Cities across U.S. brace for increasing unrest, call in National Guard – The Denver Post

By AARON MORRISON and SEAN MURPHY, The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Protesters set police cars ablaze, smashed businesses’ windows and skirmished with baton-wielding officers in streets from Atlanta to Los Angeles, as anger over George Floyd’s death spread across the country. Authorities were bracing for more violence Saturday, with some calling in the National Guard to beef up overwhelmed forces.

In Minneapolis, the city where Floyd died Monday after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck and kept it there for more than eight minutes, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz fully mobilized the state’s National Guard and promised a massive show of force to help quell unrest that has grown increasingly destructive.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

On Saturday, after a tumultuous night, racially diverse crowds took to the streets again for peaceful protests in dozens of cities. Friday’s protests, too, had started calmly — in cities from Denver to New York to Oakland, California, from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon — before many descended into violence.

At least two deaths were connected to the demonstrations; hundreds of people were arrested and police used batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray to push back crowds in some cities. Many departments reported officers were injured, while social media was awash in images of police using forceful tactics, throwing protesters to the ground, using bicycles as shields, and trampling a protester while on horseback.

The unrest this week recalled the riots in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Rodney King, a black motorist who had led them on a high-speed chase. The protests of Floyd’s killing have gripped many more cities, but the losses in Minneapolis have yet to approach the staggering totals in Los Angeles. During the five days of rioting in 1992, more than 60 died, 2,000-plus were injured and thousands arrested, with property damage topping $1 billion.

Many protesters spoke of frustration that Floyd’s death was one more in a litany. It comes in the wake of the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot after being pursued by two white men while running in their neighborhood, and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown millions out of work, killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and disproportionately affected black people.

On Friday, the officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — but that appeared to provide little balm. Many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.

Comments from President Donald Trump stoked the anger, when he fired off a series of tweets criticizing Minnesota’s response, ridiculing people who protested outside the White House and warning that if protesters breached the fence, “they would … have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

On Saturday, in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre that left as many as 300 dead and the city’s thriving black district in ruins, protesters blocked intersections and chanted the name of Terence Crutcher, a black man killed by a police officer in 2016. Other peaceful protests were being held in Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.