[WSMDiscuss] The US is aflame... : Global anger grows over death of George Floyd (Javier C. Hernández and Benjamin Mueller) / No end in sight for U.S. protests (Adrian Morrow and Tamsin McMahon)

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Tue Jun 2 15:49:56 CEST 2020

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Viruses in movement…, Resistance in movement…, The US in movement…, Solidarity in movement…

[The US is aflame, and the fire is spreading…

Global anger grows over death of George Floyd (Javier C. Hernández and Benjamin Mueller)
No end in sight for U.S. protests (Adrian Morrow <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/adrian-morrow/> and Tamsin McMahon <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/tamsin-mcmahon/>)
Global anger grows over death of George Floyd

Javier C. Hernández and Benjamin Mueller

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-global-anger-grows-over-death-of-george-floyd/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-global-anger-grows-over-death-of-george-floyd/>    

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest on Dam Square in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on June 1, 2020.  (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press)

In many parts of the world, the death of yet another black man at the hands of police in the United States is setting off mass protests against police brutality and reviving concerns that America is abandoning its traditional role as a defender of human rights.

On the streets of Berlin and Vancouver, in halls of power in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Beijing, a chorus of criticism has erupted alongside the unrest in the United States over the death of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd, 46, died last week after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The officer who pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck has been charged with murder.

Paired with the global anger at police violence in some U.S. cities has been another demand: That lawmakers heed the signs of racism and police abuse in their own countries.

In London, thousands of demonstrators gathered around the moated U.S. Embassy in defiance of stay-at-home coronavirus restrictions and chanted Mr. Floyd’s name, “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace,” before making their way to Grenfell Tower. The building was the site of a devastating fire in 2017 that killed many Arab, Muslim and African residents. On a memorial at the base of the tower, a protester wrote, “Black Lives Matter.”




Hundreds rallied in London and Berlin on Sunday (May 31) in solidarity with U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. Reuters

In Toronto, calls to end American racism merged with outrage at the recent death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, 29, a black woman who police said fell from her balcony after officers arrived at her home in response to what Toronto’s police chief called a “rather frantic” call about an assault.

And in Paris, among those calling for a demonstration was the family of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who died in custody in 2016 after being tackled and pinned down by police in the Paris suburbs. La Vérité Pour Adama, or “the truth for Adama,” an advocacy group led by Mr. Traoré’s sister, Assa, said Mr. Floyd’s death was a chilling reminder of Mr. Traoré’s.

“How can one not think of Adama’s terrible suffering when he had three police officers on him and he was repeating, ‘I can’t breathe,' " the group wrote on Facebook last week. “His name was George Floyd, who just like Adama died because they were black.”

The widespread condemnation reflected growing unease about America’s rapidly eroding moral authority on the world stage. President Donald Trump already faces criticism across the globe for a response to the coronavirus pandemic that has led the United States to relinquish its long-time role as a global leader in times of crisis.

Now the death of Mr. Floyd has brought protests to at least 140 U.S. cities. Images of police officers and protesters engaged in heated street fights have spread swiftly around the world, drawing furious comments and calls for action.

Just as American demonstrators have been pained in part by the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus on black and immigrant neighbourhoods, so, too, have activists around the world taken note of the gaping inequities laid bare by the pandemic. In England and Wales, for example, black people are twice as likely to die from the virus as white people.

In Berlin, thousands of demonstrators held a peaceful protest outside of the U.S. Embassy on Saturday, some carrying signs that read, “Stop Killing Us.” Three players in Germany’s top soccer league – English forward Jadon Sancho, French striker Marcus Thuram and American midfielder Weston McKennie – made gestures of support for Mr. Floyd during weekend matches. Germany’s soccer federation, which bans players from making political statements during matches, said it would investigate the display by Mr. McKennie.

In downtown Montreal, a protest Sunday turned violent after police deemed it illegal and ordered people to disperse. Clutches of protesters responded by throwing projectiles at police, who used tear gas and pepper spray.




A Montreal demonstration in support of George Floyd, a black Minnesota man who died in police custody, degenerated into violence Sunday night. After the three-hour peaceful protest ended, groups clashed with police and vandalized stores downtown. The Canadian Press

In Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, the target of a months-long offensive by the Syrian government to seize control from opposition forces, two artists painted a mural on the shell of a ruined building that read “I Can’t Breathe” and “No to Racism.”

For America’s rivals, the tensions have provided an opportunity to deflect attention from their own problems.

In China, where officials have chafed at Mr. Trump’s criticism of how they handled the coronavirus outbreak, the state-run news media heavily featured reports about Mr. Floyd’s death and portrayed the protests as another sign of America’s decline. The violent protests were covered extensively in the news media and on the social-media platform Weibo. “BunkerBoy” became a trending topic after reports that Secret Service agents rushed Mr. Trump to a bunker Friday night as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House.



Police used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters outside the White House on Sunday as the United States entered its sixth day of protests over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who died after being pinned by the neck under a white police officer's knee. Reuters 

Pierre Haski, a noted French journalist, commented on France Inter on Monday: “Beijing could not have hoped for a better gift. The country that designates China as the culprit of all evils is making headlines around the world with the urban riots.”

When a U.S. official Saturday attacked the ruling Communist Party on Twitter for moving to impose national security legislation to quash dissent in Hong Kong, a spokeswoman for the Chinese government fired back with a popular refrain among U.S. protesters.

“‘I can’t breathe,’ ” the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, wrote on Twitter.

In Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, accused the United States of hypocrisy. He posted a doctored screenshot of a 2018 statement by U.S. officials condemning Iran for corruption and injustice. In his version, the references to Iran were replaced with America.

“Some don’t think #BlackLivesMatter,” Mr. Zarif wrote on Twitter.

The head of the Addis Ababa-based African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement Friday that Mr. Floyd’s death was a murder, and he criticized the “continuing discriminatory practices against black citizens of the United States of America.”

Gilles Paris, Le Monde’s correspondent in Washington, wrote Sunday that Mr. Trump was facing a “deadly spring” that has combined the COVID-19 crisis, record unemployment and the “resurgence of America’s racial demons.”

In an unusual statement on U.S. affairs, the European Union said Monday that it hoped “all the issues related to the protests in the U.S. will be settled swiftly and in full respect for the rule of law and human rights.” It usually reserves this type of language for violent breakdowns in countries with few democratic or human-rights safeguards.

“We regret the loss of life, express our condolences to those affected and condemn violence and racism regardless of where it comes from,” the statement added.

Activists around the world vowed to continue to organize rallies and speak out about Mr. Floyd’s death. A protest was called for Amsterdam’s Central Dam Square later Monday. The unrest also prompted activists abroad to offer advice to U.S. demonstrators on how to keep the movement alive.

In Lebanon, a group compiled a document titled: From Beirut to Minneapolis: A Protest Guide in Solidarity as a way to track state abuses. In Chile, activist Danae Pradenas, writing on Twitter, cautioned demonstrators in the United States to protect their eyes from police rubber bullets, after Chile’s experience with hundreds of protesters who were injured or blinded by police while protesting inequality in October.

An image of the Chilean flag with the message “I can’t see” and the United States flag with “I can’t breathe” is circulating on social media. Leftist legislator Gabriel Boric compared racism in the United States and in Chile against immigrants and indigenous people on his Twitter feed, writing, “We are all George Floyd.”

In Australia, the hashtag #aboriginallivesmatter was trending on Twitter on Monday.

The images of unrest in the United States have reignited debate about Australia’s own troubles with police brutality. Some noted that more than 400 indigenous Australians had died in police custody since 1991, without a single police officer convicted of abuse.

The relatives of David Dungay, an aboriginal man who said “I can’t breathe” 12 times before he died while being restrained by prison guards in 2015, said they had been traumatized by footage of Mr. Floyd’s death, prompting them to call for another investigation into Mr. Dungay’s death.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that while the video of Mr. Floyd’s death was upsetting and shocking, Australians should be careful not to adopt the destructive response seen in some U.S. cities.

Mr. Morrison told a conservative radio station Monday morning: “I saw a good meme on the weekend. Martin Luther King didn’t change anything by burning anything down or by looting any shops.”

To which many Australians quickly responded: You don’t understand King.

“What is with all these white people quoting MLK who’ve not read anything of King’s beyond a meme or seen anything beyond a 30-second YouTube clip of ‘I Have a Dream,’ ” Benjamin Law, an Asian Australian writer and essayist, said on Twitter.

No end in sight for US protests

Adrian Morrow <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/adrian-morrow/> and Tamsin McMahon <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/tamsin-mcmahon/>
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/us-politics/article-thousands-arrested-as-protests-against-racism-police-brutality-spread/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/us-politics/article-thousands-arrested-as-protests-against-racism-police-brutality-spread/>

Protesters against police brutality near the White House in Washington, on June 1, 2020. The President spoke from a White House beset by protesters, and then walked along a path cleared by police to briefly visit a damaged church.  (ERIN SCHAFF/The New York Times News Service)

The U.S.’s most widespread protests since the civil-rights movement in the 1960s continued to grow Monday despite unprecedented measures to shut them down, spreading from major cities to suburbs and towns a week after George Floyd’s death.

State and local authorities struggled to respond to the upheaval in more than 140 cities, which has laid bare the country’s failure to adequately deal with institutional racism and police brutality.

More than 20 states and the District of Columbia have called in the National Guard and at least 40 cities have instituted curfews in a bid to stop the after-dark property destruction and fires that have accompanied many of the protests. But they have largely been unsuccessful. At least 4,400 people have been arrested over the past week, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump threatened Monday to call in the military unless state governors act to quell demonstrations, sometimes violent, that have engulfed much of the country, a warning that came as protesters surrounded the White House amid escalating unrest over the death of Mr. Floyd.

Around the time Mr. Trump spoke, the National Guard fired tear gas at a peaceful crowd of protesters to clear the way for the President to hold a subsequent photo-op. The military police used batons and shields to beat back protesters, while a line of mounted officers advanced.

U.S. protests: A guide to the story so far, from George Floyd’s death to a national reckoning on racism <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-antiracism-protests-george-floyd-minneapolis-explainer/>
George Floyd’s brother pleads for peace, Trump takes combative tone <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-trump-calls-governors-weak-as-us-braces-for-more-protests-over/>
This time, the mayhem and chaos in the U.S. feels different <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-this-time-the-mayhem-and-chaos-in-the-us-feels-different/>
The President posed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged by the previous night’s demonstrations and has been boarded up. He held a Bible in his right hand.

”If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military quickly to solve the problem for them," Mr. Trump said in a speech on the White House lawn, his first public address since the protests began.

He added that he planned to unleash “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” into Washington as protesters swarmed the capital hours after the family of Mr. Floyd, an African-American Minneapolis man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck, released an independent autopsy showing that he had been asphyxiated.

While Mr. Trump said Americans should be "rightly sickened and revolted by the death of George Floyd," he described the protests as “domestic terror” orchestrated by “professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who instituted a 7 p.m. curfew, condemned the crackdown near the White House.

“A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!” she tweeted.

A broad array of voices – including that of former president Barack Obama – weighed in on Monday to call for the protesters to channel the fury on the streets into tangible change, including at the ballot box.

Mr. Floyd died a week ago after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Mr. Floyd gasped for air.

Video of his death sparked protests in Minneapolis, which quickly spread to major centres from New York to Los Angeles to Washington. They have now gone even further, from Bakersfield, Calif., to Des Moines, Iowa to Anchorage, Alaska.



Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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