From The Guardian’s Ankita Rao in Brooklyn:
A few hundred people who gathered in downtown Brooklyn made their way across the bridge to Manhattan for the fourth night in a row.
The evening started with a rally of speeches from residents and activists, calling on people to “take care of your body, they want us to get tired.” They promised to protest every day until “justice was served.” With the first night of curfew looming ahead, the police presence remained heavy though seemingly calm, more officers dressed down than on previous nights.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo had promised double the number of police forces tonight to enforce the 11 pm deadline. Making their way through Brooklyn bridge traffic, cars honked in support. Spray painted slogans on the bridge marked previous nights of protest.
Protests in Philadelphia met with aggression from police and white civilians with bats
In Philadelphia tonight, more than two dozen protestors were arrested after hundreds marched through the city. Teargas and rubber bullets were used on the crowd, which defied the city’s 6pm curfew, according to local reporters.
In the Fishtown neighborhood, a crowd of mostly white men with bats, hammers, and golf clubs took to the streets, saying they were there to protect the area from looters, according to local reporters. A separate group of people in the neighborhood asked police officers to send the armed group home.
One man who appeared to have a hatchet was taken into police custody, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A producer for WHYY, the local public radio station, who documented the scene said the mostly white crowd with weapons was dispersed by police. A black man appeared to have been arrested while saying that a bat was thrown at him.
Producer Jon Ehrens tweeted that he was “called out” for recording the crowd of self-described vigilantes, “and they beat the shit out of me and pushed my girlfriend.”
Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks in Philadelphia tomorrow.
Earlier today, the Biden emerged from isolation and addressed community leaders at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Deleware.
He listened to community members and said he would not take Black voters for granted, promising a set of policy proposals.
Going forward, Biden’s record of supporting “tough-on-crime” measures that escalated the policing issues that Americans are protesting this week is likely to face more scrutiny.
Bishop of DC episcopal dioscese denounces presidential photo op in front of church
Speaking on CNN, bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the episcopal diocese of Washington denounced the “abuse of sacred symbols for the people of faith in this country” on CNN. The president’s photo opportunity in front of St John’s church, which is a part of her diocese, was “antithetical to everything we stand for” she said.
The protests across the nation are fueled by systematic issues, she added. “We need to understand the deep-rooted causes of these things…If we don’t understand the context, we miss the opportunity to be agents of healing,” She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “That’s what we saw from the president tonight. He missed one opportunity after another after another.”
Bobby Rush, an Illinois congressman and a Civil Rights era leader who co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1967, responded to Trump’s Rose Garden address with this:
The Episcopal bishop of DC told The Washington Post that she was “outraged” after the officers cleared peaceful protestors gathered near the White House with tear gas and rubber bullets, to clear the way for Donald Trump to take photos outside St. John’s Church.
The fifth day of protests in New York have gotten a relatively quiet start, with New Yorkers gathering at Times Square. The city is bracing for more unrest, despite an 11pm curfew enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The number of NYPD officers patrolling the streets would be doubled from 4,000 this weekend to 8,000 the Cuomo said.
A citywide curfew like the one implemented today is highy unusual. The last time such a curfew was enacted was in 1943, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia called a curfew in response to the Harlem riots, as the Gothamist pointed out.
The 1943 riots were also in response to police brutality against Black Americans. In response, more than 16,000 officers including police and state guardsmen were deployed to quell the demonstration. Five African Americans were killed by police, and approximately 500 Black men and women were arrested, according to an NYPD report.
A total of 16,100 men were deployed to quell the violence; they were comprised of 6,600 civil police officers, 8,000 states guardsman and some volunteers as well. According to an NYPD report, five African-Americans were killed by police, and close to 400 people were injured. Damages caused by the riot were estimated to be as high as $5 million. During the riot, police arrested approximately 500 African-American men and women.
Officers clearing out crowds near the White House pushed and hit an Australian camera crew, according to video captured of the incident.
During his brief address, Trump said he is an “ally of all peaceful protestors”, even as a crowd of peaceful protesters and journalists gathered outside the White House were cleared out with force.
Maanvi Singh, here, writing from the Bay Area.
It seems the area around the White House has now calmed.
The president is being widely criticized for using tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors in order to make way for a presidential photo op.
White House pool reporters breathed in tear gas lingering in the air and were treated roughly by White House staff, according to Steven Portnoy of CBS News.
Fact check: Trump’s military threats
Under the Civil War-era Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement actions such as making arrests, seizing property or searching people, the AP notes.
In extreme cases, however, the president can invoke the Insurrection Act, also from the Civil War, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for law enforcement.
From the Atlantic last year when there was talk of Trump using this act for immigration enforcement, Stephen I Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas, wrote: “The ‘Insurrection Act’ is an umbrella term for a series of statutes that date all the way back to the Founding, and through which Congress has exercised its authority under Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 of the Constitution ‘to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions’. The Constitution’s drafters understood that there would be circumstances in which local authorities were inadequate to protect the populace and enforce the laws, and so went out of their way not only to identify three circumstances in which troops could be used, but also to give the power to delimit those circumstances to Congress, not the president.”
One crucial Supreme Court opinion, Vladek noted, said, “Congress, not the Executive, should control utilization of the war power as an instrument of domestic policy.”
With that, I’m handing over the blog to my colleague Maanvi Singh in Oakland, who will continue our coverage of the ongoing protests and curfews into the night. – Sam Levin
It appears that police teargassed protesters at a Washington DC church, before the city’s curfew went into effect, in an effort to clear the area for the president’s photo op tied to his threat to deploy the military on his own citizens.
The church visit was brief and Trump has ignored questions about how his threats could further enflame tensions.
Protesters were previously moved away from St John’s church to make way for Trump’s photo op.
The president is now headed to St John’s Church, an orchestrated walk on live television that comes after reports of him rushing to an underground bunker during the protests on Friday. He has not responded to questions.
CNN’s Don Lemon, reacting to Trump’s threats to deploy the US military against its own citizens, urged America to “wake up”, saying, “We are teetering on a dictatorship.”
Fact check: Trump said he “strongly encouraged” states to activate the National Guard. He did not note that many states have already done this.
According to one estimate, there are now more than 17,000 National Guard troops activated in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Some have argued that the presence of the National Guard has only further escalated tensions and resulted in increased clashes and violence by police.