WASHINGTON: Police used chemical irritants to disperse protesters from streets around the White House on Monday as President Donald Trump claimed Democrats had lost control over the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Thousands gathered in Washington this weekend to protest racism and alleged police brutality. The rallies began on Friday evening and continued till Monday morning, splitting into small groups and marching in the streets around the White House.
Mostly, the protesters remained peaceful, standing in lines, chanting slogans and taunting police. But clashes with police were reported from cities across the nation, including Washington, enabling President Trump to portray the campaign for black rights as an uprising by the radical left.
“The Radical Left Mayors & Governors of Cities where this crazy violence is taking place have lost control of their movement,” he said in a tweet on Monday. Most of these mayors and governors are Democrats.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but the Anarchists & Agitators got carried away and don’t listen anymore — even forced Slow Joe (Joe Biden) out of basement,”
The US president describes the “Black Lives Matter” movement as a law and order situation and urges Americans to vote for him if they want to protect themselves from this alleged lawlessness. Political observers say that the movement could benefit Trump if it intensified and became violent.
In Washington, police arrested five people on Saturday night for their involvement in riots at Black Lives Matter Plaza, near the White House. Police said the riots started when some protesters began setting fires, lighting fireworks and throwing projectiles at their officers. Five officers and some protesters were hurt. The clashes continued till Sunday morning.
The clashes resumed on Sunday evening when police used chemical irritants to disperse the protesters who spread across downtown Washington and continued their agitation until Monday morning.
“For most of the evening, the majority of the crowd had moved peacefully in protests,” The Washington Post observed. Some protesters were also arrested on Sunday evening and Monday morning. More than 500 people have been arrested in Washington since May 30 when the anti-racism protests began.
The protests followed the death of an African American, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis three months ago.
This week’s protests followed the death of another African American man, Jacob Blake, during a police action in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 23. The demonstrations intensified and spread across America when a white teenager shot dead two Black Lives Matter protesters in Antioch, Illinois, on Aug 25.
In Portland, Washington, protests have continued for nearly one hundred nights to demand changes to law enforcement and an end to systemic racism and injustice.