Demonstrations that started in Minneapolis and Louisville spread on Saturday to dozens of cities as far afield as Alaska and Hawaii.
Posted on May 30, 2020, at 6:51 p.m. ET
After days of turbulent rallies and violent unrest across the country sparked by the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, protests continued in dozens of cities on Saturday as the nation reckoned with deadly police brutality and systemic racism.
Demonstrators across the country held signs bearing some of Floyd’s final words before he died while being kneed in the neck in a chokehold by a white police officer. “Get your knee of my neck,” read a sign in Brooklyn. “I can’t breathe,” read another in Minneapolis.
Others paid tribute to Floyd’s memory. “Justice for George,” read the sign of one protester draped in the American flag and marching through the streets of Anchorage, Alaska. Across the Pacific Ocean, the same words appeared on signs at a small demonstration on the island of Hawaii.
But there was violence, too. In Philadelphia and Los Angeles, police vehicles were set ablaze. In Columbus, Ohio, authorities pepper-sprayed demonstrators. Outside the White House in the nation’s capital, demonstrators jumped on the windshields of a cop car.
“The death of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened,” President Trump said Saturday in remarks in Florida, after stoking tensions with protesters throughout the week by calling them “thugs,” threatening to shoot them and set “vicious dogs” on them. He added, “I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack, and menace.”
Trump is the focus of ire for many of the protesters. “It’s not just police,” one activist told a large crowd outside the Brooklyn Public Library. “We need to get that orange fucking clown out of that fucking office”
Amid a global pandemic of a respiratory illness, Friday’s rallies saw mass arrests and the use of tear gas by police in major cities as officers clashed with demonstrators who lit fires and damaged property. A police van was set on fire in Brooklyn. Local businesses were burned in Minneapolis.
As day broke, black protesters calling for peaceful demonstration raised concerns that white protesters were instigating violence.
In Oakland, a federal security officer for the Department of Homeland Security was shot dead and his colleague injured in the Friday demonstrations there. The FBI said they were investigating a motive, but DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli called the shooting an act of domestic terrorism.
Despite many Friday night protests running until the early hours, many demonstrations kicked off again on Saturday and ran through the day.
Protesters held a moment of silence in south Minneapolis for Floyd, whose death in police custody started the nationwide protests.
In Louisville, Kentucky, protesters gathered again on Saturday to demand justice for the death of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old black woman fatally shot in her home in March during a raid by police.
After gathering in the early evening, demonstrators began marching through the city’s downtown, darting through traffic and chanting, “No justice! No peace!”
They then blocked the 2nd Street Bridge to cars, declaring the bridge “closed for the night.”
Hundreds of protesters have again marched to Trump Tower, which has been a focal point during demonstrations.
In New York, multiple protests kicked off at 3pm on Saturday. One in uptown Manhattan saw protesters peacefully walking on major roads, including the West Side Highway.
Another, in Brooklyn, saw thousands walking the streets of Prospect Lefferts Garden and Flatbush, historically black neighborhoods,
A bus driver beeped her horn in support of protesters surrounding her bus, chanting “black lives matter.”
Protests in Philadelphia began in the early afternoon and later focused on Center City, around City Hall. Two police cars were burned and fireworks were set off.
Police announced a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. “Only persons with essential duties will be permitted outdoors,” officials tweeted.
“The peaceful protests earlier were touching showings of our collective grief. The anger being displayed now cannot continue. Please have respect and dignity for each other and return home,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted.
Protesters were also seen breaking windows at City Hall and looting a nearby Starbucks.
In a nod to the city’s history of police brutality, protesters spray painted “PIGS” and “FTP” on a nearby statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo, and tried to set fire to it. Rizzo served as police commissioner in the early 1970s before being elected mayor, and has been criticized for how he handled raids of the Black Panther party and a violent shootout with the black liberation group MOVE.
The protest began peacefully earlier in the afternoon, with thousands of people taking to the iconic Art Museum stairs. “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” demonstrators chanted, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In Ohio’s capital, local representatives, including Rep. Joyce Beatty, a 70-year-old black woman who has served in Congress since 2013, and the City Council president were pepper sprayed during a rally on Saturday morning.
Crowds of thousands of peaceful protesters closed down streets in Beverly Grove.
But some grew destructive, vandalizing police vehicles and spray painting, “RIP George” on burned out cars.
Caroline Haskins, Amber Jamieson, and David Mack reported from New York. With reporting from Kadia Goba and Ellie Hall in Washington, DC and Adolfo Flores in Minneapolis.