President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the US military if states and cities do not take stronger steps to quell the protests over the killing of George Floyd.
Declaring himself "president of law and order," he made the threat as protesters in Washington and several other cities such as New York, St Louis and Chicago intensified their demonstrations, triggering more clashes between the public and police.
Trump's response at the White House Rose Garden came just hours after Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled George Floyd's death a homicide, adding more fuel to the violent unrest that has spread across the country.
President Trump then walked across Lafayette Square to St John's Church to pose for a photo op while holding up a Bible, after federal authorities used tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to remove peaceful protesters near the White House.
Comparing Trump's behavior to a would-be authoritarian leader, Congressional Democrats denounced his threat to deploy military troops domestically. The same opinion was also echoed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
President Trump's threat to bring in the military by invoking the "Insurrection Law of 1807"to curb violent protests has been called "an authoritarian turn" by media commentator Brian Williams of MSNBC and Anderson Cooper of CNN called it a "failure of leadership" in the USA.
On Friday evening, Secret Service agents rushed Trump to the underground bunker as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House. This is the first time a US president had to flee inside a bunker because of a public demonstration.
Trump spent nearly an hour in the hardened underground rooms designed for use in grave emergencies, and in which the then vice-president, Dick Cheney, took shelter during the 9/11 attacks.
The USA is no stranger to police brutality on African Americans, and the country is currently facing worse race riots since 1968 – which was triggered by the murder of Martin Luther King in Detroit.
The death of Floyd – an African American man who died on May 25 in Minnesota after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing – has sparked worldwide condemnations and expressions of solidarity with demonstrations.
Police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder for Floyd's death. On Sunday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the family of George Floyd that all four fired officers involved bear responsibility for his death.
A funeral for George Floyd will be held on June 9 in Houston.
Curfews in at least 40 cities including Washington DC and New York
Protesters flooded the streets of numerous US cities from Monday to condemn excessive force used by police on demonstrators and at least 40 cities including Washington D.C. and New York have imposed curfews on Sunday.
At least 5,000 people have been arrested in cities around the country since demonstrations broke out, according to a tally compiled by Associated Press journalists from police department press releases, police agency Twitter activity and media.
The arrests were made after protests in some cities became more violent and as police and governors were urged by Trump to take a stronger stance in suppressing the demonstrations.
Officials in Chicago confirmed that two people were killed during unrest in the community on Monday, and that at least 60 people have been arrested. There were numerous reports of looting and clashes between looters and police as violence erupted in the city Monday.
A popular African American restaurateur was fatally shot in Kentucky early on Monday as police and National Guard troops fired weapons while dispersing a crowd.
The chief of police in Louisville was fired and two officers were placed on administrative leave after authorities learned the officers had fired their weapons without using body cameras to record what happened, Mayor Greg Fischer said at a press briefing on Monday.
In Missouri, Four police officers were shot in St Louis early Tuesday morning. The St Louis Metropolitan Police Department said the officers were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The same day, a black sedan ran through an intersection in the Bronx and crashed into a New York City police officer standing in the road, leaving him with serious injuries.
In two separate incidents on the Las Vegas Strip, a Metropolitan Police Department officer was shot and another person was shot by an officer.
In Buffalo, two cops were hit by a car during a violent confrontation between authorities and protesters outside a police station on Monday night.