United States in Turmoil
Civil unrest and mass demonstrations continued throughout the day and evening across the nation Sunday, as fires burned and protests raged across the street from the White House on the East Coast, and the names of black citizens who have been killed by police through the years were spray-painted outside looted buildings in Santa Monica, Calif., on the West Coast.
Residents of cities that have been locked down since mid-March have emerged in large numbers to express their discontent with ongoing police violence.
Meanwhile, three of the four fired Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd remain free Sunday, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he has placed the state’s Attorney General, Keith Ellison, in charge of the investigation. Derek Chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on Monday, has been charged with third-degree murder.
Day 6 of demonstrations has seen protesters face down police in riot gear, block freeways and stand on street corners, holding scores of expletive-laden signs to express their solidarity. Curfews, many of which were again ignored, were imposed in large and small cities across America, from Los Angeles to Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Syracuse, N.Y.
A State of Emergency has been declared in state after state, including but not limited to Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Arizona and Virginia. National Guard troops have been activated nationwide.
As screaming demonstrators clashed with park police and at least one American flag burned within view of the White House, and as news networks broadcast protests and unrest in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Sacramento, Minneapolis, and elsewhere, President Donald Trump tweeted two words in all caps to his nearly 81 million followers: “FAKE NEWS.”
Within yards of the White House, firecrackers exploded throughout the day and night, vehicles were overturned, fires were set, including to the historic St. John’s Church, arrests were made and vandals tagged buildings with anti-law-enforcement graffiti. Against this backdrop of fury, instead of providing leadership, Trump has opted to tell tens of millions of people to disbelieve our own eyes.
“The president is derelict in his duty,” former Republican political strategist Steve Schmidt told Brian Williams of MSNBC on Sunday night. “He is divisive. He’s been inciting people. It’s important in moments like this that leaders be able to speak to the people of the country with a voice of moral authority; that they’re able to talk to people calmly, that they have the integrity and trust to calm boiling waters.
“Tonight, we see the absence of that in this country. When you think about Donald Trump, his deficiencies are intellectual, they’re mental, but most importantly, they’re moral.”
In Santa Monica, outside looted stores in one of the most affluent shopping districts in the nation, walls were vandalized with the names of Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice, alongside messages promoting violence against the police.
Bland was 28 when she died in police custody in Texas after she was arrested during a routine traffic stop in 2015. Rice was just 12-years-old when he was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer, who feared for his life because he saw the pre-teen child playing with a toy Airsoft gun in a public park.
The country has descended into chaos as a reaction to overzealous policing. Over the weekend, scenes of cops dressed like soldiers, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and paint balls at demonstrators and journalists -- and in at least one case, onlookers standing on their front porch -- only served to prove the protesters’ point.
“Citizens of the United States should not live like they’re in an occupied territory with a militarized police force,” Schmidt said. “The whole country is opening their eyes to it.”