Local police and National Guard troops cracked down on demonstrations in cities across the country throughout the weekend as protests provoked by the killing of George Floyd continued against police brutality, systemic racism, and the militarization of local law enforcement.
There have been peaceful demonstrations as well as instances of violence and destruction. Police nationwide responded to the mass mobilization with force, though some officers in Michigan joined one protest and publicly condemned the conduct of Floyd's killer, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
While protesters welcomed the news Friday that Chauvin was arrested and charged in the May 25 killing of Floyd, an unarmed black man, they are calling for legal action against the other three officers involved in Floyd's death—who were merely fired—as well as broader reforms to policing in the United States.
Demonstrations Sunday demanding justice for Floyd and other people of color killed by the police in recent years culminated as the White House went dark and fires burned in D.C., local governments across the country imposed curfews, and the National Guard was deployed in over two dozen states.
Here is a look at some protests and related developments from Sunday and Monday...
A truck driver identified by authorities as Bogdan Vechirko was arrested after driving a tractor-trailer into a crowd of peaceful protesters on a closed Minneapolis bridge. Though no protesters appear to have been struck by the vehicle, Vechirko was reportedly pulled from the truck by protesters before police arrived and was later taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
WATCH: Aerial footage shows a tragedy narrowly averted when a tanker truck plowed into large crowds of protesters in Minneapolis, protesters scattering as the truck barreled toward them. https://t.co/N8kkcSHh6F pic.twitter.com/GYsNKQBXHN
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 1, 2020
During an appearance on CNN, host Don Lemon asked Philonise Floyd if he had a question for Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
"I want to know if he's going to get me justice for my brother," said Philonise Floyd, by ensuring that all officers involved in George Floyd's killing are arrested and convicted.
A CNN journalist passed on the question to the chief. "Being silent, or not intervening, to me you're complicit," Arradondo said to the Floyd family about the officers he fired, while noting that he does not have the authority to bring charges against them. "Mr. Floyd died in our hands, and so I see that as being complicit."
All four officers involved in the death of George Floyd were “complicit," including the three who haven't been arrested, says Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, responding to a question asked by @sarasidnerCNN on behalf of Floyd’s brother. https://t.co/iPiBnsuEMQ pic.twitter.com/1lsCK7rsZw
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) June 1, 2020
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken the lead on all charges brought foward in connection with Floyd's death. The Minneapolis Police Department—which Arradondo has run since 2017—has faced national scrutiny the past week for its handling of the recent protests and its broader conduct.
In Linn Park, protesters defaced an obelisk Confederate monument. As Al.com columnist Kyle Whitmire noted, "For the last three years, the city and state have been in a legal battle over the monument in court, with state Attorney General Steve Marshall fighting to preserve it."
Whitmire wrote that after failing to topple the obelisk, demonstrators turned to a statue of the park's namesake. According to the local news station WBRC, "Protesters pulled down the top part of the statue of Charles Linn by tying a rope and using manpower and a truck to pull it down."
— Brittany Dionne (@BrittanyDtvNews) June 1, 2020
"After a large and peaceful protest in Boston, a turning point around 9 pm," tweeted New York Times journalist Ellen Barry. "Then pockets of remaining protesters began breaking windows, and set a police SUV on fire. It is burning near the State House, belching a column of black smoke. That image will last."
Boston police car destroyed and on fire in front of the Beantown Pub. pic.twitter.com/cRFvevDi7c
— PSolidarity08 (@PSolidarity08) June 1, 2020
Actor John Cusack, who documented the Chicago protests on Twitter, said early Sunday morning that he stopped riding his bike to take a video: "Cops didn't like me filming the burning car so they came at me with batons. Hitting my bike." He tweeted a blurry video with audio of an officer repeatedly yelling at him to leave the area, followed by another video of the burning car and a group of officers.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Sunday that a National Guard contingent would support the Chicago Police Department after 240 arrests overnight. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said that at the city's request, he activated 375 soldiers who "will carry out a limited mission to help manage street closures and will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights."
Late Sunday, Chicago Public Schools announced that "based on the evolving nature of activity across the city, we are suspending grab-and-go meal sites and all other school and administrative office activities tomorrow," leaving thousands of families to figure out how to feed children in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Chicago Teachers Union and others criticized the decision on Twitter.
First LA says they’re closing COVID testing sites because of the protests. Now Chicago is refusing to feed its children. This is collective punishment, and it’s illegal under the laws of war. https://t.co/TQnK1ijlVj
— onekade (@onekade) June 1, 2020
Cleveland police were sharply criticized by civil liberties advocates and journalists after reportedly saying Sunday that as part of the downtown curfew that is in effect until Tuesday night, "No media is allowed downtown unless they are inside their place of business. Period."
"This is unconstitutional," tweeted the ACLU of Ohio. "The City of Cleveland has no authority to restrict the rights and access of the press. The power of the people is rooted in the ability of the #FreePress to investigate and report news, especially in times of upheaval. We are reviewing this situation."
Although Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson later said in a press conference Sunday that credentialed members of the media would still be allowed downtown, the ACLU of Ohio on Monday morning highlighted NPR producer Rachel Rood's account of the difficulty she experienced getting to her office.
Throughout history, leaders in turmoil have raged against those who report the news—not because it is false, but because it is true.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Never Miss a Beat.
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) June 1, 2020
As Common Dreams previously reported, while protests raged across the nation, "the external floodlights that typically keep the White House illuminated at night were shut off as President Donald Trump remained out of sight and silent—with the exception of occasional incendiary outbursts on Twitter."
Critics regarded the move as a symbol of Trump's lack of leadership during this time of national turmoil. According to The Guardian, when the 11 pm curfew took effect, "the police line in front of the White House advanced with tear gas rounds across Lafayette Park clearing out the protesters, with intermittent sprints."
Jounalists and others circulated images on social media of fires that burned near the darkened White House:
The nation's capital is legitimately on fire in every direction. This is unreal. pic.twitter.com/hXNJ0LticL
— Samantha-Jo Roth (@SamanthaJoRoth) June 1, 2020
The City of Los Angeles and Mayor Eric Garcetti continued to endure intense criticism for announcing a city-wide closure of Covid-19 testing sites Saturday. Critics regarded the decision as a punitive response to the protests, noting that Garcetti said in a press conference that "we're not going to stand for the burning of police cars" or "people who destroy shop windows."
a cool way to respond to a damaged police vehicle is to sentence your entire constituency to death https://t.co/TeB8JNNuFw
— rax king-lalli-music (@RaxKingIsDead) May 31, 2020
Garcetti then requested 1,000 National Guard troops from California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Los Angeles Times reported that "by Sunday morning, scores of Guardsmen toting M-4 rifles could be seen patrolling streets between skid row and Bunker Hill. In combat gear, they stood guard outside shattered storefronts and graffiti-tagged buildings, where windows had been shattered and the street strewn with trash."
"On Sunday afternoon, scores of troops had formed a partial perimeter around City Hall, which faces the Los Angeles Police Department building and was itself guarded by many police officers," according to the newspaper. In response to Garcetti's decision to bring in the Guardsmen, City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said, "Our fear is real that additional law enforcement will only further violence against people of color."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer confirmed in a statement Monday that David McAtee was killed in an incident at Dino's Food Mart involving a crowd, Louisville Metro Police Department, and the National Guard shortly after midnight. A local ABC affiliate reported that LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said someone in the crowd fired as law enforcement began to clear the parking lot and both local police and the National Guard returned fire.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a statement Monday that aligned with Conrad's description of the incident. However, the governor added that "given the seriousness of the situation, I have authorized the Kentucky State Police to independently investigate the event." Local residents, meanwhile, gathered near the site of the shooting on Monday:
Residents of the #Russell neighborhood gather around Broadway & 26th Street in #Louisville, #Kentucky on June 1, 2020. They are here because law enforcement shot #DavidMcAtee, dead here in the early morning, around midnight inside of his business. #BlackLivesMatter #BreonnaFloyd pic.twitter.com/7MtlHwaLmM
— Seyma Bayram (@SeymaBayram0) June 1, 2020
Floyd's death has reignited outrage in Louisville over the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black emergency room technician, in her home on March 13. After months of outrage and calls for accountability, the FBI opened an investigation into Taylor's killing on May 21.
New York City:
Largely peaceful demonstrations in New York City included marches across the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges. However, the New York Times noted that "Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that he was considering implementing a curfew after parts of New York City descended into chaos for a fourth night."
Thousands chanted and cheered, including the drivers, who honked their horns in support 2/ pic.twitter.com/QqGvgAwrgr
— Nick Mendoza (@NickMendoza) May 31, 2020
"As the night wore on, violent confrontations between protesters and police officers erupted throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn," the Times reported. "Protesters threw glass bottles and trash at the police, while large groups of officers charged down streets, pushing crowds of demonstrators aside and using batons as they made arrests."
The New York Police Department was widely criticized over the weekend after officers drove their vehicles into demonstrators in Brooklyn. Denouncing de Blasio's response to the incident, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that "running SUVs in crowds of people should never, ever be normalized. No matter who does it, no matter why."
Members of the National Guard headed to Philly after a weekend that saw at least 429 arrests and police deploying pepper spray from an armored vehicle to disperse crowds. While the city garnered national attention for looting and destruction, peaceful protesters—including former Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins—gathered Sunday for a demonstration at Center City.
It appears former Eagles great Malcolm Jenkins is among those peacefully protesting in Center City this afternoon
“No Peace. No Justice”
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 31, 2020
"These are all of our children," city Register of Wills Tracey Gordon said of black Americans mistreated by police while speaking to a crowd that peacefully assembled at City Hall on Sunday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. "They deserve to have dignity. Everyone deserves to have dignity in this city and in this country."