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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.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.