George Floyd protests: National Guard troops positioned at Lincoln Memorial, drawing ‘police state’ comparisons

Following days of violence, demonstrations in Washington were more peaceful after 7pm curfew was imposed

Andrew Naughtie
Wednesday 03 June 2020 13:11
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National Guard assemble at Lincoln Memorial

As protesters marching against police brutality took to the streets of Washington, troops from the National Guard assembled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – leading some protesters to say "We’re living in a police state."

The assembly came after the US capital imposed a 7pm curfew to try and curb violence that has flared between protesters and police over the last week, with citizens venting their anger at the death of George Floyd met with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

There are now more than 2,000 national guardsmen deployed to DC, both from the city’s own reserves and from states including Utah, Tennessee and Indiana.

With 1,500 extra troops deployed on Monday night alone, military vehicles have been seen in the streets, and Black Hawk helicopters have been sent to fly intimidatingly low over the crowd.

Several incidents of police and military action over the last few days have drawn outrage from both protesters and bystanders.

Videos shared widely across social media show pepper spray, mace and tear gas being used at close range on unarmed people; one resident sheltered dozens of protesters in his home for much of the night after witnessing the violence unfolding outside.

Perhaps the most controversial use of force, however, was the clearing of Lafayette Square to allow Donald Trump to visit St John’s Church, a few minutes’ walk from the White House. Mr Trump posed for pictures with a bible while explosions were heard in the background and tear gas hung in the air.

Mr Trump announced earlier this week that he is prepared to use the army to stop the unrest that has roiled major cities since Mr Floyd’s death, saying he will “dominate the streets” in order to keep the peace.

“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents,” he said in a speech on Monday, “then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

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