A day of mostly peaceful demonstrations turned into another night of unrest and fury in pretty much every corner of the United States as protests took place in at least 75 cities. Curfews imposed in more than two dozen cities were largely ignored as the National Guard was deployed in at least 12 states amid an effort by authorities to increase their response to the demonstrations that began over the death of George Floyd but have since expanded as an expression of rage at the historic mistreatment of African Americans by police. Police cars and government buildings were set on fire, stores were looted as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, leading to scenes of urban warfare that were shocking in their size and scope.
In Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer and where the protests began, things were largely quiet during the day Saturday before the National Guard joined law enforcement officers in using tear gas and making arrests as soon as the curfew took effect. Despite dramatic footage out of the city, as protests raged in much of the country, Minneapolis was calmer in the fifth day of protests than it had been in previous days with few reports of fires and looting that had become the norm. Although dozens of people were arrested, there were no reports of serious injuries as of early Sunday morning.
It was a different story in Philadelphia, where 13 police officers were injured and at least 35 people were arrested as a peaceful demonstration broke up as night fell and gave way to confrontations with law enforcement. Stores were vandalized and looted and police cars were set on fire as police moved in to clear the streets.
In Washington, D.C. protesters gathered near the Justice Department before moving on to the White House, where many clashed with Secret Service and law enforcement officers. Protesters across the city smashed windows and set fire to garbage cans. Determined to avoid the scenes that played out early Saturday morning, Lafayette Park, which is in front of the White House, was blocked with metal barricades.
There were also lots of confrontations between police and protesters in New York City, where many demonstrators were arrested by officers clearing the streets. A video showing two NYPD cruisers accelerating into a crowd quickly gained traction on social media and led to an outraged response by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. “NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings,” she tweeted.
Nearly a third of the 1,669 people that police have arrested since Thursday were in Los Angeles, according to an Associated Press tally. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles county and city late Saturday and activated the National Guard to assist law enforcement as peaceful demonstrations devolved into violence and looting. Clashes were reported among protesters as some tried to stop others from smashing windows and looting businesses.
Seattle was another city where peaceful protests turned chaotic as the day progressed. Cars were set on fire, stores were looted as some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at police. Two AR-15 rifles were stolen from police vehicles at one point although they were later recovered.
In Indianapolis, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets peacefully but the situation changed dramatically at night as police fired tear gas to disperse violent protesters. One person was killed and three others were injured early Sunday when someone opened fire at protesters. Police said they were investigating “multiple” shootings that had been reported.
The death in Indianapolis brought the total death toll connected to the protests to at least four since Wednesday. Early Saturday, a man was killed in St. Louis as he got stuck between the trailers of a FedEx trucks that protesters were trying to loot. Meanwhile, authorities were still investigating whether the shooting death of a federal officer in Oakland, Calif. on Friday night was directly related to the demonstrations. “No one should rush to conflate this heinous act with the protests last night,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. A 21-year-old man was also killed Friday night in Detroit and law enforcement officers believe the gunman may have known the victim and used the demonstration as a cover for the killing. And a 43-year-old man was shot and killed outside a pawnshop in Minneapolis that was being lotted Wednesday.