Protests over the death of unarmed black man turn violent in many US cities

Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted on Friday in dozens of US cities, news wires reported. The angry reactions were provoked by the killing of George Floyd after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota. In Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and beyond, thousands of protesters carried signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.”

A white Minneapolis police officer was on Friday charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Derek Chauvin was seen on video pinning his knee on Floyd's neck as he writhes in pain and pleads "I can't breathe."  Floyd, 46, died shortly afterwards. Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in Minnesota. An investigation is ongoing with regards to three other officers involved in the incident. All four were fired on Monday.

On Friday US reporters wired information from many cities about demonstrations, some of which turned violent.  After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators have begun smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant. At least three officers were hurt and there were multiple arrests, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said. Campos said protesters shot BB guns at officers and threw bricks, bottles and knives at them. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms passionately addressed the protesters at a news conference: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.” Despite her appeal for calm, the violence continued. More cars were set on fire, a Starbucks was smashed up, the windows of the College Football Hall of Fame were broken, and the iconic Omni Hotel was vandalized.

In Minneapolis, a curfew did little to stop protesters and others from gathering in several areas of the city, including the battered Lake Street neighborhood where a police precinct was burned the night before. There were scattered small fires and some stores in a strip mall were being broken into near the city’s 5th Precinct.

Protesters gathered outside the White House in Washington, with President Donald Trump inside, and some tried to push through barriers set up by the US Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue.

An initially peaceful demonstration in New York City spiraled into chaos as night fell, as protesters skirmished with officers, destroyed police vehicles and set fires.

In Brooklyn, activists who had marched from Manhattan chanted insults at officers lined up outside the Barclays Center and pelted them with water bottles. Police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical into the largely diverse crowd multiple times to clear the plaza. Video posted to social media showed officers using batons and shoving protesters down as they took people into custody and cleared streets. Demonstrators rocked a police van, set it ablaze, then scrawled graffiti across its charred hulk and set it on fire a second time as officers retreated from the area. Blocks away, protesters used a club to batter another police vehicle. Numerous people were arrested and police brought in buses to carry off those they arrested.

“We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. “We don’t ever want to see another night like this.” The police department said numerous officers were injured.

In Houston, where George Floyd grew up, several thousand people rallied in front of City Hall.

Tensions rose in several West Coast cities as night fell. About 1,000 protesters gathered in Oakland at a demonstration and some windows were smashed.

Demonstrators shut down a freeway in Los Angeles amid isolated scuffles with police that ended in a few protesters detained and one officer receiving medical treatment, police said.

Protesters repeatedly clashed with police in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose, said Mayor Sam Liccardo, and police responded with flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. One officer was being treated at a hospital for an injury that was not life-threatening, he and police officials said.

 

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