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The Latest: D.C. police respond to multiple fires in city

APTOPIX America Protests Washington
APTOPIX America Protests Washington
Posted at 9:41 PM, May 31, 2020

The Latest on the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck:


WASHINGTON — As demonstrations continued past an 11 p.m. curfew, D.C. police said they were responding to multiple fires that were “intentionally set” around the city. One was at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is located across Lafayette Park from the White House.

The church says every president beginning with James Madison, “until the present,” has attended a service at the church, giving it the nickname, “the church of presidents.”

The first services at the church were held in 1816, according to its website.


WASHINGTON — The entire Washington, D.C., National Guard — roughly 1,700 soldiers — is being called in to help with the response to protests outside the White House and elsewhere in the nation’s capital, according to two Defense Department officials.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday she had requested 500 Guardsman to assist local law enforcement. Later on Sunday, as the protests escalated, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered the rest of the Guardsman — about 1,200 soldiers — to report.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The D.C. National Guard did not reply to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

- By James LaPorta


WASHINGTON — Protesters started fires near the White House as tensions with police mounted during a third straight night of demonstrations held in response to the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota.

An hour before the 11 p.m. curfew, police fired a major barrage of tear gas stun grenades into the crowd of more than 1,000 people, largely clearing Lafayette Park across the street from the White House and scattering protesters into the street.

Protesters piled up road signs and plastic barriers and lit a raging fire in the middle of H Street. Some pulled an American flag from a nearby building and threw it into the blaze. Others added branches pulled from trees. A cinder block structure, on the north side of the park, that had bathrooms and a maintenance office, was engulfed in flames.

As the curfew hit, police sealed the perimeter of the park. Shortly beforehand, police pushed a crowd of about 300 demonstrators several blocks with a series of charges with batons and riot shields.

Enraged protesters screamed, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Police shot pepper powders point black at several protesters.

Several miles north, a separate protest broke out in Northwest D.C., near the Maryland border. The Metropolitan Police Department says there were break-ins at a Target and a shopping center that houses Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store, T.J. Maxx, a movie theater and specialty stores. Police say several individuals have been detained.


At least 4,100 people have been arrested over days of protests across the country since George Floyd’s death Monday, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press.

Arrests ranged from looting and blocking highways to breaking curfew.

The arrest figures include those from demonstrations in New York and Philadelphia on the East Coast, Chicago and Dallas in the Midwest and Southwest, and Los Angeles on the West Coast as protests take place all over the county.

In Dallas, police began sweeping downtown streets with arrests to enforce a curfew that went into effect at 7 p.m.


BELLEVUE, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated 200 more National Guard troops to respond to looting and vandalism in Bellevue, east of Seattle.

Inslee had previously deployed 400 members of the guard to help contain protests in Seattle. On Sunday evening, Bellevue’s mayor declared an emergency because of the violence and said she was enacting a 5:30 p.m. curfew for the downtown area.

Bellevue Police said dozens of people broke into Bellevue Square, a large shopping mall. Officers entered the facility and chased looters out. Mayor Lynne Robinson said people were stealing merchandise from storefronts.

Bellevue’s downtown is home to large offices of many tech companies, including Microsoft and Amazon.

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said at an evening news conference that authorities learned earlier that a criminal gang planned activity in the city Sunday afternoon. He said there was widespread looting and assaults, and the criminal element “swelled very quickly.”

“They were there to destroy,” Mylett said. “We welcome peaceful protest ... this is something different.”

Mylett said he was disgusted at what happened to George Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck, but that violence overshadows legitimate protests.


BOSTON — A Sunday afternoon of mostly peaceful protests in Boston broke at nightfall when protesters clashed with officers, throwing rocks and lighting a police vehicle on fire.

Thousands of mostly mask-wearing demonstrators marched peacefully through Boston in several protests during the day, lending their voices to the nationwide anger over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

The largest protest of several thousand started Sunday night in the historically black neighborhood of Roxbury. Protesters, carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs and chanting, “The people united will never be defeated,” made their way slowly for several miles to the Massachusetts Statehouse. The diverse crowd was flanked by police officers on bikes and was peaceful.

But as the march ended around 9 p.m., protesters clashed with police in downtown Boston. At least two police cruisers were heavily damaged — including one whose rear window was smashed by a skateboarder. Police also tweeted that their officers were pelted with bricks, rocks and glass bottles. Several storefronts, including a bank, were damaged.

Protesters appeared to be clearing by about 10:30 p.m.


ATLANTA — Riot police firing volleys of tear gas dispersed hundreds of demonstrators as a curfew took hold Sunday night, scattering a crowd that had protested for hours in downtown Atlanta over the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Hundreds of police, National Guard troops and other forces lined up in positions around downtown Centennial Park, a focal point of the weekend of protests.

An overnight curfew took hold at 9 p.m. as some on the fringes of what was a largely peaceful afternoon protest were setting off fireworks and burning construction materials near the park. An Associated Press photographer saw police then begin firing many 40 millimeter canisters of tear gas toward the crowd. People were choking, gasping and some throwing up as they scattered, leaving only a few still in the streets.

As police and National Guard troops took up positions with plastic shields on major streets, crowds melted away. WSB-TV showed footage about an hour later of officers taking people who lingered in the streets into custody, using plastic ties to handcuff them on street corners.


WASHINGTON — Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to an underground bunker Friday, as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House, some throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades just outside the executive mansion.

That’s according to a Republican close to the White House not authorized to publicly discuss private matters and confirmed by another official. The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House, where the chants from Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds.

The Friday protests, triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer, turned violent and appeared to catch officers by surprise. It sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. In the days since, security at the White House has been reinforced by the National Guard and additional personnel from the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.

On Sunday, the Justice Department also deployed members of the U.S. Marshals Service and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration to supplement national guard troops outside the White House, according to a senior Justice Department official. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

— By Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller


MONTREAL — A protest in Canada demanding justice for George Floyd degenerated into clashes between Montreal police and some demonstrators.

About three hours after a march that snaked its way through downtown Montreal on Sunday afternoon had ended, Montreal police declared the gathering illegal after they said projectiles were thrown at officers who responded with pepper spray and tear gas. Some windows were smashed and some fires were set.


A bizarre scene unfolded in the Southern California city of Long Beach when people stealing from a clothing store became trapped.

A woman’s voice was heard screaming inside and then a man suddenly kicked his way out a window and dropped to the sidewalk. He was quickly followed by more than a half-dozen others, with one man throwing out an armload of clothes and then gathering them from off the ground and running off.

As the thieves clambered out, a group of police stood nearby but didn’t attempt to make arrests.

About a half-mile away, people swarmed into stores at The Pike Outlets to steal items. A large Forever 21 store was a favored target and a steady stream ran in and then emerged carrying armloads of clothing. Some brought garbage bags to carry the pilfered goods. A few stopped outside to change into stolen items.


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Police didn’t intervene Sunday night as a crowd of protesters attempted to pull down a 52-foot-tall stone obelisk honoring Confederate veterans with a pickup truck. The state has blocked legal attempts by the city to remove the memorial.


PHILADELPHIA — The focus of Saturday night’s unrest in Philadelphia was downtown, but on Sunday there were pockets of rioting in several neighborhoods.

Hundreds of protesters congregated in West Philadelphia where people smashed police car windows, stole items from the empty vehicles and pushed them so they rammed into other cruisers.

After people in the crowd threw rocks at police lining the streets, officers in a large SWAT vehicle fired tear gas and rubber bullets.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hundreds of people on Sunday marched down historic Route 66 into downtown Albuquerque, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Protesters in New Mexico’s largest city held signs, wore masks and chanted “Say his name: George Floyd” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

When the crowd arrived on the western edge of downtown Albuquerque, they stopped and held a moment of silence for Floyd that was followed by cheers. Some protesters marched back to where they started and others dispersed. Police kept their distance and kept the streets clear in what appeared to be a peaceful event.


DALLAS — Police in Dallas began arresting people for being on the street shortly after a 7 p.m. curfew went into effect.

The night-time curfew will last for the next several days, police Chief U. Reneé Hall said Sunday.

Dallas County also closed several downtown civil buildings for Monday, including a civil courthouse and county administration building.

Dallas police tweeted pictures of officers making arrest sweeps on downtown streets shortly after the curfew began. Dallas reported about 75 arrests over the first two days of protests Friday and Saturday.


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of protesters succeeded at getting onto Interstate 55 in Memphis and stalling traffic on the route that leads into neighboring Arkansas.

Officers wearing riot gear blocked the group at first from getting on the lanes of the interstate near downtown Memphis. But protesters then circumvented the line of officers and made it onto the interstate, walking past vehicles stuck in traffic.

Some vehicles were honking their horns as the protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter.”


LOS ANGELES — A news helicopter captured a scary moment during a protest in downtown Los Angeles when a police SUV accelerated into several people on the road, hitting and knocking two people to the ground.

Witnesses advanced on the patrol car, prompting the officer to quickly back up and speed away as protesters chased after the vehicle. The protesters who were hit got off the ground and ran onto the sidewalk.


CHICAGO — While Chicago officials took extraordinary steps Sunday to patrol and restrict access to the city’s downtown in the hopes of preventing further chaos after a night of protests over the death of George Floyd, reports of vandalism and unrest cropped up throughout the day in the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

Vandals smashed store windows at a shoe store and cellphone shop in the heavily-Mexican Little Village neighborhood. Multiple suburban shopping malls were closed out of caution, including in North Riverside where police reported a “large disturbance.”

The unrest spread from downtown Chicago after a weekend of chaos, as peaceful protests devolved into violence and destruction. By Sunday, six people were shot in Chicago, one fatally, and 240 people were arrested in connection with the demonstrations, police said.


AUSTIN, Texas — During a demonstration in Austin, officers reportedly fired rubber bullets at protesters throwing water bottles at them. One of the rubber rounds hit a woman in the abdomen, according to the Austin American-Statesman, and she writhed on the ground, crying, “My baby, my baby.”

Officers reportedly pushed through the crowd to carry her away on a stretcher. Police did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.


San Diego police say officers have fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of demonstrators that was pelting them with rocks and bottles.

Hundreds of people, many with facial masks to protect against the coronavirus, marched through downtown chanting “George Floyd” with signs, including some saying “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to Floyd’s dying words when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the back of his neck. Some demonstrators dropped to one knee at times.

The demonstration took an ominous turn several hours after beginning peacefully at 10 a.m. San Diego police said on Twitter that a crowd of 100 to 200 people was throwing rocks but stopped. Authorities said multiple vehicles were vandalized.

After the tear gas stopped, two groups formed on Broadway, a main thoroughfare, separated by police in riot gear.


MINNEAPOLIS — Officials in Minnesota say no protesters appear to have been hit after a semitrailer drove into a crowd demonstrating on a freeway near downtown Minneapolis.

The Minnesota State Patrol says the incident is being investigated as a criminal matter. The patrol says the driver was injured and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Gov. Tim Walz says the driver is out of the hospital and in police custody.

It wasn’t clear how the driver was hurt. TV footage showed protesters swarming the truck, and then law enforcement quickly moving in.

Other TV footage showed the tanker truck moving rapidly onto the bridge and protesters appearing to part ahead of it.

Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said traffic cameras appear to show the truck was already on the freeway before barricades were put in place to shut it down at 5 p.m.

The protesters were demonstrating against the death of George Floyd.


MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says Attorney General Keith Ellison will take the lead in any prosecutions in the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, who was black, was in handcuffs when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes earlier this week. Bystander video showed Floyd pleading that he was unable to breathe and eventually no longer moving.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman earlier Sunday said he had asked Ellison to help in the prosecution. Freeman has been criticized by civil rights activists and some city officials, who say there is a history of mistrust between Freeman’s office and members of the community.

Walz told reporters Sunday that Ellison “needs to lead this case.” He said he made the decision after speaking with Floyd’s family who “wanted to believe that there was a trust, and they wanted to believe that the facts would be heard.”


ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor says two police officers have been fired and three placed on desk duty pending review over excessive use of force during a protest incident Saturday night.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference Sunday that she and police Chief Erika Shields made the decision after reviewing body-camera footage. Shields called it “really shocking to watch.”

Officials say the incident came to light via video that circulated online.

It shows a group of police officers in riot gear and gas masks surround a car being driven by a man with a woman in the passenger seat. The officers pull the woman out and appear to use a stun gun on the man. They use zip-tie handcuffs on the woman on the ground. The couple did not appear to be fighting police on the video.

Bottoms said charges have been dropped against the woman, and the man has been released.

Local reporters, who captured footage of the incident, said the police had earlier broken the glass on the car. A reporter said police also flattened the tires.

The city is under curfew again Sunday night. As curfew approached, protesters were using construction materials, portable toilets and other items to create a makeshift barrier from police in downtown Atlanta. Some people threw fireworks in the general area or in officers’ direction.

Officers and the National Guard walked in a line toward protesters and the barrier and threw tear gas at the crowd minutes before the 9 pm curfew.

Some protesters kicked the tear gas cans back toward officers.


SAN FRANCISCO — In San Francisco, more than 1,000 people marched through the streets, carrying signs and chanting “George Floyd,” “Black Lives Matter.”

Aliasiah Allah, 22, wore a shirt that said “I feel like the last black man,” a reference to last year’s movie The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

“We’re here because George Floyd was murdered in cold blood. ... We are sick of the countless injustices on black and brown lives, mostly black lives,” she said. “The cup is overflowing at this point. We want the cops arrested, but we want it to end, we want it to stop.”


LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County declared a 6 p.m. curfew to prevent a repeat of violence that broke out after protests over the killing of a black man by a white Minneapolis police officer.

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 on Saturday, and Santa Monica, which experienced looting Sunday, were under curfew orders at 4 p.m. The city of San Francisco declared an 8 p.m. curfew.


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said he made a visit Sunday to the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the previous night.

A photo posted to Biden’s Facebook page showed the former vice president, wearing a mask, kneeling to speak with a man and his small child.

“The only way to bear this pain is to turn all that anguish to purpose,” Biden wrote. “And as president, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen.”


WASHINGTON — Officials are implementing a curfew in the nation’s capital after a night of violent demonstrations with rioters setting fires, smashing windows and breaking into businesses and left dozens of police officers injured.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said the curfew would begin at 11 p.m. Sunday night and extend until 6 a.m. on Monday. She said members of the National Guard would also be on hand to assist the Metropolitan Police Department.

More than 1,000 protesters had already gathered Sunday evening at Lafayette Park across from the White House to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Officials said they would have an increased police presence and additional federal agents were called in on Sunday.

The protest Saturday night turned violent as darkness set in. Protesters set fires, smashed windows and sprayed graffiti.


TAMPA, Florida — Protests were largely peaceful across Florida on 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 de-escalation 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.

“We wanted to be able to provide a safe space for their voice and rage to be heard within a controlled environment. It’s part of their amendment rights for them to be able to express themselves,” said Chaikirah Parker, who helped organize the event.

The veteran activist said they purposely held the event early Sunday, despite sweltering heat, because it brought a more peaceful demographic.

After the event was over, a young crowd held another protest and she said the veteran activists felt obliged to help.

“We really feel it’s our duty to pass the torch and teach the kids how to organize,” she said. “They’re cocky and then they realize the rapid response organization is a whole other level.”