As the anti-racism protests in the United States enter the 12th day, huge rallies took place in many cities on Saturday over the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody. In Washington, DC, thousands of protesters took to the street in the city’s largest demonstration so far.
However, the security forces blocked all the entrances to the White House. In Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, large crowds demonstrated. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, people paid tribute and respect to late George Floyd before a memorial service.
He died in the Minneapolis police custody; later a video surfaced on social media that filmed a white police officer kneeling on his neck for almost 9 minutes, while Floyd pinned to the ground. Derek Chauvin, the white police officer from Minneapolis, has been charged for second-degree murder.
The three other officers present at the scene have also been charged for abetting and aiding. The protests reached four other continents as many anti-racism protests took place in many countries.
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In the UK, despite the calls by the government to not attend large gatherings, thousands of people came out in Central London’s parliament square. There were also reports of clashes in Marseille and London.
Major rallies were held in Australian cities of Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney, the protests also highlighted the treatment of Aboriginal people in the country by police officers. Meanwhile, there were rallies and demonstrations in Germany, Spain, and France.
The largest rallies on Saturday appeared to be in Washington, where thousands of protesters flooded streets. Many of them gathered on the National Mall, the Capitol, and in neighborhoods, on a scorching, humid day. Some of them also turned the intersection into dance floors as the tents offered water and snacks.
Muriel Bowser, the city’s mayor, welcomed the protesters, saying that the large crowds have sent a message to Trump in White House. He further criticized the president’s use of force to clear the park before his photo session in the nearby church a few days ago.
Bowser added that the American military should not be treated this way, using it against its people, can cause misunderstandings between the civilian people and armed forces. He called on the president to withdraw all federal troops from the city, citing that their presence is now unnecessary.
At the White House, fortified with additional security and new fences, chants and cheers from the rallies were heard in waves. Trump, who had urged the local authorities to crack down on the unrest, downplayed the rallies, saying, “Much smaller crowd in DC than anticipated.”.
In many cities across the US, local authorities-imposed curfews and lockdowns to curb the unrest, which has now been eased and arrests plummeted. On Saturday, in Portland, Oregon, after the projectiles were thrown at the police officers near the Justice Center, it declared an unlawful assembly and civil disturbance.
In Seattle, police used pepper spray and flash bangs to disperse the protesters hurling bottles and rocks, which police have described as ‘’improvised explosives’’ that had injured several officers. The statue of Confederate general was pulled down from its pedestal in Richmond, Virginia.
Elsewhere, the backdrops include some of the important landmarks, in San Francisco, protesters briefly shut the Golden Gate Bridge. About 30,000 people rallied to the Union Park in Chicago, while a Hollywood intersection was blocked in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, the two policemen seen in the video pushing a 75-year old man to the ground were charged with second-degree murder. In his overnight series of tweets, the Republican president thanked the police, National Guard, and other federal law enforcement agencies for doing a ‘’fantastic job’’.
Collectively, Saturday was perhaps the largest one-day mobilization since the death of Floyd and came as many cities lifted the curfews imposed following initial reports of assaults, arson, and looting on businesses.
Hundreds of thousands of people protested at dozens of locations from coast to coast, wearing face masks and fighting for a fundamental change. The supports of the movement have called on the high authorities to address the longstanding inequalities and systematic racism, from police brutality to healthcare to mass incarceration.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the black people in America are jailed at five times the rate of white people and charged for drugs six times more, despite the equal ration of drug use.
The national health data suggests that black mothers die in childbirth, which is over twice the rate of white women. Years of state-sanctioned segregation have also seen inequalities in housing, public schools, and other public resources.
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