Fiery nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd entered their sixth day on Sunday, with initially peaceful gatherings giving way to a terrifying confrontation between activists and a rogue truck driver in Minneapolis, a fire on the edge of the White House grounds in Washington, and spectacular scenes of looting in Manhattan.
A tanker truck barreled into a crowd on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, the city where Floyd cried “I can’t breathe” as he was held down by the neck just prior to his death in police custody.
Laura Eltawely told The Daily Beast she and her husband, Ahmad, along with their four small children, were trying to exit the bridge when police drove up an entrance ramp and inexplicably fired tear gas into the crowd fleeing the truck.
“They were openly gassing people that they knew were running away from the incident they were responding to,” Eltawely said Sunday.
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President Donald Trump has derided state governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on burning and stealing among some demonstrations in the aftermath of another night of violent protests in dozens of American cities.
Mr Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference that also included law enforcement and national security officials, telling the state leaders they “have to get much tougher.”
“Most of you are weak,” the president said. “You have to arrest people.”
It had only been two days since Lilliannia Ayers reopened her Queen Hippie Gypsy store in downtown Oakland, California, before her front window was smashed and her storefront was spray painted Friday.
On Saturday night, she and neighbors stayed up all night to protect their stores – hopeful the protest movements across the U.S. would not destroy her business so soon after it suffered a devastating hit from the pandemic shutdown.
“It goes beyond the window,” she said. “We’re losing sales every day. We’ve already been impacted by covid. We’ve lost so much more.”
Similar scenes of destruction have created chaos and concern along the path of the nation’s protests over the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. That’s pushed brick-and-mortar retail and restaurant industries, already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, to the center.
Retailers and other businesses in cities across the U.S., including the Bay Area, the District of Columbia, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, experienced broken windows, thefts and other violence over the weekend.