Americans woke up again Sunday to the sight of landscapes where broken glass littered the ground and property was charred in dozens of cities, leaving traces of the frustration accumulated for several years by African-Americans who believe they are still the target of racial profiling by police.
Several businesses and cars were set on fire and the phrase “I can’t breathe” was spray-painted on several buildings, in reference to the death of George Floyd, the black man who died on Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck, applying pressure until he stopped breathing.
Anger over The death of George Floyd continued to spread Saturday in several U.S. cities, as well as near the White House as protesters decided to defy the many curfews.
Curfews were in effect Saturday night in a dozen U.S. cities. In New York City, videos circulating on social media show two police vehicles ramsing protesters who were pushing a barricade against an NYPD car. Several protesters threw various objects at the car and several of them were thrown to the ground after the vehicles collided.
New-York, 30 Mai 2020
— Gil 🍀#CloversForAssange 🖤🖤 (@AnonGilet2) May 31, 2020
“Our country is sick. We have to be here,” said Brianna Petrisko, a protester from Foley Square in lower Manhattan.
Most of the protesters wore masks in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. “That’s the only way we’re going to be heard,” Petrisko said. Protesters set fire to police cars, smashed windows and confronted police officers armed with batons on the streets of several U.S. cities, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Outside the White House in Washington, protesters taunted Secret Service agents and sometimes pushed against security fences, while police used pepper spray to try to disperse the crowd, but the stalemate continued. Our country is sick. We have to be here,” said Brianna Petrisko, a protester from Foley Square in lower Manhattan.
Most of the protesters wore masks in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic. “That’s the only way we’re going to be heard,” Petrisko said. Protesters set fire to police cars, smashed windows and confronted police officers armed with batons on the streets of several U.S. cities, from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Outside the White House in Washington, protesters taunted Secret Service agents and sometimes pushed against security fences, while police used pepper spray to try to disperse the crowd, but the standoff continued. Protesters removed barricades and some broke paving stones to use as projectiles. At one point, a structure was set on fire. Hundreds of people converged on the US president’s residence, shouting “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
Three rows of barricades separated protesters from a line of uniformed police officers in Lafayette Park, across from the White House.
National Guard troops took up positions around the White House on Saturday night.
Inside the White House, President Donald Trump appeared to encourage the more aggressive tactics used Saturday by law enforcement across the country to confront sometimes violent protesters. On Twitter, the president praised the National Guard troops deployed in Minneapolis. He also stated that the NYPD “must be allowed to do its job!”
The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Earlier, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized President Donald Trump for his accusatory tweets toward her and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department after protests near the White House friday night.
Donald Trump warned in a tweet Saturday that the Secret Service was ready to release “the most vicious dogs and the most threatening weapons I have ever seen” if protesters had managed to cross security lines. Bowser called Donald Trump’s remark “gross,” saying the reference to dogs evokes the nation’s worst memories of the nation’s struggle against segregation.
She said: “I call on our city and our nation to exercise restraint, deference even as the president tries to divide us. I have the impression that these comments are an attack on humanity, an attack on black America, and they make my city less safe. ”
I call upon our city and our nation to exercise great restraint even while this President continues to try to divide us. Our power is in peace, in our voices and ultimately at the ballot box in November…
— Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC Lite (@MurielBowser) May 30, 2020
Mayor Bowser said police were ready to coordinate with the Secret Service if protests continued Saturday night near the White House.
She said people are desperate and want change and “leaders who recognize this pain,” instead of “glorifying violence against American citizens.”
The mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, declared a civil state of emergency after protesters set fire to the city’s courthouse. Thousands of people gathered near the Capitol on Saturday afternoon to peacefully protest against police violence and racism. But things escalated after dark, with protesters smashing the windows of government buildings and causing other property damage.
In Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd died Monday after a white police officer thrust a knee in his neck and held him on the ground for more than eight minutes, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz mobilized the state’s National Guard and promised a massive show of force to quell the riots that became increasingly destructive. Minneapolis police clashed with protesters after curfew.
A group of marchers were heading north towards the city centre on a street in the city when police fired tear gas on Saturday night. The group immediately withdrew. A short time later, police fired tear gas and pushed back crowds of protesters on their way to one of the city’s police stations.
Tougher tactics came after city and state leaders were criticized for not facing more strongly violent protests.
“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer at all related to the murder of George Floyd,” Governor Walz said. It’s about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our big cities.”
The alleged Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, condemned the violence in a statement, while supporting the legitimacy of the protesters’ cause.
“The act of protesting should never overshadow why we are protesting,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night. ‘This should not aliene people from the just cause that the demonstration is supposed to bring forward.’
On Saturday, racially diverse crowds took to the streets to demonstrate peacefully in dozens of cities. Friday’s protests also began peacefully — in the cities of New York city in Oakland, California, from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon — before several of those rallies descended into violence. At least two deaths were linked to the protests; thousands of people were arrested and police used batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray to push the crowd back into some cities.
Many police reported that officers were injured, while social media was flooded with images of police using force, throwing protesters to the ground, using bicycles as shields and trampling a protester on horseback.