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What the George Floyd protests really look like from on the ground

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The protesters had just crossed Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn when they came to a stop just a few blocks from Wall Street. An organiser at the front called a halt to the march and took the megaphone.

“It is the 99th anniversary of the burning of Black Wall Street. Three hundred lives were lost,” she shouted at the top of her voice, referring to the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in which white residents killed their black neighbours and burned their businesses to the ground. “Tonight we march for Black Wall Street,” she added.

Not far from where she spoke to the thousand-strong crowd, just off to the side, a group of younger men wearing masks were growing restless. “Come with us if you wanna go looting,” one shouted, struggling to be heard. “Let’s go looting!” he urged again, and again, waiting for a response. None came. He was ignored, and the march continued peacefully.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

There were many marches across the city that night, thousands-strong, but the next day it was the young looters, and their fewer numbers, who made the news.

That scene and its aftermath was illustrative of a wider issue with how nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd have been portrayed: The vast majority of these demonstrations are peaceful and organised, they are on a scale which has not been seen in America for decades — and yet they have been overshadowed by scenes of chaos and violence caused by a small minority.

Looting and violence has dominated the headlines. At times, with notable exceptions, television coverage of the protests has looked more like the fall of Baghdad than a domestic disturbance. Anchors in studios deliver monologues as they watch helicopter shots........

© Independent

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