Driving SUVs into demonstrators. Firing paint-ball rounds at people on their own front porch. Pushing an elderly man to the ground. These were just a few of the incidents witnessed as a militarized nation faced off against its own people on Saturday.
Police driving their SUV cruisers into protesters in Brooklyn, New York.
National Guard and local officers firing paint gun rounds at people standing on their own front porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Massive armored S.W.A.T. vehicles and lines of riot police in Columbia, South Carolina and elsewhere.
Police units firing rubber bullets and tear gas at kneeling, non-violent demonstrators in Dallas, Texas.
Riot police knocking an elderly man walking with cane to the ground in Salt Lake City, Utah.
These were just some of the outrageous and violent scenes captured on video Saturday night amid demonstrations and uprisings in cities across the U.S. in protest of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week and the long history of police violence and social neglect in the country.
This is the first accurate headline I’ve read tonight. https://t.co/sbjvxcGZzE
— Ayelet Waldman (@ayeletw) May 31, 2020
Here’s what happened in Brooklyn:
Shocking scenes of two police cars in Brooklyn just driving through a crowd of protesters. pic.twitter.com/ZuZjhOHoNY
— redfish (@redfishstream) May 31, 2020
This is what it looked liked when people standing on their front porch in a quiet neighborhood in Minneapolis when the National Guard marched down the street telling everyone to “Get in you house, now!” before ordering “Light up em” and opening fire with paint pellets:
Share widely: National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling “light em up” #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #JusticeForGeorge #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/bW48imyt55
— Tanya Kerssen (@tkerssen) May 31, 2020
This is what it looks like when police officers push down an elderly man in Salt Lake City:
— Natural Health Source (@OverAllCareTips) May 31, 2020
This was the scene Columbia which left a commentator to declare “we are living in a police state”:
Found the source of the flash bangs. Police line moving down Gervais now from Park. pic.twitter.com/R44l7PAh3j
— WIS News 10 (@wis10) May 31, 2020
And here non-violent demonstrators in Dallas, Texas kneeling down and chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” just before riot police open fire with tear gas:
— meg’s lil pony (@almondbabyal) May 31, 2020
In a widely shared commentary on Friday night, philosopher and social justice activist Dr. Cornel West argued that what is being witnessed right now in the U.S. is a “perfect storm” of discontent that blends the fresh outrage of Floyd’s killing—and the similar killings of others by police—with the underlying injustice of an American capitalist system that cannot fulfil the human needs of its people and that is soaked in racism and inequality.
“When you talk about the masses of black people—the precious poor and working-class black people, brown, red, yellow, whatever color—they’re the ones left out and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless—then you get rebellion,” West said.
Worth repeating that all of the police violence you see happening right now has been happening for a long time before there were any camera phones to record it. It’s a daily phenomenon in communities across the country. It’s structurally embedded into how these forces operate.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) May 31, 2020
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a viral video post on Saturday afternoon said that anyone calling an end to the so-called “unrest” sweeping the nation in the wake of Floyd’s death is being nothing but hyppocritical and empty if they are not pairing that demand with calls to reform that systems that fuel such anger and despair.
“If you’re trying to call for the end to unrest, but you don’t believe healthcare is a human right,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “If you’re afraid to say Black Lives Matter. If you’re too scared to call out police brutality—then you aren’t asking for an to unrest. You are asking for injustice to continue and for your people to continue to endure the violence of poverty, the violence of lack of housing access, the violence of police brutality and not say a damn thing. That’s what you’re asking for.”
In response to the specific of police violence displayed Saturday in Brooklyn when the police vehicles tried to mow down protesters, Ocasio-Cortez rejected the argument put forth by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and others that such use of force was justified.
“NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings,” she tweeted. “Running SUVs in crowds of people should never, ever be normalized. No matter who does it, no matter why.”