Protests against the killings of black people by police were held in many cities across the US. Tensions between black citizens and police have risen palpably since the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota by officers, and a retaliatory attack on police by sniper Micah Johnson in Dallas that killed five officers.

Black Lives Matter protesters arrested by police in Baton Rouge demonstration IBTimes US

Many of the demonstrations focused on attempts to shut down major interstates. Police in riot gear managed to keep a group of protesters from blocking Interstate 110 in Baton Rouge. Scores of demonstrators were arrested after authorities warned that violence during the protests would not be tolerated. Baton Rouge police reported that at least 48 people were taken into custody after demonstrators clashed with police following a peaceful march to the state capitol.

In St Paul, Minnesota, 21 officers were injured on Saturday (9 July) when they were pelted with rocks, bottles, construction material and fireworks. Hundreds of protesters had shut down I-94, a major thoroughfare linking the Twin Cities, snarling traffic. Police made arrests and used smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Officials across the country grappled with a wave of demonstrations against excessive police force that has swept the country. Undeterred by heightened concerns about safety at protests after a lone gunman killed five police officers in Dallas, organisers went ahead with marches in New York City, Washington DC and other cities. Demonstrations spread outside the US: hundreds of people took part in a Black Lives Matter protest in London.

The most recent shooting deaths by police come after several years of contentious killings by law enforcement officers, including that of Michael Brown, a teenager whose death in the summer of 2014 caused riots and weeks of protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.