International

George Floyd protests flare in U.S. cities

Anger on the streets: Flowers, signs and balloons are left on Friday near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died while in custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Anger on the streets: Flowers, signs and balloons are left on Friday near a makeshift memorial to George Floyd near the spot where he died while in custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.   | Photo Credit: KEREM YUCEL

Arrest of ex-police officer fails to allay public anger; a 19-year-old protester shot dead in Detroit

The white former Minneapolis police officer shown in video footage using his knee to pin an unarmed black man’s neck to the street was charged with murder on Friday in the man’s death, an incident that has unleashed four nights of violent protests.

Derek Chauvin, who was dismissed from the police department with three fellow officers the day after the fatal encounter, was arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in Monday’s death of 46-year-old George Floyd.

Graphic video footage taken by an onlooker’s cell phone and widely circulated on the Internet shows Floyd — with Chauvin’s knee pressed into his neck — gasping for air and repeatedly groaning, “Please, I can’t breathe,” while a crowd of bystanders shouted at police to let him up.

After several minutes, Floyd gradually grows unresponsive and ceases to move. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later. The video reignited an outpouring of rage that civil rights activists said has long simmered in Minneapolis and cities across the country over persistent racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Public anger

The charges brought by Hennepin County prosecutors came after a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in which protesters set fire to a police station, and the National Guard was deployed to help restore order in Minnesota’s largest city.

Authorities had hoped Chauvin’s arrest would allay public anger and avert continued unrest. But defying an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Jacob Frey, about 500 demonstrators clashed anew on Friday evening with riot police outside the battered Third Precinct building. Another group of protesters later converged near the city’s Fifth Precinct station until police arrived and fired tear gas and plastic bullets to break up that gathering. A nearby bank and post office were set on fire.

Still, Friday night’s crowds were far smaller and more widely dispersed than the night before. Law enforcement kept a mostly low profile, a strategy seemingly calculated to reduce the risk of violent confrontations. Among the larger cities with protests on Friday were Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Atlanta and Louisville.

A 19-year-old man protesting in Detroit was shot dead on Friday night by a suspect who pulled up to demonstrators in a sport utility vehicle and fired gunshots into the crowd, then fled, local media reported.

Few if any other serious injuries or deaths have been reported in connection with the protests. In Washington, police and Secret Service agents were out in force around the White House before dozens of demonstrators gathered across the street in Lafayette Square chanting, “I can’t breathe.”

Thousands of protesters filled the streets of New York City’s Brooklyn borough near the Barclays Center indoor arena. Police armed with batons and pepper spray made scores of arrests in sometimes violent clashes.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 7:41:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/george-floyd-protests-flare-in-us-cities/article31711849.ece

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