Violent protests rock Minneapolis for second straight night
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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