Violence again rocks Minneapolis after man’s death; 1 fatally shot near George Floyd protests

MINNEAPOLIS — Violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked a Minneapolis neighborhood for a second straight night as angry crowds looted stores, set fires and left a path of damage that stretched for miles. The mayor asked the governor to activate the National Guard.

The protests that began late Wednesday and stretched into Thursday morning were the most destructive yet since the death of George Floyd, who was seen on video gasping for breath during an arrest in which an officer kneeled on his neck for almost eight minutes. In the footage, George pleads that he cannot breathe and slowly stops talking and moving.

Mayor Jacob Frey sought calm. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 27: Protesters are shot with pepper spray as they confront police outside the Third Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Protests also spread to other U.S. cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers. Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct. The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.

Minneapolis police said the violence contrasted sharply with a mostly peaceful demonstration Tuesday afternoon at the street corner where Floyd died.

“They were chanting for things to remain peaceful,” police spokesman John Elder said. “Tonight didn’t have the same feel. And that’s sad.”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 27: People look on as a construction site burns in a large fire near the Third Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A number of businesses and homes were damaged as the area has become the site of an ongoing protest after the police killing of George Floyd. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Pockets of looting continued Thursday. A liquor store employee displayed a gun as he stood among the debris of broken bottles and beer cans inside the business.

Amid the violence, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.

Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes during the protests, including at least 16 structure fires, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes.

Firefighters were still spraying water onto hot buildings Thursday morning, and some buildings still smoldered, sending a bitter smell into the smoke-filled air.

(Video Credit: Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer via Storyful)

It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander’s cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ‘s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.

Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter. He also asked for the public’s help in keeping the peace.

The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for him to be criminally charged.

Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 27: A fire burns inside of an Auto Zone store near the Third Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Businesses near the Third Police Precinct were looted and damaged today as the area has become the site of an ongoing protest after the police killing of George Floyd. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 27: A protester throws a piece of wood on a fire in the street just north of the 3rd Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The station has become the site of an ongoing protest after the police killing of George Floyd.  (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Windows were smashed out of several businesses in a strip mall, including a department store, a charter school and other businesses, and the destruction was visible for blocks. A Wendy’s restaurant was damaged beyond recognition.

Windows were smashed out of several businesses in a strip mall, including a department store, a charter school and other businesses, and the destruction was visible for blocks. A Wendy’s restaurant was damaged beyond recognition.

Inside some of the stores, shelves were toppled and debris strewn about. Video taken inside a damaged Target that had been looted showed empty clothing racks. Obscenities were spray-painted on the outside of the store. Streets and parking lots were also covered in debris, and many businesses had been spray-painted.

There was no sign of a police presence, except around the precinct building, where officers were in riot gear. One man standing outside the building was using a bullhorn to shout. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Mama, I can’t breathe,” repeating some of Floyd’s pleas for relief.

Across from the precinct, someone had spray-painted the sidewalk in red: “Where’s humanity?”

Protesters began gathering Wednesday afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city, where the 46-year-old Floyd died on Memorial Day as police arrested him outside a convenience store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. Demonstrators also skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night’s confrontation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death and making the case a priority. The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had asked an investigation to be expedited.

The FBI had already announced that it would investigate whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

The officer who kneeled on Floyd and three others were fired Tuesday. On Wednesday, the mayor called for him to be criminally charged.

Frey appealed to Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Walz tweeted for calm Wednesday night, calling the violence “an extremely dangerous situation” and urging people to leave the scene.

The last time the Minnesota National Guard was called out to deal with civil unrest was in a backup role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The most comparable situation to the current disturbances happened when the Guard was called up to deal with the riots in Minneapolis in 1967, a summer when anger over racial inequalities came to a boil in many cities across the country.

The Minnesota National Guard was also called out during protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s and during a 1986 strike by Hormel meatpackers in Austin.

Inside some of the stores, shelves were toppled and debris strewn about. Video taken inside a damaged Target that had been looted showed empty clothing racks. Obscenities were spray-painted on the outside of the store. Streets and parking lots were also covered in debris, and many businesses had been spray-painted.

There was no sign of a police presence, except around the precinct building, where officers were in riot gear. One man standing outside the building was using a bullhorn to shout. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Mama, I can’t breathe,” repeating some of Floyd’s pleas for relief.

Across from the precinct, someone had spray-painted the sidewalk in red: “Where’s humanity?”

Protesters began gathering Wednesday afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city, where the 46-year-old Floyd died on Memorial Day as police arrested him outside a convenience store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. Demonstrators also skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night’s confrontation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death and making the case a priority. The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had asked an investigation to be expedited.

The FBI had already announced that it would investigate whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

The officer who kneeled on Floyd and three others were fired Tuesday. On Wednesday, the mayor called for him to be criminally charged.

Frey appealed to Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Walz tweeted for calm Wednesday night, calling the violence “an extremely dangerous situation” and urging people to leave the scene.

The last time the Minnesota National Guard was called out to deal with civil unrest was in a backup role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The most comparable situation to the current disturbances happened when the Guard was called up to deal with the riots in Minneapolis in 1967, a summer when anger over racial inequalities came to a boil in many cities across the country.

The Minnesota National Guard was also called out during protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s and during a 1986 strike by Hormel meatpackers in Austin.

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