The first consequences of the protests in the United States


On Wednesday, the day after George Floyd’s funeral, his brother Philonise Floyd testified before the US House of Congress Justice Committee calling for a major US police reform. George Floyd had been killed on May 25 while being violently arrested by the Minneapolis police and his death had given birth to protests that had involved all the United States for two weeks, leading to clashes and new discussions on systemic racism and police brutality towards African Americans.

“I ask you to listen to what I am asking you now,” said Philonise Floyd, “what our family is asking of you, what is echoing in all the streets of the world. People of all backgrounds, genders and races have come together to ask for things to change. Honor them, honor George, and make all the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution, not the problem. ” The protests over Floyd’s death are not over yet, but as the New York Times “They quickly gave rise to a profound reflection on racism in the United States”, the effects of which are being sold “throughout society, from large companies, to newspapers, to the pages of dictionaries”.

One of the most discussed topics is that of police abuse. In Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was killed, a big discussion has started about the possibility of dismantling the city police after years of stories of violence and abuse and failed reform attempts. On Wednesday, the city’s police chief presented a reform plan, explaining among other things that in the future he will refuse to negotiate with the unions of agents, believed by many to be overly powerful and stubbornly opposed to any attempt to punish policemen accused of abuse. and violence. Instead, Minnesota governor Tim Walz called for an extraordinary session of the state parliament to deal with police abuse.

In Atlanta, Georgia, two police officers were fired on Wednesday for the violence they used against two protesters in an attempt to arrest them during a May 30 protest. Also on Wednesday, the mayor of the city of Buffalo, in New York state, announced a major reform of the local police force after the huge protests caused by the video of a 75-year-old peaceful protester pushed to the ground and abandoned unconscious and bleeding by a group of agents. Among other things, the mayor has promised a new police unit to be used exclusively to ensure the safety of peaceful demonstrations and greater ease for the public to access the videos of the cameras worn by the officers on duty (which often contain the only evidence of alleged abuse and violence).

Other consequences of the protests that have already been seen concern other aspects of US society and are partly the result of a great change in US public opinion on racial issues and the broad support that the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement have today. On Wednesday, after being severely criticized for comments about Floyd’s death, the founder and head of the fitness company CrossFit resigned. The previous week, the director of the opinions section of the New York Times he resigned after publishing the article of a Republican senator who asked for army intervention to stop the protests. Merriam-Webster, which publishes one of the best-known dictionaries of the English language, has announced that it will change its definition of “racism” to make it more current and account for systemic racism.

The National Football League (NFL), the most important professional football league, admitted last week that it was wrong not to listen to its players who had repeatedly denounced racism widespread in the United States. The U.S. Football Federation announced on Wednesday that it had canceled a rule that prevented male and female players from kneeling during the national anthem before the games (an anti-racist protest gesture widely used for some years). NASCAR, which organizes some of the most famous car races in the United States (many of which in southern states) has announced that it will prohibit the use of the Confederate flag during its events, that of those who defended slavery during the US civil war .

Amazon, one of the largest and most influential companies in the world, has announced that for a year it will no longer allow police forces to use its facial recognition systems, explaining that they want to wait for new laws that better regulate their use. Facial recognition software – including Amazon’s is one of the most widely used – has in the past been accused of “racism” and criticized by groups that deal with civil rights and the protection of minorities. A few days earlier, the large IT products company IBM had announced the discontinuation of the sale of facial recognition systems.

– Also read: Should facial recognition worry us?

The protests, meanwhile, have not stopped even if in the last few days there have been fewer cases of violence, looting and clashes with the police. On Wednesday, in Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederate states was shot down during the civil war. In Seattle, Washington, protesters occupied several streets in the Capitol Hill area, where there had been clashes with police around the local police station for days. On Monday, the Capitol Hill police station was temporarily closed abandoned by the agents, which allowed the protests to continue peacefully.

United States President Donald Trump he wrote on Twitter a very harsh message to state governor and city mayor Jenny Durkan, warning them to “regain control of the city NOW” and threatening to intervene directly to stop the protests. Durkan always replied on Twitter writing “Make our life safer, go back to the bunker” (a reference to the White House bunker where Trump had been taken as a precaution during a recent demonstration in Washington).

During a meeting with voters on the issue of systemic racism, even candidate Democrat President Joe Biden spoke about the need to reform the United States police force to make them more transparent and less violent. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany has announced that a proposal for a police reform will be presented soon, without giving much more detail. There is talk of rules to make it easier to identify agents accused repeatedly of abuse, but it seems that Trump does not want to diminish the forms of immunity guaranteed to agents.

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