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Protests turn violent in U.S. despite curfews; National Guards activated

By Allen Cone and Christen McCurdy
1/25
Protests turn violent in U.S. despite curfews; National Guards activated
A protester yells at police when Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with New York Police Department officers as protests continue over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, in New York City on Saturday. Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

May 30 (UPI) -- Protests -- some violent and in defiance of curfews -- erupted again across the United States on Saturday night in the wake of the death of an unarmed man, George Floyd, in Minnesota earlier in the week.

Officials in at least two dozen cities, including Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Louisville, Denver, Miami and Milwaukee, enacted curfews Saturday night in anticipation of protests and potential riots.

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At least 13 states and the District of Columbia have activated the National Guard to respond to the unrest, a defense official told CNN.

And President Donald Trump has offered to send members of the military.

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Cable television networks displayed live video and the eyewitness accounts of reporters, many wearing masks because of the pandemic, throughout the night.

Like Friday, Saturday's protests began peacefully, but many took a turn toward looting and vandalism as the night progressed in Minneapolis as well as cities nationwide.

Some chanted, "No justice, no peace."

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Many held signs that were Floyd's last words, "I can't breathe."

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer seen on video standing on Floyd's neck as Floyd gasped for air, was charged with third-degree murder Friday in connection with his death Monday. The fired officer's bail has been set at $500,000.

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Protesters are seeking an even more serious charge -- first-degree murder -- and want three other officers on the scene at the time to be arrested.

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Earlier this week, demonstrators burned a police precinct building in Minneapolis.

Protesters remained out on the streets past the 8 p.m. curfew set earlier by the governor.

Demonstrators were tear gassed by police as they tried marching through a bridge from Minneapolis to St. Paul. The National Guard announced it was sending a total of 10,800 members to respond to the protests.

RELATED Minnesota gov. activates National Guard in response to protests

In New York City, about 120 people had been arrested and "there's a lot more coming in," according to one law enforcement official.

In downtown Indianapolis, at least three people were shot, including one fatally, Police Chief Randal Taylor said. Authorities advised residents to avoid the area.

In Missouri, a police department building was damaged and evacuated as protesters threw bricks, fireworks, rocks and bottles at officers during protests in Ferguson -- the site of violent protests in 2014 after Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was shot and killed during a confrontation with a white police officer in August of that year.

In Chicago, former police Supt. Garry McCarthy told WGN-TV that Saturday's events are a "full scale riot" despite a curfew implemented at 9 p.m. though Mayor said there were no plans to bring in the National Guard.

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Officers were hit with Moltov cocktails, Chicago Supt. David Brown said, and several building downtown were vandalized. Lake Shore Drive was closed in both directions to avoid peoplecoming into downtown.

In Nashville, Tenn., officers used tear gas to disperse a crowd that turned violent despite a 10 p.m. curfew. The town's historic courthouse was set on fire, according to police, and several businesses were damaged.

"Additional gas is being deployed outside the courthouse. The crowd is being warned of their unlawful assembly," the city's police department tweeted Saturday night.

In Salt Lake City, protesters vandalized stores, burned vehicles and threw objects despite a citywide curfew. Protesters and officers were injured and many protesters were in police custody, KSL reported. Law enforcement officers from across northern Utah gathered near the Salt Lake City Library, armed with shields and batons and dispersed crowds.

In Miami, stores at Bayside Marketplace and other parts of downtown Miami were looted after clashes between protesters and police officers blocks away. WSVN-TV captured footage of a damaged storefront. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered a countywide curfew.

Protesters in Georgia convened on Gov. Brian Kemp's mansion and some were arrested on unspecified charges. Kemp was not home at the time. Kemp authorized at least 3,000 National Guard troops ahead of protests expected Sunday.

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Six people were arrested in Philadelphia on Saturday night in connection with protests, according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

Outlaw said at least 13 police officers were injured and that some civilians were hurt too, but she did not have exact numbers regarding the latter.

Around 3,000 protesters gathered Saturday, Mayor Jim Kenney said, adding the majority of those demonstrators were peaceful and expressed "our collective grief."

"The people that were doing the actual protests were not the problem," Kenney said. "The people who were actually marching for a purpose were not the problem. It was this ragtag group of people who were destructive folks, who were doing the things to our officers, to the buildings, setting cars on fire, those type of things."

Trump, who has been critical of the response, said military personnel could be deployed in Minnesota.

"We have our military ready, willing and able, if they ever want to call our military. We can have troops on the ground very quickly," Trump told reporters as he left the White House to travel to Florida for the SpaceX launch Saturday. "They're using their National Guard right now, as you know."

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Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement to CNN Saturday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley "have personally spoken with [Minnesota] Governor [Tim] Walz twice in the last 24 hours and expressed the department's readiness to provide support to local and state authorities as requested."

Later Saturday, Trump posted on Twitter after arriving back at the White House: "The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn't do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!"

Earlier this week demonstrators burned a police precinct building in Minneapolis.

Trump added that Minnesota government officials, who have already activated the state's National Guard, have "got to be tough" and that protesters need to be "taught" that they "can't do this."

The military is prohibited from acting as domestic law enforcement, but under the Insurrection Act of 1807, state officials have the ability to call for military assistance.

Trump had criticized Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Twitter, saying she had not allowed police to get involved in a clash between protesters and the Secret Service on Friday night.

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Bowser disputed that claim.

On Saturday afternoon, protesters converged near the White House, as law enforcement law officers used batons and tear gas to push back the crowd.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced activated 200 members of the Washington National Guard on Saturday night to respond to protests in Seattle.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, after setting an 8 p.m. curfew and deploying the National Guard to assist Saturday night, said, "I'm asking all of Los Angeles to take a deep breath and to step back for a moment to allow our firefighters to put out the flames, to allow our peace officers to reestablish some order," according to KTLA-TV.

Governors in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Colorado and Ohio had also activated the National Guard in their states.

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