MINNEAPOLIS – Violent protests erupted across the United States late Friday over the death of a handcuffed black man in police custody, with murder charges laid against the arresting Minneapolis officer failing to quell boiling anger.
Demonstrators clashed with police for a fourth straight night in Minneapolis, but riots also raged from New York to Los Angeles in one of the worst nights of national civil unrest in years.
In Atlanta police cruisers were attacked and set ablaze as rallies spun out of control, while in the capital Washington protesters collided with Secret Service agents in heated midnight scenes in front of the White House.
In Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, the white officer filmed kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed and unarmed George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, was charged with one count of third-degree murder – unintentionally causing a death – and one count of negligent manslaughter.
“This case is now ready, and we have charged it,” said county prosecutor Mike Freeman amid outrage over the latest death of an African American in police custody.
But the charges failed to calm a shaken nation whose deep wounds over racial inequality have been torn open anew, and as the deadly coronavirus pandemic sets Americans further on edge.
Authorities imposed a curfew Friday in Minneapolis after three nights of violent protests left parts of the city in flames.
But protesters, many wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, defiantly remained on the streets, in cat-and-mouse face-offs with police who fired tear gas and flashbangs in efforts to regain control.
Protester Naeema Jakes said she needed to be on the streets so she could verbally confront officers.
“I need you to look in my eyes and feel me,” Jakes said. “This is pain, this is hurt.”
The 46-year-old Floyd’s relatives – who spoke Friday with President Donald Trump –welcomed news of the arrest as a “step on the road to justice.”
But they said they hoped for tougher charges and action against the other officers involved in Floyd’s detention and death.
Freeman said the three officers were also under investigation, and that he anticipated charges would be laid.
All four were fired from the police department Tuesday after video surfaced of Monday’s arre