Tue, 20 Oct 2020

WASHINGTON, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Protesters took to the streets on Saturday in at least 30 U.S. cities over the death of an unarmed African American man George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As many as 25 cities across 16 U.S. states have imposed curfews while at least eight states and Washington D.C. have called on the National Guard to help respond to protests and unrest as of Saturday, said a CNN report.

Nearly 1,400 people have been arrested during the protests in 17 cities since Thursday, according to an AP tally, adding that the actual number is likely higher as protests continue on Saturday night.

In Washington D.C. on Saturday, protesters gathered outside the White House for the second straight day, chanting "hands up, don't shoot" and "I can't breathe."

Multiple cars and dumpsters were set on fire mere blocks from the White House, said an NBC News report, adding that the police used pepper spray and tear gas to push protesters back.

On Saturday evening, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy directed the D.C. National Guard to be activated in response to the U.S. Park Police asking for assistance with the protest, Commanding General William Walker said in a statement.

"Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME!" President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday afternoon. "Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests."

"There's been an uptick in tension and hatred and division since (Trump) came along," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference on Saturday. "It's just a fact."

Also in the day, several fires were set in a neighborhood in New York City with a group of people, on bicycles, mopeds and scooters, throwing trash to feed the fire, said a CNN report. Some protesters also attacked a New York police van, spray painting it and breaking windows.

In downtown Philadelphia, about 3,000 protesters gathered earlier in the day. The demonstration began peacefully outside the city's Museum of Art, before violence broke out in the city center and some protesters damaged property and clashed with police. Fire and smoke were caught on video near Philadelphia City Hall and at least 14 arrests have been made so far in the city.

In Minneapolis, unrest entered the fifth night on Saturday as protesters threw projectiles at police, defying again a citywide curfew imposed from Friday. A CNN report said police have fired tear gas at the protesters.

Earlier on Saturday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated a "full mobilization" of the Minnesota National Guard in a bid to restore order in the deeply shaken city, which is the largest domestic deployment in the state's National Guard's 164-year history.

"Following several hours of peaceful demonstration, the crowd became violent and aggressive and began to throw bottles at officers," the Seattle Police Department said in a statement. "Members of the crowd also threw fireworks towards people attending the rally."

In Chicago, some protesters threw bricks and rocks at police, local media reported.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference Saturday evening that she has been "watching a tragedy unfold in our city. What started out as a peaceful protest has now devolved into criminal conduct."

Lightfoot announced a curfew, starting from 9 p.m. local time to 6 a.m. Sunday, adding that anyone breaking the curfew, after being given the warning to disperse, would be arrested.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Saturday extended a curfew, which initially applied only to downtown, to the whole city, requiring everyone within the City of Los Angeles to stay indoors from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

"The vast majority of people taking to the streets are doing it peacefully, powerfully, and with reverence for the sacred cause they're fighting for. This curfew is in place to protect their safety -- and the safety of all who live and work in our city," Garcetti said in a statement.

Floyd, aged 46, died on Monday after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held him down with a knee on his neck though he repeatedly pleaded, "I can't breathe," and "please, I can't breathe." Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.

Floyd's plea before his death evoked African Americans' painful memories and sparked a nationwide cry for justice. In 2014, a cellphone recorded an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" when a New York officer held him in a chokehold before his death in police custody. Since then, the plea has become a rallying cry at demonstrations against police misconduct across the country.

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