What started out as a peaceful protest in Pittsburgh turned violent by late afternoon Saturday.
The protest was just one of dozens across the nation in response to the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes.
KDKA reports the protest turned violent about two hours into the demonstration, shortly before 5 p.m. as protesters were moving throughout the downtown area.
Police told The Associated Press that the crowd near the PPG Arena was mostly peaceful but a group “overtook and destroyed" a marked police vehicle. According to Eagle staff at the scene, the fire led to a stand-off between police and the crowd.
The crowd threw bottles and projectiles at the officers. Police responded by firing tear-gas in front of the crowd. Officers left the scene as protesters advanced on the police line.
Immediately after police withdrew, protesters jumped on a police cruiser left behind, smashed its windows, and then set the second cruiser on fire.
While crowds are gathered across Pittsburgh, the largest crowd – estimated at around 1,000 – was last seen closest to the arena. The crowd moved on after setting the second cruiser on fire, heading further into downtown Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh news channel reports the crowd – marching with signs - was chanting “Don't Shoot,” “Black Lives – They Matter Here,” and Floyd's famous last words “I can't breathe.” There was an initial nonviolent confrontation with Pennsylvania State Police as protesters began moving toward the Liberty Bridge around 4 p.m.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer arrested in the death of George Floyd, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
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