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All four of the former police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd face criminal charges, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said this afternoon.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been rocked by nine days of nationwide protests calling for justice.

The charges:

  • Charges against Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second-degree murder. He's the officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck and kept it there for almost 9 minutes despite pleas that Floyd couldn't breathe.
  • Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
  • All four were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last week.

The big picture: There is a long history in the U.S. of police not being charged or being acquitted despite killing black men.

  • “Every single link in the prosecutorial chain must be strong, because trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard,” Ellison said.
  • Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump called the charges "a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest."
  • "That is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time."
  • "Attorney General Ellison has informed the family that his office will continue to investigate and will upgrade the charges to first-degree murder if the evidence supports it."

What's next: The former presidents have been speaking out, with President Jimmy Carter releasing a statement today that joins George W. Bush's statement yesterday.

  • Former President Barack Obama will address the nation at 5 p.m. ET.

Go deeper

Aug 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

American dreams and nightmares

A man stands in the Reflecting Pool during the March on Washington. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Two generations of Kings spoke at the Lincoln Memorial on Friday as part of the March on Washington that honored the 57th anniversary of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech.

The big picture: Black people are reeling after a summer that opened with the police killing of George Floyd and is closing with the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed and spent time handcuffed to a hospital bed after being shot seven times in the back.

The social media addiction bubble

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.

Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.

Young people's next big COVID test

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.

The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.