Protests, Some Violent, Spread Across US in Wake of George Floyd Death

May 30, 2020 Updated: May 31, 2020

ATLANTA—Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic, and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted Friday in several U.S. cities following the killing of George Floyd.

In Minneapolis, where a police precinct was burned the night before, peaceful protests picked up steam as darkness fell, with people ignoring an 8 p.m. curfew to walk streets in the southern part of the city.

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Protesters block the I-35W Highway in Minneapolis on May 29, 2020. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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People extinguish fire from vehicles in Minneapolis on May 29, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in one county to activate up to 500 members of the state National Guard “to protect people & property in Atlanta.”

Kemp said on Twitter early Saturday that the move came at the request of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and in consultation with emergency officials. The Georgia National Guard will deploy “immediately” to assist law enforcement, he said.

After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators suddenly turned violent, smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the logo at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant. The crowd pelted officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.”

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Demonstrators paint on the CNN logo during a protest march on May 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

At least three officers were hurt and there were multiple arrests, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said. 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.

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.

Atlanta Protest Held In Response To Police Custody Death Of Minneapolis Man George Floyd
People look at burning cars, including at least one police car, during a protest in Atlanta on May 29, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

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.

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Protesters gather outside the Capitol after marching from the White House in Washington, on May 29, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Protesters gathered outside the White House, with President Donald Trump inside, and some tried to push through barriers set up by the U.S. Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue.

An initially peaceful demonstration in New York City spiraled into chaos as night fell, as protesters skirmished with officers, destroyed police vehicles and set fires.

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Protesters rally at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York on May 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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 largely diverse crowd multiple times, then cleared the plaza. Video posted to social media showed officers using batons and shoving protesters down as they took people into custody and cleared streets.

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Police try to contain protesters during a rally at the Barclays Center, in the Brooklyn borough of New York on May 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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 another police vehicle.

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Protesters stand near a burned New York City Police Department van in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on May 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Jim Mustian)

Numerous people were arrested and police brought in buses to carry off those they arrested. The police department said numerous officers were injured, including one who had a tooth knocked out.

“We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted. “Our sole focus is deescalating this situation and getting people home safe. There will be a full review of what happened tonight. We don’t ever want to see another night like this.”

In Houston, where George Floyd grew up, several thousand people rallied in front of City Hall.

Tensions rose in several West Coast cities as night fell and protesters blocked highways in Los Angeles and Oakland.

About 1,000 protesters gathered in Oakland. They smashed windows, sprayed buildings with graffiti and were met with chemical spray from police. Oakland Police were notifying a crowd that the demonstration was an unlawful assembly. Authorities said officers were injured when projectiles were thrown and that they were asking people to leave the area.

Demonstrators in Los Angeles scuffled at times with police, with a few protesters detained and one officer receiving medical treatment, police said. An LAPD vehicle had its windows smashed.

Protesters repeatedly clashed with police in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose, said Mayor Sam Liccardo, and police responded with flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. One officer was being treated at a hospital for an injury that was not life-threatening, he and police officials said.

Liccardo said his own officers shared the community’s outrage over Floyd’s in-custody death.

“It was a horrible injustice. I’d venture to guess that every police officer out there feels much of the same anger about what happened in Minneapolis,” he told The Associated Press.

Thirty miles to the west, Santa Cruz police chief Andrew G. Mills said in a statement that the actions by Minneapolis officers in Floyd’s death “are the antithesis of what we view as good policing.”

By Sudhin Thanawala