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30 May, 2020 15:51

'Nothing else we can do to let our voices be heard': Protesters say violent riots the only way to get George Floyd justice

'Nothing else we can do to let our voices be heard': Protesters say violent riots the only way to get George Floyd justice

The wave of protests and violence triggered by the killing of George Floyd has touched every corner of the US. Ruptly’s camera crews were on the ground and spoke to some of the demonstrators.

The death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who was pinned to the ground and choked out by a police officer, resonated with many protesters, even outside Minneapolis where the tragedy happened. 

"I got little brothers, I got nieces, nephews,” a protester named Briana Jenkins told Ruptly in Brooklyn, New York. “I'm scared for them to go out in the public and not be with one of us, you feel me. You don't even want your child going to the store real quick because you don't know what could happen." 

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Jenkins was one of several hundred protesters who gathered in Brooklyn to show their anger. Though the demonstration there began peacefully, police officers eventually pepper-sprayed and tackled unruly protesters who broke through the barricades. Several people were arrested in the clashes.

"They murdered that man and they need to be prosecuted and go to jail,” one woman in Dallas, Texas, told Ruptly. “If I kill somebody, I am going to jail; there is not going to be a trial first. They aren’t going to do 'innocent until proven guilty,' they are going to do 'guilty until proven innocent.’”

“I guarantee there’s not going to be a row of cops to watch my home while they figure out if I did it or not,” she added, referring to the lines of riot police deployed outside Chauvin’s home between Floyd’s death and the officer’s arrest on Friday.

In Minneapolis, the epicenter of the rage, protest marches have degenerated into full-blown riots. Police stations have been burned to the ground, and the rioters ignored a National Guard-enforced curfew on Friday night to continue the pillaging of the Minnesota city. 

"It's obvious that the Minnesota or Minneapolis Police Department only cares about persecuting black people,” one protester said, as fires burned in the background. “There's a warrior culture in the MPD that is f**king disgraceful. It's ridiculous.” 

As arson spread, some members of the public armed themselves. One man, toting a shotgun in front of a blazing building, told Ruptly: “You gotta stay safe. You gotta go what you gotta do.”

“I don’t want s**t like this to happen,” he said, adding that he was en route to protect some small businesses from rioters. “People have burned s**t down like this, they are not doing that to stop cops from doing the s**t. They are doing it because cops won't show up to events like this after there's this many people.”

Among the thousands of protesters who clogged the city’s highways on Friday night were some determined to continue the crime wave. One man told Ruptly that the enraged masses will “burn all this s**t down,” while another defended the destruction of the city.

“If it takes looting just for your morals, your ethics, your values to be pushed to the side, you never were with us,” the masked man said.

Many feel they don’t have a choice. In Los Angeles, as crowds of demonstrators took to the streets and squared off with armored riot police, one protester said "there's really nothing else we can do at the moment but let our voices be heard.”

“Although I'm a staunch anti-gun advocate, what else do you do if you're being killed by the police?" he added.

Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Portland and several other cities all saw similar outpourings of anger overnight. While Floyd’s death has been universally condemned, the breakdown of law and order has put pressure on the government to respond. The Pentagon is reportedly drafting plans to deploy military police to Minneapolis, after the National Guard was unable to contain the rioting on Friday night. National guardsmen have also been deployed in Georgia “to protect people and property in Atlanta.”

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“We can't allow [protests in Minneapolis] to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos,” President Donald Trump said on Friday, adding that he’s spoken to Floyd’s “terrific” family. 

Derek Chauvin, the police officer seen on video choking Floyd, has been arrested and charged with murder. Amid the national unrest, Trump has asked the Justice Department to expedite his prosecution. 

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