MINNEAPOLIS — Fires burned and looters struck Thursday after violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked Minneapolis for a second straight night, with damage stretching for miles across the city.
Amid the violence, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop. Asked to confirm reports that he had been shot by a store owner, police spokesman John Elder said that was “one of the theories.”
Protesters began gathering in the early afternoon Wednesday near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old George Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive. Protesters skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night’s confrontation.
On Thursday morning, smoke hung over Minneapolis and looters carried merchandise from a damaged Target store with no interference by police. Video of the store’s interior showed empty clothing racks and shelves and debris strewn about. Obscenities were spray painted on the exterior of the store.
Protests spread to other U.S. cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.
It was the second night of violent protest in Minneapolis since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander’s cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ‘s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.
Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter. He also asked for the public’s help in keeping the peace.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for him to be criminally charged.
Frey asked Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Walz tweeted for calm Wednesday night, calling the violence “an extremely dangerous situation” and urging people to leave the scene.
On Wednesday night, officers responding to a reported stabbing near the protests found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound, Elder said. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Elder said a suspect was in custody but said the facts leading up to the shooting were “still being sorted out.”
Doug Glass, The Associated Press