Anti-racism demonstrators expected to flood the streets of the U.S. capital on Friday, after the killing of African American Jacob Blake by a white officer rekindled outrage at police violence and triggered a sports boycott movement. Tens of thousands of protesters are expected on Washington streets for a march to mark the date of the historic “I have a vision” speech by civil rights activist Martin Luther King.
The protest was called “Get Your Knee Off Our Heads,” referring to African American George Floyd, who was suffocating under a white officer’s knee in Minneapolis, igniting the country’s most extensive civil unrest in decades. Staff covered front store windows with plywood in downtown Washington, and a strong police presence closed off streets — where hundreds of protesters gathered for another term on Thursday night in protest at the Republican nomination of President Donald Trump.
Two people were shot dead by a man with an assault rifle in the subsequent deadly and chaotic demonstrations. A 17-year-old was charged by authorities in the killings and on Thursday filed deliberate homicide charges against him. Trump administration officials condemned the demonstrations, with Vice President Mike Pence denying claims of systematic racism by police on Wednesday and criticising “the brutality and disorder that surround cities across the country.