George Floyd protests: Police officers filmed being dragged along street in Chicago as unrest escalates across America

Joe Sommerlad, Alex Woodward

Protests have erupted in more than two dozen cities across the US, as unrest continues to explode in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, an African American man who died after being pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers and choked with a knee pressed against his throat.

His death has galvanised furious protests as well as peaceful calls to action among Americans exhausted by police killings and disparate policing.

After the National Guard stepped in to try to seize control of the situation in Minneapolis, Donald Trump praised his own Secret Service agents for protecting him when activists picketed the White House, threatening them with his "most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” if they breached fencing.

The president suggested his supporters would stage a counter-protest, calling for “MAGA NIGHT” at the White House, though he appeared to dismiss accusations that he was provoking violence and told reporters that “MAGA loves the black people”.

Demonstrations and marches continued across the US on Saturday, with at least eight separate marches and protests in New York City, attracting thousands of people into city streets.

Several states are deploying their National Guard and imposing curfews to prevent people from staying out on the streets or risk their arrest. Chicago has mandated a curfew "until further notice".

The president and US Attorney General William Barr meanwhile blamed violence on “Antifa” and “radical left” groups “exploiting the situation for their own separate agenda”.

AG Barr said protests in the wake of Mr Floyd’s killing are being “planned, organised and driven be anarchic and far-left extremist tactics” and threatened to invoke harsh federal penalties against people travelling from out of state to participate in protests.

Activists and protesters have dismissed his characterisation, alleging white supremacism within police that has provoked demonstrations with threats of violence.

Police were captured on film pepper spraying and driving patrol cars into crowds, among other violent scenes, as police cars engulfed in flames became ubiquitous symbols of unrest in cities across the US.

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