Security forces deployed in Washington D.C. in overwhelming numbers appear to be on track to stifle the revolt in the US capital, outmaneuvering and overpowering the radical minority that for three consecutive nights has highjacked protests against racial discrimination and brutality in the name of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody on May 25
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 02nd June, 2020) Security forces deployed in Washington D.C. in overwhelming numbers appear to be on track to stifle the revolt in the US capital, outmaneuvering and overpowering the radical minority that for three consecutive nights has highjacked protests against racial discrimination and brutality in the name of George Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody on May 25.
Thousands of National Guard soldiers, Secret Service and Drug Enforcement agents, Border Protection officers, and policemen of all stripes are out patrolling the streets, closing major intersections, isolating neighborhoods, dispersing crowds and pushing what remains away from the White House.
Police and military helicopters were seen hovering over the city and providing surveillance to land-based forces in military trucks and armored vehicles, and on bikes and foot.
"Media, come here, come with me. Everyone else, hold tight," commands a policeman in full riot gear with a canister of tear gas in his hands. A rapid simultaneous advance of two lines of law-enforcement officers pins down a group of protesters and reporters in the center of Washington. Upon presenting their press cards, journalists are allowed to leave the trap, while others apparently face detention for a violation of curfew.
"Back up, or we will arrest you," a policeman says in response to all questions.
The police in the capital were criticized for being on the defensive, at best, and allowing violent rioters to reach the gates of the White House compound, torch buildings, burn cars, smash windows and vandalize historic landmarks in the heart of Washington.
A sharp turnaround, which may become a model for the rest of the country, was heralded on Monday evening when the police dispersed with flashbangs, tear gas and sheer physical force a demonstration in front of the White House - to secure a passage for Donald Trump across Lafayette Square to St John's Episcopal Church, where every American president since James Madison has worshipped. The church was sprayed with graffiti and briefly caught fire during Sunday night's riots.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that "Federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters" a full 25 minutes before the curfew and without provocations. She called the operation "shameful." A several thousand-strong rally in Lafayette Square was part of the nationwide protests over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.
"All we want is justice, all we want is to be free. We were born on this Earth, just like they were," a young African American man explains to Sputnik as the largest remaining protest group moved away from the city center.
He sounds defiant and challenges the curfew order.
"Why can't I be outside? What's the law? Who created the law? Police don't even know who started the law. So why do we have to listen to them? If someone is going to destroy this country, we are going to do it because we built this country," the man, in his early 20s, told Sputnik.
A citywide curfew is in effect through Wednesday beginning at 7:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 a.m. local time. The restriction is meant to help police distinguish between law-abiding protesters and the extremists.
An unlikely curfew violator, a soft-spoken elderly white lady, watches in confusion as protesters pass by her stalled car. She sits inside with her dog riding shotgun on their way home from the office and has a compelling excuse.
"I know what? Oh, the curfew. Right... I forgot about it," the lady confesses.