Thousands Take to Washington Streets in Protest Against US Police Violence
By Staff, Reuters
Thousands of protesters marched in Washington on Saturday as rallies across the United States to protest the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody enter a 12th day and officials move to rein in law enforcement tactics.
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The killing has triggered protests against racism and police brutality in cities and smaller communities nationwide, as well as demonstrations by supporters around the world.
Some activists have called on social media for a million people to attend Saturday’s rally in the US capital. Local media has predicted tens of thousands will attend.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Delonno Carroll, a 27-year-old construction worker, said he had come out to demonstrate because he “simply cannot” sit and watch from home.
“Our voices need to be heard,” Carroll said. “No longer can we have a man call out for his mom on the streets and have to go through what George Floyd did.”
Six buses unloaded several hundred uniformed military personnel, most wearing body armor and carrying shields, at the White House grounds early on Saturday, a Reuters photographer said. Military Humvees were parked on tree-lined city streets.
Police — who drew criticism for firing smoke grenades and chemical irritant “pepper balls” before charging into peaceful protesters near the White House on Tuesday — were out in smaller numbers around the marchers on Saturday afternoon and generally in a more relaxed posture, wearing patrol uniforms rather than body armor and helmets.
By noon, about 3,000 demonstrators had gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and about the same number were near the White House, DC police reported. Another group of protesters was in front of the US Capitol.
Some passing motorists honked their horns in support, and some city residents came out on the street to hand out water and snacks to offer protesters relief from the sweltering heat.
Hundreds of demonstrators who marched past the George Washington University Hospital chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” “We March for hope, not for hate,” and “I can’t breathe!”
That last chant echoed protests from New York in 2014, when Eric Garner died in police custody after an officer used a banned chokehold on him. Garner and Floyd are part of a long line of black men and women killed by white officers.