National Guard summoned to aid cities amid police clashes

May 30, 2020
Demonstrators burn garbage in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, May 29, 2020, while protesting the Monday death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

ATLANTA (AP) — Protesters burned businesses in Minneapolis. They smashed police cars and windows in Atlanta, broke into police headquarters in Portland, Oregon, and chanted curses at President Donald Trump outside the White House. Thousands also demonstrated peacefully, demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck.

As anger over Floyd’s killing spread to cities nationwide, local leaders increasingly said they could need help from National Guardsmen or even military police to contain the unrest.

Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency early Saturday to activate the state National Guard as violence flared in Atlanta. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also declared an emergency and ordered a nighttime curfew for the city.

Another 500 Guard soldiers were mobilized in and around Minneapolis, where Floyd died and an officer faced charges Friday in his death. But after another night of watching fires burn and businesses ransacked, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said early Saturday that he was moving to activate more than 1,000 more and was considering federal help.

The Guard was also on standby in the District of Columbia, where a crowd grew outside the White House and chanted curses at President Donald Trump. Some protesters tried to push through barriers set up by the U.S. Secret Service along Pennsylvania Avenue, and threw bottles and other objects at officers wearing riot gear, who responded with pepper spray.

“I just feel like he’s just one of many names that we’ve had to create hashtags and T-shirts and campaigns for and I feel like nothing has changed,” district resident Abe Neri said of Floyd. “And so that’s why I’m out here. Yeah, when you say nothing you’re taking the side of the oppressor.”

Many protesters echoed that frustration, that Floyd’s death was one more in a litany. The anger that seized the nation comes in the wake of the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot after being pursued by a white father and son 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.

In scenes both peaceful and violent across the nation, thousands of protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.” They hoisted signs reading: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.”

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