US Faces Week Shaken by Violence,Virus 06/01 06:31
With cities wounded by days of violent unrest, America headed into a new
week with neighborhoods in shambles, urban streets on lockdown and shaken
confidence about when leaders would find the answers to control the mayhem amid
unrelenting raw emotion over police killings of black people.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With cities wounded by days of violent unrest, America
headed into a new week with neighborhoods in shambles, urban streets on
lockdown and shaken confidence about when leaders would find the answers to
control the mayhem amid unrelenting raw emotion over police killings of black
All of it smashed into a nation already bludgeoned by a death toll from the
coronavirus pandemic surging past 100,000 and unemployment that soared to
levels not seen since the Great Depression.
Sunday capped a tumultuous weekend and month that saw city and state
officials deploy thousands of National Guard soldiers, enact strict curfews and
shut down mass transit systems. Even with those efforts, many demonstrations
erupted into violence as protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at
police in Philadelphia, set a fire near the White House and were hit with tear
gas and pepper spray in Austin and other cities. Seven Boston police officers
In some cities, thieves smashed their way into stores and ran off with as
much as they could carry, leaving shop owners, many of them just ramping up
their business again after coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, to clean up their
In others, police tried to calm tensions by kneeling in solidarity with
demonstrators, while still maintaining a strong presence for security.
The demonstrations were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man
who pleaded for air as an officer pressed a knee into his neck. Floyd's death
in Minneapolis came after tensions had already flared after two white men were
arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery
in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her
home in March.
The scale of the coast-to-coast protests rivaled the historic demonstrations
of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.
"They keep killing our people. I'm so sick and tired of it," said Mahira
Louis, 15, who was at a Boston protest with her mother Sunday, leading chants
of "George Floyd, say his name."
Tensions rose Sunday outside the White House, the scene of three days of
demonstrations, where police fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of
more than 1,000 chanting protesters across the street in Lafayette Park. The
crowd ran, piling up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in
a nearby street. Some pulled an American flag from a building and threw it into
the blaze. A building in the park with bathrooms and a maintenance office went
up in flames.
The district's entire National Guard roughly 1,700 soldiers was
called in to help control the protests, according to two Defense Department
officials who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to
publicly discuss the matter.
As the protests grew, President Donald Trump retweeted conservative
commentator Buck Sexton who called for "overwhelming force" against violent
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential
nominee, visited the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware,
and talked to demonstrators. He also wrote a post on Medium expressing empathy
for those despairing about Floyd's killing.
At least 4,400 people have been arrested over days of protests, according to
a tally compiled by The Associated Press. Arrests ranged from stealing and
blocking highways to breaking curfew.
In Salt Lake City, an activist leader condemned the destruction of property
but said broken buildings shouldn't be mourned on the same level as black men
"Maybe this country will get the memo that we are sick of police murdering
unarmed black men," said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah. "Maybe
the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will
picture cities burning."
Yet thousands still marched peacefully in Phoenix, Albuquerque and other
cities, with some calling for an end to the fires, vandalism and theft, saying
it weakened calls for justice and reform.
In downtown Atlanta, authorities fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of
demonstrators. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said t wo officers had been fired and
three placed on desk duty after video showed police surrounding a car Saturday,
and using stun guns on the man and woman inside.
In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters in a
street, knocking two people to the ground. Nearby in Santa Monica, not far from
a peaceful demonstration, groups broke into stores, walking out with boxes of
shoes and folding chairs, among other items. A fire broke out at a restaurant
across the street. Scores swarmed into nearby outlet stores in Long Beach. Some
hauled armloads of clothing from a Forever 21 store away in garbage bags.
In Minneapolis, the officer who pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck has been
charged with murder, but protesters are demanding the other three officers at
the scene be prosecuted. All four were fired.
"We're not done," said Darnella Wade, an organizer for Black Lives Matter in
neighboring St. Paul, where thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state
Capitol. "They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests."
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz brought in thousands of National Guard soldiers on
Saturday to help quell violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of
buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests. That appeared to help minimize
unrest, but thousands marching on a closed freeway were shaken when a
semitrailer rolled into their midst.
Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders
combined with a string of recent racially charged killings to stoke the anger.
Adding to that was angst from lockdowns brought on by the pandemic, which has
disproportionately hurt communities of color, not only in terms of infections
but in job losses and economic stress.
The droves of people congregating for demonstrations threatened to trigger
new outbreaks, a fact overshadowed by the boiling tensions.
In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown
violence this weekend, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis.
In tweets Sunday, Trump blamed anarchists and the media for fueling
violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at "far left
extremist" groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of causing
At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with
brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a
Among those in Minneapolis was Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael
Brown, whose killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, set off unrest
"I understand what this family is feeling. I understand what this community
is feeling," he said.