American anger boils over

The atmosphere is so febrile that even some public figures who have themselves been accused of divisiveness in the past are emphasizing the need to seek common ground.

“We have got to make real change because otherwise these extremists exploit the anxiety of the people,” civil rights campaigner Rev. Al Sharpton told The Hill. “Most people want to see a balanced system where the police are respected and can do their job, and at the same time citizens are protected. After that, extremists have the floor.”

Others compared the current climate to 1968, a tumultuous year that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, then a candidate for president, as well as riots in major cities and continuing friction over the Vietnam War.

“We had the riots, we had cities burning, the rise of the Black Panther Party, turbulence in the country,” said broadcaster and writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “But driving everything — the thing that stuck out — was the polarization, the division. We fast forward almost 50 years later and we are seeing a return of that sort of mentality.”