NEW YORK, Jun 01 (APP):Relative calm descended on Minneapolis and other U.S. cities Monday after protesters and police across the country clashed for a sixth straight night in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after he was pinned down by a white police officer, according to media reports.
More than 4,400 arrests have been made at demonstrations nationwide since video emerged showing former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologized to Floyd’s family Sunday, saying that firing Chauvin and the other three officers involved in the Memorial Day confrontation was the right thing to do.
Peaceful protests continued to be marred by violence, and vandalism and looting continued across the country, as did the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by police in confrontations with protesters.
Monday dawned cloudy and cool in Minneapolis as thousands of people headed to work following a weekend of protests, television reports showed. A light rain fell on the water bottles and milk jugs littered the city area, which on Sunday night saw the latest confrontations between protesters and police. Arrests were made after the 8 p.m. curfew, but they were a tiny proportion of the thousands who peacefully marched around the city.
Outside the spot where Floyd died in police custody, banners and flowers fluttered in the wind as a stream of mourners came to pay their respects.
Dozens of cities imposed curfews, but many people ignored them, leading to stand-offs and clashes.
On Sunday night, riot police also faced off with protesters in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, firing tear gas and pepper bullets to try to disperse crowds.
Police vehicles were set on fire and shops were looted in several cities.
The country is experiencing the most widespread racial turbulence and civil unrest since the backlash to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.
The National Guard – the US reserve military force for domestic emergencies – said on Sunday that 5,000 of its personnel had been activated in 15 states and Washington, DC, where crowds once again gathered near the White House.
Demonstrators lit fire to buildings there, including a historic church known as the church of the presidents, and threw stones at riot officers. Police used tear gas in response.
In Louisville, Kentucky, a man was shot dead in a confrontation between protesters, police and the National Guard after midnight early on Monday, according to reports. Shots were fired at police officers and guard troops as they moved to disperse a crowd in a car park and “returned fire”, leaving one man dead, Louisville Metro Police said.
More than 75 cities have seen protests, with streets only days ago deserted because of coronavirus full of demonstrators marching shoulder to shoulder. Some US officials have warned of protest-connected virus outbreaks.
The Floyd case has reignited deep-seated anger over police killings of black Americans and racism. It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and others that have driven the ‘Black Lives Matter movement.’
For many, the outrage also reflects years of frustration over socio-economic inequality and discrimination, not least in Minneapolis itself, where George Floyd died.
Despite strict curfews and the deployment of the National Guard, many demonstrations that had been peaceful during the day again descended into violence overnight.
Police vehicles were vandalised and set alight in several cities, while riot officers continued to respond with tear gas and flash grenades.
In Philadelphia, local TV stations showed people smashing police cars and looting at least one store.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting stores. Call in our great National Guard.”