Tanker truck drives into protesters as U.S. cities fear another night of violent protests

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – A tanker truck drove into a throng of protesters on a closed interstate near Minneapolis on Sunday, with the driver pulled from his rig and beaten, as major U.S. cities imposed curfews in fear of another night of demonstrations against police brutality descending into violence.

It did not appear that any marchers were struck by the truck as it moved through the crowd on the westbound lanes of Interstate 35, honking. The freeway was closed to traffic at the time.

A Reuters witness said the truck driver was dragged out of the cab of his tractor-trailer rig and beaten by protesters before he was taken into custody by Minneapolis police. A Reuters photo showed him shirtless and covering his face as he stood next to a police officer.

“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety said on Twitter. “The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”

The incident marked the latest outburst of violence following what began as peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, sparking outrage that has swept across a politically and racially divided nation.

Protesters have flooded streets after weeks of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic that threw millions out of work and hit minority communities especially hard.

As demonstrators broke windows and set fires on Saturday night, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds in many cities. In some cases, bystanders and members of the media were targeted.

In one video from Minneapolis on Saturday, a National Guard Humvee rolled down a residential street followed by what appeared to be police officers wearing tactical gear. An officer ordered residents to go inside, then yelled: “Light ‘em up” before shooting projectiles at a group of people on their front porch. The city’s curfew does not apply to residents outside on their private property.

In New York City, police arrested about 350 people overnight and 30 officers suffered minor injuries. Mayor Bill de Blasio said police conduct was being investigated, including widely shared videos showing a police sport utility vehicle in Brooklyn lurching into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with debris.

De Blasio said he had not seen a separate video showing an officer pulling down the mask of a black protester who had his hands in the air, then spraying a substance in his face.

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