Protests Spread Across the Country Over Floyd Death

An Atlanta Police Department vehicle burns during a demonstration against police violence, Friday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — A fourth night of protests responding to the death of George Floyd started peaceful and slowly escalated in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday, with many defying nighttime curfews in to picket another police precinct.

Protesters blocked traffic on highways, thoroughfares and bridges around Minneapolis during the day, echoing tactics used to protest the Minneapolis Police Department’s 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark and St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez’ 2016 killing of Philando Castile.

Earlier in the day, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for Derek Chauvin, who was shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes in a viral video shot Monday. Local officials had hoped Chauvin’s arrest and charges would deter further rioting. Minnesota governor Tim Walz called up the National Guard to respond to the protests Thursday night at the request of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Protesters were not satisfied. They chanted “one down, three to go” Friday afternoon, referring to officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng, who had also participated in Floyd’s arrest and stood by while Chauvin kneeled on him. Several protesters expressed their belief that Freeman erred by characterizing Floyd’s death as accidental.

The daytime protests also saw two celebrity appearances: actor Jamie Foxx and retired NBA player Stephen Jackson, a personal friend of Floyd, both spoke at a rally at Hennepin County Government Center, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

When an 8 p.m. curfew took effect, state troopers shot tear gas at protesters, and some went home. Others did not, with little incident at first.

Troopers, police, the National Guard and civilians stood guard at businesses as protesters on foot, bikes and motorcycles and in cars worked their way down Lake Street away from the MPD’s 3rd Precinct just before dark, headed for the MPD’s 5th Precinct.

The 3rd Precinct, where Chauvin was stationed, burned down Thursday night after police abandoned it. It had been the epicenter of protests throughout the first three days, with police deploying tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against increasingly agitated crowds.

Walz decried a lack of coordination and planning in the police response to the riots a press conference late Friday morning.

“You’re seeing holes in planning, that’s for darn sure,” he said.

Police closed the area surrounding the 3rd Precinct to access just before 9 a.m. Friday. They warned of the possibility of an explosion from a gas main under the station.

Cars burned alongside Lake as early as 9 p.m. Friday, and as of 11 p.m. the looting, smashed windows and fires that had damaged hundreds of buildings on Wednesday and Thursday nights had started again, but were much less pronounced than earlier in the week.

The mood at the 5th Precinct was also far less confrontational. Protesters could be seen on livestreams shouting chants relatively uninterrupted, a far cry from the tear gas-fueled frenzy around the 3rd precinct.

Other cities joined in on the protests. In New York, police made dozens of arrests but were not able to prevent the destruction of several NYPD squad cars. Atlanta saw its own share of police car fires, along with one that damaged CNN’s headquarters downtown early in the evening.

“If you care about this city, then go home,” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a press conference late Friday night. Bottoms, who is black, pointed to her own concern for her son’s safety as evidence that she cared about the cause.

“In the same way I can protect my son yesterday, I cannot protect you out in those streets,” she said.

CNN had a difficult day generally. On Friday evening, the cable news network’s headquarters in Atlanta was targeted by protesters who damaged the front and inside of the building. Earlier in the day, a crew of the network’s reporters were arrested by Minnesota state troopers, but quickly released with apologies from Walz.

“I am deeply apologetic that this happened,” Walz said at the afternoon press conference. “I don’t care at this point what the circumstance was that they were arrested, it was wrong.”

%d bloggers like this: