President Donald Trump criticized the “total lack of leadership” in Minneapolis on Thursday evening. “I just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the army was with him all the time. Any difficulty and we will take control but, when the looting begins, the shooting will begin, “he said on Twitter.
A visibly tired and frustrated Frey made his first public appearance of the night at city hall around 2 a.m. and took responsibility for evacuating the compound, saying that it had become too dangerous for the officers there. -low. As Frey continued, a reporter cut down loudly with a question, “What’s the plan here?” “
” In regards to? Frey replied. He then added, “There is currently a lot of pain and anger in our city. I understand that … What we have seen in the past hours and the last two nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable. “
He defended the city’s lack of engagement with the looters – only a handful of arrests in the first two nights of violence – and said, “We are doing everything we can to keep the peace. He said members of the Guard were stationed in places to help stem the looting, including banks, grocery stores and pharmacies.
Protests broke out on Tuesday, one day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police captured on a widely publicized citizen video. On video, Floyd can be seen pleading as Constable Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. Over the minutes, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the southern part of Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested.
Earlier Thursday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard at the request of the mayor of Minneapolis, but it was not immediately clear when and where the guard was deployed, and no one could be seen during demonstrations in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The guard tweeted minutes after the fire in the compound that it had activated more than 500 soldiers in the metropolitan area.
The Guard said a “key objective” was to make sure the fire department could respond to calls, and said in a follow-up tweet that it was “here with the Minneapolis Fire Department” to help. But no move was made to put out the fire of the 3rd City. Deputy fire chief Bryan Tyner said fire crews could not safely respond to fires in the police station and some nearby buildings.
Earlier on Thursday, dozens of businesses across the twin cities opened their windows and doors to prevent looting, Target, based in Minneapolis, announced that it was temporarily closing two dozen local stores. Minneapolis has shut down almost all of its light rail and bus systems until Sunday for security reasons.
In St. Paul, clouds of smoke floated in the air as police armed with batons and wearing gas masks and bullet-proof vests watched demonstrators along one of the main trade corridors of the city, where firefighters also sprayed water on a series of small fires. . At one point, officers lined up in front of a target, trying to prevent the looters, who also broke the windows of other businesses.
Hundreds of protesters returned on Thursday to the center of Minneapolis, the center of the violence, where the night scene hovered between anger and a street party. At one point, a group playing in a parking lot opposite the 3rd Precinct broke into a punk version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. Nearby, protesters transported clothing dummies from a looted target and threw them at a burning car. a fire broke out nearby.
But elsewhere in Minneapolis, thousands of peaceful protesters marched through the streets to demand justice.
Floyd’s death deeply shaken Minneapolis and sparked protests in cities across the United States. Local leaders have repeatedly urged protesters to avoid violence.
“Please stay at home. Please do not come here to protest. Please stay focused on George Floyd, advancing our movement and preventing what will never happen again, “tweeted St. Paul’s mayor Melvin Carter, who is black.
Erika Atson, 20, was among thousands of people who gathered outside government offices in downtown Minneapolis, where organizers had called for a peaceful protest. Many protesters were wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there have been few attempts to distance themselves.
Atson, who is black, described seeing her 14- and 11-year-old brothers attacked by Minneapolis police years ago because the police mistakenly assumed that the boys had firearms. She said she had attended “all of the protests” since Floyd’s death and that she feared raising children who may be vulnerable during meetings with the police.
“We don’t want to be here to fight anyone. We don’t want anyone to be hurt. We don’t want to cause damage, ”she said. “We just want the police to be held accountable. “
The group marched peacefully for three hours before another clash with the police broke out, although details are sparse.
After calling the guard, Walz called for widespread changes following the death of Floyd.
“It’s time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they are responsible for protecting, “said Walz.
Much of the violence in Minneapolis occurred in the Longfellow neighborhood, where protesters converged on the police station that arrested Floyd. In a shopping mall across from 3rd Precinct, the windows of almost every business had been smashed, from the Target department store at one end to the Planet Fitness gymnasium at the other. Only the 24-hour laundromat seems to have escaped unharmed.
” WHY US? Demanded a large expanse of red graffiti scrawled on the target’s wall. A Wendy restaurant across the street was charred almost beyond recognition.
Among the victims of the night fires: a six-story building under construction that was to provide nearly 200 affordable housing apartments.
“We are burning our own neighborhood,” said Deona Brown, a distraught 24-year-old woman standing with a friend outside the police station, where a small group of protesters shouted at a dozen stone-faced police. in riot gear. “This is where we live, where we shop and they destroyed it.” No officer could be seen beyond the station.
“What this cop did was wrong, but I’m scared now,” said Brown.
Others in the crowd saw something different in the wreckage.
Protesters destroyed property “because the system has broken down,” said a young man who only identified himself by his nickname, Cash, and who said he had been on the streets during the violence. He rejected the idea that the destruction would harm residents of the largely black neighborhood.
“They are making money for us,” he said angrily at the owners of the destroyed stores. He laughed when asked if he had participated in the looting or the violence. “I didn’t break anything. “
The protests that started Wednesday evening and lasted until Thursday were more violent than those on Tuesday, which included skirmishes between officers and protesters but no widespread property damage.
The protests have also spread to other US cities. Protesters in New York defied the ban on New York coronaviruses on public rallies Thursday, clashing with police, while protesters blocked traffic in downtown Denver and downtown Columbus. A day earlier, protesters had taken to the streets of Los Angeles and Memphis.
In Louisville, Kentucky, police confirmed that at least seven people were killed on Thursday night as protesters sought justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed by police at her home in March.
Amid the violence in Minneapolis, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawnbroker, possibly by the owner, authorities said.
Firefighters responded to about 30 intentional fires on Wednesday and several fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was injured by the flames.
On Thursday, the city released a transcript of the 911 call that brought police to the grocery store where Floyd was arrested. The appellant described someone paying with a counterfeit bill, with workers rushing outside to find the man in a pickup truck. The appellant described the man as “terribly drunk and he couldn’t control himself”. Asked by the 911 operator if the man was “under the influence of something,” the appellant replied, “Something like that, yes. It is not acting properly. Police said Floyd matched the suspect’s caller’s description.
The US Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said on Thursday that they were conducting a “solid criminal investigation” into the death. Trump said he had asked for an investigation.
The FBI is also investigating the violation of Floyd’s civil rights.
Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, was fired on Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the arrest. The next day, the mayor asked that Chauvin be charged with the criminal offense. He also called for the activation of the National Guard.
Associated Press editors Steve Karnowski, Jeff Baenen and Doug Glass in Minneapolis, and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.