Minneapolis Police Death Chicago

Shattered glass hangs from the doorway of a 7-Eleven store early Sunday morning in Chicago, after a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd.

MINNEAPOLIS — America’s cities boarded up windows, swept up glass and covered graffiti Sunday as the country’s most significant night of protests in a half-century promised to spill into another day.

Uproar shook not only the streets of New York and Los Angeles, but dozens of smaller communities such as Fargo, North Dakota, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The damage extended even to buildings near the White House.

Peaceful protests involving tens of thousands of people on Saturday gave way, in some places, to rioting, looting and violence, with police vehicles torched, stores emptied and objects hurled at officers. The police response varied from restrained to aggressive, with officers at times firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police and peaceful protesters alike pleaded for a stop to violence, saying it only hindered calls for justice and reform.

“It only hurts the cause,” said Danielle Outlaw, head of the police force in Philadelphia, where more than 200 people were arrested as fires and looting engulfed Center City.

Three months before George Floyd’s death, Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot as he jogged through a Georgia neighborhood. A white father and son are charged in the slaying. The month after Arbery was killed, an EMT named Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by Louisville, Kentucky, narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door. No drugs were found in her home.

Adding to that was angst from months of lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt communities of color, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress.

The droves of people congregating in chanting demonstrations threatened to trigger new outbreaks, a fact overshadowed by the boiling tensions.

“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington, D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”

The scale of the protests, sweeping from coast to coast and unfolding on a single night, rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.

Curfews were imposed in places around the U.S., including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle. About 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect Saturday to break up demonstrations. The show of force came after three days in which police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured more than 4,000 National Guard troops into Minneapolis. Authorities said that number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a “sacred space.” The intersection was blocked with the traffic cones while a ring of flowers was laid out.

Few parts of America were untouched, from protesters setting fires inside Reno’s city hall, to police launching tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and an officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia, and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York, a video showed two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground. It was unclear if anyone was hurt.

In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.

Sites around the U.S. were defaced with spray-painted messages, from the facade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to the historic Hay-Adams hotel near the White House. Some of Floyd’s gasped last words — “I can’t breathe” — were repeated around the country, alongside anti-police messages.