A burning police station, looting and shootings. In many American cities, peaceful demonstrations against police brutality in the night from Thursday to Friday ended in chaos and violence. What is going on?
During a demonstration in Louisville, Kentucky, seven civilians were hit by bullets on Thursday night, the city’s mayor announced on Friday. Two of the injured in Louisville needed surgery, five others are in relatively good condition.
According to the mayor, the police did not shoot and the violence came from the demonstrators themselves. The police in the city said that it is too early to find out the cause of the shooting incidents.
The protesters had gathered to claim justice for Breonna Taylor’s death. The 26-year-old black ambulance worker was hit in March by eight police bullets during a raid on her apartment.
The immediate reason for the demonstration about Taylor’s fate was the anger at another Minneapolis police victim, George Floyd, who died Monday after his arrest.
Nationwide protests over Floyd’s death
Floyd’s death sparked a wave of demonstrations across the country. In several places in the night from Thursday to Friday clashes between protesters and the police occurred.
The Colorado State Capitol in Denver was sealed off after shots were heard near a demonstration. The Ohio State Parliament Building in Columbus was stormed by protesters, including windows that were broken, and agents in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, were pelted with stones.
More than 40 protesters were arrested in New York, and police in Minneapolis counted a camera crew CNN while reporting live demonstrations.
US President Donald Trump called the Minneapolis demonstrators “villains.” He wrote a message on Twitter on Friday suggesting they can be shot if they commit looting. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“I can’t breathe”
The week of protests began with the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, the state capital of Minnesota. During his arrest, an officer pressed his knee to the man’s neck for eight minutes. Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” and eventually lost consciousness. He later died in the hospital.
Bystanders documented Floyd’s arrest and shared the footage on social media. A second video from another angle, which has not yet been verified, suggests that not one, but three officers were on top of the man to push him to the ground.
The police chief in Minneapolis apologized for Floyd’s death and the four officers involved were fired. The mayor of the city said he wants the officer who held his knee to the man’s neck to be prosecuted.
Protesters set fire to police station
Protests got out of hand after the Minneapolis prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had not yet decided whether the police officer who put his knee in Floyd’s neck will be prosecuted.
Demonstrators stormed a police station and set it on fire. The officers present in the office fled on the instructions of Mayor Jacob Frey. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh human lives,” he later said.
The United States Department of Justice has announced an investigation into Floyd’s death to determine whether or not the police officers in question are being prosecuted. Prosecutors in Minnesota are also investigating further.