Another night of unrest in the US as Black Lives Matter protests continue

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Protests over the killing of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people in the US grew on 30 May from New York to Tulsa to Los Angeles.

The protests began in Minneapolis after a police officer killed Floyd by holding a knee to his neck until he stopped breathing. They’ve now gained momentum with another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.

National unrest

The unrest has since become a national phenomenon as protesters decry years of Black deaths at police hands. More than 1,300 people have been arrested in 16 cities since Thursday, with more than 500 of those happening in Los Angeles on Friday.

Tens of thousands of people were in streets across the country on Saturday 30 May. After a tumultuous night on Friday 29 May, racially diverse crowds took to the streets again on Saturday for mostly peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities from coast to coast. As on Friday, many protests descended into violence, with cars pushing into people in at least three cities.

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— In Washington, the National Guard was deployed outside the White House. Dressed in camouflage and holding shields, the troops stood in a line preventing the crowd from pushing forward.

 

Minneapolis Police Death Washington Protest
Demonstrators cover their face as people gather to protest the death of George Floyd on Saturday outside the White House (Evan Vucci/AP)

— In the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of a 1921 massacre of Black people that left as many as 300 dead, protesters blocked intersections and chanted the name of Terence Crutcher, a Black man killed by a police officer in 2016.

— In Seattle, police fired tear gas and stun grenades to try to disperse black-clad crowds.

— In Los Angeles, protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter,” some within inches of the face shields of officers. Police used batons to move the crowd back and fired rubber bullets.

— In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as police officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video showed two NYPD cars lurching into a crowd of demonstrators, knocking several people to the ground. It was unclear if anyone was hurt.

Minneapolis protests

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who said local forces had been overwhelmed on 29 May, fully mobilised the state’s National Guard and promised a massive show of force. The Guard announced it had more than 4,000 members responding to Minneapolis and would quickly have nearly 11,000. Walz said:

The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd…

It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.

Soon after Minneapolis’s 8pm curfew went into force, lines of police cars and officers in riot gear moved in to confront protesters, firing tear gas to push away throngs of people. The tougher tactics came after city and state leaders were criticised for not effectively confronting days of violent protests.

Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics being used by law enforcement on 30 May. He commended the Guard deployment in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!”. He also said police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”

Earlier, Trump issued tweets taunting protesters and praising the Secret Service, who used shields and pepper spray to push back protesters gathered outside the White House.

Trump tweeted he had watched from inside as officers:

“let the ‘protesters’ scream & rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone …. got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them”.

Curfews

Overnight curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, ranging from 6pm in parts of South Carolina to 10pm around Ohio. People were also told to be off the streets of Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and Minneapolis — where thousands had ignored the same order on the night of Friday 29 May.

The officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck as Floyd begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.

The unrest also recalled the Los Angeles riots of the 1990s after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Black motorist Rodney King.

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