After death of George Floyd, violence again rocks Minneapolis
A man was shot to death as violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked Minneapolis for a second straight night Wednesday, with protesters looting stores near a police precinct and setting fires that continued to burn into Thursday morning.
Police said they were investigating the death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody but were still investigating what led to the shooting. The man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, authorities said.
Mayor Jacob Frey appealed 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.
Protesters began gathering early Wednesday afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old George Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive.
News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, with some running into and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, a blaze erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it. Protesters set other fires in the street.
Officers could be seen surrounding the nearby precinct, not attempting to intervene in the looting.
The man who died in an encounter with Minneapolis police was a former Texas high school football star carving out a living in his adopted state.
Multiple fires burned early Thursday at buildings, and smoke hung over the city. Fire crews worked to put out flames. Blocks of buildings with broken-out windows and other damage from looting were seen, and KSTP-TV reported that some people were seen going through the buildings.
Smoke hung over the city, and looters carried merchandise from a damaged Target store with no interference by police. Video of the store’s interior showed empty clothing racks and shelves and debris strewed about. Obscenities were spray-painted on the outside of the store.
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 Trump tweeted that he had asked that an investigation be expedited.
The FBI had already announced that it would investigate whether Floyd’s civil rights had been violated.
Frey asked 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.
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.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for criminal charges against the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home, as well as at 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.
As the protests stretched into the evening, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm. In an interview with KMSP-TV, he referred to the internal investigation as well as the FBI’s investigation of Floyd’s death and said they offered a chance at justice.
“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we’re seeing tonight,” he said, “whether it’s the looting, the damage to property or other things.”
In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.
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