Nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd are not only an outcry against police brutality but also against Donald Trump’s leadership, according to American experts. 

Timothy McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University’s Department of Public Administration, told Anadolu Agency that last week’s killing of an unarmed black man became the latest US crisis, already suffering from coronavirus and the “devastating” Trump presidency.

“Then we have the Trump presidency and our contemporary political crisis, which is not just a crisis of Trump’s authoritarian leadership, and malignant narcissism and chronic incapacity and unwillingness to demonstrate or display any kind of empathy, but a larger political crisis,” he said.

“And then on top of that, you have the recent killings, murders, lynchings of unarmed black people who are jogging or sleeping at home or out on the streets, conducting their daily lives.”

Trumpism emboldens ‘worst devils’

“We have Trump but we also have Trumpism, and he has emboldened the worst devils we have in our nature,” said McCarthy.

Many commentators have said Trump’s incendiary rhetoric encourages racism, violence, and national division.

He added, alluding to President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “And now we are in a tectonic and titanic death-match in this country, between the better angels of our nature as Lincoln articulated it during the Civil War and the worst devils of our nation. That’s where we are.”

McCarthy also said he thinks the protests are “an outcry that comes from a place of pain, suffering, fear and anxiety, multi-generational trauma and oppression,” and they have become “louder and more sustained” than the country has seen for over half a century, in the days of civil rights demonstrations and anti-Vietnam War protests.

Calling Floyd’s death “clear” torture and murder, he said the footage circulated on social media helped facilitate and fuel the outcry.

Police unions need reform

Stephen Ferguson, a lecturer at North Carolina State University’s philosophy department, underlined that “the biggest issue” is the way police unions operate in the US.

The US can see now with the protests that most Americans have “zero tolerance for this type of police brutality,” whether black or white, he said, and added: “So the problem is not that citizens don’t recognize the need for reform. Our federal government is incapable of making reforms because of the police unions.”

Stressing that this an “institutional” problem, Ferguson cited the low conviction rates of police officers involved in shootings, saying “you’re talking about basically a 98% probability that they won’t be convicted.”

Floyd protests

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota when police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a slogan for worldwide protests.

An independent autopsy Monday found Floyd was killed by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”

His death prompted largely peaceful protests, though some have devolved into violence and looting.

Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder.

Three other officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.

*Beyza Binnur Donmez in Ankara contributed to the story

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