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why are there protests over the death of George Floyd?

Who is Eric Garner?

Floyd’s death, and his last desperate words, resurrected the memory of Eric Garner, another black man, who also told police “I can’t breathe” as he was placed in a fatal chokehold on New York’s Staten Island, on July 17, 2014.

Floyd’s death comes just weeks after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger in Georgia, at the hands of two white men, was captured on camera, and a couple of months after Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician, was shot and killed by police officers who raided her Kentucky apartment.

What is Black Lives Matter?

The latest deaths have led to a resurgence in the “Black Lives Matter” movement, founded in 2013, initially as a social media hashtag before becoming a protest movement, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, the previous year.

According to their website, the BLM mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

Read more: Black America’s despair over police killings resonates down the years as the streets burn again

When did the protests start?

Protests began on May 27 in Minneapolis and have quickly spread to several cities across the US, including New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles.

Protests were largely peaceful but in recent days have become more violent as police have clashed with demonstrators, looters and journalists. The police have faced widespread criticism for heavy-handed tactics.

How has Donald Trump responded?

The US president has been accused of inciting racial hatred on a number of occasions and his response to the protests was to threaten violence. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Mr Trump said, in a comment interpreted by some as a warning that police could open fire.

The tweet was covered from view by a message from Twitter which explained its contents “violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence”, which started a row between the president and the social media giant.

On May 30, Mr Trump warned protesters outside the White House that they would be met with “vicious dogs” if they scaled the fence as violent demonstrations broke out in Washington. On the previous night, Secret Service agents rushed Mr Trump to a bunker as protesters gathered outside the executive mansion, some of them throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades.

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