Police fired tear gas outside the White House late Sunday as major US cities were put under curfew to suppress rioting as protesters again took to the streets to voice fury at police brutality.
With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protesters and police, and fresh outbreaks of looting.
Violent clashes erupted repeatedly in a small park next to the White House, with authorities using tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse crowds who lit several large fires and damaged property.
The protests came as a response to the shocking videotaped killing last Monday of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who stopped breathing after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The protests have turned into a nationwide wave of outrage over law enforcement's repeated use of lethal force against unarmed African Americans.
Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and is due to make his first appearance in court on Monday. Three other officers with him have been fired but for now face no charges.
As the violence escalated, and hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House – with some throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades – secret service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a bunker.
Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorised to publicly discuss private matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House, where the chants from protesters in Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend, and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds.
The protests have sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the September 11 attacks in 2001, and security at the White House has been reinforced by the National Guard and additional personnel from the Secret Service and the US Park Police.
Trump, meanwhile, has continued his efforts to project strength, using a series of inflammatory tweets and delivering partisan attacks.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Night-time curfews in major cities
Local US leaders appealed to citizens to give constructive outlet to their rage over the death of George Floyd, while night-time curfews were imposed in cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Houston.
One closely watched protest was outside the state capitol in Minneapolis's twin city of St. Paul, where several thousand people gathered before marching down a highway.
"We have black sons, black brothers, black friends, we don't want them to die. We are tired of this happening, this generation is not having it, we are tired of oppression," said Muna Abdi, a 31-year-old black woman who joined the protest.
"I want to make sure he stays alive," she added in reference to her son, aged three.
Hundreds of police and National Guard troops were deployed ahead of the protest.
At one point, some of the protesters who had reached a bridge were forced to scramble for cover when a truck drove at speed after having apparently breached a barricade.
The driver was later taken to hospital after the protesters hauled him from the vehicle, although there were no immediate reports of other casualties.
There were other large-scale protests in cities including New York and Miami.
Large-scale violence has rocked many US cities in recent days, and looters ransacked stores in a neighbourhood of Philadelphia on Sunday.
In the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, looting was reported at stores in a popular beachside shopping center.
Officials in LA – a city scarred by the 1992 riots over the police beating of Rodney King, an African American man, the year before – imposed a curfew from 4pm Sunday until dawn.
"Please, use your discretion and go early, go home, stay home and help us make sure that those who want to change this conversation from being about racial justice to be about burning things and looting things, don't win the day," the city's mayor Eric Garcetti said on CNN.
FRANCE 24 in LA: Chaos in Santa Monica calming down
Governor Tim Walz has mobilised all of Minnesota's National Guard troops – the state guard's biggest mobilisation ever – to help restore order.
Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to clear streets of curfew violators Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Walz extended a curfew for a third night Sunday and praised police and guardsmen for holding down violence. "They did so in a professional manner. They did so without a single loss of life and minimal property damage," he said.
"Congratulations to our National Guard for the great job they did immediately upon arriving in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night," President Donald Trump tweeted, adding that they "should be used in other States beforeRead More – Source