(new: National Guard, 5th paragraph, Powell, penultimate paragraph)
WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated peacefully in the United States against racism, discrimination and police violence. In Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and other cities, people took to the streets in a relaxed mood. They demanded justice for the African American George Floyd, who was killed in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just two weeks ago. Only very few were reported. In front of the White House in Washington there were again peaceful protests on Saturday evening – which are also against the US President Donald Trump and directed his policies.
Trump actually wanted to travel to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, it should be his first overnight excursion since the Corona crisis. US media reported that the trip was canceled. Trump was already criticized two weeks ago when he died on the golf course, while the number of corona deaths in the US was approaching the 100,000 mark. Trump is now back on the golf course while protests are taking place across the country – that would surely not have given a good picture.
So the Republican spent the weekend in the locked White House while thousands of people were raised in front of the new barricades that his government had erected at Lafayette Park. On Monday evening, Trump’s government violently drove demonstrators out of Lafayette Park, and immediately thereafter the president posed in front of a church with a Bible for the cameras. This fueled anger across the country – including Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Bowser had the intersection at the church named “Black Lives Matter”. On the 16th street, which leads to the square in front of the White House, she also had “Black Lives Matter” brushed in huge letters – in German, roughly: “Black lives count”. At the same time, she asked Trump to withdraw the military from her city. Trump gave free rein to his frustration on Twitter: “Mayor Bowser is extremely incompetent and in no way qualified to run an important city like Washington,” he said.
On Sunday, Bowser was able to score a point in her escalating conflict with Trump: the president announced on Twitter that the National Guard – which is part of the US Army reserve – would be withdrawn from the capital. Bowser had asked for this, even if Trump didn’t mention it, of course. He argued that “everything is under perfect control” in the capital. On Saturday evening, “far fewer demonstrators appeared than expected”.
Washington has become a center of protests against racism and police violence in the United States – also because many protesters consider Trump to be an important part of the problem. “He is blatantly racist,” says a Weier on Saturday, whose sign reads “No Justice, No Peace – and Fuck Trump”. Trump’s statement that he supports non-violent demonstrations is hot air. “He said that when the plundering begins, shooting starts. I think this is encouragement to violence, not suppression.”
The man does not want to give his name, nor does he want a black fellow demonstrator who is of a very similar opinion. Trump is “the biggest racist in the country, he is the one who encourages racists,” said this protester. He points to Trump’s statements after a right-wing radical march in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 that killed a counter-demonstrator. Trump then caused an outcry of outrage when he said there were “very good people” on both sides.
White lawyer Andrew Tauber is also demonstrating on 16th Street. It bears two signs that read “No Troops on US Streets” and “Lafayette Park is Not Far from Tian’anmen Square” – Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989 was China’s People’s Liberation Army against peaceful ones Protesters acted, hundreds of people died. Tauber says, “I think the raid on Lafayette Park a few days ago is really a sign of the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine the institutions of American democracy.”
The park’s rumors and threats to use the U.S. military against demonstrators could backfire for Trump. Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, wrote in The Atlantic magazine that Trump was the first president he met, not trying to unite America, but trying to divide the country for three years. Trump’s ex-chief of staff John Kelly joined the criticism and said, “I think we need to take a closer look at who we choose.”
Several former US Secretary of Defense warned Trump against using the military in a way that would undermine American constitutional rights. On Sunday, former Foreign Minister Colin Powell joined the chorus of critical voices. Trump is moving away from the constitution and will be “dangerous to our democracy, dangerous to our country,” Powell told CNN. The Republican announced that he would vote for Trump’s democratic challenger Joe Biden in the November presidential election.
While the protests do not abate, Trump appears increasingly helpless. At a performance in the Weien Haus on Friday, he talked about positive unemployment and called for equal treatment of all citizens by the police. And Trump said, “Hopefully George is looking down now and saying that this is a great thing that is happening in our country.” The president spoke of a “great day” for Floyd and for all Americans. A sign at the demonstration in Washington on Saturday read: “George Floyd is dead. He will never have a” great day “again.” / Cy / jbz / DP / he