Heated Protests Against Police Killing Unarmed Black People Spread Across The Country Last Night
Protesters enraged over two unarmed black people killed by police led to a Minneapolis precinct being stormed and the activation of the national guard.
There were heated protests around the US on Thursday night in response to the police killings of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis and an unarmed black woman in Kentucky.
Hundreds swarmed the streets of Minneapolis for a third day of protests against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer used a knee chokehold on his neck as he repeatedly pleaded, "I can't breathe." Experts told BuzzFeed News the tactic was unacceptable and unjustified, and should be banned.
Protesters clashed with police in the southern Minneapolis area, breaching the Third Precinct headquarters and setting the building on fire. Police had vacated the building by 10 p.m. on an order from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The City of Minneapolis Twitter account urged people to move away from the area, citing "unconfirmed reports" of cut gas lines and explosives in the building.
Fireworks were set off in the background as the precinct burned.
Police also arrested CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, who is black and Latino, and his crew while they covered the protest in Minneapolis. The network said in a statement that the arrests "a clear violation of [the crew's] First Amendment right."
CNN staff have said their white reporter Josh Campbell was the only one not arrested. Campbell said that after he identified himself to police, they told him he was permitted to be in the area.
Jimenez and his crew have since been released from custody. Gov. Tim Walz apologized to the journalists on Friday, saying "there is absolutely no reason for something like this to happen."
President Donald Trump tweeted about the Minneapolis protests in the early hours of Friday, calling on Frey to "bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right."
He also called protesters "thugs" and threatened to shoot looters in a subsequent tweet that sparked widespread condemnation. Twitter later labeled the tweet for violating the platform's rules about glorifying violence.
Walz addressed Floyd's death and the city's anger on Friday, saying order must be restored "before we can start addressing the issues."
He said justice "will be swift" and "fair."
The officer who crushed Floyd's neck with his knee, Derek Chauvin, as well as three other officers at the scene were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department Tuesday.
In nearby St. Paul, police fired tear gas at protesters during similarly tense demonstrations, and businesses were looted and police cars damaged.
In a statement urging calm, Mayor Melvin Carter said, “For all of us who lament the death of Mr. Floyd, for all of us whose fathers, whose sons, whose nephews, whose selves that could have been, our demand has to be that we take this energy and channel it towards helping prevent something like that from ever happening again."
The Minnesota National Guard was deployed to both Minneapolis and St. Paul Thursday.
Hundreds of miles away, in Louisville, Kentucky, demonstrators gathered Thursday to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was fatally shot in her home by police officers on March 13. Her death is being investigated by the FBI.
Police there fired tear gas at protesters, and several buildings and cars were damaged. Scenes from the demonstration captured the moment protestors attempted to overturn a police transport vehicle before the sound of gunshots dispersed the crowd, causing a frenzy.
Louisville Sgt. Lamont Washington told BuzzFeed News seven people were shot, one of whom is in critical condition. Mayor Greg Fischer said in an early morning press conference that two individuals who had been shot required surgery, and the other five were in "good condition." Police did not fire any shots, he said.
At the height of the protest, Fischer shared a message online said to have been from a member of Taylor’s family, calling for protesters to refrain from violence.
The unidentified woman thanked protesters for their support: “Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna’s name tonight. We are not going to stop until we get justice, but we should stop tonight before people get hurt. Please go home, be safe, and be ready to keep fighting.”
Louisville Assistant Chief of Police LaVita Chavous said Friday that though the protests were peaceful in the first few hours, once police "started seeing significant property damage to cars and buildings downtown ... we had to move in to take more action to try to disperse crowds."
Police fired tear gas after shots were heard in the crowd, Chavous said.
Gov. Andy Beshear released a statement from Taylor's mom, Tamika Palmer, urging protesters to avoid violence.
"Please keep saying her name. Please keep demanding justice and accountability," Palmer said. "But let's do it the right way, without hurting each other."
Protests against Floyd and Taylor's deaths spilled out of Minneapolis and Louisville into major cities across the country.
In Denver, protesters rallied outside the Colorado State Capital Building demanding justice for victims of police brutality. The sound of gunfire rang out at one point, though Denver police told BuzzFeed News no one was injured, and they were still working to identify the shooter.
Video of a woman driving through a crowd of protesters in downtown Denver, then swerving right and knocking a man to the ground with her car, also went viral.
Anabel Escobar, the protester who filmed the incident, told BuzzFeed News the woman driving the car was trying to get out of a line of cars on a closed street.
"When she started moving, protesters moved towards her car to not let her pass. She continued to accelerate into the group of people," Escobar said. When a protester on her car jumped off and walked back to the crowd, "instead of driving forward to get out, she made a hard right to come back towards the protesters and hit the guy."
Escobar said she was "in shock" that the woman turned around instead of driving away.
"She was frustrated and I understood that, but don’t feel like it warrants potentially killing someone," Escobar said. "Unnecessary violence."
Protests in Columbus, Ohio, also turned aggressive as police fired tear gas at crowds and demonstrators threw objects at officers and later breached the Ohio statehouse.
Mayor Andrew Ginther urged people to "remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night."
In New York City, at least 70 people were arrested after police and protesters clashed Thursday.
Dozens of people protested outside the Los Angeles police department as well, marching downtown and chanting "Black lives matter." In Fontana, 50 miles east of LA, nine people were arrested in a protest against Floyd's death.