Portland police chief in U.S. resigns as protests against racism continue

2020-06-10 02:17:10 GMT2020-06-10 10:17:10(Beijing Time) Xinhua English
Demonstrators participate in a "Black Lives Matter" protest in Brussels, Belgium, June 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)  Demonstrators participate in a "Black Lives Matter" protest in Brussels, Belgium, June 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Portland's police chief Jami Resch resigned on Monday amid mounting criticism over her handling of protests that shook Oregon's largest city as part of a global movement sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African American who died due to police brutality.

"I have listened and our community and you have said show us change," she tweeted. "It starts with trust. This change in leadership comes from my heart."

Resch was just six months into her job as top cop when making the surprise announcement. She has asked for Chuck Lovell, an African-American lieutenant, to replace her.

The shakeup came as police departments across the United States have faced upheaval following Floyd's death, which has forced a reckoning of police brutality towards African-Amerians.

"I felt like if I in some small way could be the start for some community healing, it was my duty to do that," Lovell told a press conference.

DEVELOPMENT IN U.S.

In Floyd's hometown of Houston in Texas, a six-hour public viewing for him was held was in the Fountain of Praise Church.

Hours before the viewing began, people from across the country waited in long lines in scorching heat outside the church to pay their respects to Floyd's coffin, the final stop of a series of memorials in his honor.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after being pinned by the neck for nine minutes by a white officer's knee while pleading "I can't breathe."

Doreatha Walker, an African American woman, came on behalf of her family.

"If you don't stand for something, you fall for anything. George Floyd didn't deserve to die the way he did," she told Xinhua. "We have to stand up against police brutality. We have to stand up against racism. I'm here today and I don't care about the heat because all of these have to stop."

Walker said her daughter and niece attended the protests in Houston in the past few days. Showing up to represent them, she said inequality and injustice must be replaced by equality and justice in the country.

"If I want to go to another city or state, I should be able to live in peace and harmony, not worry because of the color of my skin," she said.

Though the Democrats are proposing to overhaul legal protections for police and to fight systemic racism in the law enforcement following Floyd's death, huge crowds gathered in major U.S. cities with a largely peaceful mood prevailing over the demonstrations.

The vibrant atmosphere was marred on Sunday when a man drove a car into a rally in Seattle and shot and wounded a protestor who confronted him. The suspect, Nikolas Fernandez, was charged with assault on Monday.

Separately, Virginia prosecutors said on Monday a man facing charges for driving his pickup truck into racial equality protesters is a local leader of the Ku Klux Klan, a domestic terrorist organization founded shortly after the United States Civil War ended.

Harry H. Rogers, 36, was charged with assault and battery, malicious wounding and felony vandalism, the Henrico County police department said in statement.

SWELLING PROTESTS

Outrage over Floyd's death has fuelled worldwide marches, with protesters embracing the Black Lives Matter message and calling for an end to racism and police abuse.

Dozens of people gathered on Monday outside the U.S. embassy in Turkish capital of Ankara over the death of Floyd.

Protesters chanted slogans such as "Stop racism" and "We can't breathe," calling on American authorities to "urgently stop all human rights abuses and deploy efforts to fundamentally reform the system against racism."

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner pledged to stamp out racism and police violence and unveiled a series of measures to improve police forces' ethics amid growing public anger at police brutality.

"Racism has no place in our society and even less in our Republican police. I will not let the hateful actions of some stigmatise all," Castaner told a press conference. Some 23,300 people in France joined Saturday's "Black Lives Matter" protests.

In Brussels, more than 10,000 people demonstrated on Sunday at Place Poelart in the city center. Protesters of all ages and ethnic backgrounds chanted "Black Lives Matter," "No Justice, No Peace."

"The murder of George Floyd has visibly awakened many people," Brussels Times newspaper quoted Ange Kazi, spokesperson of the Belgian Network for Black Lives Matter, which called for the protest, as saying. "Many people are fed up with police violence, which systematically affects Blacks," she said.

Thousands of people went down on their knees on the streets outside the U.S. embassy in Ireland, the third of its kind following the killing of Floyd, demanding a systematic change to the deep-rooted racism in the United States and other countries.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that all Canadian police should be equipped with body cameras as a simple way to address complaints of racism and brutality.

"With the many disturbing reports of violence against black Canadians and indigenous people, we know that we need to do much more," Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa. "We need to do it now."

Trudeau and his ministers took a knee in solidarity with the demonstrators who were marching against racism and police brutality in Ottawa on Friday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also expressed its full support to the global movement against racism, but highlighted the importance for protesters to take preventive measures against COVID-19.

"WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. We reject discrimination of all kinds. We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.

DOUBlE STANDARDS

Racism has been a chronic problem in the United States, with a history almost as old as the country itself. Floyd's death serves as a new, chilling reminder that racial discrimination seems to be showing no signs of improvement among the American population.

In a report released in April by the Pew Center, 58 percent of Americans surveyed in 2019 said race relations in the United States are bad, and few of those see any improvement in such relations. Some 56 percent think the current administration has made race relations worse.

The ravaging coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has served to highlight the long tradition of racial inequality in the United States, after recent data compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab revealed that African Americans are suffering a disproportionate share of the negative health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

With a death toll of more than 20,000 or about one in every 2,000 of the entire U.S. African American population, African Americans are dying at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans, the data showed.

Moreover, African Americans are facing an ever higher risk of dying at the hands of police due to the color of their skin. According to Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group, black Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be killed by law-enforcement officers as white Americans.

"More than 1,000 Black people die at the hands of police in the U.S. every year," the Nelson Mandela Foundation last week.

"Mass incarceration, predictive policing, targeted surveillance and a host of other tools render Black lives more vulnerable than all others," said the foundation, which was established in 1999 to promote freedom and equality.

Zivadin Jovanovic, former foreign minister of Yugoslavia, told Xinhua the death of Floyd and the U.S. response to ensuing protests demonstrated double standards in the country's policies on certain rights it has been insisting on around the world.

"The rights are acceptable for them only in their objective to dominate globally," he said.

Jovanovic noted that racial discrimination is deeply rooted in the history of the United States' socio-economic and political practice, and segregation is still visible in the distribution of wealth and availability of health protection.

Indonesian political analyst Irwansyah said that the death of Floyd reveals the double standards of Washington, adding that the protests are caused by not only racism, but also other factors such as economic inequality and the failed COVID-19 response.

The sentiment was echoed by Turkish expert Deniz Zeyrek, who pointed out that the anger of demonstrators is not only about the situation of African Americans or the death of Floyd, but also about the whole social problems in the United States.

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