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Brother of dead man in call for end to violence

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Running for cover: Protesters part in panic as a lorry is driven at them in Minneapolis. Photo: Reuters

Running for cover: Protesters part in panic as a lorry is driven at them in Minneapolis. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Running for cover: Protesters part in panic as a lorry is driven at them in Minneapolis. Photo: Reuters

George Floyd's brother pleaded for peace in the streets yesterday as US cities brace for more violence amid a coast-to-coast outpouring of rage over police killings of black people.

Terrence Floyd told a vigil in memory of his brother that violence is "not going to bring my brother back at all".

By contrast, US President Donald Trump berated most of the nation's governors as "weak" for not cracking down harder on the lawlessness that has convulsed cities from coast to coast.

The competing messages - one conciliatory, one bellicose - came as the US braced for another round of disorder at a time when the country is already buckling because of the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused.

President Trump told the governors they must "dominate" protesters to keep the peace as the country braced for another night of violent clashes and looting.

Leaked audio of the US president's call with governors revealed he suggested 10-year jail sentences for offenders and warned against the authorities becoming a "laughing stock".

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George Floyd’s brother Terrence kneels at a memorial. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

George Floyd’s brother Terrence kneels at a memorial. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

REUTERS

George Floyd’s brother Terrence kneels at a memorial. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

"You have to dominate," Mr Trump said. "If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time - they're going to run over you, you're going to look like a bunch of jerks."

The tough talk contrasted with prominent black figures, from former president Barack Obama to the grieving brother of George Floyd, pleading for demonstrators not to use violence.

The wave of anger at the death of Mr Floyd, a black American, after having his neck pinned to the ground by the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer, shows no sign of fading.

By Sunday evening, the sixth night of protests, demonstrations had spread to more than 140 US cities, double Saturday's total. Dozens adopted curfews to keep the streets clear. They did not work. Across the country, protests that had been largely peaceful throughout the day descended into violent clashes with police at night.

In Washington DC crowds were pushed back from the White House with tear gas and pepper spray as fires once again broke out, smoke drifting above the nation's capital.

In New York, shop windows along Fifth Avenue were smashed, with people storming into Bloomingdales, Chanel, Adidas and North Face and grabbing items. Elsewhere, rubber bullets were deployed.

In Louisville, Kentucky, a man was shot dead by police. Officers did not initially name him but said they had been fired on first. Other acts of shocking aggression emerged. In Minneapolis, the city where Mr Floyd died and protests began, a tanker sped into hundreds of protesters marching on a highway.

Footage showed demonstrators sprinting for safety. Miraculously no one was killed. The motive was not clear.

The full scale of the protests is becoming clearer. Every one of America's 50 states has seen demonstrations, according to CNN. More than 26 have deployed the National Guard.

By yesterday afternoon the number of arrests across all days was at 4,400, but figures filtering in from cities made clear that would rise.

Such a scale of impromptu race protests has not been seen in America since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.

Even the US president has not been immune from impact. On Friday night, with protesters tussling with police outside, he was rushed into an underground bunker in the White House. Mr Trump reportedly remained there for around an hour. White House officials stressed the risk had always been low.

The president did not appear on camera on Sunday, leading to criticism that he had been "silent" as the country erupted in anger. He did tweet, however, declaring "LAW & ORDER!"

Mr Trump has talked up the role of "radical" organisers in the protests, including left-wing militant group Antifa, and did so again yesterday.

"Anarchists, we see you!" he tweeted.

Facebook was facing a revolt from staff yesterday over its failure to take action over Mr Trump's protest posts, with senior figures being publicly critical and some staff walking out.

Twitter hid Mr Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" comment from users last week unless they clicked a link, saying it glorified violence, but Facebook did not.

In New York, tens of thousands protested. It emerged the mayor's own daughter was arrested for protesting over the weekend.

Joe Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, visited a protest in Delaware. The party's last president - the only African-American ever to hold the role - also spoke out.

"Let's not excuse violence, or rationalise it, or participate in it," Mr Obama wrote in a 1,000-word piece urging protesters to remain peaceful.

In a sign of compassion, the Minneapolis police chief visited the site of George Floyd's death and took a knee.

Floyd's brother Terrence made an emotional plea for peace at the same site.

"Let's switch it up ya'll. Let's switch it up. Do this peacefully, please," he said.

The gathering was part rally and part impromptu eulogy as Mr Floyd urged people to stop the violence and use their power at the ballot box.

Irish Independent