Protesters demand justice after the death of African-American George Floyd after his police arrest. Police fired tear gas outside the White House on Sunday to disperse a demonstration. The police response is intended to be more militarized. While President Donald Trump’s administration called the instigators of the riots terrorists, there were new clashes between police and protesters on Sunday.
In Saint Paul, the city which borders Minneapolis, epicenter of the movement, thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday afternoon against racism and for the police implicated in the death of George Floyd all to account.
Demonstrations were also underway in Washington, Miami and New York. “Black Lives Matter”, “I can’t breathe” (the last words spoken by George Floyd), hammered the crowds. The curfew has been declared in the capital Washington after new demonstrations near the White House. Several hundred people were gathered Sunday evening in front of the White House, placed under high security. Some demonstrators threw bottles of water towards the police, according to an AFP journalist on the spot.
In Washington, police fired tear gas outside the White House on Sunday to disperse a demonstration. Several fires have broken out. According to the New York Times, Donald Trump was taken to a underground bunker by the Secret Service – the president’s and personalities’ protection service – on Friday for a similar demonstration outside his residence.
In Los Angeles, National Guard soldiers in combat gear and armed with assault rifles began patrolling downtown in the morning. This did not stop looters from attacking stores in an upscale shopping center in Santa Monica. And in East Coast Philadelphia, more than 50 people have been arrested for looting since Saturday, police said.
Despite the police deployment, violence spread to many cities on Saturday night, including New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Las Vegas, Seattle, Des Moines, Memphis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Portland, Chicago and the capital Washington.
Roads were cut, cars and businesses burnt down, and large numbers of law enforcement officers responded with tear gas and in some cases rubber bullets.
Some 5,000 members of the National Guard have been deployed to 15 American states.
Local authorities are struggling to find a balance in their communication, condemning the violence that “does not advance racial justice”, while supporting the outrage at the death of George Floyd.
“As the sun set over our city last night, we saw the ugliest pictures of this generation,” said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. “They hijack a movement and hijack the debate.” “Please come home early, stay at home (…). We must return to the urgency of building justice, not burn a city,” he pleaded. Sunday on CNN.
Images circulated on social media on Sunday, showing police tackling protesters on the ground. In New York, a police car rushes into the crowd after being surrounded, which has fueled criticism.
So far, only one of the police officers involved in the fatal arrest of George Floyd has been arrested and charged with manslaughter. It is him that we see in a viral video maintain his knee on the neck of George Floyd for long minutes, while the latter complains of not being able to breathe. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday for the first time.
“We have black children, black brothers, black friends, we don’t want them to die. We are tired of it repeating, this generation will not give up. We are tired of oppression”, A protester in Saint Paul, Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old black woman, told AFP.
Donald Trump promised to “stop collective violence” and denounced the actions of “radical leftists”, in particular the radical “antifa” (anti-fascist) movement, which he announced he wanted to designate as a terrorist organization. On Sunday, he notably retweeted a message from a conservative radio host saying: “It will only stop if good people are ready to use overwhelming force against the bad guys”.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms earlier compared the situation to the clashes in Charlottesville, where clashes between white supremacist and anti-fascist activists left one dead and dozens injured in August 2017. Mr. Trump then ruled that he there were “great people” on both sides. “President Trump is making matters worse,” the mayor said on CBS. “His rhetoric only ignites things and he should just shut up.”