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International

I can’t breathe’ protests choke US

May 31, 2020 06:11 AM

COURTESY HT MAY 31

I can’t breathe’ protests choke US
FLOYD’S KILLING: Several American cities engulfed in violent protests; angry crowds force Secret Service to lock down White House briefly; Trump says troops could be sent in ‘quickly’

A man arrives at the site of violence where several cars were torched by angry crowds in Minneapolis, Minnesota.AFP

A police car burns during a demonstration over George Floyd’s death, in Atlanta, Georgia.REUTERS
Yashwant Raj

yashwant.raj@hindustantimes.com

Washington : Protests raged across the US as angry and grieving demonstrators clashed with police, took over busy thoroughfares, and stoned and defaced public and private buildings demanding justice for George Floyd, an African-American man killed in police custody in Minneapolis on Monday.

The White House in Washington, DC had to be placed under lockdown briefly by the Secret Service as angry demonstrators closed in on its gates, before they stormed down the road to Trump International, a hotel owned by the Trump Organization, US president Donald Trump’s company that is now run by his two elder sons.

Trump on Saturday commended the Secret Service for its handling of the protesters, who he said in tweets were “professionally managed”. The US president warned the protesters that they would have been “greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons”, had they breached the security cordon and entered the premises.

Demonstrators across the country chanted slogans as they marched peacefully or took to violence to make their presence felt. Many of them chanted “I can’t breathe”, which was Floyd’s repeated plea to the cop who pinned him down, with his knee on his neck. Protesters also chanted “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace”.

protesters focus on remaining three cops

Derek Chauvin, the policeman behind Floyd’s killing, was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder. Protesters are demanding action against the remaining three police officers who were present at the scene of Floyd’s death.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, protesters clashed with police and defied curfew to take to the streets. Businesses were shuttered and shots were fired at police, who continue to struggle to control the situation, which was described as “absolute chaos” by Minnesota governor Tim Waltz.

“Quite candidly, right now, we do not have the numbers,” Waltz said. “We cannot arrest people when we’re trying to hold ground because of the sheer size, the dynamics and the wanton violence that’s coming out there.”

pentagon may deploy military police

In a rare move, the Pentagon is reported to be prepared to deploy several units of military police to Minneapolis if needed. Soldiers from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum, military facilities in North Carolina and New York, have been put on four-hour deployment notice, Associated Press reported.

Later, Trump said the military could deploy troops to Minneapolis “very quickly”.

In Atlanta, Georgia, protestors targeted media organisation CNN’s world headquarters and threw projectiles at it, also defacing the company sign at the front. While a reporter was on air from inside the building, a firecracker was thrown into a lobby where police officers stood in a cordon.

A police car was set on fire by protesters, following which a state of emergency was declared in the city. The National Guard has been placed on standby.

Clashes with police and vandalisation of police vehicles took place in Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas. In New York, dozens were taken into custody and many police officers were injured in clashes. And in Portland, Oregon, demonstrators stormed a government building and set fire to cubicles inside.

Protests in some cities were about their own killed in police encounters. Demonstrators in Louisville, Kentucky, for instance, mourned the killing of Breanna Taylor, an African-American woman, by police in March.

Similar protests have been planned for the weekend in Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. The Washington Post reported that police use-of-force is the sixth leading cause of death for young men of colour in the US

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