Protests against systemic racism and police brutality reignite in multiple cities across the US

Protests against systemic racism and police brutality reignite in multiple cities across the US
Source: The New York Times

On Saturday, protests in multiple cities in the United States reignited as people marched in solidarity with Portland protesters.

The protests come after videos of federal officers arresting demonstrators in Portland, Oregon and driving them away in unmarked vans last weekend incited a firestorm of criticism from politicians and activists. The federal troops were sent into the city by the Trump administration.

Some of the most intense demonstrations took place in Seattle, Washington on Saturday.

Roughly 2,000 protesters marched in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in the city with signs that read, “Feds, Go Home” and “We are living in a Police State” as they chanted, “No Justice, No Peace.”

A group of protesters then set fire to a construction site that was being built into a detention facility for youth. The site has seen many protests over the years by groups calling for an end to youth incarceration.

Protesters also smashed the windows of a Starbucks coffee shop that has been targeted because of its donations to the Seattle Police Foundation.

The Seattle Police department stated in a news release that protesters also threw explosives, bottles, balloons filled with liquid and shot mortar fireworks at the authorities. 21 officers were injured, with one being treated at a hospital for a knee injury.

Police officers rushed into the crowds, knocking protesters to the ground. They fired pepper spray and flash grenades at protesters in an effort to disperse them. When a woman suffered severe injuries due to a grenade, police officers shoved away demonstrators who tried to help her.

The Seattle Police Department said on Twitter, “As of 10pm: Police have made 45 arrests in connection with today’s riot in the East Precinct. 21 officers sustained injuries after being struck by bricks, rocks mortars/other explosives. Most officers were able to return to duty. One was treated at a hospital for a knee injury.”

In addition to the federal response to the protests in Portland, the clashes in Seattle also come after a US District Judge halted a new Seattle law that would have forbidden the use of pepper spray, blast bottles and other harmful weapons by police officers.

The halt was issued early Saturday at the request of the federal government after the law was passed unanimously by the Seattle City Council.

Demonstrations also took place in Portland Saturday night and continued into early Sunday morning, marking the 59th day of protests in the city.

Protesters, including nurses, mothers and fathers gathered against the fence of the city’s federal courthouse. The courthouse has become a regular site of demonstrations, as the federal officers deployed by the Trump administration have assembled there.

Shortly after 1 a.m., officers declared the incident a riot after protesters toppled the fence around the courthouse. Federal agents fired tear gas at the protesters to disperse them.

Police officers who tried to control the demonstrations also stated that they had fireworks thrown at them.

“Portland is leading. They’re showing what it looks like to stay in the streets despite police oppression, despite the federal forces being sent in. This kind of energy is actually what’s needed,” Chantelle Hershberger, a Los Angeles organizer with Refuse Fascism, told The New York Times.

On Saturday, protests also erupted in other cities across the US, such as Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, California and Aurora, Colorado, among others.

In Austin, a man was shot and killed on Saturday during the demonstrations. According to Austin Police spokesperson, Katrina Ratcliff, someone fired at the man from inside a vehicle. That person has been detained by the authorities.

“All I know is that someone dying while protesting is horrible. Our city is shaken and, like so many in our community, I’m heartbroken and stunned,” Austin mayor Stever Adler said in a statement.

In Los Angeles, police officers fired projectiles at protesters in a clash at the city’s federal courthouse downtown. The protesters responded by smashing windows and throwing water bottles at the officers.

The protests in Aurora also turned intense after someone drove a car into a group of demonstrators, according to the Aurora police department. The officers are uncertain if the car hit any protesters.

According to the officers, one of the protesters “decided to fire off a weapon,” injuring another person. The victim is in the hospital in a stable condition.

The protests in Aurora were not only in solidarity with Portland protesters, they were also organized to demand justice for Elijah McClain, a Black man, who was put in a chokehold and killed last summer by three white police officers in the same city.

Protests against systemic racism ignited nationwide after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed on June 25 by Derek Chauvin, a white former police officer who pushed his knee down Floyd’s neck for eight minutes 46 seconds in Minneapolis.

The protests in most cities across the US have declined in intensity the past few weeks. However, after the federal response to the continued protests in Portland, demonstrations have emerged once again in multiple cities with renewed intensity.

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