Officer charged with murder of black American as unrest sweeps US

MINNEAPOLIS (AFP) – Violent protests erupted across the United States (US) late Friday over the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of police, with murder charges laid against a Minneapolis officer failing to quell seething anger.

Demonstrators clashed with police for a fourth straight night in the midwestern city of Minneapolis, where fires raged and there was widespread looting as well as sustained cat-and-mouse clashes between protesters and police.

US President Donald Trump ordered soldiers prepare to deploy to the city, Minnesota National Guard Major General Jon Jensen confirmed early yesterday.

The state has become the epicentre of violence since George Floyd died there in an arrest by an officer who pinned him to the ground for several minutes by kneeling on his neck.

Derek Chauvin was charged on Friday with one count of third-degree murder – unintentionally causing a death – and one count of negligent manslaughter.

“This case is now ready, and we have charged it,” said county prosecutor Mike Freeman as outrage grew over the latest death of an African American in police custody.

But the charges failed to calm a shaken nation whose deep wounds over racial inequality have been torn open anew, with riots raging from New York to Los Angeles in one of the worst nights of civil unrest in years.

In Atlanta police cruisers were attacked and set ablaze as rallies spun out of control, while in the capital Washington protesters collided with Secret Service agents in heated midnight scenes in front of the White House.

Protests took hold in a swathe of cities including Boston, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Portland.

People take to the streets protesting in the city of Detroit, Michigan over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes. PHOTO: AFP