Unrest in US continues as protests over George Floyd’s death spread across country
The United States went through another night of chaos Saturday as protestors demanding justice for the death of George Floyd, an African American man, in police custody marched in city streets, vandalized property and clashed with police who hit back, seemingly unprovoked at times, most notably in New York City, and with excessive force.
More than two dozen cities are under curfew, National Guard troops — US military reservists — have been summoned in 12 states and in Washington DC, where protestors clashed with Secret Service personnel outside the White House for the second day, undeterred perhaps by President Donald Trump’s threat of “vicious dogs and ominous weapons”.
Trump has been under mounting pressure, even from his right-wing and conservative supporters, to speak to the nation in a unifying address that presidents had used before to calm the nation during similar unrests. He has so far responded with conflicting messages. While he has expressed outrage over Floyd’s death, he has condemned protestors as “thugs” and threatened violence in language used by racists before.
Asked if the president has plans to address the nation on the issue, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told CNN Sunday the president had already addressed the issue. He has condoled Floyd’s death. “The President also said that we’re with the protesters who are demanding answers, just like we are, the peaceful protesters. But we’ve got to stop the mob violence.”
Minneapolis, the Minnesota state city where Floyd died pinned down to the ground with a white police officer’s knee on his neck last Monday, is under curfew and the National Guard. Los Angeles in California and Atlanta, Georgia have also called in the National Guard. And several units of US military police are standing by to be deployed if needed.
In New York city, police responded with increasing ferocity in day of escalating clashes with protestors. In videos that have gone viral, a mounted police officer police officer was seen knocking down a protestor, a police cruiser drove into a car and police officers used their bicycles to push back protestors.
“Running SUVs in crowds of people should never, ever be normalized. No matter who does it, no matter why,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the firebrand Democratic congressman from New York in a tweet. She went on to criticize the city’s Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio’s earlier comments on the issue as “unacceptable”.
“This moment demands leadership & accountability from each of us. Defending and making excuses for NYPD (New York Police Department) running SUVs into crowds was wrong,” she added.