Showdown: Law-and-order president versus protesters

President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hours after a carefully orchestrated declaration by President Donald Trump to send out the military and “dominate the streets,” American cities were engulfed in more violence and destruction that overshadowed peaceful protests demanding justice after generations of racism.

In New York City, largely peaceful demonstrations were punctuated by people smashing storefront windows near Rockefeller Center and breaching the doors to the storied Macy’s store on 34th Street, leaving the major Manhattan thoroughfare littered with broken glass.

A vehicle plowed through a group of law enforcement officers at a demonstration in Buffalo, injuring at least two.

Demonstrations erupted from Philadelphia, where hundreds of protesters spilled onto a highway in the heart of the city, to Atlanta, where police fired tear gas at demonstrators, to Nashville, where more than 60 National Guard soldiers put down their riot shields at the request of peaceful protesters who had gathered in front of Tennessee’s state capitol to honour George Floyd.

Bystander Sean Jones, who watched as people ransacked luxury stores in Manhattan’s chic Soho neighbourhood, explained the destruction this way: “People are doing this so next time, before they think about trying to kill another black person, they’re going to be like, ‘Damn, we don’t want them out here doing this …again.”’

The unrest in Minneapolis appeared to stabilize on the same day that Floyd’s brother made an impassioned plea for peace at the location where a white police officer put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck until he stopped breathing last week.

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Tear gas, threats for protesters before Trump visits church

WASHINGTON (AP) – It began with Attorney General Bill Barr standing with his hands casually in his pockets, not wearing a tie, surveying the scene at Lafayette Park across from the White House, where several thousand protesters had gathered for more demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd.

President Donald Trump had announced he would soon be addressing the nation from the White House Rose Garden, as a 7 p.m. curfew in the city loomed and a mass of law enforcement, including U.S. Secret Service agents, Park Police and National Guardsmen, stood sentry, many dressed in riot gear.

Moments before 6:30 p.m., just when Trump said he would begin his address, the officers suddenly marched forward, directly confronting the protesters as many held up their hands, saying, “Don’t shoot.”

Soon, law enforcement officers were aggressively forcing the protesters back, firing tear gas and deploying flash bangs into the crowd to disperse them from the park for seemingly no reason. It was a jarring scene as police in the nation’s capital forcefully cleared young men and women gathered legally in a public park on a sunny evening, all of it on live television.

With smoke still wafting and isolated tussles continuing in the crowd, Trump emerged in the Rose Garden for a dramatic split-screen of his own creation.

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The Latest on the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:

-Officer shot in Las Vegas, authorities responding to another shooting

– Protesters march in Sydney in solidarity with anti-racism demonstrators in US

– South Korean store owners see property damage in the US protests

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China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO

Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”

But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found.

Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.

Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January, all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed.

WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government, the recordings obtained by the AP suggest. Privately, they complained in meetings the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time.

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Death toll grows in national protests

One man was the beloved owner of a Louisville barbecue restaurant who made sure to provide free meals to officers. Another was a man known as “Mr. Indianapolis,” a former star football player. Yet another was a federal officer working security during a protest.

They are among the people who have been killed as protests roiled American cities in the week since 46-year-old George Floyd died when a white officer jammed his knee into the back of the black man’s neck.

The deaths have at times been overshadowed by the shocking images of chaos engulfing cities across America, from heavy-handed riot police tactics to violence, vandalism and arson. Tens of thousands have marched peacefully in demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

Many of the people killed were African Americans, compounding the tragedy for black families to lose more members of their community amid the unrest.

Dozens more have been hurt in various altercations, vehicles plowing into crowds, police officers suffering head injuries and broken bones and protesters ending up in emergency rooms with a variety of injuries from the melees.

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On the spot where George Floyd died, his brother urges calm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP)- George Floyd’s brother pleaded for peace in the streets Monday, saying destruction is “not going to bring my brother back at all.”

Terrence Floyd’s emotional plea came as the United States braced for another night of violence in response to Floyd’s killing a week ago.

Chants of “What’s his name? George Floyd!” filled the air as a large crowd gathered at the spot where the black man who became the latest symbol of racial injustice in America lay handcuffed and dying as a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck.

Wearing a face mask with Floyd’s image on it, his brother dropped to his knees at the storefront that has been turned into a memorial covered with flowers and signs. As he kneeled silently, many who were around him joined him on the ground.

The memorial site was a space of calm compared to the devastation left in the wake of fires and violence that paralyzed the city for days last week before it spread nationwide.

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Black female mayors in spotlight amid protests and pandemic

DETROIT (AP)-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms captured the nation’s attention when she addressed the civil unrest occurring in her city after George Floyd’s death.

“I am a mother to four black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old,” Bottoms said Friday in a rousing speech. “When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother.”

Bottoms and other black female mayors, including Lori Lightfoot f Chicago, are leading some of the nation’s largest cities during an unprecedented moment of challenge as protests against police brutality overlap with the coronavirus pandemic and an economic collapse. They’re being praised as thoughtful leaders at a time of political tumult and high-profile examples of black women seeking and winning political office across the country.

Higher Heights for America PAC, a political action committee dedicated to electing more progressive black women, said there are seven black women serving as mayors in the nation’s 100 most populous U.S. cities, compared to just one in 2014.

“Black women have always been leading and we have been the defenders of our homes, our communities and our nation,” said Glynda Carr, the president and CEO of Higher Heights. “Our leadership was built for this moment and their unique experiences as black women, not only as Americans, has provided the type of trusted leadership that can help move this country forward.”

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‘Hate just hides’: Biden vows to take on systematic racism

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP)- Joe Biden vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office as he sought to elevate his voice Monday in the exploding national debate over racism and police brutality.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee offered emotional support and promised bold action during an in-person discussion with black leaders in Delaware and a subsequent virtual meeting with big-city mayors who are grappling with racial tensions and frustrated by a lack of federal support.

“Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” Biden told more than a dozen African American leaders gathered at a church in downtown Wilmington, his face mask lowered around his chin as he spoke.

Without offering specifics, he promised to “deal with institutional racism” and set up a police oversight body in his first 100 days in office, if elected. The former vice-president also said he’d be releasing an economic plan focused on education, housing and “access to capital” and investments, especially for minority Americans, later this month.

“I really do believe that the blinders have been taken off. I think this tidal wave is moving,” Biden told the mayors of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minnesota. “I realize we’ve got to do something big, we can do it, and everyone will benefit from it.”

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Trump as thug or hero? Depends on what network you watch

NEW YORK (AP)-It was a split screen for the ages on MSNBC Monday: on the left side, President Donald Trump talking about restoring law and order. On the right, a tear-gassed young woman vomiting in a Washington street.

For a nation rubbed raw following a traumatic weekend, cable television news did little to promote peace, love and understanding in its most-watched hours

Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC poke and prod the nation’s divide on most nights, and each has been amply rewarded in the ratings.

Trump’s stern speech and walk to a nearby church after protesters were forcibly cleared out of the way Monday raised the temperature on those networks even higher.

“The president seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protesters, is law and order,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper said. “It’s not. He calls them thugs. Who’s the thug here?”

At the same time on Fox News Channel, Tucker Carlson said that Trump provided “a powerful symbolic gesture, a declaration that this country, our national symbols, our oldest institutions, will not be desecrated and defeated by nihilistic destruction.”

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Thousands march in Sydney in solidarity with US protests

SYDNEY (AP)- Thousands of protesters marched through downtown Sydney on Tuesday, voicing their solidarity with Americans demonstrating against the death of George Floyd.

The protesters in Australia’s largest city chanted, “I can’t breathe” _ some of the final words of both Floyd and David Dungay, a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who died in a Sydney prison in 2015 while being restrained by five guards.

The demonstrators carried placards reading, “Black Lives Matter,” “Aboriginal Lives Matter,” “White Silence is Violence” and, referring to those protesting in cities across the U.S., “We See You, We Hear Your, We Stand With You.” Other placards read, “We’re here because they aren’t,” with depictions of Floyd and Dungay.

The protesters, who appeared to number around 3,000, marched from Hyde Park to the New South Wales state Parliament, with plans to continue to the U.S. Consulate.

“It’s just gut-wrenching the climate of what’s happening in America, and it’s also happening here in Australia, though it’s subtle. Racism is real for me,” said one of the protesters, Aoatua Lee.

 

 

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