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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.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.