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US protestors vow to continue rallies until change happens

Protestors visit a memorial to George Floyd on June 5, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images)

Protests across the US condemning police violence against African Americans continued on Friday, as demonstrators vowed to turn their extraordinary grief into a sustained movement following the death of George Floyd. 

America’s most significant demonstrations in 50 years resumed for an 11th day across the US as the mood mostly shifted from explosive rage to more peaceful calls for police reform.

Josiah Roebuck, a university student who used social media to help gather 100 people to protest Friday in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, is confident the momentum will last.

“Once you start, you’re going to see this every day,” said Roebuck, who has attended multiple protests. “I just want minorities to be represented properly.”

Community activists were working to convert anger and grief into long-term action. “We are taking more of the strategy of: ‘How do we actually invest people’s energy beyond protesting?’” said Tifanny Burks, a community organizer. “We are thinking long term.”

The civil unrest across the US had initially been more violent and chaotic, but Friday marked the third day of more subdued demonstrations.

Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25 after now fired and arrested officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, who eulogized Floyd at his funeral service in Minneapolis on Thursday, said Friday that a commemorative march is bring planned in Washington on August 28.

Floyd's death has reignited long-felt anger over police killings of African Americans and unleashed a nationwide wave of civil unrest unlike any seen in the US since Martin Luther King Jr's 1968 assassination.

US civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Donald Trump, after police fired tear gas to clear peaceful demonstrators outside the White House before the president walked to a church for a photo op earlier this week.

US protesters call to defund police departments

The nationwide protests over police brutality have featured the common rallying cry to defund police agencies and invest more in social services.

The movement began before the current protests and is driven both by anger at the militarized posture of many US police departments and by the recognition that police are being called on to confront social ills including mental illness, homelessness and drug addiction.

Some criminal justice activists envision virtually abolishing modern police departments. Others see it as a call to slash city police budgets, which have grown significantly since the 1990s.

US police departments first appeared in the 19th century and in some southern states grew out of patrols organized to catch black slaves who escaped.

Advocates of defunding police say money saved on law enforcement could then be diverted to social services.

“They don’t think the police can be fixed, so they’re trying to figure out how to reduce the burden of policing,” said Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College who wrote the 2017 book “The End of Policing.”

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