Anger at new police abuse videos as US protests eye weekend
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New York (AFP)
Outrage soared in America Friday over new images of police brutality caught on camera as demonstrators sought to take mass protests over the killing of an unarmed black man into a second weekend.
With rolling demonstrations over the death last week of George Floyd showing little sign of letting up, arguments raged over the level of force officers were deploying against largely peaceful protesters.
In Buffalo, New York, two cops were suspended without pay after a video showed then pushing over a 75-year-old protester who fell and suffered a head injury.
Reporting the suspension on Twitter, city mayor Byron Brown said he and the police commissioner were "deeply disturbed" by the video.
An earlier police statement said the man, who appeared unconscious and bleeding heavily from the head, "tripped and fell."
Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful," in a tweet.
"Police Officers must enforce - NOT ABUSE - the law," he wrote.
In Indianapolis, police launched an investigation after a video emerged showing at least four officers hitting a woman with batons and firing pepper balls at her on Sunday night.
And in New York City Thursday, officers baton-charged dozens of peaceful protesters defying a curfew in the Bronx after pinning them in, leaving them with nowhere to run, several reports said.
- 'Open your eyes' -
The NYPD made 270 arrests as its officers broke up several protests taking place across the city after the 8:00 pm curfew.
Underfire New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who imposed the week-long night-time curfew after widespread looting earlier in the week, has repeatedly said the NYPD is showing "restraint."
In an editorial published Friday, The New York Times called on him to "open your eyes.
"The police are out of control," it said.
Thousands of people have been marching in cities across the United States for 10 straight days, with large demonstrations also taking place in European capitals.
Floyd, 46, died in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis during a May 25 arrest when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
His death has reignited long-felt anger over police killings of African-Americans and unleashed a nationwide wave of civil unrest unlike any seen in the United States since Martin Luther King Jr's 1968 assassination.
It has also posed Donald Trump with one of the greatest challenges of his tumultuous presidency.
While condemning Floyd's death, he has adopted a tough stance towards the protesters and has been accused of exacerbating tensions.
US civil rights groups have filed a case suing Trump after security forces fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear peaceful demonstrators in Washington before the president walked to a church for a photo op earlier this week.
Mayor Muriel Bowser Friday renamed the area outside the White House "Black Lives Matter Plaza" -- unveiling a giant street mural -- after tweeting a letter calling on Trump to "withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from our city."
But Trump was back in buoyant mood following the release of strong job numbers, telling reporters that it marked a "great day" for Floyd.
He said such violence as Floyd's death in handcuffs cannot be allowed to happen.
Nevertheless, Trump added, "Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing for our country."
"There's a great day for him. It's a great day for everybody," he said.
- Curfews lifted -
Trump also renewed his call for those states who have not deployed the National Guard, such as New York, to do so.
Some of the early protests were marred by rioting and looting but they have been mostly peaceful since then.
Curfews have been lifted in Washington, Los Angeles and other cities but New York's is due to run for the next three nights.
Several more rallies were scheduled for Friday as activists seek to keep up the movement's momentum into the weekend.
Some of their demands have been met: Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd, has been charged with second-degree murder while three officers who assisted him have been charged with aiding and abetting his murder.
"We're going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice," civil rights leader Al Sharpton said at a memorial for Floyd on Thursday.
© 2020 AFP