Social media posts of piles of bricks have gone viral in recent days, with unfounded claims that they are being placed around cities in an effort to foment violence during protests.
But analysis by NBC News’ Verification Unit found no evidence for such claims.
Images of piles of bricks across the country have been posted: from a suburb of Minneapolis, to Tacoma, Washington, and San Francisco.
Video of police in Boston unloading bricks from a vehicle has been viewed millions of times. The person who first posted it has since taken it down, saying she can’t be sure whether it does indeed show officers leaving the bricks at a protest site as she first suggested. That hasn’t stopped others repeating the claim. NBC News’ has now verified the footage shows the police unloading the bricks at the police station.
Some photos, like this one in Dallas, claim the police left the bricks there to encourage a riot that they could then clamp down on.
NBC News’ Verification Unit geolocated the photos and tracked down the bricks to a Dallas parking lot. They have been there for months, close to a construction site, and can be seen in an image on Google Maps Street View from February.
Another post in Frisco, TX asked “Anyone know why these random piles of bricks keep showing up near protest sites??? Someone is funding the rioting.” The local police later put out a tweet saying they’d investigated, the bricks were for a planned construction project, and they’ve been removed.
Unsubstantiated claims about bricks come as conspiracy theories about efforts to foment protests have spread on social media.
Bricks have been thrown during some protests, including video that appears to show a police officer being hit by a brick. There is also video that shows a woman who gives back a brick that was handed out by someone from a passing car. She doesn’t know the people in the car and she shouts angrily at them to stop putting people’s lives in danger.
But there is no evidence that piles of bricks have been strategically placed in U.S. cities to encourage protest violence.
D.C. police response to George Floyd protests prompts alarm abroad
America’s allies and adversaries can’t believe what they are witnessing unfold in Washington, D.C. — a police officer punching an Australian cameraman and using his shield to strike him in the chest, while another officer uses a baton to hit the correspondent as the news crew attempts to flee.
Violent, chaotic scenes like this have been seen elsewhere around the globe — but other countries are reacting with horror as they are not used to seeing them in the heart of the U.S. capital.
“With all of its shortcomings, the U.S. has stood for many ideals we dearly share,” said Ziya Meral, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank. “Now we are witnessing an America spiraling down into chaos, poor governance, social friction, poor policing and poor leadership.”
“The city on a hill no longer inspires or shines,” added Meral, who specializes in foreign affairs and Middle East politics, in a reference to President Ronald Reagan’s soaring 1989 farewell address.
Cuomo: The NYPD and NYC mayor did not do their job Monday night
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday criticized the New York Police Department and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the law enforcement response to looting and vandalism in parts of New York City on Monday night.
“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “I believe that.”
The NYPD is the largest police department in the United States, the governor said, adding, “I don’t believe they have used enough police to address the situation.”
The governor said multiple times that the city’s police force has 38,000 members. According to the NYPD’s website, it employs about 36,000 officers.
Cuomo said the NYPD has protected the city before in similar situations.
“I’ve seen them do it before. I know they can do it because I have seen them do it,” he said. “They did not do it last night, but I believe in the inherent capacity of the NYPD if managed and deployed.”
He added, “That’s what I think hasn’t worked and that has to be fixed and it has to be fixed today. Stop the looting. I do believe that the NYPD well-deployed would not need the National Guard.”
6 Atlanta officers charged after students pulled from car
ATLANTA — Six Atlanta police officers have been charged over excessive use of force during a protest arrest incident involving two college students, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced the charges during a news conference.
The Saturday night incident first gained attention from video online and on local news.
Five of the officers are charged with aggravated assault, in addition to other charges. Two of the officers, Investigator Ivory Streeter and Investigator Mark Gardner, were fired earlier this week.
Bottoms said the woman, Taniyah Pilgrim, was released without charges. She said the man, Messiah Young, was released, too, and she’s ordering the charges against him dropped. She didn’t specify what charges he faced. A police report says Young was charged with attempting to elude police and driving with a suspended license.
What is a president’s authority to send in federal troops?
President Donald Trump has vowed to use the U.S. military to quell the riots and unrest across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death if cities or states “refuse to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents.”
But what is the president’s authority to send in troops?
The Constitution says Congress has the power “to provide for the calling forth of the militia … to suppress insurrections,” and it has given that authority to the president in various forms since 1792.
As currently worded, the Insurrection Act allows the president to call up the active military or federalize the national guard under three circumstances.
45 percent of registered voters say Trump’s handling of the protests is ‘poor’
In a new poll released by market research company Morning Consult, voters were asked between May 31 and June 1 in an online poll how thought they President Trump was handling the protests and demonstrations in dozens of U.S. cities in response to the killing of George Floyd.
21 percent of registered voters responded “excellent” or “very good,” 22 percent responded “good” or “only fair” and 45 percent responded “poor.” 12 percent of responded said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.
Among African Americans polled, 69 percent rated the president’s handling of the protests “poor.”
NYC curfew extended for rest of the week
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday said an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. citywide curfew would be extended through Sunday, June 7.
Extra police officers would be added to monitor protests where needed and to work “actively and strategically to stop any disorder,” de Blasio said.
“If you choose to protest today, do it in daytime hours and then please go home because we have work to do this evening to keep a peaceful city,” de Blasio said. He added that he worried more days of protests increased the potential for greater coronavirus spread.
Joe Biden: Floyd’s final words ‘I can’t breathe’ are a wake-up call ‘for all of us’
PHILADELPHIA — Joe Biden on Tuesday praised the nationwide peaceful protests to the death of George Floyd, calling his killing in police custody a “wake-up call for our nation” and drawing a stark contrast between President Donald Trump’s tactics and how he would respond.
In a speech from Philadelphia City Hall, Biden repeated Floyd’s final words before he died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes — and said it was time “to listen to those words … and respond with action.”
“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. George Floyd’s last words,” the apparent 2020 Democratic presidential nominee said. “But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.”
Read the full story here.
Washington resident houses dozens of protesters who cops wanted to arrest for breaking curfew
Dozens of protestors took refuge in a Washington resident’s home over night after police boxed them in and tried to arrest them for violating curfew.
One protester, who goes by Meka, said on Twitter that police surrounded the group of peaceful protesters and started hitting and macing them on Monday evening. A local resident, Rahul Dubey, took the protesters into his home, and let them stay there until curfew let up the next morning as police continued to arrest people outside. Video posted by Meka, who confirmed the account to NBC News, also showed another neighbor letting protesters into their home.
“I hope they continue to fight and I hope they go out there today peacefully as they did yesterday,” Dubey said of the protesters on ABC 7 News Tuesday morning. “Our country needs them and needs you and everybody more than ever right now.”
Police chief says officers ‘will be disciplined’ after tear gas deployed in Richmond, VA
Police officers have been pulled from the field after “unwarranted use” of tear gas on demonstrators, Richmond Police Department said in a statement.
Footage shared on social media showed demonstrators running away from Monument Avenue as smoke engulfed Robert E. Lee Monument Monday evening. Demonstrators claim that the gas was deployed fifteen minutes before curfew.
Richmond Police Department Chief William Smith apologized and said that officers “will be disciplined because their actions were outside department protocols and directions given”.
Shootings on Las Vegas Strip leave one dead and a police officer injured
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed Tuesday morning that it was investigating two shooting incidents that took place on Monday night. The first was an officer-involved shooting that occurred after a man carrying firearms and appearing to be wearing body armor approached local and federal officers guarding the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse on the Las Vegas Strip from protesters.
The department said that officers engaged with the man after he reached for a firearm, and the man was struck by gunfire. He was then transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Videos filmed near the courthouse showed a man who appeared to be wearing body armor walking toward the building, while gunfire can be heard in another video.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said that an officer was gravely injured in a separate shooting when attempting to disperse a large crowd of protesters in front of the Circus Circus hotel, also on the Strip. Lombardo said that a suspect had been identified and taken into custody.