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Columbus protest over George Floyd’s death turns violent

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Protesters angry over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody turned out for a demonstration in Columbus that began peacefully but turned violent, leaving smashed storefront windows along downtown streets around the statehouse.

The crowd of around 400 people entered into a standoff with Columbus police Thursday night, blocking the intersection of key streets in the Ohio capital for hours, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The demonstration began as a peaceful protest, but news outlets reported protesters began throwing objects like water bottles at officers, who responded by using tear gas on the crowd. A scuffle between a protester and an officer broke out around 9:45 p.m., WCMH-TV reported.

Some protesters attempted to breach the Ohio Statehouse later Thursday, the TV station reported, sharing photographs of what appeared to be smashed windows at the statehouse.

“I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it,” Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted before 9 p.m. “I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night.”

Earlier Thursday, video showed the crowd marching down Broad Street and blocking High Street, two downtown arteries near the statehouse. As they marched, protesters engaged in a call-and-response chant: “Say his name,“ followed by “George Floyd.”

Demonstrators also chanted, “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

The Dispatch reported that protesters dispersed by pepper spray broke windows along South High Street and broke into the DGX store, a subsidiary of Dollar General, on the street. Photographs from the Dispatch showed a smashed storefront at the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop across the street from the statehouse.

Floyd was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday. His death has touched off protests across the country this week, including in Minneapolis itself, where protesters torched a police precinct Thursday night.
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