Protests spread across US as cop charged over George Floyd death

  • Protests erupt in cities across the United States over the deadly arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who was pinned to the ground by the knee of a white officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The fired officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, as Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe”, has been charged with murder and manslaughter.
  • The Minnesota National Guard has arrived in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and surrounding areas.
  • Minneapolis has imposed a weekend curfew.
  • Community leaders and residents demand the arrest of the three other officers involved.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, May 30

04:57 GMT – Georgia declares state of emergency

Brian P Kempt, governor of the state of Georgia, declared a state of emergency and ordered the deployment of 500 National Guard troops as protests turned violent in Atlanta.

Police in Atlanta said protesters lit fires and looted businesses in downtown Atlanta.

04:32 GMT – Protesters set fire to court building in Louisville

Hundreds of people protested for a second day in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, with some demonstrators breaking into the city’s Hall of Justice and starting a fire inside.

WHASS 11 TV said protesters broke into the court building through a basement window and lit a fire there. Police told the TV station “things are escalating, not de-escalating”.

Crowds rallied in different parts of the city, with some chanting “Prosecute the police” and “I can’t breathe”.

Protestors destroy government flags outside the hall of justice on May 29, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Protests have erupted after recent police-related incidents resulting in the deaths of African-Americans Breonna Taylor in Louisville and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [Brett Carlsen/Getty Images/AFP]
03:46 GMT – Houston mayor calls for peaceful protests amid scuffles

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged protesters to remain peaceful after a group of people demonstrating against Floyd’s death blocked highway entrances and threw objects at police officers.

Some protesters clashed with police in downtown Houston, Texas, with officers deploying tear gas or pepper spray to disperse crowds.

Organisers believe more than 3,000 gathered with Black Lives Matter Houston to protest Floyd’s death with chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace”.

Turner said some were arrested for attempting to block roads, but no injuries were reported. He added that some police vehicles were damaged.

Houston protest
A protester wearing facemask and goggles gestures as people gather to protest and mourn George Floyd in Houston, Texas, on May 29, 2020 [Mark Felix / AFP]
02:50 GMT – Protesters defy Minneapolis curfew

Hundreds of people defied a curfew in Minneapolis by rallying in the city’s downtown for a fourth day over Floyd’s custodial death.

“It’s an eerie scene right now,” Allison Herrera, a Minneapolis resident, told Al Jazeera. “The curfew went into effect a little over an hour ago. And people are still out on the streets.”

Earlier in the day, CBSN Minnesota reported 1,000 people led by athletes marched to the Hennepin Bridge in downtown Minneapolis and took a knee in Floyd’s memory.

People hold their hands up during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP]
02:30 GMT – Police and protesters clash in New York City

Demonstrators took to New York City streets for a second day in protest over the death of Floyd, and invoked the names of other black people who died at police hands.

In Brooklyn, crowds of demonstrators chanted at police officers lined up outside the Barclays Center.

There were several moments of struggle, as some in the crowd pushed against metal barricades and police pushed back.

Scores of water bottles flew from the crowd toward the officers, and in return police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical at the group twice.

01:54 GMT – Police in Atlanta use tear gas as mayor decries ‘chaos’

Police deployed tear gas to disperse crowds in downtown Atlanta, local media reported, as the city’s mayor pleaded with protesters to go home.

“What I see happening is not Atlanta. This is not a protest … this is chaos,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news briefing after protesters vandalised police cars, setting one vehicle on fire.

Atlanta protest
An Atlanta Police Department vehicle burns as people pose for a photo during a demonstration against police violence on May 29, 2020, in Atlanta. [Mike Stewart/ AP]
“When you burn down this city you’re burning down our community … you are disgracing our city, you are disgracing the life of George Floyd and the life of every other person who has been killd in this country. We’re better than this.”

“Go home,” she pleaded. “Go home.

Police Atlanta
Police officers and protesters clash near CNN Center, on May 29, 2020, in Atlanta, USA. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police [Mike Stewart/ AP]
01:29 GMT – White House goes on brief lockdown

The White House went into a brief lockdown, according to US media, after hundreds of people rallied gathered at a park across the street from the president’s mansion.

Peter Alexander, NBC News’ White House correspondent, said in a tweet: “The White House is under lockdown orders from the US Secret Service due to protests outside the gates over George Floyd.”

The lockdown was lifted about an hour later.

Demonstrators gathered at the Lafayette Park had wielded signs saying “Stop Killing Us” and called for justice for Floyd.

01:14 GMT – Denver mayor calls for calm after violent protests

Michael Hancock, the mayor of Denver, Colorado, called for calm and unity after the first of several planned city protests over George Floyd’s death turned violent.

“Let not the story be about the riots and protests. Let’s keep the focus on the life that was lost,” he said.

“I can tell you not to go out and demonstrate but the reality is it’s going to happen,” Hancock said at a news briefing, stressing he shared outrage over what he’s called the “senseless and tragic murder” of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Hancock blamed what he called a minority of agitators among peaceful protesters for inciting violence throughout downtown on Thursday. That violence included throwing rocks at police officers, setting small fires, and breaking windows and damaging cars at the state Capitol and at businesses.

00:38 GMT – Police car set on fire in Atlanta

A police car was set on fire in Atlanta, where protesters used barricades to break the windows of cruisers while others jumped on the vehicles and shattered windshields as they demonstrated against the death of George Floyd.

Hundreds of protesters confronted police outside CNN’s downtown headquarters. Activists spray-painted a large CNN logo outside the building, breaking a window and tagging doors. One protester climbed on top of the CNN sign and waved a “Black Lives Matter” flag to cheers from the crowd.

Protesters pelted officers who came over with bottles, striking some of them. Other bottles thrown at authorities exploded behind the police line, but no officers appeared to get hit.

Protesters chanted, “Quit your jobs.”

The officers backed their line away from the group of protesters who were throwing objects at them.

Police ordered demonstrators to leave the street and threatened to arrest them if they did not leave quickly.

Friday, May 29

22:00 GMT – Protests kicking off in major US cities

Protests against police brutality were kicking off in major cities across the United States late on Friday.

Video shared on social media showed demonstrators marching in Houston, Texas, chanting: “I can’t breathe” and “hands up, don’t shoot”.

Protesters also rallied in Washington, DC and New York City, with demonstrations scheduled in other major cities later on Friday and throughout the weekend.

21:15 GMT – Trump says he spoke with family of George Floyd

US President Donald Trump said he had spoken with the family of George Floyd.

Trump, speaking during an event at the White House, also said “we can’t allow” the demonstrations in Minneapolis “to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos”.

20:40 GMT – Minneapolis imposes weekend curfew

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has imposed a curfew in the city beginning Friday night.

Under the curfew, only specified public safety personnel and other essential workers will be allowed in public places from 8pm to 6am (01:00-10:00 GMT) Friday and Saturday nights.

20:05 GMT – FBI asks for info, photos, video on George Floyd’s death

The FBI in Minneapolis asked for public assistance with its civil rights investigation of the death of Floyd.

It encourages the public to provide any info, photos or videos from before, during or after the incident.

19:50 GMT – Floyd was unresponsive for nearly three minutes before officer removed knee: Complaint

George Floyd was unresponsive for nearly three minutes before the officer removed his knee from his neck, according to a complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in the arrest of Derek Chuavin.

Citing a preliminary autopsy, the complaint said being constrained, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system “likely contributed to his death”.

A protester reacts while gathering with others outside the Minneapolis city hall after a white police officer was caught on a bystander’s video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
18:32 GMT – Trump defends tweet, says he wasn’t glorifying violence

Responding to Twitter’s decision to hide President Donald Trump tweet that it deemed to be glorifying violence, Trump said he was only stating a fact.

“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night,” Trump tweeted, repeating the phrase he initially tweeted late on Thursday.

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” Trump said.

The phrase “looting leads to shooting” was first used, however, by former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in declaring a war on criminals, according to the Washington Post.

“I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Headley reportedly said.

18:10 GMT –  Fired police officer charged with murder, manslaughter

A fired Minneapolis police officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd,   Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

Former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before the black man went motionless, a video of the incident showed. 

Minneapolis residents called the arrest a good “first step” but demanded the three other officers involved to be arrested and charged as well.

Freeman said those officers are still under investigation.

17:20 GMT – Fired officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck taken into custody, local media report

According to local media, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has taken into custody former officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before the black man went motionless.

No criminal charges have been filed as of yet.

16:50 GMT – Obama: This shouldn’t be the normal in America

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on Floyd’s killing via Twitter. Obama cited conversations with friends in recent days, including one with an African American business owner who said Floyd’s killing “hurt” to watch.

While it’s “natural” for people to want things to return to normal, Obama said, “we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’.”

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better,” Obama said.

16:05 GMT – National Guard arrives in Minneapolis

Members of the Minnesota National Guard arrived in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul areas. The National Guards said about 500 members would be activated to the area.

Armoured vehicles are pictured as National Guard members guard an area in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Carlos Barria/Reuters] [Daylife]
George Floyd
A man reacts as he confronts National Guard members guarding an area in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
16:00 GMT – NABJ calls arrest of CNN journalist ‘unfathomable’

The on-air arrest of CNN journalist Omar Jimenez, who is Black, was condemned by Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

“It is unfathomable and upsetting to witness this structural racism in real time. We are closely monitoring this situation,” Tucker said in a tweet.

Local NABJ chapter head Nicole Norfleet reached out to Jimenez to offer support.

15:30 GMT – Minnesota governor apologises for CNN arrests, says there will be swift justice for Floyd

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he expects “swift” justice for George Floyd.

“It is my expectation that justice for the officers involved in this will be swift, that it will come in a timely manner, that it will be fair,” Swift said. “That is what we’ve asked for. I have been in contact with Hennepin County attorney, and I am confident that those very things I just said will happen.”

Prosecutors have been criticised for taking more than three days to announce a decision on charges against the officers.

Walz also publicly apologised for the arrest of a CNN crew.

14:20 GMT – Biden ‘furious’ about Trump tweet

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said on Twitter that he was “furious” about Trump’s tweet glorifying violence against protesters in Minneapolis.

“I will not lift the President’s tweet,” the former vice president said. “I will not give him that amplification. But he is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too.”

Biden said he would speak later on Friday about the protests.

14:15 GMT – US first lady calls for peace

Striking a noticeably different tone from her husband, US First Lady Melania Trump tweeted her condolences to the family of George Floyd and called for peace.

“Our country allows for peaceful protests, but there is no reason for violence,” she said. “I’ve seen our citizens unify & take care of one another through COVID19 & we can’t stop now. My deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd. As a nation, let’s focus on peace, prayers & healing.”

13:10 GMT – Minnesota attorney general says charges are likely

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says he expects “there will be charges” against the police officers involved in Floyd’s deadly arrest.

“We are standing by and helping any way we can,” Ellison told CNN. “I anticipate there will be charges. I hope they’re soon. But that is the prerogative of another prosecuting authority. They are trying to be careful. They are trying to make sure their case is strong and airtight.”

12:00 GMT – Brother of George Floyd: ‘I just want justice’

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, says he just wants justice.

Philonise said the protesters “have the same pain that I feel”.

“I want everybody to be peaceful right now but people are torn and hurt because they’re tired of seeing black men die constantly, over and over again,” Philonise told CNN.

“I understand and I see why a lot of people are doing a lot of different things around the world. I don’t want them to lash out like that, but I can’t stop people right now. Because they have pain. They have the same pain that I feel. I want everything to be peaceful, but I can’t make everybody be peaceful. I can’t. It’s hard.”

11:00 GMT – Twitter flags and hides Trump’s tweet that ‘glorified violence’

Twitter has, for the first time, flagged and hidden a tweet by  Trump, saying he violated Twitter’s rules about glorifying violence.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday, saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, in reference to nationwide protests that followed the deadly arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis.

Twitter flagged the second tweet with a disclaimer, saying: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” allowing the public to still view the tweet by clicking on “View”.

Read more here.

09:00 GMT – Protests over deadly arrest rock US’s Minneapolis

Protests erupted across the United States on Thursday night as anger over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified, with some demonstrators gaining access to a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and setting sections of the building on fire.

Protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis
Protesters set a shop on fire during the third day of demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis [EPA]
A protester reacts while gathering with others outside the city hall in Minneapolis
A protester reacts while gathering with others outside the city hall [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
People gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center to protest against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, arrested by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota [Eric Miller/Reuters]
Read more here.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the protests in the United States over the deadly arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath in Louisville, Kentucky, and Creede Newton in Washington, DC.

Here are a few things to get caught up:

  • George Floyd, unarmed 46-year-old Black man, died on Monday after a white officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck down to the ground for several minutes. Floyd can be heard on a bystander video repeatedly pleading with officers, saying “I can’t breathe.” He eventually goes motionless with the officer’s knee still on his neck. (You can read about the deadly incident here.)
  • The four officers involved in the incident were fired, but prosecutors have not made a decision on charges, angering Floyd’s family, community leaders and residents.
  • Protests erupted across Minneapolis on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. While they have started peacefully, they have descended into chaos and fires. There have been reports of looting and vandalism.
  • Protesters on Thursday gained access to the Minneapolis third precinct police building, setting it on fire. A state of emergency has been declared and the National Guard activated.
  • Protests have also gripped other parts of the US, including New York City, Louisville, Kentucky, Denver, Colorado and Oakland, California. More protests are scheduled for the weekend.

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