Protesters say they face two pandemics: Racism and coronavirus

·7 min read

Good morning, NBC News readers.

On the tenth night of protests, a video showing police officers in Buffalo, New York, shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground went viral as aggressive police tactics nationwide come under increased scrutiny.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.

NYC protesters say they face two deadly pandemics: Racism and coronavirus

Protesters in cities across the U.S. hit the streets Thursday night just hours after George Floyd’s family condemned the "pandemic of racism and discrimination" at a memorial service for the man whose death in police custody has sparked a national conversation on racism.

In New York which once had the highest coronavirus infection rate in the U.S., protesters say they are facing two deadly pandemics: racism and COVID-19.

But many mask-wearing protesters in New York City on Wednesday said they felt compelled to add their voices to the outrage over Floyd's death.

"This moment is too important," said Susan Eastwood. The 45-year-old mother of two young sons began to cry as she spoke at the start of a silent vigil outside the New York City mayor's mansion Wednesday night. "How can we not show up?"

Later in the evening, dozens of protesters were arrested in Manhattan and The Bronx when the 8 p.m. curfew kicked in and they refused to leave the street.

Here are some other developments:

"You shouldn't do this": That's what the lawyer for one of the ex-Minneapolis cops claims his client said to the other officers during Floyd's arrest.

Black Lives Matter sued the Trump administration Thursday over the use of force on Washington, D.C. protesters for the presidential photo-op.

Check out our live blog for the latest developments.

A big question a lot of parents are grappling with these days is: How do you talk to kids about racism? Watch the latest Nightly News Kids Edition or listen to our podcast Into America for pointers on how to have a healthy discussion with your kids.

Image: George Floyd's Family Attends Memorial Service And March In New York City (Justin Heiman / Getty Images)
Image: George Floyd's Family Attends Memorial Service And March In New York City (Justin Heiman / Getty Images)

Buffalo police officers suspended after video shows them shoving 75-year-old man at protest

Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay Thursday after a video showed authorities knocking down a 75-year-old man during a protest, Mayor Byron Brown said.

In the video, the man can be seen approaching a large group of officers in tactical gear and saying something. The officers yell for him to move back before one appears to push him.

The man stumbles backward and falls. Seconds later, a pool of blood can be seen near his head.

The video shows one of the police officers in riot gear leaning over to examine him, but then another officer pulls the first officer away. Several other officers are seen marching along without pausing to stop as the man appears motionless on the ground.

Mayor Brown said the man, who has not been publicly identified, is in serious but stable condition at a local hospital.

'Pandemic of racism' decried at George Floyd's memorial

Mourners paid tribute to Floyd inside a sanctuary at North Central University in Minneapolis Thursday, singing praises for their brother, father, uncle and friend who died at the age of 46.

Floyd died as a police officer planted a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes in a violent arrest that is all-too representative of African American life, the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a eulogy.

"George Floyd's story is the story of black folks," said Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. "Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being — because you kept your knee on our necks."

Sharpton, the host of MSNBC's "PoliticsNation," added: "It's time for us to stand up in George's name, 'Get your knee off our necks.'"

He also announced plans for a march in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, the anniversary of the original March on Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

First came a pandemic. Then, looting. Small businesses pick up the pieces as their debt mounts.

Salih Mothana came home so quietly after he surveyed the damage to his small grocery store in Chicago that his family had no idea their business had been destroyed.

Looters had raided the family store after a night of peaceful protests against police brutality ended with pockets of destruction last weekend.

“I understand why it happened, and it’s OK,” Mothana, a Yemeni immigrant, said in Arabic as his daughter translated.

Mothana, who has run Express Food Market on the South Side of Chicago for over 20 years, is one of scores of small-business owners across the country who are now trying to pick up the pieces after social justice protests over the killing of George Floyd.

The Express Food Market  in Chicago owned by Yemeni immigrant Salih Mothana. (Courtesy Salih Mothana)
The Express Food Market in Chicago owned by Yemeni immigrant Salih Mothana. (Courtesy Salih Mothana)

Swimming, s'mores and social distancing: Is summer camp during the pandemic worth it?

In a year when children across the country have been stuck indoors for months, ripped from their normal routines and separated from their friends, the joys and freedoms of camp are more necessary than ever, many camp proponents say.

But with no reliable treatment or vaccine yet for the coronavirus, the arrival of summer has created a dilemma for the $18 billion summer camp industry, which serves 20 million children. Many camp directors and parents are wondering: Will camp be able to operate safely? And if so, will it still feel like camp?

Check our live blog for the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic.

Campers and a counselor in a face mask go on a socially-distanced nature hike at Camp Wilani in Veneta, Oregon. (Camp Wilani)
Campers and a counselor in a face mask go on a socially-distanced nature hike at Camp Wilani in Veneta, Oregon. (Camp Wilani)

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THINK about it

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Quote of the day

"When we fight ... what we are really doing is helping America live up to its creed. What we are really doing is helping America be the great beacon of hope and justice for all the world to marvel. But most importantly, brothers and sisters, what we are doing is helping America be America for all Americans.”

Benjamin Crump, civil rights attorney and the Floyd family's lawyer, at Thursday's memorial service.

One fun thing

Is that a smile?

It's hard to read people's emotions when they are wearing a mask.

Call the body language expert! We've got tips for improving your social interactions while wearing a face covering.

“We’re lucky a lot of information shows up in the eyes and the eyebrows,” says body language expert Janine Driver, founder and president of the Body Language Institute in Washington, D.C.

"With true happiness, we see it with the wrinkles on the side of our eyes."

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

I hope you read some smiles through the masks this weekend.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: If you're a fan, please forward it to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.

Thanks, Petra Cahill