Rioters in Minneapolis set a police precinct ablaze late Thursday night as unrest continued to rock the city in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on Monday.
The 3rd Precinct building was breached around 10 p.m. as rioters set fires both inside and outside the building. Police officers on the roof of the building, who had attempted to disperse the crowd with tear gas, were picked up by helicopters before rioters entered the building.
Police said in a statement that “in the interest of the safety of our personnel, the Minneapolis Police Department evacuated the 3rd Precinct of its staff. Protesters forcibly entered the building and have ignited several fires.”
City officials warned after midnight that gas lines to the precinct building may have been cut, and that explosives were inside, putting the building in danger of blowing up. Fires were also set in other places around the city.
Huge fire burning in the area of the Third Precinct now. Can’t tell what’s on fire. We’re on Hiawatha which has become a parking lot. @kare11 pic.twitter.com/XPxjicFVIN
— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) May 29, 2020
Thursday marked the fourth day of unrest since Floyd was arrested after several officers responded to reports of a forgery in progress.
Surveillance footage of the arrest shows Floyd cooperating with officers after being removed from a vehicle. Video footage shot moments later by a bystander shows white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd for more than nine minutes. Floyd can be heard pleading with the officers before passing out and later dying in police custody. Another video obtained by Fox 9 that captured the preceding moments appears to show two of the officers having difficulty getting Floyd to exit the vehicle.
The initial police report claimed Floyd “physically resisted officers,” prompting one of the officers to restrain him.
Governor Tim Walz has called in more than 500 members of the National Guard to help address the violence. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
“Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate,” the Minnesota National Guard said in a statement. “A key objective is to ensure fire departments are able to respond to calls.”
President Trump addressed the violent demonstrations in the city in a pair of tweets Thursday night, saying the city’s “very weak radical left mayor” must “get his act together and bring the City under control” or Trump will send in the National Guard.
“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump wrote.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president said, adding that he has spoken to the governor to tell him “Military is with him all the way.”