Thousands of demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd remained on New York City streets Tuesday in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew put in place by officials struggling to stanch destruction seen on other nights and growing complaints that the nation’s biggest city was reeling out of control.
Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down on a citywide curfew, moving it up from 11 p.m. the night before, but rejected urging from President Donald Trump and an offer from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to bring in the National Guard.
“Everyone, time to go home so we can keep people safe,” he said on WINS-AM radio shortly after the curfew took effect.
He was ignored by many around the city who continued marching throughout the city’s streets. In some areas, police let people continue on their way, while making arrests in others.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, is not merely an activist — she’s a modern-day abolitionist. And as protests over racism, inequality and police brutality have exploded worldwide, Cullors says the answer does not lie in holding police accountable with better training and body cameras.
Instead, she demands defunding law enforcement so that black and brown people can be free from what she calls a well-funded army that occupies them.
“For hundreds of years, black communities have lived under state terror — be it police or vigilante violence,” says Cullors. “An abolitionist believes in a world where police and prisons are no longer weaponized as a tool for public safety.”
“Our vision is for a world rooted in the care and love and humanity for every human being. A world that relies on an economy of care versus one with an economy of punishment. An abolitionist believes in freedom.”
As the hours ticked down to prime time, the White House prepared its unholy production. It was Monday afternoon, and President Trump was getting ready to deliver his first speech on the massive protests sweeping the country.
After unflattering reports that he had spent Friday evening in a bunker, Trump summoned the press corps to the Rose Garden for maximum effect. Never mind that the chaos had given way to peaceful demonstrations outside the White House. Men and women, along the sunny edge of Lafayette Park, chanted and knelt.
A young boy and girl, flanking their father, held protest signs. A vender touted coronavirus masks bearing the grim slogan of our time: “I Can’t Breathe.”
In the course of the day, the city had started mending the wounds of the night before. A worker power-washed graffiti from the stone wall of a steak house. Crews mounted plywood over the shattered windows of a jewelry store and a battered A.T.M. Spray-painted slogans—“George Floyd” and “Fuck the Police” and “Free the People”—offered a condensed history of yet another grievous week in America, which began on May 25th, when Floyd died, on video, with the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on his neck.
Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the US military to quell civil unrest – even as teargas was fired against nearby peaceful protesters to grant him a photo opportunity.
In a highly choreographed move, the president gave brief remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Monday while, a short distance away, military police and law enforcement suddenly used teargas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs to chase away demonstrators protesting against the death of George Floyd.
TV footage showed people running, falling and scrambling for safety as officers removed them by force. One woman was carried away by fellow protesters because she was injured and unable to walk.
Military vehicles rolled out on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The unprovoked action cleared the way for Trump to cross the street and visit St John’s church, which since 1816 has been the “Church of the Presidents”, and where a fire burned in the basement amid unrest on Sunday night.
Trump held aloft a Bible and posed for cameras.
If we are to examine what and who killed George Floyd, we have to talk about racism, America’s pre-existing condition. It is a cultural pandemic that has been steadily killing this country and, indeed, rotting away the very idea of America since chattel slavery began more than 400 years ago.
Much like the people who were exploited for free labor in order to build this country, the cause of its death may have been more natural had racism not introduced certain comorbidities.
Right now, the coronavirus and the police are posing lethal threats to protesters. COVID-19 is still killing black people disproportionately, at about three times the rate of white people nationwide.
How many people took risks with the virus on Memorial Day weekend, carelessly disregarding the provably inordinate risk to black communities? How many then joined the protests this past week and actually claimed that they’re fighting for black survival? How many cops keep shooting tear gas at people during a pandemic that strikes at the lungs, giving a newly tragic resonance to…
I Can’t Breathe.
Senator Brian Schatz is proposing cracking down on the military’s ability to transfer weapons to local police departments.
“I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments,” Schatz said.
The Democratic senator made the announcement as protests escalated around the nation in response to the death of George Floyd.
Clashes between protesters and officers have led police in several cities to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
“Combine this with a president who appears enthusiastic about making it worse, and weaponry transferred from the Department of Defense, and here we are.”
The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism, and we’ve seen it all before, but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive.
But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever, because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it.
That also has to change.
As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.
Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times.
As protests over the police killing of George Floyd engulfed Minneapolis for a third night on Thursday, and solidarity protests broke out in cities across the country, there was both a sense that the country had been through this before — too many times — and that the stakes had begun to shift.
In the Twin Cities, where Floyd’s killing at the hands of officer Derek Chauvin was just the latest in a series of high-profile police killings in the last five years, those who took to the streets in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic were tired and exasperated.
Years of misconduct and brutality by local police had brought many protests and much talk of reform. But Floyd’s death was an urgent reminder that here, as across the country, police reform had failed, and that the time had come for something different.
“They call for training, but are they doing the training, and is the training being internalized?” said Moriah Stephens, a special education teacher, as she stood near a highway overpass in St. Louis Park, the suburb where Floyd had lived, waving as passing cars honked in support.
“I can tell you 50 times over that my life matters and I would like you to speak out about the fact that my life matters, and you can hear me say that 50 times, but are you going to do it?”
“I’m tired of being angry, and I’m tired of being tired, and I’m tired of seeing new hashtags.”
As protests sparked by George Floyd’s death entered their chaotic fifth day, social media filled with images and video of police officers using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets to quell crowds—but some squads joined in with Saturday protesters to express their stance against police brutality, and to show solidarity with the anti-racism movement.
In Santa Cruz, California, Police Chief Andy Mills took a knee with protesters in the pose made famous by Colin Kaepernick, with the department tweeting it was “in memory of George Floyd & bringing attention to police violence against Black people.”