Rage and anguish: how the US papers have covered the George Floyd protests


The front pages of US newspapers over the past few days tell of the double tragedy of a nation rocked by protests over the death of George Floyd and the growing coronavirus toll.

The New York Times front page on Monday says “Twin crises and surging anger convulse US”. Alongside pictures from the protests, two headlines proclaim: “Pandemic leaves nation’s nerves on edge”; and, “Videos from protests deepen scrutiny of aggressive police tactics”.

An op-ed piece asks what Trump and “toxic cops” have in common? It reads: “When historians look back at the Trump era, they may very well say his presidency was encapsulated by this moment, when a sadistic cop knelt on the neck of an African-American man for almost nine minutes in plain view and the streets exploded in rage.”

Monday’s Washington Post headline summed up the tension in the nation: “US at a precipice as demonstrations intensify”. An editorial was headlined: “As cities burn, Trump’s bullhorn drowns out the voices of our better angels”. It says Trump, who it calls the “divider in chief” is playing his “customary role as human flamethrower: exactly the wrong leader for the times”.

The Boston Globe’s Sunday front page also reported the twin crises: “The virus’s tale” and “Leaders urge calm, brace for unrest”.

The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday carried a powerful image of the protests with the headline: “Riots, shooting rock Oakland”. Also on its front page it reports the “dramatic breakdown of (coronavirus) infections among races”. Minorities in America have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Its editorial laments “Trump’s failure of leadership for a nation in crisis”.

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“A nation reeling from the worst pandemic in a century and the worst unemployment since the Great Depression of the 1930s now faces the inflammation of an affliction that has betrayed the American ideal of equal justice for all from its founding: the frustration and pain of systemic racism,” the editorial says.

The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday headline is “Protests give rise to chaos” under a graphic image of a burning car. The paper said downtown Chicago was locked down as unrest spread to the south and west of the city and to some suburbs. Its editorial called for “Zero tolerance for rioting in the fight for police reform”. It said the outrage over George Floyd’s killing was justified and “nationwide demands to end police abuse are legitimate”. But, it said: “The rioting and vandalism that overshadowed peaceful protests the past several days represent something vile and shameful.”

The Los Angeles Times carried vivid images of the destruction in the city, with the headline “Feels like the fires last time”, remembering unrest in LA in 1992 after acquittals in the Rodney King case.

Minnesota’s Star Tribune carried the headline: “The guard moves in”. Its Sunday editorial, in the state where Floyd lost his life, was headlined: “A week that will live in ignominy”

In Florida, the Tampa Bay Times carried a striking image of a young boy in a mask, and the headline: “Tampa orders curfew as clashes continue”.



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