Peaceful “Can’t breathe” protests in the US state of Ohio turned violent early Friday as rage continues over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in the neighboring state of Minnesota.
Hundreds of protestors stormed the State House in the capital Columbus amid clashes with police.
Videos circulating on social media showed protestors smashing the building’s windows.
Local TV station WCMH reported that the officers responded with tear gas.
Shortly before the demonstrations turned violent, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said that he understands the protestors’ anger but urged them to remain peaceful.
“I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state, and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it,” Ginther said on Twitter.
“I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night,” he added.
Floyd, 46, was arrested Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota after reportedly attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store.
Video footage on Facebook showed him being handcuffed and cooperating.
But police claim he resisted arrest. One of the officers kneeled on his neck, despite Floyd’s repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe.”
Shortly after, Floyd appeared to lose consciousness, but the officer maintained his position over the prone man.
He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Four police officers have been fired over the killing, which sparked mass protests and an outcry against police brutality.
Floyd’s family said they want the officers to be charged with murder.
Floyd’s death has strong parallels to that of Eric Garner, who died during a fatal 2014 arrest in New York, repeatedly pleading with officers, “I can’t breathe.”
The phrase became a rallying point for protesters demonstrating against the killings of unarmed black men and women by police, and continues to resonate nearly six years later.
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