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Washington DC braced for largest protest yet as Biden attacks Trump for 'despicable' George Floyd comments

There were zero arrests during demonstrations in the US capital in the last two days, and a curfew has been lifted in advance of today’s protest.

Up to 200,000 protesters are expected on the streets of the US capital today.
Up to 200,000 protesters are expected on the streets of the US capital today.
Image: PA Images

AUTHORITIES IN WASHINGTON DC are expecting today to be the largest demonstration against police brutality in the city since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The US capital has featured daily protests for the past week and they have largely been peaceful, with people marching back and forth from the White House to the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters yesterday that local officials were projecting between 100,000 and 200,000 protesters today.

Metropolitan Police Department chief Peter Newsham would not commit to a number but predicted it would be smaller than the one million people who attended the Women’s March in 2017.

It comes as authorities have sought to reduce tensions by having National Guard troops not carry weapons.

There were zero arrests during demonstrations on Thursday and yesterday and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser cancelled the curfew that had been in place since Monday. She said she will decide on Saturday morning if it will be reinstated.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on 25 May after a white police officer pressed his knee against his neck, ignoring his “I can’t breathe” cries.

Bystander video sparked outrage over Floyd’s death and protests, some violent, that spread across the US and beyond.

Three fired police officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder in Mr Floyd’s death.

‘Frankly despicable’

virus-outbreak-trump Trump signing an executive order on commercial fishing yesterday. Source: Patrick Semansky/PA Images

Other cities in the US are braced for similar large-scale protests against racism and police brutality. 

Yesterday, President Donald Trump sparked fresh controversy by saying it was a “great day” for Floyd when referencing better-than-expected jobs numbers.

He told reporters that such violence as Floyd’s death in handcuffs cannot be allowed to happen.

Nevertheless, Trump added, “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing for our country.”

“This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody,” he said. 

Joe Biden, the now-confirmed Democratic nominee for November’s election, slammed Trump for invoking Floyd’s name.

“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ have echoed across our nation and around the world. For the President to try to put any other words in his mouth is frankly despicable,” he tweeted.

Violence

america-protests-illinois Source: John Starks

In Buffalo, New York, two policemen were suspended without pay after a video showed them shoving over a 75-year-old protester who fell and suffered a head injury.

Reporting the suspension on Twitter, Mayor Byron Brown said he and the police commissioner were “deeply disturbed” by the video.

An earlier police statement said the man, who appeared unconscious and bleeding heavily from the head, “tripped and fell.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful,” in a tweet.

In solidarity with their fellow officers, however, all 57 officers in the Buffalo Police Department riot squad have reportedly resigned

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In Indianapolis, police launched an investigation after a video emerged showing at least four officers hitting a woman with batons and firing pepper balls at her on Sunday night.

And in New York City on Thursday, officers baton-charged dozens of peaceful protesters defying a curfew in the Bronx after pinning them in, leaving them with nowhere to run, several reports said.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced yesterday that two officers had been suspended following “several troubling incidents,” one for pushing a woman to the ground and another for pulling down an man’s face mask and spraying pepper spray at him. Both incidents were caught on video.

Meanwhile, Reverend Al Sharpton said the Washington rally he announced this week was being planned for 28 August, the anniversary of the day Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

He said the August event would be a way of maintaining momentum as the legal process against the men charged in Floyd’s death is under way.

He said: “It’s going to be months, if not a year, before you even go to trial. So you can’t let this peter out … otherwise you’ll end up in a year and people will go on to another story, and you will not have the public notice and pressure that you need.”

With reporting from AFP

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