In apparent disagreement with Donald Trump, the American secretary of defense said on Wednesday that he was opposed to the idea of deploying the army in the big cities of the United States to curb the vast protest movement which is expressed against racism. and police brutality.
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These statements by Mark Esper, the head of the Pentagon, came as the country prepared for another day of protest, after a week of peaceful protests but also unrest, especially at night, with crowds continuing to defy curfews.
The night from Tuesday to Wednesday was quieter, however, with only localized looting following a day of large peaceful marches.
On Monday, as the situation escalated into riots in many cities, President Trump had threatened to deploy the troops “to quickly resolve the problem”, remarks immediately denounced by the opposition which had seen there an autocratic drift.
“I am not in favor of declaring a state of insurrection”, which would allow the republican billionaire to deploy active soldiers in front of American citizens, and not reservists of the National Guard as it is currently the case, Esper said on Wednesday.
In Washington, where the curfew had not yet been extended for Wednesday evening, a large police force was deployed in the early hours to close access to the White House.
The day before, thousands of protesters had quietly protested the death of George Floyd, an American black man killed by a police officer during his arrest on May 25 in Minneapolis, and more generally against racism and police violence in the States -United.
“No justice, no peace” or “Hands up! Don’t shoot! (“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”) Chanted the demonstrators, who were rather young and of all origins.
Many of them stayed after the curfew when the situation was much calmer than the last two days; especially Monday evening when the surrounding area of the White House was evacuated manu militari to allow Donald Trump to go out on the street and pose with a copy of the Bible in front of the small church which faces the center of American executive power.
The president appeared to want to act bravely after press reports that he was hastily sheltered Friday night by the Secret Service in a secure bunker during a demonstration outside his official residence.
“It was false information,” he said on Wednesday morning, explaining that he had indeed been escorted to the bunker but during the day, therefore before the demonstrations, for “inspections”.
In New York, where the curfew was extended until Sunday, the situation was also calmer Tuesday evening, after images of violence that went around the world early in the week.
In the Brooklyn neighborhood, several hundred people have defied orders to stay at home.
Aaron, a 20-year-old student, told AFP he was against the measure. “For them, above all, people must not protest against the murder of a guy on whose neck we put a knee for eight minutes,” he said, referring to the death of George Floyd. .
In total, police have made more than 9,000 arrests across the country in recent days, according to an estimate reported by American media. For acts of violence, degradations, or for non-compliance with the curfew.
In Minneapolis, the epicenter of protests, the situation gradually calmed down after heavy tensions.
AJ Channer, singer of Fire from the Gods, told AFP why he was demonstrating.
“My war is not against the police, my war is against the system that allows this police,” he said.
“This immunity that the police seem to have” while “you are still a human being, you are still an American and therefore you should be prosecuted in full force of the law”.
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd during his arrest, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. The other three officers who let him down have been fired from the police, but are not currently being prosecuted.