Protests, some violent, erupt across US in wake of George Floyd death
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Protests, some violent, erupt across US in wake of George Floyd death

Authorities impose local curfews as rallies explode in dozens of cities; officer charged with murder, manslaughter over death; Trump says he spoke with Floyd’s family

  • A protester carries a US flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the death of George Floyd, May 28, 2020. (AP/Julio Cortez)
    A protester carries a US flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the death of George Floyd, May 28, 2020. (AP/Julio Cortez)
  • Demonstrators paint on the CNN logo during a protest march over George Floyd's death in Atlanta, Georgia, May 29, 2020. (AP/Mike Stewart)
    Demonstrators paint on the CNN logo during a protest march over George Floyd's death in Atlanta, Georgia, May 29, 2020. (AP/Mike Stewart)
  • Protesters demonstrate against the the death of George Floyd in New York, May 29, 2020. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
    Protesters demonstrate against the the death of George Floyd in New York, May 29, 2020. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
  • Police move through an area during demonstrations on May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
    Police move through an area during demonstrations on May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Denver police face off with protesters outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    Denver police face off with protesters outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • Protesters hold signs on a sidewalk across the street from a townhouse owned by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, May 29, 2020, in Windermere, Florida. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
    Protesters hold signs on a sidewalk across the street from a townhouse owned by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, May 29, 2020, in Windermere, Florida. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  • New York Police Officers arrest a protester during a rally in New York over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
    New York Police Officers arrest a protester during a rally in New York over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
  • A protestor takes a picture of a demonstration from the roof of the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    A protestor takes a picture of a demonstration from the roof of the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • Police hold a line on the fourth day of protests on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The National Guard has been activated as protests continue after the death of George Floyd which has caused widespread destruction and fires across Minneapolis and St. Paul.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
    Police hold a line on the fourth day of protests on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The National Guard has been activated as protests continue after the death of George Floyd which has caused widespread destruction and fires across Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

The white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with murder, as authorities imposed overnight curfews to try to stem violent protests over police killings of African Americans that have spread from Minneapolis to cities across the country.

Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted in dozens of US cities following Floyd’s death.

In Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Albuquerque and beyond, thousands of protesters carried signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.”

They chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”

After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators suddenly turned violent, smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant.

Demonstrators paint on the CNN logo during a protest march over George Floyd’s death in Atlanta, Georgia, May 29, 2020. (AP/Mike Stewart)

The crowd pelted officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.” People watched the scene from rooftops, some laughing as skirmishes broke out.

Demonstrators ignored police demands to disperse. Some protesters moved to the city’s major interstate thoroughfare to try to block traffic.

In Brooklyn, New York, 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.

A police officer watches a crowd as a police vehicle burns during protests over George Floyd’s death in Brooklyn,, New York, May 29, 2020. (AP/Frank Franklin II)

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.

“It’s my duty to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, among those at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here. This is the only way we’re going to be heard,” Petrisko said.

In Houston, where Floyd grew up, several thousand people rallied in front of City Hall. Police had apparently taken into custody a woman who had a rifle and had tried to use it to incite the crowd.

Jimmy Ohaz, 19, 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.”

Demonstrators walk along Pennsylvania Avenue as they protest the death of George Floyd in Washington, DC, May 29, 2020. (AP/Evan Vucci)

The white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck was arrested Friday over the killing.

Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He also was accused of ignoring another officer who expressed concerns about Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck.

Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store.

Chauvin, who was fired along with three other officers who were at the scene, faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of murder.

An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the arrest but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wants the other officers arrested.

Prosecutor Mike Freeman said more charges were possible, but authorities “felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.”

On Monday, police were trying to put Floyd in a squad car when he stiffened and fell to the ground, saying he was claustrophobic, a criminal complaint said. Chauvin and Officer Tou Thoa arrived and tried several times to get the struggling Floyd into the car.

In this screen capture of video from May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of George Floyd, who was handcuffed and pleading that he could not breathe, in Minneapolis. (Darnella Frazier via AP)

At one point, Chauvin pulled Floyd out of the car’s passenger side, and Floyd, who was handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer J.K. Kueng held Floyd’s back and Officer Thomas Lane held his legs while Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck area, the complaint said.

When Lane asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side, Chauvin said, “No, staying put is where we got him.” Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever.”

An autopsy said the combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely contributed to his death. It revealed nothing to support strangulation as the cause of death.

There were no other details about intoxicants, and toxicology results can take weeks. In the 911 call that drew police, the caller describes the man suspected of paying with counterfeit money as “awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.”

After Floyd apparently stopped breathing, Lane again said he wanted to roll Floyd onto his side. Kueng checked for a pulse and said he could not find one, according to the complaint.

George Floyd (Christopher Harris via AP)

In all, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, including nearly three minutes after Floyd stopped moving and talking, the complaint said.

Chauvin’s attorney had no comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family, asked to take custody of Floyd’s body for an independent autopsy.

The doctor who will do the autopsy is Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to do an autopsy for Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold and he pleaded that he could not breathe.

State and federal authorities also are investigating Floyd’s death.

The prosecutor highlighted the “extraordinary speed” in charging the case just four days after Floyd’s death and defended himself against questions about why it did not happen sooner. Freeman said his office needed time to gather evidence, including what he called the “horrible” video recorded by a bystander.

It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin’s arrest would quiet the unrest.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with exceptions for emergency responders, the homeless and those seeking medical care.

People attempt to extinguish cars on fire during protest over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 29, 2020. (AP/John Minchillo)

US President Donald Trump threatened action in response to the protests, tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which prompted a warning from Twitter for “glorifying violence.” Trump later said he was referring to shooting that had happened during the protests.

Later, the president said he’d spoken to Floyd’s family.

“I spoke to members of the family, terrific people,” Trump said at the White House.

“I just expressed my sorrow. That was a horrible thing to witness,” he said. “They were grieving. I could see very much that they loved their brother.”

Trump called video of the arrest “just a horrible thing to witness and to watch. It certainly looked like there was no excuse for it.”

Several hundred people massed outside the White House in an angry rally on Friday.

Trump was in the mansion during the protest that converged on a park across the street from the White House, where several dozen Secret Service agents lined barricades.

US President Donald Trump at the White House, May 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Demonstrators wielded signs saying “Stop Killing Us” and called for justice for Floyd.

Serious clashes were largely averted outside the White House, and demonstrators marched down Washington streets towards the US Capitol.

The owner of a popular Latin nightclub said Floyd and Chauvin both worked as security guards there as recently as last year, but it’s not clear whether they knew each other.

Chauvin served as an off-duty security guard at the El Nuevo Rodeo club for nearly two decades, and Floyd had worked there more recently for about a dozen events featuring African American music, Maya Santamaria told the AP.

Santamaria, who recently sold the venue, said Chauvin got along well with the regular Latino customers but did not like to work the African American nights. When he did, and there was a fight, he would spray people with mace and call for police backup and half-dozen squad cars would soon show up, something she felt was “overkill.”

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