Protests erupted across the United States as people continued to take to the streets over the weekend following the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Curfews have been enacted in at least 40 cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle. The National Guard was called in to several states as protests mounted.
Protesters in Minneapolis are calling for the arrest of all four officers involved in Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers who were fired along with Chauvin have not been charged, even as new video appears to show two of them also kneeling on George Floyd’s body as he laid on the pavement.
On Saturday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he’d “fully mobilized” the National Guard for the first time in his state’s history, adding another 1,000 soldiers to the 700 he’d already ordered into the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Throughout the weekend, crowds of protesters were met with wave after wave of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades. This is Minneapolis community leader and business owner Marques Armstrong speaking at a protest Saturday.
Marques Armstrong: “They continued to allow the abuses to happen to the community. And so this is an uprising. We are not condoning the violence that’s happening, the looting, the rioting. We understand it, though. We want this city to not burn, but it seems like that’s what it has to take in order for them to finally start listening to us. Like I said, six years we’ve been saying to them, introducing policy changes, sitting across the table from them, from the mayor, from the police and the governor, the city councilmembers. We’ve been talking to them. We’ve been sitting with them. We’ve been urging them. We’ve been challenging them. We’ve been pushing them. And they ain’t listening.”
Governor Walz said Saturday he’d asked Pentagon chief Mark Esper and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to help gather “signal intelligence” on protesters. On Friday, publicly available flight data showed Customs and Border Protection had diverted one of its Predator drones to circle 20,000 feet above Minneapolis as protesters gathered in the streets below. The drone is normally used to patrol the U.S.-Canadian border far to the north of the Twin Cities. A viral video posted online Saturday night shows a phalanx of officers in riot gear following an armored personnel carrier down a residential street in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighborhood after an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect. Officers repeatedly shout at residents to remain inside their homes, before firing crowd control rounds on a group of residents peacefully filming from their front porch.
In another harrowing moment, a truck driver barreled a tanker truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters who were occupying a Minneapolis interstate on Sunday afternoon. A crowd of thousands of people parted, with many diving to avoid the wheels of the massive truck. The driver slowed the vehicle as protesters surrounded him, then pulled him from the cab and roughed him up. Police moved in and arrested the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, who was booked on assault charges.