Dozens Injured, Stores Burned After Another Night of Violent Riots

May 31, 2020 Updated: June 1, 2020

Americans awoke Sunday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of violent riots following death of a black man while in police custody.

Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd, who died Monday after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. But many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Cars and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted all over buildings. A fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House.

People set fire to squad cars and stores, 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, 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 the nation’s capital, hundreds of demonstrators assembled near the Justice Department headquarters shouting, “black lives matter.” Many later moved to the White House, where they faced off with shield-carrying police, some mounted on horseback.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that if protesters who gathered the night before in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, had breached the fence, “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

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.

Epoch Times Photo
The National Guard sets up near the Lake Street/Midtown metro station as buildings continue to burn in the aftermath of a night of protests and violence following the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia, and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video showed two NYPD 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. It was unclear if anyone was hurt.

Overnight curfews were imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Few corners of America were untouched, from protesters setting fires inside Reno’s city hall, to police launching tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and an officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

By daybreak, cleanup had already began in Nashville along Broadway Street—known for its famous honky tonks—after protesters broke windows, lit fires, and destroyed light poles. Police said in a tweet that at least 30 businesses and buildings were damaged.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp 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 television station WSB late Saturday. “The agitators need to know that we’ll be there … to take them to jail if they’re destroying lives and property.”

Trump commended the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis, and said police in New York “must be allowed to do their job!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee 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.

In Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014, sparking a wave of protests throughout the country, six officers were hurt after being hit with rocks and fireworks.

Police have arrested nearly 1,700 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Nearly a third of those arrests came in Los Angeles, where the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered the National Guard to back up the city’s 10,000 police officers as dozens of fires burned across the city.

Epoch Times Photo
The National Guard sets up near the Lake Street/Midtown metro station as buildings continue to burn in the aftermath of a night of protests and violence following the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Not all protests were marred by violence. In Juneau, Alaska, local police joined protesters at a rally in front of a giant whale sculpture on the city’s waterfront.

“We don’t tolerate excessive use of force,” Juneau Police Chief Ed Mercer told a gathering where most people wore masks and some sang Alaska Native songs.

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. Authorities said that number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” said Gov. Tim Walz, who also said local forces had been overmatched the previous day. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

Some residents were glad to see the upheaval dissipating.

“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, saying, “Wrong doesn’t answer wrong.”

By Tim Sullivan and Stephen Groves. Reuters contributed to this report.