Tear gas and burning cars in US cities as unrest over George Floyd death continues

By TIM SULLIVAN and AARON MORRISON

MINNEAPOLIS — Tense protests over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of black men grew Saturday from New York to Tulsa to Los Angeles, with police cars set ablaze and reports of injuries mounting on all sides as the country lurched toward another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns.

The protests, which began in Minneapolis following Monday’s death of George Floyd after a police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, have left parts of the city a grid of broken windows, burned-out buildings and ransacked stores. They have since become a national phenomenon as protesters decry years of deaths at police hands.

  • Protesters clash with New York police officers during a demonstration, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Protests were held throughout the city over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Chicago Police prepare and organize to address protesters over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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  • A peson holds sign during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • A Los Angeles police officer watches a police car burn during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A worker cleans up broken glasses at a Walgreens store damaged from protests over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, May 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • A demonstrator is detained by Atlanta Police during a protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • A woman holds a burned Chicago flag as she marches during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • A person wears a mask reading “I Can’t Breath” during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • Police shoot rubber bullets at protesters throwing rocks and water bottles during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Protesters flip a car before burning it Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • A policeman kicks back a tear gas canister during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • A car barrels through a crowd of demonstrators as they throw objects at him during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died after being restrained in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A protester sits on a police car as she yells at them during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Protesters kneel on I-95 highway after blocking traffic during a demonstration, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • A protester walks past a flipped vehcle Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • A pair of protesters attempt to stop others from throwing rocks and water bottles at police during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • EDS NOTE: OBSCENITY – Demonstrators yell at Los Angeles Police officers during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles police officer strike demonstrators as they try to push them back during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A police car burns during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Atlanta Police detain demonstrators protesting, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

  • A fire burns in a dumpster as demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Demonstrators protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • Police react after a demonstrator threw back a tear gas canister during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • A demonstrator is detained by Atlanta Police during a protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • Protesters gather at Times Square during a solidarity rally for George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in New York. Protests were held throughout the city over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • The fire-scared- entrance to the Minneapolis Police 3rd precinct building is shown in the wake of protests in the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.  (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

  • A Los Angeles police officer walks by a burning police car as another is seen destroyed during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died after being restrained in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Policeman push a photographer as protesters demonstrate Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • A protester looks on as a flipped over police vehicle burns Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. People converged on downtown Salt Lake City, Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • A protester grabs his back after Denver Police fire a pepper ball at the man during a protest outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Denver. Floyd died after being restrained in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Los Angeles police officers watch a police car burn during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • People march around a burned Chicago flag on the street during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • A woman runs out of a store with a bag of goods on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, May 30, 2020, during a protest against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck on May 25. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

  • Police officers stand in formation against protesters throwing rocks and waterbottles during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Protesters pour milk in the eyes of a woman affected by teargas during a rally at the Miami Police Department on Saturday, May 30, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Los Angeles police officer strike demonstrators as they try to push them back during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A protester looks on as a flipped over police vehicle burns Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • A policeman walks in front of a burning vehicle as protesters demonstrate Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • Protesters kneel on an off ramp of I-95 highway after blocking traffic during a demonstration, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Atlanta Police monitor demonstrators protesting, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

  • Police advance on protesters throwing rocks and water bottles during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami.Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Protesters march during a solidarity rally for George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in New York. Demonstrators took to the streets of New York City to protest the death of Floyd, a black man who died after he was taken into police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • A protester on a bicycle rides past a burning police car during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • A demonstrator pours milk in the eyes of a woman affected by teargas during a rally at the Miami Police Department on Saturday, May 30, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • Demonstrators march near Ebenezer Baptist Church, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

  • Protesters flip a car before burning it Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • Police officers push back demonstrators Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A demonstrator is detained by Atlanta Police during a protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • A policeman prepares to shoot teargas at protesters throwing rocks and water bottles during a demonstration next to the city of Miami Police Department, Saturday, May 30, 2020, downtown in Miami. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • A Pittsburgh Police vehicle burns a during a march in Pittsburgh, Saturday, May 30, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • A Denver Police officer is taunted by a man during a protest outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Denver. Protests were held in U.S. cities over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • A police officer wears an American flag face mask as protesters march in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Saturday, May 30, 2020, over the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/ Christian Monterrosa)

  • Annah Dominis wears a face mask with Black Lives Matter written on it, in San Francisco, Saturday, May 30, 2020,.at a protest over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. Floyd was a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Demonstrators protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • People confront police officers during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A police vehicle drives past a burning car Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people converged on downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and some demonstrators set fire to a police car and threw eggs and wrote graffiti on a police station. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • New York police officers watch protesters during a demonstration, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Protests were held throughout the city over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • A person lights clothing on fire in front of stores on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, May 30, 2020, during a protest against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck on May 25. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

  • Police officers arrest a man during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Demonstrators stand on U.S. Secret Service vehicles, one with a broken windshield, near the White House on Saturday, May 30, 2020, as they protest the death of George Floyd. Floyd died after being restrained by Minnesota Police. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

  • A demonstrator is detained by Atlanta Police during a protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • A man runs across Coilfax Avenue at Lincoln to evade a cloud of tear gas after Denver Police fired canisters during a protest outside the State Capitol over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Denver. Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died after being restrained in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

  • Atlanta Police detain demonstrators protesting, Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

  • Demonstrators block the street as Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic tries to get through during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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The large crowds involved, with many people not wearing masks or social distancing, raised concerns among health experts about the potential for helping spread the coronavirus pandemic at a time when overall deaths are on the decline nationwide and much of the country is in the process of reopening society and the economy.

After a tumultuous Friday night, racially diverse crowds took to the streets again for mostly peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities from coast to coast. The previous day’s protests also started calmly, but many descended into violence later in the day.

— In the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of a 1921 massacre of black people that left as many as 300 dead and the city’s thriving black district in ruins, protesters blocked intersections and chanted the name of Terence Crutcher, a black man killed by a police officer in 2016.

— In Tallahassee, Florida, a pickup truck drove through a crowd of protesters, sending some running and screaming as the vehicle stopped and started and at one point had a person on its hood, police said, but no serious injuries were reported. Witnesses said a group followed the vehicle and forced it to stop. Police handcuffed the driver but did not release his name or say whether he would face any charges.

— In Columbia, South Carolina, a television reporter for WIS-TV was injured by rocks thrown outside the main police station. Several hundred people participated in the demonstration, tearing down the American and state flags in front of the building. They also swarmed a police car, breaking its windows, The State reported.

— In Los Angeles protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter,” some within inches of the face shields of officers. Police used batons to move the crowd back and fired rubber bullets at demonstrators. One man used a skateboard to try to break the windshield of a police SUV. A spray-painted police car burned in the street.

— In New York City, video posted to social media showed officers using batons and shoving protesters down as they took people into custody and cleared streets. One video showed on officer slam a woman to the ground as he walked past her in the street.

“Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, among those at lower Manhattan’s Foley Square, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. “This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”

Back in Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, 29-year-old Sam Allkija said the damage seen in recent days reflects longstanding frustration and rage in the black community.

“I don’t condone them,” he said. “But you have to look deeper into why these riots are happening.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz fully mobilized the state’s National Guard and promised a massive show of force.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

At least a dozen major cities nationwide imposed overnight curfews ranging from 6 p.m. in parts of South Carolina to 10 p.m. around Ohio. People were also told to be off the streets of Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and Minneapolis – where thousands ignored the same order the previous night.

The unrest comes at a time when most Americans have spent months inside over concerns surrounding the coronavirus, which the president has called an “invisible enemy.” The events of the last 72 hours, seen live on national television, have shown the opposite: a sudden pivot to crowds, screaming protesters and burning buildings, a stark contrast to the empty streets of recent months.

Hundreds of people were arrested Friday, and police used batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray to push back crowds in some cities. Many departments reported injured officers, while social media was awash in images of police using forceful tactics, throwing protesters to the ground, using bicycles as shields and trampling one protester while on horseback.

This week’s unrest recalled the riots in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Rodney King, a black motorist who had led them on a high-speed chase. The protests of Floyd’s killing have gripped many more cities, but the losses in Minneapolis have yet to approach the staggering totals Los Angeles saw during five days of rioting in 1992, when more than 60 people died, 2,000-plus were injured and thousands arrested, with property damage topping $1 billion.

Many protesters spoke of frustration that Floyd’s death was one more in a litany. It came in the wake of the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot dead after being pursued by two white men while running in their neighborhood, and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown millions out of work, killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and disproportionately affected black people.

The officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — but that appeared to provide little balm. Many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.

President Donald Trump stoked the anger, firing off a series of tweets criticizing Minnesota’s response, ridiculing people who protested outside the White House and warning that if protesters had breached its fence they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

Leaders in many affected cities have voiced outrage over Floyd’s killing and expressed sympathy for protesters’ concerns. But as unrest intensified, they spoke of a desperate need to protect their cities and said they would call in reinforcements, despite concerns that could lead to more heavy-handed tactics.

Minnesota has steadily increased to 1,700 the number of National Guardsmen it says it needs to contain the unrest, and the governor is considering a potential offer of military police put on alert by the Pentagon.

Governors in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas also activated the National Guard after protests there turned violent overnight, while nighttime curfews were put in place in Portland, Oregon, Cincinnati and elsewhere.

Police in St. Louis were investigating the death of a protester who climbed between two trailers of a Fed Ex truck and was killed when it drove away. And a person was killed in the area of protests in downtown Detroit just before midnight after someone fired shots into an SUV, officers said. Police had initially said someone fired into the crowd from an SUV.

In Atlanta, where crews worked Saturday to clean up glass and debris from rioting the night before, a large electronic billboard flashed the message: “If you love Atlanta PLEASE GO HOME,” echoing pleas from the mayor.

Numerous AP journalists contributed from across the U.S.