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National

George Floyd Protests Prompt Curfews, National Guard Deployments Across U.S

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

America is in crisis as anger erupts across the country and police crack down while a deadly pandemic continues to fill ICUs as it leaves tens of millions of people jobless. This is the biggest moment of civil unrest since the 1960s as protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turn violent and become about so much more. The National Guard, which the U.S. has deployed in recent decades to Afghanistan and the Middle East, swept through Midwestern neighborhoods, ordering Americans to stay inside. Meanwhile, the coronavirus and the economic crisis of historic proportions have taken the heaviest toll on black and brown populations.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Let me hear y'all say that. Prosecute killer cops.

PROTESTERS: Prosecute killer cops.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Prosecute killer cops.

PROTESTERS: Prosecute killer cops.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Prosecute killer cops.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's from Los Angeles, where the National Guard was also deployed. Overnight, the mayor there declared a state of emergency.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Here in Washington, people threw bricks at buildings in the pandemic-deserted downtown and looted a few businesses. A second night of protests at the White House drew a thousand people, some of them throwing bottles and fireworks at Secret Service and U.S. Park Police surrounding the grounds. There were also fireworks in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Say his name.

PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Say his name.

PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Say his name.

PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Say his name.

PROTESTERS: Freddie Gray.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Say his name.

PROTESTERS: Freddie Gray.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That from Baltimore, where Freddie Gray also died after being in police custody in 2015. Six officers were charged in his death. Three were acquitted, and charges on the other three were dropped. And in Philadelphia, under a curfew, people smashed police cars. And, as you can hear, there were also calls for nonviolence.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: We are not going to fight them. We are not going to fight them. We are not going to fight them. We are not here to fight them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.