Tanker truck drives into protesters as U.S. cities fear another night of violent protests

A tanker truck drove into a throng of protesters on a closed interstate near Minneapolis on Sunday, with the driver pulled from his rig and beaten, as major U.S. cities imposed curfews in fear of another night of demonstrations against police brutality descending into violence.
It did not appear that any marchers were struck by the truck as it moved through the crowd on the westbound lanes of Interstate 35, honking. The freeway was closed to traffic at the time.
A Reuters witness said the truck driver was dragged out of the cab of his tractor-trailer rig and beaten by protesters before he was taken into custody by Minneapolis police. A Reuters photo showed him shirtless and covering his face as he stood next to a police officer.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety said on Twitter. “The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”
The incident marked the latest outburst of violence following what began as peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, sparking outrage that has swept across a politically and racially divided nation.
In hindsight, Rosa Jimenez Cano realizes that attending a protest against police brutality was risky — and not just for the usual reasons.
“This can be kind of a tinderbox for COVID,” the 39-year-old venture capitalist said after attending a demonstration in Florida, one of many around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer.
As more beaches, churches, mosques, schools, and businesses reopened worldwide, the sudden and mass civil unrest in the United States is raising fears of new virus outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and deaths than any other. And it’s not just in the U.S. — London hosted a large anti-racism protest Sunday where demonstrators violated social distancing rules.

Rosa Jimenez Cano said she planned to self-quarantine for 14 days, worrying she was perhaps “irresponsible” when she attended Saturday night’s protest in Miami, where she exposed herself to crowds of people.
Protests over Floyd’s death — the latest in a series of killings of black men and women at the hands of police in America — have shaken the country from Minneapolis to New York, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Some turned into riots and clashes with police, leaving stores in flames and torched cars in the streets.
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Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus could unwittingly infect others at protests where people are packed cheek to jowl, many without masks, many chanting, singing or shouting. The virus is dispersed by microscopic droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze, sing or talk.
“There’s no question that, when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets ... it’s not healthy,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Two weeks from now across America, we’re going to find out whether or not this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up again or not.”
The U.S. has seen over 1.7 million infections and nearly 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a nation that does not have universal health care.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday she was very concerned that the protests in the nation’s capital and elsewhere could provide fertile ground for a new series of outbreaks. Many of the protesters were wearing masks, but there were no attempts at social distancing.
“We’ve been working very hard in these last eight to 10 weeks to not have any mass gatherings,” she said. “As a nation, we have to be concerned about a rebound.”
Even the many protesters wearing masks are not guaranteed protection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cloth masks keep infected people from spreading the virus but are not designed to protect wearers from getting it.
Mass protests in connection with Floyd’s death were also being held in Europe.
In London, thousands of people marched Sunday chanting “No justice! No peace!” while carrying signs reading “Justice for George Floyd” and “Racism is a global issue.” Many demonstrators were not wearing masks and most in the crowd at Trafalgar Square were packed closely together. Britain has seen nearly 38,500 virus deaths, the second-highest in the world after the United States.
In Berlin, hundreds of protesters picketed outside the U.S. Embassy on Saturday night under the motto: “Justice for George Floyd.” Others marched near the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Many Americans returned Sunday to in-person church services for the first time in weeks and tens of thousands of mosques reopened across the Middle East, but countries from India to Colombia still saw rising numbers of new infections.
Nearly 6.1 million infections have been reported worldwide, with nearly 370,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true death toll is believed to be significantly higher since many victims died of the virus without ever being tested.
The situation worsened Sunday in India, where new daily cases topped 8,000 for the first time and 193 more deaths were reported. Despite that, India still is easing restrictions on shops and public transport in more states beginning Monday, although subways and schools will remain closed.
In Saudi Arabia, mosques reopened Sunday for the first time in more than two months, but Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remained closed. In Jerusalem, throngs of worshippers waited outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque before it reopened. Many wore surgical masks and waited for temperature checks as they entered.
In Bogota, the capital of Colombia, authorities were locking down an area of nearly 1.5 million people as cases continued to rise. Mayor Claudia Lopez said no one in the working-class Kennedy area — inaugurated by the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 — will be allowed out, except to seek food or medical care or in case of an emergency. Factories must also close.
In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Sunday that he would ask Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation’s state of emergency that is set to expire on June 7. That allows the government to keep ordering lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed at least 27,000 lives, many of them in overwhelmed nursing homes.
“We have almost reached the safe harbor,” Sánchez said.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis cautioned people against being pessimistic as they emerge from coronavirus lockdowns.
During Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark Pentecost Sunday, Francis noted a tendency to say that “nothing will return as before.” That kind of thinking, Francis said, guarantees that “the one thing that certainly does not return is hope.”
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across America again Sunday, with peaceful demonstrations against police killings of black people overshadowed by unrest that quickly ravaged parts of cities from Pennsylvania to California.
City and state officials had deployed thousands of National Guard soldiers, enacted strict curfews and shut down mass transit systems, but that did little to stop many cities from again erupting into unrest.
Protesters in Philadelphia hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, officials said, while masked crowds broke into upscale stores in a San Francisco suburb, fleeing with bags of merchandise. In Minneapolis, a truck driver drove into a massive crowd of demonstrators nearly a week after the death of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as an officer pressed a knee into his neck.
Tensions mounted outside the White House, where police fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of more than 1,000 chanting protesters across the street in Lafayette Park. They scattered, piling up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in a street. Some pulled an American flag from a nearby building and threw it into the blaze. Others added tree branches. A cinder block building housing bathrooms and a maintenance officer in the park was engulfed in flames.
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The entire Washington, D.C., National Guard — roughly 1,700 soldiers — was being called in to help control the protests, according to two Defense Department officials who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
As the protests grew, President Donald Trump retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton who called for “overwhelming force” against violent demonstrators.
At least 4,100 people have been arrested over days of protests, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press. Arrests ranged from looting and blocking highways to breaking curfew.
In Salt Lake City, a leading anti-police brutality activist condemned the destruction of property but said broken buildings shouldn’t be mourned on the same level as black men like Floyd.
“Maybe this country will get the memo that we are sick of police murdering unarmed black men,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah. “Maybe the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will picture cities burning.”
Yet thousands still marched peacefully, with some also calling for an end to the fires, vandalism and theft, saying it weakened calls for justice and reform.

“They keep killing our people,” said Mahira Louis, 15, who marched with her mother and several hundred others through downtown Boston. “I’m so sick and tired of it.”
The officer who pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding the other three officers at the scene be prosecuted. All four were fired.
“We’re not done,” said Darnella Wade, an organizer for Black Lives Matter in neighboring St. Paul, where thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state Capitol. “They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz brought in thousands of National Guard soldiers to help quell the violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests. On Sunday, in a display of force, long lines of state patrolmen and National Guard soldiers lined up in front of the Capitol, with perhaps a dozen military-style armored vehicles behind them.
Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders combined with a string of recent racially charged killings to stoke the anger. Adding to that was angst from months of lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt communities of color, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress.
The droves of people congregating for demonstrations threatened to trigger new outbreaks, a fact overshadowed by the boiling tensions.
The scale of the coast-to-coast protests rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.
Curfews were imposed in major cities around the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. About 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
Thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully through Boston in several protests during the day, but some clashed with officers as night fell, throwing rocks, bricks and glass bottles and torching a police vehicle.
Authorities fired volleys of tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in downtown Atlanta as a curfew took hold. Some on the fringes of a largely peaceful protest set off fireworks and burned construction materials near a park where police and National Guard troops turned out in force.
In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence this weekend, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
In tweets Sunday, Trump blamed anarchists and the media for fueling violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at “far-left extremist” groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of coming in and causing the problems.
At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called “sacred space.” The intersection was blocked with the traffic cones while a ring of flowers was laid out.
Among in Minneapolis was Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, set off unrest in 2014.
“I understand what this family is feeling. I understand what this community is feeling,” he said.
 Hundreds of people protested in London and Berlin on Sunday in solidarity with demonstrations in the United States over the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white policeman knelt on his neck in Minneapolis.
The protesters knelt in central London’s Trafalgar Square, chanting “No justice, no peace”, and then marched past the Houses of Parliament and finished up outside the U.S. Embassy.
The Metropolitan police said they had made five arrests outside the U.S. Embassy, three for violations of the coronavirus lockdown guidelines and two for assault on police.
Several hundred protesters also staged a rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, holding up posters saying “Justice for George Floyd”, “Stop killing us” and “Who’s neckst”.
The death of George Floyd after his arrest on Monday has triggered a tide of protests in the United States, unleashing long simmering rage over racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Some rallies have turned violent as demonstrators blocked traffic, set fires and clashed with riot police, some of whom fired tear gas and plastic bullets in an effort to restore order.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday toured the site of one of the protests that ripped through U.S. cities overnight and called for protesters against police brutality not to turn to violence.
Biden, wearing a face mask, made his second appearance outside his Delaware home since the coronavirus crisis hit in March, visiting an area in Wilmington where demonstrators vented outrage at the death of a black man shown on video gasping for breath as a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.
A campaign post on Instagram showed Biden speaking with African American residents and inspecting buildings boarded up to prevent damage hours after he issued a statement that “we are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.”
“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary,” Biden said in the statement emailed shortly after midnight. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”
Biden will face President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump’s re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had said on Saturday that Biden should deliver a more forceful condemnation of violence.
Biden’s remarks echoed a statement on Saturday by prominent black civil rights activist and U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia.
Lewis, who in 1965 was beaten unconscious by Alabama state troopers during a march for voting rights, called for protesters to “be constructive, not destructive,” though he said he knows their pain.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says a tanker truck driver is in custody after speeding through marchers protesting the death of George Floyd on the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis Sunday.
At 10 p.m., WCCO confirmed with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office that the suspect was Bogdan Vechirko, of Otsego. He is currently being held custody on probable cause assault.

(credit: Hennepin County Sheriff)
DPS Commissioner John Harrington says it appears that no protesters on the southbound lanes of the interstate were seriously hurt. He estimates that 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time the truck sped through. Harrington says the truck was already on the interstate before the incident, even though it had closed about 40 minutes earlier at 5 p.m. and barriers were in place specifically for the marchers.
“It was one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen,” Harrington said.
The driver, who was pulled out of the truck and attacked by protesters, was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Hennepin Healthcare and is now in the Hennepin County Jail. In several videos of the incident, protesters can be heard and seen trying to stop the attack, and several laid on him to protect him.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office said that no one was called out for a water rescue in the incident.
The truck had a Kenan Advantage Group logo on it. The Ohio-based company gave this statement late Sunday evening, which read in part, “Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week. We have been informed of an incident involving one of our independent contractors in Minneapolis, MN during recent protests. Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees, and our customers.”
While protestors were taking a knee on I-35 a semi truck driver ran into protestors. The police have arrived macing protestors instead of going after the truck driver.

Police arrived soon after and began to use chemical spray on protesters, including those who were trying to help the man to the squad car. Gov. Tim Walz later announced at a press conference about 90 minutes later that the police quickly moved onto the bridge and cleared the crowds due to the threat of a possible gas or chemical leak from the tanker.
The police response led to pandemonium on the bridge, with thousands quickly scattering away to the nearest off-ramp.
Today I witnessed pure evil. Thousands and thousands of protestors were PEACEFULLY marching the streets to demand and a gas truck came barreling through the crowd. Pray to whoever you pray to for us all.

The DPS announced about three hours after the incident that the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are jointly investigating this as a criminal matter.
Those Minneapolis marchers were part of a “No Bail” march, which began at the U.S. Bank Stadium. At about 4 p.m., the group started to march through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Their march moved from the stadium over to Hennepin Avenue Bridge, then over to Interstate 35W by about 5:30 p.m., where thousands took a knee and a moment of silence — just a couple minutes before the tanker arrived.
The incident happened nearly 13 years after 13 people died and 143 were injured when the original Interstate 35W Bridge collapsed.

Marchers on the bridge just moments before the tanker truck drove through. (credit: CBS)
Meanwhile, a Justice for George Floyd march began with a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. Midway throughout the afternoon, the march started moving and ultimately made their way onto Interstate 94, where they started marching west.
WCCO’s David Schuman says that, in relation to the concerns about protests flaring up the spread of COVID-19 in the state and across the country, he observed at least three-quarters of protesters wearing face masks.

(credit: CBS)
Gov. Tim Walz, on Sunday, extended the curfew order, which again goes into effect at 8 p.m. in both cities, along with many other suburbs in the surrounding area. Also, Metro Transit said they were going to continue the suspension of all service on buses, LRT and commuter rail through at least Monday, June 1. And many Minneapolis-area highways will once again close through 6 a.m. Monday.
Nations around the world have watched in horror at the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.
Racism-tinged events no longer startle even America’s closest allies, though many have watched coverage of the often-violent protests with growing unease. Burning cars and riot police in the U.S. featured on newspaper front pages around the globe Sunday — bumping news of the COVID-19 pandemic to second-tier status in some places.
Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis was the latest in a series of deaths of black men and women at the hands of police in the U.S.
Thousands gathered in central London on Sunday to offer support for American demonstrators. Chanting “No justice! No peace!” and waving placards with the words “How many more?” at Trafalgar Square, the protesters ignored U.K. government rules banning crowds because of the pandemic. Police didn’t stop them.
Demonstrators then marched to the U.S. Embassy, where a long line of officers surrounded the building. Several hundred milled around in the street and waved placards.
Protesters in Denmark also converged on the U.S. Embassy on Sunday. Participants carried placards with messages such as “Stop Killing Black People.”
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin was the scene of protests on Saturday under the motto: “Justice for George Floyd.” Several hundred more people took to the streets Sunday in the capital’s Kreuzberg area, carrying signs with slogans like “Silence is Violence,” “Hold Cops Accountable,” and “Who Do You Call When Police Murder?” No incidents were reported.
Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper on Sunday carried the sensational headline “This killer-cop set America ablaze” with an arrow pointing to a photo of now-fired police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death, with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The newspaper’s story reported “scenes like out of a civil war.”
In Italy, the Corriere Della Sera newspaper’s senior U.S. correspondent Massimo Gaggi wrote that the reaction to Floyd’s killing was “different” than previous cases of black Americans killed by police and the ensuing violence.
“There are exasperated black movements that no longer preach nonviolent resistance,” Gaggi wrote, noting the Minnesota governor’s warning that “anarchist and white supremacy groups are trying to fuel the chaos.″
In countries with authoritarian governments, state-controlled media have been highlighting the chaos and violence of the U.S. demonstrations, in part to undermine American officials’ criticism of their own nations.
In China, the protests are being viewed through the prism of U.S. government criticism of China’s crackdown on anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper, tweeted that U.S. officials can now see protests out their own windows: “I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the U.S., like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”
Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, pointed out America’s racial unrest by tweeting “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said before his death.
In Iran, which has violently put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands, and disrupting internet access to the outside world, state television has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest. One TV anchor discussed “a horrible scene from New York, where police attacked protesters.” Another state TV message accused U.S. police agencies in Washington of “setting fire to cars and attacking protesters,” without offering any evidence.
Russia accused the United States of “systemic problems in the human rights sphere.″ It denounced Floyd’s death as the latest in a series of police violence cases against African Americans.
“This incident is far from the first in a series of lawless conduct and unjustified violence from U.S. law enforcement,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “American police commit such high-profile crimes all too often.’’
There also have been expressions of solidarity with the demonstrators.
In Brazil, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Rio de Janeiro state government palace to protest crimes committed by the police against black people in Rio’s working-class neighborhoods, known as favelas.
The protest, called “Black lives matter,” was interrupted when police used tear gas to disperse people. “I can’t breathe”, said some of the demonstrators, alluding to George Floyd´s death. Protesters called for an end to police operations inside favelas.
In Canada, an anti-racism protest degenerated into clashes between Montreal police and some demonstrators. About three hours after a march that snaked its way through downtown Montreal had ended, police declared the gathering illegal after they say projectiles were thrown at officers who responded with pepper spray and tear gas. Some windows were smashed and some fires were set.
Over the weekend, Lebanese anti-government protesters flooded social media with tweets sympathetic to U.S. protesters, using the hashtag #Americarevolts. That’s a play on the slogan for Lebanon’s protest movement — Lebanon revolts — which erupted on Oct. 17 last year. Within 24 hours, the hashtag #Americanrevolts became the No. 1 trending tag in Lebanon.
In another expression of solidarity with American protesters, about 150 people marched through central Jerusalem on Saturday to protest the shooting death by Israeli police of an unarmed, autistic Palestinian man earlier in the day. Israeli police mistakenly suspected that the man, Iyad Halak, was carrying a weapon. When he failed to obey orders to stop, officers opened fire.

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