Minneapolis Is Burning: Protesters Loot and Set Buildings on Fire to Protest Police Killing of George Floyd

Police used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters who gathered outside the precinct where Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck until he was unresponsive, worked until this week.
May 28, 2020, 11:20am
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Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP

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Minneapolis burned on Wednesday night as protesters clashed with police for a second night following the death of George Floyd after a police officer kneeled on his neck until he was unresponsive.

Buildings were set on fire, stores were looted, and at least one man was shot and killed after protests turned violent and continued well into the early hours of Thursday morning.

A man was shot to death outside a pawn shop close to the center of the protests. Video footage of the aftermath of the shooting, posted on Twitter and reviewed by VICE News, shows a police officer performing CPR on a body lying on the pavement outside Cadillac Pawn, while other officers attempted to keep crowds back.

“There’s somebody in there with a rifle. Back up! Back up!” one of the medics at the scene can be heard saying on the video.

Police say they are treating the death as a homicide and have a suspect in custody, but the investigation is ongoing.

Protesters began gathering at the 3rd Precinct police headquarters in the early afternoon. Derek Chauvin, the officer who was videoed kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and the three other officers —Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and, J. Alexander Kueng — who stood back and observed the incident, were based at the precinct.

The protests began peacefully, but as darkness fell, tensions rose and police began firing rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, and flashbangs at protests who had lobbed some water bottles towards the officers.

“The police are the reason people are there,” Minneapolis Council Member Jeremiah Ellison tweeted in the early hours of Thursday. “We failed last night. We are failing our city again. We do not employ the community. We *do* employ the police. And the police need to leave the scene.”

The previous night’s heavy rain had quelled initial clashes with police, but on Wednesday night protesters broke into nearby stores, including a Target, and setting fire to the AutoZone Auto Parts store across from the 3rd Precinct.

Throughout the night and into Thursday morning, protesters continued setting fire to buildings and vehicles, and people were seen leaving stores carrying looted flat-screen TVs, groceries, and clothing.

The situation got so out of hand that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who pleaded with protesters in the early hours of Thursday morning to go home, requested that Gov. Tim Walz send in the National Guard to help bring the situation under control.

READ: New videos appear to undermine police account that George Floyd ‘resisted' officers

Walz has not commented on calls to bring in the Guard, but he did confirm that dozens of state troopers would be brought in to bolster police numbers in the city.

Protesters are demanding swift action against Chauvin, and their anger at the situation only increased Wednesday when video footage emerged contradicting the police’s official line that Floyd “resisted” arrest. It was also revealed that Chauvin, who had been an officer for 19 years, was involved in at least two incidents in which suspects were shot.

In the first incident, in 2006, Chauvin and other officers killed a man fleeing the scene of a stabbing while allegedly pointing a gun at the officers. And in 2008, Chauvin was placed on administrative leave for shooting a man in the torso after he allegedly reached for the gun of another officer during a domestic assault call.

Chauvin was fired this week, along with the three other officers who were present during Floyd’s arrest. But the protesters, Floyd’s family, and elected officials are all calling on investigators to quickly bring murder charges against them.

“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, told NBC on Wednesday. “I don’t need them to be suspended and able to work in another state or another county… Their jobs should be taken, and they should be put in jail for murder.”

On Wednesday night, there were peaceful protests at Chauvin’s suburban home as well as at the home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who will decide whether to charge the officers.

Mayor Frey put further pressure on Freeman to resolve the situation quickly.

“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey said at a press conference on Wednesday. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. And I cannot come up with a good answer to that.”

Cover: A man poses for a photo in the parking lot of an AutoZone store in flames, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)