Thousands Gather Near White House to Protest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Uniformed military personnel walks towards the White House ahead of a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, June 6. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Thousands of protesters were marching in Washington on Saturday as rallies across the United States to protest the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody entered a 12th day and officials moved to rein in law enforcement tactics.

The killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has triggered protests in cities and smaller communities nationwide, as well as demonstrations by supporters around the world.

Six buses unloaded several hundred uniformed military personnel, most wearing body armor and carrying shields, at the White House grounds early on Saturday, a Reuters photographer said. Military Humvees were parked on tree-lined city streets.

Various groups of protesters gathered around the city before converging near the White House.

There were also marches on Saturday in cities including Miami, Philadelphia and New York. Friday night’s protests were largely peaceful but tension remains high even as authorities in several places take steps to reform police procedures.

Black Lives Matter activists have called for cities to defund police departments. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who in April proposed increasing law enforcement funding, this week reversed course and said he would seek some $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department.

In a case from New York state that drew condemnation after two police officers were filmed shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground in Buffalo, the two officers were arraigned on second-degree felony assault charges on Saturday.

The officers, who were applauded by scores of law enforcement colleagues as they left after their virtual arraignment, pleaded not guilty, according to a spokeswoman for the local district attorney’s office.

The victim was treated for a head injury, loss of consciousness and bleeding from the right ear, authorities said, and remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The demonstrations have erupted as the American public and businesses struggle to recover from sweeping lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Disease experts have said the protests could spark new outbreaks.