Police fired tear gas outside the White House late Sunday as anti-racism protestors again took to the streets to voice fury at police brutality, and major US cities were put under curfew to suppress rioting.
With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protestors and police and fresh outbreaks of looting.
Violent clashes erupted repeatedly in a small park next to the White House, with authorities using tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse crowds who lit several large fires and damaged property.
Local US leaders appealed to citizens to give constructive outlet to their rage over the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, while night-time curfews were imposed in cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Houston.
One closely watched protest was outside the state capitol in Minneapolis´ twin city of St. Paul, where several thousand people gathered before marching down a highway.
“We have black sons, black brothers, black friends, we don´t want them to die. We are tired of this happening, this generation is not having it, we are tired of oppression,” said Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old black woman who joined the protest.
Hundreds of police and National Guard troops were deployed ahead of the protest. At one point, some of the protestors who had reached a bridge were forced to scramble for cover when a truck drove at speed after having apparently breached a barricade.
The driver was taken to hospital after the protestors hauled him from the vehicle, although there were no immediate reports of other casualties. The New York Times said he was later arrested.
Minneapolis police later reported they had discovered caches of homemade firebombs around the two cities. There were other large-scale protests Sunday night, including in New York and Miami.
Washington´s mayor ordered a curfew from 11:00 pm until 6:00 am, as a report in the New York Times said that President Donald Trump had been rushed by Secret Service agents into an underground bunker at the White House on Friday night during an earlier protest.
In Louisville, Kentucky, CBS affiliate WLKY-TV reported the local police chief as saying law enforcement shot and killed a man early Monday morning as they broke up a crowd, although it was unclear if the group was taking part in protests.
Looting was reported Sunday night in Philadelphia and the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, and images on Fox TV showed ransacked Rolex and Gucci stores in New York city. Officials in LA, a city scarred by the 1992 riots over the police beating of Rodney King, an African-American man — imposed a curfew from 4:00 pm Sunday until dawn.
“Please, use your discretion and go early, go home, stay home,” the city´s mayor Eric Garcetti said on CNN. The shocking death last Monday of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis ignited the nationwide wave of outrage over law enforcement´s repeated use of lethal force against unarmed African Americans.
Floyd stopped breathing after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and is due to make his first appearance in court on Monday.
Late Sunday, as many were being arrested for curfew violations in Minneapolis, authorities moved Chauvin to another location from the Hennepin County Jail for his own safety, according to Minnesota´s corrections commissioner.
Three other officers with him at the arrest have been fired but for now face no charges. Governor Tim Walz has mobilized all of Minnesota´s National Guard troops — the state guard´s biggest mobilization ever to help restore order and extended a curfew for a third night Sunday.
The Department of Defense said that around 5,000 National Guard troops had been mobilized in 15 states as well as the capital Washington, with another 2,000 on standby.
The widespread resort to uniformed National Guards units is rare, and evoked disturbing memories of the rioting in US cities in 1967 and 1968 in a turbulent time of protest over racial and economic disparities.
Trump blamed the extreme left for the violence, saying he planned to designate a group known as Antifa as a terrorist organization.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Trump, who has often urged police to use tough tactics, was not helping matters. “We are beyond a tipping point in this country, and his rhetoric only enflames that,” she said on CBS.
Joe Biden, Trump´s likely Democratic opponent in November´s presidential election, visited the scene of one anti-racism protest. “We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” Biden tweeted, posting a picture of him speaking with an African-American family at the site where protesters had gathered in Delaware late Saturday.
Floyd´s death has triggered protests beyond the United States, with thousands in Montreal and London marching in solidarity on Sunday.
On the other side of the globe on Monday, thousands marched to the US consulate in Auckland chanting “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter.”
In Germany, England football international Jadon Sancho marked one of his three goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing the words “Justice for George Floyd.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Monday urged US states to crack down on violent protests that have engulfed cities, saying officials should “dominate” and arrest people to restore order after a sixth straight night of vandalism and looting, media reported, reported British wire service.
Residents and business owners in cities from New York to Santa Monica, California, spent Monday sweeping up broken glass and taking stock of damage after protests over racial inequities and excessive police force turned violent again overnight. “You have to dominate,” Trump told the governors in a private call, the New York Times reported. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time – they’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
CBS News, which also obtained audio of the call, said Trump had pinned the violence on the “radical left.” Dozens of cities across the United States remain under curfews at a level not seen since riots following the 1968 assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. The National Guard deployed in 23 states and Washington, DC.
Authorities fought to put out fires near the White House and halt the looting of shops in numerous cities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported “significant ongoing” civil unrest in 36 US cities, including smaller ones like Fargo, North Dakota, and Roanoke, Virginia.
One person was killed in Louisville, Kentucky, overnight where police and National Guard troops returned fire while trying to disperse a crowd. “It’s devastating and heartbreaking,” Alex Flowers, 30, said as she swept broken glass from the sidewalk outside Wasteland, a used-clothing store in Santa Monica, California, early on Monday. “I came to help clean up the city that has been destroyed and help the business owners and employees.”
Video footage showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, 46, for nearly nine minutes before he died. Derek Chauvin, a since-fired 44-year-old police officer, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was released on $500,000 bail and is due to appear in court on June 8, according to jail records.
On Monday, dozens of people quietly paid their respects to Floyd at the scene outside the Cup Foods where he lost his life. Visitors left flowers and signs honoring Floyd on the pavement. A little girl wrote, “I’ll fight with you,” in aqua blue chalk in the road.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that Antifa, an anti-fascist group, was “certainly behind” the violence. Trump branded the group a terrorist organization, though it was unclear whether they were involved in any violence.
Meanwhile, protests sweeping the United States reverberated on the other side of the globe Monday when thousands marched in solidarity on the streets of New Zealand.
The rallies were peaceful in contrast to the days of sometimes violent protests in the US after Floyd, an African-American, died while handcuffed and as a white police officer, who has since been charged with third-degree murder, knelt on his neck.
In Auckland, about 2,000 people marched to the US Consulate chanting “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter”.
Another 500 gathered in Christchurch, with a similar number standing in the rain at an evening vigil at Parliament in Wellington where they were presented with hundreds of names said to be Americans who have died due to racial injustice.
Nigerian-New Zealand musician, Mazbou Q, who organised the protest, said the gatherings were not just about the death of Floyd.
In Christchurch, where 51 people were killed by a self-proclaimed white supremacist last year, one speaker, Josephine Varghese, told the crowd: “We demand racial and economic justice. Black lives matter, indigenous lives matter, Muslim lives matter.”
Police maintained a low-key presence as the protestors defied strict coronavirus regulations demanding gatherings be restricted to a maximum 100 people, who must maintain social distancing.
New Zealand is on the verge of eliminating the coronavirus with no new cases for 10 days. Of 1,154 confirmed cases, only one remains active.
Zimbabwe summoned its US ambassador on Monday over remarks by a senior American official accusing the southern African country of stirring anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd, the government said.
In a Sunday interview with ABC news, US national security advisor Robert O´Brien referred to Zimbabwe and China as “foreign adversaries” using social media to stoke unrest and “sow discord”.
Zimbabwe´s foreign ministry spokesman James Manzou said US ambassador Brian Nichols had been called in to explain O´Brien´s remarks. “As I am speaking to you now he is in a meeting with my minister,” Manzou told AFP in the capital Harare on Monday.
Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said Zimbabwe did not consider itself “America´s adversary”. “We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation including the USA,” Mangwana tweeted late Sunday.