Mass protests and violent riots have broken out in multiple American cities over the past week after the murder of an ethnic minority by heavily-armed paramilitary forces was captured on camera in the city of Minneapolis. The site of repeated instances of state-sponsored terrorism, this once idyllic city in the American midlands is now considered ground zero of a nationwide democratic uprising.
In response to the killing of George Floyd, a multi-ethnic coalition of Americans have taken to the streets to protest the United States’ heavy-handed security apparatus. Remarkably, these protests have organically spread throughout America’s major cities despite ongoing concerns about the renewed transmission of COVID-19, reflecting the depth of anger shared by ethnic minorities in the U.S. after centuries of persecution.
America’s rising death toll from the novel coronavirus — the worst in the world — has disproportionately afflicted the historically oppressed African-American group in the U.S., thanks to deep inequalities in the nation’s crumbling public health infrastructure. Complicating matters, President Donald J. Trump, America’s populist, authoritarian leader, hails from the country’s majority racial group and has fanned the flames of ethnic and religious tension throughout his presidency.
Instigated by President Trump and other right-wing extremists, security forces monitoring these protests in recent days have brutally cracked down on peacefully assembled Americans and foreign correspondents. In response, violent elements unaffiliated with the protest movement have begun setting the property of major corporations ablaze, prompting the intervention of American military forces and raising fears of a significant escalation in the conflict.
While the U.N. Security Council has yet to make a formal statement on the events that have unfolded thus far, world leaders including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif have condemned America’s slide into violence and have floated the use of sanctions on officials close to President Trump to help protect America’s ethnic minorities.
Disregarding pleas from the international community to peacefully resolve the crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump has retreated to a secured bunker where he has doubled down on threats of violence against demonstrators in public statements on Twitter — a platform he has often used to spread misinformation and incite racial conflict.
Concerned about the security of their nations’ respective borders, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have called for a trilateral summit to help mediate tensions. However, it is unclear yet if President Trump will accept their invitation. Quietly, contingency plans are also being drawn up at NATO headquarters in Brussels to establish a no-fly zone over select American cities to protect protestors if matters worsen.
As a fragile state on the precipice of instability, the United States continues to draw the world’s attention. But can this transitioning democracy hold on long enough before it fractures in place?
Originally published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.