George Floyd protest turns deadly; Minneapolis mayor requests National Guard
The mayor of Minneapolis asked the Minnesota National Guard to move in after protests in the city over the death of George Floyd in the custody of police escalated Wednesday night with a fatal shooting near the site of the demonstrations, widespread looting, fires and the deployment of tear gas.
“I cannot risk the safety of innocent people and so that is what I’ve been sworn to uphold and that is what I am dedicated to do,” Mayor Jacob Frey told NBC affiliate KARE. “We can have both things. We can have peaceful demonstrations, but I also have to ensure the safety of everyone in the city.”
“I’m imploring our city, imploring our community, imploring every one of us to keep the peace. Let’s honor George Floyd’s memory,” Frey told KARE11 in a phone interview.
One person was in custody in the shooting death near the site of the protests, police said. Officers responded to a report of a stabbing at 9:05 p.m. and found a man who wasn’t breathing lying on the sidewalk, police said in a statement Thursday morning.
The unidentified victim was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center. At the hospital, it was discovered the victim had been shot.
Multiple fires were reported, and several businesses were looted. Minneapolis police were assisted by officers from nearby St. Paul, state police and metro transit police.
Beyond the shooting, there were no known injuries to protesters or police, and no additional arrests, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said at a news conference early Thursday.
“Tonight was a different night of protesting than it was just the night before,” Elder said.
A reporter for NBC affiliate KARE11 of Minneapolis who was livestreaming the protest reported that an AutoZone and Target had been looted. A Cub Foods and a Dollar Tree also showed signs of damage and looting.
Video showed the AutoZone with broken windows and spray paint. One bystander was warning people against damaging the business, saying it had nothing to do with Floyd’s death.
A fire broke out at the AutoZone, a fire department official confirmed Wednesday night.
“Initially … it was just being looted, but at some point, a fire started,” Ricardo Lopez, a journalist for the Minnesota Reformer news organization, told KARE11, adding he wasn’t sure how it began.
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Protesters set other fires in the street.
Early Thursday, a reporter from The Minneapolis Star Tribune tweeted images of a housing complex construction site that appeared fully engulfed in flames and video of a liquor store that was trashed with shattered glass and boxes littering the sidewalk.
Elder, the police spokesman, confirmed “a large fire from an apartment building that is under construction” but he did not have a count of how many fires were burning early Thursday.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the local FOX 9 TV station that he ordered the use of tear gas after violence and looting. He said that he is committed to protecting the rights of people to demonstrate and most did so peacefully, but there have been groups committing criminal acts.
Arradondo made a call for peace and patience to let investigations play out Wednesday night.
“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts that we’re seeing tonight, whether it’s the looting, whether it’s the damage of property and other things,” Arradondo said in the FOX interview.
Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the suburban home of the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck 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.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, NBC Los Angeles reported. At times, the demonstrators blocked traffic on the 101 freeway.
Some surrounded two California Highway Patrol vehicles and damaged them.
CHP said when it attempted to disperse a crowd on the freeway, “they were immediately surrounded” and someone broke the rear window of a patrol car with a skateboard.
A CHP officer tried to leave, and a protester jumped on the car’s hood before jumping off into the roadway, officials said. That person is said to have suffered moderate injuries.
A second CHP patrol vehicle stopped to help that man but that vehicle was also surrounded and had its rear window shattered and that officer also left, the CHP said.
His detainment was captured on video, and he can be heard pleading with the officer, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.”
The four police officers involved in Floyd’s detainment, which stemmed from a report of a forgery, were fired Tuesday. The officer seen with his knee on Floyd has been identified as Derek Chauvin.
Minneapolis police identified the other officers as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.
The Minneapolis mayor on Wednesday called for charges to be filed against Chauvin. Police had said Floyd resisted arrest, but Frey said “I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.”
His death is being investigated by the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy.
The area along Lake has become unsafe. We are asking for your help in keeping the peace tonight. https://t.co/kRZuWGJY29
Video of Floyd’s death has sparked outrage, including from the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, who tweeted about it on Tuesday and on Wednesday called it a “tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but a part of an ingrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country.”
President Donald Trump also weighed in on Wednesday. “My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!” he tweeted.
Bridgett Floyd, Floyd’s sister, said on NBC’s “TODAY” show Wednesday morning that she wants all of the officers at the scene to be charged with murder.
“They murdered my brother. He was crying for help,” she said.
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, which represents the department’s 800-plus rank-and file officers, asked the public not to rush to judgment before all video can be reviewed and a medical examiner’s report released.