Peaceful Protest Over George Floyd's Death Takes a Turn as Police Cars Set Ablaze in Philadelphia

KYW Staff
May 30, 2020 - 4:37 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — What began as a peaceful protest in reaction to the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd took a turn when demonstrators started to vandalize and set fire to police cars, as they marched back to Center City from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Thousands of protesters took to Center City Saturday afternoon — the latest in a series of actions nationwide following Floyd’s death, which was captured on video. They did so despite warnings against gathering in large groups due to the coronavirus.

The peaceful protest from the morning was quickly brought to a halt when a police car was set on fire as demonstrators made their way past Broad and Vine streets. More car fires and vandalism soon erupted, along with fireworks.

Demonstrators also spent the better part of an hour trying to tear down the Frank Rizzo statue outside the Municipal Services Building.

“On Vine, that's where the main engagement is happening. There are some cops on bikes, and there's state troopers on foot, and there's riot police on foot,” he described. “They had everyone boxed in on both sides of Vine and on North Broad.”

He estimated about 2,000 in attendance. KYW Newsradio’s crime and justice reporter Kristen Johanson, reporting live from Center City, said she hasn’t seen a gathering of this size since the Eagles Super Bowl parade.

“Racism does not end with the coronavirus at all,” said Jacen Bowman of Brewerytown. “Racism started before the coronavirus, it's going on during the coronavirus, and it will happen after the coronavirus.”

“I have never felt such a rage in my soul,” said Tina Johnson of Ardmore. “It is bad, so bad. We can't treat people like this. Not all black people are thugs and doing some harm. Not all cops are doing harm. But we have to teach our police a different way of policing.”

Floyd died on May 25 while being physically restrained by police officers, one of whom, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes while the man was handcuffed and face down.

KYW Newsradio's Hadas Kuznits, Kristen Johanson, Alex Silverman, Rachel Kurland and Andre Bennett contributed to this report.

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