In the second day of demonstration, protests against police violence have spread across the U.S. in response to the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25. Thousands of people are decrying the killing by police.
Among many places, protests spread in Los Angeles, Memphis, Minnesota, Houston, Chicago. In Minneapolis, protesters turned to violent confrontation as police fired tear gas canisters into crowds.
Video and photos show hundreds of people, many in medical masks, gathering in downtown Los Angeles, where demonstrators blocked a freeway and smashed the windows of a police car, and in Memphis, where police had erected barricades.
Protesters rallied in Houston for a prayer vigil and in Chicago Tuesday night. Chance the Rapper organized the Chicago protest and spoke to those assembled: “This organized protest isn’t a direct diss to CPD. It’s not a diss to you guys’ mayor. It’s specifically standing in solidarity with the people in Minneapolis that are grieving. I’m sure there’s some black men and women officers, and white officers in this building that woke up sick to their stomach when they saw this video as well, and we’re standing in solidarity with all those people, and we’re just letting you all know that this s**t’s not going to keep happening.”
Demonstrations in Minneapolis, which began Tuesday and continued Wednesday, turned to violent confrontation as police fired tear gas canisters into crowds.
Floyd, 46, died after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for at least seven minutes while handcuffing him.
Video posted to Facebook showed Floyd repeatedly yelling “Help me!” and “I can’t breathe” before he fell unconscious, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, a black man killed by law enforcement in 2014.
Floyd, reportedly suspected of trying to pass counterfeit bills at a corner eatery, was taken by ambulance from the scene of his arrest and pronounced dead the same night at a hospital.
Police had said Floyd resisted arrest, but Frey said: “I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.”
The four officers involved in Floyd’s death were fired Tuesday.
The FBI is investigating Floyd’s death for possible civil rights violations, and the city’s mayor has called for charges against Chauvin.
They murdered my brother
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.
2nd day of demonstration, riot police fire tear gas in Minneapolis
Protesters clashed with riot police firing tear gas for a second night in Minneapolis on Wednesday in an outpouring of rage over the death of Floyd.
The second day of demonstrations, accompanied by looting, began hours after Mayor Jacob Frey urged prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white policeman shown pinning Floyd to the street.
Hundreds of protesters, many with faces covered, thronged streets around the Third Precinct police station late on Wednesday, about half a mile from where Floyd had been arrested, chanting, “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe.”
On Tuesday, clashes broke out between police and some protesters in Minneapolis, and police used tear gas against the protesters.
The crowd grew to thousands as night fell and the protest turned into a standoff outside the station, where police in riot gear formed barricade lines while protesters taunted them from behind makeshift barricades of their own.
Police, some taking positions on rooftops, used tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades to keep the crowds at bay, while protesters pelted police with rocks, water bottles and other projectiles. Some threw tear gas canisters back at the officers.
Television news images from a helicopter over the area showed dozens of people looting a Target store, running out with clothing and shopping carts full of merchandise.
Fires erupted after dark at several businesses, including an auto parts store, and eyewitnesses said the blazes appeared to be the work of arsonists.
A smaller, peaceful protest was held outside the suburban home of Derek Chauvin, one of the police officers implicated in Floyd’s killing. Some protesters gathered near the home of Derek Chauvin hoisting signs and scrawling anti-police slogans on the street.
I can’t breathe
The video of Monday’s deadly confrontation between police and Floyd has stirred a national outcry and led Mayor Frey to call on Wednesday for Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman “to charge the arresting officer in this case.”
The city identified the four officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. It did not say who had his knee against Floyd’s throat, and gave no further information.
The Police Officers’ Federation of Minneapolis, a police union, said in a statement the officers involved were cooperating with investigators and it was “not time to rush to judgment.”
“We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report,” the union said, asking the community to remain calm.
Frey did not say what charge was appropriate for the officer, but said he has relayed his wish to Freeman.
On Tuesday, the county attorney’s office said it would make a charging decision after state investigators and the FBI conclude their inquiries.
The case is reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York City who died after being put in a police chokehold.
Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement calling attention to a wave of killings of African-Americans by police using unjustified lethal force.
Extremely dangerous situation
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. Representatives from the police and fire departments did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Flames and smoke
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.
Flames and smoke could be seen on the roof a commercial building, and authorities were responding, aerial video showed late Wednesday.
Ricardo Lopez, a journalist for the Minnesota Reformer news organization, told KARE11 that the AutoZone appeared to have been on fire.
“Initially … it was just being looted, but at some point, a fire started,” he said, adding he wasn’t sure how it began.
Police moved in to secure the scene so firefighters could come in, he said. Photos and video showed flames inside the building.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told the local FOX 9 TV station that he ordered the use of tear gas on the crowd after violence and looting.
He has said that the department is dedicated to protecting First Amendment rights, but not at the expense of others’ personal safety.
Descend into looting and vandalism
Gangs of looters have cleared out a number of shops in Minneapolis with violent clashes erupting between demonstrators and law enforcement. The city descended into looting and vandalism on Wednesday.
Thick clouds of tear gas
Tuesday’s action also saw protesters gather outside the building, facing thick clouds of police tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets – though the law enforcement presence in the area appears to have been scaled back compared to the previous day.
On Wednesday, officers instead took up positions on the roof of the headquarters, where they fired projectiles into the crowd below.
Chaotic scenes unfolded elsewhere in the city as well, with protesters clashing with police in the middle of a major thoroughfare, which was barricaded off by officers clad in riot gear.
The two days of rage come after a viral video emerged on Monday showing Floyd’s last moments alive, in which an officer was seen pinning the man to the pavement with a knee to his throat as he complains of trouble breathing. While the officers involved in the incident have since been fired, the protesters, as well as Floyd’s family, insist they be tried for murder.
A heated protest continued outside the Minnesota Police Department’s 3rd precinct headquarters, where demonstrators were seen breaking windows.
Traffic blocked in Los Angeles
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.
Highway Patrol vehicles damaged
Some people surrounded two California Highway Patrol vehicles.
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Videos shared on social media showed demonstrators blocking off the highway, at some points even taking on police squad cars, with a crowd surrounding two vehicles and smashing out windows before the officers flee.
Downtown Los Angeles also saw a sizable group of protesters, who carried signs and shouted anti-police slogans.
News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, with some running in and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, fire erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it.
“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.
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.
“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.
On Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had urged the FBI investigation “to be expedited,” adding that he appreciated “all the work done by local law enforcement.”
“My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!” he said.
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.”