US--America Protests 06/03 06:32

US--America Protests                   06/03 06:32

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Protests were largely peaceful and the nation's streets 
were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set 
off sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality and injustice 
against African Americans.

   An earlier curfew and efforts by protesters to contain the violence 
prevented more widespread damage to businesses in New York City overnight. As 
of Wednesday morning, arrests grew to more than 9,000 nationwide since the 
unrest began in response to Floyd's death May 25 in Minneapolis.

   There was a marked quiet compared with the unrest of the past few nights, 
which included fires and shootings in some cities. Many cities intensified 
their curfews, with authorities in Washington also ordering people off streets 
before sundown.

   A block away from the White House, thousands of demonstrators massed 
following a crackdown a day earlier when officers on foot and horseback 
aggressively drove peaceful protesters away from Lafayette Park, clearing the 
way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op at nearby St. John's Church. 
Tuesday's protesters faced law enforcement personnel who stood behind a black 
chain-link fence put up overnight to block access to the park.

   "Last night pushed me way over the edge," said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of 
Washington, who attended a Floyd protest Tuesday for the first time. "Being 
here is better than being at home feeling helpless."

   Pastors at the church prayed with demonstrators and handed out water 
bottles. The crowd remained in place after the city's 7 p.m. curfew passed, 
defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more 
forceful. But the people were peaceful, even polite. At one point, the crowd 
booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A 
chant went up: "Peaceful protest!"

   Pope Francis called for national reconciliation and peace, saying he has 
?'witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest'' in the United 
States in recent days.

   "My friends, 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 during his weekly Wednesday audience, held in the presence of bishops 
due to coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

   Trump, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he 
threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn't do it.

   "NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD," he tweeted. "The lowlifes and losers are 
ripping you apart. Act fast!"

   Thousands of people remained in the streets of New York City Tuesday night, 
undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, though most streets were clear by early 
Wednesday. Midtown Manhattan was pocked with battered storefronts after 
Monday's protests.

   Protests also passed across the U.S., including in Los Angeles, Miami, St. 
Paul, Minnesota, Columbia, South Carolina and Houston, where the police chief 
talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.

   "God as my witness, change is coming," Art Acevedo said. "And we're going to 
do it the right way."

   More than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up in 29 states to 
deal with the violence. Not in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has 
said he does not want the Guard, despite an offer from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

   On Tuesday, Cuomo called what happened in the city Monday night "a disgrace."

   "The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job," Cuomo said at a briefing in 
Albany.

   He said his fellow Democrat underestimated the problem, and the nation's 
largest police force was not deployed in sufficient numbers, though the city 
had said it doubled the usual police presence.

   Tuesday marked the eighth straight night of protests that began after a 
white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck while 
the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn't breathe. The officer, 
Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder.

   The mother of George Floyd's 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, said she wants the 
world to know that her little girl lost a good father.

   "I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took," Roxie 
Washington said during a Minneapolis news conference, her daughter at her side. 
"I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he 
was good."

   Some protesters framed the burgeoning movement as a necessity after 
seemingly incessant killings by police.

   "It feels like it's just been an endless cascade of hashtags of black people 
dying, and it feels like nothing's really being done by our political leaders 
to actually enact real change," said Christine Ohenzuwa, 19, who attended a 
peaceful protest at the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul. "There's always 
going to be a breaking point. I think right now, we're seeing the breaking 
point around the country."

   "I live in this state. It's really painful to see what's going on, but it's 
also really important to understand that it's connected to a system of racial 
violence," she said.

   Meanwhile, governors and mayors, Republicans and Democrats alike, rejected 
Trump's threat to send in the military, with some saying troops would be 
unnecessary and others questioning whether the government has such authority 
and warning that such a step would be dangerous.

   Such use of the military would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely 
seen in modern American history.

   A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 
president is not rushing to deploy the military and that his goal was to 
pressure governors to deploy more National Guard members.

   Nine states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries on 
Tuesday, testing the nation's ability to run elections while balancing a 
pandemic and sweeping social unrest. Joe Biden won hundreds more delegates, 
nearly enough to formally secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

   Also Tuesday, Minnesota opened an investigation into whether the Minneapolis 
Police Department has a pattern of discrimination against minorities.

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