George Floyd protests: Walmart locks up guns, ammunition at some stores; Disney pledges $5 million to social justice groups

George Floyd protests: Walmart locks up guns, ammunition at some stores; Disney pledges $5 million to social justice groups
Nationwide tensions appeared to ease Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators launched peaceful protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd while he was being subdued by Minneapolis police. Major cities plan to continue enacting earlier curfews and beef up law enforcement resources after days of violence.Three former Minneapolis police officers will be criminally…

Nationwide tensions appeared to ease Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators launched peaceful protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd while he was being subdued by Minneapolis police. Major cities plan to continue enacting earlier curfews and beef up law enforcement resources after days of violence.

Three former Minneapolis police officers will be criminally charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, court record show. In addition, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin, a former officer who had already been charged with third-degree murder in the case. Chauvin will now be charged with second-degree murder, the records show.

President Donald Trump hasn’t spoken publicly since Monday, when he threatened military action in U.S. cities. 

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the demonstrations gripping the U.S. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

Esper regrets using the term ‘battle space’

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper visits DC National Guard military officers guarding the White House amid nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

5 p.m. ET — Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he regretted using the term “battle space” when referring to civil unrest in U.S. cities spurred by the death of George Floyd.

During a call with President Donald Trump and governors on Monday, a recording of which was obtained by NBC News, Esper urged states “to dominate the battle space” when dealing with nationwide protests.”

“It is part of our military lexicon that I grew up with and it’s what we use to describe that area of operations,” Esper said. “In retrospect, I would use different wording so as not to distract from the more important matters at hand or allow some to suggest that we are militarizing the issue,” he added.Two retired four-star generals took to Twitter to condemn Esper’s comments on Monday, by saying the language was inappropriate.  —Amanda Macias

Anti-racism protests continue across Europe

When Remainers protested against Brexit: Thousands of protesters gather in London on September 09, 2017 in London, England.

Barcroft Media

3:30 p.m. ET — Demonstrators across Europe continued to protest over the death of George Floyd, at times clashing with police on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

In London, tens of thousands of people took part in a peaceful march against the death of George Floyd, chanting “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter.” At Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square and other locations, thousands of demonstrators took a knee. A few officers lining the route who were urged by demonstrators to take a knee also did so. 

Reuters also reported that brief scuffles broke out between protesters and police close to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office. In Paris, thousands assembled in memory of Adama Traore, a young black Frenchmen whose death in a 2016 police operation has been likened to the death of George Floyd. At an anti-racism rally in Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second largest city, Dutch riot police responded to disturbances by small groups of protesters who smashed windows and threw furniture. —Michelle Gao

All four officers involved in George Floyd death will be charged

A screen grab of video obtained by NBC News appears to show three officers kneeling on the ground near Floyd, while another stands nearby.


3:05 p.m. ET — All four former officers who were involved in the Memorial Day arrest of George Floyd that ended with his death in police custody will face charges, according to court records.

Three officers who helped in the arrest, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, will face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, the records show.

In addition, Derek Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he cried out for help, will face an upgraded charge of second-degree murder, the records show. He was charged on Friday with third-degree murder.

Klobuchar, the first public official to announce the charges, wrote in a post on Twitter: “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.” Ellison’s office has not confirmed the charges. Gov. Tim Walz assigned Ellison to lead any prosecutions that resulted from Floyd’s death on Sunday. —Tucker Higgins

George Floyd’s son, Quincy Mason Floyd (C R) and family Attorney Ben Crump (C L) and other family members visit on June 3, 2020, the site where George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kerem Yucel | AFP | Getty Images

Walmart locks up guns, ammunition at some stores

2:50 p.m. ET – As protests continue in cities across the U.S., Walmart has removed firearms and ammunition from some of its sales floors.

The retailer said the items are still available, but now kept in a secure room. They’re not carried by stores in some major cities.

 “As a responsible seller of hunting and sporting firearms, we have temporarily removed firearms and ammunition from the sales floor in some stores out of an abundance of caution,” the company said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said some locations have been damaged or looted, but said,  “it’s not very many stores as a percent of total.” He spoke at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, which was held virtually.

McMillon began his remarks at the meeting by saying “the killing of George Floyd is tragic, painful and unacceptable” and emphasizing the company’s commitment to inclusion. —Melissa Repko

The Walt Disney Company pledges $5 million to social justice nonprofits

A man walks past a boarded up Disney store in Times Square shorty before the 11 p.m. curfew went into effect June 1, 2020, as demonstrators rallied across the five boroughs Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

1:50 p.m. ET — Disney revealed on Wednesday that it had pledged $5 million to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice. Included in that was a $2 million donation to the NAACP.

“The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s CEO, said in a statement. 

Additionally, through the Disney Employee Matching Gifts program, employees of the Walt Disney Company will have their donations to eligible organizations matched by the company. —Sarah Whitten

Google to hold a moment of silence for black lives lost

1:34 p.m. ET — Google will be holding a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at 1 pm PT, CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees. 

“I realize that nothing about this week feels like business as usual — and it shouldn’t,” Pichai said. “Our Black community is hurting, and many of us are searching for ways to stand up for what we believe, and reach out to people we love to show solidarity.”

Pichai also said the company will provide $12 million in funding to organizations working to address racial inequities.

As a result of an internal giving campaign launched last week, he said employees have already contributed an additional $2.5 million that the company said it will match.

The public commitments also come the same day the company shot down shareholder proposals, which asked the company to expand diversity and inclusion efforts, including by linking metrics to company executive compensation. —Jennifer Elias

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer says CEOs need to take racial dialogue to the ‘next notch’

1:20 p.m. ET — Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said he’s “very sad” and “angry” about the current events plaguing the nation due to discrimination against black people.

Ballmer, who is the former CEO of Microsoft, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss a wide range of topics, including a CEOs’ role in creating economic opportunities for black people.

Ballmer said both public and private companies have “distinct responsibilities” to take it to the “next notch” – turning words into action.

“We need to have the conversation,” Ballmer said. “We need to do implicit bias training. We need to make sure that we’re hiring a diverse slate of candidates.” —Jabari Young

Defense secretary voices opposition to deploying active-duty forces against protesters

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper visits DC National Guard military officers guarding the White House amid nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

11:45 a.m. ET — Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that he is not in favor of invoking the Insurrection Act, a law from 1807 that would allow President Donald Trump to deploy active-duty U.S. troops to respond to civil unrest.

“I say this not only as secretary of defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations now,” Esper said. “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” he added.

Meanwhile, NBC News, citing two White House officials, reported that Trump is backing off the idea of invoking the act, at least for now.

The latest revelation comes as Esper approved an order to bring 1,600 active-duty Army units to the Washington area for possible use controlling protesters.  —Amanda Macias

NYC mayor says curfew will end as first phase of coronavirus reopening plan begins

New Yorkers protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in Minneapolis, United States on June 2, 2020 in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

11:24 a.m. ET — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that an 8 p.m. curfew imposed during the heated protests over George Floyd’s death is set to be lifted Monday morning, when the city kicks off the first phase of its coronavirus reopening plan.

“We’re going to end it, as per now … 5 a.m. Monday morning, curfew comes off,” de Blasio said at a press briefing.

“I’d like for us never to have to use it again if we can do things right, and then we go right into the reopening,” the mayor said.

The first phase of the plan to lift social distancing restrictions will include construction, manufacturing and wholesale businesses, as well as retail businesses that can provide curbside pickup services.

“New Yorkers are resourceful. I have great confidence people will be ready,” the mayor said.

He apologized to any businesses dealing with the “additional challenge” of having to repair their stores following the violence and property destruction that occurred during protests over the past week. —Kevin Breuninger

Trump claims he went to White House bunker during protests for a brief ‘inspection’

10:55 a.m. ET — President Trump denied multiple news reports that he took refuge for his personal safety in an underground White House bunker during intense protests last Friday night.

Rather, Trump claimed he only visited the bunker during the day for “a short inspection.”

“It was a false report. I wasn’t down [in the bunker]” on Friday evening, Trump said on Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade’s show.

“I went down during the day and I was there for a tiny, little short period of time and it was much more for an inspection, there was no problem during the day,” the president said.

The New York Times first reported that Secret Service agents rushed Trump to the bunker, also known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, on Friday night as protests over George Floyd’s death outside the White House grew hotter. —Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger 

SoftBank announces $100 million investment fund for minority-owned businesses 

Marcelo Claure speaking at eMerge Americas in Miami on June 12, 2017.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

9:53 a.m. ET — SoftBank is creating a $100 million Opportunity Fund, which will only invest in companies led by people of color. The fund is one of the first big pieces of capital created in response to nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

“I see a lot of people have good intentions, but I think each one of us needs to contribute to make change in America,” SoftBank executive Marcelo Claure told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The fund will start with $100 million of its own capital and could grow with more investments. Still, the fund pales in comparison to SoftBank’s Vision Fund of $100 billion, which is designed to invest heavily in high-growth start-ups. —Jessica Bursztynsky 

Bank of America CEO says ‘Things aren’t going to quiet down’

9:43 a.m. ET — Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC the U.S. has serious issues and “it’s time to fix them.”

“Things aren’t going to quiet down. They shouldn’t quiet down in terms of making the economic progress and core social progress we need to make here,” he said in a “Squawk Box” interview.

He called upon the business community to “redouble efforts” in promoting progress. Bank of America has pledged $1 billion in local economic opportunities. —Hannah Miller

Johnson & Johnson CEO says white men need to listen more

9:34 a.m. ET — Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said white men need to “do more listening” to gain empathy and understanding of the experiences of black Americans.

Gorsky announced earlier this week that J&J is committing $10 million over the next three years “to fighting racism and injustice in America.” —Berkeley Lovelace

Gov. Cuomo ‘dishonored’ NYPD with criticism of looting response, Mayor de Blasio says

9:21 a.m. ET — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio returned verbal fire at Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the governor said de Blasio and the NYPD “did not do their job” responding to rioters.

“He can attack me all he wants. I’m used to it from him. I think he’s wrong,” de Blasio said in a Tuesday night radio interview.

“But that’s not the important point. The important point here is he dishonored the men and women of the NYPD in an absolutely inappropriate way while they were out there fighting in the streets to restore order and protect people. I mean, that’s disgraceful,” de Blasio said.

Police Chief Terence Monahan said on NBC’s “TODAY” that Cuomo’s office called the night before to apologize for his comments. Cuomo himself also called New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea to apologize, Monahan said.

A spokeswoman for Cuomo did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. —Kevin Breuninger 

Former Trump advisor urges president to show more empathy

8:35 a.m. ET — A former top White House advisor told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that if he still had President Donald Trump’s ear, he would urge him to show more concern and sympathy for the people protesting the death of George Floyd.

Mick Mulvaney, who was Trump’s acting chief of staff until March, said the rhetoric surrounding protests is often couched in a false “binary choice” between empathy and authority.

“If I were advising the president, I would tell him, ‘Look, law and order, safety and security, is empathy,'” Mulvaney said.

Trump’s response to the unrest over Floyd’s death has focused on getting “tough” against the violence and looting. He has repeatedly pressured local leaders to bring National Guard members into their states and cities to keep a tighter lid on the protests and has threatened to call out the U.S. millitary.

“If you’re afraid of the police in your community, that’s not safety, that’s not security,” said Mulvaney, who now serves as the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland. —Kevin Breuninger 

Trump reportedly softens on sending troops into states

NYPD makes 200 arrests Tuesday

NYPD officers block off the entrance to the Manhattan bridge to prevent a large crowd that marches to protest against the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on June 2, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Justin Heiman | Getty Images

7:57 a.m. ET — The New York Police Department made more than 200 arrests Tuesday related to protests, NBC New York reports

That’s about on par with the number of arrests made Monday night, despite thousands of demonstrators, an earlier curfew and a stronger police presence. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday pushed for a stronger response from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s police department. 

NBC New York reports that more than 2,000 people have been arrested across the city during the six days of protests. —Sara Salinas

Read CNBC’s previous coverage of the nationwide demonstrations: Pentagon moves troops to DC, UCLA ‘troubled’ by police using stadium as ‘field jail’

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