Violence amid protests of George Floyd's killing spur National Guard call-ups
With violent protests against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis continuing in cities across the U.S., local leaders are increasingly calling for the National Guard or military to intervene.
Protesters burned businesses in Minneapolis. They smashed police cars and windows in Atlanta, broke into police headquarters in Portland, Oregon, and chanted curses at President Donald Trump outside the White House. Thousands also demonstrated peacefully, demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck.
As anger over Mr. Floyd's killing spread to cities nationwide, local leaders increasingly said they could need help from National Guardsmen or even military police to contain the unrest.
Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency early Saturday to activate the state National Guard as violence flared in Atlanta. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also declared an emergency and ordered a nighttime curfew for the city.
Another 500 Guard soldiers were mobilized in and around Minneapolis, where Mr. Floyd died and an officer faced charges Friday in his death. But after another night of watching fires burn and businesses ransacked, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said early Saturday that he was moving to activate more than 1,000 more and was considering federal help.
The Guard was also on standby in the District of Columbia, where a crowd grew outside the White House and chanted curses at President Donald Trump. Some protesters tried to push through barriers set up by the U.S. Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue, and threw bottles and other objects at officers wearing riot gear, who responded with pepper spray.
“I just feel like he’s just one of many names that we’ve had to create hashtags and T-shirts and campaigns for and I feel like nothing has changed," district resident Abe Neri said of Mr. Floyd. "And so that’s why I’m out here. Yeah, when you say nothing you’re taking the side of the oppressor.”
A person was killed in downtown Detroit just before midnight after someone in an SUV fired shots into a crowd of protesters near the Greektown entertainment district, police said. In Portland, Oregon, protesters broke into police headquarters and authorities said they lit a fire inside. In Virginia's capital, a police cruiser was set on fire outside Richmond police headquarters, and a city transit spokeswoman said a bus set ablaze was “a total loss,” news outlets reported.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that up to 500 members of the Guard would deploy immediately “to protect people & property in Atlanta.” He said he acted at the request of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who earlier appealed in vain for calm.
In scenes both peaceful and violent across the nation, thousands of protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.” They hoisted signs reading: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.”
Some demonstrators smashed police cars and spray-painted the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters in downtown Atlanta. At least three officers were hurt and there were multiple arrests, Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said, as protesters shot at officers with BB guns and threw bricks, bottles, and knives.
Atlanta officials said crews were temporarily unable to reach a fire at Del Frisco’s restaurant in the Buckhead neighborhood several miles north because of protesters there.
“This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.," Mayor Bottoms said. “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country.”
Ms. Bottoms was flanked by Mr. King’s daughter, Bernice King, and rappers T.I. and Killer Mike.
“We have to be better than burning down our own homes. Because if we lose Atlanta what have we got?” said Killer Mike, crying as he spoke.
Video posted to social media showed New York City officers using batons and shoving protesters down as they took people into custody and cleared streets. One video showed on officer slam a woman to the ground as he walked past her in the street.
Demonstrators rocked a police van, set it ablaze, scrawled graffiti across its charred body and set it aflame again as officers retreated. Blocks away, protesters used a club to batter another police vehicle.
"There will be a full review of what happened tonight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, referring to the Brooklyn protest. "We don’t ever want to see another night like this.”
The police department said numerous officers were injured, including one whose tooth was knocked out.
The names of black people killed by police, including Mr. Floyd and Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014, were on signs and in chants.
“Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here," said Brianna Petrisko, among those at lower Manhattan’s Foley Square, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. "This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”
Protesters in Houston, where Mr. Floyd grew up, included Jimmy Ohaz from the nearby city of Richmond, Texas: “My question is how many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we’re not oppressed.”
Demonstrators on the West Coast blocked highways in Los Angeles and Oakland, California.
About 1,000 protesters in Oakland smashed windows, sprayed buildings with “Kill Cops” graffiti, and were met with chemical spray from police, who said several officers were injured by projectiles.
One Los Angeles officer received medical treatment, police said. An LAPD vehicle had its windows smashed, and at least one city bus was vandalized. Police declared an unlawful assembly throughout downtown, where aerial footage from KTLA-TV showed scored of people corralled by police.
An LAPD spokesman told The Associated Press they were still tallying arrests.
“I believe in our city. L.A. is strong enough to stand for justice and walk in love,” Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted, cautioning "violence and vandalism hurts all.”
San Jose, California, police said that Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies shot at a fleeing SUV that was shown on video striking protesters, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Protesters repeatedly clashed with police in San Jose, said Mayor Sam Liccardo, and police responded with flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. One officer was hospitalized with a non-life-threatening injury, officials said.
Mayor Liccardo said his city's officers shared the community’s outrage over Floyd’s death.
“It was a horrible injustice,” he told the AP.
Portland, Oregon, police said at least one shooting was tied to the protest, although details weren’t immediately released. Two people were arrested during overnight riots in which protesters set fires throughout downtown and smashed storefront windows, police said.
Police, who declared the protest a riot, said they deployed gas after people threw projectiles at them.
Mayor Wheeler tweeted a plea to protesters to remain peaceful and said that, while he had left the city to attend to his dying mother, he was heading back. He later declared a state of emergency.
“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?”
This story was reported by The Associated Press.
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