Washington: US protesters ignored curfews overnight as they vented their anger over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of police, but there was a marked drop in the violence that led President Donald Trump to threaten to deploy the military.
At least 9,300 people have been arrested across the United States amid the ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died last week in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and police brutality nationwide.
Floyd died after a white policeman pinned his neck under the officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25, reigniting the explosive issue of police brutality against African Americans five months before the November presidential election.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of cities coast to coast for an eighth night as National Guard troops lined the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
There was sporadic violence in Washington and Portland, Oregon, with protesters tossing fireworks and bottles answered by police flash grenades and tear gas.
Clashes between protesters and police and looting of some stores in New York City gave way to relative quiet in the early hours of Wednesday. Police told media they made 200 arrests, largely for curfew violations.
In Los Angeles, many demonstrators who defied the curfew were arrested, but calm had been restored by mid-evening to the extent that television stations switched from wall-to-wall coverage back to regular programming.
Large marches and rallies also took place in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.
The officer who knelt on Floyd, Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers involved in the incident were fired but have not been charged.
‘Silence is violence’
Although rallies on behalf of Floyd and other victims of police brutality in recent days have been largely peaceful, many have turned to vandalism, arson and looting after dark. On Monday night, five police officers were hit by gunfire in two cities.
Outside the US Capitol building on Tuesday afternoon a throng took to one knee, chanting “silence is violence” and “no justice, no peace,” as officers faced them just before the government-imposed curfew.
Many of the protesters used the slogan “take a knee”, referring both to how Floyd died and a long-standing protest against racism in America that started in 2016 with a football player taking a knee instead of standing during the National Anthem.
In Atlanta, four police officers and two former officers were charged with using excessive force while arresting two students. Minneapolis launched an investigation into possible discriminatory practices in the police department over the last 10 years.
In New York, thousands of chanting protesters ignored the curfew to march from the Barclays Center in Flatbush toward the Brooklyn Bridge as police helicopters whirred overheard.
The crowd halted at an entrance to the Manhattan Bridge roadway, chanted at riot police: “Walk with us! Walk with us.”
On Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, hundreds of people filled the street, marching past famous landmarks of the film industry. Others gathered outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters downtown, in some cases hugging and shaking hands with a line of officers outside.
The survey conducted on Monday and Tuesday found 64% of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” while 27% said they were not and 9% were unsure.
In Minneapolis, Roxie Washington, mother of Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna, told a news conference he was a good man.
“I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took from me ...,” she said, sobbing. “Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate.”
'Of course black lives matter', says British PM Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday black lives mattered and he supported the right to protest, in a lawful and socially-distanced way, after the killing by police of George Floyd in the United States stirred widespread anger.
"Of course, black lives matter and I totally understand the anger, the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well," he told parliament.
"I also support, as I've said, the right to protest. The only point I would make ... is that any protest should be carried out lawfully and in this country protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing."
Britain to hold rally, nationwide kneeling
Anti-racism and Black Lives Matter groups planned a rally in central London and a nationwide kneeling to protest the death of African-American man George Floyd in US police custody.
Black Lives Matter in London encouraged protesters to wear red at an afternoon rally in Hyde Park to "protest against the rights of black people being abused globally."
UN chief calls for restraint
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on authorities in the US to exercise restraint in responding to protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after being pinned down by a white police officer.
"I am heartbroken to see violence on the streets in our host country and our host city of New York," Guterres said Tuesday on Twitter.
George W Bush blasts crackdown on protests
Former President George W Bush said in a statement that he and wife Laura Bush "are anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country."
Bush did not specifically mention Trump, but he called the harassment and threats toward African American protesters "a shocking failure".
Source: News Agencies
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