USA has been rocked by protests coast to coast over the death of George Floyd, an African American who was a victim of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At least 14 cities had to impose curfews and 12 states activated the National Guard as increasingly violent protesters left streets of cities, from New York to Los Angeles, resembling smouldering battlefields.
The massive demonstrations, some peaceful too, have triggered another round of debate over the role of protest in bringing about social change.
Quelling the violence, even with a more aggressive response, is without doubt the primary aim of administrations of stricken states.
The riots were triggered by graphic video footage of a white police officer’s crushing knee on Floyd’s neck rendering the victim unconscious. His death, coming after anguished and unheard pleas of “I can’t breathe” were universally condemned across the American political divide.
The booking of officer Derek Chauvin on a murder charge seemed insufficient to assuage the hurt of years of racial discrimination that African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans have felt in the very land of opportunity.
The underlying racial issue is not new. The President Donald Trump’s statement on “The memory of George Floyd is being dishonoured by rioters, looters and anarchists,” sounded far more reasonable than his earlier incendiary tweet “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke on the need not to allow the protesting to overshadow the reason for the protest.
The futility of violence, which achieves nothing for the underdog, has been well recorded in history.
The question is are those angered by the recent deaths of George Floyd at the hands of the police and Ahmaud Arbery in a racial attack in Georgia willing to forego violence and take to peaceful protest to try and usher social and political change.
It cannot be an easy choice considering black mortality at the hands of the police and others has played out over generations in USA....