Dozens of cities across the United States were left early this morning to assess the toll of a grim night of violent riots that left at least three dead, dozens injured, hundreds arrested and buildings and businesses in charred ruins as protests over the death of a black Minneapolis man in police custody continued for a fifth day.
Mayors of major cities imposed curfews, governors in nearly a dozen states deployed the National Guard in a desperate bid to stem the mayhem, chaos and wreckage. Though the incident that touched off the rioting occurred Monday in Minnesota and led to a cop being swiftly charged with murder, the damage seemed to culminate Saturday night and spanned from coast to coast. In Brooklyn, New York, at least 200 people were arrested and “countless” officers were hurt. In Beverly Hills, California, shops along the storied Rodeo Drive were looted as a crowd estimated at more than 2,000 people chanted “Eat the rich!’
The protests were sparked by the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, an African American man who died after a Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on his neck in a viral video. Chauvin has been fired and charged with third-degree murder, and the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the case. Crowds across the nation have seized on the racially charged incident to demand justice, but the protests have turned increasingly violent, culminating in a weekend of carnage.
In New York, a woman was charged Saturday with attempted murder after allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into a police squad car in Brooklyn. Cars were set ablaze in the borough, and in Manhattan’s usually peaceful Union Square, where cops squared off against protesters late into the night. Protesters turned violent after a video circulated online showing an NYPD SUV ramming into a group of protesters in Brooklyn.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident “troubling,” but added, “if those protesters had just gotten out of the way and not created an attempt to surround that vehicle, we would not be talking about this situation.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County as hundreds of looters converged on downtown stores and clashed with cops. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a curfew for last night after 500 people were arrested and five police officers were hurt as protests turned violent.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. after hundreds of protesters gathered at Federal Plaza for a demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter. Police cars were set ablaze and covered with anti-cop graffiti and demonstrators were reportedly arrested near Trump Tower.
Some 13 Philadelphia police officers were injured and more than a dozen people arrested as cars were burned and businesses vandalized before midnight. Mayor Jim Kenney implemented a mandatory citywide curfew starting at 8 p.m. last night and lasting until 6 a.m. today.
In Indianapolis, three people were shot and killed and at least two others wounded as protests morphed into mob violence, according to Police Chief Randal Taylor.
In Denver, a car rammed into a police vehicle, “severely” injuring three officers and a civilian and rioters armed with crowbars, baseball bats, assault rifles and handguns attacked cops and peaceful protesters, according to Police Chief Paul Pazen.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee activated 200 National Guard members after rioting in Seattle intensified. After protesters shut down Interstate 5 through central Seattle, police used flash bangs and pepper spray to scatter them.
Violent protests, vandalism and riots were reported in dozens of other cities.
Damage to police vehicles and assaults against law enforcement officers Saturday night prompted San Francisco Mayor London Breed to call for an immediate curfew until 5 a.m. this morning and to request that California National Guard personnel be placed on standby.
Many cities stepped up police presence, with TV and social media showing images of rioters being hit with pepper spray or rubber bullets.
In Ohio, 70-year-old U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty was among a group of people hit with pepper spray as police looked to gain control in Columbus, the state capital.
Earlier yesterday, President Trump condemned the riots that had taken place in previous days, vowing to stop what he labeled “mob violence.”
“The memory of Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters, and anarchists,” Trump said, blaming “Antifa and other radical left-wing groups for terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses and burning down buildings.”
Later yesterday, presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the protests “utterly American,” while also calling for an end to “needless destruction.”
In Utah, the National Guard arrived in Salt Lake City after protests turned violent.
Police vehicles were targeted and set on fire yesterday, prompting Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, to call for a curfew that will last until 6 a.m. Monday.
Police forces appeared overly rough with an elderly man watching the protests, and knocked him to the ground.
Only minor injuries were reported for police and protesters.
In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms established a curfew starting at 9 p.m. Saturday following Friday night’s violent protests.
The protests continued Saturday and police arrested demonstrators who were blocking traffic.
Security officials surrounded Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s house as crowds of protesters gathered near the mansion. A brick was reportedly thrown at one of the police officers.
Multiple police vehicles were reportedly set on fire after protesters and police officers clashed.