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A week into protests, political divide over the right response widens

The U.S. has now experienced a full week of protests over police treatment of black Americans. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has triggered widespread demonstrations, curfews and thousands of arrests. National Guard troops have been called up in states across the country. And President Trump’s rhetoric urging increased use of force is prompting more disagreement. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The United States has now seen a full week of protests over police treatment of black Americans. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has triggered curfews, chaos on many streets, and thousands of arrests.

    Amid all this, a new storm swirled today around President Trump.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Protesters:

    Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In Washington, D.C. today, demonstrations in the shadow of a shrine.

  • Zachary Parker:

    I'm here to lend my voice to this moment, to affirm that Black Lives Matter, that George Floyd's life mattered, and that the countless black men and women who have lost their life to police brutality and racism and violence lives mattered.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Following a brief visit this morning from President Trump outside the National Basilica, police on one side of the line, protesters on the other.

  • Daesha Roberts:

    Today, I'm out here with some friends who don't necessarily look like me, but we attend the same church. And, largely, I feel that they have been silent. And I want to stand with them and help them to use their voice at this time to show our community that they really care.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The relative calm in stark contrast to just 24 hours ago, and an extraordinary scene in the nation's capital…

  • Protester:

    I can't breathe!

  • Amna Nawaz:

    … when police officers and National Guard units marched towards peaceful protesters, deploying gas and physical force to clear a path for President Trump to make this walk from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church for this photo opportunity.

    All this unfolded as protests in Washington, D.C., continued into the night, calling for an end to police violence against black Americans. Groups out past the citywide 7:00 p.m. curfew were met with a heavy police presence, including smoke canisters, rubber bullets, and military helicopters hovering low, a show of force to disperse the crowd.

    On one D.C. block, police officers boxed in a group of protesters.

    Homeowner Rahul Dubey, who described hearing bangs and his eyes burning from the smoke on his block, opened his doors to those demonstrators.

  • Rahul Dubey:

    You're the ones keeping us in this house. Are you leaning up on my — why are you touching my door? I can hear you just fine this way. No, I can.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    On CNN this morning, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to the use of force in her city.

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser:

    We don't think that the active-duty military should be used on American streets against Americans.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Across the country overnight, the mostly peaceful demonstrations were marred by pockets of looting and violence.

    In Las Vegas, a police officer is on life support after what the sheriff described as two protest-related shootings. Four other officers were shot in Saint Louis, but are expected to recover.

    In New York City, after a massive peaceful march in the afternoon, hundreds were arrested after businesses were looted last night, and three officers injured after being hit by a car. And, in Richmond, Virginia last night, officers tear-gassed demonstrators before the city's curfew had gone into effect.

  • Protester:

    I'm done being silent!

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Mayor Levar Stoney today faced a wave of frustration and fear, like from this little girl, who said she was afraid being tear-gassed.

  • Mayor Levar Stoney:

    The system hasn't worked for us, hasn't worked for anyone who looks black or brown. And we asked you to go into our streets and do that yesterday.

    And people were tear-gassed. That was wrong. And I — I will, I will march with you! I will stand with you! I will be with you!


  • Amna Nawaz:

    One week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, local leaders across the nation are grappling with how to meet their communities' concerns and calls for reform and how to manage their response, so demonstrations remain peaceful.

    Today, even federal officials are divided. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas today echoed President Trump's calls for greater use of force and his threat to send in the active-duty military, saying in a statement that — quote — "Violent anarchists and insurrectionists were once again allowed to rule the streets last night in too many cities. The only way to end this insurrection is the overwhelming display of force."

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, however, called this moment a — quote — "wakeup call" to the fact that black men are disproportionately killed by police in the U.S.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

    We need to get a grip on it, in terms of order in the streets. But the overwhelming issue for us is, after you stop the rioting, which we will, what are you going to do about the problem that led to the protest?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey condemned the president's actions in no uncertain terms.

  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.:

    What this president did was to make a mockery of our civil rights. I say ours. I was not there in that park, but every one of us should wish we were there. And I'm telling you right now, if Donald Trump wants to gas someone next time, start right here.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    We will not allow any president to quiet our voice.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    In an address from Philadelphia, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, decried President Trump's rhetoric for ramped-up force.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    The right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition their government for redress of grievances, that's kind of an essential notion of the building of this country.

    Mr. President, that's America. That's America, no horses rising up on their hind legs to push back peaceful protests, not using the American military to move against the American people.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And those protests continued today from Bethesda, Maryland, to Hollywood, California, and back to where they began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where, once again, a community gathered to remember George Floyd.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This evening, former President George W. Bush issued a statement saying it is time to listen to one another, and noting that racism that claims the lives in particular of young black men needs to be addressed.

    He writes — quote — "We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised. That is exactly where we now stand. Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason."

    Former President Bush went on to say, any solution requires consistent, courageous, and creative efforts.

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