'Like a warzone': Shocking scenes unfolding as the US is stormed by protests

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·6-min read

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.

Atlanta Police detain demonstrators protesting, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. Demonstrators took to the streets across the country to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Police descend on protesters in Atlanta. Source: AP
Pictured is a Los Angeles Police Department kiosk on fire in The Grove shopping center during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
A Los Angeles Police Department kiosk is seen ablaze in The Grove shopping centre. Source: AP

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.

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.

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.

Pictured is a street in Minneapolis with debris strewn across it at night.
The streets of Minneapolis have been described as "like a war zone". Source: AP

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.

Pictured are two people at a smashed up H&M store in Philadelphia - one is wearing a mask.
People pictured at a smashed up H&M store in Philadelphia. Source: AP

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.

Pictured is a man jumping on a burning police car in LA. Source: AP
A man jumps on a burning police car in LA. Source: AP

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.

with Reuters

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