Riots have erupted in cities across America following the death of unarmed and handcuffed George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Chaos fell on Minneapolis, Minnesota this week after footage emerged of Mr Floyd gasping for air as Derek Chauvin pinned him to the floor and knelt on his neck. President Donald Trump has threatened to send the national guard ‘and get the job done right’ as unrest shows no signs of easing.
Both peaceful protests and rioting have broken out in a number of US cities including Los Angeles, New York, Denver and Louisville. Officers were forced to run from the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct last night after a crowd broke into the building and set it ablaze.
Demonstrators are also demanding justice for other African Americans who have been killed by police, including Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by officers in March at her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Minneapolis police precinct set on fire during George Floyd protest
As around 500 to 600 demonstrators marched through the city’s downtown streets, at least seven civilians were shot over the course of the night. Officers said they received reports of gunfire at around 11.30pm.
Louisville Metro Police confirmed in a statement today that at least one of those victims is in a critical condition. The force said there were ‘some arrests’ but police didn’t provide a number.
Live video shows protesters behind makeshift wooden barricades which appeared to be made out of picnic tables spray-painted with the words ‘You can’t kill us all’.
Police in body armour and face shields held batons and lined up around Louisville City Hall, firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters into the masses, which protesters chanted ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘Whose streets? Our streets’.
The city’s mayor Greg Greg Fischer tweeted ‘Understandably, emotions are high’ and shared a Facebook post asking for peace. He added: ‘As Breonna’s mother says let’s be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice.’
Emergency medical technician Ms Taylor, 26, was shot eight times on March 13 after Louisville narcotics detectives knocked down the front door. No drugs were found in the home.
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Attention on Ms Taylor’s death has intensified after her family sued the police department earlier this month. The case has attracted national headlines alongside the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia neighbourhood in February.
At around 12.20am Fischer tweeted a video that he said was a message from Ms Taylor’s family. A woman can be heard saying: ‘Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna’s name tonight. We are not going to stop until we get justice. But we should stop tonight before people get hurt. Please go home, be safe and be ready to keep fighting.’
Thursday’s demonstration came as protesters across the country – from Los Angeles to Memphis, Tennessee, to New York to Minneapolis itself – continue to demonstrate against the death of Mr Floyd in police custody.
The four police officers involved were responding to a report of a forgery in progress and found a man fitting the suspect’s description.
The man was reportedly suspected of trying to pass counterfeit bills at a corner eatery. Police acknowledged he ‘appeared to be in medical distress’ as Mr Floyd, 46, was dragged from his car and handcuffed.
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Footage of the incident shows a white officer kneeling on his neck as he cries out in pain. He says: ‘I can’t breathe. Please, I need my neck, I can’t breathe, sh*t.’ The video, shot by Darnella Frazier, then shows one of the officers saying: ‘Get up and get in the car.’
Mr Floyd says: ‘I can’t…my neck, I’m through. My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.’
Witnesses told police to let him get up and an officer can be heard saying ‘this is why you don’t do drugs, kids’.
After four minutes, Mr Floyd goes limp with the officer’s knee still on his neck. An ambulance took the suspect to the hospital, where he was declared dead.
The city identified the four officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, who were all sacked shortly after the incident.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called on Wednesday for criminal charges to be brought against 44-year-old Chauvin, the policeman who was filmed pressing his knee against Mr Floyd’s neck.
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Minneapolis City Council records showed that Chauvin moonlighted as a bouncer at a downtown Latin nightclub and was among a group of six officers who opened fire on a stabbing suspect in 2006 after a chase that ended when the suspect pointed a sawn-off shotgun at them.
Chauvin, whose driveway was splattered with red paint and the graffiti ‘murderer’, has not spoken publicly since Mr Floyd’s death and his lawyer did not respond to calls seeking comment.
One protester who clung to the hood of a patrol car fell to the pavement as it sped away, and was treated at the scene by paramedics.
The suspect, Wayne Reyes, was hit multiple times and died, and a grand jury decided the use of force was justified.
Two years later, Chauvin shot Ira Latrell Toles as he was responding to a domestic dispute.
Online city records also showed that 17 complaints have been filed against Chauvin during his 19-year service.
As violent clashes rumbled on in the city, demonstrators broke into the 3rd precinct station, causing officers to abandon the building.
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A livestream video showed the protesters setting the building ablaze and igniting fireworks as fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran.
Earlier yesterday Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called in the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request, but it was not immediately clear when and where the reserve force was being deployed and troops were not seen at protests in the city or nearby St Paul.
Businesses in both cities have boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting.
Minneapolis-based Target announced it was temporarily closing two dozen area stores.
The city has shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service until at least Sunday out of safety concerns.
At a press conference President Trump said he was yet to speak to Mr Floyd’s family but that he feels ‘very, very badly’ about what has happened.
He added: ‘It’s a very shocking sight. As you know we’re very much involved. I’ve asked the FBI and the Attorney General to take a very strong look and to see what went on, because that was a very bad thing that I saw. I saw it last night and I didn’t like it.’
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But the POTUS refused to be drawn on questions over whether any of the officers invovled should be prosecuted.
Remarking on the ongoing rioting in a previous tweet, Trump said: ‘I can’t stand back and watch this happen to a great American city, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership.
‘Either the very weak radical left Mayor Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the city under control, or I will send in the National Guard and get the job done right.’
In another tweet, he added: ‘These THUGS are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!’
The post was accompanied by a message from the social media platform saying: ‘This Tweet violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.’
Meanwhile the State Capitol of Denver, Colorado, was put on lockdown after someone fired a gun in a park across the street as demonstrations were held nearby.
Protesters blocked traffic and smashed car windows, although there were no immediate reports of injuries.
Inside the locked-down capitol was state representative Leslie Herod, who tweeted: ‘We just got shot at.’
Police said they did not know if the protesters were being targeted by the unknown shooter.
Force spokesman Kurt Barnes said about six or seven shots were fired and that no one has been arrested.
In a video Denver’s mayor Michael Hancock said: ‘I want to plead to everyone, let’s demonstrate but let’s demonstrate peacefully. Leave the weapons at home.’
Video footage shows a driver appearing to swerve towards a protester with their car.
A man is seen jumping on the hood of the moving car before the driver swerves, causes him to fall off, and then speeds away.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said it was a ‘very sad night for our state’ and was saddened to see protests had ‘developed into vandalism and violence’.
He added: ‘I was absolutely shocked by video evidence of a motorist attempting to run over a protester. Coloradans are better than this. I share the immense anguish we all feel about the unjust murder of George Floyd. But let me be clear, senseless violence will never be healed by more violence.’
Meanwhile more than 40 people were arrested during a protest at Manhattan’s Union Square yesterday evening during a tense stand off with police.
New Yorkers chanted ‘I can’t breathe’ – some of the final words uttered not only by Mr Floyd but also Eric Garner, who was choked to death as he was arrested by NYPD officers on Statten Island in 2014.
Clashes erupted in the city at around 4.15pm as pushing and shoving broke out between police and protesters.
Later in the afternoon police chased some members of the crowd as they tried to keep the Broadway clear, NBC New York reports.
Some demonstrations carried on into the night with protesters throwing objects, but police said they had them under control.
The department said it arrested 40 people, one of whom was carrying a knife. Another was said to have punched an officer in the face and a third reportedly threw a rubbish bin at a policeman’s head.
Footage shows at least one demonstrator being clubbed and another being wrestled to the ground.
Outrage over Mr Floyd’s death has also triggered in Chicago, Los Angeles and Memphis.
Earlier this week people in downtown LA marched onto a nearby freeway, blocked traffic and attacked two California Highway Patrol cruisers and smashing their windows.