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Law and Justice

Violence Erupts As Outrage Over George Floyd's Death Spills Into A New Week

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

Protesters staged large-scale demonstrations across the country on Sunday, expressing outrage at 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 given way to another night of violence and destruction, with protesters ignoring curfews imposed in dozens of cities. Police used tear gas and stun grenades and fired rubber bullets in attempts to disperse the crowds.

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

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody last Monday. Video shows a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes shortly before his death.

Truck barrels into Minneapolis protesters

In Minneapolis, a semitrailer plowed through a crowd of protesters marching on an interstate highway near downtown that had been closed to traffic.

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

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

Clouds of tear gas obscure the North Portico of the White House, where protesters in Washington, D.C., gathered Sunday night.
Clouds of tear gas obscure the North Portico of the White House, where protesters in Washington, D.C., gathered Sunday night.

Some protesters jumped on top of the truck, and as it stopped, they 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.

"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."

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

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

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.

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

A car apparently set on fire by protesters burns near the White House Sunday night.
A car apparently set on fire by protesters burns near the White House Sunday night.

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

"It's crazy how even in the middle of a pandemic, black people have to protest like this," she said. "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 during the night, 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.

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

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

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser had established a citywide curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: June 2, 2020 at 9:00 PM PDT
An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the truck drove into the crowd while westbound on Interstate 35. It was going northbound on Interstate 35W.