By Alfonso Fernandez
Washington, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Several establishments located close to the White House – including the offices of a real-estate acquisitions company and the headquarters of the United States’ largest labor federation – on Monday bore the scars of another night of rioting, prompting a company chief executive and a union leader to denounce the violent actions.
Broken glass, vandalized doors and graffiti denouncing US President Donald Trump and praising the Black Lives Matter movement were visible in the downtown area of the US capital, while in Lafayette Square (a public park located across from the president’s residence) security personnel could be seen cleaning up the debris.
A curfew declared Sunday by Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and that city police force’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas in an attempt to restore order failed to prevent a new round of property destruction.
Outside the headquarters of Liberty Group Holdings, a boutique real-estate acquisitions and asset-management company located at 14th Street NW, CEO Andrew Cohn spoke to Efe about how his door was destroyed with hammer blows and his windows shattered with bricks.
These actions have nothing to do with racial issues, he said, adding that this is about violent opportunists looking to sow chaos.
In anticipation of more violence on Monday night, Cohn said he has asked his employees to help protect the establishment.
The damage was even greater at the liquor store next door, where rioters broke inside that establishment, vandalized it and stole numerous items.
“This has nothing to do with who’s in the White House,” Cohn said, terming the rioters as a group of people who feel no connection to the system.
The rioting stems from protests over the death late last month in police custody of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who had been detained in the midwestern city of Minneapolis for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a supermarket.
In videos recorded by passers-by, a white police officer who participated in the arrest – and is now facing third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges – is seen kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck and ignoring the handcuffed man’s pleas for mercy.
One of the buildings most affected by Sunday night’s violence in Washington DC was the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, the US’s largest labor federation.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who on Monday coordinated the repair work at the building, located on 16th Street NW near the White House, denounced the destruction.
“We categorically reject those on the fringes who are engaging in violence and destroying property. Attacks like the one on the AFL-CIO headquarters are senseless, disgraceful and only play into the hands of those who have oppressed workers of color for generations and detract from the peaceful, passionate protesters who are rightly bringing issues of racism to the forefront,” he said.
Amid nationwide tensions, the activation of the National Guard in 23 states and Washington DC to contain the disturbances and the establishment of a curfew in at least 40 cities, Trump’s main move so far has been to announce that his administration will designate Antifa, a far-left political activist movement that has been accused of fomenting the riots, as a terrorist group.
On Monday, he criticized the state and local response to the violence.
“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” Trump, who during rioting on Friday in Washington DC was reportedly briefly taken to an underground bunker below the White House, said on a call with governors.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, for her part, spoke of the Trump administration’s response to the rioting at a news conference on Monday and also threw shade at state and local governments.
“We’re looking at every tool in the federal tool kit for us; ideally this would have been resolved at the state level. The states, after all, have police power embedded in the Tenth Amendment (to the US Constitution); it is their responsibility to patrol their streets,” she said.
The riots come at a time when the US was already racked by crisis.