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Troops clamp down in US cities as unrest over racism flares

Troops clamp down in US cities as unrest over racism flares

AFP
Minneapolis
Thousands of National Guard troops patrolled major US cities on Sunday after five consecutive nights of protests over racism and police brutality that boiled over into arson and looting, sending shock waves through the country.
A senior White House official, echoing President Donald Trump, blamed anarchists and far left activists for the violence while local leaders appealed to citizens to give constructive outlet to their rage without destroying their communities.
“There are some people in our streets who are driven there by a passion for our community,” said Melvin Carter, the African American mayor of St Paul, the capital of Minnesota and twin city of Minneapolis, the epicenter of the protests.
“And then there’s folks in our streets who are there to burn down our black-owned barbershops, to burn down our family-owned businesses, our immigrant-owned restaurants,” he said on CNN.
The death Monday of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis ignited this latest wave of outrage in the US over law enforcement’s repeated use of lethal force against African Americans -- this one like others before captured on cellphone video.
From Seattle to New York, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding tougher murder charges and more arrests over the death of Floyd, who stopped breathing after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz mobilized the state’s 13,000 National Guard troops to help restore order while police enforced an overnight curfew after rioters looted shops and set fires in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to clear streets of curfew-violators Saturday night in Minneapolis, and National Guard troops protected the state capitol in St Paul.
A Minneapolis police spokesman, John Elder, said a man’s body was found near a burning vehicle early after firefighters were called to the scene.
It was unclear if the death, which was being investigated as a homicide, was connected to the unrest in the city.
Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta were among two dozen cities ordering people to stay indoors overnight as more states called in National Guard soldiers to help control the civil unrest not seen in the United States for years.
In Los Angeles, officers fired rubber bullets and swung batons during a testy standoff with demonstrators who set fire to a police car.
Police and protesters clashed in numerous cities including Chicago and New York, with officers responding to projectiles with pepper spray while shop windows were smashed in Philadelphia.
In Washington, protesters faced off with secret service agents outside the White House for a second straight night as Trump faces the most serious spate of civil unrest of his presidency, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Multiple arrests were reported by US media in Minneapolis, Seattle and New York as rallies continued through the night.
Trump blamed the extreme left for the violence, including widespread looting and arson in Minneapolis, saying rioters were dishonoring the memory of Floyd.
“We cannot and must not allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities,” Trump said.