An angry nation prepares for a weekend of protests over George Floyd's death

Daily demonstrations against police attacks on black men show little sign of abating.
Image: Protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington
A demonstrator raises her fist as she takes part in a protest in Washington on June 5, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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By Corky Siemaszko

From New York City to Seattle, protesters and police prepared for more George Floyd demonstrations this weekend as the national anger over the death of the black man beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer showed little sign of abating.

Even the threat of perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic barely slowed the movement Friday as thousands of demonstrators continued to show up for protests, many of them wearing masks.

“I think we have a good plan in place,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday as she outlined orders to close roads this weekend in the Loop and other areas downtown.

A demonstrator stops to look at a group of law enforcement officers during a protest, in Washington on June 3, 2020.Carolyn Kaster / AP

In Washington, where the White House complex is encircled by a hastily erected fence to protect President Donald Trump, protesters planned for a large turnout Saturday.

Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said the department was preparing for a big number of “peaceful demonstrators coming to exercise their First Amendment rights."

“We have a lot of public, open-source information to suggest the event on this upcoming Saturday may be one of the largest that we’ve had in the city,” Newsham said this week.

On Friday, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser had “Black Lives Matter” painted on 16th Street near the White House in huge, yellow letters.

Trump, who was in Maine while the street was being painted, lashed out at Bowser via Twitter. This came four days after the U.S. Park Police and National Guard were ordered to forcibly oust peaceful protesters outside the White House to make way for a photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church, where Trump posed a Bible.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd died May 25, city leaders agreed Friday to ban the use of chokeholds by police. They also mandated that police report and intervene any time they witness an unauthorized use of force by another officer.

Former officer Derek Chauvin was fired for kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes in an incident captured on video. He now faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The three other officers who did not intervene were also fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder, according to criminal complaints filed by the state of Minnesota.

A man raises his fist as he marches in protest in Washington, on June 5, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

While the Minneapolis City Council was meeting, protesters marched in the street for an 11th straight day.

In New York City, the setting for some of the biggest Floyd protests, sometimes heavy rains appeared to put a damper on Friday’s demonstrations. But when the 8 p.m. curfew hit, police began rounding up marchers in Brooklyn who refused to disperse.

It appeared to be a repeat of Thursday when the mostly peaceful marches ended with outbreaks of violence in Manhattan and The Bronx as demonstrators defied a curfew and police responded with batons.

On Friday, the New York Police Department announced the suspensions of an officer who was seen on video pushing a woman to the ground at a Brooklyn demonstration and another officer who was caught on camera pulling down a protester's face mask and hitting him with pepper spray.

Up in Buffalo, New York, local officials were facing a weekend of likely protests without a riot response team after 57 members resigned from the unit to protest the suspension of two members who knocked down a 75-year-old man and left him bleeding on the pavement. The incident Thursday also was captured on video.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the state police would be brought in to fill the gap.

In Philadelphia, Inspector Joseph Bologna was facing an aggravated assault charge for allegedly hitting a student protester in the head with a metal baton Monday, leaving him with a wound that required stitches, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In Chicago, where there have been numerous complaints about police behavior during the protests, Lightfoot called for firing officers who are caught hiding their badge numbers or turning off their body cameras.

“We will not tolerate that kind of abusive, offensive conduct on the part of police officers, period,” the mayor said.

In Seattle, police Chief Carmen Best ordered officers to stop using tear gas on protesters for the next 30 days after more than 12,000 people complained about the tactics the department had been using.

Demonstrators gather near the White House during a protest in Washington on June 5, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

And in Miami, the local Black Lives Matter chapter was organizing a weekend of Floyd protests both downtown and in neighboring Broward County.

On Friday, police and protesters faced off when a group of demonstrators chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” briefly blocked Biscayne Boulevard and Interstate 95, the Miami Herald reported.

Largely peaceful protests were reported Friday in the Tampa Bay area a day after sporadic clashes between protesters and police erupted in the city of Tampa.