As racial tensions simmer in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department last week, major American cities are instituting curfews again Wednesday night in an effort to keep peace in their streets following violent unrest in recent days.
Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and more are telling residents to stay inside Wednesday night as they try to get a handle on the turbulence, which has happened largely after dark.
Peaceful protests against police brutality and racial inequality have been widespread, but the gatherings sometimes turned into violent clashes between police and people who officials say are co-opting the demonstrations for their own purposes.
Taken together, the widespread and long-lasting curfews represent a crackdown on millions of Americans' freedom of movement in an effort to prevent violence that's stemmed from racial animosity following Floyd's death. The restrictions come after most states implemented some version of a stay-at-home order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus in recent months, with some restrictions on peoples' movement and which businesses are allowed to open still in place.
Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said in a press conference Wednesday that the curfews had helped tamp down on violence in the city, and that he hoped his department could avoid making any riot-related arrests on Wednesday night.
"The curfew gives the police the ability to stop the violence that we saw two nights during the course of this event," he said. "If you have large groups that are clearly peacefully protesting ... those groups are going to be allowed to peacefully protest ... If there are indicators within a group that may rise or increase in volatility ... then I think it's our responsibility to ensure that that group behavior is stopped to prevent the volatility that we saw in our city."
Newsham said that he believes the curfews have been "very effective in ramping down the level of violence. ... The arrests tell the story. You go 19, 92, 288, and 19 and I'm hoping that tonight, today, the demonstrations and tomorrow ... will be zero arrests and zero arrests will continue for the rest of this event."
The curfew in the nation's capital will begin at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, which is four hours later than it was set for the previous two nights.
Los Angeles County also announced that it would institute a curfew for the fourth night in a row Wednesday, which would begin at 9 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. Thursday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday extended the curfew in his city -- which begins each night at 8 p.m. and ends 5 a.m. -- through next Monday
"I would urge the protesters to respect the curfew, because the curfew is necessary because the police have a real job of policing, dealing with the looters," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press briefing on Wednesday. "The looting is criminal behavior pure and simple."
A number of other cities are also mandating that their residents -- with few enumerated exceptions -- stay home Wednesday night.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday extended a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew for Minneapolis and St. Paul through Thursday.
"Minnesotans need more than ever to lean on their neighbors, show up for their communities, and add their voice to this urgent conversation on addressing our systemic problems," Walz said in a press release. “Yet they’ve made those sacrifices to stay home through the curfew to help keep our neighborhoods safe. We’re incredibly grateful that Minnesotans are working with us so we can focus our conversation and energy on justice for George Floyd"
Trenton, N.J., will have a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Chicago, Ill., has a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. that is in effect indefinitely, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot has not yet lifted it.
Denver, Colo., will see its curfew, which lasts 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., continue through Friday
Philadelphia, Pa., will spend its fifth consecutive night under a curfew, which will last from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Violence in most places has petered out this week after it peaked over the weekend. But with peaceful protests asking for justice for Floyd's death still going on in many places, with the support of politicians on both sides of the aisle, local and state leaders are keeping restrictions on their citizens in an effort to keep nighttime violence from flaring up again.
Floyd died last week after a Minneapolis Police Department officer used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground by his neck for several minutes as Floyd begged for air. Video of the incident went viral, sparking anger and leading to the firing of four officers involved and the arrest of Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is expected to upgrade the charges against Chauvin from third-degree murder and manslaughter to second-degree murder. The other three officers involved -- Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – will be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, Fox News is told.
Two autopsies of Floyd's body -- one done by the county government and the other ordered by Floyd's family -- each concluded that Floyd's death was a homicide.
Fox News' Kelly Phares, Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.