The protests gain momentum after Trump’s challenge

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Protests against police violence against African Americans gathered force in several cities on Tuesday, fueled by the outrage of hundreds of people at President Donald Trump’s threat of militarization and the tactics used to clear the protesters.

A much larger crowd than on Monday, numbering in the thousands, gathered in downtown Washington in the afternoon, as protesters also flooded the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Houston on the eighth day of protests over the murder of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer.

“You have no shame, there is a racist in the White House,” chanted a group on the front lines of the protest in Washington, Efe said.

The protesters were addressing security forces on the other side of a huge 8-foot-high metal fence set up Tuesday morning along the northern edge of Lafayette Park next to the White House.

A FENCE BETWEEN PROTESTERS AND POLICE

The new fence prevented protesters from approaching the White House and occupying Lafayette Park, which was the scene of a major controversy on Monday when security forces dispersed protesters with tear gas so that Trump could walk across the plaza and have his picture taken in front of a church.

The episode drew harsh criticism of the president from religious leaders, Democratic politicians and at least one Republican senator, Ben Sasse, although the leader of the conservative majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, blocked a resolution condemning Trump that was pushed by the progressive opposition.

The controversy grew when several media outlets revealed that it was Attorney General William Barr who ordered federal security agents to extend the perimeter fence around the White House, at a time when there were hundreds of protesters engaged in a peaceful protest.

That allowed Trump to walk to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at the other end of the park and the scene of a small fire on Sunday that did not cause any damage, and pose for the cameras with a Bible in hand, a gesture that many considered little more than a wink to their voters.

DENIES THE USE OF TEAR GAS

Acting Parks Police Chief Gregory T. Monahan denied in a statement Tuesday that his agents “or their supporters” had used tear gas to disperse the protesters, as indicated by numerous witnesses and journalists who were in the area.

Monahan said what the police used were “smoke canisters and pepper bombs,” and assured that they did it to respond to the alleged throwing of “bricks, bottles of ice water and caustic liquids” against the authorities, even though the cameras of numerous media did not capture any such shock.

In any case, the event seemed to inject strength into the protesters, who, unable to get near the White House, spread out to the historic Lincoln Memorial, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

WHERE MARTIN LUTHER KING SPOKE

Sitting at the foot of the steps leading up to the monument, the protesters remained silent and then, on the verge of the 7 p.m. curfew, they said a prayer looking down on dozens of National Guard troops who were watching them from the top of the stairs.

Barr, the attorney general, warned that the presence of federal agents would be further reinforced this Tuesday, although he did not refer to Trump’s threat to bring “thousands and thousands of military” into the streets of Washington.

The Pentagon has deployed active military police of the Army and combat engineers in the vicinity of the capital in case it is necessary to send them to the area of the protests, according to official sources cited by several media.

The images of crowds were also repeated today in Los Angeles, Boston, Houston or New York, where the curfew, the first in the Big Apple in almost 80 years, was brought forward to 20:00 (24:00 GMT), after the bulk of the violence began just after dark on Monday.

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