Unrest envelopes US cities as protests spread across the country

Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Washington are among major US cities that have been ravaged by protests. How will the United States tackle this crisis amid pandemic?

Unrest envelopes US cities

Unrest envelopes US cities as they are convulsed by protests and witness clashes between police and protestors coupled with looting since the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd a week ago. The unrest, which started off as isolated incidents over the death of George Floyd, has accelerated across the United States, and has the whole 9 million square kilometres of the territory firmly in its grip. Major cities have now become the battleground for the showdown between law enforcement and rampant protestors, with the latter holding the former responsible for racial discrimination and murder.  

Demonstrators took to the streets of more than 140 towns and cities overnight Sunday, US media reported, with many protests turning into running battles with police.

Curfew were renewed in a number of cities on Monday as the country geared up for another night of turmoil.

Unrest envelopes US cities: Minneapolis sees huge march

The Midwestern city where a police officer killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes was calmer overnight after beefing up its security forces. 

Thousands of people marched on Sunday to the capitol building in Saint Paul, Minneapolis’ twin city and the seat of the state’s legislature.

The demonstrators were marching peacefully along a highway when the driver of a speeding tanker truck tried to force his way through the crowd, without causing any injuries. The driver is being investigated by police.

When the curfew began at 8:00 pm for a third night, police fired flash-bang rounds at protesters to disperse them. More than 150 were arrested for breaking the curfew, officials said. 

Washington in crosshairs as unrest envelopes US cities

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House on Sunday for a peaceful demonstration that turned more tense once night fell and the crowds grew. Police fired tear gas to drive the crowds away from the presidential seat. In the ensuing melee, American flags were burned, cars were set ablaze, graffiti sprayed on walls and numerous shop windows smashed.

Read more: Trump threatens military mobilization against violent US protests

A curfew was introduced for the first time at 11:00 pm, a deadline that was brought forward to 7:00 pm Monday as the city braced for more protests.

According to The New York Times, President Donald Trump was moved by his Secret Service guards to an underground bunker as the protests roiled the park outside. He also later threatened to mobilize the military in response to escalating protests across the United States.

New York quickly succumbing to protests 

Between 5,000 and 6,000 demonstrators took to the streets of New York Sunday, police chief Dermot Shea said. 

“When it got dark, it got ugly, and it got ugly quick,” he said Monday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the city would be under curfew from 11:00 pm until 5:00 am Tuesday.

Some police officers took a knee as a sign of support for the demonstrations, the Times said, but violence broke out at Union Square and in Soho, where stores were looted and vandalized. 

Read more: Protests in New York quickly devolve into violence

Among the hundreds of people arrested on four consecutive nights of unrest in the city was the daughter of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chiara de Blasio, who was briefly detained for unlawful assembly, the Times said.

Images of vandalism and looting in New York have emerged on social media, mirroring scenes in countless other cities over the last week as protests over the police killing of George Floyd erupt into rioting and mayhem.

De Blasio’s initial decision to impose a curfew from 11pm drew massive backlash online, with netizens reporting that shops and other properties around the city had been looted and vandalized long before the curfew was supposed to take effect.

Read more: George Floyd’s murder: Violent protests spread across the US

“What a joke. In the meantime, looters are tearing through the city, busting windows and destroying property while stealing (and have been for hours),” television host and author Jedediah Louisa Bila tweeted.

New York City hit an 11 p.m. curfew on Monday after widespread looting erupted in the central business district of Manhattan, long a symbol of the city’s prominence, with shattered glass and smashed storefronts on several blocks.

Looters tried to ransack some of the city’s best-known retailers, including the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square and luxury stores along Fifth Avenue.

Los Angeles resorts to curfew as protests get out of hand

The city announced a 6:00 pm curfew on Sunday night for the whole of Los Angeles country as National Guard troops with rifles and combat gear began patrolling the city.

On Melrose Avenue, residents used brooms and buckets of water to clean up the debris from the night before. At midday, several hundred people joined demonstrations and later in the night, looting broke out in Santa Monica in the suburbs, including in an upmarket mall.

Police said they had made hundreds of arrests. 

Curfew imposed as unrest envelopes US cities

Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta were among two dozen cities ordering people to stay indoors overnight but police and protesters still clashed in numerous cities.

In Washington, protesters faced off with secret service agents outside the White House for a second straight night as Trump faces the most serious civil unrest of his presidency, in the middle of the historic coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Curfew imposed in US cities as protests become unmanageable

Eleven Washington police officers were injured, a spokesman said Sunday, including one who suffered a fractured leg.

Multiple arrests were reported by US media in Minneapolis, Seattle and New York as rallies continued through the night. Officers in Los Angeles fired rubber bullets and swung batons during a testy standoff with demonstrators who set fire to a police car.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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