The police used dazzling grenades, tear gas and pepper spray against demonstrators who marched in several cities in the United States, Saturday, July 26, against racism, but also against the deployment of federal agents ordered by President Donald Trump.
Protests against racism and police brutality – sparked by the death in Minneapolis of African-American George Floyd in late May – continue as Donald Trump faces an increasingly difficult battle for re-election and is campaigning under the theme ” Law and order “.
Protesters marched in Austin, Texas, as well as Louisville, Kentucky, New York, Omaha, Oakland and Los Angeles, California, as well as Richmond, Virginia, where riot police launched chemical agents on a march of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to US media.
“The feds, out now”
In Seattle, in the northwestern state of Washington, the night from Saturday to Sunday was particularly eventful. The sound of detonations echoed in some streets, and smoke rose from an area where protesters set fire to trailers at a construction site of a juvenile detention center, according to Agence France -Press (AFP). Some of the protesters tried to shield themselves from the pepper spray with umbrellas. Seattle Police said 45 people were arrested during these “Riots”, report it Seattle Times.
In parallel, clashes between demonstrators and police again marked the night from Friday to Saturday in the city of Portland, Oregon (northwest), scene for nearly two months of these rallies. Protesters attempted to knock down a fence outside federal court, AFP found in the city, the epicenter of the protest. Law enforcement officials responded with heavy tear gas fire and dispersed the crowd.
The movement escalated in Portland when federal police arrived in mid-July. Daniel Douglas, a 31-year-old computer scientist, carried a backpack with the inscription “The feds out now”. “We don’t want Feds from outside our city to occupy our city and terrorize our communities”, he explained.
In numerous videos posted on social media, we see these agents, in paramilitary clothing and without visible identification badges, using unmarked vehicles to arrest demonstrators, stoking the embers of the protest. An official investigation was opened by the Justice Department on Thursday into the controversial action by federal police officers there.
“Disproportionate use of force”
The UN has warned of a “Disproportionate use” of force against anti-racist demonstrators. “The peaceful demonstrations that have taken place in cities in the United States, such as Portland, must be able to continue”, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Elizabeth Throssel said on Friday. Protesters and journalists covering the protest must be able to do so without risking “Arbitrary arrests or detention, nor be subjected to a disproportionate use of force”.
The Mayor of Portland himself, Ted Wheeler, spoke of a “Disproportionate reaction” federal agents, after being sprayed with tear gas Wednesday night as he went to meet protesters. “I haven’t seen anything that justifies” this use of tear gas.
But President Trump on Wednesday announced that he will be beefing up federal agents in Chicago and other cities to protect federal buildings and, more generally, to ” restore order “.
The Democratic mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City and Washington sent a letter to the justice minister opposing this “Unilateral deployment” federal forces. “Under no circumstances will I let Donald Trump’s soldiers come to Chicago and terrorize our residents”, tweeted the mayor of the city, Lori Lightfoot.
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