George Floyd’s death marks “end of illusions born with the election of Barack Obama”

The six-day protest movement in the United States after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has never been seen in more ways than one. In addition to racism, protesters are now addressing US President Donald Trump.

The days pass but the fire remains strong. The protest movement that began in the United States after the death of a black American, George Floyd, when he was arrested on May 25 by the Minneapolis White Police continues to gain momentum. The night of Sunday, May 31 through Monday, June 1 brought new conflicts between protesters and law enforcement in several cities across the country, including just steps from the White House in Washington.

National guard soldiers have been deployed to 15 states, while local authorities have imposed curfews in dozens of cities. Then heard the riots after the 1968 murder of Martin Luther King.

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“Something exceptional is happening in the US right now, we are dealing with a powder magazine that has exploded,” said Judge Romain Huret, historian of the United States and director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes et sociales (EHESS), contacted by France 24.

The origins of the movement and the movement are reminiscent of the riots following the release of police officers who beat Rodney King in Los Angeles or, later, the protests following Michael Brown’s death in 2014, in Ferguson. But because of “the rapid spread of the movement and its scale, with the combination of pacifist and violent demonstrations in as many cities and in such a strong way,” notes Romain Huret, the history currently being written in the United States is unpublished.

“The United States has lived in an extremely polarizing climate since the election of Donald Trump, who has played with fire for three years with racist words, calls for hatred and disobedience to some of the population,” emphasizes Romain Huret.

But the violence of the images of the arrest, with a man on the ground asking to breathe and a police officer preventing him, shocked much of the public opinion. These images were widely distributed on social networks and acted as a detonator.

“The death of George Floyd also intervenes in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, which highlighted the great inequalities that exist in the United States. can survive, says a specialist from the United States.

  • A movement that goes beyond the racial issue

“Through his lack of reaction at first, then from his tweets that worsened the situation, Donald Trump symbolizes the absence of humanity. He showed that for him not all human lives are created equal,” Romain Huret analyzes.

The president called on Twitter to push protesters to restore order and urged local authorities to call on the National Guard, prompting Barack Obama’s conviction. It also drove another anger from an American left that was already appalled by its handling of the health crisis.

“Compared to the Black Lives Matter 2014 movement, this is not just a race problem, Romain Huret believes. Americans cannot accept what they have seen and face a choice of social contract, almost civilization.” What America do we want? All of these demonstrations require a reflection on living together in the United States, on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. “

  • Many white people among the protesters

Unlike the Los Angeles riots in 1992 or, to a lesser extent, the 2014 Ferguson protests, the current US movement unites a very diverse population. Many whites spontaneously took to the streets.

“For some of white society, the death of George Floyd marked the end of the illusions born of the 2008 election of Barack Obama, when we talked about” post-racial “and” colorblind “America, Romain Huret analyzes. These white people today realize that there is still a long way to go since institutional racism is always present in daily actions. They have realized the need to make it disappear. “

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Young white people are especially mobilized. “Massive support from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, they represent a more advanced left on issues of racial and social justice,” says study director at EHESS.

In Houston, George Floyd’s hometown, Police Chief Art Acevedo joined the protesters on Saturday, May 30, to show solidarity. “I think we’re at a turning point,” he said CNN, hoping to see “an important reform” in the treatment of police officers who have used a deadly use of force.

In New York, Kansas City, Michigan, New Jersey and elsewhere, other police officers kneeled or marched with the protesters. The sign that mentalities are also changing at the police stage.

“It is quite rare for police to join protesters,” stresses Romain Huret. Often, police cite professional errors in these types of cases. “