Derek Chauvin Convicted for Murder of George Floyd

Featured

By Terrance Turner

March 26, 2021 (Updated April 20, 2021 at 4:06 pm)

BREAKING NEWS: The jury has found Derek Michael Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degre manslaughter for the murder of George Floyd. Mr. Chauvin’s bail has been revoked; he is being taken into custody. He will be sentenced in eight weeks. He faces up to 75 years in prison.

Former officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes outside a Cup Foods grocery store in Minneapolis. Despite Floyd’s repeated attempts to respire and repeated gasps of “I can’t breathe”, Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck until Floyd died. George Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The brutality of the death was recorded by a young Black girl named Darnella Frazier. The footage of the murder spread like wildfire online and through news reports, sparking weeks of protests. Those protests spread throughout the country (including 60,000 protesters in Houston). They also spread overseas, with protests in Paris, in London, in Berlin.

UPDATE (6:32 PM): Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the verdict today. The remarks were carried live by ABC News, which broke into KTRK’s “Eyewitness News”. Both leaders emphasized that the work of justice is not done.

“Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain,” Harris said. “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer and, the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.”

“Today, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May,” Biden said. “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to, the systemic racism that is a stain on our nation’s soul, the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans, profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day.”

Biden urged viewers to not give up. He emphasized that this verdict is not a sign that work needs to be done. But “this can be a giant step forward,” he said. “This can be a moment of significant change.”

AOC Flies To Houston, Helps Raise $3 Million For Texas

Photo by KPRC.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 20, 2021

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) faces backlash for his trip to Cancun amid Texas winter storms, one of his political rivals is doing his job for him. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) flew to Houston last night, joining Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) to help out struggling Texans. On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC) launched a fundraiser to help millions facing freezing temperatures without heat, lights, or water as a result of the storm (and Texas’ failure of an energy grid). The fundraiser was a rousing success.

“Wow. We officially raised $1 million for Texas relief at 9:17pm.,” she tweeted Thursday night. “Thank you all so much.” By Friday, she tweeted, that figure had risen to $2 million. She announced she would fly to Houston to join with Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia to distribute supplies. Ocasio-Cortez is using Act Blue to fundraise, a Democratic fundraising tool that helps her build an email “listserv” as she receives donations, according to CNN.

This morning, AOC partnered with two Texas lawmakers to continue relief work. AOC joined Garcia and Shelia Jackson-Lee of Texas on Saturday morning. According to KPRC, the elected officials met at the Houston Food Bank to pack boxes of meals and share their plan to help Texans hit hard by this week’s deadly weather event. Today, at 11:42 am, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez announced that she helped to raise $3.2 million.

The link included in her tweet (Support relief efforts in Texas — Donate via AB Charities (actblue.com) brings together groups that assist homeless, hungry and elderly Texans. (When you click on the link, you’re taken to a page that requests donations. Your contribution will be split evenly between 12 organizations, including the Central Texas Food Bank, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Family Eldercare, ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition), Southeast Texas Food Bank, Feeding Texas, and the Houston Food Bank — the largest food bank in the United States.) The chosen organizations either provide food support, elder care, or shelter assistance.

The congresswomen then made a stop to Texas’ 29th District, Garcia’s district, to knock on doors and talk to families impacted. As AOC noted, those impacted were already on the margins to begin with, struggling to make ends meet. “Disasters don’t strike everyone equally,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “When you already have so many families across the state and country, that are on the brink, that can’t even afford and emergency to begin with, when you have a disaster like this, it can set people back for years, not just days.”

UPDATE: The total amount has now reached $4 million, according to AOC.

J.J. Watt Leaving Texans

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 12, 2021

Defensive end J.J. Watt has asked for (and received) a release from the Houston Texans. Watt announced the news in a video posted to his Twitter account, explaining that he personally met with the McNair family to request a release from the team. “I have sat down with the McNair family, and I have asked them for my release, and we have mutually agreed to part ways.”

Watt reflected on his time in Houston, which was memorable on both professional and personal levels. “I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it,” he said. “The city of Houston’s been unbelievable to me; it’s where I met my wife. It’s where I’ve met lifelong friends, and my teammates. I’ve had incredible coaches and training staff, and equipment staff and cafeteria workers […] the connection is special, and I will never, ever take it for granted,” Watt said. “I just want you guys to now that I love you, I appreciate you, I appreciate the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL. Thank you, Houston. I love you.”

After ten tumultuous seasons, Watt’s time in Houston is over.

The release comes after a memorable career (so far). Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks, with 101. (Since 2011, only Broncos defender Von Miller has had more sacks, according to ESPN.. He won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016). Watt is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. (Only Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald have achieved that.) He was also voted the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year, after raising over $37 million for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Watt’s time in Houston, though stellar, was marked by injuries — and in recent months by frustration with the franchise. After trading away its best receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), the Texans franchsie came under fire by pundits and fans. And after firing head coach Bill O’Brien (after a disastrous 1-4 start), the Texans lost. And lost. And lost some more.

Weeks ago, the Texans lost in a blowout: 36-7, to the Chicago Bears. That loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention. The week before, the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With less than 30 seconds left, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the two-yard line. It was the second time this season the team has lost to Indianapolis after a goal-line fumble. The Texans lost to the Colts, 27-20.

Later, they lost again, to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had his shoulder grabbed by Bengal Sam Hubbard, causing a strip-sack with 1:28 left. Cincinnati sealed their historic road win with a field goal. Despite Watson’s three touchdowns, the Texans lost, 37-31. It was their fourth straight loss. They went 4-11.

Defensive end J.J. Watt was visibly frustrated after the loss. In a postgame press conference, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year delivered an angry, emotional rant peppered with curses. He expressed recognition of his privileged position and sympathy for Texans fans. But Watt also called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism.

“We’re professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money,” Watt said. “If you can’t come in, put in work in the building, go out to the practice field, work hard, do your lifts and do what you’re supposed to do, you should not  be here. This is a job. We’re getting paid a whole lot of money. There are a whole lot of people that watch us and invest their time and money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s–t. And they care about it; they care every single week. We’re in Week 16, and we’re 4-11, and there’s fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there to win, you shouldn’t be here.

Because this is a privilege. It’s the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. If you can’t care enough, even when you’re in week 17 — even when you’re trash, when you’re 4-11 — if you can’t go out there and give it everything you have and try your hardest, that’s bulls–t,” he said. “There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re still rooting for you, we’re still behind you.’ They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That’s why. Those people aren’t getting paid. We’re being paid handsomely. That’s why. That’s who I feel the most bad for, are our fans, the people who care so deeply in this city, and love it and who truly want it to be great. And it’s not. And that sucks as a player, to know we’re not giving them what they deserve.”

UPDATE (March 2, 2021): J.J. Watt has signed a two-year, $31 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. News of the signing broke yesterday, reported by outlets including ESPN and the NFL Network. This move reunites him with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who was a wide receiver for the Texans before a controversial trade last year. Today, in an introductory press conference, Watt was asked about Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who remains in a standoff with the team after informing them he no longer wants to play for them.

“”I love Deshaun. We speak often… He’s a special human being. The one thing I want for Deshaun Watson is for him to be happy,” Watt said. “He deserves it, and I want him to be happy. Whatever that looks like for him, that’s what I want for him.”

Bow Wow Performs at Packed Houston Club As COVID Cases Spike

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 16, 2021

Last night, rapper Bow Wow performed at (and hosted) an event at Cle Nightclub in Houston. Cle, located downtown at 2301 Main St, was packed. Hundreds of people hit the club, in the middle of a pandemic, to see Bow Wow — for what reason, we don’t know. What we do know is that videos on social media show him rapping maskless in front of a largely maskless crowd.

The news comes amid a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases. Harris County, which contains the city of Houston, reported more than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 today. As of today, there are 281,422 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Harris County and 2,763 deaths, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. The positivity rate is 20.3%. It has climbed every day since January 11.

Harris County has reported 36,557 new cases in just the past 14 days, according to the Texas Tribune. During the first week of January, Houston set hospitalization records every day for seven straight days. For a week straight, more than 15% of patients in local hospitals were being treated for coronavirus. That should’ve triggered mandatory rollbacks laid out in an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Under that order, Houston bars must close indoor service, and Houston restaurants must reduce capacity to 50%.

Mayor Turner said today that clubs are masquerading as restaurants, and he’s calling on TABC to start crackdowns. “I’m still getting some disturbing pictures of people hanging out in clubs that have been recategorized as restaurants,” he said. “And let me tell you, they are not restaurants.” KTRK reported that he and his staff will be reviewing those restaurants tonight. “When you look at these pictures, there’s no food on the table,” Turner said. “That is crazy. I am calling on the state to review their policies.”

Harris County consistently leads the state in case counts and deaths. But the statewide tale is even more grim. Statewide, 26,334 new cases were reported today, along with 400 deaths. (A record-high 426 deaths reported on Thursday.) There are now 13,953 patients with COVID-19 in Texas hospitals, per the Dallas Morning News. Texas now has a total of 2,072,903 coronavirus cases. That’s the most for any state besides California, according to Complex. During the first week of January, the state reached record highs for both case counts and deaths.

But Bow Wow appears to not know any of that. After waking up at around 2 pm today….

…the rapper defended himself on Twitter. He insisted that he’d worn a mask in the club:

“Man Texas is open. ATL is open. I can’t help I live in a city where we been open since last spring,” Bow Wow claimed in a series of now-deleted tweets. And then he had the audacity to claim “COVID fatigue”:

The backlash was swift and strong:

https://twitter.com/koordell/status/1350504299739148289

UPDATE: Cle is among three Houston clubs that got their liquor licenses suspended. According to ABC 13, “Three Houston businesses have had their liquor permits suspended following Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission investigations, which found violations of state requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The nightclubs involved are Grooves at 2300 Pierce St., Cle at 2301 Main St. and Spire at 1720 Main St. (Spire had its liquor license suspended in July 2020 and then again in October, per the Houston Chronicle.) In a press release, the TABC said the suspensions are the result of inspections by their agents conducted over the weekend.

“All three businesses are accused of violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32, which requires businesses which sell alcohol for on-premise consumption to comply with capacity limits as well as social distancing and facial covering requirements,” the release stated.

J.J. Watt Delivers Epic Rant After Latest Texans Loss; Watson Seeks Trade (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 27, 2020 (Updated Dec. 30, Jan. 7)

Photo from Getty Images.

The Texans lost. Again.

It’s not the first time that’s happened this season. Two weeks ago, the Texans lost in a blowout: 36-7, to the Chicago Bears. That loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Last week, the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. With less than 30 seconds left, Texans wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the two-yard line. It was the second time this season the team has lost to Indianapolis after a goal-line fumble. The Texans lost to the Colts, 27-20.

Today, they lost again, to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had his shoulder grabbed by Bengal Sam Hubbard, causing a strip-sack with 1:28 left. Cincinnati sealed their historic road win with a field goal. Despite Watson’s three touchdowns, the Texans lost, 37-31.

It’s their fourth straight loss. After a season in which their coach was fired, their best receiver was traded, and their offense stifled, the Texans have lost 73% of their games. They are now 4-11.

Defensive end J.J. Watt was visibly frustrated after the loss. In a postgame press conference, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year delivered an angry, emotional rant peppered with curses. He expressed recognition of his privileged position and sympathy for Texans fans. But Watt also called out his teammates for a lack of professionalism.

“We’re professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money,” Watt said. “If you can’t come in, put in work in the building, go out to the practice field, work hard, do your lifts and do what you’re supposed to do, you should not  be here. This is a job. We’re getting paid a whole lot of money. There are a whole lot of people that watch us and invest their time and money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s–t. And they care about it; they care every single week. We’re in Week 16, and we’re 4-11, and there’s fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there to win, you shouldn’t be here.

Because this is a privilege. It’s the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. If you can’t care enough, even when you’re in week 17 — even when you’re trash, when you’re 4-11 — if you can’t go out there and give it everything you have and try your hardest, that’s bulls–t,” he said. “There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, ‘Hey, we’re still rooting for you, we’re still behind you.’ They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That’s why. Those people aren’t getting paid. We’re being paid handsomely. That’s why. That’s who I feel the most bad for, are our fans, the people who care so deeply in this city, and love it and who truly want it to be great. And it’s not. And that sucks as a player, to know we’re not giving them what they deserve.”

Watch the now-viral moment below.

UPDATE (Dec. 30): The Texans have closed their facility today after two players (safety Eric Murray and linebacker Whitney Mercilus) tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. According to the Houston Chronicle, players were not allowed to enter the team facility. Instead, they did a walk-through on the practice field and then met virtually.

“Because we have had some positives, we are basically not letting the players into the facility,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said on Zoom from NRG Stadium. “But we are having a walkthrough where we’ll work for about an hour and then they’ll leave. They are not using the facility. They come in. We walk through and they leave. We are hoping to cut down on the interaction with players when you’re not on the football field. Everybody is wearing masks and we’ll get some fundamental work done we need to get done.”

UPDATE: The Texans lost their final game of the season to the Tennessee Titans (who win the AFC South). After the Texans’ 41-38 loss on Sunday, Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson shared a poignant moment. A video has surfaced of the two walking back to the locker room after the loss. “I’m sorry,” Watt tells Watson. “We wasted one of your years.”

UPDATE (Jan. 7, 2021): Rumors are swirling that Watson may be seeking a trade. NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk intimates that “Watson has quietly broached with teammates the possibility of requesting a trade.” Trading him would result in a cap charge of $21.6 million. 

Veteran Houston Chronicle sportswriter John McClain seems convinced that Watson’s not going anywhere, and a KHOU sports reporter tonight snarkily remarked that the trade story “was written for some clicks on a website.” But just moments ago, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport revealed that Watson is unhappy with the Texans organization (who isn’t?) after being left out of crucial personnel decisions:

“Watson offered his input on potential general manager candidates, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those endorsed by their franchise quarterback, league sources told ESPN. “Additionally, the Texans did not inform Watson that they intended to hire Caserio, and he found out about the hire Tuesday on social media. That contributed to Watson taking to Twitter that night to post “some things never change….”

Albert Breer says that Watson advocated for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to be head coach — but the Texans refused to even interview him, further irking Watson. Over the weekend, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson is still angry about the Texans’ “insensitivity to social justices, including hiring practices,” alluding to the team failing to interview Eric Bieniemy. (UPDATE: the Texans finally did request to interview Bieniemy today, Jan, 12. But the window to contact him has closed.)

Rapoport adds that Watson has not spoken to Texans brass in days — though they have tried to call him. This gives new grist to the rumor mill that Watson may be looking for greener pastures. At least one former Texans player is suggesting that some teams may be interested in Watson:

UPDATE: A Texans legend has weighed in on the situation. Legendary Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson set tongues wagging with a tweet today: “If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground,” Johnson wrote. “The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!”

Johnson’s tweet took a shot at Texans VP of football operations Jack Easterby, which generated lots of online chatter. But former Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins backed Johnson up, quoting Johnson’s original tweet and adding: “When Dre speak listen.”

UPDATE: Former Texans tight end Joel Dreessen also backed Johnson. Asked for comment, Dreessen tweeted: “All I know is when Dre would speak, he was always worth listening to. I don’t know Easterby at all, but it pains me to see how badly the Texans have been put in reverse. Whether it was him or BOB [former head coach Bill O’Brien] who chased off players like Duane, Clowney, Hopkins…& gave up 1st round picks.”

UPDATE (Jan. 29, 2021): Deshaun Watson formally requested a trade from the Texans yesterday, just hours after the team announced they’d hired David Culley as the team’s new head coach. But when Culley was introduced as coach during a Zoom teleconference today, Texans general manager Nick Caserio was clear in his objection.

“I just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson,” he said. “We have zero interest in trading the player. We have a great plan and vision for him. We look forward to spending more time with him.” Culley added: “The reason I’m in this position today is because I know he’s going to be a Houston Texan.”

UPDATE (Feb. 2): There are now reports swirling that multiple teams are interested in trading for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Las Begas Review-Journal reporter Vincent Bonsignore is reporting that the Raiders may pursue Deshaun Watson in exchange for Carr: “Increased demand for his services, insiders say, could create a scenario in which a three-team trade allows the Raiders to acquire Watson.”

The Raiders’ moves are not clear yet. But a potential deal could involve the team receiving two first-round draft picks and then pairing them with their own 2021-22 draft picks. They could then present all these picks as a package for the Texans.

UPDATE (March 2, 2021): J.J. Watt has signed a two-year, $31 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. News of the signing broke yesterday, reported by outlets including ESPN and the NFL Network. This move reunites him with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who was a wide receiver for the Texans before a controversial trade last year. Today, in an introductory press conference, Watt was asked about Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who remains in a standoff with the team after informing them he no longer wants to play for them.

“The one thing I want for Deshaun Watson is for him to be happy,” Watt said. “He deserves it, and I want him to be happy. Whatever that looks like for him, that’s what I want for him.”

Check back for more updates.

In Revealing Documentary, Superstar Influencer Answers: “Who Is Country Cowboyy?”

By Terrance Turner

He’s one of the biggest social media influencers in Houston. He generates thousands of views among more than 76,000 followers on Instagram. He hosts large-scale events at packed clubs. He lives in a luxury penthouse in Midtown Houston. But who is “Country Cowboyy”? In a revealing documentary short, directed by business partner Prinston Hicks, we get the answer.

Darrell Edmond, Jr. grew up in Houston. He loved to entertain people even from an early age. “I always wanted to entertain people using my personality — only because I had so much of it,” he recalls, describing himself as “energetic” and “captivating”. But his surroundings made that goal difficult. Growing up in “the hood” — Fondren and West Bellfort, in Houston’s Southwest side — made it hard to find a niche. “In the hood, if you’re not hood, you don’t feel like you fit in,” he says in the film. “I didn’t feel like I belonged there.”

As Edmond moved through high school, his sense of alienation was only compounded by a devastating loss that would change his life forever. In 2011, while in 11th grade, Edmond was at home with his cousin when his father came in. “We was sittin’ in the back room, and my dad walked in. And he said: ‘Yo, I think Trey just got shot.’ So, in that moment, honestly, I saw a bunch of flashes and moments of me and my brother together.”

Edmond says he didn’t really know how to process the fact that his brother was gone. Even now, as he discusses the loss in the documentary, his thoughts tumble out in a multilayered river of words. “My brother, actually — with everything that’s going on right now, and it’s just kinda crazy to say it — it’s still goin’ on to this day,” he says, referencing the ongoing issues with police killings that have led to protests across the country. “Like, this was back in 2011; it’s 2020 now, you know what I’m saying? He was shot by the police. So it was one of those situations, like I said…I just — it was — it just knocked at my door, like, ever so aggressively. I just remember the highlight reel; it was a highlight reel of all of our greatest moments. But one of the things that it forced me to do in the future was to really make sure that I didn’t spend my time in the streets.”

Instead, he spent his time at THE Texas Southern University, located in Houston’s Third Ward. At TSU, D.J. (as he was known to classmates) worked his way to prominence. “What I did was I cut my way into every single social circle,” he says, “and what I mean by that is: literally, I taught myself how to cut hair in high school. So I took that same skill and I leveraged it up to the tops of different social circles. So all types of people, who did all types of different things […] I was able to barter my way up to the top of, you know, the fraternities, the guys going to all of the parties,” he explains. “So I got an opportunity to see how they work, constructing business.”

“It was pretty cool because it was almost like a college lifestyle dream, you know I’m saying? Like the thing that you would imagine in your brain, like: ‘I’m going to college’. I actually lived that. And not only that I got good grades, too. You know what I’m saying? But fair enough, I did wing my way through college, but that’s neither here nor there.” (As someone who took a film class with D.J., I can assure you: he was definitely “winging it”.)

“But I got an opportunity to meet some of the coolest people. Like, I didn’t cross or anything like that, but I knew all of the Greeks. I knew all of the fraternities. I knew all of the people in the band;  I knew all of the football players. I knew all of the people that threw the parties. I knew all of the people in SGA, UPC — all of the top organizations. I was the go-to person for entertainment.” 

“But,” he cautions, ” it wasn’t big enough.”

What he was about to accomplish, though, would be bigger than anything he had ever imagined.

Rockets Trade Star James Harden to Brooklyn Nets

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 23, 2020 (Updated Jan. 13, 2021)

The Houston Rockets were supposed to begin their NBA season at 7:00 pm tonight (Dec. 23), playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in Houston’s Toyota Center. But tonight’s game has been postponed in accordance with the team’s Health and Safety Protocols. The NBA released a statement saying that three of the Rockets have tested positive (or inconclusive) for COVID-19. Four others are quarantined due to contact tracing. Additionally, Rockets star James Harden is unavailable due to a violation of Health and Safety Protocols.

Two days after reportedly hurling a basketball at a teammate during practice, Rockets superstar James Harden is now unable to play. ESPN reporter Tim McMahon tweeted earlier today: “Rockets are working with NBA office to review video of James Harden at a strip club. If the video circulating on social media is verified to be recent, it is a violation of league’s COVID protocols, which could put Harden’s availability for tonight’s opener in jeopardy.”

Harden responded to the report on Instagram, writing (in part): “I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it’s a problem. Everyday it’s something different.” McMahon responded by quoting the tweet, adding: “By doing so, he violates the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, which prohibit players from going to bars, lounges or clubs or social events with more than 15 people.”

Meanwhile, fellow Rockets John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins may also be ineligible for tonight’s game due to contract tracing. This is despite the fact that Wall, Cousins, and Harden have all tested negative for COVID-19. ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne adds: “James Harden tested negative for Covid-19 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, league source tells ESPN. The league is still reviewing his situation and eligibility for tonight’s game.” So Harden’s night at the club might cost him a spot on the starting roster tonight.

The club in question appears to be very near Toyota Center, where the Rockets will play in tonight’s home opener. The Houston Chronicle adds: “The venue was listed as private, but several Instagram users tagged The Velvet Room on Main, located near downtown about a mile from Toyota Center.” This isn’t the first time Harden’s partying has posed an issue: he missed practice on Dec. 6 because he was in Las Vegas, apparently at a nightclub. Just days before, Harden was seen maskless in Atlanta, celebrating the birthday of rapper Lil’ Baby. Harden gifted the “Emotionally Scarred” rapper with a Prada bag, filled with Honey Buns, bands of cash, and a Richard Mille. “He got me a Prada bag, ’cause he Prada me,” Lil’ Baby said at the time.

https://twitter.com/TheNBACentral/status/1334851330570137601

This is far from the only issue between Harden and the Rockets, though. Harden has requested a trade, and he skirted questions about his future when he spoke to reporters this week. But the writing is on the wall: Harden is visibly unhappy in Houston, and he and the Rockets appear headed for an ugly divorce. But how did we get here?

To hear McMahon tell it, the seeds of trouble had been planted years before, with a Rockets culture that often catered to its star. In fact, one former staffer described the Houston Rockets’ culture thus: “Whatever James wants.”

McMahon’s article asserts that Harden calls the shots on both the playing roster and coaching staff. He also exercised considerable sway on travel and playing schedules, too. If the Rockets had two or three days between games, Harden would likely call for an off day and charter a private jet to party in Las Vegas or another city. He always gets an excused absence from practice after the All-Star break for that very reason.

“If they have multiple days off, everybody knows: James is going to fly somewhere else and party,” a member of last season’s coaching staff told McMahon. “But he’s going to come back and have a 50-point triple-double, so they’re OK with it.” Indeed, Harden had his third triple-double in six games back in January 2019. His 43-point performance led to a dominant Rockets win — one of 53 wins in the 2018-2019 season. The previous year had been even better.

Powered by Harden’s brilliant performances, the Houston Rockets won a franchise-record 65 games during the 2017-18 season. Harden was named league MVP, per ESPN. The Rockets jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the Conference Finals. But thanks to 27 missed three-pointers — and Chris Paul’s raggedy hamstrings — the Rockets lost the last two games of the series in their home stadium! That loss to the Warriors marked the beginning of the end for the Paul-Harden era in Houston.

McMahon reports that the relationship soured leading up to the summer of 2019. Paul reportedly grew frustrated that Harden would disengage from the offense whenever the ball wasn’t in his hands. “Harden quickly tired of Paul barking about his concerns, which included lobbying coach Mike D’Antoni to implement more structure and movement,” writes McMahon. Things deteriorated further when the Rockets lost in the playoffs to the Warriors.

In June 2019, Yahoo! Sports’ Vincent Goodwill reported that the relationship had become “unsalvageable”: “Paul went to Rockets management and demanded a trade, and Harden issued a “him or me” edict following the Rockets’ second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors, sources said. The backcourt mates went nearly two months without speaking to each other during the season, sources said, creating a tenuous environment for teammates and everyone involved with the franchise.” Harden denied the report, saying: “Me and Chris had constant communication, and we’re good.”

Yet Paul was gone a month later. The Rockets were reportedly willing to go another season with its unhappy stars…until Russell Westbrook became available. Harden pushed hard for a deal, saying he’d demand a trade if Houston didn’t make it happen. The Rockets agreed, trading Paul for two draft picks and some swap options. Harden was soon reunited with Westbrook, his OKC teammate (and childhood friend).

Initially, things worked beautifully. In a February game vs. the Boston Celtics, Westbrook and Harden combined for 62 points. That capped a month where they were ranked second and third, respectively, in NBA scoring. Westbrook averaged about 33 points during the month, while Harden averaged 31.9. They’re the first pair of teammates in NBA history to average 30 points and 5 rebounds apiece.

Everything seemed to be working — and then the pandemic happened. COVID-19 forced the league to suspend its season in March 2020. Over the spring and early summer, a plan was formed to return to play. The NBA resumed play on July 30 in the “NBA Bubble” — the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida. There, the Rockets lost in the conference semifinals to the Los Angeles Lakers (the eventual NBA Champions).

On Nov. 11, a bombshell report in The Athletic revealed that Rockets star Russell Westbrook wanted out of Houston. Why? “Westbrook has informed team officials that he has been uneasy about the team’ accountability and culture,” three Athletic reporters wrote. “Westbrook, sources say, has made it known for quite some time that he would like to see significant changes to the Rockets culture. Specifically, his desire for more team-wide accountability, discipline, and culture have been the focus of talks with team officials.”

ESPN’s Tim McMahon put it more bluntly: “Houston’s casual culture appalled Westbrook. In Oklahoma City, despite the fact that he enjoyed the same sort of superstar privileges as Harden has had in Houston, the Thunder operated with the discipline of a military unit under Westbrook’s watch. The Rockets were a stark contrast,” McMahon wrote on Dec. 16. “With the Rockets, scheduled departure times were treated as mere suggestions by Harden and others.”

“Nothing ever starts on time,” a former Rockets staffer told McMahon. “The plane is always late. The bus is never on time…it’s just an organized AAU team.” But that laissez-faire attitude didn’t sit well with Westbrook. McMahon asserts: “Westbrook didn’t tolerate tardiness.” Case in point: on one occasion in “the bubble” in Florida, Harden waited to undergo testing for COVID-19 until just before the Rockets began watching film. Westbrook grew impatient: “Start the film!” he barked. “Start without him!” Then-coach Mike D’Antoni explained that they’d just have to start the film over when Harden arrived, but Westbrook was still peeved. But that was the way it was…

Once the pandemic began and “the bubble” was filled, Houston’s bubble burst. After yet another player loss (this time to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers), the Rockets were at a crossroads. Westbrook wanted out. Within days of the bombshell Athletic story about his quest for accountability, Westbrook requested a trade. The Rockets acquiesced. They traded Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a lottery pick in early December.

Now, the may have to do the same with James Harden.

UPDATE: After back-to-back losses to the Lakers — including last night’s 117-100 Lakers win — it may be the end of the road for James Harden in Houston. In a Zoom postgame interview last night, Harden was blunt about the 3-6 Rockets: “We’re just not good enough,” Harden said. “Chemistry, talent-wise, everything. It was clear these last few games from the beginning of the game. [The Lakers] were just aggressive. A veteran team, obviously, a championship team. One of the best teams we have in this league.”

Harden also expressed a belief that the situation may be unsalvageable. “I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can,” Harden said. “This situation is crazy. It’s something I don’t think can be fixed. Thanks.” With that, Harden rose and left the room.

One of Harden’s teammates had a lot to say about that. When asked how he felt about Harden’s comments, newly acquired Rocket DeMarcus Cousins was blunt: “Obviously, it’s disrespectful. But everybody has a right to their opinion. You know? We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions. You know, this is — this is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with these type of things, and you know, when guys are in positions of being, you know, franchise players and whatever that may be, it’s usually sometimes a nasty breakup. Like I said, that’s all part of the business,” Cousins continued.

A reporter asked Cousins: “As someone who signed here as a free agent, do you feel betrayed? Do you feel like it was unfair to you to have chosen to sign here […] and then have the star player want to leave?” Cousins was equally forthright in his answers.

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all. My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest,” Cousins said. “With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview — just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before, so this isn’t something that all of a sudden happened,” Cousins said. “Like I said this is the nasty part of the business, Cousins said. “It is what it is.”

ESPN’s Tim McMahon asked: “At this point, is there any way that you guys can play with James harden again?” Cousins answered: “I don’t really think that’s a question for us. I think that’s a question for him: will he ever be willing to play with us again? I don’t know. Quite honestly, don’t care.” Follow-up question: “And when you talk about disrespect, what specifically are you talking about?” McMahon asked.

“I just feel like there’s a way about handling business,” Cousins responded. “He can feel however he wants to feel about the organization or whatever his current situation is. But the other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him. So for us to be on the receiving end of some of the disrespectful comments and antics, it’s completely unfair to us.”

“I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone,” Harden now claims. “I just made a comment that the team as a whole wasn’t good enough to compete for a title.” But those comments came days after The Athletic reported that at least two teams are interested in acquiring Harden. The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers both made offers to the Rockets, per reporters Shams Charania and Sam Amick. But only one of those teams would prevail.

BREAKING (Jan. 13, 2021): The Houston Rockets have traded Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a massive blockbuster deal. The Rockets will receive four first-round picks and four pick swaps, all of which will come from the Nets — except for a 2022 Milwaukee pick currently owned by Cleveland. Houston will also receive Caris LeVert, Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs, according to CBS Sports.

UPDATE (Feb. 20, 2021): Five weeks to the day after Harden was traded, reports have surfaced that former teammate DeMarcus Cousins is also headed out of Houston. Athletic writer Shams Charania says Cousins and the team plan to part ways in coming days. “Houston wants to go smaller, younger in frontcourt when Christian Wood returns and this allows Cousins to find an opportunity elsewhere,” Charania wrote on Twitter.

This begs the question: will Cousins return to Los Angeles, where he (technically) won a ring with the Lakers earlier this year? (Cousins suffered a season-ending knee injury after getting signed, but he was still on the roster when the Lakers won — meaning he is technically still eligible for a ring.) Will he head back to LA?

Stay tuned.

At Candlelight Vigil, Houstonians Remember George Floyd — And Say His Name

Hundreds attend memorial candlelight vigil for George Floyd | FOX ...
Photo from Fox26Houston.

By Terrance Turner

Last night, a candlelight vigil was held for George Floyd at Jack Yates High School. Floyd graduated from Jack Yates in 1993; the vigil was held on the football field where he once played. Barely a stone’s throw away are the Cuney Homes, a public housing project in which Floyd grew up. Hosted by the Jack Yates Alumni Association, the vigil began at 7:30 pm. It brought together Floyd’s family, friends, and legal counsel. Several elected officials also made speeches at the event. 

Houston City Council member Dr. Carolyn Evans Shabazz remembered Floyd fondly: “He never met a stranger or turned away someone in need, even when he didn’t have it to give.” She read a proclamation declaring today, June 9th, George Perry Floyd Day. (Shabazz herself graduated from Jack Yates, and she represents the Third Ward area as part of District D.)

HISD Superintendent Grenita Latham also spoke briefly. “To watch a black man be brutally murdered was brutal,” she said. When she looked at the video of Floyd’s death, “I saw my brother. I saw my cousins. I saw my students,” Latham said. (Fitting, since Floyd was an HISD alum.) “To the family of George Floyd: I offer my condolences, my prayers, to know that we are with you. We’re going to honor George; we’re going to honor the family. But we’re going to honor every child that we serve by ensuring that our staff members, starting with the board all the way down, are trained on how to work with children — especially children of color — and how to meet their needs. Once again, to the Jack Yates Alumni Association: thank you for this opportunity. God bless all of you. God bless our community, and God bless our school district. Thank you.”

Floyd’s teammates at Yates also made an appearance. One of them was Floyd’s friend Von Dickerson, who remembered his friend vividly.  “Thanks, everybody, for coming out and supporting my boy. My plight with Floyd was a little different than everybody else’s, because we hung together every day. Every, every day. From him eating at my mother’s house to eating hot meals to me going at his mother’s house — they didn’t have much to eat. Skipping school, being teenagers at Yates. Then the class of ‘90 led us through the hallways until we became grown men, to control the hallway. Man…” he paused for a minute, growing emotional. 

“On this same football field right here, we started as freshmens. Then we got moved up to varsity with Gerald and the rest of the crew. Godfrey, Wallace… then we went to the freshman basketball, where we went 36-1. And then we went up to varsity basketball — which we were able to play a game right here at Hofheinz Pavilion, with the class of ’90. And from there, we were three-year lettermen in football and basketball. In a lot of things we did, we bucked the system. Here at Yates, you couldn’t sit on your helmets; we started that. I know the class of ’85 would kill us. We didn’t wear jerseys in practice, ‘cause we knew we were ‘the man’. We even got suspended one game, for changing a play. Coach McGowan and all the coaches took us in the office and he said: ‘What the blah blah blah were y’all thinking?’ And our exact words to Coach McGowan was that, ‘Man, we’re seniors. If we gon’ lose, we gon’ lose on our own terms’.”

 Dickerson voiced his support for the protesters. “But do it peacefully. He wasn’t a violent dude,” Dickerson said. “And pray for his family. They need it. They going through a lot right now. Everybody lost, confounded, trying to find a way. But again, once they bury my dude tomorrow, we need solidarity amongst all these lines: Class of 93, 87, 88, 89, 85, the eighties, down to the ’60s and ’70s. We still need you guys’ support, because, again, the battle has just begun. If we stop supporting, one of us could be the next George Floyd. And we don’t need to do no more vigils. We don’t need to light no more candles.”

The Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump, introduced George Floyd’s brothers with thunderous remarks. He compelled those assembled to raise their fists in a display of black solidarity. “Put your fists in the sky! Get ‘em up! Raise ‘em high!” he yelled repeatedly, stirring up the crowd. “Put your fist in the sky! Get ‘em up! Raise ‘em high! Because George Floyd’s life mattered. Black Lives Matter.” He then introduced Floyd’s brothers, Philonise and Rodney Floyd. 

“How y’all doing out there?” Philonise Floyd asked as he addressed the crowd. “I just want to thank you for coming out here and supporting my brother.” He remembered watching George play freshman and varsity high school football on the high school field. (Floyd played both basketball and football at Yates. As a tight end, Floyd’s acrobatic end-zone catches helped lead his team to the 1992 5A state championship game, where they lost to number-one Temple.) Philonise Floyd expressed gratitude to the crowd and asked them to continue fighting for reform.

“I really love y’all for giving my brother this much support. Y’all could have been anywhere in the world, but y’all here with us right now. This is a blessing. And this is bigger than George right now. We’re fixing to stop everybody from being afraid of the police. We have good police, but we have bad police. You can’t sort them out, so we got to figure it out right now.” 

“So right now I want everybody to start voting — going to council meetings and everything — to get everything together, little by little. We get one step closer to everything we need in life. Hey, we can’t just support, say we’re going to support the president,” Philonise Floyd said. “It’s not just about the president; it’s about what we have here. Because the president is the person over the military right now, we need [help] down here, and everything else expands from there. But I love y’all, like I just said; my brother is here with me, and…” He paused, trying to collect himself, as the audience began to applaud.

He led the crowd in a chant. 

“Say his name!” he ordered the crowd.

“George Floyd!” the crowd yelled.

“What do we want?” 

“JUSTICE.”

Floyd’s brother Rodney Floyd took the stage next. He spoke of how Floyd meant different things to different people. “I’m very happy y’all are honoring my brother,” he said. “Yates know him as Floyd George cause he had two first names, so they put ‘Floyd George’ in the paper all the time. But it’s originally George Floyd. Y’all know my brother as an athlete; some know him as Perry,” he said. “But y’all know him as a football star. We knew him as the big bro. Stand-up man. A  good, major influence in the community. Rapper. Good athlete. Good friend. Good brother, great man.” 

Rodney Floyd urged the 3rd Ward community to be more politically active. “We got to work on it. And a lot of us have these conversations to ourselves and friends, and honestly, to piggyback on what my brother said: you got to get out there, voting in the community. Get our face in the community. That’s everybody as a whole,” he said. “We’ve got to vote the local legislators in, find out, do our homework and background on them and what they’re offering us, and demand what we need,” he explained, “and let them know if they’re right for us. ‘Cause definitely we need to get the locals in, and the locals are the councilmen and councilwomen in our area. And  we definitely need to do that. That way we can get a governor — and whoever else, in that order — on our side,” he said. “We can change the policing and all that included, and then we got to educate ourselves…”

By 8:44 pm, candles were being passed out and lit; those who didn’t have candles instead turned on the flashlights on their phones. A moment of silence was observed until 8:46 pm. The time symbolizes the eight minutes and 46 seconds that now-former officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Image

The vigil closed with prayer and a special announcement: a scholarship fund in Floyd’s name has been established. The scholarship, which includes a $5,000 donation from Comcast, has been established for Yates High School seniors who hope to study mass communications in college. For more information on the scholarship, as well as how to donate, visit JackYatesAlumni.com.

60,000 Protesters Gather in Houston for George Floyd

By Terrance Turner

June 3, 2020

Thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Houston this afternoon for a largely peaceful rally. Houston rappers Trae tha Truth and Bun B helped organize the demonstration in support of justice for George Floyd. (Mr. Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward. In 2014, he moved to Minneapolis, where he was killed last week by former police officer Derek Chauvin.) Beginning at 3:00 pm, crowds of demonstrators amassed at Discovery Green.

Before the march officially kicked off, some participants were interviewed live. ABC 13 reporter Miya Shay interviewed Joanne Harris, who graduated from Jack Yates High School in 1959 (34 years before Floyd did in 1993). Harris said that the video of George Floyd’s murder impacted her greatly. “It was just devastating to me,” she said. “So it affected me tremendously.” As a black mother of black sons, she felt compelled to be there: “Every black person should be out here that’s able to walk or march,” she said.

Bun B asked the crowd to kneel and observe 30 seconds of silence before they began marching to City Hall at 3:30 pm.

At 4:00 pm, Bun B took the podium at City Hall to begin the speeches. He led the crowd to chant George Floyd’s name: “Say his name! Say his name!” Bun used his speech to advocate for police reform, with several elected officials standing nearby: “I plead with our mayor, our congresspeople, our council members: Please pass the bills needed to protect the black people of color from people hiding behind a badge on the streets.”

According to the Daily Beast, Bun B asked the crowd, on behalf of Floyd’s family, to keep the march peaceful. “If you see anyone instigating something, call them out,” he said. “The world is looking at Houston, Texas today. Let’s give them something to see.” (Full disclosure: I watched ABC’s live coverage of the event for more than three hours. But due to technical difficulties, I was unable to watch Bun B’s full remarks as he addressed the crowd.)

Also addressing the crowd was Trae Tha Truth, albeit with a more confrontational message.  “Today we gonna make a motherf–king statement, period,” he told the crowd. “We ain’t backing down from s–t. We have to tear up this system from the inside out. It’s not just about the bad cops, it’s about the people above those cops.”

Rev. Bill Lawson, founding pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, spoke next. He was a notable figure in the 1960s civil rights movement. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1960, he and his wife bailed out 14 Texas Southern University students who were arrested after staging a sit-in at a Houston lunch counter. Two years later, Lawson founded Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, which has been a mainstay in Third Ward for nearly six decades. (He is the father of KTRK anchor Melanie Lawson.)

“I hope that George Floyd has also energized us,” Rev. Lawson said, “and made us feel that we have to change this bad system.” He urged the protesters: “Keep mobilized, and don’t let this be a one-day parade.” He stressed that further action was needed in order to effect change. “The next thing you have to do is not march, but register & vote,” Rev. Lawson told the crowd. “We have to get out of office those people who feel they have to energize & make possible the actions of those who suppress black folks.”

By this time, the crowd was beginning to grow. KTRK reporter Marla Carter initially said that some 20,000 people had gathered downtown, but that number quickly multiplied. By 4:20 pm, the number of people attending had mushroomed to more than double the expected turnout:

At 4:30 pm, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed the crowd. “I want you to know that your marching, your demonstrating, your protesting, has not been in vain,” he told the crowd. He also vowed that it was time for the City of Houston to “review our own policies, procedures, and practices” in regards to police violence. “We are not perfect. We recognize that,” he said. But the mayor emphasized a commitment to respect and inclusion: “In our city, we respect every single person. Every person is important. We have to commit ourselves to making sure that we do better every single day.”

He urged the crowd to respect the wishes of George Floyd’s family, who asked for nonviolent demonstrations. “Today, it’s about lifting up the family of George Floyd. It’s about supporting 16 members of his family,” Turner said, as Floyd’s relatives stood behind him. “When we go home, they still have to deal with a relative that is no longer here.” 

“We want to love on them. We want them to know that George did not die in vain,” Mayor Turner said. “All that they ask is that as we march, protest, and demonstrate, that we do it in such a way that we do not deface his name. They want us to be peaceful! They want us to be peaceful.” That peaceful tone was echoed by the family of George Floyd, who spoke next.

“We got to do it the right way,” Floyd’s brother said, addressing the need for peaceful protests. Terrence Floyd decried the violence and looting that have plagued the streets ever since Floyd’s death. “You’re shaming all our names, not just his name,” he said, referring to agitators and rioters. “It’s bigger than my brother. We got kids growing up. We tryin’ to break the cycle right now. We got this,” he said. “Please, man, let my brother rest in peace.”

At about 4:45 pm, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee took the stage. She underscored Floyd’s roots in Third Ward, where he was well-known and cared for by residents. It’s a community Jackson-Lee herself represents. “Go around Cuney Homes,” she told those gathered. “Stand near Jack Yates [High School] and have people show you want George Floyd was all about. (Floyd graduated from Yates, where he also played football.)

“I don’t want to walk this journey again. It is time for a revolution of change,” she declared, “for justice for all of us, no matter our color.” She told the assembly that on Thursday, she plans to unveil what she called “revolutionary legislation”, named after George Floyd. The bill “talks about a new culture for police” that involves recruitment and de-escalation, she said.

But Jackson-Lee also made it a point to empower the audience through her words. “My friend [Al] Green and I have the privilege, and sometimes the challenge, of representing the most powerful nation in the world — the nation you own. This country is not of itself. You are this nation. And I come to you today for you to take your nation. Take your nation. It’s your country.” The crowd broke out into cheers and applause.

They were even more fired up after remarks by Cong. Al Green. “I am angry,” he told the crowd, voicing the collective, latent rage that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. Green expressed outrage about Floyd’s asphyxiation by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (now fired and criminally charged.) “We want an arrest, we want a conviction, and we want time! They’ve got to do some time.”

But Green added that mere charges and convictions aren’t enough. Like Jackson-Lee, he too is calling for broad and systemic change. “We’ve declared a War on Poverty,” Green said. “We declared a War on Drugs. We declared a war on cancer. It’s time to declare a war on racism in the United States of America.”

Circa 5:00 pm, the assembly concluded with a prayer by pastor John Gray. Pastor Gray once preached at Houston’s Lakewood Church; its pastor Joel Osteen (!!!) was in attendance. “This is our Emmett Till moment,” Gray told the crowd before beginning his prayer. “Let this anger turn into activism.”

The event remained largely peaceful throughout, although some minor skirmishes did break out after it ended at around 5:15 pm. Over an hour later, HPD Chief Art Acevedo was seen embracing and shaking hands with protesters at Walker and Crawford St. But as he made his way back to HPD’s downtown headquarters, he was confronted by angry protesters, asking why he hasn’t released body cam footage of 17 police shootings in Houston. As NBC News writer Mike Hixenbaugh reports:

As the sun began to set, after most of the estimated 60,000 marchers had gone home, a smaller group of activists surrounded Acevedo in the middle of a street and started demanding answers.

Full coverage of George Floyd’s death and protests around the country

They wanted to know why his department had refused to release body camera footage from six recent deadly police shootings in Houston. Some in the crowd shouted insults, calling Acevedo a “f—— liar” and a “hypocrite.” As Acevedo turned away from the agitated crowd, someone doused him with a bottle of water. A man yelled for him to resign.

“Houston’s police chief wins national praise — but faces local anger over shootings and transparency”, NBC News

The controversy was foreshadowed by Mayor Turner during his remarks. “No system is perfect,” he said. “And every day you’ve got to work at it, to gain the public trust.” That will be a challenge as protests continue.

Large Protest in Downtown Houston for George Floyd

Black Lives Matter Houston remembers George Floyd during a protest at City Hall, Friday May 29, 2020, in Houston. Floyd, originally from Houston’s Third Ward, died in the custody of Minneapolis police earlier this week, setting off protests across the country.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at City Hall to protest the death of George Floyd.
(Photo from the Houston Chronicle.)

By Terrance Turner

At 2 pm — less than an hour after charges were announced in the death of George Floyd — hundreds peacefully gathered at Discovery Green in downtown Houston to protest his murder. The protesters, some wearing masks, marched from Discovery Green to City Hall this afternoon. The Black Lives Matter Houston protest was scheduled from 2 until 4:30 pm, but may run longer.

Floyd was from Houston and went to high school in Houston’s 3rd Ward. He also had a daughter and other family here. In fact, Floyd lived in Houston for years before moving to Minneapolis in 2014. As a lifelong Houston resident, I rarely see large-scale demonstrations in the city I was raised. Which makes today’s big rally all the more surprising — and heartening.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Several hundred people marched in a heated Black Lives Matter demonstration that spilled onto an Interstate 45 entrance ramp near downtown Houston Friday, joining national outrage about the death of George Floyd with chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace,” as they trekked from Discovery Green to City Hall.

Ashton Woods, Black Lives Matter Houston founder, said the rally was designed to make ensure that “people know that they have a place to come and express their anger and frustration.”

That anger and frustration was visible throughout the event. At one point, Woods was involved in a large fight that broke out outside City Hall after he was confronted by a man with a rifle. It was broken up by police and protesters, according to video footage from the scene.

Check back for more updates on this protest.