Nationwide protests over police violence, after the death of George Floyd, continued to escalate Saturday night. At least 25 cities imposed curfews to try to keep protests, some of which became violent, off the streets. States called up their National Guards. In cities around the country, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. Some protesters threw glass bottles, stones, and bricks.
Floyd died in Minneapolis on Monday after a police officer, who was charged with murder on Friday, pinned Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee for nearly 9 minutes while Floyd pleaded for air. Across the country, Floyd’s death has become a symbol of police violence and inequality. And the protests are playing out against the backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected black Americans.
Many protests started out peacefully. But as the night continued, violence erupted from both protesters and police — and in some cases, the police violence was unprovoked, according to reporters on the scene.
A police SUV drove into a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn
Videos widely circulated on social media showed a New York Police Department SUV driving into a crowd of protesters. Mayor Bill de Blasio offered only mild condemnation, saying, “It is a troubling video, and I wish they hadn’t done that, but we have to be clear ... they were being surrounded by a violent crowd,” according to Gloria Pazmino, a reporter for NY1.
Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and other projectiles
In Washington, DC, some protesters attempted to scale temporary security barricades set up in front of the White House. Police fired clouds of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Back in the medic area, protesters are screaming, “it burns!” Volunteer medics are washing out wounds. Offering people milk and water mixed with antacids for their burning throat and eyes. #DC pic.twitter.com/Bx8Nc8S7Xg— Marissa J. Lang (@Marissa_Jae) May 31, 2020
Police also fired tear gas at protesters in Minneapolis — without provocation in at least one case, according to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi:
WATCH: @AliVelshi reports from Minneapolis as police fire tear gas toward protesters: “There has been no provocation ... The police pulled into this intersection unprovoked.” pic.twitter.com/OEUXdPg73O— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 31, 2020
In Denver, police fired tear gas as protesters threw fireworks, according to Denver Post reporter Saja Hindi:
Cops responding with A LOT of tear gas. pic.twitter.com/GXYE0JfvHZ— Saja Hindi (@BySajaHindi) May 31, 2020
Police break up gathering at Clifton and McMillan. Using tear gas. pic.twitter.com/bqBVdfE0R9— Albert Cesare (@AlbertCesare) May 31, 2020
In San Antonio:
Breaking — Another round of tear gas is being deployed on Alamo Street in San Antonio. pic.twitter.com/yNziNHYnAS— Silvia Foster-Frau (@SilviaElenaFF) May 31, 2020
In Tampa, Florida:
For those still up and curious: The situation at University Mall doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. The stream of cars and cops into its parking lot is near constant, as is the tear gas. #TampaProtest pic.twitter.com/690ltQbTml— Josh Fiallo (@ByJoshFiallo) May 31, 2020
In Los Angeles:
"We're getting hit by tear gas!" Live coverage from field reporters from @ABC7 in Los Angeles as protests rage through the luxury stores of Rodeo Drive.— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 31, 2020
LIVE UPATES: https://t.co/xJQvixJr2S pic.twitter.com/xw9ZO9yFYN
Dallas cops let loose with tear gas on the kneeling protesters nearby the DART station on Elm St. after warning them they would make arrests if they don’t move out of the street. Protesters attempting to kick it back but this stuff sucks. #DallasProtest pic.twitter.com/t15dfUGFk2— Dom (@DomDiFurio) May 31, 2020
The Geneva Convention bans tear gas in international warfare, although it’s explicitly allowed in domestic policing situations; in the short term, it causes painful symptoms, and “we don’t know much about the long-term effects, especially in civilian exposure,” a tear gas expert told Vox in 2014.
Police arrested journalists in Minneapolis and New York
In Minneapolis, a photographer for local news organization WCCO was struck by a rubber bullet, forced onto the ground by police, and arrested, according to the news outlet. Police also fired tear gas at journalists who had identified themselves as media, according to LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske:
Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. pic.twitter.com/r7X6J7LKo8— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) May 31, 2020
In Brooklyn, police arrested a Huffington Post reporter:
Confirmed that this is @huffpost reporter @letsgomathias getting arrested — I didn’t catch when they first apprehended him but it was incredibly violent. His press badge is clearly visible. pic.twitter.com/ob3FvEzkiK— Phoebe Leila Barghouty (@PLBarghouty) May 31, 2020
These aren’t the first arrests of journalists during the ongoing protests: CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested on live TV earlier in the week.