VIOLENT riots swept across the United States as people demonstrated against the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
Peaceful rallies in Arizona and Ohio turned violent as protesters threw rocks, started fires and smashed windows in the early hours of Saturday morning.
US media reported that the White House entered partial lockdown as protesters failed to leave after the 20:00 curfew in place in Washington DC. People wielded signs reading: “Stop Killing Us.”
In Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was killed, thousands of protesters ignored a curfew order on Friday evening and took to the streets for a fourth straight night of protests.
Some 500 National Guard soldiers were mobilized in the city and surrounding areas, although Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz said early Saturday he was working to activate more than 1,000 more Guard members.
Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency on Saturday to also activate the state National Guard as violence flared in Atlanta and in dozens of cities across the nation. Some protesters in Atlanta spray-painted the logo of the CNN headquarters and smashed police cars.
The National Guard was also on standby in the US capital, where a crowd grew outside the White House and chanted at President Donald Trump. Some protesters tried to push through barriers set up by the US Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue, and threw bottles and other objects at officers wearing riot gear, who responded with pepper spray.
Meanwhile, over 200 people in Petal, Mississippi joined a peaceful protest Friday afternoon at city hall to call for the resignation of a white mayor who said he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” about the killing of George Floyd in police custody.
In Phoenix, Arizona, authorities said that after hundreds of protesters marched towards the Capitol building, a small group broke windows at police headquarters in the early hours of Friday morning.
Protesters in Columbus, Ohio, Floyd’s home state, attempted to break into the Ohio statehouse. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a call to unity in the face of the protests, urging peace over the weekend.
“His death impacts all of us,” he said. “We have a responsibility to each other, regardless of race, to stand up and say we won’t tolerate conduct like this.”
The protests began in Minneapolis after the footage of Floyd’s killing emerged earlier this week.