First Responders

The Weekend Toll: Protests and Rioting Across the Country

June 2, 2020Joshua Skovlund
White House

Protester in front of the White House. Photo courtesy of Waseem Khan/Twitter

The days following the in-custody death of George Floyd have been filled with both peaceful protests and rioting alike. 

Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter. The investigation of the other three officers involved with the incident is still ongoing, and it is unclear whether charges will be brought against them. 

Over the weekend, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that the county prosecutor will no longer be in charge of the case against Chauvin. Keith Ellison, the attorney general for Minnesota, will now be leading the case. Ellison previously served in the U.S. Congress for 12 years, from 2007 to 2019. 

White House
The lights of the White House were turned off as President Donald Trump was moved into the bunker. Photo courtesy of Shakib Khan/Twitter.

“I watched him lead on the issues of civil and human rights. I watched him gain the respect of the entire United States Congress. I watched him formulate and think about things that at the time people said we can’t do that, we can’t get them done,” Walz said. “Keith Ellison was the person there to get that.” He added that Ellison has the right experience and passion to prove to people the justice system works and that he’ll be thorough with the case. 

Several cities across the country experienced widespread protests and rioting, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Atlanta to Seattle. The protests and riots are widespread, with the epicenter in Minneapolis. The U.S. experienced both peaceful protesting and mass rioting; and law enforcement officers who empathized with protesters as well as some instances of continued police brutality. Images and videos surfaced over the weekend showing people cleaning up after the destruction caused by rioters as well as assisting the police in their times of need. 

Several states’ National Guard units have been mobilized to assist local police in quelling the rioting. Evidence of organized urban warfare tactics and domestic terrorism has been seen in several locations. In Minneapolis, both citizens and law enforcement have located pallets of bricks, rocks, bottles of gasoline, and other incendiaries, stashed in hidden areas throughout the area of the protests. 

The anger and rage during the protests and riots is palpable. Many protesters on the ground said that it isn’t just Floyd’s death that caused the uproar — but it was the stick that broke the camel’s back. They said they are protesting against the inherent flaws in the different levels of government. 

Multiple police departments have shown solidarity with the protesters over the weekend. Sheriff Christopher Swanson in Flint, Michigan, gave a speech to a crowd of protesters, before he and his officers marched with them. In a video shared on Twitter, he is shown saying, “We want to be with y’all — for real — so, I took my helmet off, they laid their batons down. I want to make this a parade, not a protest. You tell us what you need to do.”

One of the key moments over the weekend came when a video that was taken outside the White House surfaced. There were multiple buildings on fire, and rioters were being targeted with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, and various other less lethal implements. Protesters and rioters clashed with Secret Service personnel as they stole barriers, and government personnel rapidly tried to replace them and quell the riot. The lights on the White House were shut off on Sunday as President Donald Trump was rushed into the White House bunker.

It is unclear when the violence and looting will subside.

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.

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