Socialist Worker

Rebellion against police murder tears through United States

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2707

Protesters in Memphis demand justice for George Lloyd

Protesters in Memphis demand justice for George Lloyd (Pic: PA)


A rebellion against police brutality and institutional racism is gaining momentum as it roars across the United States. It is driven by anger at a system filled by inequality and racism.

On the fourth night of furious mobilisations against the police murder of George Floyd, protesters laid siege to the White House and protests swept across multiple states.

He was killed by cop Derek Chauvin, who pinned his neck to the ground, despite George pleading, “I can’t breathe.”

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Protesters have raged through the streets in Minneapolis, and crowds are getting bigger every night. 

“It’s been a volatile situation and people are scared,” Minneapolis resident Todd told Socialist Worker. 

“Look at all the peaceful protests that have gone on over the years and how little they’ve done for black and brown people across the country.”

Protesters have been met with further police brutality, and a man was killed in Detroit, Michigan after shots were fired at protesters. 

In a desperate attempt to force people off the streets, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey imposed an 8pm curfew. 

“I honestly thought the 8pm curfew would curtail things but it was almost more intense,” an eyewitness told Socialist Worker. 

On Donald Trump’s front lawn protesters battled with secret service officers and the police, forcing the building to be locked down. 

One protester shouted at the secret service, “Every last one of you knows a crooked cop and you do nothing because you’re fucking cowards.”

Trump has whipped up the prospect of more violence from police, tweeting earlier in the week, “When looting starts, shooting starts”.

On Friday night he tweeted, “Big crowd, professionally organised, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. 

“If they had they would have been greeted and with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many secret service agents just waiting for action.”

Regain

In Minneapolis, the state government ordered around 500 members of the National Guard on to the streets in an attempt to regain control.

State governor Tim Walz promised on Saturday morning that he would triple the number of National Guard deployed.

“This is not about George’s death,” he claimed. 

“This is not about inequalities that are real, this is about chaos.”

There were also heroic scenes of resistance in Atlanta, Georgia, where protesters shot at cops with BB guns and threw bricks, bottles and knives. They smashed police cars and chanted, “no justice, no peace”.

In New York, police officers attacked crowds with batons and aggressively pushed protesters around as they made arrests.

One eyewitness described how a young woman was violently thrown to the floor by a cop, causing her to “black out and have a violent seizure.”

“Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, who was protesting in Manhattan. 

“This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”

In San Jose, California, protesters fought back after cops attacked them with flash bang grenades and rubber bullets. 

Right wingers, liberal politicians and media pundits were all quick to condemn the rioting and looting that has spread across the country.

Riots scare those in charge because they show the power that ordinary people can have when they take action. 

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So state governments line up to condemn protesters—yet they rule over a system that with racist violence at its core. 

“Don’t talk to us about looting, you are the looters,” said civil rights activist Tamika Mallory. 

“Don’t talk to me about the land of the ‘free for all’, this country has not been free for black people,” she said. 

Workers and trade unionists are also lending their support to demand justice for George Floyd. 

A New York bus driver got off his bus to huge cheers from activists as he refused to drive arrested protesters to the police station. 

His Transport Workers Union tweeted, “Bus operators do not work for the NYPD. We transport the working families of New York.”

It called on bus drivers to “refuse to transport arrested protesters.”

And in Las Vegas, hospitality workers from the Culinary Workers Union were protesting bosses’ plans to reopen casinos of 4 June. 

Trade unionists joined with protesters occupying the roads, and said, “We stand with Black Lives Matter. No justice. No peace.”

The movement is drawing taking on other cases on police brutality. Some protesters held banners with the names of other black people murdered by the cops. 

And in Louisville, protests over the murder of a Breonna Taylor continued for a second night. Breonna was shot dead in her own home by police officers who gave no warning they were in the building. 

With the US in flames, the state will desperately try any means to stem people’s anger—and smash their movement. 


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