Violence has flared again overnight on Saturday in many cities across the United States, as protesters took to the streets for a fifth night running amid the wave of anger sparked by the killing of black American George Floyd at the hands of the police.
Demonstrators have ignored curfews and calls to stay away — including in Minneapolis, the city where Floyd died. Meanwhile, unrest and chaos spread to major cities from New York to Los Angeles — but also to smaller cities such as Eugene, Oregon and Richmond, Virginia.
Several state governors have called in the National Guard. As clashes continued into the evening and early hours of Sunday, mass arrests have been reported.
As night fell, many protests descended into violence. Police and protesters have clashed in city centres, police vehicles have been set on fire and property damaged, and there has been rioting and looting. Commentators have said the unrest is on a scale not seen in the US for decades.
Demonstrations earlier on Saturday had again been largely peaceful, with tributes to George Floyd and chants of “we can’t breathe” which is becoming a mantra to the plight of many black Americans.
President Trump acknowledged the “horror, anger and grief” felt by many over Floyd’s death, denouncing “looters and anarchists” for the violence. He blamed the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis for failing to control the protests.
The violence comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting widespread economic damage, raising concerns of further infections.
In Minnesota the deployment of the National Guard failed to quell the trouble, although officials in Minneapolis said later that calm had been restored.
George Floyd died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes while taking him into custody. One police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but others who were at the scene remain free. All have been fired from their jobs.
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