May 31 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 1 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

Protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last week continued to intensify across the U.S. Sunday, as protesters broke local curfews to voice frustration over policing in America.

In Minneapolis, a semi-truck was seen barreling toward a massive group of demonstrators on an interstate, though no protesters appear to have been injured in the incident.

Some elected leaders have blamed the violence that has broken out at some protests on organized extremists, though so far they have offered little evidence to support their claims.

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he would designate the radical lefitst group antifa a terrorist organization after earlier attributing the violence to “thugs” who he said were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd." The comment drew criticism from Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Democratic mayor of Atlanta, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C, the Senate’s lone black Republican.

Download the NBC News app for the latest updates.

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading June 1 coverage of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests.

YouTuber Jake Paul says he wasn't looting after viral video shows him at vandalized Arizona mall

Jake Paul attends an event in Los Angeles on May 8, 2019.Rich Fury / Getty Images file

YouTuber Jake Paul released a statement on Sunday after footage of him at a looted Arizona mall surfaced amid claims he and his friends were among those doing the looting.

"To be absolutely clear, neither I nor anyone in our group was engaged in any looting or vandalism," Paul said in a statement.

Paul said he and his friends spent the day joining in peaceful protests of "one of the most horrific injustices our country has ever seen," according to the statement.

Read the full story here. 

Photos: See the fire and fury in protests across America

Fury sparked by George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody spawned massive protests and chaos across the country over the weekend.

See the full photo gallery here.

A protester stands on top of a damaged police car in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles on May 30, 2020.Brock Stoneham / NBC News

Opinion: George Floyd couldn't breathe. We protest because now all of Black America can't either.

George Floyd should have been alive today. George Floyd would have been alive today if his humanity was recognized, valued and respected. George Floyd should have been protected by those who swore an oath to uphold the law and help the communities they serve. George Floyd is no longer with us because even in the middle of a global pandemic, police brutality has not ceased, writes Rev. Al Sharpton for NBC News THINK.

COVID-19 is ravaging us, making it difficult to breathe, and yet systemic racism has been tightening its grip on our throats for years, Sharpton writes. Racism is trauma, passed from generation to generation. Enough is enough.

Read Sharpton's full opinion piece here.

Trump says he will designate Antifa a terrorist organization as GOP points fingers at extremists

President Donald Trump tweeted that he was designating Antifa as a terrorist organization.

That followed Trump and Attorney General William Barr earlier pointing to anti-fascist organizers and anarchists as culprits behind the violent protests following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Others said right-wing extremists such as Boogaloo followers, who hope to bring about a second Civil War, were pushing for such uprising in the protests.

Read the full story here.

Illinois activates National Guard after protests leave six shot, one dead

The Illinois National Guard has been activated to “support” Chicago amid continued protests that led to 240 arrests, six people shot and one death, the Illinois governor and Chicago mayor announced on Sunday.

“At the request of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, I am activating the Illinois National Guard to support the City of Chicago in protecting our communities and keeping people safe,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. 

The news come after the mayor put Chicago under a curfew on Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. “until further notice."

Lightfoot said on Twitter she requested “a small contingent of the National Guard to maintain a limited presence and support our police.”

Minnesota governor praises peaceful protesters, more than 50 arrests in Minneapolis area

Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday morning commended peaceful protesters in Minnesota as a celebration of diversity, even as the state reconciles with the destruction that occurred overnight with more than 50 arrested by the early hours of the morning.   

"The beautiful expression of solidarity and community that we saw played out by peaceful protesters, by that beautiful tapestry that is Minnesota," Walz said. "Indigenous dancers leading in the middle while the crowed kneeled around in reverence in making sure that justice was served." 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Sunday noted that the violent incidents Saturday happened alongside joyous protests of people "rallying around a common cause, which is each other," and communities coming out together to clear the debris in the morning. 

"Even though the whole world has seen us at out worst, we can still be at our best," Frey said.

About 25 people were arrested in Hennepin County and another 30 in Ramsey County by 2 a.m., Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Sunday. More arrests were made between then and about 6 a.m., but Harrington did not have an exact count. 

 

Photo: Chicago River bridges remain upright after night of unrest

Several street bridges over the Chicago River remain closed on Sunday after a night of protests.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces probe after video shows NYPD SUVs driving into protest crowd

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced an investigation into a video appearing to show a New York Police Department cruiser driving into a crowd of protesters. The announcement came a day after De Blasio defended the alleged police action caught on camera. 

"I didn't like what I saw one bit. I did not want to ever see something like that, I don't want to ever see it again," de Blasio said. "And clearly, we need to do a full investigation and look at the actions of those officers and see what was done and why it was done and what could be done differently."

The mayor announced the launch of an independent review into the video led by Corporation Counsel James Johnson and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett. The results are expected to come in during the month of June, he said.

Still, de Blasio chastised protesters, calling their tactic of surrounding police vehicles dangerous. 

Read the full story here. 

Protests and National Guard response draw comparisons to unrest in 1968

As of Saturday at least 10 states had called up the National Guard to enforce curfews in cities around the country. The decision mirrors that of state leaders in 1968 when multiple cities erupted in civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis. 

National Guard troops were also called into action in California in 1992, after a jury’s decision to acquit the police officers caught on tape beating black motorist Rodney King.

While the Watts Riot in 1965 was sparked by police action, it’s the multi-city uprisings that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 that represent the most direct comparison, said Gerald Horne, author of the book, “Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising."

But even then, people were relatively optimistic, or had reason to be, about the federal government, he said. This time, some of those who have taken to the streets have focused their ire on the buildings and institutions that represent power, Horne said. That includes police stations in Minneapolis, a state house in Ohio, several Trump hotel properties and, last night, the White House. 

"That is quite remarkable,” said Horne, who is also a professor of African American studies at the University of Houston. “That makes me worry about what is going to happen tonight. These are direct challenges to the power of the state, a state that has operated in grossly unjust ways but a challenge."