US In some protests, local officials say white instigators are causing mayhem

05:15  02 june  2020
05:15  02 june  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Ilhan Omar says protests valid, destruction not

  Ilhan Omar says protests valid, destruction not “People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And we need to really step back and say to ourselves, where do we actually go from here?’”“The unrest we are seeing in our nation isn’t just because of the life that was taken. It’s also because so many people have experienced this," Omar said on ABC’s “This Week.” The Democrat’s district includes all of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs.

And in some cases, it seemed, they might be right, although the facts remain hard to ascertain. Had the countless fires, broken windows and vandalized police vehicles seen in cities across the country, from Minneapolis to Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., been caused by mostly white

In some protests , local officials say white instigators are causing mayhem . A fire was set in the basement nursery of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House, during demonstrations Sunday night expressing outrage at the death of George Floyd in police


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“What did I tell you?” a voice cried out as the camera recording mayhem in downtown Pittsburgh settled on a white man, clad in all black, smashing the windows of a police vehicle.

As nationwide protests tip into mayhem, some point at white instigators

  As nationwide protests tip into mayhem, some point at white instigators An arrest warrant for a 20-year-old white man accused of inciting riots in Pittsburgh sheds light on how some protests for racial justice create opportunity for pandemonium.“It is not black people,” the onlooker called to the crowd before addressing the vandal directly: “What are you doing?”

Live Updates on George Floyd Protests : Overnight Mayhem Follows Peaceful Rallies. Protests have erupted in at least 140 cities across the United States in the days after George Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, prompting the activation of the National Guard in at least 21 states.

Some commentators have been arguing that the protests and rioting in Minneapolis and across the United States have been at least partly coordinated by Antifa and other far-left groups. It appears that Walz believes the worst is yet to come.

“It is not black people,” the onlooker called to the crowd before addressing the vandal directly: “What are you doing?”  

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What he was doing, authorities later alleged, was inciting riots on Saturday as the city — like dozens of others across America — was swept up in sustained unrest over the death of a black man in police custody. Demonstrations have spread from Minneapolis, where a white police officer pinned his knee on the neck of George Floyd, to scores of cities, some of which have been looted and set ablaze.

Police identified Brian Jordan Bartels, 20, of Allison Park, Pa., as having “kicked off” the escalation in Pittsburgh, one of several examples of peaceful assemblies against police violence creating opportunities for pandemonium. While at heart the gatherings have been an appeal for racial justice, they also have attracted a diverse array of people with other grievances and agendas who have co-opted the moment, accelerating what has been a national unraveling as the country reels from a pandemic that has put more than 40 million people out of work.

Police chief: Over 300 people arrested in D.C. during fourth night of protests

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Could protesting spread coronavirus? Officials are worried. Mass protests that have brought thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health

Law enforcement officials have also said they are looking into anarchist groups that have previously And anecdotal reports of white supremacists and other extremist groups fomenting violence have been U.S. police officials have also said that they are examining both local and out-of-state actors

In most American cities, people of all races appear to be participating in the violence, vandalism and looting, particularly in Minneapolis, where a crowd burned the police department’s 3rd Precinct building last week and vandals were seen smashing windows and stealing items from stores. Multiracial coalitions also have marched peacefully. But in some cities, local officials have noted that black protesters have struggled to maintain peaceful protests in the face of young white men joining the fray, seemingly determined to commit mayhem.

In footage that spread widely online, a man identified as Bartels, who faces charges of vandalism and rioting, wore a bandanna emblazoned with the symbol of the Animal Liberation Front, a leaderless international resistance movement that pushes for animal rights. In the footage, he raised his middle fingers to black protesters who begged him to stop. At Bartels’s home in a Pittsburgh suburb, officers found spray paint and firearms, according to an arrest warrant reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump cancels trip to NJ resort amid protests

  Trump cancels trip to NJ resort amid protests President Trump won't make an expected trip to his resort in Bedminster, N.J., this weekend, as nationwide protests demanding justice for George Floyd are expected to continue.Earlier in the week, the FAA released an advisory indicating that Trump would travel there for the weekend, but that advisory was withdrawn on Thursday. The White House never formally announced the trip.The president hasn't made an overnight trip since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What local officials are saying . Minnesota officials said this weekend white supremacists and others were mixing in with legitimate protestors . Authorities there are looking at connections between those arrested and white supremacist organizers who have posted online about coming to Minnesota.

Federal officials acknowledged on Saturday that sloppy laboratory practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused Craft stores, which some Americans have turned to for cloth coverings and materials for face masks, are getting approval to reopen in some parts of the country.

a person posing for the camera: Brian Jordan Bartels © Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Brian Jordan Bartels

Attempts to reach Bartels, who turned himself in to police on Monday evening, were unsuccessful.

As authorities intensified their efforts to quell the uprisings — deploying tear gas and rubber bullets in aggressive spasms in many cities — police officers were joined by some elected officials and protest organizers in accusing white activists and extremists of exacerbating the chaos by blocking roadways, destroying police property and lobbing bricks into businesses.

“We came together as Pittsburghers and supported a First Amendment right to gather and say more must be done,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) told reporters over the weekend. “And then it was hijacked.”

Some local officials were even more blunt. After reviewing footage of the weekend’s events, Jenny Durkan, the mayor of Seattle, said she feared the black community would shoulder the blame for havoc others caused.

“It is striking how many of the people who were doing the looting and stealing and the fires over the weekend were young white males,” Durkan (D) said in an interview.

President Trump on Monday evening said in a Rose Garden address that he stands with demonstrators who condemn Floyd’s death, as peaceful protesters were cleared with flash-bang explosives and tear gas so he could pose for a photograph in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

FBI Seeks Photos, Videos Of ‘Violent Instigators’ In Last Week’s Riots

  FBI Seeks Photos, Videos Of ‘Violent Instigators’ In Last Week’s Riots The FBI is asking the public’s help in identifying “violent instigators” who looted and burned buildings during nights of rioting last week following the death of George Floyd. © Provided by CBS Minnesota Twice this week, the FBI office in Minneapolis has tweeted a request for videos and photos of people engaging in the violence. In a statement, the FBI says that while it respects the First Amendment right to protest, it must also pursue those who violated federal law. The tweets offered a link to an FBI page, where citizens can give tips. Citizens can also call in tips by dialing 1-800-225-5324.

“These are not acts of peaceful protest; they are acts of domestic terror,” said Trump, who earlier Monday encouraged governors to “dominate” the streets with the militaristic tactics already in use in parts of the country.

Some of the early demonstrations, starting last week, were destructive, too, with protesters in Minneapolis setting several businesses on fire along with the police precinct.

But from Baltimore to Sacramento, black protesters also were filmed placing themselves before storefronts and police barricades to preserve principles of nonviolence, and to prevent backlash disproportionately aimed at them. Videos emerged, too, of them confronting white demonstrators usurping the mantra of “black lives matter,” which gave birth to a movement for racial justice and police accountability, in seemingly random acts of defacement.

“Don’t spray stuff on here when they’re going to blame black people for this,” a black woman admonished two vandals outside of a Starbucks in Los Angeles.

That sort of sentiment was being snuffed out by intentionally destabilizing acts, warned Tim Stevens, a longtime civil rights activist in Pittsburgh.

“People who do not have the social justice commitment at heart, people who really don’t care about George Floyd — they care only about an opportunity to cause disruption — how many of those people were in Pittsburgh over the weekend?” he asked. “How many were out across America?”

Similar questions have become acute from Austin, where a racial justice group on Sunday canceled a planned assembly for fear of violent escalation by unaffiliated activists, to Fargo, N.D., where police questioned four men carrying assault rifles to a protest site in a bid to protect businesses. In Denver, police officers commandeered firearms from anti-government gun enthusiasts who self-identify as “Boogaloo boys,” part of a far-right militia movement.

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“These are people who are agent provocateurs,” Chas Moore, the executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, said of the extremists joining the protests. He canceled his group’s demonstration, originally planned for Sunday, after the chaos of Saturday night. “These are extremists and anarchists, not right or left. They want complete annihilation of the system, and they’re at the forefront of the fires and the breaking of vehicles.”

a person that is on fire: A police vehicle burns a during a march in Pittsburgh on Saturday. © Gene J. Puskar/AP A police vehicle burns a during a march in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Others warned against tagging certain bad actors for responsibility, especially after Minnesota officials at first tried to lay blame for damage on out-of-state protesters, allegations that failed to find support in arrest records. Over the weekend, Melvin Carter, the mayor of St. Paul, Minn., walked back comments initially asserting that “every person” detained in protests came from other states. In fact, data showed nearly all of those arrested gave addresses in Minnesota.

Durkan said the age profile of those arrested in Seattle skewed young, and she pledged to examine the demographics more closely. Officials in Pittsburgh and Austin said they did not break arrest data down by race, making it difficult to discover whether claims of culpability were reflected in on-the-ground enforcement efforts.

“It’s very easy for the government to create this binary of good protesters and bad protesters, and it always fits their whim,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of the racial justice group Color of Change. The dilemma, Robinson said, is how to welcome new faces to the fold without inviting chaos: “We are in a really complicated moment, and we have a lot more questions.”

The complexity was deepened when President Trump, with Attorney General William P. Barr’s backing, faulted anarchists and left-wing activists for the upheaval without furnishing any evidence.

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On Monday, the president’s allies trumpeted news of the charges against Bartels, a day after the president said he would designate an anti-fascist collective known as antifa as a “terrorist organization,” though he has no apparent legal authority to do so.

A former friend of Bartels who corresponded with him for several years before they had a falling out in May said Bartels never once mentioned antifa, some of whose adherents favor aggressive tactics.

The friend, a 17-year-old who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared online harassment, said Bartels was militant about veganism but otherwise espouses views that do not fall neatly along ideological lines. Another teenager who moved in the city’s pop-punk scene with Bartels said Bartels loathed establishment forces, no matter their partisan makeup. But neither understood why Bartels would have smashed a police vehicle in broad daylight, as police accuse him of doing.

Similar scenes of destruction appeared in numerous cities.

In downtown Austin, a crowd of several hundred protesters massed outside Austin Police Department headquarters on Sunday evening. With their numbers increasing, protesters eventually streamed over a concrete embankment and onto Interstate 35, a thoroughfare that slices Austin along racial and economic lines.

The crowd was a diverse mix of black, white and Hispanic demonstrators, but it was the young white protesters who seemed to push the limits. As the crowd walked south to an exit, white protesters were spray-painting the asphalt and a concrete median.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Smashed windows at a Starbucks in Pittsburgh. © Gene J. Puskar/AP Smashed windows at a Starbucks in Pittsburgh.

One white woman was observed applying an adhesive to a traffic cone in an attempt to adhere it to the roadway while a black protester walked by, turning his head in apparent surprise. Later in the evening, white protesters threw plastic water bottles at police, drawing rebuke from some black members of the crowd.

“The police are targeting black protesters out here with rubber bullets,” said Maredith Drake, 43, who had been offering first aid to injured protesters all weekend. “We think they feel like they’ll be less accountable if they shoot a black person instead of a white one.”

On Chicago’s West Side, a liquor store was looted for hours and then torched at about 9 p.m. Sunday. The air was filled with blinding smoke as Glenn Johnson, 45, stood in the doorway of his graphic design business across the street, saying he had watched looters so committed to the undertaking that they worked in crews of three, each completing a specific task. Most cars had out-of-town license plates, he said.

“I don’t condone this, but I don’t condemn it,” Johnson said. “I understand where it’s coming from. But the thing is, we’re so far into this, everything is going to be gone.”

Peter Holley in Austin and Mark Guarino in Chicago contributed to this report.

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