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YNTR – June 2020: George Floyd, Antifa, Ebola, and more

YNTR – June 2020: George Floyd, Antifa, Ebola, and more

USA. On May 25, George Floyd (46) was arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. He died as a consequence of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes. Protests against racism and racist police violence have erupted throughout the USA, as well as abroad. Unlike as in many other cases, the officers involved in the murder of Floyd have been charged. The charges against Chauvin have been raised from third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter to second-degree murder. His previously uncharged colleagues are now accused of aiding and abetting murder. A few days after the killing of Floyd, hactivist group Anonymous released a video accusing Minneapolis Police Department of “a horrific track record of violence and corruption” in which the murder of Floyd was “merely the tip of the iceberg”.

France. Despite a police-ban thousands of people in France have protested against racist police violence after the murder of George Floyd. The case bares ressemblance to the killing of Adama Traoré (24) in 2016. Official reports claimed he had died of heart failure due to possible pre-existing health conditions. A second autopsy which had been requested by Traoré’s family, however, suggests he died due to the three police officers, that arrested him after he ran from them since e had no ID card with him, holding him to the ground with their bodyweight. They have not been charged. Two days prior to the killing of Floyd, the hashtag  #MoiAussiJAiPeurDevantLaPolice has gone viral after singer Camélia Jordana had spoken out against police violence on TV. She stated that “there are thousands of people who do not feel save in the presence of a cop”. 

France. Currently, a new law is being debated that would make it illegal to photograph or film police officers (in a manner that makes it possible to identify them). Diffusion of images of this kind could lead to a fine of 15 000€ and even one year in prison. The proposed law is criticised as disregarding the right to inform and making it even more difficult to hold police officers accountable for police violence. At the same time, French police has interrogated Mediapart journalist Pascale Pascariello who frequently reported on police violence and uncovered the lies of president Macron linked to a case of police violence. It is the  fourth time in 18 months that police have tried to uncover the sources of Mediapart. Pascariello refused to answer the police’s questions during the one and a half hours of interrogation and criticised the police’s attempt to reveal her sources condemning “a climate of pressure on our profession and of intimidation vis-à-vis our sources”.

USA. In the wake of a disagreement between Donald Trump and Twitter, the US president threatened to introduce legislation that would weaken Twitter’s protection against liability for content by its users. Previously, Twitter had flagged a tweet by Trump on mail-in voting fraud as needing to be fact-checked and flagged another post as “gloryfing violence”. Yet, they decided to not remove the tweet as it is in public interest. The Trump administration had initially responded by retweeting the latter flagged tweet via the White House account which was subsequently hidden by Twitter.

USA. US president Trump has proposed to classify Antifa as a terrorist organisation. Antifa is a loosely organised anti-fascist movement that sees its roots in the radical left groups which resisted fascist dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini. However, Antifa conspiracy theories are wide-spread among groups and members of the political right. Due to its lack of characteristics typical for an organisation, legal experts view Trump’s plan as impossible and even unconstitutional

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the DRC, the eleventh Ebola outbreak was announced on the 31st of May 2020 in the northwest of the country, while in the East the tenth outbreak is not over yet. In the district around the city Mbandaka, 4 people have died. Meanwhile, in the Kivu province the appearance of new case prevented the previous outbreak from being declared as over. The country is under travel restrictions to prevent a spread of the coronavirus. It is a measure which might now also be helpful to fight Ebola.

Russia/Siberia. Near the city Norilsk in Siberia, 15 000 to 20 000 tons of diesel fuel have been spilled into the Ambarnaya river. The waters are heavily polluted and the installed booms will only be able to collect a small portion of the oil that is polluting the environment. The Russian president Putin has declared a state of emergency in Norilsk. The cause is suspected to be the thawing permafrost, followed by the abnormally warm temperatures in the Arctic regions which made the platform sink deeper into the ground.

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