The growing anger over a Minneapolis police officer who was seen on video using his knee to pin down George Floyd, a black man who later died, has escalated with the burning of a police station and protests across the nation that drew attention from the White House.
The former police officer, Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Friday, May 29, authorities said, and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The developments came after a night of chaos in which protesters set fire to a police station in Minneapolis, the National Guard was deployed to help restore order, and President Donald Trump injected himself into the mix with tweets that appeared to threaten violence against protesters.
The tensions in Minneapolis reflected a growing frustration around the country, as demonstrators took to the streets to protest the death of Floyd and other recent killings of black men and women.
Trump, who previously called the video of Floyd’s death “shocking,” drew criticism for a tweet early Friday that called the protesters “thugs” and said that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The comments prompted Twitter to attach a warning to the tweet, saying that it violated the company’s rules about “glorifying violence.”
The president gave his first extensive remarks on the protests later Friday at the White House, declaring that “we can’t allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos. It’s very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody, that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory.”
The protests — some peaceful, some marked by violence — have spread across the country, from Denver and Phoenix to Louisville, Kentucky, and Columbus, Ohio, and more were expected.
A demonstration turned destructive in Atlanta on Friday night, as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the CNN headquarters. Some people jumped on police cars, setting one on fire and smashing at least one windshield and slashing tires, according to a livestream broadcast by CBS 46 in Atlanta.
The station reported that some protesters had thrown rocks and bottles at police officers. Some protesters also climbed atop a large red CNN sign outside the media company’s headquarters and spray-painted messages on it. Video showed police officers pushing the protesters back toward Centennial Olympic Park.
The CNN Center and its restaurants were closed, but some of the windows had been broken, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
In Washington, a large crowd gathered and chanted outside the White House, prompting the Secret Service to put the building on lockdown. Video on social media showed demonstrators knocking down barricades, confronting police officers and spray painting other buildings nearby.
In Denver, hundreds of protesters converged on Civic Center Park, waving signs and chanting as Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” played over a loudspeaker. Some thrust fists in the air and scrawled messages on the ground in chalk, according to a live broadcast of the event by ABC News.
Bus and rail service into and out of downtown Denver was suspended in response to the protest Friday and another one planned for Saturday, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 people, according to the Regional Transportation District in Denver.
Later in Houston, hundreds gathered in front of City Hall, chanting and clapping, as they were watched over by police officers on foot and on horseback. The city’s police chief, Art Acevedo, wearing a face mask and shouting through a bullhorn, waded into the crowd and spoke to protesters who shouted back at him.
“We need to stand up for each other,” the chief said, according to a live video stream from KPRC, as some protesters drowned him out and others shouted, “Let him speak!”
The chief, who was struggling to be heard, denounced the death of Floyd and defended his record of holding Houston police officers accountable for misconduct.
After he was done, the protesters chanted, “No justice! No peace,” and “Say his name! George Floyd!”
In Milwaukee, protesters shouted “I can’t breathe” — echoing Floyd’s anguished plea and the words of Eric Garner, a black man who died in New York Police Department custody in 2014. The protesters briefly shut down part of Interstate 43, a major highway in Milwaukee, according to WTMJ-TV. A Milwaukee police spokeswoman referred questions to the county sheriff’s office, which did not immediately respond to messages.
In Detroit, a small crowd gathered outside police headquarters, declaring, “Black is not a crime.”
Later, the demonstration in Detroit swelled to more than 1,000, as protesters marched on major thoroughfares leading downtown, blocking traffic along the way.
Former President Barack Obama on Friday called on the nation to work together to create a “new normal” in which bigotry no longer infects institutions, while former Vice President Joe Biden used a short speech to call for “justice for George Floyd.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Obama said, “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us.” But for millions of Americans, being treated differently because of race is “normal,” Obama said, referencing two other recent cases: Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed after two men confronted him while he was running in south Georgia, and Christian Cooper, who was bird watching in Central Park when a woman called police to say she was being threatened.
“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Obama said, adding: “It falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station, to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
This article was written by The New York Times.