close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
A
Agencies
June 4, 2020

US protesters defy curfew: Trump faces backlash for violent crackdown

Top Story

A
Agencies
June 4, 2020

WASHINGTON/LONDON/ SAN FRANCISCO: Protesters defied curfews across the United States as leaders scrambled to stem anger over police racism while President Donald Trump rejected criticism over his use of force to break up a peaceful rally.

Standoffs between police and demonstrators stretched into the night in cities from New York to Los Angeles over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man whose killing has brought once-in-a-generation protests to the nation for the past week.

But there were fewer reports of the looting and violence that had soured street demonstrations in previous nights. Tens of thousands gathered earlier Tuesday in Houston to pay a hometown tribute to Floyd, who grew up in the Texas city and is to be buried there next week.

"Today is... about George Floyd´s family -- we want them to know that George did not die in vain," Mayor Sylvester Turner told an estimated 60,000 people.

A tearful Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd´s six-year-old daughter, told a news conference she wanted "justice for him because he was good. "No matter what anybody thinks, he was good."

In New York, which on Tuesday prolonged its first curfew since World War II for the full week, AFP reporters saw hundreds refusing to go home after the 8:00 pm cutoff, instead chanting slogans and peacefully walking the streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Hours after the curfew, mayor Bill de Blasio said it was a "very calm situation," a day after several Manhattan luxury stores were looted. "So far, the curfew is certainly helping, based on everything I´ve seen in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the last three hours," he tweeted.

Minnesota took one of the first concrete actions to address the grievances behind the uprising, which began after Floyd´s death on May 25 in the state´s largest city Minneapolis.

The state launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, looking at possible "systemic discriminatory practices" going back 10 years, Governor Tim Walz tweeted.

Former president George W. Bush called on the US to examine its "tragic failures" and to "listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving."

And in Los Angeles, one of dozens of cities hit by unrest, police officers and Mayor Eric Garcetti dropped to their knees in a symbolic act of solidarity as they met marchers led by African-American Christian groups. "A black face should not be a sentenced to die, nor to be homeless, nor to be sick, nor to be underemployed, nor to be under-educated," Garcetti told them, inviting the leaders into City Hall for a discussion about the issues.

But protesters gathered outside Garcetti´s residence late into the evening. An AFP reporter witnessed a group of at least 200 refusing to disperse and subsequently arrested.

In Washington DC, thousands returned to the streets Tuesday for a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” march.

Hours after the 7:00 pm curfew protesters could be heard chanting, as National Guard troops stood on the streets near the White House and helicopters hovered above. Broadcast footage showed police firing tear gas shortly after midnight, but the situation appeared to be calm overall.

“I´m just tired, essentially, of being scared of police, of not getting justice,” said Jada Wallace, an 18-year-old protester outside the White House earlier who said she was ready to risk arrest.

Joe Biden, Trump´s presumptive Democratic rival in November elections, denounced the crackdown as an abuse of power and promised, if elected, to tackle the “systemic racism” in the country.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the anti-racism protests “understandable and more than legitimate.” “I hope that these peaceful protests won´t slide further into violence, but even more than that I hope that they will make a difference in the United States,” Maas told reporters.

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of London on Wednesday to protest the death of George Floyd in US police custody, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the killing and told President Donald Trump that racist violence had “no place” in society.

Protesters, many of them in face masks, defied coronavirus restrictions and held aloft signs saying “Justice for George Floyd” and “Enough is enough!” as they marched from Hyde Park to the Whitehall government district in central London.

Some scuffled with police outside Johnson´s Downing Street office. Others paused and knelt as the procession moved on towards the US embassy, holding “Black Lives Matter” banners and raising clenched fists.

“I´m here because I believe in my rights as a black person,” said one protester, Lisa Ncuka, a 26-year-old student. “This is an important movement.” “Everybody should be here fighting for equality. It´s not just the US´ problem. It´s the whole world´s problem and we need to come together and spread this awareness.”

“Star Wars” actor John Boyega, who was in the crowd, gave an emotional speech, saying the demonstrators were a “physical representation” of support for Floyd and other victims. “We can all join together to make this a better world,” he said, urging a peaceful protest. “Let´s let the United States of America, our black brothers and sisters, know that we´ve got their backs.”

Johnson, who has been accused of racism for his depictions in newspaper columns of black Africans, and Islamophobia over comments about veiled Muslim women, condemned Floyd´s killing. Asked what his message was to Trump, he told reporters: “My message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States, from the UK is that racism, racist violence has no place in our society,”

Tens of thousands gathered in Houston to pay a hometown tribute to Floyd, who grew up in the Texas city and is to be buried there next week. “We want (Floyd´s family) to know that George did not die in vain,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told an estimated 60,000 people.Mayor Bill de Blasio, a day after several Manhattan luxury stores were looted, said it was a “very calm situation.”

Minnesota took one of the first concrete actions to address the grievances behind the uprising, which began after Floyd´s death on May 25 in the state´s largest city Minneapolis.

The state launched a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, looking at possible “systemic discriminatory practices” going back 10 years, Governor Tim Walz tweeted.

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, about 20 people gathered at the gates of the parliament complex and held up signs with the slogans of “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice 4 George Floyd and Collins Khosa.”

Khosa died a month ago after being confronted by soldiers and police in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township. Family members say he died hours after he was choked and beaten.

A South African army investigation cleared the soldiers of wrongdoing, but lawyers for Khosa’s family say they will challenge those findings.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t budging over his refusal to take action on inflammatory posts by President Donald Trump that spread misinformation about voting by mail and, many said, encouraged violence against protesters.

His critics, however, are multiplying. Some employees have publicly quit over the issue and civil-rights leaders who met with him Monday night denounced Zuckerberg’s explanation for choosing to leave Trump’s posts alone as “incomprehensible.”

A day after dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over the issue, the Facebook chief met Tuesday with employees for a Q&A session held via online video. During that session, which had been moved forward from later in the week, Zuckerberg reportedly doubled down on his stance to leave Trump’s posts alone — although he did suggest that the company was considering changes to its existing policies around “state use of force,” which Trump’s Minneapolis post fell under.

Facebook rival Twitter flagged and demoted a Trump tweet in which he referenced protests over police violence in Minneapolis using the phrase “when the looting starts the shooting starts.” But Facebook let an identical message stand on its service. Zuckerberg explained his reasoning in a Facebook post Friday, a position he has since reiterated several times. “I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The resignations, which multiple engineers tweeted and posted on LinkedIn and Facebook, also began Tuesday. “I am proud to announce that as of the end of today, I am no longer a Facebook employee,” tweeted Owen Anderson, who was an engineering manager at the company for two years. “To be clear, this was in the works for a while. But after last week, I am happy to no longer support policies and values I vehemently disagree with.”

Anderson did not immediately respond to a message for comment on Tuesday. But he wasn’t alone.

“Today, I submitted my resignation to Facebook,” Timothy J. Aveni, a software engineer who’d been at the company for a year, wrote on LinkedIn and on his Facebook page. “I cannot stand by Facebook’s continued refusal to act on the president’s bigoted messages aimed at radicalizing the American public. I’m scared for my country, and I’m watching my company do nothing to challenge the increasingly dangerous status quo.”

Aveni did not immediately respond to a message for further comment.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership,” Facebook said in a statement. “As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Signing that statement were Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. “Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook,” the three leaders added.

Meanwhile, Snapchat on Wednesday stopped promoting posts by US President Donald Trump, saying they incite “racial violence.”

“We are not currently promoting the president´s content on Snapchat´s Discover platform,” Snapchat said in response to an AFP inquiry, referencing the youth-focused social network´s section for recommended content.