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In cities across the United States, protesters angered over the killing of George Floyd faced off against heavily-armed officers, with some smashing police cars, ransacking businesses and setting fires that smoldered through the night.
Fears of another cycle of violence were palpable on Saturday as cities from Atlanta to Minneapolis grappled with the scope of the damage, and pleas for calm from elected officials and others seemed to do little to dampen the anger.
In Minnesota, where Floyd died Monday after a police officer pressed down on his neck for more than eight minutes, Gov. Tim Walz activated more than a thousand national guardsmen early Saturday, promising a massive show of force to protect the city.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also declared an emergency and ordered a nighttime curfew for the city. And in Washington, D.C., the guard was on standby as a crowd gathered outside the White House and chanted curses at President Donald Trump.
In all, more than two dozen cities experienced racially diverse protests, many peaceful but some of violent.
Many of those out on the streets 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, who was shot after being pursued by two white men while running in their neighborhood, and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown millions out of work, killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. and disproportionately affected black people.
Trump was again under criticism for stoking the racial discord with a series of tweets Saturday belittling the protesters outside, claiming many of the Secret Service agents were “just waiting for action” and ready to unleash “the most vicious dogs, and the most ominous weapons, I have ever seen” if protesters try to breech the White House’s security fence.