North Carolina capital to impose curfew amid protests

Police in riot gear protect the old state capitol building in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday, May 31, 2020. It was the second day of protests in the North Carolina capital following the death of Minnesotan George Floyd while in police custody. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s capital city will be enacting a curfew starting Monday night, after two nights of protests sparked by the latest killing of a black man by police led to street fires, store break-ins, and fireworks being thrown at officers.

“For the safety of our residents, I feel we need to impose a curfew starting tomorrow,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told The News & Observer.

The National Guard was deployed in Raleigh, police there said in a tweet early Monday. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, had said at a news conference Sunday that hundreds of Guardsmen were available Sunday night to cities that requested them, including Raleigh and Charlotte.

The curfew comes as protests in the city led Sunday night to direct confrontations with police, who released tear gas to disperse crowds. Protesters swarmed a Confederate monument, spraying it with graffiti.

Windows were smashed at several offices and businesses, and break-ins were reported at jewelry stores and other shops.

Demonstrators angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis confronted officers in riot gear at the old state capitol, then marched to the governor’s mansion and other parts of downtown. Officers in tight formation and wielding long clubs pushed the crowd along, firing tear gas and flash bang grenades to clear the streets.

“It just keeps going. There’s something new every single day. Every single day. Every single day. We haven’t got over the last murder, because there was probably one today,” said Paris Harper of Goldsboro, who walked up and down a line of officers in riot gear. “And there’s going to be one tomorrow, and there’s going to be one the next day. It’s every single day. What is the right way? What is the right way to protest? What is the right way to get around this?”

As protesters dispersed, roving groups smashed windows and set fires in garbage cans and on sidewalks. They also defaced a large Confederate monument on the old state house grounds with obscenities and the initials of Black Lives Matter.

The mayor signed a state of emergency Sunday afternoon to allow a curfew to be imposed, but said she “didn’t want to automatically jump” to imposing the curfew Sunday night, a day after more than 1,000 people marched in downtown Raleigh in protests that later turned violent.

“We had about two hours of peaceful protesting,” Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said at a Sunday morning press conference. “Everything after that was anarchy.”

In Fayetteville, where protests have also turned chaotic and fires were set, Mayor Mitch Colvin declared a state of emergency and implemented a curfew from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday.

In Charlotte, more than 15 demonstrators were arrested during protests Sunday night, the city’s police department said in a Twitter post. Charlotte police said four of the protesters were arrested for assaulting officers, including one person who was arrested for hitting an officer with a rock. Three others were arrested on illegal weapon charges, police said.

The details of the Raleigh curfew that will start on Monday night will be announced Monday morning, Baldwin said.