MINNEAPOLIS – Protesters took to the streets across America again Sunday, with violence flaring in pockets of largely peaceful demonstrations fueled by the killings of black people at the hands of police. A truck driver – apparently deliberately – drove into demonstrators in Minneapolis nearly a week after George Floyd died there after pleading for air as an officer pressed a knee into his neck.
Protests sprang up from Boston to San Francisco, with people stealing from stores in broad daylight in Philadelphia, cities across California and elsewhere. In Minneapolis, the tanker truck sped into a peaceful crowd of thousands on a closed highway, but no one appeared to have been hit, authorities said.
The Minnesota State Patrol tweeted that the driver was apparently trying to provoke protesters and was arrested. Protesters swarmed the truck and jumped on the hood, even as it kept moving. Police then came in force to clear the highway in the city where violence erupted after the death last week of Floyd, who was black. The protests spread to dozens of cities, and have lasted for days.
The officer who pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for several minutes has been charged with murder, but protesters demand the other three officers at the scene be prosecuted. All four were fired.
“We're not done,” said Darnella Wade, organizer for Black Lives Matter in neighboring St. Paul, where thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state Capitol. “They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests.”
Minnesota's governor brought in thousands of National Guard soldiers to help quell violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests. On Sunday, in a display of force, lines of state patrolmen and National Guard soldiers lined up in front of the Capitol, facing the demonstrators, with perhaps a dozen military-style armored vehicles behind them.
For a second day, the protests reached to the White House, where chants could be heard from around 1,000 demonstrators just across the street in Lafayette Park as they faced police in riot gear behind barricades. The scene was defiant but peaceful, though police used flash bangs to stop another group from reaching the park.
As the protests grew, President Donald Trump retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton, who called for “overwhelming force.”
Across America, demonstrators called again for an end to police violence and many joined police in pleading for an end to the looting. Many also joined in pleading for a stop to fires, vandalism and theft, saying it weakened calls for justice and reform.
“They keep killing our people,” said Mahira Louis, 15, who marched with her mother and hundreds others through downtown Boston. “I'm so sick and tired of it.”
Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders combined with a string of recent racially charged killings to stoke the anger. 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.