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'I can't breathe' protests spread across America after Minneapolis killing

  • Published at 11:27 am May 30th, 2020
An Atlanta Police car burns as people protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, near CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, US on May 29, 2020 Reuters

Demonstration in Atlanta turns chaotic and at times violent

Thousands of protesters stormed the perimeter of Barclays Center in New York as protests spread across the United States over the killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who died after being pinned by the neck under a white police officer's knee.

Police made scores of arrests at Friday's massive demonstration in Brooklyn, loading cuffed protesters onto city buses lined up on Atlantic Avenue, shutting down a major thoroughfare.

A diverse group of protesters cheered to hip hop music and tried to argue about police brutality with police officers in riot gear, who occasionally lunged into crowds to pluck people out for arrest after bottles and other projectiles were thrown.

The demonstrators at a "We can't breathe" vigil and rally in lower Manhattan were pressing for legislation outlawing the police "chokehold" used by a city police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was also black.


In an impassioned speech, Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr, implored people to go home after more than 1,000 protesters marched to the state capitol from the Centennial Olympic Park, blocking traffic and an interstate highway along the way.

"The only way we get what we really want is through non-violence," Bernice King said in her father's hometown. "Let's do this the non-violent way to deal with the evil of our time."

King was assassinated in 1968, a year after race riots spread across many big cities.

The Atlanta demonstration turned chaotic and at times violent. Fires were burning in downtown Atlanta near the CNN Center, the network's headquarters.

At least one police car was among several vehicles burnt. Windows were smashed at the CNN building, along with store fronts. Police pushed back the crowd, but they hurled bottles at officers.


Hundreds of protesters defied an 8pm curfew to gather in the streets around a police station burnt the previous night.

"We are out here because we, as a generation, realize things have to change," said one marcher, Paul Selman, a 25-year-old black man, who had just graduated with a master's degree in English from Minnesota State. "We need peace."

"Our parents and grandparents are tired of seeing their kids die all of the time, so we have to take it upon ourselves to make a better future."

Peter McMahon, 26, a resident of the area around the police station and owner of two nearby properties, said: "This is my generation and these are the people I went to high school with."

He added: "This is not a surprise. I have lost good friends over this Black Lives Matter shit."


Hundreds in the automotive capital joined a "March Against Police Brutality" late in the afternoon outside the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

Many chanted, "No justice, no peace." Some carried signs that read, "End police brutality" and "I won't stop yelling until everyone can breathe."


Denver saw the second day of protests after hundreds marched peacefully through its downtown demanding justice for Floyd.

On Thursday night, Denver police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds after parked cars were vandalized. There were 13 arrests related to the protests.


Hundreds gathered on Friday in a protest organized by the group Black Lives Matter at City Hall.

The crowd spilled onto Interstate 45's entrance ramp near downtown chanting, "I can't breathe," and "No justice, no peace."


After a night of violence in which at least seven people were shot, police in the Kentucky city braced for more protests over the killing of Floyd and several others, such as Breonna Taylor, shot by police in her Louisville home in March.