At Least 1 Killed Amid Nationwide Protests Over George Floyd’s Death

By Suzanne Nuyen NPR

Updated at 4:44 a.m. ET Saturday

Angry protests nationwide on Friday followed the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Clashes erupted between activists and law enforcement in many of locations.

One person was killed in Detroit, as hundreds of people gathered in the downtown area as part of the nationwide protests.

WXYZ TV, an ABC News affiliate, reported a Detroit Police Department spokesperson said, “A grey Dodge Durango pulled up and fired into the crowd, striking a 19-year-old man.”

The shooting did not involve police.

Protesters were allowed to march in the streets until shortly before midnight when officers, outfitted in riot gear, began firing tear gas into the crowds, according to the news station.

Officials said at least nine people were arrested after the demonstrations were pronounced to be unlawful gatherings.

In Minneapolis, after a night of rioting, looting and setting a number of businesses ablaze on Thursday, the situation seemed calmer in Minneapolis early Friday.

Officials there appeared to take a non-confrontational approach to people marching through the city for much of the day, despite some instances of civil disorder. But as the hours passed and protesters ignored a citywide 8 p.m. curfew, law enforcement reversed course.

The new strategy included deploying a column of National Guard troops, including armored vehicles, to respond to protests near the 5th Precinct. People had set fire to the 3rd Precinct on Thursday night, forcing police to abandon the building.

On Friday night, protesters also reportedly were seen breaking into a Wells Fargo Bank, which was also torched.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey urged demonstrators to go home at an early morning press conference on Saturday.

Walz said he understood the rage felt across the nation but condemned what he called “wanton destruction.”

“This is not grieving,” he said. “This is not making a statement. This is life-threatening and dangerous to the most well-qualified forces out there.”

Frey said he was “reeling” along with the rest of his city but emphasized that “there is no honor in burning down your city.” He highlighted local businesses and institutions many citizens depend on amid the pandemic that had been destroyed.

Major Gen. Jon Jensen announced the state’s National Guard was preparing to deploy 1,700 soldiers. The action would be the largest deployment within Minnesota in the state’s history.

“They are telling our stories and you are disgracing their building”

In other cities most of the demonstrations began peacefully, but as the day unfolded and night fell, they became increasingly violent.

That was true in Atlanta, where a crowd of protesters outside of an entrance to CNN’s headquarters on Friday evening repeatedly threw rocks at officers attempting to keep them from rushing into the building.

Armed with riot gear, more than a dozen officers braced as they endured attacks from protesters with rocks, smoke grenades, and apparently BB rounds. At one point protesters threw a flashbang that detonated in a small lobby.

In response, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency around midnight.

“At the request of Mayor [Keisha Lance Bottoms] & in consultation with public safety & emergency preparedness officials, I have issued a State of Emergency for Fulton County to activate as many as 500 [Georgia National Guard] troops to protect people & property in Atlanta,” Kemp announced in a tweet.

Earlier in the day a police vehicle was set on fire. An act of vandalism reporters have cited as a turning point in the day’s activities.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with those marching in the streets to stop rioting.

“You are burning cars, you have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city. … They are telling our stories and you are disgracing their building,” Bottoms said in a televised interview.

Others who had surrounded CNN’s headquarters, smashed the building’s windows and sprayed graffiti on the network’s logo.

The messages scrawled on the building included insults to Trump, along with #Love and “no cops.”

Peaceful vigil in Portland, Ore., escalates

Protesters gathered peacefully Friday evening in Portland, Ore., but the demonstration eventually led to violence.

Members of the crowd marched to the Multnomah County Justice Center, which houses the county jail and police headquarters. Video showed several protesters breaking windows. The police department said a small fire was lit in the building.

The Portland Police Bureau later declared a riot in the city and ordered protesters to go home. In a tweet, PPB said people who did not comply would be “subject to gas, projectiles, and other means necessary for dispersal.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler responded to the incident on Twitter, urging protesters to remain peaceful.

“Portland, this is NOT us,” he wrote. “When you destroy our city, you are destroying our community. When you act in violence against each other, you are hurting all of us. How does this honor the legacy of George Floyd? Protest, speak truth, but don’t tear your city apart in the process.”

As the demonstrations grew more violent, Wheeler took to Twitter again, announcing that he would be returning to the city to speak to police. Wheeler wrote that he had to leave the city to be at the side of his dying mother.

Los Angeles crowd descends on uniformed officer

In Los Angeles, an angry crowd rushed into the streets amid oncoming traffic.

At one point, an officer grabbed a male activist in an attempt to restrain him. After a brief tussle, a throng of protesters pulled the officer to the ground. They descended on the uniformed officer, kicking and hitting him with protest signs. Eventually, a man in civilian clothing pulled the officer out of the melee.

Dozens of people later marched onto the 110 Freeway blocking all of the northbound lanes.

But as the sun set, some protesters became more destructive.

One group busted the windows of a downtown Starbucks and other local restaurants. Others set trash cans on fire and pushed dumpsters toward lines of police officers.

At about 10:30 p.m. local time, the police department declared an unlawful assembly throughout the core downtown area.

“This is being made following repeated acts of violence & property damage,” officials said on Twitter.

White House on lockdown

On Friday afternoon the U.S. Secret Service temporarily locked down the White House, after demonstrators gathered in protest outside the gates. Many took a knee while others chanted, “Don’t Shoot.”

Shortly afterward, Secret Service officials said “personnel are currently assisting other law enforcement agencies during a demonstration” in the park across from the White House. Law enforcement struggled with protesters over metal barricades that form one of the layers of protection around the White House.

Protesters remained at the White House early Saturday morning, shoving police as they stood outside with shields. At one point, police appeared to attempt to disperse the crowd by using tear gas or pepper spray.

New York protests turn violent

More protests broke out in New York, peacefully at first, in lower Manhattan area and then with spurts of violence at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Protesters threw water bottles and chanted insults at police.

In a video captured by a local reporter, police can be seen wielding batons and beating several protesters to the ground, at one point spraying a crowd with a repellent, and making arrests.

“Our police officers have been given a very clear instruction: as always, respect peaceful protest. We in this city have a long history of respecting every kind of viewpoint, that is the essence of New York City,” NYC mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Friday.

The AP reports in Brooklyn, at least one NYPD van was set on fire by demonstrators two separate times.

At least 200 demonstrators were arrested Friday and a dozen NYPD officers injured, according to local reports. Seventy protesters were taken into custody on Thursday.

In Denver windows were smashed, fires burned late into the night

Demonstrators in Denver, Colo., gathered peacefully at noon Friday, for the second day in a row at the state Capitol and downtown, according to the local reports. Protesters chanted, “Say his name — George Floyd,” and other slogans but eventually struggles broke out with police.

Protesters defaced a statue on the Capitol steps, and spray-painted “I can’t breathe” and other graffiti on pillars.

According to local reports, demonstrators broke windows and threw water bottles and rocks at police officers, who threw flash bangs, shot pepper pellets and sprayed tear gas at crowds.

Tay Anderson, a Denver school board member and community organizer said in a tweet those who partook in violence Friday were asked to stop by protest organizers.

This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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