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‘Black history is this country’s history’: George Floyd protests intensify across US, from Atlanta to Indianapolis to Milwaukee

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A number of metropolitan areas have seen large-scale demonstrations on Friday over the death of a Minneapolis man in police custody on Memorial Day.

USA TODAY

Outrage over the death of George Floyd sparked protests in cities across the nation on Friday night, hours after a former Minneapolis police officer was arrested and charged with his murder.

Activists say it’s just another example of systematic racism in law enforcement, the latest in a series of high-profile black deaths that have exacerbated and inflamed racial tensions nationwide. 

Former officer Derek Chauvin is facing third-degree murder and manslaughter charges after a bystander’s video circulated of him holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes before Floyd died. But many protesters believe Chauvin’s should face more severe charges and other officers connected to the Floyd’s death should also be charged.

‘What’s it going to take to get people to listen?’:George Floyd protests in Minneapolis continue into fourth night despite curfew

Demonstrators in many cities also gathered to protest local deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

In Indianapolis, they held a sign that read “Justice for Dreasjon Reed” — Reed died after a police pursuit that was broadcast on Facebook Live. In Milwaukee, they invoked the name of Joel Acevedo, who died after an altercation with a police officer in April.

In Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday night, gunfire erupted as hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who in March was shot and killed in her apartment by police.

As protests continue into their fourth night in Minneapolis, here’s what’s happening in cities around the nation:

Atlanta: Protesters clash with police, vandalize CNN headquarters

Protesters set a police car on fire, struck officers with bottles, vandalized the headquarters of CNN, and broke into a restaurant in downtown Atlanta as a demonstration that began peacefully became chaotic.

Protesters used barricades to break police vehicle windshields and jumped from car to car. Hundreds of the protesters confronted police outside CNN headquarters. They spray-painted the large, iconic CNN logo outside the building, breaking a windowed entrance. One protester climbed on top of the sign and waved a “Black Lives Matter” flag to cheers from the crowd.

Protesters were also walking on the interstate in downtown Atlanta and appeared to be trying to block traffic. The Georgia State Patrol was on the scene as of 9:30 p.m.

Earlier, as the protest appeared more calm, Kaity Brackett, 27, said she came out to the protest because she thinks the entire criminal justice system needs to be overhauled, starting with policing. She said the Ahmaud Arbery killing was a catalyst for her and referred to his death as a lynching. Arbery was killed on Feb. 23 by a former district attorney investigator and his son, who were not arrested until after video emerged months later.

Denver: Police use flash grenades, tear gas to hold off protesters at Capitol

On the night after one protester appeared to be intentionally hit by a car, Denver police used flash grenades and tear gas to hold off protesters near the Capitol building following a peaceful afternoon rally.

People began to gather as early as 12:30 p.m. for a march to the Capitol, where protesters stood on the steps and chanted for change. They later took both sides of nearby North Broadway Street before heading to Civic Center Park to hear from speakers.

About an hour after the crowd had mostly dispersed, they regathered near the capitol, prompting law enforcement to push them back from the street to keep traffic moving through the area. Tensions escalated into the night.

– Bethany Baker, The Coloradoan (Fort Collins, Colo.)

San Jose, California: Protesters block five-lane Silicon Valley freeway

Protesters marched through the capital of the Silicon Valley, temporarily stalling traffic for about an hour on a five-lane freeway and prompting police intervention.

Video footage from KGO-TV showed vehicles at a virtual standstill on the southbound lanes of U.S. 101 in San Jose until protesters moved into the downtown area. Police later fired tear gas and nonlethal projectiles into a crowd that had grown to about 1,000 people, and officers in riot gear lined up to prevent them from further disrupting traffic near city hall, KPIX-TV reported.

Protesters smashed the windows of police cars and threw water bottles, according to TV station.

Elsewhere in California, hundreds of protesters demonstrated peacefully on the streets in the capital city of Sacramento, gathering near a police headquarters and shouting at police.

Des Moines, Iowa: Protest grows violent, bricks thrown at police cars 

A protest outside Des Moines police headquarters spread through downtown and turned violent.

Just before 8 p.m., protesters appeared to throw bricks at police cars, prompting officers in riot gear to push against protesters. The scene escalated, with at least one officer spraying chemical irritants on the crowd, including a Des Moines Register photographer.

Indianapolis: Black Lives Matter streams protest on Facebook Live

Dozens gathered in downtown Indianapolis to protest a fatal shooting earlier this month by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer.

Around 7:30 p.m., the protest started to feel more tense, with the number of protesters growing to more than 50. They began engaging verbally with a vastly beefed up law enforcement presence, as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department flooded the scene with officers and squad cars.

George Floyd protests: How did we get here?

A local Black Lives Matter group broadcast the demonstration on Facebook Live, and called on “white allies” to move to the front to form a human barrier between black protesters and the assembled police officers.

Protesters linked arms and shouted “No justice! No peace!”

– Crystal Hill, IndyStar

Knoxville, Tennessee: Protesters rally, chant outside police headquarters

Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully in front of police headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, in a rally hosted by Black Lives Matter Knoxville.

Davis Hayes, who ran for Knoxville City Council last year, led the crowd in a chant: “We have nothing to lose for our chains.”

Alison Rose, who works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was the first white speaker at the protest, and she spoke directly to other white people.

“White people, get it together. Do the work. Educate yourselves,” she said into a microphone. “Get yourself so deep in history that you will find out the truth: Black history is this country’s history.”

Louisville, Kentucky: Demonstrators gather again after Thursday violence

After violent protests erupted Thursday, groups of protesters continued to gather Friday night demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, an African American woman killed in her apartment by police officers in March.

Around 9:30 p.m. reports of loud bangs came followed by tear gas. Earlier, protesters pulled down the American and Kentucky flags in front of the Hall of Justice and set them ablaze. Moments later, some protesters threw objects at the building’s glass doors, more items were lit on fire and there was three loud bangs went off. 

A group of more than 1,000 people were estimated to be gathering around the Hall of Justice.

Memphis, Tennessee: About 300 protesters gather for third straight day

For the third straight day, protesters took to the streets of Memphis to speak out against police brutality and the recent deaths of three African Americans at the hands of police.

The first demonstrates arrived just before 6:30 p.m. Within an hour, the crowd had grown to about 300, the largest of the of the protests so far.

That was despite a series of road closures set up by the Memphis Police Department at every entrance into the area. While Wednesday, the overarching emotion seems to be anger, Friday night’s protest seemed to be about unity and healing.

– Desiree Stennett, Micaela A Watts and Laura Testino, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

Milwaukee: Protesters march in ‘solidarity,’ stop Interstate 43 traffic 

Hundreds rallied to denounce the police killing of George Floyd and other acts of police misconduct across the country before marching to Interstate 43 and shutting down part of the freeway.

The protest began with a moment of silence to honor Floyd, who died Monday after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as he was gasping for air and pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

“We’re here in solidarity,” said Vaun Mayes, a community activist who organized the event outside the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. 

Hours later, another demonstration took place in the city’s Jackson Park neighborhood to protest the death of Joel Acevedo, who died after an altercation with an off-duty Milwaukee police officer. The officer, Michael Mattioli, is accused of putting Acevedo in a fatal “choke hold” during a fight at his house and has been charged with reckless homicide.

– Ashley Luthern, Ricardo Torres and Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Washington, D.C.: Pennsylvania Avenue protesters force White House lockdown

Angry protesters arrived at Pennsylvania Avenue, leading to a lockdown at the White House Friday night, spokesman Judd Deere confirmed to USA TODAY.

Outside the White House on Friday, Secret Service could be seen after 7 p.m. taking at least one person into custody. Videos showed a large group of protesters gathering, with some burning flags and knocking over barricades. The protesters have moved from the White House to another part of the city.

Multiple reporters posted that they were inside the White House and that the Secret Service was not letting them leave the grounds during the lockdown.

Contributing: Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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