Protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd took a dramatic turn for the worse last night as city police responded to stores in the city being looted and burned as well as a deadly shooting at a protest location.
Multiple reports indicated that Mayor Jacob Frey reached out to Governor Tim Walz to deploy the National Guard to the city.
At least one group of armed men was seen outside a strip mall in Minneapolis on last night amid the looting.
Protests in the city first erupted Tuesday after video emerged of a police officer with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck while the man was lying in the street, in custody. Protesters have called for the officers involved — four of whom have been fired — to be charged in his death.
The fatal shooting late last night was connected to looting at a pawn shop. The store’s owner reportedly fired the shot. Police said one person was in custody.
Max Nesterak, a reporter for the Minnesota Reformer, interviewed a group of armed men outside a tobacco shop who said they agree with the protests but not the looting. They said police in the city have been overextended and they stopped at the tobacco shop because they were told the business owners were desperate to protect their store.
“These guys are out here with machetes, with shattered windows trying to keep looters out because cops can’t get in here,” one of the armed men said. “So I figured before there were cops, there were Americans. So here we are.”
Looting has been recorded at a Target store off East Lake Street and an AutoZone was set on fire near a police precinct.
Officers could be seen surrounding the precinct but did not attempt to intervene in the looting. Earlier, some protesters skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night’s confrontation. One reporter posted an image on Twitter of Minnesota State troopers taking cover after the sound of gunfire rang out from a nearby parking lot early this morning.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died in police custody and a citizen’s cell phone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ‘s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive. Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police had responded to an alleged forgery taking place. A man matching Floyd’s description allegedly used a counterfeit bill.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday. They were identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.
Yesterday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged. Federal investigators have joined the investigation into Floyd’s death.
Protesters also gathered last night at Chauvin’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.
The FBI has been called in to aid police in the investigation into Floyd’s death, which immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed African American man who died in 2014 in New York City after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, heard in another video saying, “I can’t breathe.”
President Donald Trump said he ordered the FBI and Justice Department to investigate the death.