George Floyd killing: Trump threatens to call in US military

Dozens of cities across the US, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Washington, DC, saw further protests on Saturday night over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles were among the cities to introduce curfews for residents from 8 p. m. on Saturday night.

At a protest in Tallahassee, Florida, a suspect drove a pickup truck through a crowd of protesters gathered at an intersection, hitting some of them. The driver was later arrested and no one was seriously injured, local officials said.

Police charged protesters who broke curfew in Minneapolis. At least 13 officers in Philadelphia were injured when peaceful protests turned violent, and police in several cities used tear gas in attempts to quell protests.

US presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday condemned the violence of race protests that have erupted across the country but said Americans had a right to demonstrate.

“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” the Democratic White House hopeful said in a statement. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”

Trump threatens military use

Earlier on Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that the federal government was considering using the military to intervene in the protests.

“We have our military ready, willing and able,” Trump told reporters before departing for Florida. “We can have our military there very quickly.” 

On Twitter, Trump wrote the federal government will use “the unlimited power of our military” as well as carry out arrests.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME! Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests. Thank you!

The Pentagon said it was ready to provide military help to contain unrest in Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was killed. So far, the governor of Minnesota has not requested it. 

If he did so, the federal forces would likely primarily comprise of military police to provide logistical support but would not get directly involved, defense officials told the Associated Press. 

National Guard called up

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz moved to fully mobilize the state’s National Guard on Saturday for the first time since World War II, vowing a show of force to shut down unrest that has seen vehicles and buildings destroyed.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

“We are under assault,” he added. “Order needs to be restored.”

Fears protests will cause coronavirus outbreaks

Mayors and governors have also raised concerns that social distancing regulations will be ignored and that the protests could lead to new outbreaks of coronavirus.

Speaking in Florida after the SpaceX launch, Trump called for “healing, not hatred.”

But Trump’s earlier remarks sparked further outrage after he threatened that if protesters breached the White House grounds, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen.” 

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said the remarks “are an attack on humanity, an attack on black America and they make my city less safe.”

The protests have also spread internationally, with thousands of people taking to the streets in the German capital Berlin to protest Floyd’s death and against racism.

Outrage over killing of George Floyd

George Floyd was an African-American man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis after footage emerged of him in handcuffs pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck. Derek Chauvin, one of the four police officers, was arrested and charged with murder Friday morning following three days of protests.

The protests began in Minneapolis after the footage of Floyd’s killing emerged earlier this week. Demonstrations later spread to other cities across the country.

Floyd’s death, one of the latest high-profile killings of an unarmed black person by police, have tapped into a well of anger over the treatment of the black community and other people of color in the US. 

The protests are also coming amid the coronavirus pandemic which has seen tens of millions of people in US lose their jobs and which has disproportionately affected black people, highlighting discrepancies in health care treatment.

UK foreign minister Dominic Raab told Sky News on Sunday that the UK hoped to see a reduction in violence in the US. 

Arab Observer

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