United Nations, June 2, 2020
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appealed for restraint and social cohesion as violent protests grow across the United States over police brutality following the death of George Floyd, an African-American, in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
This is as Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Monday imposed a curfew for New York City as protesters of the death of Floyd prepared for another night of demonstration.
Speaking in a live radio programme, Cuomo said the curfew would hold between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Tuesday, and could be extended depending on the situation.
The directive came after protests in parts of the city turned violent, resulting in vandalisation and looting of dozens of shops from late Sunday night into early Monday.
About 4,000 police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order during the Sunday protests, a number the governor said would be doubled.
“There is going to be a curfew in New York City that we think could be helpful and more importantly there is going to be an increase in the force in New York City.
“There will be double that (number of policemen), about 8,000, tonight.
“It is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight and then we’ll see where we are tomorrow,” Cuomo said.
He said the move was necessitated by the “violent looting, vandalism and clashes” that had characterised the protests in the city.
The governor said the protests had been partly hijacked by criminals whose aim, according to him, is to destroy.
New York City Mayor, Mr Bill de Blasio, who also announced the curfew on Twitter, said in a statement that violence should not be allowed to undermine the “message of this moment”.
Many U.S. cities, including Washington, have seen violent street demonstrations over the death of Floyd.
The protesters are demanding an end to racism and police brutality, a struggle that has gained the support of prominent figures and police officers themselves.
On Monday, two doctors engaged by Floyd’s family to conduct an independent autopsy on his body declared his death a homicide.
They said the 46-year-old died from asphyxiation (lack of oxygen) after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The finding contradicts the findings of an initial official autopsy which said it found no evidence of traumatic strangulation.
Guterres’ spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, conveyed his message while addressing UN correspondents on Monday.
“The situation we are seeing today we have seen in different parts of the world before.
“Grievances must be heard, but they must be expressed in peaceful ways, and authorities must show restraint in responding to demonstrators,” he said.
The protests were sparked by the death of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, in police custody in the city of Minneapolis on May 25.
Tempers flared in the black community after a video went viral on social media showing a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck as life went out of him.
The initially peaceful demonstrations have turned violent in some areas resulting in looting, arson and clashes between the protesters and police.
Although Chauvin has been dismissed and charged with third-degree murder, the protesters say the charge is too light, and are demanding more action.
They are also calling for the prosecution of three other officers involved in the man’s death and an end to racial discrimination in the country.
The UN spokesman reiterated the organisation’s call for thorough investigations in cases of police brutality.
Noting that “diversity is a richness and not a threat” in any country, Dujarric said that its success depends on massive investment in social cohesion.
This, according to him, includes “reducing inequalities, addressing possible areas of discrimination, strengthening social protection and providing opportunities for all”.
“These efforts, these investments need to mobilise national governments, local authorities, the private sector, civil society, faith based organisations and society as a whole.
“We have always said that police forces around the world need to have adequate human rights training.
“And there also needs to be an investment in social and psychological support for police so they can do their job properly in terms of protecting the community,” he said.