Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with the murder of George Floyd on Friday, but cities across the country were still bracing for a weekend filled with protests over Floyd's death and the broader treatment of African Americans at the hands of police.
While the largest protests have enveloped Minneapolis, prompting the deployment of 500 National Guardsmen, people have already taken to the streets from New York to Chicago to the California coast. Seven people were shot during a protest in Louisville on Thursday night, dozens were arrested in New York City, officers fired rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters in Phoenix and a driver appeared to intentionally run over a protester in Denver.
But that could be just the beginning of a long and rage-filled weekend as Americans process the latest case of police brutality against an unarmed citizen.
'I'm with the protesters'
What's different this time, however, is that political and law enforcement leaders are largely siding with protesters.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Police Chief Paul Pazen spoke one after the other during a joint press conference on Friday, decrying the death of Floyd and encouraging their citizens to continue making their voices heard despite violent protests the night before that led to three officers being injured and the arrest of 13 protesters.
"I, along with members of this department, send our condolences to the family and loved ones of George Floyd," Pazan said. "Our heart hurts just as much as this community and the community in Minnesota."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listed off case after case of black men killed by police and lamented how little appears to have changed.
"I’ve lived this from Rodney King forward. I was there for Amadou Diallo. I was there for Abner Louima. And then you have Eric Garner," Cuomo said during his regular coronavirus briefing on Friday. "And what happened? What was the resolution? Where was the progress?
"I’m with the protesters."
But each leader made clear that they will not allow peaceful protests to devolve into the burning, violent situations seen in Minneapolis. While few gave details about their plans, they all stressed that they were taking precautions, mobilizing their police forces and ready to stop those who use the protests as cover to cause mayhem.
Protests in New York City had already resumed by Friday afternoon. A Black Lives Matter protest was underway in Houston. And a third day of protests in Detroit had shifted from a Floyd-focused message to a broader attack against injustice.
"It is just a consistent violence against black and brown people by many police agencies — it's not just one, it's not an isolated incident, you can see this happens across the country," said Trische Duckworth, an organizer of the Detroit protests.
Those demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the weekend in cities large and small across the country.
There's a Saturday protest planned by Mothers Against Violence in Des Moines, Iowa. There's a Saturday protest planned in Austin, Texas, linking Floyd's death with the April shooting of an unarmed black man in that city. And there's a Saturday protest planned in Miami, a city with its own history of violent protests following the shooting death of a black man by white officers in 1979.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez cited that dark history to explain why he and the leadership of the Miami Police Department decried the tactics used in Floyd's death. Police officials met with black community leaders on Friday, and Suarez said he was scheduled to meet with black pastors on Saturday morning.
Suarez said he encourages protesters and has coordinated with police to make sure they do not patrol in tactical gear to avoid escalating tensions during Saturday's protest. And even though Chauvin is now in custody, Suarez said he doesn't expect that to slow down the momentum of the nationwide protests.
"The fact that he was arrested will be a small measure of consolation," Suarez said. "People are at the end of their rope. They're just tired of it all. When there's rioting and demonstrations, it's because things have boiled over."
The most surprising protests may be taking place in Central Florida. Protests have been happening in Windermere, Florida, a tiny, upscale, lakeside town nestled between downtown Orlando and Disney World.
Word spread on social media that Chauvin has a home there, prompting dozens of protesters to descend on the address on Thursday. Orange County Sheriff's Office deputies quickly responded and made contact with Chauvin's family, who verified that they owned the home but said they were not there and had no plans to go there.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina on Friday said the video of Floyd's death was so upsetting that he suggested it be added to his department's training as an example of what not to do when subduing a suspect. On Friday, Mina said he would not stand in the way of protesters who wanted to express their anger over the death of Floyd.
"We understand that people in Minneapolis, people across the nation, and people here in our own community are hurting and we understand people want to do something, they want to protest," he said. "We just ask…that people protest peacefully."
Contributing: Grace Hauck in Chicago; Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press; Sarah Kay LeBlanc and Sierra A. Porter, Des Moines Register;
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd protests expected nationwide and police are prepared