Nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd — the Black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck — continued Friday evening as Americans demanded that those involved face justice.
After three nights of protests, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced a mandatory curfew going into effect at 8 p.m. But in the hours before that, hundreds of protesters marched across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge chanting Floyd’s name and holding signs emblazoned with three of his final words: “I can’t breathe.” As the curfew time approached, law enforcement appeared to deploy tear gas against protesters, according to multiple reports.
At the protest in New York, police were filmed hitting demonstrators with batons and spraying what appeared to be pepper spray, according to reporters on the scene.
The White House went on lockdown as protesters neared Pennsylvania Avenue and kicked down barricades guarded by the Secret Service, CNN reported. No one is allowed to leave the grounds, including members of the press.
Minneapolis police over previous nights had responded to protests by wearing riot gear and firing tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators. Amid some of the civil unrest on Thursday night, a local police precinct in Minneapolis was burned and a Target and other stores were damaged.
The nationwide civil unrest follows a days-long wait for the Friday arrest of Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. The white cop pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd, who was handcuffed and unarmed, was being arrested after he was accused of fraud involving a possibly counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, according to the complaint filed against him, with Floyd reportedly unresponsive for nearly three of those minutes.
Chauvin is facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd’s family issued a statement Friday saying they were disappointed authorities didn’t seek first-degree murder charges. The family, calling Chauvin’s arrest “welcome but overdue,” also demanded that the other three officers present Monday — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — be arrested.
“The pain that the black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of black people in America is raw and is spilling out onto streets across America,” the family’s attorney Ben Crump wrote in a statement.
The local NAACP chapter echoed the family’s demands for the arrest of the other officers. “All humanity should be outraged,” Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said Friday.
President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday about the previous nights’ protests in Minneapolis, calling the largely Black demonstrators “thugs” and threatening them with state-sanctioned violence, adding, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Later in the day, Trump claimed to clarify his tweet, saying “looting leads to shooting” and noting a shooting in Minneapolis on Wednesday and seven shots fired in Louisville on Thursday during the demonstrations. At a Friday event, he also expressed “deepest condolences” to Floyd’s family and lamented the “horrible, horrible situation,” but he also condemned the civil unrest, saying “we can’t allow” protests “to turn into anarchy and chaos” and “looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of peaceful protesters.”
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