The United States appear to have dissolved into chaos after an unarmed black man, George Floyd, was arrested on a charge of passing a forged $20 note.
Three police officers pinned him down on the ground next to their car, with one of them resting a knee on the right side of his neck for nearly nine minutes. Apparently this cut off Mr Floyd’s supply of oxygen and, coupled with existing health conditions, caused his death. The officer concerned – Derek Chauvin – apparently kept up the pressure for nearly three minutes after Mr Floyd became unresponsive.
An initial autopsy stated that the death was caused by the combined effects of being restrained, underlying health conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, and potential intoxicants in his system, but the family has requested an independent examination – which seems wise in the light of video evidence in which Mr Floyd can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” and “Don’t kill me.”
All four officers were fired from Minnesota police the next day, and on May 29, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for Floyd’s death, with Hennepin County attorney Michael O. Freeman saying he anticipated charges to be brought against the other three officers at the scene of Floyd’s death.
The incident sparked outrage, not just in Minnesota but across the United States – and internationally. Initially these were peaceful, but they soon degenerated into violent confrontations with police.
One such demonstration has been taking place outside the White House in Washington DC, and President Donald Trump – who has chosen not to broadcast to the nation on the subject but has confined his comments to messages on Twitter (which some have considered inflammatory) – was evacuated to a “special secure bunker”:
As protesters converged on the White House on Friday, the New York Times reports, “Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks.”
Trump has been widely criticized for his response to the protests that have rocked the nation since video of Floyd’s death began spreading on social media.
Despite days of peaceful protests and violent clashes with police in some of America’s major cities, Trump has not addressed the nation and has repeatedly sent inflammatory messages over Twitter.
“If they had [breached the fence],” the president continued, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.”
The decision to relocate to a bunker has drawn unkind comparisons with a certain other national leader who ended up there:
Hitler hid in a bunker when pressure got on.
Hitler deemed anti-fascists "the enemy."
Hitler claimed "total authority."
Hitler called for the shooting of minorities.
Hitler wasn't elected by a majority.
— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) June 1, 2020
(The reference to anti-fascists being “the enemy” is about a tweet by Mr Trump in which he said “Antifa” would be designated as a terrorist organisation. The problem is that “Antifa” – a reference to anti-fascist beliefs – is an ideology, rather than an individual organisation. And, as This Writer pointed out:
Designating anti-fascists as terrorists is the sort of thing a fascist would do. Have you thought about that?
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) May 31, 2020
(From the – expected – lack of response, it seems he hasn’t.)
The irresponsibility of the President’s behaviour has been noted – and compared with that of another national leader who we, in the UK, know very well:
Funny how these big men of the people hide, from people, in bunkers and fridges.
— Dominic Minghella (@DMinghella) June 1, 2020
Possibly the worst part of this already-shameful episode is what may be termed “collateral damage” – for example, the Guardian photographer who was shot in the eye and must live in partial blindness for the rest of her life after being deliberately targeted by US security forces.
Guardian photojournalist Linda Tirano covering the #GeorgeFloyd protests, deliberately targeted and shot in the eye by U.S. security forces.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) May 31, 2020
What was she photographing, that they didn’t want the world to see?
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