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Tensions escalate in the US as Trump threatens greater force

Tensions escalate in the US as Trump threatens greater force

DPA
Washington
Tensions were escalating in the US on Tuesday, more than a week into sustained unrest over the killing of a black man by police, with the number of injuries rising and President Donald Trump threatening to use the armed forces to quell violence.
Four police officers in St Louis, Missouri, were injured by gun shots, as was an officer in Las Vegas, Nevada, during encounters with protesters overnight. The exact circumstances remained unclear.
Protesters have also been injured and hundreds arrested in cities across the country.
The demonstrations against police brutality - a recurring issue in the US - while mostly peaceful during the day, have also descended into rioting and looting in some cities at night, causing destruction to property and hurting businesses.
Trump has called on governors to “dominate” the protests and had federal forces use tear gas and push back groups of hundreds of protesters outside the White House on Monday night so that he could walk across a park to a church to be photographed with a bible.
Governors in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois were among those who have rejected Trump’s push for a heavier hand, as the president seeks to make a show of force and bolster his status as a self-proclaimed leader of law and order.
Trump has threatened to deploy the armed forces to crack down and end the unrest, while insisting he supports peaceful demonstrations.
“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 US military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, as tear gas went off outside the White House on Monday.
The National Guard has been deployed in two dozen states, by governors, but largely in a back-up role. Curfews have been imposed in cities in California, in New York, Washington, and other urban areas.
Joe Biden, the former vice president who is running against Trump in this November’s presidential election, slammed the incumbent, saying he was stoking divisions and turning the country into a “battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.” In a speech in Philadelphia, a city hit by sustained protests and violence, Biden vowed, that if elected president, he would enact civil rights reforms. “I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate,” he said.
With the election moving closer on the horizon, Trump is trailing in some national polls, though analysts caution to not read too much into numbers at this stage.
There have been seven days of unrest in dozens of states, following the killing of a handcuffed black man, George Floyd. A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
An independent autopsy by the Floyd family said he died by asphyxiation and placed the blame directly on the police.
Chauvin was arrested, on third-degree murder charges, and all four officers involved in the incident in the state of Minnesota were fired.
Floyd’s family is calling for the arrest of the other three former members of the Minneapolis police force. A brother of the slain man has called for peaceful protests and condemned the looting.
Investigations are ongoing in Minnesota, with the state attorney general warning he needs to move methodically if he wants to secure convictions. Days of unrest there have begun to calm.
The killing of Floyd has again brought to the fore the issue of police violence and heavy-handed tactics used against African Americans.
The protests across the country have taken place under the “Black Lives Matter” banner.
Many are calling for more accountability for the police, who rarely get convicted of abuse of power, in part thanks to legal protections.