Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue

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Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue

Police move through tear gas as demonstrators march on Sunday in Atlanta. Brynn Anderson/AP hide caption

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Brynn Anderson/AP

Police move through tear gas as demonstrators march on Sunday in Atlanta.

Brynn Anderson/AP

Across the country on Sunday, protesters staged large-scale demonstrations prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and, more broadly, anger at police brutality. Some cities, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Seattle, saw clashes with police, buildings and cars set afire and looting.

By evening, many demonstrations had devolved into another night of violence with protesters ignoring curfews imposed in dozens of cities.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody on Monday. Video shows a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck shortly before his death.

Truck barrels into Minneapolis protesters

In Minneapolis, a semitractor-trailer plowed through a crowd of protesters marching on an interstate highway near downtown which had been closed to traffic.

Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue 2

Police clear the area where a tanker truck rushed to a stop among protesters on an interstate highway on Sunday in Minneapolis. John Minchillo/AP hide caption

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John Minchillo/AP

Police clear the area where a tanker truck rushed to a stop among protesters on an interstate highway on Sunday in Minneapolis.

John Minchillo/AP

Authorities say no one was injured when the truck drove into the crowd at a high speed on westbound Interstate Highway 35.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the driver may have been unaware of the highway closure. “It appears the semi was on I-35W as authorities were closing the road. It didn’t appear to drive through any barricades,” the department tweeted.

State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington says authorities had shut down the freeway so protesters, who numbered from 4,000 to 5,000, could safely demonstrate. Before the incident, the protest appeared peaceful.

Protesters, many of whom jumped on top of the truck, managed to stop the vehicle. Some dragged the driver out of the front seat and started beating him. The driver, identified by police as Bogdan Vechirko of Otsego, Minn., is being held on probable cause for assault. He was taken to a hospital and is being treated for his injuries.

Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue 3

Demonstrators start a fire on Sunday near the White House as they protest the death of George Floyd. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP

Demonstrators start a fire on Sunday near the White House as they protest the death of George Floyd.

Alex Brandon/AP

“He was driving a gas tanker,” said Rhys Gailah, 39, who was in the middle of a sit-in listening to speakers when the truck came barreling through. “He came driving at least 50 miles per hour through the crowd. Everyone was sitting. It was peaceful.”

Tensions flare in the Nation’s Capital

Protests continued in Washington, D.C., with marches from a historically black university to a park just across from the White House.

Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue 4

Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Sunday hold signs as they protest the death of George Floyd. Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Sunday hold signs as they protest the death of George Floyd.

Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

The peaceful marchers had a city police escort as they walked the nearly two miles from Howard University to Lafayette Square.

Protesters chanted about the death of Floyd, and other African Americans who have died following police violence.

Violence Escalates As Protests Over George Floyd Death Continue 5

Police move forward to raise a barrier that protesters had knocked down in front of the White House on Sunday. Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

Police move forward to raise a barrier that protesters had knocked down in front of the White House on Sunday.

Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

“Even in the middle of a pandemic, cops are killing us,” read one sign carried by protester Elizabeth Betts.

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A man screams with emotion as he sees a police officer kneel in apparent solidarity with protesters next to the White House, on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

A man screams with emotion as he sees a police officer kneel in apparent solidarity with protesters next to the White House, on Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

“It’s crazy how even in the middle of a pandemic, black people have to protest like this,” Betts said while marching. “We are at a point where it’s the same story, the same things are happening. I’m tired of this.”

The demonstration in Lafayette Park turned violent by evening, as protesters threw bottles at police, set fires to cars and to the basement of St. John’s Church. The historic church has been attended by every president since James Madison.

Police pushed the crowds away from the White House with bursts of tear gas.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser established a city-wide curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

This is a breaking news story. This post will be updated.


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