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A weekend of protest – and destruction – and the week ahead

Spurred by outrage over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, pressing his knee into his neck, while the crowd around them – and Floyd himself – cried out that he couldn’t breathe, has erupted the country into violence, coast to coast, over the past 3 nights.

A protest march in Minneapolis expanded to St. Paul in Minnesota. Peaceful protests became violent protests – with destruction on a level not seen in decades in the country. Simultaneously, 30 cities erupted in almost identical disruptions, from slogans to technique of attacking the police, and then stores and, in at least two locations, police stations.

Minneapolis was able to get control over most of the violence after the first night, as the city’s police and the state’s national guard developed and implemented a plan to do so.

Death and injury reports are building. A federal police officer guarding a building in Oakland was assassinated by people shooting from a car. A journalist lost the vision in one eye. Several people were run over by cars charging into non-moving crowds.

Targets for looting and destruction are as diverse as Neiman Marcus to tire stores, restaurants just about to open after the coronavirus pandemic, black-owned small businesses and courthouses, historic monuments and police cars, and local supermarkets and drug stores, with no selection other than destruction.

Looting photos included setting items afire, to rolling out upright vacuum cleaners, and filling shopping carts with linens and pillows. In New York City, high end shops have been emptied of their items. Downtown LA protests have moved into the boutique shopping areas of elegant shops.

More than 1,600 people were arrested on Saturday night, alone, with 5,000 National Guard troops being called up, curfews, states of emergency, and watchful waits on what will happen night after night. While Sunday night reports are still streaming in, it’s clear that those numbers are only increasing while cities try to gain control.

The issue of infiltration of local citizen groups holding peaceful demonstrations by domestic terrorist groups such as ANTIFA was heightened as government investigations using technology as familiar to us as coronavirus contact tracing using cell phones and social media tracing led the president to call for a designation of the ANTIFA group as a terrorist organization. Such designation would mean DOJ resources would come into place and federal charges could ensue.

In Rhode Island, a peaceful protest started at Burnside Park in Providence and made its way to the RI State House on Saturday. As the event drew to a close and the crowd dispersed, dark purple graffiti was left behind on the marble steps, door panels were destroyed and marred, leaving behind thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. The damage was done while a considerable presence of the RI State Police and other law enforcement was also at the RI State House steps. No arrests were made. That night, the State House was aglow with messages of support for the original protest movement.

Three separate events were held in Boston Sunday night, with an intense police presence struggling to maintain safety. Looting, car fires, and accidents began as soon as nighttime came. 21 police cruisers were set on fire. Tear gas was used and the National Guard were called in. Both the state house and the Boston Common had vandalism. Posters for events being organized for later in the week are starting to appear – organized by Violence in Boston, Inc. and Black Lives Matter, Boston.

Governor Baker said the “violent actions, looting and property destruction was criminal and cowardly – and distracted from the powerful statement made today by thousands of Massachusetts residents.”

This week in Rhode Island: Another “Black Lives Matter” – Justice for George – event is being planned by youth – with “adult advisement”, according to a young organizer, for Friday, June 5th at 4:30pm in Kennedy Plaza in Providence. RINewsToday spoke to organizers who described the event as the real Black Lives Matter protest, by “brown and black youth” . They are “being advised” by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (https://www.ricagv.org), with some other adults “advising us”.

A selection of photos, leading off with an example from Michigan where a local sheriff joined with the protesters – “Let’s Walk!”

Police officers kneel during a rally in Coral Gables, Florida
Media photographer, Matthew Gregoire, in his PPE – but not for coronavirus, to cover the RI State House protests

Photo top of page: Identified as The Womxn Project https://thewomxnproject.org/

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