The United States has experienced large-scale racial riots in the past, but now the situation is different and also more serious in many ways, says Mika Aaltola, director of the Foreign Policy Institute. In addition to structural racism, the situation is now affected by the corona restrictions that have strongly divided the people and the explosive rise in unemployment following the epidemic.
In addition, there is a president in power who strongly divides the nation, and new presidential elections are imminent.
- All this together is making this quite a summer, many things are possible. Unrest not only among minorities but also in other parts of the U.S. population can be palpable, Aaltola predicts.
For minorities, police violence has been a traditional lightning rod in the United States, but in the current situation, political injustice is much more widely perceived, among other things, due to unemployment.
- Young men and invisibility are never a good combination, Aaltola sums up.
"Trump would like to look strong"
According to Aaltola, the rapid spread of unrest from Minneapolis across the federal state and also to larger cities speaks clearly of the fact that there was already a “demand” for rioting. This was not the case in previous unrest in Los Angeles, for example, in 1992.
According to Aaltola, the skill of arousing extremists has also been learned in the United States.
- That is, provoking the other party to do something that looks so bad in TV pictures that it increases its own support.
Protests on the outskirts of the White House in Washington have also directly challenged President Donald Trump, who has threatened to march the army into the streets to restore order.
- Trump failed to treat the corona and looked weak. Now he would like to look strong, Aaltola says.
Contrary to what Trump has wanted, the United States also does not look big in the world but smaller all the time. It may cause Trump to have a reflexive urge to bulge with force, which can lead to a worsening of the situation.
The military has not been used in the United States to restore order since the 1960s, and according to Aaltola, the general perception is that it is only provoking and exacerbating the situation. The result may be the shift of violence, as in previous decades, to elsewhere, such as assassinations.
The economy and employment do not restrain
According to Aaltola, the fact that most Americans still want to continue a normal life is a brake on the situation. In their view, peaceful coexistence should be possible, even if there is disagreement. That is why many states have tried to keep the demonstrations peaceful.
The Trump era, which has strongly divided the nation, has so far not seen widespread unrest, contributed to by strong economic growth and low unemployment.
- Now these two elements are gone, Aaltola says.
According to him, it may be difficult to understand the United States in Europe, because in many ways it is a tougher society, where police practices are also tougher. In terms of unrest, according to Aaltola, the closest counterpart could be France, where long-lasting protests of yellow vests were experienced.
However, it is not entirely worth lulling the fact that the problems remain behind the ocean.
- Yes, American riots may also spread to Europe, the vocabulary has been quite similar in many parts of Europe, Aaltola warns.