LIVE UPDATES: Reno police lift curfew after chaotic night in downtown

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Crowds gathered in Reno May 30, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd. Reno Gazette Journal

Reno police lifted the citywide curfew at 6 a.m. Sunday, after rioters swept through downtown Reno Saturday night and into the early morning hours.

A rally that initially started peacefully to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis turned violent in the late afternoon, with mobs shattering windows at city hall and starting a small fire that was quickly extinguished. The uprising prompted a swift confrontation with police, who used tear gas and loud flash-bang explosions to disperse the crowd.

Rioters moved south down Virginia Street, over the Virginia Street bridge, breaking windows, destroying an ATM and lighting a vehicle on fire as they progressed into Midtown. Most of the rioters had dispersed by midnight, but a small group continued to break windows and riot into the early morning hours.

More: After peaceful day in Reno, George Floyd demonstration devolved into chaos, vandalism

“The citywide curfew implemented tonight amid the violent protests will be lifted effective 6:00am Sunday,” Reno police wrote in a tweet. “Police and Nevada National Guard will remain in the Downtown area.”

Police officers remained posted at locations throughout the city.

According to a booking tally from the Washoe County Jail, about 21 people were arrested on charges that appeared related to the riot between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. That included 11 charges for violating curfew.

The riots erupted as unrest spread across the United States sparked by a white officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who is black, until he lost consciousness and ultimately died. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third degree murder.

What happened on Saturday was largely peaceful protest

Reno residents joined in a nationwide movement Saturday afternoon to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while handcuffed and in police custody after a white officer kept his knee pressed into his neck for more than eight minutes. 

Early in the day, organizers estimated more than 600 attended the Reno rally which began at City Plaza Saturday afternoon with a drum circle led by the American Indian Movement Northern Nevada. Reno police later said they believed the crowd grew to between 1,000 and 1,500 people.

“Black lives matter doesn’t end here,” said Reno resident Lela Gnuse, 22. “Take it with you and put it into your communities. We all deserve equality.”

Protesters marched to the federal courthouse on Virginia Street with some carrying signs that read “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe,” the latter words uttered by Eric Garner and George Floyd shortly before they died in police custody.

The throng later marched down Virginia Street through midtown and back into downtown Reno.

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Smaller group started to cause vandalism after organizers told people to remain peaceful

A few hours into the protest, after many had left, a much smaller group of people were seen defacing the old police headquarters and burning an American flag pulled down from there. A front window at Premier Jewelry and Loan was broken near North Virginia and West Fifth streets, and a car was defaced with graffiti.

Around 6 p.m., a group walking by the Reno Police Department threw bottles and other objects into the police department’s parking lot, breaking at least two patrol units’ windshield.

“Please remember that this is to be a peaceful protest we will not condone anything else!” the organizing group had written on the event’s Facebook page early Saturday. “This is our city and we do not want it to end in shambles but we also would like to be heard!”

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Things escalated after small group broke windows and entered Reno City Hall

Downtown Reno erupted in chaos and violence on Saturday night as demonstrators protesting police brutality clashed with authorities.

In the early evening hours, police surrounded Reno City Hall after protesters broke windows on the south side of the building and set a small fire inside that was quickly extinguished.

In the ensuing hours, Reno Police and deputies from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department gradually pushed the protestors away from the building and then southward on Virginia Street to the south side of the Truckee River.

The demonstrations were a mix of protestors carrying signs and chanting slogans in protest of police brutality, part of a nationwide explosion of similar clashes sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died as a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

By the time police dug in on the steps of city hall much of the first floor of the building sustained damage.

A loudspeaker warned demonstrators to disperse, a warning that was largely ignored, before police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd and pushed forward.

From that moment forward police and demonstrators pushed back and forth, with police gradually widening the amount of real estate they could control.

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