Protesters in Minneapolis have condemned as “opportunistic” looting and violence taking place in cities across the US, saying it is not being done in the name of George Floyd, the 46-year-old African American man who was killed during an arrest this week.
A police officer was charged with murder on Friday but Saturday night again saw widespread violence and unrest. In Minneapolis, some protesters spoke out in interviews with CNN, footage of which spread swiftly online.
In one interview, a man who did not give his name addressed looters directly, saying: “Something is wrong with you.”
He said: “This is what I’ve got to say to the people who are destroying things. If you really feel like you have to take an opportunity, like if you’re going to be opportunistic, something is wrong with you.
“If you cannot stand up and fight the good fight and you want to be a cheater and go ahead and take what we’re trying to do, something is wrong with you. Because what we’re trying to do is stand up for the basic right of humanity. And that’s what we’re trying to do and we’re trying to do in a peaceful way.”
He added: “We do not want to go through this any more. OK? I want to be able to go in a white neighbourhood and feel safe. I want to be able, when a cop is driving behind me, I don’t have to clench and be tense, OK?
“I want to be able just to be free and not have to think about every step I take because at the end of the day, being black is a crime. At the end of the day, being born black is a crime to them and I don’t understand why because we’re all humans and that’s sickening.”
Another protester said demonstrations staged in Floyd’s name were peaceful.
“I don’t think the looting and rioting is being done in George Floyd’s name,” he said. “What’s being done in George Floyd’s name is this type of gathering right now and we’re going to try to keep this peace and morale the way it is.
“Our goal tonight is to keep the energy high and the tension low, we’re going to keep that up.”
From the White House, Donald Trump has tweeted remarks interpreted as threatening protesters and claimed the demonstrations have been taken over by political agitators.
Joe Biden, his presumptive opponent at the polls in November, has spoken in support of peaceful protest.
On Sunday, mayors of cities affected by the violence voiced similar sentiments.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, told CBS’s Face the Nation: “I think that there is a place in America for peaceful protest, and we know that peaceful protests have had a history of changing things in this country.
“But it has to be organised and it has to be for a purpose. And when you have violent eruptions like we’ve seen across America, then we lose sight of even what we are talking about.”