In Washington, protesters demanding justice for the death of African American George Floyd on Monday asked police on their journey to kneel as a sign of respect. The gesture, started in 2016 by American footballer Colin Kaepernick, is increasingly adopted in recent days.
The scene only lasted a few minutes but the symbol is strong. Monday 1your June, in front of the Trump Hotel in Washington, police officers responsible for protecting the site accepted the challenge called by protesters: “Kneel down! Put your damn knee on the ground!” Following the signal from one of them, all the officers took turns.
The guest has a special meaning. In 2016, African American football player Colin Kaepernick knelt several times during the US national anthem to protest the “oppression” of people of color and racist police violence. Donald Trump and his Republican allies, angry at what they saw as disrespect for the flag, had demanded a boycott of the NFL, the National Football League. Colin Kaepernick’s political activism, close to the Black Lives Matter movement, cost him his quarterback career.
Several years later, the knee is again adopted by protesters marching in memory of George Floyd, this African-American killed by Minneapolis police last week. The gesture is all the more symbolic since his death occurred after being choked under police lap.
This time, some police and political leaders join the movement and offer strong understandings of understanding between two camps that are usually opposed. On Monday in Santa Cruz, California, the mayor and city police officer kneeled with the protesters. San Francisco Mayor, London Breed, did the same. This kind of scene has been repeated throughout the country.
Tributes of this kind are also increasing in the sports world. Mönchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram knelt down, his gaze turned to the ground, after setting a goal on Sunday.
“Show us your respect!”
Protesters took every opportunity to challenge law enforcement on Monday in Washington, but success near the Trump Hotel has not been repeated. “Why don’t you leave?” For example, they asked a motorcycle police they had just surrounded near the US Congress. “Kneel down with us, show us your respect!” The motorcyclist, who cut his engine for several minutes to lower the voltage, refused to kneel.
In front of the Capitol, at the end of the demonstration, a man screamed in vain in front of the adapted police: “If you do not show your support and continue to protect this racist system, how will it change? I understand you have to do your job. But understand us, too. In other states, police chiefs join the crowd. We’re in the capital and you can’t even kneel on the ground! Who do you earn? 1%? “
Some police officers showed their solidarity with the protesters if they did not kneel. On Saturday, a Michigan sheriff took off his helmet and asked his men to put down their sticks. “We really want to be with you,” said Christopher R. Swanson, before asking the protesters, “What can we do?” “Walk with us!” The crowd replied. The parade that followed lasted for several hours. “We agree with you that everything you ask for is a voice and dignity for everyone, no matter who you are,” the sheriff said. “I love you. The police love you.”