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Peaceful Protesters Defy Curfews in Cities Across US


Protesters march past City Hall on June 2, 2020, in Philadelphia, over the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

Protests in the United States were largely peaceful Tuesday night in cities all over the country as people continued to express anger and frustration at the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Peaceful protesters defied nighttime curfew orders in some areas, including in New York City, where hundreds of people remained on the Brooklyn Bridge for several hours after marching from the Brooklyn side to find their path into Manhattan blocked by police.

In Atlanta, police fired tear gas to break up a crowd of hundreds who remained after the start of the city’s 9 p.m. curfew.

Officers were seen detaining people in both cities. The Associated Press says police have arrested at least 9,300 people nationwide during the past week.

Washington, DC

Hundreds of people remained past curfew time in Washington’s Lafayette Square park across from the White House, where the scene was much quieter than the day before when officers aggressively pushed largely peaceful protesters out to clear the way for President Donald Trump to make an appearance in front of St. John’s Church.

The protesters who gathered in the park Tuesday chanted slogans of “Black lives matter,” “Don’t shoot,” and “Enough is enough.”

They stared at tall black metal fencing that was put in place to bolster security in the area. A few kilometers away, National Guard troops stood fanned out across the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a popular tourist site where in 1963 civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

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South and West

Thousands of marchers also turned out Tuesday night in Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti knelt along with police officers in what has become a show of solidarity with protesters. Thousands later gathered at Garcetti’s official residence to call for massive cuts to police budgets and for him to fire the city’s police chief.

Further protests took place in Miami, Houston, Orlando, New Orleans and Seattle, as well as Portland, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin.

Joined by community faith leaders Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes a knee in prayer during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Joined by community faith leaders Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes a knee in prayer during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

The demonstrations started more than a week ago in Minneapolis, where Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after a white police officer held him face down on the street and pressed a knee against his neck for several minutes.

New charges filed in Floyd case

The state of Minnesota said Tuesday it filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department and opened an investigation into whether the department has “engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.”

“My administration will use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in Minnesota. This effort is one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with communities that have been unseen and unheard for far too long,” said Governor Tim Walz.

The officer who held Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was fired and has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers who were at the scene were also fired.

UN chief 'heartbroken'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “heartbroken” to see violence in the streets of the world body’s host city. New York is one of many places where protests have been largely peaceful, but particularly at night some people have smashed windows, lit fires and looted stores.

“Grievances must be heard, but should be expressed peacefully -- and authorities must show restraint in responding to demonstrations,” Guterres said. “Racism is an abhorrence that we must all reject. Leaders in all sectors of society must invest in social cohesion so every group feels valued.”

Pope Francis expressed his concern Wednesday for what he called “the disturbing unrest” in the United States.

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” the pope said. He further offered prayers for Floyd and “all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”

Demonstrators greet members of the National Guard as they march along Hollywood Boulevard, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.
Demonstrators greet members of the National Guard as they march along Hollywood Boulevard, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Majority of Americans support protests

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday showed 64% of adults in the United States were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” compared to 27% who were not and 9% who were unsure.The same poll showed 55% of people disapproved of the way Trump has handled the situation, compared to about one-third who said they approved.

Trump has said he is an “ally of all peaceful protesters” while posting numerous tweets about the use of force to keep peace in the nation’s cities.

“New York’s Finest are not being allowed to perform their MAGIC but regardless, and with the momentum that the Radical Left and others have been allowed to build, they will need additional help. NYC is totally out of control,” he wrote late Tuesday. “MUST PUT DOWN RIOTING NOW!”

Earlier in the day, his opponent in the November election, former Vice President Joe Biden, criticized Trump’s response, saying, “I won’t traffic in fear and division.”

"The country is crying out for leadership,” Biden said in Philadelphia. “Leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together. Leadership that can recognize pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for a long time.”

Former President Bush issues statement on protests

Former President George W. Bush cited the historic pain of the African American community, saying in a statement, “Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions.”

Bush said he and his wife, Laura, are “anguished by the brutal suffocation of George Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country.”

“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future.”

Some police rough up journalists

Journalists are generally exempt from the curfew orders instituted by city leaders, but in recent days there have been multiple instances of police aggressively treating reporters, photographers and videographers.

The Associated Press reported that New York City officers used expletives to tell two of its journalists to leave a protest area, after which officers shoved the journalists and pinned one of them against his car.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation after police at the Lafayette Square protest Monday struck two Australian journalists.