President Trump has strongly condemned protests, describing demonstrators as “lowlifes”. But a lot of other Americans, including powerful Republicans, disagree with him.
The killing of George Floyd, a Black man who suffocated under the knee of a white police officer, has opened a Pandora’s box in American politics ahead of the crucial presidential election in November.
A divided US electorate will decide the direction of the country in the wake of a deadly pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans to date.
Backed by his allies, the populist President Donald Trump - whose response to both the pandemic and the growing protests - has been criticised across the US and globally. Despite this, he continues to defend his heavy-handed approach to the increasing numbers of rallies that are taking place in the US.
Much of the Democratic Party’s establishment, some Republicans, mainstream American media and some powerful US brands like Netflix, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have publicly expressed support for the largely peaceful protests.
Here is a breakdown of the backers and opponents of the protests in the US.
Trump and some Republicans called for a complete crackdown against protesters without distinguishing between the peaceful and the violent ones.
“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD. The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast! Don’t make the same horrible and deadly mistake you made with the Nursing Homes!!!” wrote Trump on Twitter on Tuesday.
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas and a former nominee for the presidency, applauded the president’s stance.
“This is a terrorist assault in our country, and rioting cannot be tolerated,” Cruz said during a TV appearance on Fox News, a rightwing American channel, whose hosts mostly have pro-Trump stances.
Cruz supported Trump’s staged photo outside a church, Bible in hand, a move that has been widely mocked by many American critics. Among this group were powerful church leaders - their criticism largely on the grounds that it exploited religion.
On 1 June, Trump went to St. John’s church, historically known as the Church of the Presidents, after part of the edifice had succumbed to fire in the protests.
“It was strong and powerful for the president to go there and say, we will not be cowed,” Cruz said reacting to criticism of Trump’s visit.
Marco Rubio, another powerful Republican senator, also supported the president, blaming protesters for police use of tear gas and other actions against demonstrators.
"They know that the police have to move forward on them. That will trigger the use of tear gas. And it plays right into the imagery that they want. That was provocation that was created deliberately for national television," Rubio said, referring to the violent clashes near the White House.
Other Republican senators showed support for Trump's stance, while notably, the Senate’s Republican leadership has remained silent and not expressed their feelings over the affair.
In terms of media reactions, Fox News has backed Trump’s stance.
The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board has also appeared to support Trump’s approach, while all the while distancing itself from the president’s call to deploy the military to the nation’s streets.
The president is “right that public order is first and foremost an obligation of state and local government”, the editorial said.
But it also warned Trump that “In the current moment the sight of troops on U.S. streets would be more likely to inflame than calm.”
There is a wide variety of prominent voices that support the protests.
Beyond politics, much of the American public appears to back the peaceful rallies against police brutality and Floyd’s killing.
A recent Reuters-Ipsos poll found that 64 percent of American adults felt "sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now."
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, the former vice-president to the country’s first Black President Barack Obama, whose march toward the nomination has been helped in part by Black American voters and their political leadership, is one of them.
On Tuesday, Biden condemned Trump's approach of protests.
"When peaceful protesters are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people's house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle," said Biden.
"More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care. For that's what the presidency is: the duty to care — to care for all of us," the Democrat Party nominee added.
Other powerful Democrats including Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, have also been critical of Trump.
Of more interest are some former Republican neconservative hawks who have expressed support and understanding for the protests. Among them is George W. Bush, whose wars and presidency were both harshly savaged by liberals.
“The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place,” Bush said in a statement.
“We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” the former president added.
For his support, Bush has been joined by some other Republicans including Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, James Lankford and Ben Sasse, who criticised Trump’s conduct against protests.
Mike Mullen, the former US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had presided over two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during his term, was also critical of Trump’s conduct and particularly his visit to the St. John’s church.
“Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces,” said Mullen.
Jim Mattis, the former Pentagon chief under the Trump administration, who resigned over political differences with the president, also condemned the White House, accusing it of trying to divide Americans.
Some big American brands including Google, Netflix, Twitter, Microsoft and Citibank have also voiced support for protests.
“Racism continues to be at the root of so much pain and ugliness in our society,” Mark Mason, the Citibank Chief Financial Officer, who is African-American, wrote in a blog.
American musicians, athletes and artists have come out heavily in support of protestors as evidenced by the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday which did the rounds on social media. There was solidarity in the universal posting of plain black squares, a demonstration of respect in its silence and simplicity.
Much of the mainstream American media also appears to be sympathetic towards the protests, especially those from the so-called liberal powerhouses like CNN and the New York Times. The Times was, however, heavily criticised for an op-ed it published justifying the deployment of the military to counter protesters, causing a revolt within the organisation.