“You are not allies”: protests try to detach themselves from looting and violence

A dozen jeans designed in a Galician town are blown up on Broadway at Vesey Street in South Manhattan. A group of kids have broken the discipline of the demonstration, have torn off the boards that protect a Zara store, have broken the door and come out with their hands full of clothes. Most are very young, almost children. Someone, older, methodically fills a sports bag with the stolen. There are races, confusion, notices that the police are coming. A young man tosses his jeans into the dark sky, like confetti. There are also clashes. What the fuck are you doing? You are not allies of our cause, “a protester, about thirty years old, rebukes the looters. Grab one who tries to escape, they get on the ground, a riot forms as the author of the tackle continues to roar “You are not an ally of ‘Black Lives Matter’!”, In reference to the movement against police abuse and racism structural against the black minority. In a couple of minutes, the scene is flooded with police, arrests occur. An older man is handcuffed, face down, on the ground, with a riot officer on him. It is any kind of arrest. But it is impossible not to remember the image of George Floyd, the black man who died at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. Handcuffed, face down, held by two other officers, the cop – Derek Chauvin, now charged with third-degree murder and reckless manslaughter – suffocated his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The latest tragedy of police abuses against the black minority has raised protests in all major US cities. First in Minneapolis and then throughout the country. Violence, vandalism, and looting have accompanied the protests and have attracted attention, inside and outside the United States. In recent days, with the imposition of curfews – since Martin Luther King’s death in 1968, so many had not been enacted at the same time – violent riots have lost steam.

In New York, the curfew was brought forward on Tuesday at eight in the afternoon, three hours earlier than the previous day, where looting multiplied. The police presence had multiplied. But, on the street, in the half-dozen protests that meandered yesterday in Manhattan, and in others in Brooklyn and other districts of the city, the intention to separate from violence and looting is evident.

“We don’t want your peace”
“We march, we don’t loot!” Chants a group descending down Varick Street to the south. Shortly before, another small group has broken the windows of a GAP store on Broadway with 8th Street. Sometimes it seems like it’s just a teenage entertainment: a tadpole emerges from the broken glass with a mannequin under his arm. Others, the product of rage: “We don’t want your peace! You have to fight with fire!” Shouts a protester before elbowing the window of a Post office van.

Late in the morning in Brooklyn, another group is concentrated at the confluence of the two main avenues of the district, Flatbush and Atlantic. The usual slogans are chanted and speeches are improvised. “We thought the trip was over in 1968,” says one man on the median, referring to the civil rights movement. «We are very far from arriving. And the whites have to be with us so that you can see how we suffer abuse every day ». Another speech calls for an uprising against the police. “Peaceful protests!” Chants a good part of the group in response. Many are aware that burning police cars and smashed businesses have diluted their message. Pending how it unfolds this Thursday morning, the intensity of the riots has waned in the past two nights in New York. Also in the rest of the country, although incidents were recorded in cities such as Atlanta, Milwaukee, Portland or the capital, Washington, although much less serious than in the previous days.

The US president, however, prefers to focus on violence and encouraged New York authorities to ask for federal aid. “He’s totally out of control,” Donald Trump said Tuesday night about the city he grew up in, complaining that the New York police were not allowed to “do their magic.” Yesterday, he continued to call for the police to tighten up their actions and defended the deployment of the army.

Trump has defended that the violence is due to the “antifa” groups – radical anti-fascists – and the extreme left, a speech that benefits him politically in the face of the elections next November, where he is playing to remain in office for another four years. In the demonstrations these days in New York, it has become clear that there are “anti-fa” elements that have participated in the protests, but it is not clear if they are the main engine of the violent riots, which also shows that outraged and opportunistic youth participate. . An internal report dated June 1 from the Department of Homeland Security to which Reuters had access ensures that the contribution of the “antifa” and other similar extremist groups is limited and that most of the violence is due to opportunists, such as young people who They were wearing jeans from a Zara. .

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