MINNEAPOLIS -- After a night of fire and fury across the nation as tensions boiled over in dozens of cities, protests persisted Sunday, even as glass and graffiti were still being cleaned up.
Violence and crime flared in pockets of largely peaceful demonstrations fueled by the killings of black people at the hands of police. An Associated Press tally showed that at least 4,100 people have been arrested in the days of protests since the killing of George Floyd.
On Sunday night, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the state's attorney general will take the lead in any prosecutions related to the death of Floyd, a black man who died in handcuffs when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the man's neck as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe.
Walz's decision to have Attorney General Keith Ellison take the lead came after requests from activists, City Council members and a civil-rights group, who said putting Ellison on the case would send a strong message that justice will be vigorously pursued. Walz said Ellison has the experience needed to lead the prosecution.
The decision also followed Saturday's protests, the scale of which -- sweeping from coast to coast and unfolding on a single night -- rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.
On Sunday, from Boston to San Francisco, protesters took to the streets once more, and some signs of trouble emerged in cities that have closed streets and imposed curfews after days of turmoil. People robbed stores in broad daylight in Philadelphia and Santa Monica, Calif., and a semitruck drove into a crowd of people that took over a portion of a highway in Minneapolis.
Officials said no protesters appeared to have been hit. The Minnesota State Patrol said the action appeared deliberate and that the driver was injured. Walz said the driver was out of the hospital and in police custody.
The incident occurred in the city where the turbulence emerged after Floyd's death last week. The protests quickly became national, spreading to dozens of cities large and small.
The officer who pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck has been arrested and charged with murder, but protesters are demanding charges against all four officers who were at the scene. All four were fired.
In neighboring St. Paul, thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state Capitol, pledging to keep up the protests.
"We're Minnesota nice, but we're not Minnesota dumb, and we're not done," St. Paul Black Lives Matter organizer Darnella Wade said. "They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests."
Walz called in thousands of National Guard soldiers to help quell violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests. The immense deployment appeared to have worked Saturday night, when there was comparatively little destruction.
On Sunday, in a display of force, long lines of state patrolmen and National Guard soldiers were lined up in front of the Capitol in St. Paul to face the demonstrators, with perhaps a dozen military-style armored vehicles behind them.
In tweets Sunday, President Donald Trump blamed anarchists and the media for fueling the violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at "far left extremist" groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of causing the problems.
Crews near the White House worked to replace windows that had been shattered with large pieces of wood. Buildings for blocks were marked with graffiti, including curses about Trump. Shattered glass still covered the sidewalks. The damaged buildings included the Department of Veterans Affairs, directly across the street from the White House.
On Sunday night, multiple fires were set near the White House as protests escalated ahead of a curfew. Details were not immediately available.
Some of Trump's allies are urging him to address the nation about the intensifying unrest. His presumptive Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, released his own statement condemning the violence.
Across America, demonstrators called again for an end to police violence.
"They keep killing our people," said Mahira Louis, 15, who marched with her mother and several hundred others through downtown Boston. "I'm so sick and tired of it."
Many also joined police in pleading for an end to violence, saying it weakened calls for justice and reform.
"It only hurts the cause," said Danielle Outlaw, head of the police force in Philadelphia, where more than 200 people were arrested as fires and looting engulfed the heart of the city.
Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders combined with a string of recent racially charged killings to stoke the anger. Adding to that was angst from months of lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt minority-group communities, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress.
"Maybe this country will get the memo that we are sick of police murdering unarmed black men," said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah. "Maybe the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will picture cities burning."
Curfews were imposed in major cities around the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. About 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a "sacred space." The intersection was blocked with traffic cones while a ring of flowers was laid out.
Among those descending on Minneapolis was Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., set off unrest in 2014.
"I understand what this family is feeling. I understand what this community is feeling," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Sunday emphasized the need for broader changes.
"This is part of a pattern," Pelosi said on ABC News' This Week, describing Floyd's death as "murder." "We saw the execution of a person on live TV." Asked about the protests that have broken out across the country, she said, "When you have a crowd, you will have those who will disrupt, and that is most unfortunate."
"Let's have a look at what really is happening, who is ... taking what actions. But we should not, we should not ignore the fact that there is room for peaceful protest in all of this," she said.
Pelosi also called for Trump to be "a unifying force," but she declined to weigh in on his most recent comments.
Omar was more forceful in criticizing Trump's recent statements, arguing that the president has been "glorifying violence" and that his behavior must be met with "the highest sort of condemnation."
"This president has failed in really understanding the kind of pain and anguish many of his citizens are feeling," Omar said on This Week. She also condemned the use of violence by some protesters, saying those who are setting fire to buildings and taking other violent actions "are not interested in protecting black lives."
Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly blamed "Antifa militants" for stoking violence and discounted the possibility that right-wing provocateurs may have played a role.
"I haven't seen the reports on far-right groups," he said. "This is being driven by Antifa, and they did it in Seattle. They've done it in Portland [in Oregon]. They've done it in Berkeley [in California]. This is a destructive force of radical -- I don't even know if you want to call them leftist -- whatever they are, they're militants who are coming in and burning our cities. And we're going to get to the bottom of it."
Pressed on the issue of police violence, O'Brien responded by referring seven times in a 14-minute interview to "bad apples" in police forces who should be rooted out.
"I don't think there's systemic racism," O'Brien said. "I think 99.9% of our law enforcement officers are great Americans, and many [are] African American, Hispanic, Asian. They're working in the toughest neighborhoods. They've got the hardest jobs to do in this country. And I think they're amazing, great Americans, and they're my heroes."Gallery: Protests around United States, 5-31-2020
Around the country Sunday:
• In Atlanta, the mayor said two police officers have been fired and three have been placed on desk duty pending review over excessive use of force during a protest incident Saturday night. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she and Police Chief Erika Shields made the decision after reviewing body-camera footage. Shields called it "really shocking to watch."
• In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide disaster, which allows him to designate federal agents to do the work of local police. Some organizers were calling off demonstrations, and others said they planned to proceed.
"Every Texan and every American has the right to protest, and I encourage all Texans to exercise their First Amendment rights," Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement. "However, violence against others and the destruction of property is unacceptable and counterproductive. ... It is crucial that we maintain order, uphold public safety, and protect against property damage or loss."
• In Richmond, Va., the mayor said a curfew would be imposed Sunday night after protesters targeted the city's symbols of history -- a scene repeated in Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; and other Southern cities.
• In Florida, protests were largely peaceful Sunday, with some organizers doubling safety efforts to counteract the violence of Saturday night. In Tampa, Black Lives Matter organizers had nearly 100 safety marshals in fluorescent vests patrolling their march, trained in deescalation tactics and ordered to be on the lookout for antagonists. The group also had medics, used walkie-talkies to quickly squelch outbursts, and enlisted lawyers and those with legal training to watch out for protesters' rights from the sidelines.
• In New York City, officials hoped for a peaceful way forward as the city entered a fourth day of protests that have left police cars burned and hundreds of people under arrest. Thousands of people again marched through neighborhoods, chanting, kneeling in the street, and falling silent for a minute in front of the police station in Times Square in honor of people killed by police.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no plans to impose a curfew and that city police showed "tremendous restraint overall" during the weekend's protests, but he promised an investigation of video showing two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators in Brooklyn, knocking people to the ground. "We all better get back to the humanity here," de Blasio said.
• In Washington, D.C., officials were implementing a curfew after a night of violent demonstrations. The mayor said members of the National Guard would be on hand to assist the police. More than 1,000 protesters gathered Sunday evening at Lafayette Park across from the White House.
• In Chicago, officials took extraordinary steps to patrol and restrict access to the downtown area in the hopes of preventing further chaos after tense weekend protests, destruction and unrest spread to the city's neighborhoods and suburbs. Peaceful protests devolved into clashes with police, as well as fires and property damage. By midday, six people had been shot, one fatally; 240 people had been arrested; and about 20 officers had been injured, police said.
• In Boston, several hundred people marched through downtown carrying signs and chanting in a peaceful protest. They chanted, "No justice no peace," "Black lives matter" and "Silence is violence." There was a light police presence and no sign of violence. Most protesters wore face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
• In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence late Saturday, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
• In Detroit, a curfew was instituted to keep people who live outside the city from instigating violence. Police also are investigating whether rock-throwing and other attacks on officers have been orchestrated by outsiders, said Mayor Mike Duggan. "This isn't intended for Detroiters," he said, adding that the curfew is aimed at keeping people who don't live in the city from damaging property and confronting officers.
• In California, more than 1,000 people marched through the streets of San Francisco, carrying signs and chanting "George Floyd" and "Black Lives Matter." The city declared a curfew. The county and city of Los Angeles declared states of emergency Sunday after a night of looting, vandalism and arson that followed mostly peaceful protests. Beverly Hills, which was hit with violence Saturday, and Santa Monica, which experienced looting Sunday, were under curfew orders.
Information for this article was contributed by Tim Sullivan, Matt Sedensky and staff members of The Associated Press; and by Brent D. Griffiths, Meryl Kornfield, Katie Mettler, Felicia Sonmez, Rachel Siegel and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post.
A Section on 06/01/2020