Minneapolis: George Floyd's brother pleaded for peace in the streets Monday, saying violence is “not going to bring my brother back at all,” while President Donald Trump berated most of the nation's governors as “weak” for not cracking down harder on the lawlessness that has convulsed cities from coast to coast.
The competing messages one conciliatory, one bellicose came as the U.S. braced for another round of disorder at a time when the country is already buckling because of the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused.
“We are a country that is scared,” said Sam Page, county executive in St. Louis County, Missouri, where the city of Ferguson has been synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement since the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, during a confrontation with a white officer. “We are country that is angry.
And we are a country that is holding out for the promise of justice for all.” In Minneapolis, Floyd's brother, Terrence, made an emotional plea for peace at the site of where Floyd was pinned to pavement by an officer who put his knee on the handcuffed black's man neck for several minutes.
“Let's switch it up ya'll. Let's switch it up. Do this peacefully, please," Terrence Floyd said.
The crowd chanted, “What's his name? George Floyd!” and “One down, three to go!” in reference to the four officers involved in Floyd's arrest. Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding that his colleagues be prosecuted, too. All four were fired.
“If I'm not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing?” he said. “You all are doing nothing. Because that's not going to bring my brother back at all.”
The country has been beset by angry demonstrations for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the U.S. since the 1960s. Spurred in part by Floyd's death, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police.
While police in some places tried to calm tensions by kneeling or marching in solidarity, officers elsewhere were accused of treating protesters with the same kind of heavy-handed tactics that contributed to the unrest in the first place. Cities struggled to keep police in line.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an officer was suspended for pushing a kneeling woman to the ground during a protest. In Atlanta, two officers were fired after bashing in the window of a car and using a stun gun on the occupants. In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters, knocking two people to the ground.
At least 4,400 people have been arrested for offenses such as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.
Police officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing a curfew in Louisville, Kentucky, killed a man early Monday when they returned fire after someone in a large group shot at them, police said. In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence over the weekend, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.
Trump told the nation's governors in a video conference that they they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard members. “Most of you are weak,” he said.