George Floyd's death sparks new generation of activists in U.S.

By Makini Brice and Katanga Johnson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kristina Knox, a 25-year-old child development teacher from Maryland, cried for days after watching video footage of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck while Floyd gasped for air. She had posted about high-profile episodes of police brutality wielded against black Americans on her social media accounts before she attended her first protest this week - spurred, in part, by hoping to create a better world for her two-year-old son.

Reuters June 07, 2020 00:11:11 IST
George Floyd's death sparks new generation of activists in U.S.

George Floyds death sparks new generation of activists in US

By Makini Brice and Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kristina Knox, a 25-year-old child development teacher from Maryland, cried for days after watching video footage of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck while Floyd gasped for air.

She had posted about high-profile episodes of police brutality wielded against black Americans on her social media accounts before she attended her first protest this week - spurred, in part, by hoping to create a better world for her two-year-old son.

"I'm over being walked over, mentally, physically, emotionally," Knox said at a protest outside the U.S. Capitol. "Enough is enough."

Floyd's death has sparked protests nationwide and around the world, engulfing city streets with thousands of demonstrators.

Many of the demonstrators who milled around the U.S. Capitol this week were black people in their twenties who, like Knox, had felt compelled after Floyd's death to march on the streets for the first time.

The U.S. has been rocked by demonstrations over police killing of unarmed black men, women and boys over the past decade. During the most widespread protests, after the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, many of the protesters in Washington D.C. this week were just teens themselves.

New demonstrators said they had been driven to protest after seeing too many videos and hearing too many stories about black Americans dying at the hands of police officers - and by their concerns about the future of the country itself.

"It's not to say that Ferguson did not anger us, but there's definitely something different about this moment, especially because it is an election year," said Arianna Evans, 23, a political science student, who attends Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.

"We’re grappling with the soul of this country this year," Evans said. If U.S. President Donald Trump isn't voted out of office, and a new generation doesn't push for the reforms they want, "we may never see that chance."

The protests are broadly popular among Americans. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 64% of American adults were sympathetic and 55% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump handled them.

Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, has suggested to some governors to call in the National Guard.

While it is not clear exactly how many people taking to the streets in protests over the past nine days are first-timers, organizers say the number of new protesters is significant.

Freedom Fighters DC, a newly formed group that has hosted multiple demonstrations within Washington, said that about 150 were first-time protesters of the 500 or so protesters outside the Capitol building on Wednesday.

Alayshia Florida, 20, a self-described first-time protester who is headed to nursing school this fall, convinced a white officer to kneel with her outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, amid cheers.

"It’s time we change how police officers view us by inviting them to see us as human beings," she said.

Asked what made this moment different, Kelsey Marshman, a 29-year-old mail handler, said: "It's 2020! This should not be happening still. It really shouldn't. I'm sick of there being video and these police (officers) not being held accountable for that."

The protesters' demands include better police-sensitivity training, more serious background checks and convictions against the police officers involved in the case.

Derek Chauvin, the police officer who pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder. Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest that someone convicted for second-degree murder without a criminal history receive between 22 and 30 years in prison. But Christa Groshek, a defense attorney in Minneapolis, said prosecutors would likely seek more than that if they secure a conviction against Chauvin.

Minnesota also filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department over Floyd's death and said it would investigate the department for systemic discriminatory practices.

On the hot, sunny day in Washington on Wednesday, volunteers passed out water and hand sanitizer, in a bid to minimize risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Most protesters wore masks as they held up handmade signs bearing phrases like "Black Lives Matter," "Stop Shooting" and "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

"The people rose up against oppression in 2020. Were we successful stopping it? I doubt it," said Lorenzo Bell, 36. "But did we just let them do it? ... No."

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Katanga Johnson; Editing by Heather Timmons and Diane Craft)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.