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US protests gather momentum: mayors of major cities ask Trump to withdraw armed feds

The mayors of six US cities have demanded that Congress pass legislation prohibiting US President Donald Trump from sending additional police forces to the regions to suppress unrest without their consent. A new wave of protests that swept the largest cities in the United States over the weekend forced a group of mayors to appeal to Congress with a demand to limit the powers of the country's president. Writes about it with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

According to the mayors, the demonstrators are only exercising their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while attempts by the federal authorities to violently suppress the protests provoke protesters and cause outbreaks of retaliatory violence.

“In the past few weeks, Americans have protested in response to the assassinations of George Floyd, Brenna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury and others, protesting against the structural racism that exists in our country,” says the address signed by the mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Albuquerque, Kansas -City and Washington. “We are encouraged that many of our residents are using the right guaranteed to them by the first amendment to the Constitution to protest against injustice. At the same time, we are outraged that the US administration responded to these actions, protected by the first amendment, by ordering to send armed special forces to Washington, Portland, Seattle and other cities without obtaining permission from local authorities. "

In their address, the mayors stressed that "federal agents are acting uncontrollably, knowing about their impunity," and demanded that Congress forbid Trump from sending additional police forces to the regions without the consent of local authorities.

Why protests continue in the US

A new wave of protests in the United States was also marked by the renewal of slogans. This time, the demonstrators, in addition to the already familiar statements about the fight against racial discrimination and police violence, took to the streets with homemade posters in support of protesters in Portland, where Trump ordered the first federal security forces.

After that, in the center of the largest city in Oregon, a real war broke out between demonstrators and feds. Newcomers use tear gas, rubber bullets and mini-grenades with pepper gas against the protesters, carrying out the most severe arrests.

On the subject: Unprecedented level of violence: Portland protests cost local businesses $ 23 million

At the same time, according to the leaders of the city police, they do not report on their actions to the local authorities. Among the victims, for example, last week was Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler, who received his "dose" of tear gas.

The demonstrators were especially outraged by the fact that the arrived security forces erected a two-meter fence around the federal court building and harshly suppressed any attempts by the demonstrators to break the fence.

“This is an unconstitutional occupation,” Mayor Wheeler commented on the actions of the feds. "Without the consent of the mayor's office, without the consent of the city residents, they manage on our land, building their own barriers and forbidding us to walk on our own streets."

According to him, the presence of federal agents only provokes peaceful demonstrators and leads to an escalation of violence in the city.

The demonstrators did respond to the actions of the federal police by creating their own formations. If earlier the protests were spontaneous, then in the last two weeks participants in the newly emerged Wall of Moms movement began to play the main role in the actions.

Women with the slogan “Hands off our children” took on the role of human shields, standing in line between protesters and federal police officers.

Last week, the "mothers" were joined by members of a new association called the "Wall of Vets". It includes former military personnel.

Tear gas charges are now guarded by Wall of Dads protesters with garden wind blowers, usually used to remove fallen leaves. They use this technique in an attempt to ward off the clouds of tear gas from the protesters.

Donald Trump, in turn, called the actions of the federal units "excellent work", promising to send security officials to other cities. The list includes New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland. The city halls of all these cities are headed by democratic politicians.

Earlier this week on Twitter, he again called the protesters "anarchists", saying that for the damage done to the federal courthouse in Portland, each of the demonstrators would face a ten-year prison sentence. “Don't do this!” The US president warned the demonstrators.

How other cities supported Portland

Protests, which opposed not only police violence but also federal agents in cities, swept across the United States over the weekend.

In most cities, demonstrations and processions were peaceful, but in some protesters were marked by fights with the police and attempts to set fire to federal buildings. More than 100 people across the country were arrested. As a result of shooting during mass actions in the states of Kentucky and Colorado, several people were injured.

In Austin, Texas, 28-year-old Garrett Foster was killed in a demonstration against police violence. According to the local police, the activist has been constantly taking part in the actions since the end of May and always took a legally registered AK-47 assault rifle with him.

The demonstrators were displeased by the driver of the car, who, it seemed to them, tried to crash into the crowd of demonstrators. After a short the skirmish, the driver of the car opened fire, fatally wounding Foster, and then left... He later called the police himself, claiming that the demonstrator had threatened him with a gun and he was forced to defend himself.

In the town of Arora, Colorado, protesters smashed windows in a county courthouse over the weekend and tried to set it on fire. The next day, demonstrators blocked the highway. As a result of a heated dispute with one of the drivers who tried to drive into the city, gunfire was opened. Two protesters were injured.

And in Kentucky, armed black activists took to the streets.

On the subject: Monument Fall in the USA: why protesters demand the demolition of historical monuments

During this demonstration in Louisville, Kentucky, three members of an armed group of black activists NFAC (Not F *** g Around Coalition) were injured. According to local police, the demonstrators, for the second month already demanding the arrest of the police responsible for the death of African-American Breonna Taylor, have been careless with their own weapons.

In Seattle, Oregon, 47 demonstrators were arrested on charges of assaulting police officers, arson and organizing riots. 75 protesters detained in Omaha, Nebraska. They were charged with non-compliance with the demands of the police.

In downtown Richmond, Virginia, police also carried out mass arrests, setting up, according to reporters from a local newspaper, a veritable "ambush" for activists in one of the city parks on Sunday night.

Why Trump threatens protesters

The protests of city mayors have already been backed by several state governors and Democratic leaders in Congress, who have called the federal administration's riot control "political theater" played out to bolster Trump's position ahead of the election.

The White House, however, does not hide that the main topic of the current president's election campaign will be "law and order." In recent weeks, Trump's campaign headquarters have posted dozens of videos on social media and on television, scaring Americans with scenes of violence from demonstrators and warning that if they win, Democrats are ready to completely disband the police.

So far, the tactics chosen by Trump's campaign headquarters have not brought noticeable results: according to all polls, former Vice President Joe Biden remains the leader of the election race. According to the latest poll by Harvard University and Harris, his lead is now 10 points. Exactly the same preponderance of the democratic candidate was independently recorded by joint polls by the ABC TV company and the Washington Post newspaper, as well as by the CBS TV company and the YouGov sociological portal.

At the same time, the level of support for Trump's actions continues to fall: according to a study by Quinnipiac University, today the work of the head of state is approved by only 36% of Americans, and 60% are dissatisfied.

On the subject: One US state changes flag due to protests

“There are three months before the elections, and during this time a lot can change,” admitted a political scientist, professor at Stony Brook University Jonathan Sanders. - But it is already clear that the main topics for voters will not be protests at all, but the fight against the coronavirus epidemic and the state of the country's economy. So far, Trump has clearly failed to cope with these challenges. ”

According to analysts, the tactics chosen by Trump's campaign headquarters could create new problems for the "Trump candidate."

Last week, in an interview with Fox News, the head of the White House said that he did not intend to abandon attempts to violently suppress the protests and plans to send another 75 thousand federal agents to various US cities.

Luis Shumerini, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, who has researched the protest movement in Turkey, Brazil and Ukraine, believes that excessively harsh actions by the authorities can lead to the fact that protests against racial discrimination turn into anti-government protests in a matter of weeks.

“This has been the case in many countries,” he said. - Protests start with small actions, the participants of which come up with one specific demand. But when the state responds to this as harshly as possible, using the so-called “non-lethal weapons” - rubber bullets and tear gas, then instead of disappearing, the protest only grows, turning into a truly mass movement. ”

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