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George Floyd’s Death and Minneapolis Protests: Live Updates

2020-05-28 15:08:39
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Stores were set alight and officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

A wave of protests erupted across South Minneapolis overnight and into Thursday, with the police firing tear gas and rubber bullets as people set buildings on fire and looted stores days after George Floyd, an African-American man, died in police custody.

Ash was falling Thursday morning at a shopping center on Lake Street, where the recently renovated Target had been defaced and looted. A nearly completed apartment development across the street had been burned to its concrete lower floor. Other commercial structures were also badly damaged.

Mr. Floyd’s death also spurred protests in Memphis and Los Angeles, where law enforcement officials faced off with people blocking the 101 Freeway downtown.

Mr. Floyd, 46, died on Monday after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer who pressed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes. A video of the arrest, in which he is heard pleading “I can’t breathe,” spread widely online, and was followed by protests in Minneapolis and around the country.

“They executed my brother in broad daylight,” Philonise Floyd told CNN on Thursday morning, breaking down in tears. “I am just tired of seeing black people dying.”

Four officers involved in the arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, and the F.B.I. joined the investigation into the death of Mr. Floyd, a resident of St. Louis Park, Minn. On Wednesday, Minneapolis’s mayor called for the police officer who had pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck to be arrested and charged.

The Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday morning that it had made a federal investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death a “top priority” and has assigned experienced prosecutors and investigators to the case. The department “urges calm as investigators methodically continue to gather facts,” the statement said.

As night fell on Wednesday, people filled the streets near the Third Precinct headquarters, and soon fires lit up the sky. Images on television and social media showed at least one business, an auto-parts store, ablaze and people carrying goods from another store that had been vandalized.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that a Target and Cub Foods store anchoring the corner of East Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue were looted, as were several small businesses, including a liquor store.

As dawn broke on Thursday, fires were still smoldering as lines of police officers in riot gear stood off against people who were still out on the streets.

Unlike the first night of protests in Minneapolis on Tuesday, when thousands gathered peacefully, the police reported looting and multiple fires beginning Wednesday afternoon and stretching into Thursday.

The police said that a fatal shooting in the protest area appeared to be related to the looting of a pawnshop where the store owner fired shots. A man was wounded and taken to a hospital, where he died, according to the police.

“Tonight was a different night of protesting than it was just the night before,” said John Elder, a police spokesman.

Mayor Jacob Frey pleaded on Twitter for people to stay at home. “Please, please Minneapolis,” he wrote, “we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy. Please, help us keep the peace. Stay safe and evacuate the area.”

The violence came at the end of what had been a tense period.

Protesters began gathering Wednesday afternoon outside the Third Precinct headquarters, but by early evening, officers were trying to disperse the crowds using flash-bang grenades and tear gas.

The episode was seen as part of a broader pattern of devastating encounters between African-Americans and law enforcement denounced by civil rights leaders. It has laid bare tensions between members of the local community and the 800-plus police force in Minneapolis, a divide mirrored in other communities across the country.

The Minneapolis Police Department on Wednesday identified the fired officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng. The mayor said that the dismissals were not enough, calling for criminal charges against the officer who was recorded with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

“I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Mr. Frey said in a news briefing. “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.”

Mr. Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, called for justice on NBC’s “Today” show.

“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” Ms. Floyd said.

“I don’t want the protests to be for just show,” said Tera Brown, Mr. Floyd’s cousin, who appeared with two of Mr. Floyd’s brothers. “I want to see action.”

“This was clearly murder,” she added. “We want to see them arrested; we want to see them charged; we want to see them convicted for what they did.”

The Minneapolis police said they had been investigating an accusation of forgery on Monday in the southern part of the city when they confronted a man who was sitting on a blue car and was later identified as Mr. Floyd.

“He was ordered to step from his car,” the Police Department said in a statement on Monday. “After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

Video footage from nearby security cameras and bystanders did not show any attempt by Mr. Floyd to resist officers. Instead, it showed him begging for his life as he lay handcuffed on the ground, one officer grinding a knee into his neck while three others stood by.

Mr. Chauvin shot a man who was trying to grab an officer’s gun in 2008, according to The Pioneer Press. He was also present at two other shootings, one of them fatal, but it was unclear if he fired his weapon in those cases, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality, a local organization advocating police reform.

African-Americans account for about 20 percent of the city’s population, but they are more likely to be pulled over, arrested and have force used against them than white residents, Police Department data shows. And black people accounted for more than 60 percent of the victims in Minneapolis police shootings from late 2009 through May 2019, data shows.

Yet there is a deep rift between the city’s police force — which also is predominantly white — and the community, one that seems to grow larger with each killing.

Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora, Matt Furber, Audra D.S. Burch and John Eligon.

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