After Six Days of Violent Protests, US Leaders Look for Answer

    01 June 2020

    After six days of unrest, many cities and neighborhoods across the United States face damage from violence and stealing. Political leaders are struggling to contain the nation-wide anger over the killing of a black man by police in Minnesota.

    There are curfews in some cities and National Guard troops have been deployed to keep order. But, peaceful daytime protests again have turned to violence at night.

    A group of protesters during a standoff with police during a protest against the death in Minneapolis of African-American man George Floyd, in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. May 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Dustin Chambers)
    A group of protesters during a standoff with police during a protest against the death in Minneapolis of African-American man George Floyd, in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. May 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Dustin Chambers)

    In Washington, D.C. protesters set fires, overturned cars and threw an American flag into the flames near the White House on Sunday. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to control a crowd of more than 1,000 people across the street in Lafayette Park.

    Protesters threw rocks and burning bottles at police in Philadelphia as public transportation and city streets were closed. Police shot tear gas to control the protests in many cities, including Atlanta, Georgia and Austin, Texas.

    A man was killed when police and national guard soldiers returned fire after being shot at first early on Monday morning in Louisville, Kentucky. Two were reported dead over the weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.

    Looters smashed their way into stores selling expensive goods like Chanel perfume and Rolex watches in New York City. Others walked away with boxes of shoes and clothes in Los Angeles. Many shops were just beginning to open after the coronavirus shutdowns.

    Some police officers tried to calm tensions by marching and kneeling with demonstrators in several cities, including Des Moines, Iowa and Spokane, Washington.

    The demonstrations were incited by the death of George Floyd, a black man, on May 25 in Minneapolis. A video recorded at the time shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as he lay on the street.

    Floyd who was handcuffed, repeatedly said, "I can't breathe," and, "Please, I can't breathe," as the crowd asked the officer to stop. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with murder.

    At a protest in Boston, 15-year-old Mahira Louis told the Associated Press, "They keep killing our people. I'm so sick and tired of it."

    Recent incidents also increased racial tensions in the U.S. Two white men shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a black man in Georgia who was running on the streets, in February. And police in Louisville, Kentucky shot a black woman Breonna Taylor to death in her own home in March.

    The incidents happened as the country was under stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The disease has killed over 100,000 Americans and put 40 million people out of work. It has also affected minorities more than the general population in job losses and deaths.

    As the unrest spread across the country, U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, denounced an anti-fascist movement called ANTIFA. He also blamed the media, Democratic mayors and governors and his opponent for the upcoming November election, Joe Biden.

    During a conference call with governors and law enforcement officials Monday, Trump called them "weak." He said, "You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again."

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, visited the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday. He talked to demonstrators and wrote on Twitter, "We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us."

    In Salt Lake City, Lex Scott, a founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, condemned the destruction of property. But, he said breaking into buildings is not the same as killing a black man like Floyd.

    "Maybe the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will picture cities burning," he said.

    I'm John Russell.

    Hai Do wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on Associated Press reports. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    stun grenade(s) –n. a device that makes an extremely loud sound and that flashes light which is designed to temporarily surprise and disorient people

    handcuff –v. to place restraints on a person's wrists, which prevent them from moving