Protests and rioting continue to occupy many neighbourhoods across the US in response to the killing of a black US citizen over a presumed misdemeanour.
One week ago, Minneapolis resident George Floyd was handcuffed and pinned face-down on the tarmac by police officer Derek Chauvin who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. He was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and soon pronounced dead.
Americans across the nation have responded with protests that have quickly shifted to rioting.
While days are relatively quiet, once the sun begins to set, upset individuals and groups are making their way out, placarding their protest against the killing of Lloyd with some people looting stores and setting buildings and cars on fire.
In Minneapolis, thousands of people were protesting on a city bridge on Sunday when a massive semi-trailer came speeding through the crowd, amazingly not injuring anyone.
In Salt Lake City, SWAT teams have hit the streets, shoving innocent pedestrians out of the way, even knocking some over. One elderly citizen who was walking with a cane got knocked to the ground by a SWAT guard.
Indeed, police presence across the country has been irregular and erratic, to say the least. One minute, we’re seeing crowds of protesters faced by rows of police and the national guard who are bandying pepper spray while being hit by debris from members of the crowd. The next, police have disbanded, making way for a free-for-all in crowd members looting boutiques and food stores.
Groups of protesters are even finding solutions to the pepper spray that police have been using to try to keep them at bay. They’re creating ‘first aid stations’ which provide a mixture of milk and baking soda inside jugs and bottles to help draw the spray out of recipients’ eyes.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is cowering away from the limelight and hasn’t given an address from the Oval Office for days. Instead he has hopped onto social media to call the rioters “THUGS” and “SCUM” while spreading a partisan vibe, blaming Democratic governors for supposedly procreating the violence and chaos. He also warned protesters that they will be met with “vicious dogs” if they attempt to pelt the White House.
Instead, protestors have started fires just outside the White House grounds.
Trump’s tweet over the weekend that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” hasn’t helped the drastic situation, and some suspect that once curfews are put in place in major cities, there may be violent and fatal retaliation from police if citizens do not obey.
In New York, protesters have taken on a more peaceful demonstration during the day with hundreds marching in silence and with their right arm raised, presumably a symbol of solidarity and strength, or indeed defiance or resistance.
As dusk kicks in, though, even New York is hit by violence, rioting and looting, with looters breaking into and stealing from Chanel, Bloomingdales and other prominent stores.
Meanwhile, in a joint interview on CNN, the brother of George Floyd – the man whose death from the hands of police has instigated much of the protesting – addressed the ongoing chaos and danger even more black lives face.
“People are killing black men and women,” said Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.
Philonise went on to question why several of the officers who were present when his brother was killed haven’t been arrested.
“My brother’s in the morgue, and some of these police officers are at home, in bed, relaxing,” he said. “I want justice now. My brother deserves it.”
Suffice to say, Americans across the country are making certain George Floyd’s death was not in absolute vain, with protests and damage certain to lead to legislative change in how police can and cannot treat suspects in future.
Lisa Andrews & Antonino Tati