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Polk County imposes curfew after dozens arrested

June 1, 2020 GMT
In this May 29, 2020, photo, Marcus Lavon of Des Moines raises his hands during a protest in Des Moines. Protests have been erupting all over the country after George Floyd died earlier this week in police custody in Minneapolis. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)
In this May 29, 2020, photo, Marcus Lavon of Des Moines raises his hands during a protest in Des Moines. Protests have been erupting all over the country after George Floyd died earlier this week in police custody in Minneapolis. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)
In this May 29, 2020, photo, Marcus Lavon of Des Moines raises his hands during a protest in Des Moines. Protests have been erupting all over the country after George Floyd died earlier this week in police custody in Minneapolis. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)
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In this May 29, 2020, photo, Marcus Lavon of Des Moines raises his hands during a protest in Des Moines. Protests have been erupting all over the country after George Floyd died earlier this week in police custody in Minneapolis. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)
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In this May 29, 2020, photo, Marcus Lavon of Des Moines raises his hands during a protest in Des Moines. Protests have been erupting all over the country after George Floyd died earlier this week in police custody in Minneapolis. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials on Sunday imposed a curfew in Polk County, home to Des Moines, after two nights of protests resulted in vandalism and arrests of dozens of people.

Polk County issued the mandatory stay at home order, which is effective from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday.

“It is imperative that we have cooperation from the community to prevent violence and property damage,” Matt McCoy, chairman of the Polk County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “For this reason, Polk County has no other choice but to make this difficult decision.”

The curfew came after several large gatherings Friday and Saturday night in downtown Des Moines to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Like many of the Floyd protests around the country, a day of peaceful demonstration on Saturday devolved into unrest after the sun went down.

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Live video from WOI-TV showed a small group of people spraying paint on the Polk County Courthouse and breaking at least three of its first-floor windows. Police arrived about 9:40 p.m. and shot tear gas about 10 minutes later, causing what appeared to be about 250 protesters to scatter.

They later had another confrontation with police at the state Capitol and then headed back toward the courthouse, where police again used tear gas early Sunday after some people broke into a grocery store in the area and some protesters threw rocks and bottles at officers.

Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek said 47 people were arrested early Sunday and that windows were broken at more than a dozen downtown businesses.

Video from WHO-TV showed dozens of people marching in Des Moines chanting slogans such as, “I Can’t Breathe” and “No Justice, No Peace.” The crowd then knelt on a bridge, briefly blocking traffic.

Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Monday sparked days of unrest there and protests across the United States. Floyd, who was black and was handcuffed, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving. Chauvin now faces murder and manslaughter charges. He and the other three officers who were arresting Floyd for suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill were fired the day after Floyd died, but the other three officers haven’t been charged.

Among other things, the Des Moines protesters called for charges against the other three officers.

Community activists and religious leaders were planning a Sunday candlelight vigil and a Monday evening rally outside the Iowa Capitol.