President Donald Trump has threatened military intervention to prevent the further spread of civil unrest in the United States. The past week has seen protests grip over 75 cities after the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody.
Mr Trump claimed if cities and states failed to “defend their residents” and quell the unrest he will deploy the army to “quickly solve the problem for them”. In doing so, he declared himself the “president of law and order” and vowed to crack down on protests. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed Mr Trump was “serving the passions of his base”, later stating “we’re not going to allow any president to quiet our voice” in reference to the US constitution’s freedom to assemble.
Overnight curfews were placed on dozens of cities across the United States but this has failed to stop the demonstrations. The president and his family were rushed into an underground bunker underneath the White House on Friday for an hour after demonstrators clashed with police in Washington DC. Reports have emerged that peaceful protesters were also targeted with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets in nation’s capital so the president could visit a nearby church for a photograph. Mr Trump posed in front of St John’s Episcopal Church near the White House with a Bible in hand. Many religious leaders have criticised the president with Jesuit priest and consultant to the Vatican’s communications department, James Martin, tweeting: “This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool”.
Authorities are using tear gas and force in attempts to disperse crowds, with a CBS News crew also capturing on video police using Tasers on two unarmed black students in Atlanta. The officers have subsequently been fired and the students released without charge. The chief of police in Louisville, Kentucky, has been sacked after officers fired into a crowd on Sunday night in which the owner of a nearby business was killed. Additionally, two people have been reported killed amongst unrest in Chicago, Illinois, without any knowledge so far as to why.
The violence has also seen dozens of injuries to police. Four officers were shot and injured on Monday in St Louis, Missouri, and a Las Vegas sheriff said an officer had died in a shooting on Tuesday after attempts to disperse a crowd.
Multiple journalists and press crews have reportedly been targeted by police whilst attempting to cover the anti-racism protests. Over 100 incidents are being investigated by press teams with many claims that attacks have been carried out despite journalists displaying their clear press credentials. Australian PM Scott Morrison has demanded an investigation into an alleged assault on two Australian journalists reporting from Washington DC by police.
The protests began after the death of George Floyd, who endured having his neck knelt on for almost 9 minutes by a police officer, and have spread across the United States. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has subsequently been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. The three officers also present at the scene have been fired, with many protesters demanding harsher punishment. Amid the sound of a nearby protest being dispersed, president Trump delivered a brief address from the White House Rose Garden in which he said: “all Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd” but said his memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob”.
Protests look to have no end in sight for the foreseeable future as citizens demand justice for the murder of George Floyd and countless other black civilians who have been unlawfully targeted by police. The president’s reaction has been questioned by many and his threats to deploy the army look set to bring more violence to clashes on the streets of the United States. As the world watches and joins in solidarity to demand an end to police brutality, the American citizens continue to fight and exercise their rights for justice and equality.