United Nations: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on American protesters participating in demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, to do so peacefully and that authorities respond with restraint.
The fallout over the killing Floyd continues, with leaders around the country taking various steps to respond amid nationwide mostly peaceful protests, some of which have led to fatalities, injuries and property damage. Curfews have been placed in several cities across the country that have experienced violent protests.
“Grievances must be heard, but they must be expressed in peaceful ways and authorities must show restraint in responding to demonstrators,” the spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters at a virtual news briefing in New York on Monday.
“In the U.S. – as in any other country in the world – diversity is a richness and not a threat, but the success of diverse societies in any country requires a massive investment in social cohesion,” he added.
The protests were sparked off after Floyd died in police custody on Monday after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes in Minneapolis.
Chauvin was charged on Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The other three officers at the scene have also been fired and could face charges.
Spokesman Dujarric explained that the U.N. has repeatedly advocated 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.”
The demonstrations have spread overseas as major metropolitan cities including Berlin, London and Dublin have seen protests calling for justice in the death of Floyd.
And in cases of instances of police violence, Dujarric reiterated the UN’s stance, calling for thorough investigations.
“We’ve 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”, the UN Spokesperson said.
Throughout the weekend, reports reverberated of shootings, lootings and vandalism in a host of American cities, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, riot police fired tear gas and pepper bullets to try to disperse crowds and according to news reports, at least 4,400 people have been arrested.
By some accounts, the country is experiencing the most widespread racial turbulence and civil unrest since civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, was assassinated in 1968.
Although only days ago the coronavirus pandemic had led to weeks of largely empty streets across the country, march routes in many cities have seen demonstrators ignoring physical-distancing, marching shoulder to shoulder, despite the risk of further transmission.
Speaking at a regular World Health Organization (WHO) press conference in Geneva, infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said that physical distancing remains a `very important aspect’ to control and suppress transmission.
“This is not over yet and we need to ensure that any locations that are considering these mass gathering events”, have “systems in place to prevent and detect and respond to any such cases”, she pointed out.