The fury sparked by Floyd’s death was compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which has left millions out of work and killed more than 100,000 people in the United States, including large numbers of black people.
“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington, D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”
People set fire to squad cars, threw bottles at officers and busted windows of storefronts, carrying away TVs and other items even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, Indiana, multiple shootings were reported, including one that left a person dead amid the protests, adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect to break up the demonstrations.
“l live here. I haven’t been able to sleep,” said Iman Muhammad, whose neighborhood saw multiple fires set Friday night. Muhammad said she sympathized with peaceful protests over Floyd’s death but disagreed with the violence: “Wrong doesn’t answer wrong.”
At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video showed two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground.
“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offenses, and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.
Overnight curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, authorized the deployment of up to 3,000 National Guard troops to Athens, Savannah and any other cities where more demonstrations were planned Sunday. Kemp had already approved up to 1,500 Guardsmen to help enforce a 9 p.m. Saturday curfew in Atlanta.
“The protesters need to know we’re going to support their efforts in a peaceful, nonviolent protest,” Kemp told a local TV station late Saturday. “The agitators need to know that we’ll be there … to take them to jail if they’re destroying lives and property.”
President Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics Saturday night, praising the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!” and saying police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden condemned the violence as he continued to express common cause with those demonstrating after Floyd’s death.
“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night.
The show of force in Minneapolis came after three days in which police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured more than 4,000 National Guard troops into Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, the police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was fired Tuesday and charged Friday with Floyd’s death.