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Minneapolis protests spread to other cities across the US, including Birmingham

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By The Associated Press

Developments across the United States in connection with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala — More than 100 demonstrators gathered in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park on Thursday night to protest the death of Floyd, the unarmed black man who died earlier this week in Minnesota after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while handcuffed in an incident that was caught on video and sparked nationwide outrage.

Dubbed the Alabama Rally Against Injustice, protest organizers said Floyd’s death and those of other unarmed black men and women in police custody showed that more has to be done then just demonstrating after those incidents. Other than protesting, organizers called on participants to vote in elections and run for office themselves, contending that systemic racism is the issue, according to AL.com.

On Friday, Birmingham Police Department’s Chief of Police Patrick D. Smith said in a tweet that he supports the decision of Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo to discharge the four officers responsible for the death of Floyd.

“Four officers are responsible for Floyd’s death, NOT just one,” read the tweet. “ It is imperative that we in law enforcement show respect and compassion to all communities we serve in order to maintain a positive partnership and cohesive community trust. #4NOT1

Meanwhile, Jefferson County District Attorneys Danny Carr (Birmingham Division) and Lynneice Washington (Bessemer Cutoff) issued a joint statement on Friday calling the killing of Floyd “reprehensible”.

“The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed African American male, has again highlighted the issue of police brutality in America,” they said in the statement. “These unacceptable, egregious actions must be called out and addressed if our society is to heal.

“As prosecutors in Jefferson County we rely upon our relationships with law enforcement and citizens within our county to assist in efforts to promote safety and earn the community’s trust. We strive hard to work as a team to bring positive change.”

“Law Enforcement Officers are an important element within our community,” the statement continues. “We must continue to support the good officers while holding the unethical, immoral officers accountable for their actions.

“However, this tragedy in Minneapolis, Minnesota cannot be ignored, nor shall it be forgotten.”

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Protesters angry over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, with windows smashed at the Ohio Statehouse and storefronts along surrounding downtown streets.

The crowd of around 400 people entered into a standoff with Columbus police Thursday night, blocking the intersection of key streets in the Ohio capital for hours, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The demonstration began as a peaceful protest, but news outlets reported protesters began throwing objects like water bottles at officers, who responded by using tear gas on the crowd. A scuffle between a protester and an officer broke out around 9:45 p.m., WCMH-TV reported.

Some protesters attempted to breach the Ohio Statehouse later Thursday, the TV station reported. Videos obtained by The Associated Press show people smashing the building’s windows.

Calls and emails to Columbus police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which covers Capitol security, from the AP weren’t returned overnight.

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PHOENIX — Hundreds rallied in downtown Phoenix to demonstrate against the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody a protest that turned into a clash with police.

Protesters who marched from Phoenix City Hall to the state Capitol on Thursday night into Friday morning carried signs reading, “Silence is violence” and “Being black should not be a death sentence,” The Arizona Republic reported.

Around 11 p.m., Phoenix police declared an unlawful assembly around the Capitol building. Protesters refused to leave the area, news outlets reported.

The newspaper reported that rocks and water bottles were thrown at police. Video from local broadcast stations shows protesters hammering on the window of a police car, and the newspaper reported at least one police car window was broken. The Arizona Department of Public Safety and Phoenix police responded by firing pepper spray and rubber bullets at the crowd.

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PETAL, Mississippi — A Mississippi mayor whose remarks about the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody sparked outrage is resisting calls to resign, including from his own town’s board of aldermen.

“Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?” Petal Mayor Hal Marx tweeted Tuesday, the day four Minneapolis police officers were fired. The 46-year-old Floyd, a black man, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.

In a follow-up tweet, the Republican directly referenced the Floyd case, saying he “didn’t see anything unreasonable”: “If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”

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WASHINGTON — Twitter has added a warning to one of President Donald Trump’s tweets about protests in Minneapolis, saying it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.”

Trump, a prolific Twitter user, has been at war with the company since earlier this week, when it for the first time applied fact checks to two of his tweets. Those were about mail-in ballots.

The third tweet to be flagged came amid days of violent protests over the death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump tweeted about the protesters. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter did not remove the tweet, saying it had determined it might be in the public interest to have it remain accessible. It does that only for tweets by elected and government officials. But the tweet was hidden so that a user looking at Trump’s timeline would have to click on the warning to see the original tweet.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At least seven people were shot in Louisville as hundreds of protesters converged on City Hall demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot in March by police who broke down her door.

Louisville Metro Police said early Friday that at least one person was in critical condition. “No officers discharged their service weapons,” and all seven shot were civilians, police spokesman Sgt. Lamont Washington wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

“I feel the community’s frustration, the anger, the fear, but tonight’s violence and destruction is not the way to solve it,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video posted to Twitter. He said two of the wounded underwent surgery and five were in good condition.

Thursday night’s demonstration came as protesters across the country, in cities including Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Memphis, turned out in alliance with demonstrators in Minneapolis, where Floyd became the latest black man to die in police custody.

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DENVER — Protesters swarmed Denver on Thursday, blocking traffic and smashing vehicles while running from gunfire and police tear gas after a demonstration against the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody turned violent.

Hundreds of demonstrators stood in the downtown streets and chanted as darkness fell outside the Colorado State Capitol, where protesters spray-painted graffiti and broke car windows. In other areas of downtown Denver, police in riot gear fired gas canisters, used rubber bullets and walked in a phalanx through the streets to drive protesters away. The protest briefly spilled over onto Interstate 25, blocking all lanes of traffic until police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The protests continued into the night, despite Denver Mayor Michael Hancock pleading for calm.

“I certainly understand everyone’s frustration and sense of pain and disgust following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “But I want to plead to everyone. Let’s demonstrate, but let’s demonstrate peacefully. Leave the weapons home.”

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NEW YORK — Protesters angry about the death of a black Minnesota man in police custody defied New York’s prohibition on public gatherings Thursday and staged a chaotic rally in Manhattan, where they faced off with officers enforcing social distancing rules.

Scores of demonstrators, some wearing masks and some not, massed in Union Square and marched through the streets chanting “I can’t breathe” and waving signs with slogans including “Police brutality and murder must stop.”

Police officers, also wearing masks to protect against the virus, lined up opposite the demonstration. Video posted on social media showed occasional skirmishes as officers pushed the crowd back.

The New York Police Department said more than 30 people had been taken into custody. Video showed at least one demonstrator being clubbed and others being wrestled to the ground as some protesters shoved officers and screamed insults. The police department said one officer was struck with a garbage can and another punched.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. on 5/29/2020 with comments from Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith

Updated at 1:49 p.m. on 5/29/2020 to include comments from the Jefferson County and Bessemer DAs.