11 December 2023

Mass protests against brutal murder of George Floyd continue for eighth day

Protesters on horseback in Houston on Tuesday - Credit... Adrees Latif/Reuters

Protesters returned to the streets on Tuesday from California to Pennsylvania, while the nation’s capital sizzled with tension a day after a highly criticized episode outside the White House in which law enforcement officers used tear gas on peaceful protesters in order to clear a path for President Trump.

The public spectacle on Monday and the arrival of dozens of military vehicles on Washington’s streets on Tuesday seemed to underscore the president’s latest threat — to use the military to crack down on violence and looting — as it emerged that it was Attorney General William P. Barr who ordered officers to clear Lafayette Park on Monday in time for Mr. Trump to walk to a historic church and have his picture taken there.

On Tuesday night, more than 1,000 protesters remained near the park after a 7 p.m. curfew, facing police officers across a tall chain-link fence erected overnight.

“You’re in the cage now!” one protester yelled. Another said, “Our tax dollars at work.”

But the crowd remained peaceful in a mood that appeared to be taking hold in other cities, too. When a few demonstrators began to rock the fence, they were quickly stopped. “Use your words,” two women yelled. “Don’t do that.”

The tensions earlier in the day in Washington reflected a nation on edge, ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, skyrocketing unemployment and now a public reckoning with systematic racism and police brutality.

Daily protests have spread to at least 140 cities, in a sprawling expression of anger and frustration after the killing in Minneapolis last week of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black security guard, who died after his neck was pinned under a white police officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes. The officer has been charged with murder.

Though planned protests have largely been peaceful, the national unrest has also come with escalating tensions, including attacks on law enforcement, injuries and deaths of protesters and others on the streets, and widespread looting and destruction. Police officers in several cities have been fired or disciplined for using excessive force.

Officials across the country remained on guard Tuesday for another night of chaos. Here is the latest from around the country.

Philadelphia: Hundreds of protesters gathered outside City Hall by Tuesday afternoon, after a night of explosive tension. Mayor Jim Kenney defended a decision to use tear gas on protesters Monday but condemned a group of largely white men who had been seen patrolling the largely white neighborhood of Fishtown holding baseball bats. “Armed vigilantism will not be tolerated moving forward,” he said. However, no arrest has been made after the owner of a South Philadelphia gun shop opened fire early Tuesday morning on four men who smashed through the front door of his business, killing one of the men.

Atlanta: Police and military personnel used tear gas to disperse a large crowd gathered near Centennial Olympic Park shortly after the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The crowd broke up soon after the confrontation.

New York: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that an 8 p.m. curfew would be imposed all week after a night of looting in Manhattan. He acknowledged that the previous 11 p.m. curfew had failed to quell the violence that marred the peaceful protests of previous days. After an hourlong standoff between the police and demonstrators at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, the protesters were eventually allowed to cross back to Brooklyn.

Charlotte, N.C.: Protesters and police skirmished in the city center after the authorities ordered the crowds to disperse. Video showed police officers surrounding demonstrators and using stun grenades and pepper spray and pepper pellets, which was criticized by a black state lawmaker who represents Charlotte. The police said that they would conduct an internal review of the episode, but that officers were hit by bottles and rocks, and that a protester threw what they called a chemical agent at an officer on a bicycle. One protester who was arrested was in possession of a military-style rifle and two 30-round magazines, the police said.

California: Protesters filled the streets of Hollywood with chants of “Black lives matter,” a crowd of protesters gathered along a beach in San Francisco and the city of Santa Monica enacted among the strictest curfews in the nation, starting at 2 p.m. local time. The Los Angeles Police Department made hundreds of arrests throughout the city Tuesday night, said a spokesman, Officer Tony Im.

St. Louis: President Trump tweeted his condolences to David Dorn, a retired police captain whom the police said was shot by a looter at a pawnshop on Monday night. Mr. Dorn died the same night four active-duty police officers were shot during protests. [Source: New York Times]

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