Fires, looting, protests in 30 cities;
Demonstrators, police clash across country
Another night of unrest in every corner of the United States has left charred and shattered landscapes in dozens of cities, as curfews imposed to quell violence were defied.
Years of festering frustrations over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police boiled over on Sunday (NZT) in expressions of rage met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The scale of the protests, extending to nearly every part of the country and unfolding on a single night, seemed to rival the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam eras. “We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington, D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”
People set fire to squad cars, threw bottles at officers and busted windows of storefronts. They carried away TVs and other items even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, multiple shootings were reported, including one that left a person dead amid the protests, adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe’’ were spray-painted all over buildings and a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, where for a second day protesters faced down members of the US National Guard.
Thousands marched peacefully through city streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died this week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.
His death is one of a litany of racial tragedies that have thrown the country into chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions out of work and killed more than 100,000 people in the US, including disproportionate numbers of black people.Curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle, but failed to stop chaos in many areas.In Indianapolis, police were investigating multiple shootings, including one that left a person dead amid the protests, adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 pm curfew took effect to break up protests, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to clear streets outside a police precinct and elsewhere.
At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia when peaceful protests turned violent and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets.
Police have arrested at least 1669 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offenses, and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.
Nearly a third of those arrests came in Los Angeles, where the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered the National Guard to back up the city’s 10,000 police officers as dozens of fires burned across the city.
US President Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics, commending the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!’’ and saying police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!’’
The show of force in Minneapolis came after three days when police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured in more than 4000 National Guard troops to Minneapolis and said the number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.