Protests Continue Across The US
Protests and riots continue to rage across the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Floyd was a black man in Minneapolis who was arrested for a non-violent crime and was unarmed. One of the four officers involved has been charged in his death.
Protests began over Memorial Day weekend and have continued for a week now, spreading across the country and the world. The protests have often resulted in property destruction, fires, and looting. In many cities, police have responded with excessive force against peaceful protesters. The National Guard has been deployed in at least 20 states.
Police respond with tear gas, rubber bullets, excessive force
Police have responded to mostly peaceful protests across the country with tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive force.
In Washington, D.C., police used tear gas to scatter peaceful protests near the White House, trapping 70+ protesters in an alley until a civilian opened his door to let the protesters in his home, where they were able to wait out the gas.
Protesters peacefully chanting, “Take off your riot gear, we don’t see no riot here,” were sprayed with tear gas by Seattle police. In Philadelphia, protesters who blocked I-676 were tear-gassed by police with nowhere to escape, leading many to trapped by the gas. In Richmond, tear gas was deployed against peaceful protesters with no warning 15 minutes before curfew.
In Kansas City, a black man was arrested for peacefully speaking out against police violence. Police pepper-sprayed him and crowds who tried to protest his arrest.
Police have also been misusing rubber bullets – which are not entirely rubber but are metal bullets with rubber casing. The bullets are meant to be shot towards the ground and ricochet into the crowd. However, police have been shotting protesters directly, sometimes in the head or face, with these bullets, which can be lethal or cause lasting disability.
Supporters of the protests online have compared the response of the Black Lives Matter protests to the lockdown protests last month. The lockdown protests were largely led and attended by white conservatives and were not met with police violence even as protests put their hands on police officers.
Journalists targetted During Protest
A disturbing pattern of journalists being targetted across the country has emerged. In Minneapolis, an entire CNN crew was arrested live on air. The crew appeared to be following all orders from the officers.
The attack on the fress press is being encouraged by President Trump, who tweeted on May 31, “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy.” He called journalists “FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda.”
According to The Nieman Journalism Lab, journalists have been attacked at least 120 times since May 28. Although, in some cases, journalists have gotten caught in crowds and the attacks were accidental, in many cases the reporters were clearly identifiable as press.
Vice news journalist Michael Anthony Adams was pepper-sprayed in the face while laying on the ground and yelling, “press”, with his credentials clearly visible. Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, was left blind in one eye after being shot by Minneapolis police while reporting on protests. JC Reindl, a reported in Detroit, was pepper-sprayed while holding up his press badge.
These incidents have not been isolated, and appear to be a strategic attack on the press. Minneapolis police specifically called journalists “the entire problem,” parroting accusations made by President Trump.
Hundreds arrested, officers injured, protester killed
Thousands have been arrested across the country during the week of protests. Two thousan protesters and looters have been arrested in New York City alone during the past week of unrest. In Houston, 137 were arrested after an 11-hour protest on May 30. George Floyd was a Houston native. Over one hundred have been arrested in Philadelphia after looting in Center City over the weekend.
Officers have also been injured during the protests across the country. There have currently been no reported officer fatalities.
In Lousiville, 53-year-old David McAtee was killed when police open fired into a crowd of protesters on Monday. McAtee was described by his neighbors as “pillar of the community”. The restaurant owner would regularly serve free food to those in need and at community events, including police officers.
All of the officers had turned off their body cameras prior to the shooting. Two LMPD officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave. McAtee’s body was left in the street for 12 hours following his death.
Louisville police are also responsible for the killing of Breonna Taylor in March. Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT who was killed in her home when Lousiville police served a no-knock warrant to the wrong house, breaking in and shooting into the house without regard for human life.
Curfews put in place in major cities
Curfews have been put in place in attempt to quell the protests in 39 cities or counties. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, curfew is in effect from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am. In New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a curfew from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am. In Philadelphia, curfew was issued from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am.
Chicago and Lousiville both have 9:00 pm curfews. Los Angeles has a 6:00 pm curfew, and Washington, D.C. has initiated a 7:00 om curfew.