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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned Friday violent protests around the country sparked by police killings of unarmed black citizens, including the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in McConnell's hometown of Louisville.

The big picture: McConnell said that he supports free speech and peaceful protests condemning the killings, which he said "have shaken our nation." But he said that he believes recent violent protests are not an exercise of free speech, but instead "violent crime that victimizes innocent people."

What he's saying:

"Generations of heroes have fought and died to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights to voice their anger and engage in peaceful protest. I have championed these liberties my entire career. Stealing, burning down buildings, attacking law enforcement officers, or laying siege to police precincts is not speech or protest. It is violent crime that victimizes innocent people.
"Kentuckians cannot and will not accept violence and chaos on our streets. Seven people were shot in Louisville last night, and according to Mayor Fischer, none of those shots were fired by law enforcement. This senseless behavior has to stop.
"Our city, our state, and our country have to pull together. Violence does not make our streets safer. Injustice does not promote justice. Destruction does not build a better society. We will only be able to chart the future we want if we do it together."

Go deeper

Over 190 law enforcement officials endorse Biden

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over 190 law enforcement officials on Friday endorsed Joe Biden for president, per a campaign statement.

Why it matters: The endorsements rebut a theme of the Trump re-election campaign, which has falsely claimed that Biden wants to defund the police. Both candidates this week traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin to address the shooting of Jacob Blake. Biden called for officers involved to be charged while Trump cracked down on protests that had turned violent.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

3 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.