After ten days of rallies, in some 150 American cities, in tribute to George Floyd and against racial inequalities, the police repression was the subject of severe criticism and controversy. Several videos showing violent interventions against peaceful demonstrators have indeed emerged in recent days.
The most recent, broadcast Thursday evening, was filmed in the city of Buffalo, in the far north of New York State. We see a 75 year old man alone facing dozens of police. One of them pushes him, he falls back, his head hits the ground, blood flows from his ear. When he seems unconscious, none of the police help him.
In Buffalo, Thursday…
An initial official statement, which claimed that the protester had "stumbled and fallen", aroused indignation. Two police officers involved in the incident were then suspended. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday called for their dismissal.
Thursday, the mayor of New York was in turmoil. Bill de Blasio, who imposed a week-long curfew on Tuesday after scenes of looting in the heart of Manhattan, was booed by thousands at a ceremony for George Floyd in Brooklyn.
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In New York on Wednesday…
Reason: he did not condemn a charge of the police intervened the previous evening against peaceful demonstrators. Worse, he assured that the police were showing great "restraint". In an editorial, the New York Times called him to "open your eyes."
At the other end of the country, in Washington State, the mayor of Tacoma asked for the dismissal of police officers implicated in the death of a black man on March 3. A new video which had just been broadcast - and which we have chosen not to publish - showed them chasing the victim, already flat on the ground by the road.
In Indianapolis, Midwest, police are investigating after the publication of another video showing police officers exiting batons and pepper spray during the arrest of a protester on Sunday.
In Washington, the capital, where police violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration near the White House on Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday called on Donald Trump to withdraw the federal forces deployed in his city. On an artery leading to the seat of the American executive, she had the slogan "Black Lives Matter" painted in capital letters.
Justice Minister William Barr admitted on Thursday that there were "long standing" problems with the way American police treated the black minority. He also vigorously defended law enforcement after what he called a "crescendo" of violence in Washington last weekend.
These recent examples of police violence can only fuel the massive movement that is shaking the United States. All the more so since certain demands have been heard: the white police officer who pressed his knee for almost nine minutes on George Floyd's neck was charged Wednesday with intentional homicide - and no longer involuntary - and the three other officers present indicted of complicity.
After ten days of protests in some 150 cities, the looting at the start of the movement stopped, and the protests of the past two days were largely peaceful. Several cities, including Washington, Seattle and Los Angeles, have lifted their curfew, except in New York, where it will be maintained until Sunday evening.
Donald Trump, who continues to call for the restoration of public order, on Friday again called on states that have not done so, such as New York, to call in the National Guard for reinforcement. But five months before the presidential election, he surprisingly linked the protests to his hopes for a recovery in the economy, after a surprise drop in unemployment in May.
"I hope George (Floyd) looks at us from above, thinking that what is happening in the country is great. It's a great day for him, it's a great day for everyone, "said the President. A statement that left all observers puzzled.