The protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, intensified across the United States on Saturday and curfews were imposed in several major cities on the fifth night of unrest, AFP reported.
Derek Chauvin, a former white Minneapolis police officer, and three other officials detained Floyd on Monday after he allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a store. Outrage grew after a widely shared video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. The 46-year-old restaurant worker was seen gasping for breath and pleading with the officials saying “I can’t breathe”. All four officers were fired this week over Floyd’s death. Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Minneapolis, the epicenter of the unrest, saw police in riot gear fire tear gas and stun grenades at protestors. From Los Angeles to Chicago, demonstrations were marked by slogans of “I can’t breathe” – Floyd’s final words. The protestors blocked traffic, set fires and ransacked stores. More than 1,300 people have been arrested in 16 cities since Thursday, including over 500 on Friday in Los Angeles, according to AP.
Many cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Louisville, Columbia, Denver, Portland, Milwaukee and Columbus, imposed curfews to control the civil unrest. Meanwhile, at least eight states – including Texas, Colorado and Georgia – activated the National Guard, who were also deployed around the White House as protestors clashed with secret service agents.
President Donald Trump fuelled the anger on Twitter, saying that if protestors had breached the White House fence, they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.
Speaking later in the day at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, Trump announced a civil rights investigation. “My administration will always stand against violence, mayhem, and disorder,” he said. “We will stand with the family of George Floyd, with the peaceful protestors, and with every law-abiding citizen who wants decency, civility, safety, and security.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said the deployment of forces was necessary because the demonstrators were using Floyd’s death to sow chaos. “We are under assault,” Walz told reporters on Saturday. “Order needs to be restored.”
Here are a few visuals from the protests: