Clashes outside White House as more US cities under curfew

by AFP/ pic by AFP

WASHINGTON • Police fired tear gas outside the White House late on Sunday as anti-racism protestors again took to the streets to voice fury at police brutality and major US cities were put under curfew to suppress rioting.

With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protestors and police, and fresh outbreaks of looting.

Violent clashes erupted repeatedly in a small park next to the White House, with authorities using tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse crowds who lit several large fires and damaged property.

Local US leaders appealed to citizens to give constructive outlet to their rage over the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, while night-time curfews were imposed in cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Houston.

Wall Street stocks dipped in early trading yesterday (at press time) as markets digested a weekend of civil rights protest as the country reopened from coronavirus shutdowns.

About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 25,224.61, down 0.6%. The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4% to 3,032.19, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.2% to 9,467.69.

One closely watched protest was outside the state capitol in Minneapolis’ twin city of St Paul, where several thousand people gathered before marching down a highway.

“We have black sons, black brothers, black friends, we don’t want them to die.

“We are tired of this happening, this generation is not having it, we are tired of oppression,” said Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old black woman who joined the protest.

Hundreds of police and National Guard troops were deployed ahead of the protest.

At one point, some of the protestors who had reached a bridge were forced to scramble for cover when a truck drove at speed after having apparently breached a barricade.

The driver was taken to hospital after the protestors hauled him from the vehicle, although there were no immediate reports of other casualties. The New York Times said he was later arrested. There were other large-scale protests on Sunday night, including in New York and Miami.

Washington’s mayor ordered a curfew from 11pm until 6am, as a report in the New York Times said that US President Donald Trump had been rushed by Secret Service agents into an underground bunker at the White House last Friday night during an earlier protest.

Governor Tim Walz has mobilised all of Minnesota’s National Guard troops — the state guard’s biggest mobilisation ever — to help restore order and extended a curfew for a third night on Sunday.

The Department of Defence said around 5,000 National Guard troops had been mobilised in 15 states, as well as the capital Washington, with another 2,000 on standby.

The widespread resort to uniformed National Guards units is rare, and evoked disturbing memories of the rioting in US cities in 1967 and 1968 in a turbulent time of protest over racial and economic disparities.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Trump, who has often urged police to use tough tactics, was not helping matters.

“We are beyond a tipping point in this country, and his rhetoric only enflames that,” she said on CBS.