For the second straight night, largely peaceful protests over the death of a man in Minneapolis police custody turned violent Wednesday. A man was shot to death. The mayor’s office asked that the National Guard be called in. And numerous fires were set, punctuating the gravity of the situation against the overnight darkness.
The protests followed the death Monday night of George Floyd. A police officer was seen in bystander video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Floyd was heard pleading with the officer, telling him he couldn’t breathe. He later died at a hospital.
On Wednesday, peaceful demonstrations grew ugly as the hours wore on, marked by confrontations between police in riot gear and protesters.
Video posted on social media showed protesters breaking windows of the 3rd Precinct building.
Tear gas, flames and smoke filled the streets surrounding the precinct building Wednesday evening as officers tried to get people to leave the vicinity.
Police said they were called to the scene of a possible stabbing at 9:12 p.m. It turned out a man had been shot. He later died in a hospital. A suspect was in custody, CBS Minnesota said. It wasn’t clear what led to the shooting.
Around 7 p.m., dozens of people started looting a Target store near the precinct, the station said. An AutoZone was set on fire. St. Paul police sent about 40 officers to help protect Minneapolis firefighters as they worked. Other stores were looted and other blazes set.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted late Wednesday, urging people to leave the area and calling it a “very dangerous situation.”
The office of Mayor Jacob Frey told CBS Minnesota it had requested the National Guard’s assistance.
Earlier in the day, dozens of people gathered at the intersection where Floyd was pinned against the pavement.
Protesters also went to what they believed to be the suburban home of Derek Chauvin, the officer seen in the video with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident have been fired. Frey is calling for charges against Chauvin.
That decision will be made by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who has said he would review the findings of an investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension before making a charging decision, promising an “expedited” process. Demonstrators went to his home as well Wednesday night.
The Associated Press says there was no violence reported at either home.
Floyd’s death is being probed by the FBI, the Minnesota Department of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday evening that he’d asked the FBI and Justice deaprtment to expedite the investigation, adding, “Justice will be served!”
Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday, writing, “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy.”
In Los Angeles, protesters gathered in front of City Hall and blocked traffic on the 101 freeway, CBS Los Angeles reports. One demonstrator appeared to be injured when a police car he was standing on began to drive away and he fell off.
The protest was largely peaceful, and many could be seen wearing face masks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But some demonstrators were seen breaking the windows of police cars.
The Los Angeles Police Department took to Twitter Wednesday night, saying, “Earlier we saw people on the streets of Downtown L.A., at times going onto the 101 freeway, to protest the death of George Floyd,” the tweet read. “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.”
In Memphis, demonstrators gathered in front of the Midtown police precinct Wednesday evening, reports the CBS affiliate there, WREG-TV.
It started with when 20-30 people began a silent protest over Floyd’s death. They were lined up along Union Avenue until a small group of counter-protesters showed up across the street.
Both sides began yelling at the other and tensions rose. Police stepped in, shutting down Union and allowing both sides to protest without coming in contact with each other.
Officers took some of the demonstrators into custody as they tried to maintain order.