Violent protests raged across parts of the US on Saturday over the death of George Floyd and other police killings of black men.
Police cars were set ablaze and there were reports of injuries mounting on all sides, reports AP.
Triggered by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday after a police officer kneeled on his neck, the unrest has since become a national phenomenon with protesters decrying years of deaths at police hands.
But the large crowd protesters, many not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing, health experts fear it could further spread coronavirus infection as the country emerges from months in lockdown.
After a tumultuous Friday night, racially diverse crowds took to the streets again for mostly peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities from coast to coast. The previous day's protests also started calmly, but many descended into violence later in the day.
"Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here," said Brianna Petrisko, among those at lower Manhattan's Foley Square, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. "This is the only way we're going to be heard."
In Minneapolis, 29-year-old Sam Allkija said the damage seen in recent days reflects longstanding frustration and rage in the black community. "I don't condone them," he said. "But you have to look deeper into why these riots are happening."
Minnesota Gov Tim Walz fully mobilised the state's National Guard and promised a massive show of force.
"The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd," Walz said. "It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities."
More than a dozen major cities nationwide imposed overnight curfews. People were also told to be off the streets of Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and Minneapolis.
The unrest comes at a time when most Americans have spent months in lockdown. Hundreds of people were arrested Friday, and police used batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray on crowds in some cities. Many departments reported injured officers, while social media platforms were awash in images of police using forceful tactics, throwing people to the ground, using bicycles as shields and in one instance trampling a protester while on horseback.
Authorities vowed to crack down on lawbreakers.
"Quite frankly, I'm ready to just lock people up," Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said at a news conference.
This week's unrest recalled the riots in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Rodney King, a black motorist who had led them on a high-speed chase.
The protests of Floyd's killing have gripped many more cities, but the losses in Minneapolis have yet to approach the staggering totals Los Angeles saw during five days of rioting in 1992, when over 60 people died, 2,000-plus were injured and thousands arrested, with property damage topping $1 billion.
Many protesters spoke of frustration that Floyd's death was one more in a litany. It came in the wake of the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown millions out of work, killed more than 100,000 people in the US and disproportionately affected black people.
The officer who held his knee to Floyd's neck was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But many protesters are demanding the arrests of the three other officers involved.
Trump stoked the anger, firing off a series of tweets criticising Minnesota's response, ridiculing people who protested outside the White House and warning that if protesters had breached its fence they would "have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen."
Following the arrest of a CNN crew on live television by police on Friday, an apologetic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz promised that journalists would not be interfered with in reporting on violent protests following the death of George Floyd.
CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and two colleagues were released within an hour after network chief executive Jeff Zucker called Walz to demand answers about why they were led away and held in a police van.
"We have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell this story," Walz said.
Jimenez and colleagues Bill Kirkos and Leonel Mendez were doing a live shot for CNN's "New Day" shortly after 5 a.m. Central Time, describing a night of fire and anger in the wake of Floyd's death after a Minneapolis police office knelt on his neck. Fired officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder in that case later Friday.
When first approached by officers, Jimenez, who is black, told them, "put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way."
After being told he was being arrested and his hands were tied behind his back, Jimenez asked why he was being arrested. He did not get an answer.
The Minnesota State Patrol said on Twitter that the journalists were among four people arrested as troopers were "clearing the streets and restoring order" following the protests. The patrol said the CNN journalists "were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media."
It's not clear why they were confused: Jimenez was holding what appeared to be a laminated ID card before his hands were secured, and his fellow crew members told police that they were from CNN and showing the scene live on the air.
"I've never seen anything like this," CNN "New Day" co-anchor John Berman said.
After being released, Jimenez said that he was glad that his arrest was shown on the air.
"You don't have to doubt my story," he said. "It's not filtered in any way. You saw it for your own eyes. That gave me a little bit of comfort. But it was definitely nerve-wracking."
At a later news conference, Walz said that "I take full responsibility. There is absolutely no reason something like that should happen ... This is a very public apology to that team."
The arrest drew widespread condemnation across the news industry. CNN competitors MSNBC, CBS News and Fox News all issued statements in support of Jimenez, along with the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.
CNN accepted Walz's apology, saying the network appreciated the sincerity of his words.
Walz's words in support of journalists have impact at a time when the news media is often under attack, said Jane E. Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law and director of the Silha Center at the University of Minnesota.
"It's really important for the governor to make that kind of statement to emphasize to everyone, especially law enforcement, that the press has an important job to do ... and they need to be respected," said Kirtley, who lives blocks away from the protests and could still smell smoke from the fires on Friday.
Demonstrators marched, stopped traffic and in some cases lashed out violently at police as protests erupted Friday in dozens of U.S. cities following the killing of George Floyd after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck while taking him into custody in Minnesota.
In Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and beyond, thousands of protesters carried signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.” They chanted ”“No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”
After hours of peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta, some demonstrators suddenly turned violent, smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant.
The crowd pelted officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.” People watched the scene from rooftops, some laughing as skirmishes broke out. Demonstrators ignored police demands to disperse. Some protesters moved to the city’s major interstate thoroughfare to try to block traffic.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms passionately addressed the protesters at a news conference: “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.”
“You are disgracing our city,” she told protesters. “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this. We are better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country. Go home, go home.”
Bottoms was flanked by rappers T.I. and Killer Mike, as well as King’s daughter, Bernice King.
Killer Mike cried as he spoke.
“We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes. Because if we lose Atlanta what have we got?” he said.
After Mayor Bottoms appealed for calm, the violence continued. More cars were set on fire, a Starbucks was smashed up, the windows of the College Football Hall of Fame were broken, and the iconic Omni Hotel was vandalized.
In Brooklyn, crowds of demonstrators chanted at police officers lined up outside the Barclays Center. There were several moments of struggle, as some in the crowd pushed against metal barricades and police pushed back.
Scores of water bottles flew from the crowd toward the officers, and in return police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical at the group twice.
The names of black people killed by police, including Floyd and Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014, were on signs carried by those in the crowd, and in their chants.
“It’s my duty to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko, among those at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Our country has a sickness. We have to be out here. This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”
In Houston, where George Floyd grew up, several thousand people rallied in front of City Hall. Police had apparently taken into custody a woman who had a rifle and had tried to use it to incite the crowd.
Jimmy Ohaz, 19, came from the nearby city of Richmond, Texas.
“My question is how many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we’re not oppressed.”
The US will be ending its relationship with the World Health Organization, President Donald Trump announced Friday, saying that WHO had failed to adequately respond to the coronavirus because China has "total control" over it.
He said Chinese officials "ignored" their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organisation to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered, reports AP.
Trump said the US contributes about $450 million to the world body while China provides about $40 million.
The US is the largest source of financial support to the WHO and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organisation. Trump said the US would be "redirecting" the money to "other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," without providing specifics.
The Trump administration may soon expel thousands of Chinese graduate students enrolled at US universities and impose other sanctions against Chinese officials in the latest signs of tensions between Washington and Beijing that are raging over trade, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights and the status of Hong Kong.
President Trump said he would make an announcement about China on Friday, and administration officials said he is considering a months-old proposal to revoke the visas of students affiliated with educational institutions in China linked to the People's Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence.
Trump is also weighing targeted travel and financial sanctions against Chinese officials for actions in Hong Kong, according to the officials, who were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We'll be announcing what we're doing tomorrow with respect to China and we are not happy with China," Trump told reporters at an unrelated event Thursday, referring mainly to COVID-19. "We are not happy with what's happened. All over the world people are suffering, 186 countries. All over the world they're suffering. We're not happy."
The proposal to revoke the visas is not directly related to the dispute over Hong Kong, nor is it tied to US criticism of China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Rather, it is connected to various elements of trade and human rights issues that have seen US officials complain about Chinese industrial espionage and spying and harassment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities.
But the timing of a potential announcement could come at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric about the imposition of national security laws on Hong Kong in violation of the Sino-British accord.
The US hosted 133,396 graduate students from China in the 2018-19 academic year, and they made up 36.1 percent of all international graduate students, according to the Institute of International Education. Overall, there were 369,548 students from China, accounting for 33.7 percent of international students who contributed nearly $15 billion to the US economy in 2018.
The proposal first began to be discussed last year when the administration moved to require Chinese diplomats based in the United States to report their domestic US travel and meetings with American scientists and academics. At the time, US officials said it was a reciprocal measure to match restrictions that American diplomats face in China.
Those limits were followed by a requirement that Chinese state-run media in the US register as "foreign diplomatic missions" and report their property holdings and employee rosters to the government. That was, in turn, followed by the limiting of the number of visas for Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States.
China retaliated for the visa limitations by expelling several reporters from US media outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times.
After three days of continuous protest following the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis police officer seen on video kneeling on the handcuffed black man’s neck, was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, after the office gathered enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, reports AP.
Floyd died in custody after pleading that he could not breathe as the policeman knelt on his neck.
Freeman did not have immediate details, but said a criminal complaint would be made available later.
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said state investigators arrested Chauvin, who was one of four officers fired this week, but he did not provide details.
News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to this week's protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the protests and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.
"Minneapolis and St Paul are on fire. The fire is still smoldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," Walz said, adding. "Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world — and the world is watching."
The governor cited a call he received from a state senator who described her district "on fire, no police, no firefighters, no social control, constituents locked in houses wondering what they were going to do. That is an abject failure that cannot happen."
His comments came the morning after protesters torched a police station that officers abandoned during a third night of violence. Livestream video showed protesters entering the building, where intentionally set fires activated smoke alarms and sprinklers.
President Donald Trump threatened action, tweeting "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," which prompted a warning from Twitter for "glorifying violence."
The governor faced tough questions after National Guard leader Maj Gen Jon Jensen blamed a lack of clarity about the Guard's mission for a slow response. Walz said the state was in a supporting role and that it was up to city leaders to run the situation. Walz said it became apparent as the 3rd Precinct was lost that the state had to step in, which happened at 12:05am. Requests from the cities for resources "never came," he said.
"You will not see that tonight, there will be no lack of leadership," Walz said.
On Friday morning, nearly every building in the shopping district around the abandoned police station had been vandalised, burned or looted. National Guard members were in the area, with several of them lined up, keeping people away from the police station.
Dozens of volunteers swept up broken glass in the street, doing what they could to help.
Dozens of fires were also set in nearby St Paul, where nearly 200 businesses were damaged or looted. Protests spread across the US, fuelled by outrage over Floyd's death, and years of violence against African Americans at the hands of police. Demonstrators clashed with officers in New York and blocked traffic in Columbus, Ohio, and Denver.
Trump threatened to bring Minneapolis "under control," calling the protesters "thugs" and tweeting that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The tweet drew another warning from Twitter, which said the comment violated the platform's rules, but the company did not remove it.
Trump also blasted the "total lack of leadership" in Minneapolis.
A visibly tired and frustrated Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made his first public appearance of the night early Friday at City Hall and took responsibility for evacuating the precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers. As Frey continued, a reporter cut across loudly with a question: "What's the plan here?"
"With regard to?" Frey responded. Then he added: "There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that ... What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable."
He defended the city's lack of engagement with looters and said, "We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace." He said National Guard members were stationed in locations to help stem looting, including at banks, grocery stores and pharmacies.
The Minnesota State Patrol arrested a CNN television crew early Friday as the journalists reported on the unrest. While live on air, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was handcuffed and led away. A producer and a photojournalist for CNN were also taken away in handcuffs.
The Minnesota State Patrol said the journalists were among four people arrested as troopers were "clearing the streets and restoring order," and they were released after being confirmed to be media members. CNN said on Twitter that the arrests were "a clear violation of their First Amendment rights." Walz publicly apologised on Friday.
Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd's death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. In the footage, Floyd can be seen pleading as Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing members of Floyd's family, called for an independent investigation, and said he asked to take custody of Floyd's body to have an independent autopsy performed. Floyd said that talk of a heart condition or asthma are irrelevant because Floyd was walking and breathing before his contact with police.
The doctor who will do the autopsy is Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, who was hired to do an autopsy for Eric Garner as well.
State and federal authorities are investigating Floyd's death. Chauvin was fired Tuesday, along with three other officers involved in the arrest.