America’s cities boarded up windows, swept up glass and covered graffiti Sunday as the country’s most significant night of protests in a half-century spilled into another day of unrest fueled by killings of black people at the hands of police.
The turbulence sparked by the death of George Floyd — a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes — shook not only the streets of New York and Los Angeles, but dozens of smaller communities such as Fargo, North Dakota, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The damage extended even to buildings near the White House.
“They keep killing our people,” said Mahira Louis, 15, who marched with her mother and several hundred others through downtown Boston on Sunday. “I’m so sick and tired of it.”
Protests around Ohio were more peaceful Sunday as police change tactics
In Columbus, the crowd on Sunday morning initially was smaller than on Saturday, but grew into the thousands as protesters marched from the Statehouse to Columbus police headquarters and to other parts of downtown.
But the police presence downtown never reached the same level — in size or intensity — as on previous days. Officers who were patrolling wore regular uniforms, not the riot gear they had donned Saturday as they used tear gas in addition to pepper spray and wooden bullets to control the crowd.
Instead of using pepper spray and tear gas to control those who were marching in the middle of Third Street, police vehicles quietly escorted them Sunday. People could be seen shaking the hands of officers.
In Cincinnati, however, a police officer escaped injury when his helmet was struck by a bullet.
The Cincinnati officer was working to disperse a crowd near the University of Cincinnati early Sunday when several shots rang out. Police Chief Eliot Isaac said a round went through the officer’s riot shield and into his helmet, and although uninjured the officer was placed on administrative leave due to the “traumatic event.”
Isaac said 110 arrests were made, most for curfew violation but also for crimes such as arson, riot and assault on a police officer. A number of businesses had windows broken and shots were fired into them, he said. A 10 p.m. curfew imposed on several areas was extended citywide for Sunday and Monday nights and moved up to 9 p.m.
“This is a complicated situation, and there’s a difference between peaceful protest and righteous indignation and the kind of things that led to the looting on Friday night and other criminal behavior and potential threats and real threats to our police officers,” Mayor John Cranley said.
Cranley said activities that authorities found the most frightening “were by white people,” some of whom were “clearly engaged in coordinated activities.” He said he saw individuals appearing to “case” the police District 1 police headquarters and others pointing at windows later targeted by rocks thrown. Others, officials said, appeared to be trying to provoke a police overreaction.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the fire at the four-story Residences at Topiary Park burned for hours early Sunday, causing part of the roof and several floors to collapse. “It’s obviously suspicious because no one is living here,” Columbus Fire Division Battalion Chief Anthony Brooks said.
Battalion Chief Steve Martin told WBNS-TV that arson was suspected, and that an attempt was made to set fire to other apartment building under construction next door.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Saturday he was calling out the Ohio National Guard and highway patrol to help enforce laws in Columbus, where the mayor said more than 100 public and private properties had been damaged, five officers were injured by thrown bricks or rocks and police vehicles were set afire.
In Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Sheriff David Schilling became emotional Sunday following protests that turned violent, saying local law enforcement wants to protect the public and “we’re not the evildoers that we’re portrayed to be.”
Repairs were underway Sunday morning at the county-owned Justice Center, home to Cleveland police headquarters, the county jail and courthouse. Broken windows were largely boarded up by mid-morning. Guard booths outside were gutted after sustaining fire damage; glass was strewn inside the building.
“We’ve seen a lot of the city destroyed,” Schilling said.
County Public Works Director Michael Dever said no protestors breached the Justice Center. He was unable to estimate damages.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Public Square was painted with graffiti.
In Toledo, The Blade reported that property owners and volunteers were cleaning up Sunday after protests Saturday night gave way to clashes between demonstrators and police that led to at least 10 arrests and three people injured. Toledo also declared an overnight curfew Saturday.
A Tallamadge man broke his wrist, sustained a concussion and was covered in bruises and road rash after being hit by a truck during Saturday’s protests in Akron.
Sam Borrell was among the hundreds of marching through the streets, disrupting traffic on Akron’s major roads when at 2:55 p.m. he was struck by a pickup. A video of Borrell getting hit by the truck went viral on social media, and shows him being struck as a blue pickup truck makes a U-turn.
The driver of the truck was in a line of cars at the intersection, which was being blocked by protesters. He also told police items were being thrown at his truck as he turned, Laughlin said. The driver told police he didn’t know what the protesters were going to do, so he accelerated at the end of his U-turn to get away from the scene quickly. He told police he was not intentionally trying to hit anybody.
Across the nation
Peaceful protests involving tens of thousands of people on Saturday gave way, in some places, to violence, with police vehicles torched, stores emptied and objects hurled at officers. The police response varied from restrained to aggressive, with officers at times firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
“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.”
The scale of the protests, sweeping from coast to coast and unfolding on a single night, rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.
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.
In Philadelphia, people robbed stores in broad daylight, and at least one more police vehicle was set ablaze. Streets leading downtown were closed. Chicago likewise restricted downtown access and called in the National Guard.
In Minneapolis, police, state troopers and National Guard members showed new force Saturday in breaking up demonstrations after three days of police largely avoiding engaging protesters.
Philadelphia, people robbed stores in broad daylight, and at least one more police vehicle was set ablaze. Streets leading downtown were closed. Chicago likewise restricted downtown access and called in the National Guard.
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 the 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, Missouri, set off unrest in 2014.
“I understand what this family is feeling. I understand what this community is feeling,” he said.
Few parts of America were untouched. Protesters set fires inside Reno’s city hall, and police launched tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and an officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.
By Sunday, the fury had spread to Europe, where thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square, clapping and waving placards despite government rules barring crowds because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
Buildings around the U.S. were defaced with spray-painted messages, from the facade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to the historic Hay-Adams hotel near the White House. Some of Floyd’s gasped last words — “I can’t breathe” — were repeated, alongside anti-police messages.
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.