As protests continue with no end in sight, marchers returned to the streets for a ninth night of demonstrations on Wednesday for what were largely peaceful demonstrations, marred by a couple of examples of police violence. According to the AP, Wednesday marked the second night that protests were “subdued”, following elevated charges against the officers involved in Floyd’s killing, as well as a start-studded memorial service in Minneapolis that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton and many of George Floyd’s family members.
According to the AP, the quieter mood was inspired by the new and upgraded criminal charges against the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest, a more conciliatory approach by police (in many areas, police marched with them); along with the realization that the burst of violence following Floyd’s killing wasn’t sustainable.
“Personally, I think you can’t riot everyday for almost a week,” said Costa Smith, 26, who was protesting in downtown Atlanta.
Still, protesters have shown no signs that the marches will stop any time soon. And with millions of unemployed Americans, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the reaction to Floyd’s killings become an entrenched movement that continues for months, like Occupy Wall Street.
On protester in NYC told an AP reporter that there are “a lot more nights to go” of marching because protesters hadn’t got what they wanted.” Floyd’s brother Terrence appeared in Brooklyn, energizing the marchers.
During the first in a series of memorials for Floyd, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged those gathered Thursday “to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”
In Texas, protesters welcomed Fort Worth officers joining the front of a march, while police in Austin also walked with dozens of members of the University of Texas football squad as they made their way from campus to the state Capitol to honor Floyd’s memory. After arriving, they all took a knee for the 8 minute 46 seconds, which symbolizes the amount of time Floyd was on the ground.
“This protest won’t just stop here,” junior safety Caden Sterns said. “To the white community…if you want change like you say you do, you must change. What I mean is, you must realize, and the oppressor must realize, you are oppressing.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms marched with protesters downtown and told the crowd through a megaphone that “there is something better on the other side of this.”
“We are in the midst of a movement in this country,” she said. “But it’s going to be incumbent upon all of us to be able to get together and articulate more than our anger. We got to be able to articulate what we want as our solutions.”
In spite of all of these positive feelings, the evening was marred by two incidents of police violence, one of which led to the immediate suspension of two officers in Buffalo after they pushed a frail elderly citizen to the ground, causing him to start bleeding out of his ear and likely nearly killing him.
BREAKING NOW: I just confirmed, the 2 officers seen shoving the elderly man in this video have been suspended IMMEDIATELY, according to the Buffalo police commissioner. pic.twitter.com/qbTvXAAPLH
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 5, 2020
In Vallejho, a city in the Bay Area, an officer shot and killed a protester who was kneeling with his hands up. The officer later said he believed a hammer in the man’s pocket was a firearm, according to the Guardian.
Meanwhile, back in Minneapolis, the city council said they’re looking into a plan to “dismantle” the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new “public safety” organization. One council member suggesting replacing the traditional police department with a more holistic “public safety” department geared toward violence prevention and community services. Social workers or medics could respond to situations once handled by police, she suggested, like drug overdoses, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Around the White House, the Washington Post reports that the perimeter has continued to expand with each passing night. Here’s an infographic depicting the perimeter as of Thursday evening.
Mayor Jacob Frey says he’d support “deep, structural reforms” to the department, but not complete abolition of the agency. The level of support among the council members for the abolition vote is unclear.
Whatever the case may be, we should know soon enough as the city council prepares to vote Friday on reforms related to the police department.