State of turmoil: reporting on an America in crisis

Four Years in the Cauldron is Brian O’Donovan’s account of four years in the United States as Washington correspondent for RTÉ News. In this extract from his new book, O’Donovan paints a picture of summer 2020, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the arrival of a moment of reckoning for president Donald Trump, soon to be voted out of the White House

24th October, 2021
State of turmoil: reporting on an America in crisis
People gather at the ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ near the White House to mark the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, end of slavery in Washington, DC last June. Picture: Getty

While speaking to the Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the White House on June 1, 2020, I noticed several cartons of milk had been left on street corners and along the footpaths where protesters were gathering. “What are they for?” I asked one of my interviewees. “If you get tear gas or pepper spray in your eyes, milk helps,” came the reply.

Hopefully it won’t come to that this evening, I thought. But...

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