Tuesday night, June 2nd. 7pm, the curfew time imposed in Washington, has long passed. On the facade of St. Johns Episcopal Church intermittent red, yellow, blue writings shine. Twenty-four hours earlier, right up front, Donald Trump had posed with a Bible in his hand, just after his Justice Minister William Barr gave orders to clear the demonstrators with smoke and horse agents. . Now the laser lights draw words like in a video installation. It reads: “Revolution”, “Black Power” and above all “I can’t breathe”, “I can’t breathe”, the latest invocation of George Floyd, under the knee of policeman Derek Chauvin.
The branch of generals
Trump’s initiative has divided the country as always. But this time it also pierced the compactness of the administration. The Pentagon is boiling. Tuesday James Miller resigned from the Defense Advisory Board, accusing Defense Minister Mark Esper of “violating the oath to defend the Constitution”. Miller writes, “Maybe she wasn’t in a position to block President Trump’s order to resort to this chilling use of force. But he could have opposed it. Instead of visibly supporting it ». Esper is a former defense industry lobbyist. It has no political history: it is Trump’s “invention” that chose him to replace the bulky general Jim Mattis. But Miller ‘s anger is widely shared by the military and therefore yesterday the minister had to publicly dissociate from Trump: “Recourse to the army must be considered as the last chance and only in the most urgent and disastrous cases”.
The square is full again
Trump’s tough line did not work. People have returned en masse to the White House. Thousands of people who stayed late, in violation of the curfew, while the rest of the city is deserted. The police built a fence to create a buffer zone about 100 meters deep from the perimeter of the White House. The deployment is lighter: we counted 50 soldiers in the front line. The rest remain in the rear. Close to the network there are many young people, not only African Americans. There are many white girls, teenagers or university students. I’ve been here for many hours. Every now and then someone breaks away from the group and goes to lie down on the deserted sidewalk. They don’t really want to talk. They participate in the demonstrations for the first time. They are wary, cautious. Internal chats run news and alarms of all kinds. Beware of undercover cops. Indeed: do not accept water from strangers, it could be poisoned. Two graduates in medicine with a blue coat distribute hand sanitizer, but also milk to be used to wash the eyes from the effects of smoke. The backbone, however, is made up of young African Americans. Some of them managed, it is not known how, to arrive by motorbike. There is no precise leadership and hierarchy. At least not here. They discuss continuously, even in a heated way. The megaphone is passed from hand to hand to suggest impromptu strategies. Shortly after 19, for example, a “split” takes place. A large group decides to form a procession and head towards the 14th, the busiest street. The rest remain in front of the White House. At 9.30pm about twenty boys start shaking the safety net. But they are hit by everyone else’s screams and stop. In one corner bundles of water are piled up. arrives a restaurateur with a carton of fifty baskets (crab cake and salad): they disappear in an instant. “I’m in the third round.” All for free, of course. A little further on there is the twenty-seven year old Jason Frey of the NGO “HeadCount” who rides a scooter to register young people in the electoral registers. He convinced 10 of them in an hour. At sunset, five Muslims go away and pray on the sidewalk.
Is this “the scum”, “the suburra” feared by Trump? In reality, during the day the most antagonistic and organized wing, like the anarchists, the Antifa (anti-fascists) mixes in the spontaneous movement. It does not give a sign, it does not condition the political orientation of the protest. What happens late at night, however, is not yet decipherable and probably varies from city to city. It is known that several criminal gangs operate in the suburbs of Washington. Maras imported from El Salvador, gang of “black people”. Are they the spoilers? Or political extremists? Or are they simply looting improvised by the most violent young people, but not part of any formation? So far we have only Trump’s words, but no facts ascertained by the investigators.