SourceConflict erupts at Minneapolis, L.A. protests over George Floyd death
A Minnesota reporter said the protest began peacefully but by Wednesday night tear gas had been used and stores were looted.
Protests in Minneapolis over the in-custody death of George Floyd escalated into violence Wednesday night, as stores were looted and police deployed tear gas. At least one fire broke out during the second day of downtown demonstrations by hundreds decrying Floyd's death.
The demonstrations began peacefully but grew more violent as the night went on. Gov. Tim Walz late Wednesday called it an "extremely dangerous situation" and urged residents to leave the area.
It was not immediately clear if there were any arrests or injuries. A police spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
A reporter for NBC affiliate KARE11 of Minneapolis who was livestreaming the protest reported that an AutoZone and Target had been looted. Video showed the AutoZone with broken windows and spraypaint. One bystander was warning people against damaging the business, saying it had nothing to do with Floyd's death.
The AutoZone was on fire, a fire department official confirmed Wednesday night. Aerial video and photos showed smoke billowing out of the building and flames inside.
"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.
Police moved in to secure the scene so firefighters could come in, he said.
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 the multiple 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 in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, NBC Los Angeles reported. At times, the demonstrators were on the 101 freeway and blocking traffic.
Some people surrounded two California Highway Patrol vehicles and appeared to damage at least one of them.
"We hear your anger & your pain. We will always facilitate freedom of speech. Period. All we ask is that protests are held in a safe & legal manner," the LAPD tweeted.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground and put his knee on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes.
His death 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.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday called for charges to be filed against the officer who had his knee on Floyd's neck. 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.
Video of Floyd's death has sparked outrage, including from presumptive 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 is released.
On Tuesday, clashes broke out between police and some protesters in Minneapolis, and police deployed tear gas.
"We cannot have members of our community engaging in destructive or criminal types of behavior," said Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief said.
He said the vast majority of people protesting have been doing so peacefully.
Arradondo said his officers showed restraint when there was property damage, but he ordered gas to be used once a fence was breached and after some people were in a parking facility "which had access to our Minneapolis squad cars and weapons."
He said there were around five people arrested Tuesday, not at the precinct where demonstrations were held but at an adjacent business across the street, and he said the arrests were burglary related.
The violence continues to unfold and people are calling it a riot. It's depressing when a certain speech from 1968 remains as relevant now as it was then:
Now every year about this time, our newspapers and our televisions and people generally start talking about the long hot summer ahead. What always bothers me is that the long hot summer has always been preceded by a long cold winter. And the great problem is that the nation has not used its winters creatively enough to develop the program, to develop the kind of massive acts of concern that will bring about a solution to the problem. And so we must still face the fact that our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nations winters of delay. As long as justice is postponed we always stand on the verge of these darker nights of social disruption.