Tension escalates into violence in fiery Atlanta rally, around nation

The White House was placed on lockdown as demonstrators chanted at a nearby park.

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By Dennis Romero

For a fourth day, Americans took to the streets to decry the death of George Floyd, whose demise in the custody of Minneapolis police Monday was captured on video.

Protesters set a police car on fire, struck officers with bottles, vandalized the headquarters of CNN, and broke into a restaurant in downtown Atlanta as a demonstration that started peacefully quickly changed tone Friday evening.

An Atlanta Police car burns as people protest in Atlanta, Georgia on May 29, 2020.Dustin Chambers / Reuters

Some used barricades to break police vehicle windshields and jumped from car to car. Hundreds of the protesters confronted police outside CNN headquarters. They spray-painted the large, iconic CNN logo outside the building, breaking a windowed entrance. One protester climbed on top of the sign and waved a “Black Lives Matter” flag to cheers from the crowd.

Some demonstrators pelted officers who came over with bottles, striking some of them. Other bottles thrown at authorities exploded behind the police line, but no officers appeared to get hit. Protesters chanted, “Quit your jobs.”

CNN broadcast scenes from the building's lobby where law enforcement had been positioned. At one point, some small explosions that appeared to be firecrackers thrown by protestors into the building pushed CNN's Nick Valencia to retreat farther into the building.

At least nine police vehicles were damaged during a demonstration there, according to NBC affiliate WXIA. As fires burned at multiple places in the city, the College Football Hall of Fame was vandalized, according to the station.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered an impassioned address to demonstrators, urging them not to burn down a city with a deep legacy of African American advancement.

"This city that has had a legacy of black mayors and black police chiefs," Bottoms said. "if you care about this city then go home. This won't change anything."

"We are better than this," she said.

The crowd also spoke out against the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, fatally shot while he was jogging, and Breonna Taylor, killed by police during a raid of her home.

In Washington, D.C., the White House was put on lockdown as demonstrators gathered at nearby Lafayette Square. Some buildings in the area were tagged with graffiti.

Protests broke out in Fort Greene, Brooklyn leading to arrests and a police van set on on fire on May 30, 2020. Chaos erupted across the country Friday night as thousands of protesters descended on nearly a dozen cities, pleading for justice in the wake of 46-year-old George Floyd's killing earlier this week in Minneapolis. Several demonstrations escalated into violence as police cars were burned and scuffles broke out between law enforcement and protesters.Ed Ou / NBC News

In the New York City borough of Brooklyn, a police ban was burned as a crowd surrounded it, according to NBC New York.

An NBC New York reporter posted video of the moment when the vehicle went up in flames just blocks from the Barclays Center, a major protest hub on Friday night.

As the sun went down, hundreds of protesters also massed at Foley Square, steps away from Manhattan’s criminal, federal and civil courthouses.

They chanted, “I can’t breathe,” the words uttered by Floyd before he died - and the same desperate appeal voiced by Eric Garner, who was killed in Staten Island during a confrontation with police in 2014.

A crowd tried unsuccessfully to get into the New York Police Department's 88th Precinct in Brooklyn, police said.

Numerous officers have sustained injuries ranging from bloody noses to a lost tooth. At least 50 people have been arrested, a senior New York Police Department official said.

"We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter. "Our sole focus is deescalating this situation and getting people home safe."

In Detroit, a 19-year-old man was fatally shot amid protests when a suspect in a gray Dodge Durango "pulled up to the location and fired shots into the crowd," police said in a statement.

The shooter was at large and the motive was under investigation. Nine people were arrested during the demonstrations, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.

In Los Angeles, demonstrators gathered near City Hall and in South L.A. Demonstrators appeared to attack a police officer who able to get away, according to video broadcast by NBC Los Angeles.

Protesters later blocked one the 110 freeway downtown, looted a Starbucks, and set small fires.

Hundreds of people marched on the Las Vegas Strip and chanted, “No justice, no peace!” and “Black lives matter," NBC affiliate KSNV reported.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, scheduled to host the Republican National Convention in August, multiple arrests have been made amid demonstrations, NBC affiliate WCNC reported.

In Louisville, Kentucky a news crew working for NBC affiliate WAVE took fire from a law enforcement officer's less-than-lethal weapon.

Protesters in San Jose, California set Dumpsters on fire and threw bottles at police.

Demonstrations were also expected to take place in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Oakland, California.

In Minneapolis, where a third night of demonstrations erupted into riots Thursday night, protesters returned to the streets and blocked interstate 35W, according to NBC affiliate KARE.

Floyd, 46, was killed after Officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes after police were called to a report of counterfeit money used at a market.

Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder Friday. He faces charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.

The Associated Press, Jason Abbruzzese, Jason Abbruzzese, Todd Miyazawa, David K. Li, Tom Winter and Phil Helsel contributed.