US defense secretary rejects Trump’s demand

US defense secretary rejects Trump’s demand

Mayur Rele | Protests over the death of George Floyd continued across the US on Wednesday, after a largely peaceful night.

Mayur Rele | Protests over the death of George Floyd continued across the US on Wednesday, after a largely peaceful night. As demonstrators returned to the streets, police chiefs called for reform – and the US secretary of defense publicly rejected Donald Trump’s threat to deploy combat troops.

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Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died in Minneapolis on 25 May when an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired then charged with murder. On Wednesday afternoon Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general, announced an elevated charge against Chauvin and charged three more officers with aiding and abetting.

Protests against police brutality and racism arose after Floyd’s death, before a crackdown by federal and state authorities led to the worst civil unrest in the US since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968.

Curfews remain in place in most major US cities, dampening the potential for confrontation between protesters and police in the hours of darkness. On Tuesday, many marchers defied the deadline.

Minneapolis and St Paul, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Atlanta and other cities remained largely peaceful. In cities including Portland, Oregon, and Tampa and St Petersburg in Florida, crowds were forcibly dispersed.

In Washington, where the area around the White House has seen intense clashes involving federal officers, demonstrators gathered calmly. On Wednesday, a crowd formed again in the capital. Thousands knelt and sang as law enforcement officers in riot gear stood watching over the crowd, which stretched down 16th Street near the White House.

Large, peaceful demonstrations continued coast-to-coast in cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit and New York, and around the world, with passionate crowds gathering at the heart of London, as well as Helsinki and Stockholm.

In San Francisco, thousands gathered in the city’s Mission District on Wednesday. Among the “Black Lives Matter” and “defund the police” signs, Aztec dancers danced and protesters burned sage. Organizers handed out masks, gloves and water bottles.

Alongside chants of “George Floyd” and “Breonna Taylor,” protesters shouted the name of their own who were killed by police: Mario Woods. Jessica Williams. Alex Nieto. Oscar Grant in Oakland.

“They still feel like they can just kill us,” said 15-year-old McKinna Lincoln. Her mother, Mink Lincoln-Price, brought her five-year-old and seven-year-old sons with them to the protest.

Across the bay in Oakland a large group gathered in defiance of the city’s 8pm curfew. Thousands of protesters stepped into a major intersection and sat down, chanting their message loud and clear: “Fuck your curfew”.