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Protests flare around the United States over Minneapolis killing

Reuters | Minneapolis | Updated: 30-05-2020 19:48 IST | Created: 30-05-2020 19:46 IST
Protests flare around the United States over Minneapolis killing
From Minneapolis to New York City, Atlanta and Washington, protesters clashed with police in a rising tide of anger over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement. Image Credit: Twitter(@UNHumanRights)

Violent protests flared overnight in several U.S. cities as demonstrators vented their anger over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis this week after a white police officer knelt on his neck. From Minneapolis to New York City, Atlanta and Washington, protesters clashed with police in a rising tide of anger over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

The demonstrations broke out for a fourth night despite prosecutors announcing on Friday that the policeman filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, had been arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Three other officers have been fired and are being investigated in connection with Monday's incident, which reignited rage that civil rights activists said has long simmered in Minneapolis and cities across the country over persistent racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

In Detroit late on Friday, a 19-year-old man was shot dead at a demonstration by a suspect who fired from a sport utility vehicle then fled, local media reported. Police could not immediately be reached for comment. Many of the protesters chanted, "No justice, no peace," and some carried signs that read, "End police brutality" and "I won't stop yelling until everyone can breathe."

In the video of Floyd's death, filmed by a bystander, the 46-year-old could be heard repeatedly pleading with the officers and telling them he could not breathe. Thousands of demonstrators also filled the streets of New York City's Brooklyn borough near the Barclays Center arena. Police armed with batons and pepper spray made scores of arrests in sometimes violent clashes.

In lower Manhattan, demonstrators at a "We can't breathe" rally demanded legislation to outlaw the chokehold used by a city police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was also black. In Washington, police and Secret Service agents deployed in force around the White House before dozens of demonstrators gathered across the street in Lafayette Square.

President Donald Trump said early on Saturday that he had watched the whole thing from his window, and, if the demonstrators had breached the fence, "they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen." "That's when people would have been really badly hurt, at least," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action."

CHAOS IN ATLANTA In Atlanta, Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., implored people to go home on Friday night after more than 1,000 protesters marched to the state capitol and blocked traffic on an interstate highway.

The demonstration turned violent at points. Fires burned near the CNN Center, the network's headquarters, and windows were smashed at its lobby. At least one police car was among several vehicles burnt. Police pushed back the crowd, but they hurled bottles at officers. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Atlanta and activated the Georgia National Guard, sending as many as 500 soldiers to guard property, as the protests moved from downtown to the affluent Buckhead neighbourhood.

News broadcasts showed officers making several arrests, but police provided few details Saturday morning. Protesters also took to the streets in other cities including Denver, Houston and Louisville, Kentucky.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota's largest city, hundreds of protesters defied an 8 p.m. curfew around a police station that was burnt on Thursday night. "We are out here because we, as a generation, realize things have to change," said one marcher, Paul Selman, a 25-year-old black man.

Authorities had hoped Chauvin's arrest would allay public anger. Late on Friday, officers opened fire with tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades, scattering the crowd. Still, Friday night's crowds were far smaller and more widely dispersed than the night before.

Law enforcement kept a mostly low profile, a strategy seemingly calculated to reduce the risk of violent confrontations, as was the case in several urban centres across the country where sympathy protests arose. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the investigation into Chauvin, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, was ongoing and that he anticipated also charging the three other officers, identified by the city as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.

Floyd, a Houston native who had worked security for a nightclub, was arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money at a store to buy cigarettes on Monday evening. Bail has been set at $500,000 for Chauvin, but it was unclear early on Saturday whether he remained in custody. Hennepin County jail records showed no inmate of that name.


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