the bodies of the deceased had been deposited in the mortuaries.

NAN reports that a two-storey building of Saints Academy, a secondary and primary school located in Busa-Buji community of Jos North Local Area, had collapsed, trapping students, teachers and others.

The incident occurred at about 8:30 am on Friday when the students were writing their third term examination.

Meanwhile, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State has described the incident as a tragic and monumental loss to the state.

Mutfwang stated this in a statement issued by Mr Gyang Bere, his Director of Press and Public Affairs, on Friday in Jos.

The governor, who sympathised with the families of the affected victims, further described the incident as heartbreaking and unfortunate.

“This is tragic, unfortunate, heart-wrenching and a gloomy situation. We appreciate the timely intervention of the search-and-rescue team, as well as members of the public, who rushed to the school premises to assist in evacuating some of the surviving students and staff,” he said.

 

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Tinubu Renames National Theatre After Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has renamed the National Theatre in Lagos after Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

JomogNews reports that President Bola Tinubu has renamed the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

This online news platform learnt that Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

“When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

 

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FG Reaches New Agreement With IOCs On Crude Supply To Dangote, Local Refineries

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JomogNews Nigeria reports that the Federal Government and crude oil producers in Nigeria have committed to working towards a sustainable supply of crude oil to local refineries under a market-determined pricing system.

This Nigeria news platform understands that both parties said the commitment aimed to ensure that while the operators (crude oil producers) do business optimally, the refineries are not starved of feedstock.

Accordingly, the industry regulator, the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission has directed oil refiners in the country to provide monthly price quote on crude supply.

This came as the $20bn Dangote Petroleum Refinery is reportedly ramping up the importation of crude from the United States, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, Nigeria’s upstream regulator stated that oil producers under the umbrella of the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a meeting called by NUPRC, agreed to concede to a framework that would be mutually beneficial with the aim of ensuring that local refineries are not strangulated due to off-the-curve prices.

“The focus of the meeting held at the instance of the Commission Chief Executive, Gbenga Komolafe, was on the status review of the Framework for Seamless Operationalisation of Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation Template.

“It was part of efforts to effectively implement key sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, especially the issue of pricing and crude supply to the domestic refineries,” the commission stated.

In the statement, Komolafe said President Bola Tinubu is fully committed to providing a level playing ground for producers and refiners to do business in the industry.

He expressed the need for a rule of engagement to ensure that the pricing model from the oil producers does not hinder the domestic refineries.

He directed producers and refiners to provide the NUPRC with cargo price quotes on crude supply and delivery for effective monitoring and regulation of transactions among parties. “We need to have the price quotes monthly,” he directed.

The NUPRC boss pointed out a convergence between the Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation and the nation’s energy security, indicating that his team is re-engineering its regulatory processes to address the challenges.

“We allow all our processes to be transparent. While the Federal Government targets the implementation of the regulation, all parties must submit to the rules of engagement as a guide for operation,” Komolafe stated.

He said NUPRC is committed to driving the willing buyer/willing seller provision.

“We have to discuss pricing, especially as parties have committed to respecting their domestic crude oil obligation. As the regulator, we don’t want the upstream sector to be operated sub-optimally through cost under-recovery.

“So, the regulator is very alive to that. In crude pricing we will never allow price strangulation to disincentivise our domestic refining capacity optimisation. The regulator does not support cost under-recovery in the upstream sector, and we will continue to work to ensure that crude supply profiteering as a negative factor that can strangulate our domestic refining capacity optimisation is disallowed,” Komolafe declared.

Dangote raises alarm

Last month, the Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, had accused International Oil Companies in Nigeria of plans to frustrate the survival of the new Dangote Petroleum Refinery.

Edwin had said the IOCs were deliberately and willfully frustrating the refinery’s efforts to buy local crude by hiking the cost above the market price, thereby forcing the refinery to import crude from countries as far as the United States, with its attendant high costs.

“Recall that the NUPRC recently met with crude oil producers as well as refineries’ owners in Nigeria, in a bid to ensure full adherence to Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligations as enunciated under section 109(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act. It seems that the IOCs’ objective is to ensure that our petroleum refinery fails. It is either they are deliberately asking for a ridiculous/humongous premium or they simply state that crude is not available.

“At some point, we paid $6 over and above the market price. This has forced us to reduce our output as well as import crude from countries as far as the US, increasing our cost of production. It appears that the objective of the IOCs is to ensure that Nigeria remains a country which exports crude oil and imports refined petroleum products.

“They (IOCs) are keen on exporting the raw materials to their home countries, creating employment and wealth for their countries, adding to their Gross Domestic Product, and dumping the expensive refined products into Nigeria – thus making us to be dependent on imported products. It is the same strategy the multinationals have been adopting in every commodity, making Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa to be facing unemployment and poverty, while they create wealth for themselves at our expense,” Edwin had stated.

But on Thursday NUPRC emphasised the imperative for appropriate pricing to drive willing buyer willing seller referencing guided Fiscal Oil Price published by the commission in line with the provisions of the PIA.

“NUPRC is committed to attracting the needed investments to boost upstream development and optimisation of our hydrocarbon resources just as we want sustainability of domestic energy supply in the midstream and downstream sector.”

Crude importation

Also on Thursday Bloomberg reported that Nigeria’s Dangote mega-refinery was ramping up the importation of crude oil from the United States, stating that the Lagos-based refinery had created a new flow of long-haul crude from the US, as inflows of American feedstock could be about to rise further.

The report stated that the Dangote mega-refinery was lapping up ever more US crude, bringing the barrels thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

It stated that Dangote bought more than 16 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate crude oil so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In August and September, the proportion it will take from the US — as opposed to Nigerian barrels — may be set to rise, based on tenders for new supply seen by Bloomberg.

 

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