More Republicans rebuke Trump over lack of unity in America as memorial service held for George Floyd

After Lisa Murkowski added to the criticism of the president, he warned of the consequences if Republicans turn against him.

MORE MEMBERS OF the Republican party have voiced dissent against Donald Trump, with further concerns at the US President’s inability to unify the country at a time of grave unrest.

Some Republicans are beginning to voice their unease with Trump’s handling of the crisis having been emboldened by General James Mattis’ plea for a leader who lives up to American ideals of a more perfect union.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski yesterday called the rebuke by Trump’s first Pentagon chief “necessary and overdue”.

“Perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally, and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski’s remarks reflected the choice Republicans are forced to make about whether, and for how long, to support Trump when his words and actions so often conflict with their values and goals.

Trump has responded to violence accompanying some protests following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis by calling for more “law and order” to “dominate” even peaceful demonstrations.

2.53983963 Trump has faced criticism for his actions in recent days. Patrick Semansky AP / PA Images Patrick Semansky AP / PA Images / PA Images

He has been slower and less forceful in addressing racial injustice and questions of police brutality that lie at the heart of the unrest.

Asked whether she could still support Trump, Murkowski replied: “I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time.”

The US is on edge, and the November election looms with the presidency and control of the House and Senate at stake. Trump has made clear that consequences for what he considers disloyalty can be steep.

In fact, he promised yesterday to campaign against Murkowski when she seeks reelection in 2022.

“Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing,” Trump tweeted.

Most in the Republican party are not breaking with him. Senator Mike Braun of Indiana said Mattis’s missive was not discussed yesterday at a Republican lunch.

Asked for this thoughts on Mattis and Murkowski, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered no response.

Democratic senators, meanwhile, gathered at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall to bow — some kneeling — in an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence for Floyd, representing the time he was held to the ground by police before he died.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Trump a letter seeking an accounting of the “increased militarisation” towards protesters “that may increase chaos”.

For Republicans, the challenge peaked this week when federal forces abruptly cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park near the White House so Trump could stage a photo op in front of St. John’s, the “church of presidents”, holding up a Bible.

Earlier in the week, for example, Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was one of a procession of Republicans who muttered or dodged when asked if Trump’s use of the military to suppress protesters was the right thing to do.

But after Mattis’s rebuke, Portman was more willing to discuss Trump’s handling of the protests.

He pointed out that Trump, in prepared remarks, did condemn Floyd’s killing and applauded peaceful demonstrations. But “his tone and words kind of in between those more formal presentations have not unified people,” Portman said.

George Floyd memorial

Yesterday, celebrities and political leaders gathered in front of George Floyd’s golden casket for a fiery memorial service after his death in police custody sparked protests worldwide.

The service – the first in a series of memorials in three cities over six days – took place in Minneapolis as a judge in the city set bail at $750,000 (€661,000) for the three fired police officers charged with aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death.

Floyd died on 25 May after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement.

Chauvin has been charged with murder, and he and the others could get up to 40 years in prison.

george-floyd-memorial-service-minneapolis Reverend Al Sharpton Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS/ABACA Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS/ABACA / TNS/ABACA

Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a eulogy at the North Central University in which he said: “George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks.

“Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck.

“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”

Across the world, the video of Floyd’s slow death has set off turbulent and sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality, racism and inequality.

Those gathered at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.

Reverend Sharpton vowed that this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice”.

The service was also attended by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Senator Amy Klobuchar, TI, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Marsai Martin.

Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd told the crowd about their childhood playing catch and eating banana and mayonnaise sandwiches.

He said: “All these people came to see my brother.

“That’s amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts because he touched our hearts.”

The casket was covered in red roses, and a vibrant image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was arrested by police on suspicion of attempting to pay with a counterfeit note.

The message on the mural reads: “I can breathe now”.

In the US, where protests had been marked by bouts of lawlessness since last week, relative quiet prevailed for a third straight night last night, a day after prosecutors charged the three other officers at the scene and filed a new, more serious count of murder against Chauvin.

In New York City, a large crowd gathered at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza and chanted “You are not alone” in a rally with another of George Floyd’s brothers.

“I thank God for you all showing love to my brother,” said an emotional Terrence Floyd.

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