George Floyd death: US protests continue through another night of violence

Another night of violent riots has left businesses looted and cars smouldering across major US cities, with curfews failing to quell the nationwide outrage following the alleged murder of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer.

Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of alleged forgery in Minneapolis last Monday, was pinned face-down on the ground with former officer Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck. Footage of the incident captured Floyd gasping for air, pleading for Chauvin to release him. After roughly eight minutes, Floyd, 46, became still. He was officially declared dead a short time later.

The police department claimed that Floyd was "physically resisting officers", although surveillance footage from outside a nearby restaurant suggests otherwise. All four officers involved in Floyd's death have been fired, and on Friday, 44-year-old Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

The death has sparked a slew of rapidly escalating riots across the country, with many protesters committing acts of arson, looting and vandalism. Despite police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets, widely-circulated footage on social media depicts officers becoming increasingly violent, including a NYPD SUV appearing to deliberately ram demonstrators in Brooklyn on Saturday (local time). Although peaceful protests are also continuing alongside the riots, they have become largely overshadowed by the violence erupting across the country. 

On Sunday, a man aimed a bow and arrow at protesters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was attacked by the crowd. In Los Angeles, riots continue to escalate, with fires burning across the city. Footage on social media shows decimated police vehicles smouldering in the streets. In Raleigh, North Carolina, protesters sent a message by ripping apart a United States' flag.

A man protests in Minneapolis.
A man protests in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Getty

In New York City, police arrested roughly 350 people overnight with 30 officers suffering minor injuries. Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that police conduct is currently being investigated, including the incident in which the NYPD SUV lurched into Brooklyn demonstrators.

De Blasio said he had not yet seen the footage of an officer pulling down the mask of a black demonstrator, who had his hands in the air, and spraying a substance in his face.

The sight of protesters flooding America's streets is fuelling a sense of crisis in the country following weeks of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the unemployment of millions and has disproportionately affected minority communities. The closely-packed crowds and many unmasked demonstrators have sparked fears of a COVID-19 resurgence, the deadly disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has killed more than 100,000 people in the US.

Violent protesters set fire to and loot a business in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Violent protesters set fire to and loot a business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo credit: Reuters

Despite curfews in several major cities rocked by civil unrest, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon and Louisville, the violence continued to spread overnight. Protests have also flared in Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Cleveland.

It marked the fifth night of clashes in Minneapolis, Minnesota's largest city, and its adjacent capital St Paul.

The state's governor declared on Saturday (local time) that he was activating the full Minnesota National Guard for the first time since World War II.

In St Paul, roughly 170 stores have been looted while others have been burned to the ground, the city's mayor confirmed on Sunday.

"We are seeing in St. Paul, and obviously around the country, this level of rage and anger that frankly is legitimate, as we see this horrific video of George Floyd being just suffocated to death," Mayor Melvin Carter told CNN.

"Unfortunately, it's being expressed right now, over the past week, in ways that are destructive and unacceptable."

While covering the protests in Minneapolis, two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and injured on Saturday night.

The administration of President Donald Trump will not federalise and take control of the National Guard for now, national security adviser Robert O'Brien confirmed on Sunday.

'Kill Cops' graffiti on a business amid the riots.
'Kill Cops' graffiti on a business amid the riots. Photo credit: Getty

Meanwhile, Australians residing in the US have been warned by the Australian government to avoid large gatherings and follow the advice of local authorities amid the protests. 

"There are protests taking place in a number of US cities and some have announced curfews," the Australian government's Smart Traveller travel advice site warns.

"Some protests have turned violent.

"Avoid large gatherings.

"Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media."

The arrest of Chauvin, the former officer charged with Floyd's murder, has failed to satisfy protesters. In the aftermath it has also been revealed that Chauvin was the subject of numerous complaints prior to Floyd's death. Three officers who stood by as Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck have yet to be charged.

Newshub / Reuters.