Washington (dpa) - Tens of thousands have peacefully demonstrated in the United States against racism, discrimination and police violence. In Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Atlanta and other cities, people took to the streets in a relaxed mood.
They demanded justice for the African American George Floyd, who had been killed in a brutal police operation just two weeks ago. According to local media reports, tens of thousands were on the streets in Philadelphia alone.
In the capital city of Washington, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the White House, the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday (local time). In the area surrounding the barricaded government headquarters, demonstrators held up signs saying "No peace without justice," "Stop racism now," or "I can't breathe." pressed the neck. There were also several posters saying "White silence is violence".
Police chief Peter Newsham had previously stated that the protests could be among the largest he had seen so far. A magnet for the demonstrations was an intersection in front of the White House that was only named “Black Lives Matter” on Friday. On a road leading there, the motto "Black Lives Matter" was also written in huge yellow letters - in German roughly: "Black lives count".
A commemorative ceremony was held in Raeford, North Carolina, near Floyd's birthplace Fayetteville. Many people paid their last respects to Floyd laid out in a gold-colored coffin. He is said to be buried on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, where he grew up.
Washington, in turn, has developed into a center of protests - also because part of the anger is directed against US President Donald Trump. Trump has condemned Floyd's death on May 25 and emphasized the right to peaceful protests. However, he is accused of not taking a clear stand against racism and showing little sympathy for the anger over discrimination and injustice in the country.
The designated Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is very different: he expressed his support for the demonstrators and promised them that they would be committed to police reforms and against racism in the future. Biden said in a guest article in the Los Angeles Times that "concrete measures that are long overdue" are needed to put an end to "systematic racism" in the USA. Biden promised to set up a police reform commission as president in his first 100 days in office. In addition, the Congress should act now and ban controversial police methods such as stranglehold on arrests.
George Floyd shouldn't just be another hashtag, Biden wrote on Twitter. "We need justice and we need real police reforms to make sure it never happens again." Instead of splitting the country like President Trump and creating "hate", he will endeavor to heal the wounds of racism, Biden promised.
Floyd had died in an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A white police officer had pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd lying on the floor for almost nine minutes - despite all requests from the 46-year-old to let him breathe. The officer and three other police officers involved were released after the incident became known. They have now been arrested and charged. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of paying in a store with a false $ 20 bill.
Floyd's death has shaken the country and has already brought about changes in many areas. The city of Minneapolis announced extensive legally binding police reforms, including a ban on strangleholders and neck fixation. The states of New York and California have also announced plans to implement similar police reforms.
Former US President Barack Obama believes that Floyd's death sparked an "honest" debate about racism in the United States. The movement triggered by Floyd's death was "inspiring," said the 58-year-old ex-president in a video chat. "There have been so many honest racial talks in this country in the past week that I've never remembered," Obama said. Not just from a minority, but from "a large part of the country".
Mayor's Tweet, English
Minneapolis City Legal Agreement on Police Reform, English
ABC 11 commemorative in North Carolina
Aerial view of the protests in Philadelphia, English
Washington Post on protests in Philadelphia, English