Trump’s attempt to fan the flames of repression fails to frighten growing movement
On Monday, June 1, with protests over George Floyd’s murder in their seventh day, President Trump and Attorney General William Barr used violence to clear peaceful protesters near the White House. The protesters had committed no crime, but were met with tear gas, flashbang grenades and pepper balls and beaten with batons by Federal Park Police. An Australian camera person and their assistant were hit with a shield and struck with batons as they tried to escape. Trump threatened even more violence as he berated mayors and governors and warned that he would call out the U.S. military to suppress protests in cities across the United States.
More and more state and local officials have resorted to repressive tactics such as curfews and calling out the National Guard. In many places the police have become more violent – the most recent example being when Atlanta police attacked two young people inside their car, smashing their window and tasing them. But these tactics have been unable to stop the protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery and countless other victims of racist police and vigilantes spread across the country.
In many places the old segregationist line of ‘outside agitators’ used against Civil Rights demonstrators was raised by local officials. But this is more and more ridiculous as protests are growing in cities and towns large and small across the country. Another tactic is to try to divide the movement into ‘good protesters’ and ‘bad protesters.’ But this is the strength of our movement – unity in the face of repression and against the attempts to divide while embracing the fact that there are many forms of protest, from urban uprisings to the peaceful.
But Trump’s threats and violence have only left him more and more isolated. His motorcades are jeered by the people of Washington, D.C. His appropriation of Episcopal and Catholic churches and use of the Bible to spread his message of hate have been condemned by religious leaders. Even some Republicans and former military officers have spoken out against his threat to use military troops.
The world is changing.