Thousands of protesters defy curfew in New York as Trump calls for troops to be sent in

AP
Police arrest protesters refusing to get off the streets during an imposed curfew while marching in New York.
Camera IconPolice arrest protesters refusing to get off the streets during an imposed curfew while marching in New York. Credit: Wong Maye-E/AP

Thousands of demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd remained on New York City streets on Tuesday in defiance of an 8pm curfew put in place by officials struggling to quell concerns the nation’s biggest city was reeling out of control.

Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down on a citywide curfew, moving it from 11pm the night before, but rejected calls from President Donald Trump and an offer from Governor Andrew Cuomo to bring in the National Guard.

“Everyone, time to go home so we can keep people safe,” he said on WINS-AM radio shortly after the curfew took effect.

George Floyd wrongful death protests continue in New York City. An 8pm curfew was enacted in the city. While many people honored it, many protesters did not.
Camera IconGeorge Floyd wrongful death protests continue in New York City. An 8pm curfew was enacted in the city. While many people honored it, many protesters did not. Credit: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

He was ignored by many around the city who continued marching throughout the city’s streets. In some areas, police let people continue on their way, while making arrests in others.

“I’m surprised,” said Risha Munoz, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where at points they were greeted with cheers and horns by onlookers in building windows.

“I didn’t think they were gonna let us go on, but we just kept on moving and we’re not stopping.”

US President Donald Trump says troops should take to the streets of New York City, while elsewhere five officers were shot and wounded as police clashed with protesters nationwide.

Demonstrators had smashed windows and looted stores in New York City late on Monday and set fire to a Los Angeles strip mall amid widespread protests over the killing of an African-American man in police custody.

A worker cleans up broken glass at a Kmart store on Astor Place after looting riots a night earlier as part of the response by protesters to George Floyd's death, in New York.
Camera IconA worker cleans up broken glass at a Kmart store on Astor Place after looting riots a night earlier as part of the response by protesters to George Floyd's death, in New York. Credit: JASON SZENES/EPA

Four officers were shot and wounded in St Louis, Missouri, and one in Las Vegas was critically wounded, authorities said on Tuesday.

Trump has threatened to use the military to battle the violence that has erupted often at night after a day of peaceful protests joined by a cross-section of Americans.

He has taunted local authorities, including state governors, for their response to the disturbances.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD. The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump visits Saint John Paul II National Shrine with first lady Melania Trump, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington.
Camera IconPresident Donald Trump visits Saint John Paul II National Shrine with first lady Melania Trump, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced outrage at the chaos in America’s largest city, saying its mayor and police force “did not do their job last night”.

He said he believed Mayor Bill de Blasio underestimated the scope of the problem.

Cuomo said he had offered mayors support from state police or 13,000 National Guard who are on stand-by and said that with a 38,000-strong police force, New York City should be able to address its unrest on its own.

De Blasio poured cold water on the idea of bringing the National Guard to America’s largest city.

Meanwhile the owner of a popular barbecue spot who was fatally shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky, had fired a gun as officers approached, the city’s acting police chief said.

Acting Police Chief Robert Schroeder said security camera footage showed David McAtee opening fire while officers were trying to clear a crowd from a car park on Monday.

Schroeder said police were releasing the video to provide transparency.

“It does not answer every question, including why did he fire and where were police at the time he fired?” he said on Tuesday.

A car burns at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Tucker Boulevard on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. After a peaceful day of protests things devolved into full scale riot with looting, fires and 4 police officers shot.
Camera IconA car burns at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Tucker Boulevard on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. After a peaceful day of protests things devolved into full scale riot with looting, fires and 4 police officers shot. Credit: TNS/ABACA/PA

The Louisville police chief was fired after it was revealed officers involved in McAtee’s shooting had failed to activate their body cameras.

In St Louis, four officers were recovering after being shot overnight amid clashes between police and crowds throwing rocks and other projectiles.

And a police officer was shot during protests in Las Vegas, police there said in a statement.

Officers were injured in clashes elsewhere, including one who was in critical condition after being hit by a car in the Bronx.

In Atlanta, six officers will face charges for an incident in which two college students were removed from their car and tasered, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told a briefing.

Two of the six officers were let go on Sunday.

And a police officer in Sarasota, Florida, was placed on leave on Tuesday after video surfaced showing the officer kneeling on a man’s back and neck during an arrest in May.

The violent US protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year- old African-American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Three other officers involved have not been charged.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Camera IconDemocratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Credit: AP

Biden vows to heal US wounds, slams Trump

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to try to heal the racial divide in the US and blasted President Donald Trump’s response to protests over racism and police misconduct.

Speaking in Philadelphia - a city rocked by sometimes violent demonstrations in recent days - the former vice president sought to draw a vivid contrast between himself and Trump, whom he will face in the November 3 general election.

“The country is crying out for leadership, leadership that can unite us,” Biden said on Tuesday, in his first major address in weeks.

Biden, who served eight years as vice president under Barack Obama, the first black US president, cast himself as the candidate who best understands the longstanding pain and grief in the country’s black communities.

Biden said the killing of George Floyd, the African-American man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police last week, was a “wake-up call” for the nation that must force it to address the stain of systemic racism.

“We can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing,” Biden said. “We can’t.”

A sign says "resign" as a Bible is propped against it during a protest of the arrival of President Donald Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington.
Camera IconA sign says "resign" as a Bible is propped against it during a protest of the arrival of President Donald Trump to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Biden was particularly critical of Republican Trump’s visit on Monday to a historic church across from the White House.

The church visit was preceded by law enforcement authorities dispersing a crowd near the church with smoke canisters and flash grenades.

“We can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” said Biden, who accused Trump of “serving the passions” of his conservative base at the expense of the rest of the country.

Biden pledged he would “not traffic in fear or division” or “fan the flames of hate”.

Floyd death an ’abuse of power’

The European Union is “shocked and appalled” by the death of black American George Floyd in police custody, the bloc’s top diplomat says, calling it “an abuse of power” and warning against further excessive use of force.

“Like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd ... all societies must remain vigilant against the excessive use of force,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told reporters.

Borrell called Floyd’s death a “very, very unhappy” one and said it showed “an abuse of power” by law enforcement.

“We condemn racism of any kind ... we trust in the ability of the Americans to come together, to heal as a nation”.

The arrest of Floyd, 46, was captured by an onlooker’s cell phone video that went viral and showed a police officer restraining him while pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck as he moaned: “Please, I can’t breathe.”

His death caused more outrage across the United States on the treatment of African-Americans by police officers, polarising the country politically and racially in the middle of a presidential campaign and as states begin to ease lockdowns imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Borrell also said: “All lives matter, black lives also matter.”

Protesters kneel and react by a burning barricade during a demonstration Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Paris.
Camera IconProtesters kneel and react by a burning barricade during a demonstration Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Paris. Credit: Michel Euler/AP

Tensions mar Paris protest as Floyd outrage goes global

Tear gas choked Paris streets as riot police faced off with protesters setting fires Tuesday amid growing global outrage over George Floyd’s death in the United States, racial injustice and heavy-handed police tactics around the world.

French protesters took a knee and raised their fists while firefighters struggled to extinguish multiple blazes as a largely peaceful, multiracial demonstration degenerated into scattered tensions. Several thousand people defied a virus-related ban on protests to pay homage to Floyd and Adama Traore, a French black man who died in police custody.

A protester kicks into a tear gas canister during a demonstration Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Paris riot officers fired tear gas as scattered protesters threw projectiles.
Camera IconA protester kicks into a tear gas canister during a demonstration Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Paris riot officers fired tear gas as scattered protesters threw projectiles. Credit: Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP

Electric scooters and construction barriers went up in flames, and smoke stained a sign reading “Restaurant Open” - on the first day French cafes were allowed to open after nearly three months of virus lockdown.

Chanting “I can’t breathe,” thousands marched peacefully through Australia’s largest city, while thousands more demonstrated in the Dutch capital of The Hague and hundreds rallied in Tel Aviv. Expressions of anger erupted in multiple languages on social networks, with thousands of Swedes joining an online protest and others speaking out under the banner of (hash)BlackOutTuesday.

Diplomatic ire percolated too, with the European Union’s top foreign policy official saying the bloc was “shocked and appalled” by Floyd’s death.

Black Lives Matter rally held in Sydney

Hundreds have marched through Sydney’s CBD in solidarity with those protesting in the US over the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis.

Starting from Hyde Park about 5pm on Tuesday, the 500 people at the rally chanted “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breath” as they weaved their way past NSW Parliament before arriving at Martin Place.

Protesters marching during a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Camera IconProtesters marching during a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Credit: JAMES GOURLEY/AAPIMAGE

The protesters - most of whom wore masks - could also be heard chanting “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” as they simultaneously marched for the more than 400 indigenous Australians who have died in police custody since 1991.

Gadigal man Tristan Field, who spoke at the start of the Black Lives Matter rally in Hyde Park, commended organisers for putting black voices at the forefront of the action.

“This mob has let the black people lead this movement for the better,” Mr Field told AAP.

The 26-year-old said he wasn’t surprised by an incident in Surry Hills on Monday that saw an Aboriginal teenager taken to hospital after having his legs kicked out from beneath him as he was arrested.

NSW Police are investigating the incident and on Tuesday placed the male officer who arrested the teenager on restricted duties.

“When I was a kid I got harassed by the police,” Mr Field said.

“I remember what it was like to live in fear and I know what it’s like to be scared that you might die.”

Protesters face off with police on horseback during a Black Lives Matter rally, following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
Camera IconProtesters face off with police on horseback during a Black Lives Matter rally, following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Credit: STEVEN SAPHORE/AAPIMAGE

Another protester, Tegan Smith, said the arrest in Surry Hills “really hits home for me”.

“I have a younger brother the same age and everyday I wonder if he’ll be the next one harassed by police,” the 23-year-old Aboriginal woman said.

“It’s scary and disgusting to be reminded police are doing this, even if it’s not surprising.”

Former Sydney Kings announcer and Australian basketball icon Rodney Overby, who grew up Philadelphia, said he regularly heard about incidents similar to the Surry Hills arrest in other parts of the world.

“That is news everyday...it’s just because of this brother George being killed in the United States that people are arking up about it,” the 54-year-old told AAP.

“We’re coming together to say: ’stop killing us’.”

NSW Police said no arrests were made at the rally.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails