Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

Tear gas outside the White House as police protests spread around the world

Demonstrations ignited by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis has spread across the nation and beyond

Police used tear gas outside the White House after protesters set fires ignoring a curfew in the latest night of anger over police brutality.

With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protesters and police and fresh outbreaks of looting.

Clashes erupted repeatedly in a small park next to the White House, with authorities using tear gas, pepper spray and flashbang grenades to disperse crowds who lit several large fires and damaged property.

Local US leaders appealed to the public to give constructive outlet to their rage over the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, while night-time curfews were imposed in cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Houston.

The shocking videotaped death last Monday of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis triggered the nationwide wave of outrage over law enforcement's repeated use of lethal force against unarmed African-Americans.

Floyd stopped breathing after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and is due to make his first appearance in court on Monday. Three other officers with him have been fired but for now face no charges.

One closely watched protest was outside the state capitol in Minneapolis' twin city of St. Paul, where several thousand people gathered before marching down a motorway.

"We have black sons, black brothers, black friends, we don't want them to die," said Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old black woman who joined the protest.

"We are tired of this happening, this generation is not having it, we are tired of oppression"

Referring to her three-year-old son, she said: "I want to make sure he stays alive."

US protests and black American deaths
The National

At one point, some of the protesters who had reached a bridge in Minneapolis were forced to scramble for cover when a lorry tried to flee after having apparently breaching a barricade.

The driver was later taken to hospital after the protesters hauled him from the vehicle, although there were no immediate reports of other casualties.

Burning cars and riot police in the US featured on newspaper front pages around the world on Sunday – bumping news of the Covid-19 pandemic to second-tier status in some places.

At the weekend, Lebanese anti-government protesters flooded social media with tweets sympathetic to US protesters, using the hashtag #Americarevolts. That’s a play on the slogan for Lebanon’s protest movement – Lebanon revolts – which erupted on October 17 last year. Within 24 hours, the hashtag #Americanrevolts became the number one trending tag in Lebanon.

In another expression of solidarity with American protesters, about 150 people marched through central Jerusalem on Saturday to protest against the shooting death by Israeli police of an unarmed, autistic Palestinian man earlier in the day. Israeli police suspected that the man, Iyad Halak, was carrying a weapon. Officers opened fire when he did not heed warnings to stop.

In countries with authoritarian governments, state-controlled media have been highlighting the chaos and violence of the US demonstrations, in part to undermine American officials’ criticism of their own nations.

In Iran, which has violently put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access to the outside world, state television has repeatedly aired images of the US unrest. One TV anchor discussed “a horrible scene from New York, where police attacked protesters”. Another state TV accused US police agencies in Washington of “setting fire to cars and attacking protesters,” without offering any evidence.

Meanwhile, in China the protests are being viewed through the prism of US government criticism of China’s crackdown on anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper, tweeted that US officials can now see protests out their own windows: “I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”

Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, pointed out America’s racial unrest by tweeting “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said before his death.

Russia accused the US of “systemic problems in the human rights sphere.” It denounced Floyd’s death as the latest in a series of police violence cases against African-Americans.

The Russian embassy in Washington tweeted to condemn violence against journalists after it said a reporter with state-owned RIA Novosti news agency was pepper-sprayed by police while reporting the demonstrations.

There also have been expressions of solidarity with the demonstrators.

In Germany, England football international Jadon Sancho marked one of his three goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing the words "Justice for George Floyd".

In Brazil, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Rio de Janeiro state government palace to protest against crimes committed by the police targeting black people in Rio’s working-class neighbourhoods, known as favelas.

The protest, called “Black lives matter,” was interrupted when police used tear gas to disperse people. “I can’t breathe”, said some of the demonstrators. Protesters called for an end to police operations inside favelas.

In Canada, an anti-racism protest degenerated into clashes between Montreal police and some demonstrators. About three hours after a march that snaked its way through central Montreal had ended, police declared the gathering illegal after they said projectiles were thrown at officers who responded with pepper spray and tear gas. Some windows were smashed and some fires were set.

Thousands gathered in central London on Sunday to offer support for American demonstrators. Chanting “No justice! No peace!” and waving placards with the words “How many more?” at Trafalgar Square, the protesters ignored UK government rules banning crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic. Police didn’t stop them.

Protesters in Denmark also converged on the US embassy on Sunday. Participants carried placards with messages that read “Stop Killing Black People.” The US embassy in Berlin was the scene of protests on Saturday under the banner: “Justice for George Floyd.”

Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper on Sunday carried the sensational headline “This killer-cop set America ablaze” with an arrow pointing to a photo of now-fired police officer Chauvin, who has been charged with Floyd’s death. The newspaper’s story reported “scenes like out of a civil war”.

Updated: June 1, 2020 06:30 PM

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