Several cities across the U.S. have been overwhelmed by crowds defying curfews to protest the death in the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.
Mr Floyd, 46, was seen handcuffed about a week ago in a viral video taken by a bystander, his neck being pinned to the ground by Mr Chauvin’s, his nose bleeding while he was gasping for air.
“Please, I can’t breathe,” Mr Floyd groaned.
He was accused of forgery by police.
Another video taken from a different angle shows that, according to local media CNN, three policemen were kneeling on Mr Floyd, while another cop was standing to restrain bystanders from the scene.
Several minutes later, Mr Floyd lay motionless, his eyes closed, as his head hanged against the pavement. Shortly afterward he was pronounced dead in a hospital, CNN said.
According to police, all four officers were fired. Police also said Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder in third degree and manslaughter in second degree.
But critics and protesters believe the charges are not harsh enough. Since then, Unrest has spiked nationwide as thousands of people poured into the streets in marches, some peaceful, some resulting in chaos.
The U.S. is also COVID-19’s epicenter with more than one million cases and 100,000 deaths, but that seemed to be the least concern of the protesters who went on the solidarity march.
Some protesters were seen in videos throwing fireworks at police barricades and throwing bottles at them. Others were torching houses, burning police cars and even plundering shops, CNN reported.
A police station was set ablaze at Minneapolis, the city where the incident took place, and parts of the city experienced looting and vandalism. There have been hundreds of arrests but no serious injuries have been reported, said correction commissioner Paul Schnell of Minnesota.
Police chief Randal Taylor said Saturday night at a press conference in downtown Indianapolis that at least three people were confirmed shot and one was killed in the midst of the protests.
According to Seattle Police Department chief Carmen Best, at least 27 people have been arrested in protests Saturday night in Seattle , Washington.
A 27-second video posted on Twitter’s microblogging site also showed a New York police truck driving through a barricade, plowing through demonstrators who saw the vehicle throw objects.
Whether there were injuries or casualties was unclear, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that the police were investigating Saturday and maintained that there could have been no choice left to the police.
“Look, I’ve seen that video, and I’ve obviously heard about a number of other instances — it’s inappropriate for protestors to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers,” CNN quoted Mr De Blasio as saying.
“And so it’s clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles, and if a police officer is [in] that situation they have to get out that situation.”
An officer in Jacksonville, Florida, was “stabbed or slashed in the neck and is currently in the hospital,” state police officer Sheriff Mike Williams told a press conference Saturday.
Elsewhere, police responded with rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and arrests, including of reporters. Local reports say 25 cities in 16 states have imposed curfews. Some states have called in the National Guard soldiers to help quell the unrest. California has declared a state of emergency.
In a statement by Democratic Party presidential hopeful Joe Biden, he said “protesting such brutality is right and necessary.”
“It’s an utterly American response,” Mr Biden wrote. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”
President Donald Trump was blamed for speaking on the demonstrators, branding them thugs, and threatening to send the army to quench the rally.