Police nationwide responded to protests against police violence by deliberately targeting demonstrators, journalists, and bystanders with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive use of force. The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer – who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – have taken place in at least 75 cities, including at the gates of the White House, in the days since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since then, police have tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with rounds of rubber bullets and pepper balls on journalists and bystanders, pushed over an elderly man with a cane who was walking away, shot a woman in the face with a rubber bullet as she left a grocery store, and shot a photojournalist in the eye with a rubber bullet, who is now permanently blind. Curfews have been enacted in more than two dozen cities, and about 5,000 National Guard troops have been activated in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Organizers have tried to keep the protests focused on police accountability and social justice through chanting and marching, but agitators, posing as peaceful protesters, have exploited the situation by looting stores, setting fire to buildings and police cars, and throwing firecrackers, bottles, bleach, and, reportedly, a molotov cocktail at police. Some advisers, meanwhile, have urged Trump to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn only the looting or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November. The White House, however, declared a lid, which means no one should expect to see or hear from Trump for the rest of the day. (Slate / Nick Waters / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Week)
Trump reacted to the protests and incidents of vandalism by threatening demonstrators with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” He previously suggested that looters in Minneapolis would be shot, referred to protesters as “thugs,” and prepared the Pentagon to use military force against American citizens. In a series of Saturday tweets, Trump accused demonstrators who gathered at the White House of being “professionally managed so-called ‘protesters’” and suggested that his supporters should confront them, saying: “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” When asked if he was stoking racial divisions by calling for a counter-protest, Trump replied: “No, not at all. MAGA is make America great again. These are people that love our country. I have no idea if they’re going to be here. I was just asking. … By the way, they love African-American people. They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / ABC News / CBS News / Washington Post)
As the president fans the flames, at least 105,000 people have died and over 40 million Americans have no sustainable means by which to support themselves.
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