ATLANTA — Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted Friday in dozens of U.S. cities following the killing of George Floyd after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota.
In Minneapolis, police say officers were being fired upon as the Pentagon prepared to possibly send troops there. Some of the worst violence was in Atlanta, where protests that began Friday afternoon stretched into the early morning hours of Saturday.
After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators suddenly turned violent, smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant. The crowd pelted officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.”
At least three officers were hurt and there were multiple arrests, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said in an emailed statement. Campos said protesters shot BB guns at officers and threw bricks, bottles and knives at them. People watched the scene from rooftops, some laughing as skirmishes broke out.
Demonstrators ignored police demands to disperse. Some protesters moved to the city’s major interstate thoroughfare to try to block traffic.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms passionately addressed the protesters at a news conference: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.”
“You are disgracing our city,” she told protesters. “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We are better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country. Go home, go home.”
Bottoms was flanked by rappers T.I. and Killer Mike, as well as King’s daughter, Bernice King.
Killer Mike cried as he spoke.
“We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes. Because if we lose Atlanta what have we got?” he said.
After Mayor Bottoms appealed for calm, the violence continued. More cars were set on fire, a Starbucks was smashed up, the windows of the College Football Hall of Fame were broken, and the iconic Omni Hotel was vandalized.
In Minneapolis, where a police precinct was burned the night before, peaceful protests picked up steam as darkness fell, with thousands of people ignoring an 8 p.m. curfew to walk streets in the southern part of the city.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported shots were being fired at law enforcement officers near the 5th Precinct early Saturday morning. In a social media post, DPS said no troopers or officers were injured and warned people to leave the area of the 5th Precinct or face arrest.
Some cars were set on fire in scattered neighborhoods, business break-ins began and eventually there were larger fires. As a pair of restaurants and a Wells Fargo branch were set ablaze, a heavy contingent of National Guard, state troopers and police moved in, some on foot and some in vehicles.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy to Minneapolis within four hours if called, three people with direct knowledge of the orders told the Associated Press. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.
White House lockdown
The White House was forced into lockdown after about 200 protesters arrived outside the gates.'
Chants of "no justice, no peace," "your silence is violence," and "black lives matter," were heard in Lafayette Square as the crowd gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The protest remained mostly peaceful, though a Secret Service agent tackled a protester to the ground as the crowds moved towards the White House. A large crowd surrounded them as police responded to the scene. The White House was placed under lockdown for a little over an hour.
New York City
An initially peaceful demonstration in New York City over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota, spiraled into chaos as night fell Friday, as protesters skirmished with police officers, destroyed police vehicles and set fires.
In Brooklyn, activists who had marched from Manhattan chanted insults at officers lined up outside the Barclays Center and pelted them with water bottles. Police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical into the diverse crowd multiple times, then cleared the plaza.
Video posted to social media showed officers using batons and shoving protesters as they took people into custody and cleared streets. One video showed on officer slam a woman to the ground as he walked past her in the street.
Later in the evening, what had been a tense situation turned worse. Demonstrators rocked a police van, set it ablaze, then scrawled graffiti across its charred hulk and set it on fire a second time as officers retreated from the area. Blocks away, protesters used a club to batter a police cruiser.
At another location near the arena, a shouting mob of protesters, some wearing helmets and carrying makeshift shields, advanced on officers shouting and throwing objects, and police retaliated with batons and arrests, leaving the roadway strewn with debris.
Numerous people were arrested and police brought in buses to take them away.
Organizers believe more than 3,000 people gathered with Black Lives Matter Houston to protest Floyd's death with chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace,” as they marched from Discovery Green to City Hall. Some were arrested for attempting to block roads, including Interstate 68, but no injuries were reported, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The mayor added some police vehicles were damaged.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo had said he welcomed the peaceful afternoon rally, before the protests escalated into disorder.
“We stand with them protesting what happened in Minnesota,” he said. “I’m happy that they’re here today because people need to be heard, voices need to be heard.”
One of those protesting Floyd’s death was Jimmy Ohaz, 19, who came from Richmond, a Houston suburb.
“My question is: How many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we’re not oppressed," he said.
A similar escalation developed in Dallas, where a rally before hundreds of demonstrators at police headquarters escalated when demonstrators marched downtown to an intersection near City Hall. Video from the scene showed them being met by officers in riot gear and shields.
After a brief melee, a police patrol car was spray-painted and a demonstrator leapt onto another one. First, a few rocks flew toward police, followed by bottles. An officer on a loudspeaker warned the throng to disperse or be arrested, then the tear gas flew. The demonstrators then turned their attention to Interstate 35E on the western edge of downtown, where dozens briefly blocked traffic.
One police officer received a non-life-threatening injury during the melee and police vehicles had windows and windshields shattered and tires slashed, Police Chief U. Reneé Lee said. There were no immediate reports of arrests. Protests have spread across the U.S., fueled by outrage over Floyd’s death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police. On Friday, the white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder.
Hundreds of chanting, placard-brandishing protesters marched through the streets of downtown Fort Worth on Friday afternoon, escorted by police.
After mostly peaceful protests Friday afternoon, there were clashes between protesters and police into the night. Some protesters were seen lobbing water bottles and other objects at officers and had tear gas, flashbangs and other chemicals tossed back at them.
"It's not enough to just say something on Facebook, you need to go out and you need to say something to their face, otherwise no one's gonna care and it's not gonna change," said protester TJ Smith from Lakewood.
One of the lead protesters told the crowd over a megaphone to behave peacefully, and that doing otherwise would take away from their message.
Protests in Seattle turned destructive Friday evening after a rally that started peacefully in Seattle's International District.
Demonstrators broke glass at several properties downtown during Friday night's march. Flash bangs, pepper spray, and smoke bombs were deployed during the protest, with some minor injuries reported.
The protest started as a peaceful rally at Hing Hay park in Seattle's International District, before part of the group broke off and started marching through downtown. Seattle officers formed a line to prevent the group from entering Interstate 5.
An officer was injured after hundreds of people marched through the capital of Silicon Valley and temporarily shut down a five-lane section of highway Friday.
Vehicles were at a virtual standstill on the southbound lanes of U.S. 101 in San Jose ahead of rush hour during a pandemic that has kept many Californians home, according to video footage from KGO-TV. Protesters left the highway after an hour.
Police later fired tear gas and nonlethal projectiles into the crowd that grew to about 1,000 protesters in downtown San Jose. Officers in riot gear lined up to prevent them from further disrupting traffic near city hall, KPIX-TV reported.
A San Jose officer was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Officer Gina Tepoorten, a department spokeswoman. Police officers' union spokesman Dustin DeRollo said the officer was punched in the head by protesters and knocked unconscious, while other media reports said the officer was struck by a thrown object.
Several hundred protesters meanwhile marched peacefully down city streets in the state capital of Sacramento, gathering near a police station and shouting at dozens of police guarding the building. Many protesters wore masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, KCRA-TV reported.
Protests in Charlotte Friday night turned violent.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department deemed the gathering "unlawful" after 9 p.m. and had ordered the demonstrators to disperse. Additional officers were brought in after the crowds ignored the order.
Several people were arrested for "property damage," CMPD said.
More than 400 people were demonstrating on the Las Vegas Strip Friday afternoon calling for policing reforms.
The crowd gathered in triple-digit-heat in front of the dormant fountains of the Bellagio casino-resort, holding signs and chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “Black lives matter," as passing cars honked. They then began walking north up the Las Vegas Strip in front of casinos still shuttered because of coronavirus-related closures. The group rallied in front of a shopping mall and briefly blocked traffic on north end of the Las Vegas Strip before marching south again, where they spilled into the streets and blocked traffic.
At least two people were detained by police, though it was not clear why. Several officers used batons to push back a few protesters during the arrests.
Peaceful protests escalated as protesters met a police line outside the Des Moines, Iowa, police station Friday evening.
A peaceful rally was held earlier in the evening Friday before the situation got out of hand. As the rally ended and protesters began to smash Des Moines police cars and advance towards the Des Moines police station, they were met by a police-line with riot shields.
Tear gas and mace were deployed towards the crowd of protesters. Protesters retaliated towards police by throwing what appeared to be bricks, bottles, fireworks and fire crackers.