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George Floyd protests: D.C. expects major rally; Buffalo officers suspended

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 5 (UPI) -- Multiple demonstrations are planned in Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States this weekend as the movement against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death nears its third week.

A rally scheduled for D.C. on Saturday "may be one of the largest that we've had in the city," Washington Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham said. "We have a lot of public, open-source information to suggest that.

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"We expect that Saturday's demonstration will, like I said, be more of the same peaceful demonstrators coming to exercise their First Amendment right in Washington."

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected in the nation's capital this weekend.

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The Minnesota National Guard has been activated in preparation for a planned protest Friday after officials said they received credible threats of violence.

Similar rallies are scheduled in other major U.S. cities, including Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Detroit, and in Maine, where President Donald Trump will travel Friday to visit a medical production facility.

Officers suspended

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In Buffalo, N.Y., two officers have been suspended without pay after video showed them pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground, causing him to be hospitalized with a serious head injury, authorities said.

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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said late Thursday the man was in serious but stable condition at the Erie County Medical Center.

Video of the incident shot by WBFO shortly after curfew set in at 8 p.m. shows the two officers shove the man, causing him to lose his balance, fall and hit his head against the sidewalk in front of Buffalo City Hall. Blood dripped from his head and pooled under him.

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"He's bleeding out of his ear," a bystander is heard yelling.

Mark Poloncarz, Erie County's executive, described the man's injury as "serious" but said he is expected to recover.

"Simply put, the officers must be held responsible for their actions, not just fired," Poloncarz said, adding what he saw in the video "sickens me."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the incident as "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful."

Cuomo said he spoke with Brown and they agreed the officers involved should be suspended pending a formal investigation.

"Police officers must enforce -- NOT ABUSE -- the law," he tweeted.

Brown said he and Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood were "deeply disturbed" by the video and that Lockwood has launched an investigation into the incident.

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"After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening," the mayor said in a statement. "My thoughts are with the victim tonight."

In response to the suspension of the two officers, all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned Friday. The two officers who were suspended belonged to the special response unit, which is deployed to respond to protests and riots.

"Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders," said John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association.

'Wake-up call'

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted she's "aware" of the video.

The New York Civil Liberties Union urged local leaders to use the situation as "a wake-up call" to address police violence.

"There is no place for military-geared police to enforce a curfew by inflicting violence on the very people they are supposed to protect," John Curr, director of the NYCLU Buffalo Chapter, said in a statement. "We are in solidarity with Buffalo's protesters and demand that demonstrators can protest without the threat of police brutality on the streets tomorrow."

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Indianapolis police said they are investigating video that shows two officers using batons and pepper balls to control a woman earlier this week.

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