Violence erupts across US on the sixth day of protests

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Protestors face off with police on 15th and H Street in Washington, DC on May 31, 2020. Thousands of National Guard troops patrolled major US cities after five consecutive nights of protests over racism and police brutality. Photo/AFP

Washington, Monday

Violence has erupted in cities across the US on the sixth night of protests sparked by the death in police custody of African-American George Floyd.

Curfews have been imposed in nearly 40 cities, but people have largely ignored them, leading to tense stand-offs.

Riot police clashed with protesters in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, firing tear gas and pepper bullets to try to disperse the crowds.

Police vehicles were set on fire and shops were looted in several cities.

The National Guard - the US reserve military force for domestic emergencies - said on Sunday that 5,000 of its personnel had been activated in 15 states and Washington, DC, where crowds once again gathered near the White House, this time lighting fires and throwing stones at riot officers.

“State and local law enforcement agencies remain responsible for security,” the National Guard added.

Police in Washington DC have fired tear gas at demonstrators who set fire to properties near the White House.

They include a historic church, St John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of the presidents, near the White House.

It has emerged that in Friday night’s unrest, President Donald Trump was briefly taken by the secret service into an underground bunker at the White House, for his safety.

The US is witnessing the most widespread racial turbulence and civil unrest since the violent backlash to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, says the BBC’s Nick Bryant.

More than 75 cities have seen protests, with streets only days ago deserted because of coronavirus, thronged with demonstrators marching shoulder to shoulder.

The Floyd case has reignited anger over police killings of black Americans. For many, the outrage also reflects years of frustration over socio-economic inequality and segregation, not least in Minneapolis itself, where Floyd died.

There were many instances of police vehicles being vandalised and set alight on Sunday. Riot officers continued to respond with tear gas and flash grenades.

In Philadelphia, local TV stations showed people smashing police cars and looting at least one store.

Trump tweeted: “Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting stores.

Call in our great National Guard.” Looting was also reported in Santa Monica, California.

At least 4,400 people have been arrested over several days of protests, according to a tally compiled by the Associated Press news agency.

Arrests have been made over a range of offences, from looting and blocking motorways to breaking curfew.

A sacked white policeman has been charged with murdering Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis.

Derek Chauvin, 44, was due to appear in court later on Monday, but his appearance has now been pushed back to  June 8. – BBC

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