12 de julio de 2020
Hispanic World

US braces for more riots, cities impose curfews, deploy National Guard

Washington, May 31 (efe-epa).- Across the United States on Sunday, local authorities strengthened security measures to prepare for new after-dark riots and disturbances, as angry crowds looked ready to take to the streets to protest police brutality after the death last week of a black man arrested by white cops in Minneapolis.

Washington, May 31 (efe-epa).- Across the United States on Sunday, local authorities strengthened security measures to prepare for new after-dark riots and disturbances, as angry crowds looked ready to take to the streets to protest police brutality after the death last week of a black man arrested by white cops in Minneapolis.

Local authorities imposed curfews in 25 cities in 16 states and some 5,000 National Guard troops were deployed at various sites in 15 states and the District of Columbia, with their prospective efforts to maintain order being praised by President Donald Trump.

In Washington DC, on Saturday night about 70 Secret Service agents and Metro Police officers were injured during the disturbances near the White House and elsewhere in downtown DC and where police arrested 18 people, both departments reported on Sunday.

The law enforcement and presidential protection service personnel were injured by being punched, having bricks, stones, bottles, firecrackers and other objects thrown at them. None of the injuries were said to be fatal, but officers and agents were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The Secret Service said that nobody was able to penetrate into the grounds of the White House and none of the people inside the presidential residence, including Trump, were ever in danger.

The preparations by local authorities, law enforcement and National Guard troops came after a night of chaos on Saturday with looting, burning and hundreds of arrests in various parts of the country.

According to CNN, among the cities imposing nighttime curfews on Sunday are Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Rochester, Cleveland, Portland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Saturday night was the fifth consecutive night of riots and protests sparked by the death last Monday of a black man, George Floyd, after he was arrested and then subdued by white Minneapolis police officers, one of whom knelt with his full body weight on Floyd's neck - despite his pleas and complaints that he could not breathe - for more than eight minutes, evidently killing him either through asphyxiation or by cutting off the blood supply to his brain.

The incident was caught on several videos taken by passersby, and these videos went viral online, outraging millions both in the US and abroad.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday announced another nighttime curfew from 8 pm to 6 am in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul.

At a Sunday morning press conference, Walz explained his decision, saying that it would be "naive and irresponsible to abandon strategy" considering how well the curfew had worked on Friday and Saturday night, combined with the fact that the Minnesota National Guard was fully mobilized on Saturday evening.

"The curfew on Friday and Saturday night allowed our law enforcement to target those who meant to do harm to our communities," Walz said.

"Law enforcement made several arrests and seized weapons, narcotics, long guns, handguns, magazines and knives. We have reason to believe that bad actors continue to infiltrate the rightful protests of George Floyd's murder, which is why we are extending the curfew by one day," he added.

New York authorities on Sunday promised that "rapid" and "independent" investigations will be conducted into the violent confrontations between police and demonstrators on Saturday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Sunday press conference that the police had done many things right, but they had also made some mistakes that will be thoroughly investigated.

Besides Minnesota and the District of Columbia, the states that have activated their National Guard troops are: Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that the US Defense Department has put an engineers unit and a small number of Military Police units on alert, thus making them ready to deploy quickly if asked to do so.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had ordered - at her request - a National Guard contingent to maintain a limited presence in the city on Lake Michigan to support the local police so that the disturbances that occurred on Saturday night would not be repeated.

During the riots and other unrest this week, at least three people have died by gunfire in Indianapolis, Detroit and Oakland, although police evidently were not involved in those deaths.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump lashed out at the media on Sunday, saying on Twitter that "The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!"

In one of a number of tweets, Trump said "Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night. The ANTIFA led anarchists, among others, were shut down quickly. Should have been done by Mayor on first night and there would have been no trouble!"

Trump's mention of "antifa" refers to "anti-fascists" with a radical and anti-capitalist movement in the US, activists who seek to achieve their objectives by direct action and a group that Trump has said he intends to designate as a "terrorist organization."


Contenido relacionado

Police behavior stirring up violence amid US protests

By Jairo Mejia

New York, May 31 (efe-epa).- Police vehicles running into demonstrators, officers tackling protesters from behind and firing pepper spray and rubber bullets directly into the faces of people.

Reportedly, these are some of the actions being taken by police in many US cities amid the heavy street protests that have brewed up after the death of a black man, George Floyd, while being arrested by white cops in Minneapolis last week - actions that have done little to quell the protests against racism that have turned more and more violent in recent days.

On Saturday night, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called an urgent press conference amid the incessant sound of helicopters overhead and police sirens echoing among the buildings, a press conference at which he tried to justify the images of street protests around the country that have gone viral on the social networks.

Two New York Police Department SUVs surrounded by dozens of demonstrators in Brooklyn accelerated and mowed down dozens of people, who - fortunately - simply sprawled to the side over the pavement and not under the wheels of the churning vehicles.

That tactic, along with others such as firing pepper spray at demonstrators with their hands in the air, have sparked extensive criticism about whether these actions are achieving the alleged main objective of police tactics at this time: de-escalation of the protests.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Sunday that it was not clear whether police actions were contributing to de-escalate the situation in the Big Apple, but adding that he is not going to allow the lives of NYPD officers to be endangered.

De Blasio tried to dial down the situation Saturday evening by saying that he did not like seeing the vans run into the crowd bowling over protesters and promised that the matter will be investigated, but he also said that "It is inappropriate for protestors to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers. That's wrong on its face and that hasn't happened in the history of protests in this city."

The New York mayor added that it was "clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles," adding that he "understood (the officers) didn't start the situation," and saying it was "started by a group of protesters converging on a police vehicle."

On Saturday night, police made 350 in New York, which did not experience the level of violence and looting that cities like Detroit, Chicago, Dallas or even Albany, New York, did where fires and chaos were the norm after 10 pm.

De Blasio said that New York authorities were in the process of reforming the local police department, promising that the police were becoming better integrated into the communities where they patrol.

The New York police budget has increased about 30 percent over the past six years, despite the fact that crime has steadily been on the decline and is currently near historic lows.

Cities like Chicago, Houston, Detroit and Oakland, California, devote more than one-third of their municipal budgets to their police departments, according to figures from the Center for Popular Democracy. In all those urban areas, the protests have spun out of control, devolving into clashes, looting and chaos.

In the six years since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, another African American whose death at the hands of police resulted in riots and protests across the country, little seems to have changed in terms of the way police deal with racial and economic inequality in the US, despite the generous budgets allocated to police work and plans for reform.

To this, one must add the post-pandemic scenario with city budgets in freefall and unemployment at levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, a situation that is affecting - above all - young people and African Americans.

President Donald Trump is doing little to try and tone down the protests against police brutality and racism, and the police and mayors of various cities are doing everything in their power to avoid further chaos, including declaring curfews, arresting huge numbers of people who are found out on the streets after the lockdown hour.

Michigan on Saturday night provided some clear intra-state contrasts in the way different cities are dealing with the crisis. In Detroit, with nightfall, police began firing tear gas, law enforcement helicopters circled overhead and violent demonstrations abounded, with some rowdies taking advantage of the huge numbers of people on the street and the general chaos to loot stores and businesses.

On the other hand, the Michigan city of Flint - one of the urban areas most heavily affected by the deindustrialization of the Midwest - officials from the Sheriff's Department joined the protests to shout, along with the demonstrators, "Black Lives Matter."

This police solidarity with the rallying cry that for years has been heard coast to coast was repeated in Camden, New Jersey, and Santa Cruz, California, with no disturbances being reported in such locales.

Meanwhile, the National Guard said that as of Sunday morning, the number of Guard troops that have been mobilized to respond to "civil disturbances" around the country totals about 5,000, although the Guard added in its statement that "the situation is fluid" and thus "those numbers can change rapidly" and noting that 2,000 more Guardsmen are ready to be activated, should the situation require it.

US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Sunday morning in an interview with CNN that "I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans, and many of them are African American, Hispanic, Asian."

O'Brien told the cable network: "They're working the toughest neighborhoods, they've got the hardest jobs to do in this country. And ... they're my heroes."

He said "bad cops" must "be rooted out, because there's a few bad apples that are giving law enforcement a terrible name. And there's no doubt that there's some racist police. I think they're the minority."

"I'm just so proud of the way our law enforcement professionals are protecting us and handling the situation with restraint. And we love our law enforcement, but we do have to get rid of those like the dirty cop that killed George Floyd," said O'Brien, referring to Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was fired and later charged with third degree murder and manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes last Monday - cutting off his air and/or the blood supply to his brain - while he and several other cops were arresting him for allegedly trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a local store.

Meanwhile, in Europe demonstrations against police violence against US blacks erupted in Berlin, London and Copenhagen, with thousands of people taking to the streets for the second day, although no violence was reported.

The European protesters cut traffic along various avenues of their marches, displaying signs, chanting slogans such as "Black Lives Matter" and others, and surrounding US embassies and other facilities abroad.


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