Nation’s streets calmest in days; police credit curfew

Arrests and rancor were down as protests continue across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota May 25. The protests were mostly peaceful, but sometimes violent demonstrations erupted.

By

National News

June 3, 2020 - 10:35 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The nation’s streets were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set off mostly peaceful but sometimes violent demonstrations over police brutality and injustice against African Americans.

Earlier curfews and efforts by protesters to contain the lawlessness were credited with preventing more widespread damage to businesses in New York and other cities overnight.

By this morning, arrests had grown to more than 9,000 nationwide since the vandalism, arson and shootings erupted around the U.S. in reaction to Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis. At least 12 deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.

In Washington, where authorities ordered people off streets before sundown, thousands of demonstrators massed a block from the White House on Tuesday evening, following a crackdown a day earlier when officers drove peaceful protesters away from Lafayette Park to clear the way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op with a Bible at a church. A black chain-link fence was put up to block access to the park.

“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”

Pastors at the church prayed with demonstrators and handed out water bottles. The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the people were peaceful, even polite.

At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”

Pope Francis called for national reconciliation and peace, saying he has ‘’witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest’’ in the U.S.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,’’ he said.

Trump has pushed the nation’s governors to take a hard line against the violence, tweeting on Tuesday that “lowlifes and losers” were taking over New York’s streets. He again tweeted today, “LAW & ORDER!”

Thousands of people remained out in New York City on Tuesday night, undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, though most streets were clear by early today. Battered storefronts from the earlier rounds of violence could be seen in midtown Manhattan.

The New York Police Department credited the curfew, which was three hours earlier than the day before, with helping officers take control of the streets.

“The earlier curfew really helped our cops take out of the neighborhoods people that didn’t belong there,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said on NBC’s “Today.”

Protesters also marched in Los Angeles; Miami; St. Paul, Minnesota; Columbia, South Carolina; and Houston, where the police chief talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.

“God as my witness, change is coming,” Art Acevedo said. “And we’re going to do it the right way.”

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