FROM OUR MINNEAPOLIS SUBMISSION East Lake Street is no longer an anonymous and reassuring commercial street, with its banks, supermarkets and fast food chains. Instead, it looks like a long dark scar, the mark left by a cruel streak. The Third Police District is the destination of a surreal pilgrimage. Many people, of all ages, pass the torn gate, lean against the scorched walls and enter to contemplate the result of the “first night in Minneapolis”, between Tuesday and Wednesday, when the police left the arsonists free field.
The governor of Minnesota, Democrat Tim Walz is certain: “What’s happening in Minneapolis has nothing to do with the protests over George Floyd’s death.” The governor, the police department claim to have evidence that “80% of the violent come from outside”. There would be forces, agitators organized with plans and objectives that have nothing to do with indignation for the last eight minutes in the life of George, crushed below the knee and the 90 kilos of Derek Chauvin, former policeman now in jail with the Accusation of manslaughter. The family asked for an independent autopsy, because they are not satisfied with the medical report which does not establish a direct correlation between Chauvin’s violent action and death by asphyxiation.
Among the protesters, the authorities add, “Groups of white supremacists have infiltrated.”
Yesterday morning Minneapolis barely emerged from another night of flames. And exactly as he did the day before, Governor Walz throws himself in pursuit of a scenario he has so far failed to control. It didn’t help the curfew imposed from 20 to 6 in the morning. And the National Guard soldiers who had taken up positions in the afternoon, withdrew as soon as darkness fell. They observed other destructions from afar, other fires.
Now Walz relaunches and mobilizes the “full staff” National Guard: practically in warfare. The governor is in the most uncomfortable position imaginable. The pressures are tremendous. The Pentagon has made it known that it is ready to send the army and teams specialized in urban guerrilla warfare. Minneapolis like Baghdad, many newspapers write. Perhaps an exaggeration, even if it is striking to see the armored cars guarding the crossings, with the soldiers in camouflage suits. The real problem, if anything, is that in many other American metropolises the tension is approaching that of Minneapolis. The other night in New York several injured between demonstrators and agents. In Brooklyn, a man was arrested for attempted murder after throwing a Molotov cocktail bottle on a police patrol. In Atlanta hours of micro guerrilla warfare and a couple of cars set on fire in front of the headquarters CNN. And then Dallas, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver. Practically protests everywhere.
In Washington, Donald Trump commented on the unrest last night in front of the White House. Several hundred young people engaged the secret services deployed to protect the presidential residence for a few hours. “If they had passed the fence – Trump tweeted – they would have found ferocious dogs and deadly weapons to welcome them”.
However, seen from the field, things are not exactly as Governor Walz describes them.
It is true that the overwhelming majority of demonstrators, here in Minneapolis, as elsewhere, continue to spill out onto the streets spontaneously, with signs drawn at home with markers. Driven by anger, frustration. They are gathered with social networks, chats or simply with old-fashioned word of mouth, as Brenda told us the other evening, a very young African American who led at least a hundred peers in the parades of Washington.
The marches, the sit-ins are rippled, unpredictable waves. There are those who just shout the slogans. “No justice, no peace”, the most common. But many boys and girls push themselves to the limit of provocation. They press on the agents’ cordons. They wave their middle finger ten centimeters from the visors, from the shields. They make the barriers vibrate, tear them from the cops’ hands. They challenge them to use the stinging spray. They respond by launching peaks.
In the first line, however, there are also other more disturbing figures. Small fringes of African Americans, dressed in black, in balaclavas. Aggressive with everyone. Some hold rudimentary clubs. Other Molotov cocktails or very powerful firecrackers. Who I am? Are they the “agitators” that Governor Walz talks about? But then there are not only “white supremacists”.
And who I am, instead, the killers who shoot from the running cars? Yesterday they made two victims. In Detroit, a 21-year-old young man was hit by pistol shots exploded by strangers aboard an SUV with screened windows. In Oakland, California, someone fired a speed car at two federal agents, guarding the Internal Security Department building. One is dead, the other is seriously injured.
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