Fires burn near White House in violent U.S. protests

Protesters rally at the White House against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 31, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Fires burned near the White House, stores were looted in New York City and Southern California, and a tanker truck drove into marchers in Minneapolis as the United States struggled to contain chaotic protests over race and policing.

National Guard troops were deployed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. in an attempt to quell the sixth night of violence on Sunday. The unrest began with peaceful protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody.

“I hate to see my city like this but at the end we need justice,” said 18-year-old Jahvon Craven as he stood on an overpass watching protesters below on Interstate 35 in downtown Minneapolis moments before an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect.

Video footage showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, 46, for nearly nine minutes before he died on May 25.

His death caused outrage across a nation that is politically and racially divided during a polarizing presidential campaign, reigniting protests that have flared repeatedly in recent years over police killings of black Americans.

Authorities imposed curfews on dozens of cities across the United States, the most since the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968 — also during an election campaign and in the upheaval of anti-war demonstrations.

President Donald Trump has condemned the killing of Floyd and promised justice, but has also described the current protesters as “thugs”.

“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,” Trump, a Republican, said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon. “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW.”

In Louisville, Kentucky, WLKY-TV, a local CBS affiliate, reported that a man was shot and killed by police early on Monday. It was unclear if he was protesting. Police said they had been fired on before the shooting, WLKY reported.