Demonstrations across the United States against police racism continued on Wednesday in intensity, and even increased in some cities, more than a week after the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. In Los Angeles, a massive peaceful rally was seen in front of the City Attorney’s Office, while its officials announced changes in their policies. In New York, thousands of people demonstrated again on the Brooklyn Bridge. And in the country’s capital, Washington DC, threats from President Donald Trump and the use of force the previous day did not prevent a large protest from reaching the doors of the White House again. The violence of the first days, however, has been reduced to anecdote.
Several factors are preventing new episodes of violence and looting that have been seen in cities like Los Angeles. First, the police have begun to stop worrying so much about the protesters. In days gone by, it was possible to see how organized gangs of robbers took advantage of the fact that hundreds of policemen were monitoring concentrations of a few hundred people to hit a few blocks. In addition, the protesters themselves are denouncing any violent indication within the protests. And finally, the curfews are working in part, as the police detain anyone who takes longer than necessary to leave the demonstration, often intentionally and peacefully.
A sign of the brownout was the delay of the curfew in Los Angeles on Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced that it would be the last day of the curfew, if the night was kept without violence. Around midnight there were small groups following their protest around the city, but there were no episodes of mugging or fighting.
The most notable thing about the absence of violence is that the city that has carried the stigma of racial unrest for three decades has experienced two of the most numerous protests so far this Wednesday. One of them toured West Hollywood and the other was a rally in front of the City Hall and the City Attorney’s Office, to transfer the pressure to the political leaders of the police. Local television estimated the influx at about 10,000 people.
In the midst of the demonstration, the mayor and police supervisors held a press conference to announce changes in the department and security policy. Among them, cut between 100 and 150 million dollars the police budget to dedicate it to social programs in predominantly black communities. The unprecedented solidarity of the entire society with the Black Lives Matter movement (black lives matter) was already achieving concrete things.
In New York, the routine of protests on the third day under curfew returned on Wednesday, with the shops in the most emblematic streets of Manhattan covered with wooden planks to prevent looting. The strategy of the mayor, Bill de Blasio, to advance the curfew and order a somewhat harsher attitude from the police had paid off, with far fewer looting than on Monday and three hundred detainees, according to the police, half than the day before. This Wednesday, the rain was an added factor that foreshadowed a calmer night.
During the afternoon the peaceful tone of the protests was repeated, with something new: a large group of protesters came to perform a sit-in next to the mayor’s official residence, the Gracie mansion, on the Upper East Side, which was protected by metal barriers. and police officers. Speeches were made, there was silence, and the crowd dispersed before eight.
At that time the curfew arrived and, like Tuesday, there were many who remained on the street. With the difference that, on this occasion, according to local media reports, the police did arrest people for continuing on the street after the cut-off time. Agents also blocked the passage on the Brooklyn Bridge, where moments of tension were experienced on Tuesday, to groups of protesters coming from the other side of the river.
Between the Capitol and the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue, a sea of people lying on the street cried out again on Wednesday: “I can’t breathe.” Protesters brought George Floyd’s last words to the heart of America’s power. The screams silenced the incessant sound of the helicopters. The protesters flooded for the sixth consecutive day the main arteries of the capital to say that “the life of blacks matters.”
The deployment of the Army, the National Guard, the local police, anti-drug agents and a long list of members of security teams collides with the peace with which protesters in Washington have expressed themselves in recent days. Soldiers carry their grenades, pepper spray cans, and, of course, their weapons. After two nights with a curfew starting at 7:00 p.m., Democratic Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced that she was delayed until 23:00 this Wednesday. Long after that hour, there were still peaceful protesters on the street.
More and more buildings in the city center, such as hotels, pharmacies, banks or liquor stores, have covered their facades with insulation boards to prevent looting or fires that were seen in the first nights of protests. This Wednesday there were no physical barriers separating the police lines from the protesters, such as the bars raised on other occasions. Activist groups again reached Lafayette Square, across from the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Trump Hotel to show their discontent with the police abuse of African Americans.