‘Black history is this country’s history’: George Floyd protests intensify across US, from Atlanta to Indianapolis to Milwaukee

Black Lives Matter

Outrage over the death of George Floyd sparked protests in cities across the nation on Friday night, hours after a former Minneapolis police officer was arrested and charged with his murder.

Activists say it’s just another example of systematic racism in law enforcement, the latest in a series of high-profile black deaths that have exacerbated and inflamed racial tensions nationwide. 

Former officer Derek Chauvin is facing third-degree murder and manslaughter charges after a bystander’s video circulated of him holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes before Floyd died. But many protesters believe Chauvin’s should face more severe charges and other officers connected to the Floyd’s death should also be charged.

‘What’s it going to take to get people to listen?’:George Floyd protests in Minneapolis continue into fourth night despite curfew

Demonstrators in many cities also gathered to protest local deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

In Indianapolis, they held a sign that read “Justice for Dreasjon Reed” — Reed died after a police pursuit that was broadcast on Facebook Live. In Milwaukee, they invoked the name of Joel Acevedo, who died after an altercation with a police officer in April.

In Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday night, gunfire erupted as hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who in March was shot and killed in her apartment by police.

As protests continue into their fourth night in Minneapolis, here’s what’s happening in cities around the nation:

Atlanta: Protesters clash with police, vandalize CNN headquarters

Protesters set a police car on fire, struck officers with bottles, vandalized the headquarters of CNN, and broke into a restaurant in downtown Atlanta as a demonstration that began peacefully became chaotic.

Protesters used barricades to break police vehicle windshields and jumped from car to car. Hundreds of the protesters confronted police outside CNN headquarters. They spray-painted the large, iconic CNN logo outside the building, breaking a windowed entrance. One protester climbed on top of the sign and waved a “Black Lives Matter” flag to cheers from the crowd.

Protesters were also walking on the interstate in downtown Atlanta and appeared to be trying to block traffic. The Georgia State Patrol was on the scene as of 9:30 p.m.

Earlier, as the protest appeared more calm, Kaity Brackett, 27, said she came out to the protest because she thinks the entire criminal justice system needs to be overhauled, starting with policing. She said the Ahmaud Arbery killing was a catalyst for her and referred to his death as a lynching. Arbery was killed on Feb. 23 by a former district attorney investigator and his son, who were not arrested until after video emerged months later.

A protester smashes a window at the CNN center Friday May 29, 2020 in Atlanta. They carried signs and chanted their messages of outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Des Moines, Iowa: Protest grows violent, bricks thrown at police cars 

A protest Friday night outside Des Moines police spread through downtown and turned violent.

Just before 8 p.m., protesters appeared to throw bricks at police cars, prompting officers in riot gear to push against protesters. The scene escalated, with at least one officer spraying chemical irritants on the crowd, including a Des Moines Register photographer.

Indianapolis: Black Lives Matter streams protest on Facebook Live

Dozens gathered in downtown Indianapolis to protest a fatal shooting earlier this month by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer.

Around 7:30 p.m., the protest started to feel more tense, with the number of protesters growing to more than 50. They began engaging verbally with a vastly beefed up law enforcement presence, as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department flooded the scene with officers and squad cars.

George Floyd protests:How did we get here?

A local Black Lives Matter group broadcast the demonstration on Facebook Live, and called on “white allies” to move to the front to form a human barrier between black protesters and the assembled police officers.

Protesters linked arms and shouted “No justice! No peace!”

Knoxville, Tennessee: Protesters rally, chant outside police headquarters

Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully in front of police headquarters Friday evening in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hosted by Black Lives Matter Knoxville, the protest took place in the parking lot of the police building.

Davis Hayes, who ran for Knoxville City Council last year, led the crowd in a chant: “We have nothing to lose for our chains.”

Alison Rose, who works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was the first white speaker at the protest, and she spoke directly to other white people.

“White people, get it together. Do the work. Educate yourselves,” she said into a microphone. “Get yourself so deep in history that you will find out the truth: Black history is this country’s history.”

Louisville, Kentucky: Demonstrators gather again after Thursday violence

After violent protests erupted Thursday, groups of protesters continued to gather Friday night demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, an African American woman killed in her apartment by police officers in March.

Around 9:30 p.m. reports of loud bangs came followed by tear gas. Earlier, protesters pulled down the American and Kentucky flags in front of the Hall of Justice and set them ablaze. Moments later, some protesters threw objects at the building’s glass doors, more items were lit on fire and there was three loud bangs went off. 

A group of more than 1,000 people were estimated to be gathering around the Hall of Justice.

Earlier in the day, the group which was more than 500 gathered at Jefferson Street with two helicopters circling overhead, including a LMPD chopper. The groups had speakers talking from the steps of Metro Hall. The crowd has continued to grow as the evening demonstrations carried on. 

Memphis, Tennessee: About 300 protesters gather for third straight day

For the third straight day, protesters took to the streets of Memphis to speak out against police brutality and the recent deaths of three African Americans at the hands of police.

The first demonstrates arrived just before 6:30 p.m. Within an hour, the crowd had grown to about 300, the largest of the of the protests so far.

That was despite a series of road closures set up by the Memphis Police Department at every entrance into the area. Wednesday’s gathering had a decidedly different energy than the previous days.

While Wednesday, the overarching emotion seems to be anger, Friday night’s protest seemed to be about unity and healing.

Milwaukee: Growing crowd chants for justice in local case

A little more than a month after 25-year-old Joel Acevedo died after an altercation with a Milwaukee Police officer, his family made a public declaration Friday to bring his accused killer to justice.

And the family did it at the scene of the alleged crime, the home of the man charged in the case.

“We cannot stay quiet anymore,” said Jose Acevedo, Joel’s father. “This is not about violence. This is about what is right.”

Multiple protests are planned over the weekend. On Friday night, a growing crowd chanted: “What do we want? Justice! …. When do we want it? Now!”

They invoked the names of George Floyd as well as Joel Acevedo, Sylville Smith and Dontre Hamilton.   

Washington, D.C.: Pennsylvania Avenue protesters force White House lockdown

Angry protesters arrived at Pennsylvania Avenue, leading to a lockdown at the White House Friday night, spokesman Judd Deere confirmed to USA TODAY.

Outside the White House on Friday, Secret Service could be seen after 7 p.m. taking at least one person into custody. Videos showed a large group of protesters gathering, with some burning flags and knocking over barricades. The protesters have moved from the White House to another part of the city.

Multiple reporters posted that they were inside the White House and that the Secret Service was not letting them leave the grounds during the lockdown.

The Secret Service frequently locks down the White House for perceived security threats, such as packages or bags left nearby. But the building is rarely locked down for protests. And while protests are a daily occurrence outside the White House, they are often small — drawing a few dozen people, at most.

Uniformed U.S. Secret Service police detain a protester in Lafayette Park across from the White House as demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ORG XMIT: DCEV337

Contributing: Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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