Military helicopters have been deployed in an effort to disperse protestors in Washington DC’s Chinatown district.
Videos and photos show the helicopters hovering just above crowds and scarily close to buildings.
“As protesters made their way into Chinatown, military helicopters were positioned just above rooftops, sending gusts of dust into the air” tweeted Zolan Kanno-Youngs, who posted the video.
“A part of a tree fell, nearly hitting passers-by. The crowds dispersed down side streets. Some store fronts were shattered,”
It’s been reported the ‘show of force’ tactic is used by the military in combat zones to scare away insurgents.
It comes as President Donald Trump declared himself “the president of law and order” and threatened to deploy the United States military to American cities to quell a rise of violent protests.
As Trump spoke, an incredible TV split screen emerged at the White House. While he addressed the nation in the White House’s idyllic Rose Garden, a series of military vehicles rolled out front on Pennsylvania Avenue and military police and law enforcement clashed with protesters at Lafayette Park.
Those peaceful demonstrators were cleared so Trump could walk across the park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as “The Church of the Presidents,” which suffered fire damage in a protest this week. Holding a Bible, he then stood with several of his Cabinet members as the cameras clicked.
Trump spent less than five minutes in front of the church, but long enough to declare America the “greatest country in the world.” And “we’re going to keep it safe.”
As he spoke helicopters circled over head and booming sounds could be heard.
Trump said he would mobilise “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace if governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests.
‘If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,’ the president said.
According to senior defense officials, between 600 and 800 National Guard members from five states were being sent to Washington to provide assistance. Those troops were either already on the ground or will arrive by midnight.
Under the Civil War-era Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement actions such as making arrests, seizing property or searching people. In extreme cases, however, the president can invoke the Insurrection Act, also from the Civil War, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for law enforcement.
The officials said that some of the National Guard in D.C. will be armed and others will not. They said that the D.C. guard members do not have non-lethal weapons. The military police that are visible in the city are members of the Guard.
Floyd’s death classified as homicide
A medical examiner in Minnesota has classified George Floyd’s death as a homicide, and says Floyd’s heart stopped while he was being restrained by police and had his neck suppressed.
The report Monday listed as “other significant conditions” that Floyd suffered from heart disease and hypertension, had fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.
A Minneapolis police officer has been charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death, and three other officers were fired.
Bystander video showed the officer, Derek Chauvin, holding his knee on Floyd’s death despite his “I can’t breathe” cries until Floyd eventually stopped moving. His death has sparked days of protest, some violent, across the nation.
An autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said Monday.
The autopsy by a doctor who also examined Eric Garner’s body found the compression cut off blood to Floyd’s brain, and that the pressure of other officers’ knees on his back made it impossible for him to breathe, attorney Ben Crump said. He called for the third-degree murder charge against Officer Derek Chauvin to be upgraded to first-degree murder and for three other officers to be charged.
The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as described in a criminal complaint against the officer.
Floyd’s brother calls for calm
The brother of George Floyd appealed for peace Monday in the aftermath of riots and arson fires following the death of his brother in Minneapolis.
Terrence Floyd appeared at the intersection in south Minneapolis where his brother, a black man, died after a white police officer pinned his neck with his knee for several minutes a week ago.
Wearing a face mask with the image of his brother’s face on it, Terrence Floyd spent several minutes of silence at the flowers and other memorials that have sprung up to his brother.
“I understand you’re upset,” Terrence Floyd said to the crowd through a bullhorn. But he said civil unrest and destruction is “not going to bring my brother back at all. It may feel good for the moment, like when you drink, but when you are done, you’re going to wonder what did you do.”
Terrence Floyd said his family is “a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing.” And he said, “in every case of police brutality the same thing has been happening. You have protests, you destroy stuff … so they want us to destroy ourselves. Let’s do this another way.”
He told the crowd to vote and to educate themselves. “Let’s switch it up, y’all.” He said his brother moved to Minneapolis from Houston and “loved it here. … So I know he would not want you all to be doing this.”
At the end of his remarks, Terrence Floyd led the crowd in a chant of “What’s his name?” answered by “George Floyd.”
Trump slams ‘weak governors’
President Donald Trump has slammed the nation’s governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on protesters in the aftermath of another night of violent protests in dozens of American cities.
Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.
“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”
The days of protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer. They turned violent in several cities, with looting and mayhem, and fires ignited in the historic park across from the White House.
The president urged the governors to deploy the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis. He demanded that similarly tough measures be taken in cities that also experienced a spasm of violence, like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” said Trump. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”
The president told the governors they were making themselves “look like fools“ for not calling up more of the National Guard as a show for force on city streets.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who was also on the call, told governors that a joint terrorist task force would be used to track the agitators and urged local officials to “dominate” the streets and control, not react to crowds, and urged them to “go after troublemakers.”
Trump’s angry exhortations at the nation’s governors came after a night of escalating violence, images of fires and looting and clashes with police filling the nation’s airwaves and overshadowing the largely peaceful protests. The protests grew so heated Friday night that the Secret Service rushed the president to an underground bunker previously used during terrorist attacks.
Trump continued his effort to project strength, using a series of inflammatory tweets and delivering partisan attacks during a time of national crisis.
As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump’s advisers discussed the prospect of an Oval Office address in an attempt to ease tensions. The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president’s own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity.
Trump did not appear in public on Sunday and was not scheduled to so Monday either.
The demonstrations in Washington appeared to catch officers by surprise. They sparked one of the highest alerts at the White House complex since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Trump has told advisers he worries about his safety, while both privately and publicly praising the work of the Secret Service.
Demonstrators returned Sunday afternoon, facing off against police at Lafayette Park into the evening. Trump retweeted a message from a conservative commentator encouraging authorities to respond with greater force.
“This isn’t going to stop until the good guys are willing to use overwhelming force against the bad guys,” Buck Sexton wrote in a message amplified by the president.
In recent days security at the White House has been reinforced by the National Guard and additional personnel from the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.
The Justice Department deployed members of the U.S. Marshals Service and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration to supplement National Guard troops outside the White House, according to a senior Justice Department official. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In Australia, peaceful protests kicked off in Perth last night.
Wearing masks and carefully adhering to social distancing rules, hundreds packed into Perth’s CBD today to liken police brutality in the United States to Aboriginal deaths in custody.
More protests are planned for other cities in Australia throughout the week and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for them to remain calm and non-violent.
New York in lockdown
New York City imposed an 11 p.m. curfew Monday as the nation’s biggest city tried to head off another night of destruction erupting amid protests over George Floyd’s death.
With an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, New York is joining other cities around the country in imposing such measures after days of violence. The limit on the movement of more than 8 million people comes after months of restrictions already imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the outbreaks of violence – which left stores ransacked, police vehicles burned and other destruction in spots around the city – gave them no choice, even as they insisted they stood with the throngs of peaceful demonstrators who have spoken out for several days against police brutality and racial injustice.
“We can’t let violence undermine the message of this moment,” de Blasio said in a statement. Cuomo blamed “people who are looking to distract and discredit” the protests and said they couldn’t be allowed to undermine public safety.
The two leaders, both Democrats, also said many more police officers would be deployed Monday night.
The plans came as more protests got under way, with big crowds rallying in Times Square and Brooklyn on Monday afternoon and marching through the streets.