Disturbing clashes between protesters, police and the National Guard continue to escalate across the US as dozens of cities face further unrest amid protests over George Floyd’s death.
What started as peaceful protests over the death of a black man gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck have become a wave of outrage sweeping a politically and racially divided nation.
Tens of thousands lined urban streets filled with broken glass and burned out cars as curfews in several cities failed to quell the confrontation.
More than 30 major cities have been affected.
Protesters are flooding streets after weeks of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions thrown out of work and has disproportionately affected minority communities.
As demonstrators broke windows and set fires, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds in many cities. In some cases, non-violent bystanders and members of the media were targeted.
In one video from Minneapolis, a National Guard Humvee rolls down a residential street followed by what appear to be police officers wearing tactical gear.
Share widely: National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling “light em up” #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #JusticeForGeorge #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/bW48imyt55
— Tanya Kerssen (@tkerssen) May 31, 2020
One officer orders residents to go inside, then yells "light 'em up" before shooting projectiles at a group of people on their front porch. The city's curfew allows residents to be outside on their private property.
In New York City, police arrested about 350 people overnight and 30 officers suffered minor injuries.
There have been more than 1600 arrests across 22 US cities since Thursday, while the National Guard has been activated in 17 states.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police conduct was being investigated, including widely shared videos showing a police sports utility vehicle in Brooklyn lurching forward into a crowd of protesters who were pelting the car with debris.
— Marco (@chieffymac11) May 31, 2020
Another NYPD vehicle taken down in Union Square pic.twitter.com/fWrHkFEQDE
— Jessica Cunnington (@JessicaNews12) May 31, 2020
De Blasio said he had not seen another video showing an officer pulling down the mask of a black protester who had his hands in the air, then spraying a substance in his face.
Social media was awash with video showing protesters clash with police and National Guard personnel.
“Craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” one verified account on Twitter said, sharing a video of two police cars being attacked in Fairfax, Los Angeles.
Reporter Aaron Rupar described the scenes in Minneapolis “like a war zone”.
Authorities across the US are investigating "multiple shootings", including a fatal shooting in downtown Indianapolis.
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Beverly and fairfax earlier pic.twitter.com/RWn5v2Clyo
— Greg Baroth (@gbaroth) May 31, 2020
The closely packed crowds and many demonstrators not wearing masks sparked fears of a resurgence of COVID-19, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans.
Violence spread overnight despite curfews in several major cities rocked by civil unrest in recent days, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Portland and Louisville.
Protests also flared in Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Cleveland, and Dallas, where rioters were seen on video beating a store owner who chased them with a large machete or sword.
Police said on Sunday that the man was in a stable condition.
The clashes in Minneapolis marked the fifth night of arson, looting and vandalism in parts of the state's largest city, and its adjacent capital, St Paul.
The state's governor said on Saturday that he was activating the full Minnesota National Guard for the first time since World War Two.
Thousands of people gathered on Sunday afternoon for a rally in St Paul as state troopers surrounded the state capitol building.
"There is no real one answer but the beginning is we have to learn to be honest with each other," said 66-year-old community activist Philip Holmes as he stood among demonstrators holding "Black Lives Matter" signs.
Looting ‘destructive and unacceptable’, mayor says
About 170 stores have been looted and some burned to the ground in St Paul, its mayor said.
"We are seeing in St Paul and obviously around the country this level of rage and anger that frankly is legitimate, as we see this horrific video of George Floyd being just suffocated to death," Mayor Melvin Carter told CNN on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, it's being expressed right now, over the past week, in ways that are destructive and unacceptable."
While covering the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday night, two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and a Reuters photographer's camera was smashed as attacks against journalists covering civil unrest in US cities intensified.
In response to the protests, Target Corp announced it was closing 100 stores, with about 30 in Minnesota.
The administration of President Donald Trump, who has called protesters "thugs", will not federalise and take control of the National Guard for now, national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on Sunday.
Trump said on Sunday that the US government would designate anti-fascist group Antifa as a terrorist organisation. It was not clear how many, if any, of the protesters participating in demonstrations are from Antifa.
Demands for an end to police brutality have spread globally.
In London, hundreds of protesters took to Trafalgar Square on Sunday chanting "no justice, no peace”. A crowd descended on the US Embassy in Berlin calling for the police officers to face justice.
The arrest on murder charges on Friday of Derek Chauvin, the police officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck, has failed to satisfy protesters. Three officers who stood by as Floyd died have yet to be charged.
Floyd's name is only the latest to be chanted by protesters over the perceived lack of police accountability for violent encounters that resulted in the death of black men.
The issue ignited in 2014 with the shooting death of a black 18-year-old, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, where police fired tear gas at protesters on Saturday night.
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