A protester has been shot dead by law enforcement officers in Louisville on the fourth night of unrest following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, local media reports.
It is not clear if the man was shot by National Guard – who were brought in on Saturday to quell the unrest in the city – or by a police officer.
The man, understood to be the owner of a local barbecue restaurant, was killed shortly after midnight when a large crowd gathered in a parking lot after the ‘dusk to dawn’ 9pm curfew began.
Reports suggest that the crowd open fired on the police who shot back, WLKY reported.
Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad called the man a ‘protester’, however witnesses said they were not part of the demonstrations.
The victim would be the first person killed by an officer during the nation-wide unrest.
His death comes just days after gunfire wounded at least seven people at another Louisville protest, this one following the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed by police in March.
One person was left in critical condition. Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer said police officers did not fire the shots.
Protests have erupted up and down the country after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on unarmed George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds last week, despite Floyd’s desperate repeated pleas for help crying, ‘I can’t breathe’. Floyd passed out and later died.
His death is seen as a symbol of systemic police brutality against African-Americans sparking outrage country-wide.
Tens of thousands of people gathered as the National Guard was deployed to over half the states in the country on Sunday for protests that have seen 4,100 people get arrested this weekend alone.
But even the threat of heavy officer presence didn’t deter protesters in Philadelphia from hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, crowds to raid stores including Coach and Chanel in New York and San Francisco, and fires being ignited mere feet from the White House.
Late Sunday in Washington D.C. a fire was set ablaze in the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church and Lafayette Park in front of the White House.
This week hundreds of protests have unfolded in at least 145 cities across the country as people gather in outrage over the horrifying death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while in the custody of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Memorial Day.
The demonstrations have marked unparalleled civil unrest in the US that hasn’t been seen since the 1968 assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.