As anguished Americans flood the streets to rage against police brutality in the United States, some say the aggressive pushback from heavily armoured riot squads is proving their point.
Experts describe what they call a culture of “militarism” in U.S. police forces, amplified by the use of the reservist National Guard and the sight of armoured vehicles rolling through American streets.
Others, however, acknowledge the challenge police face in allowing protests to continue peacefully while taking a zero-tolerance approach to disruptive looting and wanton destruction of storefronts, police vehicles and public buildings.
Both images have been prevalent in recent days as thousands of demonstrators take to the streets across the country to protest the police killing of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of police last week while being arrested in Minnesota.
Police compassion has been on display, too — including footage of officers joining peaceful marches, providing solace to weeping protesters and kneeling at a makeshift memorial to Floyd in Minneapolis.
Former officer Derek Chauvin, the man seen on cellphone video with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder, but activists are demanding charges against the other three officers involved.