Washington, 3 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Protests against police brutality and systemic racism were under way once again in the United States on Tuesday, setting the stage for potential fresh clashes a week after nationwide rallies ignited in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.
Demonstrators marched through the streets of cities including Washington, New York and Los Angeles.
In the nation’s capital, hundreds of protesters outside the White House defied a 7 pm (0000 GMT) curfew, chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and “we’re not moving.”
The peaceful crowd, which was far larger than the evening before, was gathered in front of a newly erected fence that prevented them from entering a park, which federal forces cleared using tear gas on Monday to allow President Donald Trump to have a photo op in front of a church.
The federal government appeared set to crack down harder on the latest wave of protests in Washington.
“There will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight,” Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday.
Mostly peaceful demonstrations in previous days have descended into rioting and looting at night in some cities, causing destruction to property and hurting businesses.
Four police officers in St Louis, Missouri, were injured by gun shots, as was an officer in Las Vegas, Nevada, during encounters with protesters overnight. The exact circumstances remained unclear.
Protesters have also been injured and thousands arrested in cities across the country.
Trump has called on governors to “dominate” the protests and threatened to deploy the US military to end the unrest, while insisting he supports peaceful demonstrations.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, as tear gas went off outside the White House on Monday.
Governors in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois were among those who have rejected Trump‘s push for a heavier hand.
More than 20,400 National Guard members have been deployed by governors in 28 states and Washington, the guard said in a news release, but largely in a back-up role.
Curfews have been imposed in cities in California, in New York, Washington, and other urban areas.
Joe Biden, the former vice president who is running against Trump in this November’s presidential election, said the incumbent was turning the country into a “battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.”
In a speech in Philadelphia, Biden vowed that, if elected president, he would enact civil rights reforms. “I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate,” he said.
There have been seven days of unrest in dozens of states following the killing of Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter Gianna, said she wanted “justice for him” in her first public statement since his death.
“I want justice for him because he was good … And this is the proof that he was a good man,” Washington said through tears, pointing at the little girl.
“If there is a problem she’s having where she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.”
An independent autopsy by the Floyd family said he died by asphyxiation and placed the blame directly on the police.
Chauvin was arrested on third-degree murder charges, and all four officers involved in the incident in the state of Minnesota were fired.
Minnesota on Tuesday filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department, Governor Tim Walz said.
The midwestern state’s Department of Human Rights will investigate the practices of the police force over the last 10 years.
“Silence is complicity. Minnesotans can expect our administration to use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state,” Walz said in a press release.
Floyd’s family is calling for the arrest of the other three former members of the Minneapolis police force. A brother of the slain man has called for peaceful protests and condemned the looting.
Minnesota’s attorney general has warned he needs to move methodically if he wants to secure convictions. Days of unrest there have begun to calm.
The killing of Floyd has again brought to the fore the issue of police violence and heavy-handed tactics used against African Americans.
The protests across the country have taken place under the “Black Lives Matter” banner.