Protests over racial violence continued Sunday in the United States’ main cities, while President Donald Trump blamed the unrest on the far left, who he linked to the Antifa movement.
The protests, which mostly began in a peaceful environment, later lead to incidents with the security forces, despite there being a curfew in at least 40 cities in the country and the deployment of the National Guard in 15 states and in Washington DC, the capital.
The reason for the protests affecting dozens of cities across the country is the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis after he was restrained by a white policeman, already handcuffed, with his knee to his neck for several minutes, despite his pleas saying he couldn’t breathe.
One of the most violent protests of the night took place in Washington, which began in front of the White House, where the protesters built bonfires, which later led to fires and confrontations with the police in neighboring areas.
The District of Columbia Fire Department reported on its Twitter account about fires in the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, as well as at a facility located in Lafayette Square (the plaza in front of the presidential house) and in the AFL-CIO headquarters, the largest union platform in the country.
Antifa is burning down the historic St. John's Church by the White House. It's completely up in flames. pic.twitter.com/VI0A2PAVBV
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 1, 2020
And as has happened in other cities in recent days, after an attack on a patrol car on 14th Street, the police threw rubber balls and charged those present, including several journalists, including an EFE / EPA cameraman.
As it happened, on Saturday, Trump referred to those riots in a tweet and attributed them to “totally professional” troublemakers, as Antifa members often allude to.
“The United States of America will designate ANTIFA as a terrorist organization,” Trump tweeted this Sunday when thousands of people were already preparing to protest again for the death of the African American Floyd last Monday in Minneapolis (Minnesota) when he was being detained by the police.
Attorney General William Barr also said in a statement that he will order the FBI’s Joint Task Force to identify “radical groups and outside agitators” who take advantage of these protests to “pursue their own agenda.”
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the riots is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr warned.
The American anti-fascist movement, known as ANTIFA, is a small but noisy radical group that, after Trump’s arrival in the White House, has become increasingly active, especially to counter the protests of white supremacists.
Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked why the FBI does not treat white supremacists, groups who are sympathetic to Trump as internal terrorism groups.
Also the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized Trump’s announcement and said that “it does not have the legal authority to designate a group as an internal (terrorist group).”
The US Government has a list of international organizations and countries that it considers to be terrorists, but there is no internal terrorism statute.
In Los Angeles, the city that advanced the curfew to avoid incidents, while marches were taking place to protest Floyd’s death, there were organized groups that moved by car, starting looting after breaking business windows.
As EFE could verify, the violent acts happened at the same time that hundreds of protesters protested peacefully in nearby streets, with minutes of silence in honor of Floyd.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) June 1, 2020
In the case of Los Angeles, the tense situation is reminiscent of the violent riots that in 1992 resulted in more than 50 deaths and 2,000 injuries, after another famous case of police brutality against an African American citizen.
Sam Bernardino, CA looting has hit BIG 5 Sports, Bank of America, an outlet mall and many many more. So sad. What an embarrassment for our nation. pic.twitter.com/45GJ2NAGjk
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) June 1, 2020
And in Minneapolis, where these protests originated, security forces arrested some 150 protesters on Sunday who defied the curfew, on the first night without violence since the riot broke out.
Unlike Saturday, when police and the military used force to disperse the protests, the strategy this Sunday was to completely surround the group, which, seeing no way out, simply gave up. EFE
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