George Floyd: Trump threatens to send in troops to end unrest

President Donald Trump has threatened to send in the military to stop growing civil unrest in the US over the death of a black man in police custody

In more than 75 cities protests have taken place over what happened to George Floyd
In more than 75 cities protests have taken place over what happened to George Floyd

President Donald Trump has threatened to send in the military to stop growing civil unrest in the US over the death of a black man in police custody.

He said if cities and states failed to control the protests and "defend their residents" he would deploy the army and solve the problem for them.

Protests over the death of George Floyd have escalated over the past week. Meanwhile, four police have been shot and injured in Missouri, and two people reported killed amid unrest in Chicago. The circumstances of both incidents are unclear.

Dozens of major cities imposed overnight curfews on Monday night. New York City is under lockdown on Tuesday and Washington DC has extended its curfew for another two nights.

The protests began after a video showed George Floyd, 46, being arrested in Minneapolis on 25 May and a white police officer continuing to kneel on his neck even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three other police officers have been fired.

The Floyd case has reignited deep-seated anger over police killings of black Americans and racism. It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement.

The president delivered a brief address from the White House Rose Garden, amid the sound of a nearby protest being dispersed.

Trump said "all Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd" but said his memory must not be "drowned out by an angry mob".

He described the scenes of looting and violence in the capital on Sunday as "a total disgrace" before pledging to bolster the city's defences.

Trump then turned his attention to the national protests, which he blamed on "professional anarchists" and the anti-fascist group Antifa. On Sunday, he said he intended to designate Antifa as a terrorist organisation.

He called on cities and states to deploy the National Guard, the reserve military force that can be called on to intervene in domestic emergencies, "insufficient numbers that we dominate the streets".

Trump said if a city or state refused to take the actions that are necessary, then he’d deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. "I want the organisers of this terror to be on notice that you'll face severe criminal penalties," he said.

Trump was swiftly criticised by senior Democrats. Joe Biden, the party's presumptive presidential candidate, said Mr Trump "[was] using the American military against the American people".

In more than 75 cities protests have taken place over what happened to George Floyd. Streets that were deserted days ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, now filled with demonstrators marching shoulder to shoulder.

Reactions across the world

Over the weekend demonstrators gathered in London, Berlin and Auckland, among other cities in solidarity with the US crowds.

  • London: Protesters rallied in Trafalgar Square on Sunday morning, in defiance of Britain's lockdown rules which prohibit large gatherings. Some participants marched to the US embassy in the capital's Nine Elms area
  • Berlin: Crowds gathered in Berlin in front of the US embassy on Saturday and Sunday. Participants wore face masks and carried signs declaring "Black lives matter" and "Justice can't wait".
  • France: Activists wearing black clothing and face masks took a knee and held up signs reading "I can't breathe," "We are all George Floyd" and "Racism chokes us" in Paris on Monday.
  • Denmark: Chants of "no justice, no peace" were heard in the streets of Copenhagen on Sunday, as protesters marched over Floyd's death. Some rallied outside the Danish capital's US embassy.
  • Italy: In Milan, crowds held a flash mob near the city's US consulate on Thursday.
  • Syria: Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun created a mural depicting George Floyd in the town of Binnish, in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, on Monday.
  • Brazil: People protested outside the Guanabara Palace, the home of the state government, in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, while in Sao Paulo, some brought signs showing solidarity with the US protests to an existing demonstration against President Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Ireland: Demonstrators streamed down the streets of Dublin's city centre on Monday, chanting "I can't breathe," while a smaller protest was held in the suburb of Blanchardstown.
  • New Zealand: Protests over Floyd's killing were held in multiple locations across New Zealand on Monday. Thousands held demonstrations and vigils in cities including Auckland and Christchurch, while crowds braved the rain to hold a vigil in Wellington.
  • Canada: Several protests were also held in Canada during the weekend, as crowds rallied against alleged police brutality. On Saturday, demonstrators in Toronto chanted slogans associated with the Back Lives Matter movement. And on Sunday, thousands gathered in Vancouver in a show of solidarity with US protesters.
  • Poland: Residents in Krakow, Poland, gathered at the city's US consulate on Sunday evening. Some lit candles in a tribute to Floyd.
  • Australia: A large group gathered in Perth's Central Business District (CBD) on Monday to hold a Black Lives Matter protest.

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