This past weekend saw mass protests in cities around the world calling for an end to police violence and racism against black people. The protests followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Minnesota by an officer who kneeled on his neck for eight minutes while he pleaded for his life and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”.
This marked the first mass protests in the US since the COVID19 pandemic hit. Though there had been a few small gatherings of right-wing protesters complaining about the safety measures taken to protect people from the virus, no gatherings of this scale or magnitude had taken place anywhere in the world since February. While most protesters wore masks, it is hard to know yet if the social distancing by protesters was sufficient to prevent a spread of the coronavirus among the protesters.
What has been documented is that states that have reopened restaurants, gyms, hair salons and other close contact businesses are experiencing increases in the spread of the coronavirus.
Globally, there have been 6.3 million confirmed cases of the virus, nearly a third of them in the United States. The global death toll has reach 375,000, with nearly a third of the deaths, 104,000, in the United States. Other nations have largely slowed or even halted the spread of the virus, while in the US, the chaotic, uncoordinated and contradictory response has led to the numbers continuing to rise.
Meanwhile, the response to the murder of George Floyd has exposed the deep wound of racism and racist policing that continues to plague this country. Protests around the country were marked by anguished speeches by black youth and elders detailing the racism they have experienced. Here is an excerpt from the rally in Portland on Friday evening in Peninsula Park:
While most media coverage has focused on riots and property damage, the anguish and pain of black America, as well as the widespread police violence against non-violent demonstrators, has been largely ignored.
Heavily armed police, armored vehicles and national guard soldiers are patrolling the streets and cracking down on protesters, bystanders and members of the media across the country.
In response, Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz on Sunday said he plans to introduce an amendment to end the federal program that permits the transfer of excess military equipment to police departments across the nation.
Trump was moved to an underground bunker Saturday when protesters breached a barricade in front of the White House. He called for a “MAGA Night” on Saturday night, but his supporters did not show up. Instead, protesters calling for racial justice gathered at the White House, where they were attacked by DC police. Trump then tweeted that governors should use the military, and throw protesters in jail for 10 years. Both of these actions would violate the US constitution, and have been called ‘outright fascism’ by Trump’s critics, who say the President’s tweets this weekend indicate that he is quote ‘unhinged’.
In Portland late last night, Gresham police shot and killed a man at SE 122nd and Kelly. The incident appeared to be unrelated to the protests. The victim was a white male, but no further information is known at this time. People from a nearby retirement home said they heard no shouting, just shots fired, and at least one eyewitness claimed the man was running from police when he was shot.