The death of George Floyd, an African-American, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer has sparked weeks of urban protests—some marked by looting and violence—across the United States. It has also brought fierce condemnations of President Donald Trump. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio partly blamed the president for the unrest, noting “there’s been an uptick in tension and hatred and division since he came along,” while Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said that she had a message for the president: “It’s two words. It begins with F and it ends with U.” The New York Times, meantime, excoriated Trump for what the paper described as a “violent ultimatum” issued to unruly protestors, and former vice president Joe Biden charged Trump with “calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain.”
Less anger, though, was directed at Minneapolis’s political establishment. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (a merger of Minnesota’s Democrats and the state’s Farmer-Labor Party) has run the city since 1975. Instead, the New York Times ran a mild piece observing that, for Democratic leaders of Minneapolis and other cities, the violent events were “testing their campaign promises and principles.” The protests, the paper opined judiciously, necessitated “careful calibration of liberal leaders, between projecting empathy for the protesters and denouncing property destruction and theft.” (The Times did acknowledge that the Minneapolis police department, currently run by a black police chief, has a “long history of accusations of abuse.”)
Floyd’s death was only the latest in a series of disturbing incidents that have fed a growing belief among African-Americans that they’re a target of abusive cops. For many, today’s tragic events evoke the experiences of the 1960s, when blacks who had moved into northern cities clashed with hostile police departments, setting off similar destructive riots.
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