News World US US Juneteenth rally calls for reparations and genuine police reform
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US Juneteenth rally calls for reparations and genuine police reform

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Juneteenth observances in the US, marking the abolition of slavery, have capped nearly four weeks of protests over the death of black man George Floyd.

The traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans has taken on new resonance this year.

There have been protests around the US and beyond stemming from Floyd’s death after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

Minnesota’s Black Lives Matter chapter took to the state’s seat of government to mark Juneteenth with a demand for reparations and real police reform in a continued push for racial justice following the death of Mr Floyd.

Amid chants of “Reparations now” and “Cut the check”, Black Lives Matter organisers and several other activist groups called Mr Floyd’s death a remnant of slavery’s legacy.

Mr Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring Mr Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe”.

“For 400 years, the United States government has had its knee on the neck of the black community socially, politically, economically and spiritually,” said Trahern Crews, a leader of the Minnesota BLM chapter and organiser of the event on Friday.

“Today we are here to demand full and complete reparations for the American descendants of the slaves who built this country.”

The issue of reparations again rose to the fore last Juneteenth, when a US House judiciary subcommittee held a hearing to examine the legacy of slavery and a possible path towards reparations. Several 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls expressed support for the idea.

Along with demands for reparations, the hundreds of demonstrators at the Capitol chided lawmakers for not agreeing on police reform legislation.

In addition to the rally, a handful of celebrations and demonstrations were planned over the weekend, including multiple cookouts throughout Minneapolis on Friday and a run on Saturday in honour of Floyd that starts and ends at 38th and Chicago, the site of his death.

A poll suggests a majority of people approve of recent protests around the country and many think they’ll bring positive change.

And despite headline-making stand-offs between law enforcement and protesters in cities, the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicates a majority think US police have generally responded to the protests appropriately.

Somewhat fewer say the officers used excessive force.

-with agencies