Here’s What You Need to Know About Last Night’s Violent George Floyd Protests

Demonstrations against police brutality took place in more than 20 cities across the U.S. with most erupting into violence on Friday night, as tens of thousands of protesters clashed with riot police, state troopers, and the National Guard.
May 30, 2020, 12:24pm
Protesters face off with police outside the White House in Washington, DC, early on May 30, 2020 during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes.

On Monday, George Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 48 seconds. By Wednesday, Minneapolis was burning. On Friday night, the entire country was on fire.

Demonstrations against police brutality took place in more than 20 cities across the U.S. with most erupting into violence Friday night, as tens of thousands of protesters clashed with riot police, state troopers, and the National Guard.

Hundreds of people were arrested; buildings and vehicles were damaged, looted, and set on fire; dozens of people were injured; cars drove through crowds of protests in several cities; and a 19-year-old was shot dead in Detroit.

The protests continued Friday despite the authorities finally arresting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and charging him with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. A criminal complaint released Friday said other officers stood by and did nothing as Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.

Lawmakers across the country responded to the riots by calling in backup.

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Demonstrators kneel before police Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who deployed 500 National Guard troops on Thursday, called in 1,000 more as violence continued to spread in Minneapolis. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp followed suit, declaring a state of emergency in the early hours of Saturday to activate the National Guard and help quell protests in Atlanta.

In D.C., where protesters gathered outside the White House to shout curses at President Donald Trump, the National Guard was put on standby.

In a move that could incite further anger among protesters, AP reported that the Pentagon on Friday took the almost unprecedented step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on alert to deploy to Minneapolis.

The last time such a measure was used was in the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King trial.

What happened in Minneapolis?

Despite Mayor Jacob Frey putting a citywide curfew in place, and lawmakers and activists calling for people to stay at home, Minneapolis descended into violent chaos for a fourth straight night.

Thousands of protesters defied the 8 p.m. curfew to once again clash with police and set buildings on fire, and some opportunists looted businesses across the city.

After the 3rd Precinct police headquarters was attacked and set on fire Thursday night, protesters moved to the 5th Precinct headquarters on Friday, setting fire to buildings around the station and throwing projectiles at police defending the building.

Minneapolis Fire Department crews battled blazes into Saturday morning but said it would only attended fires once they had been secured by police and National Guard troops.

There were also multiple reports of shots being fired across the city and police confirmed they had fired shots at a car driving into a group of officers on Friday evening, but no one was injured in the incident.

One of those who defied the curfew was Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison who said he did so because he didn’t understand the plan that the mayor and other officials had put in place.

He spent the evening helping put out fires that broke out across the city, according to his Twitter feed.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington told a news conference that there were more than 2,500 police officers deployed in Minneapolis on Friday night, but despite such a major presence, it appeared to have very little effect, according to reports from people on the streets in Minneapolis.

In an early morning press conference on Saturday, Frey and Walz both pleaded once again with protesters to go home,

“The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous,” Walz said. “You need to go home.”

Walz also highlighted the fact that outsiders were coming into Minneapolis to incite further chaos and hindering the police’s ability to counter the protests.

“The terrifying thing is that this resembles more a military operation now as you observe ringleaders moving from place to place,” he said. On Friday, VICE News reported that far-right extremists are showing up, with guns, to the protests while others are inciting violence from their computers, hoping to spark a “race war.”

What’s happening across the country

There were protests in more than two dozen cities across the country on Friday night. Here are some of the most notable incidents:

Detroit: A 19-year-old man is dead after shots were fired into crowds in Detroit protesting police brutality, police say. The shots were fired by an unknown suspect in a gray Dodge Durango, with the victim later dying in hospital. Police didn’t say if the victim was part of the protests. Earlier a man was arrested for trying to run over an officer.

San Jose: Video footage shared by multiple people on social media shows a Dodge Durango driver through a crowd of protesters before turning around and driving back into the crown. When the vehicle is attacked, it reverses and drives over at least one protester before driving off. At least two people were injured in the incident, but their condition is unknown.

Bakersfield: 90 minutes after hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Bakersfield, a driver sped through the crowded streets outside the police headquarters as protesters jumped out of the way. But the car circled back and drove through the crowd again, injuring one woman.

Washington, DC: At the White House, several thousand protesters tried to push through barriers set up by the secret service. Some threw bottles and other objects at officers in riot gear, who responded with pepper spray. The incident forced the secret service to put the White House into lockdown for an hour on Friday evening. The protesters eventually moved on to the Trump International Hotel.

New York: An NYPD van being set on fire in Fort Greene Park and hundreds of protesters trying to surround the 88th precinct in Clinton Hill before being rebuffed by a massive police mobilization. One man was arrested for allegedly punched an NYPD sergeant in the head with brass knuckles.

Portland: Having begun peacefully, the protest in Portland descended into a riot when protesters broke into the Multnomah County Justice Center, which houses the downtown jail and police precinct, smashing windows and setting it on fire. Police in riot gear responded with tear gas, pepper balls, and stun grenades.

Atlanta: Rioters damaged the headquarters of CNN and set a police car on fire, as protests turned violent in the city. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with the protesters: “If you care about this city, then go home.”

Houston: More than 200 people were arrested as protesters clashed with police. Officials said that four officers sustained minor injuries during the protests and eight police vehicles were damaged.

Cover: Protesters face off with police outside the White House in Washington, DC, early on May 30, 2020 during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)