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May 31 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests

George Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country.
Protesters form a human chain near the 5th Police Precinct during a demonstration in Minneapolis on May 30, 2020.Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images

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.

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

Trump was rushed to White House bunker during Friday night D.C. protests

Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to the underground bunker at the White House Friday night, as protests outside the building intensified, NBC News has confirmed.

A senior administration official told NBC News Sunday that Trump was in the bunker for a “very short period” out of an abundance of caution. Trump was back in his residence within an hour, the official said.

The underground location was the same bunker that was used for former Vice President Dick Cheney during September 11, 2001, attacks.

The news was first reported by The New York Times. 

Peace versus chaos on the streets: Protesters work to push their message through

Many protesters and those leading the marches this past week said that a nonviolent message was key to effectively share their disdain. Yet there is a growing feeling, fed in part by local, state and federal leaders, that there are outside groups attempting to undermine that message or take advantage of it for their own chaotic means.

This is a growing frustration for some demonstrators who feel their message is being hijacked and used as cover for more nefarious acts.

“People are aware of the fact that there are two different groups out there,” said Jay Maki, 39, a photographer in Minneapolis who went to the protests in his city this week. “And when there is one person in the crowd behind you who throws a bottle at the police, there’s a sense he’s using the other peaceful protesters as a human shield.”

Read the full story here.

Clouds of tear gas drift over protesters in Atlanta

Message from Minneapolis protester: 'Silence can be powerful.'

MINNEAPOLIS — As protesters returned to the streets of Minneapolis Sunday over the killing of George Floyd, one of them offered a message that was in contrast to the sometimes violent confrontation that has rocked cities across the United States. 

“This is a peaceful protest," said Jasmine Howell 27. "Silence can be powerful. That’s the message we’re trying to portray as far as unity, power and organization.”

Howell said the group marched through the government center and downtown with a goal of reaching the 35W Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River. 

Howell said she will not break a curfew that Mayor Jacob Frey imposed Saturday, but she prayed for everybody who does. Howell said she is marching because she believes that all four officers who were fired over the killing of George Floyd should be charged with his murder. Only Derek Chauvin, who was seen in a widely-viewed video with his knee in Floyd's neck, has been arrested.

"We need this all done and we’re going to keep protesting until there’s actually justice served," she said. "That’s the biggest message that everybody in this city is trying to prove.” 

Minnesota AG to join prosecution

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will join the prosecution against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Sunday.

“There have been recent developments in the facts of the case where the help and expertise of the Attorney General would be valuable,” Freeman said.

Chauvin was arrested Friday and faces charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. 

Aggressive policing tactics called into question as national protests flare

Alongside the peaceful protests and images of destruction in the wake of the death of George Floyd, there have also been disturbing videos, photos and reports of police officers appearing to use excessive force and violence against demonstrators.

The incidents have raised questions about whether some officers are responding with an inappropriate use of force, forgoing training tactics and becoming overly hostile.

An arrest in Atlanta of two college students Saturday night, as a citywide curfew was going into effect, was so excessive, police officials said Sunday, that two officers involved were fired and three others were placed on desk duty.

video of the incident showed one of the students getting dragged from the car, while the driver, who remained behind the wheel, was tased and then pulled out of the vehicle. It's unclear what preceded the incident, but Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields told reporters that "how we behaved is unacceptable," reported NBC affiliate WXIA.

Read the full story here.

Senator says he will try to end transfer of military weapons to police

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, tweeted Sunday that he wants to stop the transfer of military equipment to police departments. 

Police watchdogs have warned for the years about the militarization of police departments. Former President Barack Obama attempted to reform the military-to-police pipeline of equipment. 

President Donald Trump reversed those efforts in 2017. That included the transfer of heavily armored vehicles.

"I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments," Schatz tweeted.

NYPD top terrorism cop says anarchist groups worked to orchestrate damage, violence

On Sunday night, New York's top terrorism cop, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, detailed his office's analysis and investigation into why the New York City protests have become so violent and damaging at times.

"No. 1, before the protests began," Miller said, "organizers of certain anarchist groups set out to raise bail money and people who would be responsible to be raising bail money, they set out to recruit medics and medical teams with gear to deploy in anticipation of violent interactions with police."

Miller said that a review of 686 arrests since Thursday found that one of out of seven were from outside New York City, including Iowa, Nevada, Texas and a number of other states.

Read the full story here.

Large truck drives through crowd of protesters on Minneapolis bridge

A large truck was seen driving into a crowd of protesters on a bridge in Minneapolis at full speed, sending people running for safety, during protests on Sunday.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety called it "very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators."

The truck driver was injured and is under arrest, the department said. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck, according to the department.

The truck was swarmed and video from the scene showed someone on the hood as it moved.

Read the full story here.

Crowds in Washington, D.C., chant 'No justice, no peace'

Biden visits protest site, tours damage in Delaware

Former Vice President Joe Biden visited the site of George Floyd protests in Delaware on Sunday — just the second time he's been seen in public in more than two months.

The apparent Democratic presidential nominee toured stores that had been damaged in the protests with Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and posted video on Instagram posing for pictures with passersby. He also tweeted a picture of himself kneeling and speaking with a young African-American man. They were both wearing face coverings. 

“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us,” the former vice president wrote in a post on Medium.

Biden also released a statement just after midnight Sunday morning, calling the protests “right and necessary” while urging peaceful demonstrations over violence.

The unannounced visit was the second time Biden has been seen publicly in the past week. He visited a local war memorial in New Castle, Del., on Memorial Day.