World

US protesters march for eighth night, but violence subsides

This article is more than 12 months old

Thousands take to the streets of major US cities for eighth consecutive night

WASHINGTON/MINNEAPOLIS: US protesters ignored curfews overnight as they continued to vent their anger over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police, but there was a marked drop in the violence that prompted President Donald Trump to threaten to deploy the military.

Mr George Floyd died after his neck was pinned under a white policeman's knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25, reigniting the explosive issue of police brutality against African Americans five months before the November presidential election.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of cities coast to coast for an eighth night as National Guard troops lined the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

There was sporadic violence in Washington and Portland, with protesters tossing fireworks and bottles and police responding with flash grenades and tear gas. Clashes between protesters and the police and looting of some stores in New York earlier in the week gave way to relative quiet in the early hours of yesterday.

The police told media they made 200 arrests, largely for curfew violations.

In Los Angeles, many demonstrators who defied the curfew were arrested, but by mid-evening, calm had been restored.

Large marches and rallies also took place in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.

Outside the US Capitol building on Tuesday afternoon, a throng took to one knee, chanting "silence is violence" and "no justice, no peace", as officers faced them just before the government-imposed curfew.

Many of the protesters used the slogan "take a knee", referring both to how Mr Floyd died and a long-standing protest against racism in America that started in 2016 with a football player taking a knee instead of standing during the National Anthem.

On Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, hundreds of people filled the street, marching past famous landmarks. Others gathered outside Police Department headquarters, in some cases hugging and shaking hands with a line of officers outside.

In Rome, Pope Francis called for national reconciliation in the US, saying that while racism is intolerable, the street violence that has broken out is "self-destructive and self-defeating".

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found a majority of Americans sympathise with the protesters. The survey conducted on Monday and Tuesday found 64 per cent of American adults were "sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now," while 27 per cent said they were not and 9 per cent were unsure.

In Minneapolis, Roxie Washington, mother of Mr Floyd's six-year-old daughter, Gianna, told a news conference that he was a good man. "I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took from me..." she said, sobbing. "Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate." - REUTERS

WORLD