Curfews not enough to keep the peace with protests, arrests coast to coast

Officials in cities coast to coast had implemented curfews for Monday night, hopeful they would prevent another night of violent, chaotic demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.

But the citywide orders were not enough to keep the peace between protesters and police in some places.

In Washington, D.C., where Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a rare curfew after several nights of looting and vandalism, police fired tear gas outside the White House to move demonstrators away as President Donald Trump announced he would deploy U.S. military troops across the country if states could not contain the unrest on their own.

Photos and video appeared to show military helicopters flying below building height, kicking up debris and knocking branches off trees. The low-flying aircraft were reportedly used to disperse protesters.

Protesters are tear gassed as the police disperse them near the White House on June 1, 2020.Roberto Schmidt / AFP – Getty Images

In Philadelphia, a curfew that began at 6 p.m. did not stop a group of protesters from marching to City Hall, NBC Philadelphia reported. Hours earlier, a larger crowd elsewhere in the city shut down traffic, and police officers and state troopers used tear gas and pepper spray to scatter the demonstrators.

In Louisville, where the police chief was fired after a man was shot to death Sunday and officers didn’t activate their body cameras, curfew was extended until June 8. Video footage from Monday showed a handful of protesters with their hands up and dozens of officers with batons, helmets and body armor on the other side of an intersection after the 9:30 p.m. curfew.

Protesters gather in Philadelphia, on June 1, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP

In Buffalo, an SUV mowed down authorities in tactical gear with K9s and batons after they charged what appeared to be a handful of protesters, video footage showed and officials said.

In an interview with NBC affiliate WGRZ, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the incident was under investigation but added that it occurred after an earlier demonstration ended and some of the protesters refused to leave.

“We cannot have people protesting in the city of Buffalo after dark,” he said. “That is not safe for the protesters and that is not safe for the surrounding community.”

Brown said it appeared that two people who were struck by gunfire earlier may have been in the SUV. He didn’t say if the SUV was driven by a protester or if a suspect was in custody.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s most populous city, New York City, more than 200 people who authorities said were setting small fires and breaking store windows in Manhattan and the Bronx were arrested, a New York Police Department spokesperson said.

“There are packs of youths running as fast as they can, smashing windows as fast as they can and police are trying to catch them as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said.

The arrests came after an 11 p.m. curfew began on Monday night at 11 p.m. That measure followed four days of raucous protests against police brutality that saw the arrests of hundreds of people, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter, and the burning of New York Police Department cruisers.

“The men and women of this Police Department will be consistent, they will be out there again ensuring the rights of people to peacefully assemble,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Monday ahead of anticipated protests. “We ask all New Yorkers to participate and do it safely.”

Looting and small fires were reported in Manhattan’s Union Square and beyond. Hours before Monday’s curfew began, de Blasio announced that another curfew would begin even earlier Tuesday evening, at 8 p.m., when it is still light out — although he said it was to control just a small percentage of demonstrators who had gotten out of hand.

“Overwhelmingly, the city right now has been peaceful,” de Blasio told local news station NY1.

The curfews, which have been imposed from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, come in response to the in-custody death of Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, on Memorial Day.

Floyd, 46, was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, crushed him to the ground with a knee to Floyd’s neck. The death ignited widespread protests against racism and mistreatment by police after Floyd’s final helpless moments were caught on video.

The uprisings come at a time when public safety resources are already stretched as cities fight the coronavirus pandemic, with many still attempting to enforce stay-at-home orders.

In Minneapolis, where police had clashed with demonstrators and journalists covering the riots in dramatic fashion over the last several days, a calm appeared to set in across the city on Monday evening, with hundreds of people gathered at a memorial for Floyd at the site where he was killed. A citywide curfew was set to start at 10 p.m. local time.

Across the country in Sacramento, California, about 130 businesses had their windows and doors damaged and 300 buildings had graffiti on them as of Monday morning, according to the Sacramento Bee.

City officials, anticipating more problems Monday evening, imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time and said the city was deploying 500 members of National Guard Monday night to protect critical infrastructure.

The growing number of curfews came as Minnesota authorities announced Monday afternoon that Floyd’s death was officially ruled a homicide by a medical examiner.

Ali Gostanian contributed.

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