WASHINGTON | The first protesters flocked to Washington on Saturday, kept at a distance from the White House by imposing fences, to protest racism and police brutality on a day marked by a new ceremony in memory of George Floyd.
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Tens of thousands of people are expected in the American capital under a blazing sun for which should be the biggest mobilization since the beginning of the movement, 9 days ago.
Much of the city center was already cordoned off on Saturday morning, AFP journalists found. More than a dozen collectives, many of them spontaneously trained on social media after the death of George Floyd, have called to invade the streets of the capital.
Major rallies are also on the horizon in many American cities, including New York, Miami, or Minneapolis, where George Floyd died and where the riots began.
Driven by massive mobilization on social media, the movement has spread to London, Pretoria, Paris and even Sydney, where at least 20,000 people demonstrated on Saturday.
After a moving first ceremony in Minneapolis on Thursday, a second tribute will be paid to the 46-year-old African American who was suffocated by a white police officer on Saturday during an arrest on May 25 in this northern city. The new ceremony will take place in Raeford, in his native state of North Carolina.
The controversy increases in the face of the repression of the demonstrations by the police. Several videos showing muscular police interventions against peaceful protesters have emerged in recent days.
In anticipation of the new protests, the Seattle police chief has announced a 30-day ban on the use of tear gas.
Minneapolis police also announced Friday that they are now banning “choke”, a dangerous technique used in 2014 in New York on Eric Garner, another black man who died at the hands of the police, whose cries of “I can’t not breathe ”were also spoken by George Floyd when he died.
“A great day”
New examples of police violence, especially during the crackdown on these sometimes violent protests, fuel the anger that has fueled the protests that have rocked the United States since the death of George Floyd.
Certain demands of the demonstrators, who have been marching for 10 days, have been heard: the police officer who pressed his knee for almost nine minutes on the neck of George Floyd was charged Wednesday with intentional homicide – and no longer involuntary – and the three other officers present charged with aiding and abetting.
But the marches now go beyond this one case, to denounce systemic racism and demand real change.
They have remained peaceful in recent days and several cities, including Washington, Seattle and Los Angeles, have now lifted their curfew. But not New York, where he is kept until Sunday evening. On Friday, several thousand people converged on Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Several demonstrations also took place abroad, notably in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in Ottawa with several thousand demonstrators.
Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called for the restoration of public order, on Friday called again on failed states like New York to call in the National Guard for help.
He caused an uproar when he declared, during an intervention devoted to the surprise drop in unemployment, that it was a “big day” for George Floyd “in terms of equality”, while the president is accused of having so far failed to respond to the evils denounced by the demonstrators.