USA Today: Tensions Flare Nationally Amid Prayers & Protests Of Police Shootings
Tensions flared in cities across the country as protesters took over streets and highways Saturday, chanting “black lives matter” in the wake of two fatal officer-involved shootings this week in Louisiana and Minnesota.
In San Francisco, hundreds took to the streets and blocked roads and ramps to get on and off the Bay Bridge. Hundreds more broke off from Pittsburgh’s 200th-anniversary parade to protest the recent police shootings. And in St. Paul, Minn., near where 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot and killed Wednesday by a police officer during a traffic stop, demonstrators marched from Gov. Mark Dayton's residence into the freeway, despite Minnesota State Patrol’s efforts to stop them.
The protest devolved into confusion as some detonated fireworks and threw rocks at the police. Three hours into the I-94 shutdown, police started making arrests. As of 12:30 a.m. CT, police cleared the highway and protesters have moved back toward the governor's mansion.
Baton Rouge wasn't as chaotic, tensions flared as protesters gathered at the Triple S convenience store, the city’s police department and the state capitol, following Tuesday's fatal shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by two white police officers outside the store.
Several religious and civic leaders spoke, calling for non-violence and over and over. There were also speeches from members of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and shouts for “Black Power.”
“These are human rights violations,” Krystal Muhammad shouted to a crowd in Baton Rouge. “They are not operating as human beings. They are being predators on our communities across America.” Some protesters also called for the resignation of East Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.
As the evening wore on, several people gathered at an intersection on Airline Highway where 30 people were arrested during a protest Friday night.
Protests nationwide have continued day after day since the shooting deaths of the two black men, both of which were captured on cellphone video. While people across the country were rattled by the shootings in Dallas that killed five officers and left six officers and two civilians wounded, demonstrators seemed undeterred from assembling.
Still, many of the protests across the country were peaceful. More than 100 people rallied at Loring Park in Minneapolis before marching, sometimes stopping in the middle of intersections.
The group eventually made their way to an area outside of the Basilica Block Party where a few protesters broke through the police barrier and were escorted away. The Minneapolis protest dispersed quietly.
In Indianapolis, a march to the Indiana State House drew up to 600 people Saturday. A diverse crowd of people walked side by side, from activists chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” to families with small children.
"I wanted my kids to know what's going on because it affects them," said Kendra McKnight, 26, who brought her children to the march. "When kids hear about stuff like this happening, they're afraid. My son told me he's afraid of getting shot, too, and he's only 5."
More than 500 people marched through nearly 90-degree weather in Nashville. They stopped at intersections to sing and hold hands and pray.
"We believe that white silence is violence," said Beth Abernathy of Nashville, adding that as a white woman she felt it was important to support the African American community. "The rain was definitely refreshing but it's important enough" the weather doesn't matter, she added. As the crowd began to move again, she cheered, "let's do it."