George Floyd Protests Give Way to Destruction and Escalating Unrest in Cities Across the US

Police work to keep demonstrators back during a protest near Lafayette Square Park on May 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Police work to keep demonstrators back during a protest near Lafayette Square Park on May 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Getty Images

The fury and unrest that was ignited in Minneapolis in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man killed at the hands of police, spread to other cities across the Unites States this weekend, as peaceful protests Saturday were followed by destruction and, at times, violence.

Protesters gathered in at least 75 cities across the country, including Columbus, Ohio; Little Rock, Arkansas; Miami, Florida; Washington D.C.; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Brooklyn, New York. Hundreds of people were arrested as tensions heightened between demonstrators and police.

California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington state called for assistance from the National Guard. Hundreds across the U.S. were arrested. 

In Brooklyn, a small crowd pulled a steel barricade to the middle of the street, blocking an NYPD vehicle. Another police vehicle pulled up alongside and pushed through the group of people, video posted to Twitter showed. Then the original vehicle rammed the barricade, sending demonstrators flying. 

The incident drew outrage from many, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who tweeted "NYPD officers just drove an SUV into a crowd of human beings. They could‘ve killed them, &we don’t know how many they injured. NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings. @NYCMayor these officers need to be brought to justice, not dismissed w/“internal reviews.”

Nashville's historic courthouse and city hall were ablaze, parts of Los Angeles were set on fire, Chicago saw stores and police cars damaged and destroyed and gunfire could be heard throughout Indianapolis, the New York Times reported.

"One American city after another was filled with the smoke, gagging and vomiting that follow tear gas," the Times wrote.

Mayors in more than 24 cities put in place curfews, orders not simultaneously ordered in such fashion since the unrest that followed the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday marked five days since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis. Video footage of Floyd's death Monday showed Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder, pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd begged for him to stop, saying he couldn't breathe.

Floyd's death was a reminder for many of the inequality black people in America experience, protesters said, many noting they were not looking to cause physical harm to police or damage the cities they demonstrated in, but instead just have their calls for change be heard. 

“I’m not here to fight someone,” Eldon Gillet, 40, of Brooklyn, told the Times. “I’m here to fight a system.”

Protests are expected to continue across the country Sunday.

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