March 25, 2020

After preaching calm, the Kremlin sounds like it's ready to take the coronavirus pandemic a lot more seriously, The Guardian reports.

There was a healthy amount of skepticism over the low coronavirus numbers Russia had been reporting in recent weeks, which seems to have been validated after Russian President Vladimir Putin changed his tune Wednesday, delaying a public vote (which was mostly a formality) on constitutional amendments that will allow him to remain in power until 2036, requesting people to remain at home, and announcing a week-long holiday during which workers will receive their salaries.

Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Putin on Tuesday that the government was underestimating the number of coronavirus cases in the country, arguing "a serious situation is developing" and Russia's health care system could be overwhelmed as the spread accelerates. Before that the Kremlin's message was mainly to avoid panic.

The Russian parliament is reportedly prepared to get tough if they have to, as well. Parliament said Wednesday it will review legislation that could put quarantine breakers in prison for anywhere between three and seven years, while anyone found guilty of infecting others could face terrorism charges. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

4:25 p.m.

President Trump on Friday attempted to clean up his recent comments about the protests in Minneapolis that Twitter said violated its rules but surprisingly left a subsequent event without addressing the situation at all.

Trump in a late-night tweet wrote in reference to the protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," a message that Twitter attached a warning label to saying it violated its rules against glorifying violence. On Friday afternoon, Trump claimed that he meant to say that "looting leads to shooting" but that "I don't want this to happen," confusingly adding that this was "spoken as a fact, not as a statement."

The president shortly after spoke at a supposed news conference in the Rose Garden, and aides had said plans were in place for him to address the protests in Minneapolis, CNN's Sarah Westwood reports. Instead, he left without answering a single question or addressing Minneapolis, and Westwood writes it "remains unclear" why the plans apparently changed. PBS' Yamiche Alcindor described seeing Trump leave without talking about the situation Minneapolis as "stunning." Brendan Morrow

2:51 p.m.

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was arrested in connection with the death of George Floyd, has now been charged with murder.

Prosecutors on Friday announced that Chauvin, who was fired after he was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes while Floyd said that he couldn't breathe, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The charges were unveiled shortly after Chauvin's arrest was announced and four days after Floyd's death, which has sparked nationwide outrage and protests.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman in a press conference said this is "by far the fastest we've ever charged a police officer."

"We can only charge a case when he have sufficient, admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. "As of right now, we have that."

An investigation into the other officers involved in the incident is ongoing, Freeman said, adding that "I anticipate charges." A complaint is being processed and will be released later today.

Shortly after the charges were announced, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that the Department of Justice is "conducting an independent investigation to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated," saying "I am confident justice will be served." Brendan Morrow

2:19 p.m.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has responded to criticism of her time as Minneapolis' top prosecutor.

Before she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Klobuchar was the Hennepin County attorney in Minnesota, in charge of prosecution for the state's most populous county. Reports have indicated Klobuchar did not go after numerous police officers who shot civilians, and when MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asked her about that on Friday, Klobuchar described her decisions as routine procedure, but also expressed regret for how she handled those cases.

"When I was county attorney, cases we had involving officer-involved shootings went to a grand jury. I think that was wrong now," Klobuchar said. "It would have been much better if I took responsibility and looked at cases and made a decision myself." Still, Klobuchar maintained that "we did not blow off these cases. We brought them to a grand jury, presented the evidence for a potential criminal prosecution, and the grand jury would come back with the decision."

Klobuchar also addressed a 2006 shooting that involved former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was arrested Friday after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who later died. Klobuchar was elected to the Senate a week after Chauvin was implicated in the shooting of a suspect who was allegedly attacking police, and left her attorney position just a few months into an investigation into the incident. She said it's "absolutely false" that she declined to prosecute the case involving Chauvin, describing it as a case handled by her successor that a grand jury later declined to prosecute.

Klobuchar went on to call for "systematic change" following Floyd's death both in Minnesota and "across the country." Kathryn Krawczyk

1:35 p.m.

President Trump isn't helping the situation in Minnesota with his tweets, the state's governor says.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) spoke in a news conference on Friday amid the ongoing protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. In a late-night tweet about the protests, Trump wrote that "these THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd" and that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

"It's just not helpful," Walz said when asked for his reaction to Trump's tweets. "In the moment where we're at, in a moment that is so volatile, anything we do to add fuel to that fire is really, really challenging."

Walz, who said he spoke to the president, added that "there's a way to do this without inflaming." Trump's tweet earned a warning label from Twitter, which said the tweet violated its rules against glorifying violence. The White House later posted the exact same tweet, and was hit with the same warning label from Twitter. Brendan Morrow

1:32 p.m.

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested in relation to the death of George Floyd, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced Friday. Chauvin is the officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes as Floyd protested "I can't breathe;" he was fired from the department earlier this week.

According to KARE 11, the local NBC affiliate, Chauvin's charging decision has not yet been made. Nevertheless, Harrington called Floyd's death a "murder," explaining "that's what it looked like to me … I'm just calling it what I see at that point." The nation has been rocked by protests since Floyd's death, with many of the protesters demanding justice and expressing anger that the officers involved had not yet faced legal repercussions.

Chauvin had at least 10 conduct complaints during his 19-year tenure before he was fired. In particular, he was involved in the shooting death of a man who had stabbed other people before attacking police, as well as some other undisclosed complaints. Additionally, he was placed on leave when he and other officers shot and wounded a Native American man in 2011. Jeva Lange

12:55 p.m.

Disney's story of a rabbit and a fox recognizing and overcoming police bias was apparently used to educate human police officers.

More specifically, St. Paul, Minnesota's police force — which has been pulled into the protests in neighboring Minneapolis — watched Zootopia a few years ago as part of its annual anti-bias training. The animated movie specifically covers discrimination against a young police officer and suspects based on their species, but many officers "never saw the parallels with real life" until they watched it in training, Sgt. Amanda Heu told local station Fox 9 back in 2017.

Zootopia tells the story of the first rabbit to join the animal-run city of Zootopia's police department. She's placed on parking duty and doubted because of her species, but also discriminates against a fox con artist because of his, with nods to human race relations — the fox plays with a sheep's "hair," for instance — along the way.

"When you see the story, it has bias and prejudice woven throughout," Hua said at the time. She specifically pointed to a moment where the fox notes "if the world is only going to see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there's no point in trying to be anything else," saying "it boiled down the psychological construct that perpetuates discrimination and prejudice in America." But because the movie used animals instead of humans, officers "could learn from it without being judged," Hua said.

At the time, St. Paul was considering passing the Zootopia training idea on to other departments. Read more at how the Zootopia training went down at Fox 9. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:42 p.m.

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on Friday reflecting on "conversations I've had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota."

In the statement, Obama explained that it's "natural to wish for life to 'just get back to normal'" during the pandemic but that "we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly 'normal' — whether it's while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in the park." Obama's comment referenced other recent high-profile instances of brutality and racism this year, including the shooting of 25-year-old jogger Ahmaud Arbery by white residents of southern Georgia in February, and Christian Cooper, who this week recorded a viral video of a white woman in Central Park calling the police on him after he asked her to leash her dog.

"This shouldn't be 'normal' in 2020 America," Obama wrote. "It can't be 'normal.' If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better." Read the full statement below. Jeva Lange

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