Protests intensify in US; govt overwhelmed

Minneapolis: Fires burned unchecked and thousands protesting the police killing of George Floyd ignored a curfew as unrest overwhelmed authorities for another night in Minneapolis, and the governor acknowledged Saturday that he did not have enough manpower to contain the chaos.
The new round of tumult — which has also spread to other cities — came despite Minnesota Gov Tim Walz vowing Friday to show a more forceful response than city leaders had the day before.
Minneapolis police said shots had been fired at law enforcement officers during the protests but no one was injured. As the night dragged on, fires erupted across the city’s south side, including at a Japanese restaurant, a Wells Fargo bank and an Office Depot. Many burned for hours, with firefighters again delayed in reaching them because areas weren’t secure. Shortly before midnight, scores of officers on foot and in vehicles moved in to curb the violence, one day after city and state leaders faced blowback for their handling of the crisis.
On Thursday, protesters had torched a police station soon after it was abandoned by police and went on to burn or vandalise dozens of businesses.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association urged Gov Walz to accept any help. “You need more resources. Law enforcement needs leadership,” the group said in a tweet.
Not all the protests were violent. Downtown, thousands of demonstrators encircled a barricaded police station after the 8 p.m. Friday curfew.
“Prosecute the police!” some chanted, and “Say his name: George Floyd!” Some protesters sprayed graffiti on buildings. Anger filled the streets of Minneapolis. Ben Hubert, a 26-year-old local resident, said he wasn’t surprised people were breaking curfew and setting fires. “I’m outraged,” he said of the Floyd case. “But I’m also sad. The injustice has been going on for so long. It’s been swelling for years.”
Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit USD 20 bill at a store. Chauvin, who was fired along with three other officers who were at the scene, faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of murder. An attorney for Floyd’s family welcomed the arrest but said he expected a more serious murder charge and wants the other officers arrested, too.
Prosecutor Mike Freeman said more charges were possible, but authorities “felt it appropriate to focus on the most dangerous perpetrator.”
Protests nationwide have been fueled by outrage over Floyd’s death and years of police violence against African-Americans.
Protesters smashed windows at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, set a police car on fire and struck officers with bottles. Large demonstrations in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., and dozens of other cities ranged from people peacefully blocking roads to repeated clashes with police.
“You are disgracing our city,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told protesters.
“You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country,” Bottoms added.
Police were trying to put Floyd in a squad car Monday when he stiffened and fell to the ground, saying he was claustrophobic, a criminal complaint said.
Chauvin and Officer Tou Thoa arrived and tried several times to get the struggling Floyd into the car.
Chauvin eventually pulled Floyd out of the car, and the handcuffed Floyd went to the ground face down.
Officer JK Kueng held Floyd’s back and Officer Thomas Lane held his legs while Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s head and neck area, the complaint said.
When Lane asked if Floyd should be rolled onto his side, Chauvin said, “No, staying put is where we got him.”
Lane said he was “worried about excited delirium or whatever.”
An autopsy said the combined effects of being restrained, potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, likely contributed to his death.
It revealed nothing to support strangulation as the cause of death. (AP)

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