George Floyd’s death ignited an already full tinderbox of fury

On the streets of Washington DC, chaos reigned, the capital engulfed in the same fury we’ve seen rip throughout dozens of cities in America.

Just a few hundred metres from the White House, hundreds of protesters threw rocks and water at police, who responded with stun grenades and pepper spray.

It has become a familiar sight in America over the past few days, but here it was a surreal one – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue engulfed in smoke as a secret service vehicle was set on fire.

Shops looted, cars set alight, tear gas fired

I’ve been to dozens of protests in DC – the seat of power where so many vent their fury.

But this was different: The hostility, the anguish, the violence, unlike anything I’ve seen in the city.

It was clear, the protesters weren’t in the mood for passive compromise.

Amid the frenetic rush of it all, it wasn’t clear what they thought they were achieving.

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It was raw anger – that felt almost directionless – visceral disgust at the institutions and people they believe have subjected them to decades of inequity and murder at the hands of police.

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Trump pledges to stop mob violence

The president – safely tucked away in the White House – was certainly the source of much of their frustration.

Some spoke of centuries of oppression, others shouted the familiar chant of “no justice, no peace”.

Some many have been motivated by indignation, others injustice or extremism.

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Rage against black killings grips US

One woman justified the burning car behind us as punishment for centuries of racism.

They want the extremes to be seen, they’ve lost trust in the people that set the rules.

It’s hard to see how this fades – perhaps fatigue, perhaps more charges will help diminish their frustration.

Protests in the city of Minneapolis

George Floyd protests ramp up in Minneapolis

But this wave of division feels far bigger than George Floyd.

His name will hopefully be remembered, but there are so many other lives lost that have fuelled this fire.

This time his death lit the tinderbox. But it is one that was already full.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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