Wed | Jul 8, 2020

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters US; protests reach Europe

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2020 | 12:00 AMAP
People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest outside the US Embassy in London today to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. A US police officer was charged with the death of George Floyd earlier this week (AP photo).

(AP)- Americans began cleaning up charred and glass-strewn streets today after another night of unrest fuelled by rage over police mistreatment of African Americans. Businesses and landmarks have been damaged and tensions raised across a divided nation to the boiling point.

The chaos reached every corner of the country, and the scars extended even to buildings near the White House. Some elected officials prepared to deploy additional National Guard troops in anticipation of more turmoil.

Tens of thousands of people marched peacefully to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. But many demonstrations sank into violence as night fell: cars and stores were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted all over buildings.

Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Protests reach Europe

The scale of the protests, including nearly every part of the country and unfolding on a single night, rivalled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam eras. And by Sunday morning, the fury had spread to Europe, where thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square, clapping and waving placards despite government rules barring crowds because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington, DC. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”

People set fire to squad cars, threw bottles at officers and broke storefront windows. They carried away TVs and other merchandise even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead after multiple shootings that happened during downtown violence. Those slayings added to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.

In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect to break up the demonstrations.

The show of force came after three days in which police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured more than 4,000 National Guard troops into Minneapolis. Authorities said that number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

President Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics, commending the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis and declaring “No games!” He said police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden condemned the violence as he continued to express common cause with those demonstrating after Floyd’s death.

“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” Biden said in a late-night statement.

Protests near the White House

Today, maintenance crews near the White House worked to replace windows that had been shattered with large pieces of wood. Buildings for blocks were marked with graffiti, including curses about Trump and anti-police sentiments. Shattered glass still covered the sidewalks. The damaged buildings included the Department of Veterans Affairs, directly across the street from the White House.

At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a “sacred space.” The intersection was blocked with the traffic cones while a ring of flowers was laid out.