George Floyd’s “brutal, brutal death” is a reminder of “this ugly underbelly of our society,” former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday.
“People all across this country are enraged and rightly so,” Biden said of Floyd’s death Monday in the custody of Minneapolis police, according to a pool report. “Everyday African Americans go about their lives with constant anxiety and trauma of wondering, ‘Will I be next?’ Sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee for president made the remarks during an online fundraiser hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. His comments came after the governor of Minnesota activated the National Guard amid growing social unrest in the state, and after a local prosecutor said he would hold off on charging any of the officers involved in the incident.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died Monday after a white police officer pinned him to the ground, kneeling on his neck for roughly eight minutes. He died after an ambulance was called to the scene to take him to the hospital. All four responding officers have since been fired.
Biden said the incident is emblematic. “These tragedies, these injustices, cut at the very what of our most sacred of beliefs: that all Americans, equal in rights and in dignity, are part of an ingrained systemic cycle of racism and oppression that [run] throughout every party of our society.”
“If we’re not committed as a nation,” he added, “with every ounce of purpose in our beings, not just to bind up this wound in hope that somehow the scab once again will cover things over — but to treat the underlying injury — we’re never going to eventually heal.”
Protests over the death of a black man who was killed after a white police officer pinned him to the ground have spread to Los Angeles – as Donald Trump said the FBI are investigating.
George Floyd died on Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note in a shop.
Mr Floyd, 46, who was shirtless and unarmed, can be heard in the widely circulated mobile phone footage saying he could not breathe before paramedics are seen lifting the limp man onto a stretcher and into an ambulance before he was pronounced dead in hospital.
Hundreds of protesters, some who were looting shops, clashed with riot police firing tear gas for a second night in Minneapolis on Wednesday in an outpouring of rage over his death.
For two days they have been calling for Mr Chauvin and three other police officers – named by Minneapolis police as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng – who were with him to be charged over Mr Floyd’s death.Advertisement
The protesters walked two miles to the police department’s Third Precinct station, about half a mile from where Mr Floyd was arrested, and filled the streets surrounding it.
Some demonstrators were seen throwing rocks and bottles at police while nearby shops, including a Target, a Cub Foods and an auto parts store, were looted with no evidence of police intervention.
Another protest unfolded on the street outside Mr Chauvin’s home, with red paint spilled on his driveway and “murderer” written in chalk on his driveway. Police told protesters Mr Chauvin was not there and nobody answered the door to reporters.
Nearly 2,000 miles away in Los Angeles, several hundred protesters – nearly all in masks due to lockdown rules – marched in anger over his death from City Hall to a downtown freeway, blocking traffic and breaking windows on two California Highway Patrol vehicles.
Why do Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population but nearly a third of the known coronavirus death toll? Not because of government incompetence, the Trump administration is arguing, but because Americans are very unhealthy.
The United States organized response to the pandemic had been “historic”, Trump’s health secretary, Alex Azar, told CNN on 17 May, but America “unfortunately” has a “very diverse” population, and black Americans and minorities “in particular” have “significant underlying disease”.
Jake Tapper, the CNN anchor interviewing Azar, paused and squinted. Surely, he asked, Azar was not arguing that “the reason that there were so many dead Americans is because we’re unhealthier than the rest of the world?”
Azar doubled down: “These are demonstrated facts.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the American people that the government failed to take adequate steps in February …” Tapper said.
“This is not about fault. It’s about simple epidemiology,” Azar said, adding in a pious tone: “One doesn’t blame an individual for their health condition. That would be absurd.”
Blaming black Americans for dying from a novel virus because they had diabetes or high blood pressure was precisely what Azar was doing. Someone had to be held responsible for an American death toll approaching 100,000 people, worse than any other country’s reported deaths. In order for the Trump administration to remain blameless, someone else had to be blamed, and the administration was now blaming the dead.
It took less than a month after the first shelter-in-place orders to devolve into a full-blown partisan culture war, complete with armed protests egged on by the president; conservatives questioning or denying death numbers; pundits arguing against a continued lockdown with lines like, “You can call me a Grandma killer”; attempts by hair salons and barbers to stage acts of civil disobedience; and some states led by Republican governors moving to quickly reopen, even as other states with Democratic governors announced months of continued restrictions.
A majority of Americans remain supportive of public health restrictions, including nearly half of Republican voters and 68% of people who have lost a job or suffered a pay cut.
The anti-lockdown demonstrations at state capitols have attracted a messy jumble of protesters: anti-vaccine activists and other conspiracy theorists, rightwing provocateurs, members of known anti-government militias, gun rights advocates, established conservative groups backed by wealthy billionaire donors, Republican stalwarts and people who were actually out of work.
It would be wrong to argue that racism was the sole motivation for the protests, or even a decisive factor for the many different protesters who showed up.
But the moment when the US response to coronavirus escalated into a full culture war is revealing. The big protests at state capitols, with crowds of white Americans demanding their governors reopen the economy, started about a week after national news outlets began reporting in early April that black Americans made up a disproportionate number of the dead.
National Action Plans Needed to Counter Intolerance
(New York) – Governments should take urgent steps to prevent racist and xenophobic violence and discrimination linked to the Covid-19 pandemic while prosecuting racial attacks against Asians and people of Asian descent, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 8, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”
Government leaders and senior officials in some instances have directly or indirectly encouraged hate crimes, racism, or xenophobia by using anti-Chinese rhetoric. Several political parties and groups, including in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and Germany have also latched onto the Covid-19 crisis to advance anti-immigrant, white supremacist, ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic, and xenophobic conspiracy theories that demonize refugees, foreigners, prominent individuals, and political leaders.
“Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director. “Governments should act to expand public outreach, promote tolerance, and counter hate speech while aggressively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.”Read more…
The Muslim community in the US state of Georgia is searching for answers after a sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Sudanese-American man earlier this month.
Yassin Mohamed, 47, was killed on May 9 by an Evans County sheriff’s deputy near the rural town of Claxton, which sits roughly 200 miles (320km) southeast of Atlanta, the state capital.
According to police reports, Mohamed was throwing rocks at the deputies during the incident that led to his death. He had had several encounters with law enforcement agencies in the 24 hours prior to that incident.
During one of those encounters, Mohamed was taken to hospital, leading the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) to question whether Mohamed was suffering from some kind of mental health issues.
“We’re unclear as to the mental state of Mr Mohamed, and until the culmination of the investigation we won’t know for sure,” said Murtaza Khwaja, the legal and policy director of CAIR-Georgia, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation.
“What we do know is that law enforcement is treating this a mental health crisis,” Khwaja claimed. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) would not comment on the mental health of Mohamed and the Evan’s County Sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
In the May 9 incident, the GBI said in a statement that deputies were called after midnight and found Mohamed walking on the road. An altercation ensued after the deputies attempted to make contact.
Mohamed began throwing rocks at law enforcement, hitting one of the deputies once and “charging” him with a “larger rock”, causing the deputy to fire his weapon, the GBI said.
Mohamed died before being taken to hospital. The deputy was not seriously injured.
Prior to the deadly encounter with the Evans County deputy, Mohamed had “six or seven” interactions with law enforcement and emergency services over the course of the night, according to CAIR.
These included run-ins with the Glennville police department, the Claxton police department, and emergency medical services (EMS). Mohamed was detained by law enforcement and taken to hospital, where he refused treatment, the GBI confirmed to Al Jazeera.
During another instance, Mohamed attacked a police officer and ambulance with a plastic pipe. A video taken by law enforcement and obtained by local news outlet AllOnGeorgia shows the incident.
In the video, Mohamed, who was walking on the road at night, approaches the police car which stopped to approach him, wielding a large, plastic pipe. An officer steps out of his vehicle after warning Mohamed, draws his firearm and appears to drop it, the video shows. Another officer assists in the encounter, and Mohamed is held on the ground. EMS later takes him away.
In times like these, history’s lessons can provide vital resources — offering warnings for the present and hope for the future. We need both more than ever.For example, this year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust and against the backdrop of the catastrophe of World War II, the world’s leading nations recommitted to the universal idea of human rights; accordingly, the United Nations adopted the General Declaration of Human Rights.
More than 50 years ago in the United States, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation gripped in the civil rights struggle with the concept of love as a cure for fear and hate. As he put it in one of his sermons: “Hate is rooted in fear, and the only cure for fear-hate is love.”
Today, fear is again taking hold. The coronavirus pandemic has created this generation’s great challenge. It has put health care systems under pressure and economies on the verge of collapse. These events have triggered enormous insecurity and make people susceptible to conspiracy theories, stereotyping and scapegoating. With a growing sense of powerlessness, individuals and nations alike have become vulnerable to hate. It’s time for our leaders to resist this age-old fear and boldly champion the cause of human rights and human dignity, once again.
The call to conscience is especially urgent to make now, in the age of coronavirus.
Look up a past pandemic in the history books, and you will quickly find one nationality or minority group that some people blamed for its spread. For the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, it was Jews. For typhoid, the Irish. During the 1918 flu pandemic, the Spanish. More recently, HIV produced ugliness toward the LGBTQ community and Haitian Americans, swine flu toward Mexicans, Ebola toward Africans, and SARS toward Asian communities. Read more..
German carmaker Volkswagen has withdrawn a social media advert and apologised after an online backlash slamming the clip as racist.
The 10-second video post, which was shared on Instagram, had been meant to advertise the latest Golf model.
It showed a giant hand of a white person pushing a Black man away from a new car, then moving him to an open doorway by pinching his head, and flicking him inside a cafe.
Viewers also noted the floating letters in the video clip faded in such a way that it appeared to spell out an offensive word for people of colour in German.
Other social media users took offence at the sign above the building the man disappears into, which reads “Petit Colon”, a reference to colonialism.
After the social media outcry, Volkswagen apologised.
“Without question: the video is inappropriate and tasteless,” it said on Wednesday in a statement.
“We will clarify how something like this could happen, and there will be consequences.”
Many viewers expressed disbelief that the clip was ever allowed to air.
“This could be a massive disaster”: What happens if the coronavirus hits China’s internment camps?
Perhaps the only thing worse than being stuck in an internment camp is being stuck in an internment camp when there’s a deadly virus on the move.
As the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across China, infections have been confirmed in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Muslims are held in camps for forced indoctrination.
For now, there’s no evidence that the virus has hit any of the camps. But experts warn that if it does, it could drastically compound the suffering there, potentially leading to thousands of deaths.
Former inmates — most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority — have reported that the camps are overcrowded and unsanitary. If the virus gains a toehold there, it could spread from person to person all too easily.
Perhaps the only thing worse than being stuck in an internment camp is being stuck in an internment camp when there’s a deadly virus on the move. As the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across China, infections have been confirmed in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Muslims are held in camps for forced indoctrination. For now, there’s no evidence that the virus has hit any of the camps. But experts warn that if it does, it could drastically compound the suffering there, potentially leading to thousands of deaths. Former inmates — most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority — have reported that the camps are overcrowded and unsanitary. If the virus gains a toehold there, it could spread from person to person all too easily. a largely Muslim ethnic minority — have reported that the camps are overcrowded and unsanitary. If the virus gains a toehold there, it could spread from person to person all too easily.
Most black and minority ethnic teachers say they face covert racism in schools
The majority of black and minority ethnic teachers in British schools have experienced microinsults, microinvalidations and other forms of covert racism in the last year, a poll suggests.
More than a third (37 per cent) of BME teachers think the problem has worsened in schools over the past 12 months, according to a survey from teachers’ union the NASUWT.
BME teachers who challenged unacceptable language or behaviour at work said they had typically been described as “oversensitive” “paranoid” or “aggressive” when bringing the issue to light.
A poll, of more than 400 BME teachers, found that 54 per cent have experienced actions they believe are demeaning to their racial heritage or identity — known as microinsults — over the past year.
The majority of black and minority ethnic teachers in British schools have experienced microinsults, microinvalidations and other forms of covert racism in the last year, a poll suggests. More than a third (37 per cent) of BME teachers think the problem has worsened in schools over the past 12 months, according to a survey from teachers’ union the NASUWT. BME teachers who challenged unacceptable language or behaviour at work said they had typically been described as “oversensitive” “paranoid” or “aggressive” when bringing the issue to light. A poll, of more than 400 BME teachers, found that 54 per cent have experienced actions they believe are demeaning to their racial heritage or identity — known as microinsults — over the past year. A poll, of more than 400 BME teachers, found that 54 per cent have experienced actions they believe are demeaning to their racial heritage or identity — known as microinsults — over the past year.