What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Death of George Floyd drives protests across the U.S. — and beyond

Cities across the U.S. are bracing for unrest as protests continue. Outrage over police killings of black victims, most recently that of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, has fueled demonstrations, and in some cases, destruction. In response, President Trump called for stricter policing, telling governors they must “dominate” protesters. Yamiche Alcindor reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Dozens, maybe scores of American cities are bracing for new protests and potentially new violence tonight, pushing the pandemic out of the headlines.

    Outrage over police killings of black people has fueled unrest from coast to coast.

    As evening begins here in Washington, police are firing tear gas, deploying flashbangs to disperse peaceful protests near the White House. Additional National Guard troops have been called in.

    President Trump spoke defiantly in the Rose Garden just moments ago:

  • President Donald Trump:

    Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.

    Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.

    I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump just moments ago.

    Our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, lays out how the day unfolded.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Historic protests, a nation reeling, and an uncertain future ahead. Today, Americans across the country woke up to burned buildings, shattered storefronts, and walls littered with graffiti.

  • Protesters:

    Say his name!

  • Protesters:

    George Floyd!

  • Protesters:

    Say his name!

  • Protesters:

    George Floyd!

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This is the aftermath of a weekend filled with some of the largest demonstrations seen in a generation.

    They erupted over the police killing of George Floyd. He was a black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. In more than 140 cities, across all 50 states, tens of thousands took to the streets.

    Demonstrators from Boston to Los Angeles rallied against the disproportionate police killings of black people. The protests were largely peaceful. But with nightfall in some places, the tone changed, and cities burned.

    Conflicts amongst the crowds surfaced. Footage on social media showed the moment demonstrators in Washington tackled a white man to the ground as he attempted to provoke police. In New York City, demonstrators came head to head with police. And looting disrupted parts of 5th Avenue.

    There was similar trouble in Washington, Philadelphia and elsewhere. A number of cities imposed curfews. Nationwide, at least 23 states and the District of Columbia called out more than 17,000 National Guardsmen. But, in Minneapolis today, George Floyd's brother Terrence spoke to crowds, appealing for calm.

  • Terrence Floyd:

    If I'm not over here wilding out, if I'm not over here blowing up stuff, if I'm not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing? What are you all doing?

    You're all doing nothing, because that is not going to bring my brother back at all.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In some cities, police expressed solidarity with the peaceful demonstrators, when protesters in Washington struggled to wash tear gas from their eyes.

    In New York City, some police cruisers drove into crowds. And in Atlanta, two police officers were fired after dragging black college students out of their cars and Tasing them.

    Through a historically tumultuous weekend, President Trump spoke only through Twitter. There, he blamed anti-fascist organizations, or Antifa, for the violence. On a phone call with governors today, the president called for harsher crackdowns.

  • President Donald Trump:

    You have to dominate. If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you. You're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate, and you have to arrest people, and you have to try people, and they have to go to jail for long periods of time.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This afternoon, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany weighed in.

  • Secretary Kayleigh McEnany:

    The president has made clear that what we are seeing on America's streets is unacceptable. Violence, looting, anarchy, lawlessness are not to be tolerated, plain and simple.

    These criminal acts are not protests. They are not statements. These are crimes that harm innocent American citizens.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Outside the White House this weekend, the "NewsHour" spoke to demonstrators like Jaden Olley, who says lives like his are on the line.

    What do you want them to understand about your life as a black man?

  • Jaden Olley:

    I just — I'm as equal as anybody else. You know what I'm saying? I'm as comparable, as valuable as anybody else in the world, just because I'm a human being, just like anybody else is.

    So, I just — I just want justice for everybody, not just justice for people that people feel justice should be for.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    When you see the video of George Floyd, do you think, that could be me?

  • Jaden Olley:

    Always. I was 8 years old and my mind when Trayvon Martin — when the Trayvon Martin case happened. And ever since then, I understood that it could be me.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Demonstrator Taylor Jones says that's a painful reality for her, too.

  • Taylor Jonesr:

    My plans were to actually be a police officer, but then I realized that that one good apple in a bad batch really doesn't make a difference, because once you sign your life over to that badge, you have to be loyal to who you work for.

    And that just wasn't me. I should not have to fear leaving my house and not being able to breathe, or my mom calling me crying because I'm protesting for my rights, because she is scared I won't come back home.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This weekend, criticism of police violence in America echoed around the world.

    In Auckland, New Zealand streets filled with protesters chanting in support of Black Lives Matter. And, in London, demonstrations there became violent as clashes erupted with police.

    Back in this country, protesters gathered again this afternoon in New York, where an overnight curfew was imposed and in other cities. And in Minneapolis, civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced that a private autopsy on Floyd showed that he died of asphyxiation. He and expert hired by the family pushed back on a county autopsy that said underlying health conditions and possible intoxicates contributed to Floyd's death.

    Instead, they said, sustained pressure on fluids neck and back by all four responding officers are what killed him.

  • Benjamin Crump:

    The scar tissue of George Floyd's death will be permanent scar tissue on the subconscious of America.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And the Minneapolis police chief said the three officers who watched Floyd's killing were — quote — "complicit." But they have not been arrested or charged in his death.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Later, the medical examiner in Minneapolis officially ruled George Floyd's death a homicide.

    Also today, the police chief of Louisville, Kentucky, was fired, a month before he retires, after officers who reported to him killed a black man early today and failed to record body cam footage. A black woman was killed by Louisville police in March in an incident that is still under investigation.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest