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Protests flare around the United States over Minneapolis killing

  • Published at 06:49 pm May 29th, 2020
Protesters stand and watch buildings burn during continued demonstrations against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 30, 2020.REUTERS

In Detroit late on Friday, a 19-year-old man was shot dead at a demonstration by a suspect who fired from a sport utility vehicle then fled

Violent protests flared overnight in several US cities as demonstrators vented their anger over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis this week after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

From Minneapolis to New York City, Atlanta and Washington, protesters clashed with police in a rising tide of anger over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

The demonstrations broke out for a fourth night despite prosecutors announcing on Friday that the policeman filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, had been arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

Three other officers have been fired and are being investigated in connection with Monday's incident, which reignited rage that civil rights activists said has long simmered in Minneapolis and cities across the country over persistent racial bias in the US criminal justice system.

In Detroit late on Friday, a 19-year-old man was shot dead at a demonstration by a suspect who fired from a sport utility vehicle then fled, local media reported. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

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

In the video of Floyd's death, filmed by a bystander, the 46-year-old could be heard repeatedly pleading with the officers and telling them he could not breathe.

Thousands of demonstrators also filled the streets of New York City's Brooklyn borough near the Barclays Centre arena. Police armed with batons and pepper spray made scores of arrests in sometimes violent clashes.

In lower Manhattan, demonstrators at a "We can't breathe" rally demanded legislation to outlaw the chokehold used by a city police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was also black.

In Washington, police and Secret Service agents deployed in force around the White House before dozens of demonstrators gathered across the street in Lafayette Square.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota's largest city, hundreds of protesters defied an 8pm, local time, curfew around a police station that was burnt on Thursday night.

President Donald Trump said early on Saturday that he had watched the whole thing from his window, and, if the demonstrators had breached the fence, "they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen."

Chaos in Atlanta

In Atlanta, Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr, implored people to go home on Friday night after more than 1,000 protesters marched to the state capitol and blocked traffic on an interstate highway.

The demonstration turned violent at points. Fires burned near the CNN Centre, the network's headquarters, and windows were smashed at its lobby. At least one police car was among several vehicles burnt. Police pushed back the crowd, but they hurled bottles at officers.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Atlanta and activated the Georgia National Guard, sending as many as 500 soldiers to guard property, as the protests moved from downtown to the affluent Buckhead neighborhood.

News broadcasts showed officers making several arrests, but police provided few details Saturday morning.

Protesters also took to the streets in other cities including Denver, Houston and Louisville, Kentucky.

Authorities had hoped Chauvin's arrest would allay public anger. Late on Friday, officers opened fire with tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades, scattering the crowd.

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