Fiery Atlanta rally among US protests of George Floyd death
By the Associated Press
Protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody spread around the United States on Friday.
Protests were largely peaceful as demonstrators marched in the streets from Los Angeles to New York, but in Atlanta, demonstrators set a police car ablaze and broke windows at CNN’s headquarters.
The case of Floyd, who died when an officer knelt on his neck, renewed anger over other recent cases involving African Americans.
Here is a look at some protests across the country:
ATLANTA — A police car has been set on fire in Atlanta, where protesters were using barricades to break the windows of cruisers while others were jumping on the vehicles and shattering windshields as they demonstrated against the death of George Floyd.
Hundreds of protesters were confronting police outside CNN’s downtown headquarters late Friday. 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.
Protesters used accelerant to burn an American flag. People were watching the scene from rooftops, some laughing at skirmishes that broke out and vandalism by the protesters.
Protesters were also walking on the interstate in downtown Atlanta and appeared to be trying to block traffic.
The Georgia State Patrol has responded.
Earlier, as the protest appeared more calm, Kaity Brackett, 27, said she came out to the protest because she thinks the entire criminal justice system needs to be overhauled, starting with policing. She said the Ahmaud Arbery killing was a catalyst for her and referred to his death as a lynching. Arbery was killed on Feb. 23 by a former district attorney investigator and his son, who were not arrested until after video emerged months later.
Brackett wore a blue mask and sat with her partner and a friend. She was less concerned about the threat from the coronavirus.
“We risk our lives going to the grocery store, going to get gas,” she said. “This is more important than all of that.”
DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called for calm and unity Friday after the first of several planned city protests over George Floyd’s death turned violent, declaring, “Let not the story be about the riots and protests. Let’s keep the focus on the life that was lost.”
“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 and Police Chief Paul Pazen blamed what they 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. More protests were planned for Friday and Saturday. Pazen said three officers were injured and that 13 people were arrested for burglary, criminal mischief and assault.
NEW YORK — Demonstrators took to New York City streets on Friday for a second day in protest of the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man killed in police custody, 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.
The names of black people killed by police, including Floyd and Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014, were on signs carried by those in the crowd, and in their chants. Protests have taken place around the country, with some in Minnesota and elsewhere becoming violent.
“It’s my duty to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, among those at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, most wearing masks, where the demonstrations started Friday. The protest took place despite coronavirus prohibitions on large gatherings. The demonstrators were gathered in the square, while police stood across the street.
“Our country has a sickness,” Petrisko said. “We have to be out here. This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”
At his Friday briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he stood with the Minnesota protesters.
“Nobody is sanctioning the arson, and the thuggery and the burglaries, but the protesters and the anger and the fear and the frustration? Yes. Yes. And the demand is for justice,” Cuomo said.
At a news conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York Police Department officers had been told to respect peaceful protest.
He also had a message for protesters. “If you are angry with the government, if you are angry with the elected leaders, direct that anger to all of us, because if we haven’t done enough, we are the ones who should be held responsible,” he said. “But the police officer in front of you is a working man or woman just trying to do their job.”
WINDERMERE, Fla. — A group of about 10 protesters gathered Friday near a Florida town home that belongs to a white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
The protesters arrived after social media postings listed the address of Derek Chauvin in the community of Windermere outside Orlando.
They carried signs that said, “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George,” and “We see you, we hear you … we love you! #Justice for George.” The handcuffed black man pleaded for air as Chauvin, the white police officer, knelt on his neck during an arrest recorded on video by bystanders.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office tweeted from its official account that Chauvin is not at the residence and is not expected there. The office says it’s confirmed he has no plans to be in the area.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police used a helicopter and tear gas as they retreated from a crowd of people after a confrontation that followed a protest of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Police said officers responded to several shots being fired from a vehicle following a demonstration that had lasted hours. Four individuals were taken into custody, and several protesters became confrontational, police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.
During the confrontation, protesters waved signs and yelled at officers clad in riot gear. Gallegos said Friday the tear gas was used to allow officers to leave the area and avoid further confrontation.
There were no reports of injuries from the gunshots, and it wasn’t clear whether that incident was related to the protest. Gallegos also said there were no injuries resulting from the confrontation with protesters.
FONTANA, Calif. — Nine people were arrested after rocks were thrown at businesses, vehicles and officers during a Southern California protest stemming from the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody.
The violence erupted Thursday night in Fontana as about 100 people moved up and down a thoroughfare and blocked traffic. Police say an unlawful assembly was declared and the crowd was ordered to disperse but some persisted.
Elsewhere in the region, demonstrators gathered outside Los Angeles police headquarters but there was no repeat of Wednesday evening’s action in which protesters blocked freeway traffic and attacked two Highway Patrol cruisers.
Fontana is an inland city about 50 miles (80) kilometers east of Los Angeles.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, with windows smashed at the Ohio Statehouse and storefronts along surrounding downtown streets.
The crowd of about 400 people entered into a standoff with Columbus police Thursday night, blocking the intersection of key streets in the Ohio capital for hours, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The demonstration began as a peaceful protest, but news outlets reported protesters began throwing objects like water bottles at officers, who responded by using tear gas on the crowd. A scuffle between a protester and an officer broke out around 9:45 p.m., WCMH-TV reported.
Videos obtained by The Associated Press show people smashing the building’s windows. One person briefly entered an office through a broken window but retreated before troopers within the building could catch him, said Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan.
Windows were boarded up early Friday and workers were placing plywood over undamaged windows out of precaution.
HOUSTON — On Friday, several thousand people attended a rally in front of city hall in Houston, where George Floyd grew up.
The rally was mostly peaceful but police had apparently taken into custody a woman who had a rifle and had tried to use it to incite the crowd.
The crowed marched through downtown Houston to get to city hall, blocking traffic and at times chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.” Many held up signs that said, “I Can’t Breathe” and “Justice For George.”
Eventually the protesters ended up alongside U.S. Highway 59, one of the major thoroughfares in Houston. A group of about 60 to 70 shut down the freeway for at least half an hour. Houston police accompanied the protesters as they marched for less than half a mile along the freeway before they walked off of it. No arrests were made.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he welcomed the rally.
“We stand with them protesting what happened in Minnesota,” said Acevedo. “I’m happy that they’re here today because people need to be heard, voices need to be heard.”
One of those protesting Floyd’s death was 19-year-old Jimmy Ohaz, who came from the nearby city of Richmond, Texas.
“My question is how many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we’re not oppressed.”
PHOENIX — Hundreds rallied in downtown Phoenix to demonstrate against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in a protest that turned into a clash with police.
Protesters who marched from Phoenix City Hall to the state Capitol on Thursday night into Friday morning carried signs reading, “Silence is violence” and “Being black should not be a death sentence,” The Arizona Republic reported.
Around 11 p.m., Phoenix police declared an unlawful assembly around the Capitol building. Protesters refused to leave the area, news outlets reported.
The newspaper reported that rocks and water bottles were thrown at police. Video from local TV stations shows protesters hammering on the window of a police car, and the newspaper reported at least one police car window was broken. The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Phoenix police responded by firing pepper spray and rubber bullets at the crowd.
PETAL, Miss. — A Mississippi mayor who sparked outrage when he said he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody is resisting calls to resign, including from his own town’s board of aldermen.
“Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?” Petal Mayor Hal Marx tweeted Tuesday, the day four Minneapolis police officers were fired. The 46-year-old Floyd, a black man, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.
In a follow-up tweet, the Republican directly referenced the Floyd case, saying he “didn’t see anything unreasonable”: “If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Looking to defuse tensions in Louisville over the fatal shooting of a black woman by police who broke down her door, the victim’s mother on Friday called on protesters to continue demanding justice but to do it in “the right way without hurting each other.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear read the statement from Breonna Taylor’s mother hours after gunshots erupted, wounding at least seven people, during protests late Thursday outside City Hall. At least one person was in critical condition, Louisville Metro Police said early Friday.
“No officers discharged their service weapons,” and all seven shot were civilians, police spokesman Sgt. Lamont Washington wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
In her statement, Tamika Palmer said her daughter — an emergency medical technician — devoted her life to others, and the “last thing she’d want right now is any more violence.”
Thursday night’s demonstration came as protesters across the country, in cities including Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Memphis, turned out in alliance with demonstrators in Minneapolis, where George Floyd became the latest black man to die in police custody.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Roughly 300 people protesting the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman have shut down a five-lane section of a highway in California’s Silicon Valley.
Vehicles southbound on U.S. 101 were at a virtual standstill Friday afternoon, ahead of a greatly diminished rush hour as the region shelters at home. KGO-TV footage shows some cars passing on a shoulder of U.S. 101 in San Jose.
Some protesters are wearing masks and some are not. Later in the afternoon, the protesters were leaving the highway.
LAS VEGAS — More than 400 people were demonstrating on the Las Vegas Strip Friday afternoon calling for policing reforms after black man was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The crowd gathered in triple-digit-heat in front of the Bellagio casino-resort, holding signs and chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “Black lives matter.”
They later began walking north up the Las Vegas Strip in front of casinos still shuttered because of coronavirus-related closures.
The demonstration was in memory of George Floyd, who died late Monday. Bystander video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck.
©The Associated Press 2020