SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Protests over the alleged murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis have spread far beyond Minnesota. In Washington, D.C., a tense standoff at the gates of the White House.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) George Floyd. Say his name. George Floyd. Say his name. George Floyd.
SIMON: In Sacramento, a march through the city's historically African American neighborhood of Oak Park. Lynette Hill attended with her daughter.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LYNETTE HILL: I'm angry. I'm frustrated. And something has to change.
SIMON: And in New York City, State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson protested with a group that was Maced by the police.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DIANA RICHARDSON: We were peacefully assembling. The NYPD began to aggressively - look at - as we're even speaking, we're watching them aggressively. Look at what he's doing to this woman. Stop it.
SIMON: Meanwhile, murder charges were filed against one of the officers involved in Floyd's death. NPR's Adrian Florido joins us now from Minneapolis, where he was at the protests in that city. Adrian, thanks for being with us.
ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: What did you see there last night amidst the chaos?
FLORIDO: Well, I spent a couple of hours last night on a stretch of a couple of blocks in south Minneapolis where this incredible scene unfolded. People broke into businesses and started looting. Someone set fire to a car in a parking lot, which then exploded and engulfed at least a dozen other cars. A gas station was set on fire. People were cursing the police and chanting George Floyd's name. You know, just one of several places in the country where scenes like this are starting to play out.
SIMON: And, of course, Adrian, the destruction that you describe happened within hours after officials announced that the officer who'd been seen in that video with his knee on George Floyd's neck had been charged with murder. Protesters clearly wanted something more, though.
FLORIDO: Yeah, they were not at all satisfied. Most people I spoke with on the streets here last night agreed that that charge is an important first step. But they said that it's not enough. Listen to what Jailah Jones (ph), one of the protesters I spoke with, said.
JAILAH JONES: We want all four officers in jail because all of them are responsible. And that's what we want. And so if we don't get what we want, we're going to keep rioting, and we're going to keep setting stuff to fire - setting stuff to fire because black people built America, so we get to burn this [expletive] down.
FLORIDO: That demand, Scott, that all four officers involved with George Floyd's death be charged, that is the most immediate demand that people taking the streets in the last few days have been expressing. But it's important that these protests are also now fueled by a much deeper anger and pain over how police have treated black people for generations in the United States. And a lot of people told me that they are just tired of peaceful protest because they say it hasn't worked. Nothing's changed. Listen to another protester named Hanson Agwatu.
HANSON AGWATU: If we got to be violent, we got to be violent. We got to get some way to let our voice be heard. You know, we don't want to, but if it comes to that, we have to.
FLORIDO: And so he, like most people protesting, was not directly participating in the destruction. But he says that he supports the people who are because he thinks that it's the only way that officials and politicians will listen to what people on the streets here are saying.
SIMON: And, Adrian, how do officials respond?
FLORIDO: Well, they have been overwhelmed. In fact, early this morning, Minnesota's governor made a pretty remarkable admission when he said that because of the number of people out on the streets and the fact that this looting and these fires are happening in different parts of Minneapolis, there just are not enough police or firefighters to keep things under control. So he's trying to bring in more National Guard troops to do that. And both he and Minneapolis' mayor are also just pleading with people to stay home.
And that is true of local officials across the country as these protests have spread to other cities and states. They're saying, look; setting fire to buildings is destruction of communities. It's hurting the cause of these protesters is what these officials are saying. That, of course, is a very different message from the one that we heard from the people I spoke with out on the streets last night.
SIMON: NPR's Adrian Florido, thanks so much.
FLORIDO: Thank you, Scott.
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