By Kevin Deutsch and Sasha Gonzales
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Widespread civil unrest rocked America this week in response to the killing of George Floyd—a Minnesota man killed by a policeman who kneeled on his head and neck for nearly nine minutes.
Viral smartphone video of the homicide, shown on national newscasts and seen by tens of millions on social media, spurred demonstrations that turned violent in Minneapolis before spreading to multiple cities including New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Oakland, Detroit, and Denver.
Demonstrations have been held in at least 30 U.S. cities as of Sunday.
Police and guardsmen clashed with protestors in numerous communities, firing tear gas and bean bags to disperse crowds. In New York City, police officers were seen on video beating demonstrators with batons and throwing others to the ground.
Some protestors hurled projectiles at NYPD cops and damaged police vehicles, setting an NYPD van ablaze in Brooklyn.
Amid mass arrests, police attempted to commandeer an MTA bus to take arrested protestors to jail, spurring the city’s bus drivers’ union to speak out against the policy—and refuse to participate in prisoner transport.
The scenes of violent unrest in some ways mirrored the demonstrations that swept across America in 1968 following the assassination of civil rights legend Rev. Martin Luther King., Jr.
Hundreds of businesses sustained damage across the U.S during this week’s protests, with both big box stores and neighborhood shops looted amid the unrest. Other protests remained peaceful.
The fiery scenes evoked memories of other instances of civil disorder in the U.S, including the 2015 Baltimore riots that followed the police killing of teenager Freddie Gray; the violent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri that followed the police killing of teenager Michael Brown; and the 1991 police beating of Rodney King, which preceded the 1992 L.A. riots
Both Gray and Brown, like George Lloyd, were unarmed when their fatal injuries were inflicted.
The kneeling officer in the Lloyd case, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Floyd could be heard telling police “I can’t breathe” shortly before he lost consciousness.
More protests are expected across America Saturday.