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Hard Rock Music Lounge: The Night Daft Punk Bummed Me a Cigarette

Street artist Mr. Brainwash is drinking a cocktail in the lobby, his Ray-Bans covered in spray paint. He's talking about going to Coachella later in the day, some 30 minutes away from the Hard Rock Music Lounge at the Hotel Zoso (and future site of the 160-room Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, opening this fall) where we are currently standing.

It's Day One, Week One of the festival. To his left is Lulu the camel, dressed in trademark hot chick Coachella headgear -- one of those flower wreaths -- posing with revelers coming to and fro from the hotel. Behind Lulu, Brainwash's imprint is on the hotel's exterior wall -- a stencil of Alfred Hitchcock brandishing a sign that reads "Life Is Beautiful" and the adjacent "Music Is Beautiful." Brainwash tells me that Daft Punk will be coming by later and that we should all hang. I don't believe him. They're not even playing Coachella. I interrupt his tomfoolery by asking him if I could take home his wall stencil we're standing next to -- Albert Einstein holding a picket sign that reads "Love Is the Answer." Brainwash, who insists I call him Thierry by now, says it's mine to keep if I can remove it.

"I got a text from Mr. Brainwash, I think it was Wednesday morning around 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, just saying, "I'm outside and I have paint," says Blake Smith, Music Director for Hard Rock Hotels. "He was basically hanging from the top of the building just stenciling and tagging the whole place. Because we haven't gotten our hands on the hotel yet to design it to make it into a Hard Rock, we reached out to a couple of artists and just said come over and do whatever you want to do to the hotel. It might have been something we have thought about in jest or just in fun, and he came here and just transformed the place. It's amazing."

Welcome to the spirt of Hard Rock Hotels, where concurrently spinning by the pool is White Light White Heat featuring an unrecognizable and bearded Fabrizio Moretti of the Strokes. St. Lucia's Jean-Philip Grobler rolls by with a hotel dolly, sweaty after his set, moving equipment. Tomorrow, poolside, females will take over for the Women Who Rock pool party hosted by Beyonce's bestie Kelly Rowland. Members of Passion Pit roll by too, ya know, just to crack some jokes. A-Trak and his Fool's Gold crew will shutdown the pool area the next day.

"Something we like to do is take somewhat disparate artists that you wouldn't imagine paired together and have them DJ the same party," says Smith, whose favorite acts these days range from Nick Cave to Action Bronson to up-and-coming producers like Party Supplies. "Our motto for the brand is "Love all serve all," and, honestly, you can sit there and be at a Cher convention one week, and then have Drake come through the next week, and that's kinda the way we are. We love music. We love ALL of it."

It's Sunday, Day Three, 1AM on the dancefloor in the upstairs VIP area. Questlove is spinning a time travel set; it starts with '50s doowop, morphs into '70s Jackson 5 and finally updates to T.I.'s "What You Know." Nick Cave has already come and gone -- with his kids and wife in tow -- after performing on the Coachella main stage with the Bad Seeds only three hours earlier. Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala, who played earlier too, are sashaying across the floor, pulling dance moves that are impossible not to watch, especially that bassist of theirs Nick Allbrook. Ariel Pink is outside on the patio. Deck D'arcy from Phoenix, who headlined Coachella the night before, is dancing with a pretty gal. They stay on the dancefloor for a while because Questlove is dropping mind-blowing remixes that morph yesteryear with only yesterday. Mr. Brainwash aka Thierry is long gone, but rumors that Daft Punk are at this party run rampant. No one knows what they look like. They aren't wearing their helmets.

Questlove ends his set at 4AM. People start to filter out. I need a cigarette because it's been a long weekend. In the Hard Rock Music Lounge lobby, where it all began by the Mr. Brainwash Einstein stencil, is a group of three lads smoking by a white van. I kindly interrupt their conversation in French and cough up a "merci" in exchange for a light up. I head back to my room and Google "Daft Punk no helmets," and one of the guys who just bummed me a cigarette is staring me in the face.

Apparently, they like a good party, and when it's a good party, they will be the last to leave.

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Killer Mike Gives Emotional Speech Urging Peaceful Protests Amid Unrest In Atlanta

Killer Mike joined T.I., and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in delivering emotional pleas to discourage ATLiens from burning the city as protests broke out on Friday (May 29) in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless victims of police brutality.

“I don’t want to be here,” began Killer Mike. “I’m the son of an Atlanta city police officer, my cousin is a police officer…I got a lot of love and respect for police officers down to the original eight [Black] police officers in Atlanta that, even after becoming police, had to dress in a YMCA because white officers didn’t want to get dressed with ni**ers. And here we are, 80 years later and I watched a white officer assassinate a Black man and I know that tore your heart out. I know it’s crippling and I have nothing positive to say in this moment because I don’t want to be here.”

The Atlanta native went on to share background on his family’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and other social justice issues. “I’m duty-bound to be here to simply say, 'It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with the enemy.’”

In what turned out to be another viral moment, Tip called Atlanta “Wakanda” while imploring demonstrators not to destroy the city. “Atlanta has been here for us, this city don’t deserve that. I understand that a lot of others do, but we can’t do this here, this is Wakanda. It’s sacred. It must be protected,” said the 39-year-old rapper.

Mayor Bottoms simply told protestors to simply “go home.”

“Above everything else, I am a mother to four Black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old,” she said. “When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt. Yesterday, when I heard there was a rumor about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do: I called my son and I said ‘where are you?’ I said ‘I cannot protect you and Black boys shouldn’t be out today.’ So you’re not going to out-concern me, and out care about where we are in America.

“I wear this each and every day and I pray over my children each and every day. What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos.”

WATCH: "If you love this city, go home!"

— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) May 30, 2020

At the request of Mayor Bottoms, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency in Fulton County, and deployed 500 troops from the state's national guard.

They will deploy immediately to assist @ga_dps, @GaDNRLE, @GA_Corrections & local law enforcement who are working tirelessly to subdue unlawful activity & restore peace. We will continue to make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation. (2/2)

— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 30, 2020

See Killer Mike's full statement below as well as photos and video of the protests.

A powerful scene in Atlanta right now, this gives me chills.

— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) May 29, 2020

More shots from Atlanta tonight

— kieron (@kieroncg) May 30, 2020

The chief of police in Atlanta talking and listening to everyone that has something to say#ATLFORUS #AtlantaProtest

— Lilly - BLACK LIVES MATTER (@joonhopekook) May 29, 2020

It’s not just Minneapolis, we are now seeing protests in cities across the country over the death of George Floyd. This is in Atlanta as some smash the glass at our downtown CNN headquarters. #GeorgeFloyd

— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) May 30, 2020

Police cars getting literally destroyed in Atlanta outside the CNN Center

— Fernando Alfonso III (@fernalfonso) May 29, 2020

Downtown Atlanta right now.... PEACEFUL PROTEST ! #BlackLivesMatter !

— KP 🦋. (@kailynnlee) May 29, 2020

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Breonna Taylor’s Family Vows To Continue Fight For Justice: “Please Keep Saying Her Name”

Breonna Taylor must not be forgotten. The family of the 26-year-old EMT who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March, released a statement encouraging peaceful protests and the continued fight for justice.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear read the statement from Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, on CNN on Friday (May 29).

“Breonna devoted her own life to saving other lives, to helping others, to making people smile, and to bringing people together,” the statement reads. “The last thing she’d want right now is any more violence. Changes are being made, but it’s not enough. We will not stop until there is truth, justice and accountability. Breonna’s legacy will not be forgotten. And it’s because of all of us saying her name and demanding justice. We are saying her name more each day. Thank you.

“Please keep saying her name. Please keep demanding justice and accountability, but let’s do it the right way without hurting each other. We can, and we will make some real change here. Now’s the time. Let’s make it happen.”

Seven people were shot during a protest for Taylor in Louisville on Thursday (May 28). The shooting victims were treated and are in stable condition, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher. Fisher also reposted a video message from Taylor’s family urging peace amid the protests.

A message from Breonna Taylor’s family urging protestors to be peaceful, go home and keep fighting for truth.

— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) May 29, 2020

On March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers kicked in Taylor’s door without warning and opened fire. Authorities claim that they were executing a “no-knock” search warrant stemming from an alleged drug investigation involving another man who did not live in Taylor’s home, and had already been arrested.

“Police just unloaded 25 to 30 rounds, I mean they’re shooting from the front door, they’re shooting from the window, they’re shooting from the patio,” attorney Benjamin Crump told Essence on Friday. “They’re so reckless, they shoot a bullet into the next door neighbor’s apartment where their five-year-old daughter is asleep in her room. “They didn’t even have to come in her [Taylor's] apartment. They already had the person they were searching for in custody.”

Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LMPD accusing the department of excessive force and gross negligence. In wake of Taylor’s murder going public, LMPD has changed its policy and will now require no-knock warrants to have a police chief’s signature. The department also made it mandatory for LMPD officers to wear body cameras.

A 911 call made by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, after the shooting was made public on Thursday. “I don’t know what’s happening somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” Walker can be heard saying through tears. Police arrested Walker for shooting at cops whom he assumed were robbers. The charges were later dropped.

Listen to the emotional 911 call below.

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KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

Fired Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Arrested For Murder Of George Floyd

Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested for the murder of George Floyd on Friday (May 29), Hennepin County D.A. Mike Freeman confirmed at a press conference.

“Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder and with manslaughter. He has been charged with third-degree murder,” said Freeman.

“There could be more charges later. The investigation is ongoing. We felt it important to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator,” Freeman said when asked if the three additional fired MPD officers will be charged in Floyd’s murder. The third-degree murder charge suggests that Chauvin had no intent to kill Floyd. If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Chauvin's arrest follows three days of protests in an around Minneapolis. On Thursday (May 28), the MPD’s third precinct went up in flames.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct has been set on fire

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 29, 2020

“We have never charged a case in that time frame. We can only prove a case when we have substantial evidence,” added Freeman who maintained that the timing of the arrest was a result of a final piece of evidence, although he refused to go into detail. “We have now been able to put together the evidence that we needed. Folks, I’m not gonna’ talk specifically about this piece of evidence, or that piece of evidence. You will see.”

Freeman did however state the that evidence collected in the case includes citizen video, officer body cam footage, witness statements, and a “preliminary report” from the medical examiner.

Chauvin was the officer filmed jamming his knee into Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air and pleaded, “Please! Please! I can’t breathe!”

The fatal incident unfolded on Monday (May 25) afternoon. Police were called to Cup Food grocery store after Floyd allegedly tried to use a fraudulent $20 bill. MPD claimed that Floyd resisted arrest but a security camera recording shows him walking calmly in handcuffs while being escorted to a patrol car by an MPD officer.

Video footage release by store owner who stated George did not resist arrest as stated on the police report #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatters

— Que ™ (@RealQDaKidd) May 27, 2020

Additional footage, recorded by a teenage bystander, captured Floyd's last few minutes alive. Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Chauvin may have already known Floyd as they both worked security for the Minneapolis club, El Nueva Rodeo.

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