Thursday, 2 Jul 2020

US riots: George Floyd protests rage on past curfew as US calls for justice

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The protests sweeping the US come after the killing of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. His death has sparked nationwide outrage at police brutality, with tens of thousands ignoring COVID-19 social distancing measures to protest his killing.

The eight day of the protests has stretched past state’s strict curfews, put in place to curb the protests.

Major marches took place in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York City.

Protests have also been seen in Washington, D.C., near the park where demonstrators were cleared on Monday to make a path for President Donald Trump so he could walk from the White House to a historic church for a photo.

Although rallies on behalf of Floyd and other victims of police brutality have been largely peaceful during the day, after dark each night crowds have turned to rioting, vandalism, arson and looting.

At least five protestors have died while demonstrating due to police projectiles.

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.

After the curfew began in New York City, thousands of chanting and cheering protesters marched from the Barclays Centre down Flatbush toward the Brooklyn Bridge as police helicopters whirred overheard.

US President Donald Trump has come under fire from all sides for his handling of the protests.

On Monday evening, after making a speech about the protests being “acts of domestic terror”, Police officers used tear gas and flash grenades to clear out the crowd so Mr. Trump could visit the nearby St. John’s Church, where there had been a parish house basement fire Sunday night.

The president stood in front of the boarded up church posing for photographs with a Bible, after the police dispersed peaceful protesters, and walked back to the White House after a few minutes.

The president’s church visit was criticised by Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who said she was “outraged” that Mr. Trump went to the church “after he threatened to basically rain down military force.”

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The references to military force by the bishop refers to Trumps threat to evoke the Insurrection Act to deploy troops to handle the protest.

He said: “We have our military ready, willing and able, if they ever want to call our military.

“We can have troops on the ground very quickly.

“They’re using their National Guard right now, as you know.”

It would be the first time the act has been evoked since 1996, where the Rodney King L.A. riots raged.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday, a majority of Americans sympathise with nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed black man in police custody and disapprove of President Donald Trump’s response to the unrest.

The survey conducted on Monday and Tuesday found 64 percent of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” while 27 percent said they were not and 9 percent were unsure.

The poll underscored the political risks for Trump, who has adopted a hardline approach to the protests and threatened to deploy the US military to quell violent dissent.

More than 55 percent of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the protests, including 40 percent who “strongly” disapproved, while just one-third said they approved
The Republican president faces Democrat Joe Biden in November’s election.

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