UPDATED: 12:10 a.m. ET, May 31 —
Protests against police violence continued well into their fifth straight night as outrage spread around the country following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. From the east coast to the west coast and seemingly every major city in between, protesters set out to make their voices heard as simmering racial tensions were boiling over Saturday night.
While it was a different night, the scenes were fairly similar to the protests from the nights before in that they included police apparently getting the green light to brutalize protesters with everything from their fists to tear gas to shooting rubber bullets at them.
But it also included people damaging and setting police cars on fire, looting and vandalizing as conspiracy theories swirled about who was actually perpetrating those crimes.
There were multiple instances of police brutality at the protests, including in New York City where at least two NYPD vehicles were recorded on video appearing to intentionally ram protesters.
That followed similar reports from other protests of people being assaulted and pepper-sprayed by police without provocation, including Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty during a demonstration in Columbus. The officers in that incident appeared in photos to have their body cameras covered by yellow tape.
All of this was unfolding as there was a growing notion on social media that the protesters without peaceful intentions were actually organized groups of white supremacists looking to encourage chaos. While there was no proof of that being true, there were accounts reported from protesters who described that scenario.
Saturday followed four previous nights of protests over the “murder” that Derek Chauvin is charged with committing last Monday. From California to Arizona to Louisville to New York and beyond, people took to their cities’ streets to protest police killings of Black people.
Protesters in Columbus, Ohio, were raging Thursday night.
Hundreds of protesters in Columbus were demonstrating against Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the Ohio Statehouse, where police pepper-sprayed them, photos show. The Columbus Post Dispatch reported that aside from instances of looting stores, “There was even a few times that flares and smoke bombs were thrown at officers. Officers were struck by plastic bottles on at least a couple occasions.” The violence in Columbus came nearly a year after a report found that the city’s police department uses force disproportionately against minorities. The study found that Black people “account for about half of the use-of-force incidents — hovering between 49% and 53% since 2013, even though black residents make up only 28% of the city’s population.”
In Phoenix, Arizona:
Local news outlet ABC15 reported that “protesters came face-to-face with officers, throwing rock and bottles and even breaking a police cruiser window.”
The Phoenix Police Department has a very real culture of racism and discrimination that has been heavily documented over the years.
The Denver Post reported that “a small, peaceful protest” over Floyd’s death “escalated into chaos Thursday evening after someone fired gunshots near the Capitol, sending demonstrators scattering across the city as police shot tear gas canisters and pepper spray.” Police used tear gas and pepper spray after protesters reacted to a driver deliberately hitting a demonstrator.
In New York City:
The NYPD obviously has a demonstrated history of violence and racism that precedes itself.
And in Lousiville, where police killed Breonna Taylor while she was sleeping after serving a warrant at an incorrect location, cops shot at least seven people protesting on Thursday night.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that at least one of the gunshot victims was left in critical condition.
The protest around the country came as Minneapolis demonstrated for a third straight night on Thursday as the four officers fired from the police department remained free and avoided being arrested. Protesters managed to breach the police station where the officers worked out of and set it on fire Thursday night.
This is America.