Protests and clashes have flared overnight in cities across the US over the killing of a black American man at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.
The unrest comes in defiance of curfews and despite the fact that a police officer has been charged with murder over George Floyd”s death — the latest in a series of deaths of African-Americans in confrontations with police.
Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police in dozens of American cities overnight on Friday. Violent clashes have been reported in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Houston.
Many protests began as peaceful demonstrations against police brutality before violence flared. In some places shootings have been reported as the trouble continued.
The White House was briefly locked down with President Trump after demonstrators in Washington DC tried to break through security barriers outside.
George Floyd died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota. One police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but others who were at the scene remain free.
- 500 National Guard troops have been ordered by Minnesota’s State Governor Tim Walz into Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding communities. The Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty US military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis.
- Walz described the situation as “incredibly dangerous” and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told citizens there was “no honour in burning down your city” as firefighters tackled multiple blazes into Saturday morning. Violent clashes continued overnight as thousands ignored a curfew to protest.
- An initially peaceful demonstration in New York City spiralled into chaos as night fell, as protesters skirmished with officers, destroyed police vehicles and set fires.
Demonstrators in Los Angeles scuffled at times with police, with a few protesters detained and at least one officer hurt.
In Detroit one person was killed after someone in an SUV fired shots into a crowd of protesters near the city’s Greektown entertainment district, according to AP reports quoting police.
In Houston, where George Floyd grew up, several thousand people rallied in front of City Hall.
Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency in one county to activate up to 500 members of the state National Guard “to protect people & property in Atlanta.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms condemned the violence. “This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she implored the protesters to no avail. “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country.”
Attacks on police buildings or vehicles have also been reported in other cities including Portland, Oregon; Richmond, Virginia; Oakland, California.
- In Brooklyn, New York, the names of black people killed by police, including Floyd and Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014, were on signs carried by those in the crowd, and in their chants.
- Protesters gathered outside the White House, with Donald Trump inside, and some tried to push through security barriers along Pennsylvania Avenue.
There’s been anger at the President’s response to the violence in Minneapolis, after he tweeted: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. It was later flagged by Twitter as violating rules against “glorifying violence”, which the White House denied.
Joe Biden lamented the “open wound” of the nation’s systemic racism on Friday as he responded to the police killing of George Floyd.
“The original sin of this country still stains our nation today,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said. “It’s time for us to take a hard look at uncomfortable truths.”