Eight days of protests against police brutality of historic magnitude have rocked the United States, sparked by the broadcast on May 25 of a video showing the arrest of an unarmed man, George Floyd, who died after being pinned to the ground by a white policeman, knee on his neck.
If the participants in the movement denounce all of this recurrent violence, each demonstrator has his motivations: here are the words of five of them, collected by . correspondents in the United States, witness to the diversity of the movement.
Kayla Junaye Johnson, criminal justice student (Minneapolis)
“I got a stomach ache when I saw (the video),” she says. “It is a live murder, there is no other name. It is shocking, it is awful and every police officer should be charged with murder.”
This 21-year-old student first went to protest outside a police station in southern Minneapolis. “I found myself on the front line, on my knees, shouting ‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’ I avoided several stun grenades, it was really scary at times. There was one that I did not see coming, I took her by the arm, thanks to the Minneapolis police I got a burn in the second degree”. “I don’t feel comfortable around the police, I don’t necessarily feel safe. I have met family friends who are good police, but when I am near them it is is worrying because I don’t know what can happen (…) They have so much power in today’s world that it is scary, anything can happen. “
She never thought things would turn out like this. “But I’m not surprised. It’s America, being black in America, that’s what’s going on (…) It’s sad but it’s like that”.
Michelle Evans, mother employed in marketing (Minneapolis)
A mother of four and seven year old boys, she did not go to demonstrate, fearing that it would be “dangerous”. But she expressed her emotion by going on Tuesday to where George Floyd was tackled, accompanied by his children.
“They have to understand that they have privileges and that they will have to be part of the solution when they grow up,” she said. She denounces, in tears, the “structural” racism of the United States. “This is how the country was built, you have to put everything flat and start again in a fair, inclusive manner”. In front of the flowers in tribute to George Floyd, she hugs her sons against her. “We just want to show our support and see how we can one day be part of the solution.”
Tyqaun White, black student in music theory (New York)
“It’s just too much, we’ve come to the point where black people just ask that we don’t kill them,” said the 20-year-old student from a family of eight on Tuesday. “It has become ridiculous, we see black bodies killed, marginalized and tortured every day … It has to stop.” “We are in a modern era and yet we have a mentality rooted in slavery. It is wrong. I am fighting for George Floyd and all the blacks killed since I was a child, and I am only 20 years old” . “We are angry. People are dying or living in poverty …. And they want to kill us and silence us? No, we have to demonstrate!” he said, denouncing a curfew which serves to “tame and control us”. “We have to demonstrate forever, until this system is overthrown and built truly on equality and freedom. I will fight as long as it takes.”
Jeff Austin, anthropologist, and daughter (upscale Washington suburb)
“We really need to change our police methods and the attitude of our society towards racial issues,” he said. “The more people get involved in the fight against racist attitudes, the better. Everyone has their role to play. I am 62 years old and I am ready to pass the baton to the next generation so that it tries to do better than us. ” “I have already done a lot of demonstrations, this is different, people are really angry,” said her daughter Lily Henry-Austin, a 17-year-old high school student. “As a white woman, I have enormous privileges, I couldn’t just stay at home and do nothing. It has to change, it really hurts to see people not being treated like humans (…) I will (demonstrate) until it changes, “she said.
Hipolito Arriaga, ex-Marine with Puerto Rican roots (Miami)
Like Marine, deployed in Iraq, “I saw a lot of violence (…), violence against people of color abroad,” says the 36-year-old New York native. “What I did there, I was not proud of it, it reminded me of how the police treated me here in the United States, in New York in particular.”
“We are trained to see people, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, as if they were animals, savages (…) They are called insurgents, it is a way of dehumanizing them in order to be violent with Similarly, in this country now they call us thugs, and the president wants to label us + terrorists + because we exercise our right of expression (…) They forget that this country was founded by a revolution “.