Protests about police violence are met with wave of police violence

The nationwide anti-police brutality protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the US have been marked by widespread incidents of police violence, including punching, kicking, gassing, pepper-spraying and driving vehicles at often peaceful protesters in states across the country.

The actions have left thousands of protesters in jail and injured many others, leaving some with life-threatening injuries.


From Minnesota to New York, Texas, California, Washington DC and many places beyond, from small towns to big cities, police officers have demonstrated just how problematic law enforcement is in the US, drawing condemnation from international groups as well as domestic civil rights organizations.

The International Crisis Group, which monitors unrest around the world, said the police had used “excessive force”. The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said: “All police officers who resort to excessive use of force should be charged and convicted for the crimes committed.”

Numerous incidents of police violence have been exposed in disturbing videos and press accounts in recent days, with little sign that police are adjusting their tactics.

New York City alone has seen numerous incidents. On Saturday 30 May, officers in a police SUV drove at a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn, knocking several to the ground. A day earlier, a police officer was caught on camera violently shoving a woman to the ground during a demonstration. The woman, Dounya Zayer, was taken to hospital and said she suffered a seizure and concussion.

At another New York protest, an officer yanked a facemask from an African American man who was standing with his hands in the air, then pepper-sprayed him in the face.

In Buffalo, in western New York state, two officers shoved a 75-year-old man to the ground. A video showed the man hitting his head on the ground, causing his blood to spill on the sidewalk. He is now gravely ill in hospital.

On Thursday, a video posted to Twitter showed a group of police beating peaceful protesters in Philadelphia. One officer is seen using a baton to hit a man on the head, before he and another officer pin him to the ground.

Protesters in Minneapolis, where four police officers have been charged with murder over the death of George Floyd, have also been subjected to violence.

In one incident police shot paint canisters at a woman who was standing on the porch of her own home. Footage showed an officer shouting, “Light ’em up” before police opened fire. Minneapolis police have also used teargas, flash-bangs and rubber bullets on a peaceful protests in the city.

In the south-east of the US, a black woman who was kneeling with her hands in the air was shoved to the ground by police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

On the west coast, a police car drove into a protester in Los Angeles, briefly trapping them underneath the engine, and police used teargas to dispel a demonstration in Santa Monica.

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