George Floyd death: Man shot and killed by law enforcement in Kentucky

Sweeping protests see curfews in 22 states, police officers fired due to ‘excessive use of force’

A man has been shot and killed by law enforcement in Louisville, Kentucky during protests on Sunday night. It was unclear if he was protesting. Police said they had been fired on before the shooting.

Meanwhile protests erupted in cities across the United States again on Sunday night, as public anger at the death of African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis last week continued to reverberate across the country.

Violence broke out on the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington with authorities imposing curfews and deploying the National Guard as they struggled to maintain public order.

Curfews were imposed in 22 states, with the National Guard deployed in cities throughout the country to provide extra manpower to support local police authorities.


In Washington DC, protests came right to the gates of the White House for the third night as US president Trump was inside. While demonstrations were peaceful for much of the day, the situation turned violent ahead of an 11pm curfew.

Law enforcement sought to disperse the crowd gathered near the White House using tear gas, while some protestors lit bonfires in the streets near Lafayette Park adjacent to the White House. Cars were burned in streets around the White House while a fire broke out in the basement of the historic St John's Church in Lafayette Square.

New York

In New York, thousands of people demonstrated throughout Sunday, some stopping to "take the knee" – an expression of solidarity with black victims of the criminal justice system that was first adopted by NFL football players. But later there were some scenes of violence as cars were set alight in Manhattan.

In Atlanta, protests continued for a third night, with officers firing tear gas to disperse the crowd as darkness fell at 9pm and the curfew went into effect. A state of emergency was declared by Governor Brian Kemp across the entire state of Georgia.

Earlier in the day, the mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that two police officers had been fired and three switched to desk duty, due to “excessive use of force” on Saturday night after two local students were pulled out of a vehicle.

Los Angeles witnessed protests and looting throughout Sunday, with a curfew announced for Los Angeles county. Widespread looting and attacks on businesses unfolded in the Santa Monica area, while police cars were set alight in other parts of the city. Police began arresting people still on the streets after the 6pm curfew.

Minneapolis – the city where 46-year-old George Floyd lost his life a week ago – experienced its sixth night of protests. In a dramatic scene caught on camera, a truck drove through a main thoroughfare, though no bystanders were struck during the incident. Addressing what he described as the “horrifying image on our television” , Minnesota governor Tim Walz said the truck driver had been arrested.

Public address

While US president Donald Trump did not deliver a public address on the violence that rocked through the country on Sunday, he used his twitter account throughout the weekend to denounce the protestors as "thugs," "hard-left agitators" and criticise the "lamestream media."

“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,” he tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!,” he wrote, a reference to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Later he wrote “LAW and ORDER!”, as he urged local authorities to call in the National Guard.

Mayor Bottoms in Atlanta, hit out at Mr Trump’s language.

"He should just stop talking. This is like Charlottesville all over again," she said, a reference to the president's comments on far-right protests in the Virginia city in 2017 when he said there were good people "on both sides."

She also raised concerns about Covid-19, expressing fears that the mass demonstrations could have health implications for the African-American communities which have already been disproportionately hit by the virus that has claimed more than 103,000 American lives. “I am extremely concerned when we are seeing mass gatherings…we’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks,” she said.

Mass protests

America is experiencing one of its worst periods of mass protests for decades, as public outrage has grown over the death of Mr Floyd a week ago while in police custody. Video footage of the incident shows the 46 year-old man, who was originally from Houston, groaning and repeatedly saying "I can't breathe," before his body stops moving. His death has sparked comparisons with other black victims of police violence, from Rodney King in the early 1990s in LA, to Eric Garner who died in 2014 when he was held in a chokehold by an NYPD police officer, an incident that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement.

Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, after he was identified as the person leaning his knee into Mr Floyd's neck as he lay handcuffed on the ground, will appear in court in Minneapolis on Monday.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent