Fires Rage, Curfews Imposed as American Cities Face Another Night of Unrest

As the U.S. heads into its fifth straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, cities across the country are enacting curfews and dealing with vandalism.

Though the death of Floyd--a black man seen on video with a white officer knelt on his throat--happened in Minneapolis, it has served as a flashpoint for protesters all over the country. Saturday was declared a National Day of Protest by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), starting at 3 p.m. ET.

Initially, however, NAARPR identified Saturday as a day of protest on May 19, in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger allegedly killed by Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, and Louisville, Kentucky EMT Breonna Taylor. The latter was killed when police, acting on a "no-knock" warrant invaded her apartment; it was later revealed the suspect police were looking for had already been arrested at the time of the raid.

The protests come the day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. The three other officers involved--Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng--are under investigation but have not currently been charged.

george floyd protests
Demonstrators protest the killing of George Floyd while marching to the city's 5th police precinct on May 30, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott Olson/Getty

Many cities have ordered curfews in hopes to stop the unrest. Louisville, the home of Taylor, has instituted a dusk-to-dawn curfew. In addition, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced he was sending the National Guard to Louisville.

"What we have seen, especially last night, and what our intelligence says is going to happen tonight are outside groups moving in, trying to create violence to harm everybody who is on those streets," said Beshear. "We cannot let Breonna's legacy be marred by violence and we can't let our streets turn violent."

In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney announced an 8 p.m. curfew, announced by police in a tweet. The curfew will lift at 6 a.m. Sunday. An 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for Saturday and Sunday was also announced for Denver.

Cincinnati also enacted a curfew for Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 p.m. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett placed his city under a 9 p.m. curfew for Saturday, but did not say if the curfew will be extended to Sunday.

On the West Coast, Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler announced a state of emergency, which includes a 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti enacted a 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. curfew after Friday's protests led to 533 arrests, and fires across the city.

george floyd protests
Demonstrators protest the killing of George Floyd outside of the city's 5th police precinct on May 30, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott Olson/Getty

Fire has marked Saturday's protests as well. In Philadelphia, police cars were set on fire near City Hall, and protesters lit fireworks around the cars. Another car was flipped over, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, at around 6:30 p.m. ET, protesters set fire to a Starbucks near Philadelphia's City Hall, as well as another cafe nearby.

Philadelphia was also the site of a peaceful march, sanctioned by Black Lives Matter, at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Police said in a tweet that this protest was not connected to the City Hall protests.

"The demonstrators exercising their first amendment rights at City Hall and the Art Museum did so peacefully. We appreciate their voice and their manner of expression. However, since that time, others have convened in Center City and are committing criminal acts, including...vandalism. Those acts will not be tolerated, and we strongly encourage everyone to refrain from entering Center City. We will continue provide updates throughout the evening," Philadelphia Police tweeted.

..vandalism. Those acts will not be tolerated, and we strongly encourage everyone to refrain from entering Center City. We will continue provide updates throughout the evening.

— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) May 30, 2020

In Los Angeles, a police SUV was set on fire, as was a squad car in the Fairfax District, according to KNBC. In another incident near Hill and Seventh Street, a person threw a fire hose into a fire, according to USA Today.

At a news conference, Garcetti asked everyone involved to allow order.

"Whether you wear a badge or whether you hold a sign, I'm asking all of Los Angeles to take a deep breath and step back for a moment," the mayor said. "To allow our firefighters to put out the flames. To allow our peace officers to re-establish some order. And, to let them protect your rights to be out there."

On Saturday morning, LAPD Chief Michel Moore also called for peace, tweeting: "This morning the sun came up on a Los Angeles that offered a new day. Last night was a dark reminder of the perils of a society in turmoil and how our people stand to support peaceful expression while being ready to protect the rights of all. I'm thankful for such people."

This morning the sun came up on a Los Angeles that offered a new day. 

Last night was a dark reminder of the perils of a society in turmoil and how our people stand to support peaceful expression while being ready to protect the rights of all. 

I’m thankful for such people. pic.twitter.com/eELnTslRYh

— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) May 30, 2020

However, as the unrest worsens, the LAPD reportedly mobilized its entire department, including cancelling all paid time off. Officers will respond only to priority calls, according to a tweet from reporter Andrew Blankstein.

In Seattle, where it's only the second day of protests, a police car was set on fire in the downtown area, according to KOMO. Police reportedly were detonating flash-bang grenades in the area.

At approximately 5:00 p.m. local time, the city imposed an immediate curfew, and the AlertSeattle system sent a mass text message ordering anyone in the downtown area to immediately disperse. According to a statement from Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, the 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be effective Saturday and Sunday. Durkan will soon sign an emergency order, according to the statement.

Across the country, in the other Washington, protesters knocked down a fence near the White House. Police reportedly used rubber bullets and pepper spray-filled paintballs to disperse the crowd, according to The Washington Post. President Donald Trump was not at home at the time, as he was delivering a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Trump arrived back in Washington, D.C. at 8:06 p.m. according to the White House Press Office. The protest has moved to Lafayette Park, though law enforcement remains stationed in the park and near the White House.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance bottoms signed an executive order, instituting a 9 p.m. curfew which ends Sunday at sunrise, according to the Associated Press. In addition, Gov. Brian Kemp deployed up to 500 members of the National Guard "to protect people & property in Atlanta," at the request of Bottoms, according to a tweet.

Not all protests have been violent. In Providence, Rhode Island, a Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday chanted Floyd's name on the State House lawn, according to the Providence Journal. Black Lives Matter Rhode Island activist Gary Dantzler told the assembled crowd, "I'm tired of watching young black, brown, beautiful people dying. White supremacy, we gotta end it."

In Florida, the Palm Beach Post reports that though 250 demonstrators stopped traffic in Lake Worth Beach, the march was peaceful. In Sarasota, 30 protesters of all ages decorated their cars with anti-police brutality messages, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

And in the city of Visalia, California, protesters chanted "Black lives matter," and played the song "This Is America" by Childish Gambino from a speaker, according to the Visalia Times Delta.