Washington, May 31 (efe-epa).- Across the United States on Sunday, local authorities strengthened security measures to prepare for new after-dark riots and disturbances, as angry crowds looked ready to take to the streets to protest police brutality after the death last week of a black man arrested by white cops in Minneapolis.
Local authorities imposed curfews in 25 cities in 16 states and some 5,000 National Guard troops were deployed at various sites in 15 states and the District of Columbia, with their prospective efforts to maintain order being praised by President Donald Trump.
In Washington DC, on Saturday night about 70 Secret Service agents and Metro Police officers were injured during the disturbances near the White House and elsewhere in downtown DC and where police arrested 18 people, both departments reported on Sunday.
The law enforcement and presidential protection service personnel were injured by being punched, having bricks, stones, bottles, firecrackers and other objects thrown at them. None of the injuries were said to be fatal, but officers and agents were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
The Secret Service said that nobody was able to penetrate into the grounds of the White House and none of the people inside the presidential residence, including Trump, were ever in danger.
The preparations by local authorities, law enforcement and National Guard troops came after a night of chaos on Saturday with looting, burning and hundreds of arrests in various parts of the country.
According to CNN, among the cities imposing nighttime curfews on Sunday are Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Rochester, Cleveland, Portland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Saturday night was the fifth consecutive night of riots and protests sparked by the death last Monday of a black man, George Floyd, after he was arrested and then subdued by white Minneapolis police officers, one of whom knelt with his full body weight on Floyd’s neck – despite his pleas and complaints that he could not breathe – for more than eight minutes, evidently killing him either through asphyxiation or by cutting off the blood supply to his brain.
The incident was caught on several videos taken by passersby, and these videos went viral online, outraging millions both in the US and abroad.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday announced another nighttime curfew from 8 pm to 6 am in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul.
At a Sunday morning press conference, Walz explained his decision, saying that it would be “naive and irresponsible to abandon strategy” considering how well the curfew had worked on Friday and Saturday night, combined with the fact that the Minnesota National Guard was fully mobilized on Saturday evening.
“The curfew on Friday and Saturday night allowed our law enforcement to target those who meant to do harm to our communities,” Walz said.
“Law enforcement made several arrests and seized weapons, narcotics, long guns, handguns, magazines and knives. We have reason to believe that bad actors continue to infiltrate the rightful protests of George Floyd’s murder, which is why we are extending the curfew by one day,” he added.
New York authorities on Sunday promised that “rapid” and “independent” investigations will be conducted into the violent confrontations between police and demonstrators on Saturday.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Sunday press conference that the police had done many things right, but they had also made some mistakes that will be thoroughly investigated.
Besides Minnesota and the District of Columbia, the states that have activated their National Guard troops are: Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that the US Defense Department has put an engineers unit and a small number of Military Police units on alert, thus making them ready to deploy quickly if asked to do so.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had ordered – at her request – a National Guard contingent to maintain a limited presence in the city on Lake Michigan to support the local police so that the disturbances that occurred on Saturday night would not be repeated.
During the riots and other unrest this week, at least three people have died by gunfire in Indianapolis, Detroit and Oakland, although police evidently were not involved in those deaths.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump lashed out at the media on Sunday, saying on Twitter that “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!”