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TIMELINE: Here's How Violence Erupted in Boston After Peaceful George Floyd Protests

Six hours of peaceful protests suddenly turned chaotic after crowds began dispersing

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Chaos and violence erupted in Boston Sunday night after thousands of peaceful protesters gathered to denounce police brutality.

The protests began in the afternoon, drawing throngs of demonstrators outraged by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck until he stopped breathing.

But as the crowd dispersed, an atmosphere of unity was shattered. Protesters clashed with police, leading to dozens of arrests. Storefronts in multiple neighborhoods were shattered and business looted.

Here's how the chaos unfolded.

Many protesters head home

Around 6:30 p.m., peaceful protesters who had gathered in Roxbury, Chinatown and the South End began marching toward the State House. A massive crowd gathered, capping some six hours of protests that began in the afternoon. Around 9 p.m., the crowd was dispersing, with many protesters leaving the area.

Protestors led a march from City Hall Plaza to Boston Common following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many held signs that read "Black Lives Matter" and "I can't breath".

Signs of unrest

Sometime around 9:08 p.m., a person on a megaphone told people to start dispersing, according to NBC10 Boston reporters on the ground. At that time, people began throwing objects at Massachusetts State Police officers who were in front of the State House, prompting them to retreat up a landing.

Around the same time, the Boston Police Department tweeted that "dangerous projectiles" were being thrown at officers in the area of Winter and Washington streets. The Boston Globe reported that doors at The Corner shopping center in that area were smashed.

Tension spikes

Around 9:13, aerial footage showed police putting one man in custody in the Downtown Crossing area. Video from the area also showed police barricades that had been knocked over.

Around 9:20 p.m. police in protective gear and with batons arrived at Downtown Crossing from Boston Common. The officers formed a line, creating a standoff with protesters.

After hours of a peaceful march, protestors turned on police around 9 p.m. Sunday.

According to Massachusetts State Police, a male protestor scaled the fence at the State House around 9:30 p.m. and was immediately apprehended. 

Shortly after that, a Transit Police vehicle was "surrounded by an aggressive and combative mob who began to strike the cruiser," state police said. Troopers discharged pepper ball projectiles at those allegedly striking the cruiser.

Around 9:30 p.m. Boston police tweeted they had received reports of people throwing rocks and bricks at officers. The department asked "peaceful protesters" to vacate the area in another tweet.

At around 9:40 p.m., authorities at the State House appeared to fire non-lethal rounds at protesters after a group converged on a Transit Police vehicle, according to a reporter on the ground.

Looting begins

Around 9:45 p.m., signs of looting emerged in Downtown Crossing. People were seen by reporters taking items from a Men's Warehouse store after the windows were broken. There were also reports of potted plants overturned outside Macy's. A shoe store and cell phone store were among the other businesses looted.

The Globe reported the window to a jewelry shop on School Street was smashed around 10 p.m., followed by looting. Windows at a Walgreens store were also shattered.

A Men's Wearhouse store was looted Sunday after chaos erupted following a protest against police brutality.

Cruiser set on fire

Sometime before 9:50 p.m., aerial footage showed an abandoned police cruiser surrounded by protesters. The doors were eventually torn from the vehicle.

Around 10:03, smoke was seen billowing from the cruiser, which soon became fully engulfed.

After hours of peaceful protests, a Boston police cruiser has been set on fire downtown.


At 10:37 p.m., Boston police tweeted that "the time for protesting is over" and told people in the area to go home.

At times, tear gas and pepper spray were used to disperse crowds, according to NBC10 Boston reporters.

At around 10:40 p.m., state police said the National Guard had been called in to help local authorities.

At around 11 p.m., state police said they had formed a perimeter around the State House throughout the night and said they would continue to do so.

By 11:50, there were signs that tensions were dissipating and more people had left the area, according to reporters at the scene.

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